Sometimes in life you discover great new things completely by accident. That's how we found Viva Bar + Kitchen actually... we had gone to have dinner at a different place that sadly we left feeling we needed to go somewhere else to eliminate the "bad feeling" left in our belly. When we walked by Viva, the super friendly hostess on the sidewalk told us it was "taco Tuesday" and so we figured, "what the heck" and walked in to check it out.
That taco and that experience was good enough that before the end of our snack that we had already booked our New Year's Eve dinner here the next day.
Since 1969, when Byron and Virginia Hardin opened their first location in Ocean Beach, Hodad's has been a legendary burger joint in San Diego. With an atmosphere that borders on kitschy tourist trap but somehow manages to stay authentic, this is a must-visit location for anyone visiting the city. However, what makes it even more awesome is that it is more than just a "cool place" to grab a bite, it is serving up some of the most amazing burgers in the whole world.
For those of you who have never been to Ocean Beach, it is a beach town located just north of the city and is full of hippies / surfer culture, so it is also great for people watching.
San Diego has tons of craft beer bars and great wine is in no shortage either but the craft spirits industry is also growing rapidly here as well. One of the shining stars there is El Agave Artesanal tequila and so I was thrilled that the folks at El Agave Restaurant invited us back to try some additional menu items as well as a tequila tasting led by one of their experts.
The Gaslamp District is the destination to go for nightlife in San Diego. It's the place to be seen and it's no surprise that it is home to some of the most popular restaurants in the city. Last night I had the pleasure of dining at Acqua Al 2 for an opportunity to taste my way through it's delicious cuisine direct from Florence Italy.
Many Italian restaurants trace their inspiration back to Italian roots and Acqua Al 2 is no different - except that they actually have a location in Florence itself. Many years ago, owner and Executive Chef, Martin Gonzalez went to Italy to learn Italian and better understand the customs and way of life. To do so, he enrolled in cooking classes at the prestigious Instituto Culinario Apicius where he was award the title of "Best Student".
Josefas Cocina Mexicana is a brand new addition to La Jolla from the same folks that brought us Iberico. As part of it's opening, I was invited to stop by for a lunch to check it out and share my thoughts.
For the past year, I have been moaning that the San Diego restaurant scene sucks - and so a few PR teams ganged up on me to convince me that I just had bad luck in picking places. While I still stand beside my earlier comments, I am starting to discover that while San Diego doesn't celebrate - or demand - a certain high level of sophistication from its restaurants compared to the prices charged,... there are some fantastic gems.
El Agave - it's the plant that when processed makes such delicious products such as agave syrup and tequila. In this case though, it is the name of one of San Diego's finest Mexican restaurants. For those of you who think "Mexican" is just tacos and burritos you are missing out on the fact that Mexico cuisines is as diverse as any other with influences from Europe as well as indigenous cooking techniques and plants.
I have seen El Agave several times as it is located above one of my favorite liquor stores in Old Town San Diego. However I didn't know much about it until the PR folks contacted me recently and invited Heather and I to check it out.
A scene from Top Gun was filmed here, their bartender loves to create artisanal tequila cocktails and to top it off, San Diego Magazine's readers just named their chef, Accursio Lota, as "Best Chef" in San Diego - so who was I to say no when they approached us recently and invited us to stop by for dinner!
Honestly, I am not typically a fan of Italian because I usually associate it with kitschy bottles chianti, heavy but tasteless spaghetti sauce covered pasta and pictures of the pope or mobsters on the walls. Over the past couple years though I am starting to warm up to it. What I discovered at San Diego's Solare Ristorante was a delightful interpretation of classic Italian but merged with the essence of the Southern California farm-to-table movement.
The word "Oktoberfest" likely causes images of a raucous bar scene with giant steins of beer and busty waitresses dressed in dirndls. What if I told you that there was a family-friendly restaurant with authentic German food that was a perfect date location too? That's the quick synopsis of our experience at Edelweiss Dining - located in the Chicago suburb of Norridge.
For more than 30 years, this restaurant has served up some of the best authentic German food in all of the Chicagoland area.
Page 4 of 4