By Wendy Lemlin
Spring has sprung,
the grass has ris,
this is where the good food is!
Spring always means a flurry of restaurant happenings, new seasonal menus, and new openings. Here are some of the goings on in the San Diego Restaurant scene.
Park & Rec
In the University Heights Park Blvd location that once housed longtime gay-friendly watering holes Bourbon Street, John Pani, founder of hospitality investment and management firm, ELE Collective (Waypoint Public, Hotel Vyvant), will launch University Heights’ newest cocktail concept, Park & Rec. On board in collaboration with San Diego’s beverage consulting duo Revelry Cocktail Co are Trevor Easter (Noble Experiment, Rickhouse, Bourbon & Branch, Heaven’s Dog) and Anthony Schmidt (Fairweather, Rare Form, Noble Experiment).
According to H2 Public Relations, “Park & Rec will draw on the unique structure of the pre-existing property, creating three individual brick-and-mortar cocktail bungalows surrounding an expansive open-air courtyard. A play on the venue’s name “Park” (Park Blvd.) & “Rec”, the courtyard will conjure images of backyard antics with a variety of recreational table games, such as ping pong and shuffle board. Live entertainment & musical performances will round out the venue’s charming, airy atmosphere.
Celebrating the community’s colorful roots, Park & Rec will embrace the image of the ostrich, a wink and a nod to the neighborhood’s former ostrich farm (relocated by Harvey Bentley from Coronado to University Heights in 1904). A popular tourist attraction, the ostrich farm was serviced by trolley car up Park Blvd. and today, the ostrich imagery can still be spotted on neighborhood signs and street markers throughout University Heights.”
Park & Rec is located at 4612 Park Blvd and will open doors in University Heights in May of 2015.
International celebrity Chef Richard Sandoval’s Chula Vista Modern Mexican eatery Venga Venga has launched a travel themed Destination menu series, exploring the cuisine of a different region of Mexico every 6 months, beginning in March with Guadalajara. The Guadalajara-inspired fare highlights this region’s love of street food and proximity to a wealth of seafood. A sampling of dishes includes esquites, a type of regional street food based around roasted corn, a grilled octopus tostada with orange pico de gallo under a thyme citrus chili de arbol sauce, and pork chicharron street tacos, in addition to many more destination-influenced creations and Venga Venga staples.
Chef Sandoval is the founder of internationally acclaimed Richard Sandoval Restaurants group. He has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and is the author of thecookbook Modern Mexican Flavors. Highlights of Chef Sandoval’s career include: Bon Appetit Restaurateur of the Year 2006 and Cordon d’Or Restaurateur of the Year 2012. In 2011, he was nominated for James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur, and Market Watch named him On Premise Player of the Year 2013.
Venga Venga’s new Destination menu is available during lunch and dinner hours. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant directly at (619) 397-0977 or booking online at www.richardsandoval.com.
The award-winning Encinitas gluten- slow food bakery and café 2Good2Be has expanded to become a modern stations-style eatery. The restaurant will offer a daily rotating menu of crisp made-to-order salads, juicy hand-carved meats for sandwiches and plates, housemade soups and braises and sides, all made from scratch throughout the day. The culinary experts at 2GOOD2B® shred their own cheese and make their own sauces, spice mixes, rubs, dressings and preserves in-house.
Grand Del Mar
Spring brings an onslaught of holidays and dining-associated celebrations—Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, weddings, graduations— and at the Grand Del Mar, TripAdvisor’s 2015 #1 Luxury Hotel, guests and locals will be celebrating in style at the 5 Diamond/5star Addison, beautiful Elizabeth Ballroom, at Amaya, in the resort’s Library and at the more casual The Clubhouse Grill. Champagne Brunches, Tasting Menus, Special Dinners, and Afternoon Teas are all among the planned dining events. For family fun, Easter is highlighted by The Grand Hunt and family activities on the Aria Lawn. All event details and sample menus can be found at TheGrandDelMar.com.
Hillcrest’s craft beer and Louisiana cuisine-inspired casual eatery Local Habit is currently under major renovation and will reopen on March 28. The plan is for a farm-driven, Cali-Creole concept with new interior and supreme New Orleans-inspired cocktails designed by local mixologist Adam Lockridge. All food items will be under $15.
“Local Habit is my baby and I’m grateful to be instrumental in its redesign,” said consulting chef Nick Brune, who sold the farm-driven restaurant to brothers Ignacio, Javier, Guillermo and Antonio Fragoso.
The brothers called upon Louisiana-born Brune, who also owns top sustainable catering company Eco Caters and was formerly Jennifer Lopez’s private chef, to shape the new Creole menu. “We envision this as a locals hangout with New Orleans jazz, funk and brass — always lit up and alive. It’s important to give San Diegans something they don’t already have in the way of food and ambience.”
Something not usually seen in San Diego—an absinthe fountain from which bartenders will pour the absinthe into a glass containing a single burnt sugar cube in classic French flare, because, as everyone knows, absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.
The new Local Habit will be open for Sunday brunch, Friday and Saturday lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night service and is located at 3827 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103. Visit mylocalhabit.com for more information.
Stake Chophouse & Bar
Beginning monthly in March and lasting through June, Stake Chophouse & Bar in Coronado will host a four-course meal, curated by Executive Chef Tim Kolanko, paired with an array of wines sourced from some of the most exciting wineries in Tuscany, California, Burgundy and Spain. Each wine dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Stake’s private dining room. Tickets are limited to only 25 attendees and are priced at $95 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Stake directly at 619.522.0077 or by visiting www.StakeChophouse.com. The schedule is as follows:
TUSCANY | MONDAY, MARCH 16th
Exploring Chianti, Montepulciano, Montalcino and Vin Santo
CALIFORNIA | MONDAY, APRIL 20th
Exploring Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon selections from Napa Valley, Sonoma Coast and Santa Barbara County
BURGUNDY | MONDAY, MAY 18th
Exploring Chardonnay and Pinot Noir selections from Chablis, Cote de Nuit, and Cote de Beaune