San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour

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Troy Johnson, Erin Chambers Smith, and Lauren Winget talk dining out, drinking up and what’s making news on the restaurant scene.

San Diego Magazine

    • Sep 23, 2022 LATEST EPISODE
    • every other week NEW EPISODES
    • 44m AVG DURATION
    • 276 EPISODES

    4.8 from 149 ratings Listeners of San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour that love the show mention: happy half hour, sd, food news, foodies, best food, troy, food podcast, hot topics, chefs, restaurants, erin, dishes, places, city, local, volume, eating, drink, fun podcast, what's.

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    Latest episodes from San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour

    Skrewball co-founder Steve Yeng explains his journey from refugee camps to the face of spirits

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2022 172:58

    The story of Skrewball deserves its own biopic, if not a 30-part Netflix series. On the surface, you see a good-time peanut butter whiskey from San Diego—one that defied all naysayers and became one of the top-selling spirits in the country. And then you talk to co-owner Steve Yeng and every twist of his life story makes your eyes bulge and your heart alternately sink and soar. His family fled the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, living in Thai refugee camps. In the San Diego Magazine offices for this podcast, he pulls out a few photos from those days. In one, the family is standing in a foot of muddy water (the town routinely flooded). In another, children eat lunch near a fence made of sharp, deadly spears (it's the cafeteria of the makeshift school). “My father saw his own father shot in the camps,” says Steve, whose grandparents were both killed. The Yeng family—mom, dad, three boys—stayed in the camps for six years. As Steve explains it, Russia's Red Army would routinely bomb the camps, forcing everyone into below-ground shelters. In those cramped, poorly ventilated quarters, Steve contracted polio from one of the other children (the disease is not eradicated in parts of the world without access to healthcare). For the next five years, he would have to undergo multiple surgeries to correct his imbalanced bone growth. Until age seven, he managed to move around using two flip-flops on his feet, and another two on his hands. Eventually, his family managed to make it to the U.S.—specifically, to Ocean Beach—living in a garage without running water. His dad found a job at O.B. Donuts (which the family still owns). And peanut butter became a symbol of a better life for the young Yeng brothers. From that point on, against every odd and with just the right amount of audacity, Yeng became the American dream. This podcast is the longest we've ever recorded. Mostly because David and I sat there rapt, a little heartbroken and wholly inspired. Settle in, or digest it in parts. It's worth it. See you next week, y'all.

    Natural Wine and Petco Park's Facelift

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2022 35:28

    Restaurant openings, restaurant closings, and Manny Machado becomes a nail tech. Just kidding, but only about the restaurant closings. Gotcha again. There will be no Manny-pedis in the near future. On this episode of Happy Half Hour, David and Troy talk to vice president of ticket sales and membership services for the Padres, Curt Waugh. Waugh joined the franchise in June 2014 after being with Spurs Sports and Entertainment where he managed ticket sales for the San Antonio Rampage ice hockey team. Waugh filled us in on the 70 newly renovated suites where you can customize your experience with in-suite dining food and beverage packages. The suites are not only available for Padres games, but also for any concerts or events that take place. This season broke a Petco Park and Padres record, with more than 20,000 people opting for season tickets, including our very own Troi Boi (the SDM'ers have dubbed him as such, and he'll no longer respond to any other name). Troy (Troi) dishes on his favorite perks, like movie nights on the field where he can take his mini-me Elia, and of course, the chance to imbibe on some good cheap beer. Membership happy hours include $5 drink specials across the ballpark so you can wet your whistle with Cutwater Spirits or a good ‘ole Budweiser. Apart from discounted food and drink specials, members also get perks such as priority access to Opening Day and Postseason tickets, best available seat options, and 10 percent off concessions and retail in the park. In Hot Plates, David and Troy talk Little Thief and Black Radish, both North Park newbies. The former is rewriting the natural wine narrative. David may be their biggest fan. As I write, he's sitting here wearing their merch and waving a tiny flag around with their logo. It's weird, but we're here for it. At Black Radish, the simple and sexy interior paired with their dynamic menu makes for a feast of the senses. Later, Troy talks about his love affair with Chef Phillip Esteban's ube pandesal, available at his Liberty Station Filipino restaurant White Rice. Not only is Chef Esteban opening another location in Normal Heights, he just signed a lease to a new standalone all-day eatery in Liberty Station.

    Going through the 5 stages of SDs iconic beer with the face and voice of BP, Jeff Lozano

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 12, 2022 63:06

    So much history in this place. It's where brewers came up with one of the beers that put San Diego on the national map. It's where a person signed a deal for a billion dollars and sold to a multinational corporation. And it's where an indie brewer bought it back, and took it into the new age. The place is the palace of beer that is Ballast Point in Miramar. The beer is Sculpin IPA. For this podcast, we sat down with five evolutions of Sculpin in front of us—from grapefruit Sculpin to a Aloha Sculpin—with one of our favorite people in the city, Jeff Lozano. Technically the “ambassador” of Ballast Point, Jeff is the voice you hear in the Ballast Point commercials when you're watching the Padres games. His voice is made for this, like if a cigarette and a late-night radio DJ had a lovechild. Ballast Point just made a serious investment on the food side of the house at all their locations, too, hiring culinary director Tommy Dimella. I'll say this. Go to Miramar. Work your way through the evolution of Sculpin like we did. Order two things from his menu: the Double-Stack Angus Smash Burger (white American cheese, BP special sauce, pepperoncini, lettuce, tomato—basically a real chef's take on a Bic Mac), and… arguably the star… the whipped goat cheese (made creamier with labneh, then topped with olive oil and cumin-spiced honey, strawberries, and seeded lavash cracker). It's the Summer of Sculpin (locals know that the real San Diego summer starts in August and goes through October). It was pretty much nonstop one-liners and laughs, but Jeff also runs us through the about beer and the food scene in San Diego and gives us some hard and useful science about why certain beers taste better with certain foods. In news, we talk about the opening of Madi, the all-day brunch joint from the Madison on Park people; the upcoming Botanica, an NFT art bar (you can buy NFTs of art on display) based around gin from the restaurant group that brought Tahona and Wormwood; Fairplay, a new concept from the Fernside crew coming to the spot vacated by beloved Toronado; and North Park's first ever (we think, correct us if we're wrong) rooftop bar, Dollie's at Hoxton. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David re-fell in love with Craft & Commerce; Jeff raves about old-school San Diego classic, Bully's East Steakhouse; and Troy was in a soup dumpling mood and pointing to the favorite he found in his citywide search for xiao long baos, Facing East. Go to Ballast. Spend an afternoon in an icon. Also search out Jeff Lozano. Make him talk to you. He's funny as hell. Thanks for listening, y'all.

    Going through the 5 stages of SD's iconic beer with the face and voice of Ballast Point, Jeff Lozano

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 10, 2022 63:06

    o much history in this place. It's where brewers came up with one of the beers that put San Diego on the national map. It's where a person signed a deal for a billion dollars and sold to a multinational corporation. And it's where an indie brewer bought it back, and took it into the new age. The place is the palace of beer that is Ballast Point in Miramar. The beer is Sculpin IPA. For this podcast, we sat down with five evolutions of Sculpin in front of us—from grapefruit Sculpin to a Aloha Sculpin—with one of our favorite people in the city, Jeff Lozano. Technically the “ambassador” of Ballast Point, Jeff is the voice you hear in the Ballast Point commercials when you're watching the Padres games. His voice is made for this, like if a cigarette and a late-night radio DJ had a lovechild. Ballast Point just made a serious investment on the food side of the house at all their locations, too, hiring culinary director Tommy Dimella. I'll say this. Go to Miramar. Work your way through the evolution of Sculpin like we did. Order two things from his menu: the Double-Stack Angus Smash Burger (white American cheese, BP special sauce, pepperoncini, lettuce, tomato—basically a real chef's take on a Bic Mac), and… arguably the star… the whipped goat cheese (made creamier with labneh, then topped with olive oil and cumin-spiced honey, strawberries, and seeded lavash cracker). It's the Summer of Sculpin (locals know that the real San Diego summer starts in August and goes through October). It was pretty much nonstop one-liners and laughs, but Jeff also runs us through the about beer and the food scene in San Diego and gives us some hard and useful science about why certain beers taste better with certain foods. In news, we talk about the opening of Madi, the all-day brunch joint from the Madison on Park people; the upcoming Botanica, an NFT art bar (you can buy NFTs of art on display) based around gin from the restaurant group that brought Tahona and Wormwood; Fairplay, a new concept from the Fernside crew coming to the spot vacated by beloved Toronado; and North Park's first ever (we think, correct us if we're wrong) rooftop bar, Dollie's at Hoxton. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David re-fell in love with Craft & Commerce; Jeff raves about old-school San Diego classic, Bully's East Steakhouse; and I'm in a soup dumpling mood and pointing to the favorite I found in my citywide search for xiao long baos, Facing East. Go to Ballast. Spend an afternoon in an icon. Also search out Jeff Lozano. Make him talk to you. He's funny as hell. Thanks for listening, y'all.

    We introduce one of San Diego's best pizzas to one of its best beers

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 1, 2022 34:03

    Lake San Marcos is such a mystery to me. Like if you took the water feature from a miniature golf course and expanded that over a couple miles—that's what it would be. A human-made oasis. Fake? You bet. Kinda magical? Also that. And that's the kind of hokey water hocus pocus I live for. I'm the kind of guy who thinks sequins is the height of American culture. This podcast we recorded live from the Mister A's of Lake San Marcos—Amalfi Cucina Italiana. Chef Marcello Avitabile is a six-time World Pizza Champion (read the review here). The four owners are all Italian, all friends who met while working at another one of the top Italian food spots in the city, Buona Forchetta (Avitabile was the longtime exec chef). It's the second stop on our Delicious IPA Tour with Stone Brewing. (Note: These have been great events where we gather and sip and taste, available to those of you who join our Insiders program… you should sign up). One of the first “Beer vs. Wine Dinners” I ever went to was hosted by Stone. Wine has always been hailed as the perfect beverage for food. Since its inception, Stone has seemed fixated on proving that craft beer paired as well, if not better, than wine. Early on, I was skeptical if not scoffing. I went to the dinner thinking “this is a gimmick but there is quality food and beer.” And, wow. Beer won the night. The 200-plus people there that night voted it in a landslide. And it wasn't close on my card, either. I was shocked. Being a nerd, I dug into the science of it, and turns out beer has so many more flavor compounds than wine (due to the increased number of ingredients—hops, malt, etc.) This isn't a slag against wine, which is a quality portion of my life. Just beverage facts. Anyway, point is. Stone Delicious IPA is what their brewers have been tinkering with all these years. Their perfect food pairing beer. They came to us and said, “Hey, let's do a tour to celebrate what we think is a pretty awesome achievement, and let's use it to highlight some local restaurants and cooks and indie businesses.” Easy sell. So this week we pair it with Avitabile's primavera pizza—marinated zucchini and red bell peppers and eggplant, buffalo mozzarella, EVOO, fresh basil, all baked and blistered in 60 seconds in their hell-hot pizza oven. It's a doozy, and the strong, lightly citrusy hops stand up the char on the crust, making it a perfect pair. We sit down and talk with the owners Giuseppe Annunziata and Emiliano Muslija about Amalfi, and why they're importing 90 percent of their ingredients from the Italian coast they're from. In the news, we're pretty jazzed about Azuki Sushi's new omakase spot; Breakfast Republic makes the move on expanding to other cities; discuss the bizarro ambition of space-portal alien tiki lounge Mothership in South Park, and Amalfi announces the opening of their second restaurant in North County. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David raves about the Aleppo chicken at Callie; Emiliano points people to Akai Hana Sushi in Rancho Bernardo; Guiseppe expresses his desire to try the raved-about Sushi Tadokoro; and I am still a little floored by the ube pancakes at The Holding Company—where they've got an all-ages brunch on their rooftop overlooking the O.B. pier. It's an all-ages brunch, which is great because just because some of us chose to procreate doesn't mean we died. The podcast is fully back. Thanks for being patient as we moved offices over the summer. Full steam. See ya next week. –Troy

    Ranting About Food with Padres Funnyman, Mark “Mudcat” Grant

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 26, 2022 37:21

    When I went to Padres games as a kid, a man stood 30 feet away from you and hurled a hot dog at your face. Maybe you got some popcorn whose best attribute was that it looked yellow and had enough salt to turn your insides into prosciutto. Oh, and you got some flat Coke. If you only drank sodas at baseball games in the 80s, you wouldn't know the product came with bubbles. To be honest, I kinda miss that hot dog throwing man. But I don't miss the food. Modern baseball food is worlds better. You got sushi and acai bowls and brisket sandwiches and designer tacos. The Padres have made a lot of great acquisitions of late, but one of my favorites was when they brought in Barrio Dogg and Grand Ole BBQ and Puesto—giving people a taste of some of the best local restaurants. And today David and I sit with an old friend and crush some of our favorite eats from Petco Park. He's a favorite human. Constant sayer of funny things. Mark “Mudcat” Grant has been a Padres broadcaster for 27 years. He and Don Orsillo are in the booth 162 games a year, narrating every Padres game. For fans, they're like extended family, or constant friends who show up in your living room to talk ball and life. Mud and I talk about his career, the 2022 team, how Tim Flannery taught him a mindblowing lesson on perspective in life (ommmmm), and all the food. For news, we talk about the opening of Little Thief and Papalito in North Park, the new natural wine bar from the Bottlecraft team, and the new restaurant from chef Drew Bent's new Sonoran BBQ concept; how 2021's “Chef of the Year” Phil Esteban just signed the lease on a new restaurant in Liberty Station; and the sad closing of Supernatural Sandwiches in Miramar and what that says about the realities of running a restaurant in 2022. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David points you to the best dishes at the new Italian/sushi joint in North Park, CinKuni (the “Godzilla ramen”); Mudcat raves about Barbusa and Janet's Montana Cafe, a favorite near his place in Alpine; and I am reminded just how amazing Wayfarer Bread & Pastry is in Bird Rock (the Kouign Amann, the tomato-herbed ricotta cream bun). Go Padres. See ya next week.

    The Next-Gen of Vietnamese Food with Shank & Bone's owner Han Tran

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 8, 2022 77:31

    Not sure how many San Diego restaurants have a real, bonafide Shepard Fairey art piece—sanctioned by the artist, famous for his propaganda art like the Obey (Andre the Giant) and Hope (Obama) series—but Shank & Bone in North Park is one of them. So technically the Vietnamese restaurant is a pretty notable art gallery. Their pho sure is some art. So are their fish sauce chicken wings, salty and sweet. In our June “Best Restaurants” issue, Shank was named readers' choice for Best Vietnamese and my pick for Best Pho. And on today's podcast Han Tran comes on to share her story—how her parents came over as refugees from Vietnam. She grew up in City Heights, where her mom ran a bakery and cafe. “It was known for the strongest Vietnamese coffee in town,” she says. “Just rocket fuel. In our culture, the cafe scene is mostly men. Women walk in and the needle on the record scratches. But mom ran it. She's tough. Cafes are really popular in the Vietnamese community, but ours was different because we had good food.” Han was raised in this food culture, saw how much her parents worked. Nonstop. The restaurant was their life, their stable place in a new world. And so the daughter went to SDSU with not less than zero interest in running a restaurant, but running very fast the other way. And then her and her husband, Jay Choy, bought a sushi joint, Ebisu Sushi. “We had no idea how to run it,” she says. And yet they did, for 16 years. They opened Shank & Bone because they wanted to take the Vietnamese food Han grew up with, but crank it up, use better ingredients, bring the modern better-food ethos to dishes of her youth. And, well, she took some flak. Some in the Viet community went after her because of the Fairey artwork, which shows a Viet girl holding a gun with a flower in the end of it. “Vietnamese immigrants are all obviously anti-communism—so there was a rumor going around that some communist had come to North Park and opened this restaurant,” she laughs. “And the funny thing is, the image of the woman looks almost identical to a picture of my mom from the refugee camp.” She and her husband also took flak for the price of their pho—$17 when they opened, $20 now. The reason? They invested in better ingredients, and they crammed their broth with two, three times the amount of bones to ratchet up the flavor (thus why the pho is so good). They invested in artwork and a storefront right on University Ave. All things that cost money. Shank's done just fine now. People showed up, keep showing up. In “Hot Plates,” we talk about the impending sale of Stone Brewing to Sapporo U.S.A.; how the city is now starting to enforce permits for the parklets restaurants built during the pandemic, and how very few restaurants have even bothered to apply; and the arrival of Northern California's white-hot Filipino bakery chain, Starbread. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David goes to a classic in North Park (Lucky's Golden Phoenix), Han professes her love for Mongolian Hot Pot; and I defend the honor of chain restaurants by naming one of my favorites for healthy meals (Tender Greens, run by San Diego chef Pete Balistreri). Go eat some pho. Noodles on the side (so they don't soak up too much of that broth, which is gold).

    Ranch45 Expands in Del Mar

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2022 45:16

    This meat looks geological. Like lovely, delicious geodes. In the refrigerated case, huge racks of Brandt Beef just lay there at Ranch45—have been laying for a while (40 days, says one tag). When meat is dry-aged like this, it begins to look prehistoric and unlocks a whole new universe of flavors. Excess moisture is drawn out of the meat over time, breaking down the protein, tenderizing it and concentrating its steakness. It works the same way as when you “reduce” a stock or a soup to crank up the flavor. In the cooler next to it, Ranch45 chef Aaron Schwartz is aging bone marrow. That's right. Ranch45 is dry-aging bone marrow. At the performance kitchen in the middle of the butcher shop/deli/restaurant/gourmet general store in Solana Beach, Schwartz roasts one of them; serves it simply on a plate with salt, pepper, chives, microgreens; and a dash of oil. As a marrow adherent (it is meat butter), it's the first dry-aged marrow I've had. And it's that much better. “Any meat has to age at least a bit to be any good,” says Schwartz, who was born and raised in the area and lives with his family (including wife and business partner, Pamela) in nearby Carmel Valley. “That's why in the butcher shop you'll see it on hooks.” Next to the dry-aging marrow and meat is soap. Bone marrow soap. “We just hand-packaged them last night,” says Schwartz. “It's about using every part of the animal. Wasting as little as possible. We're getting back to the way things used to be in butcher shops. Where you knew your butcher and trusted them. That's why we use Brandt Beef. I've known Eric Brandt and his family for 20 years and I'm still using them for a reason.” Del Mar has something special in Ranch45. As a chef at Marriott Marquis, Schwartz made a name for himself by convincing a large multinational hotel group to invest in local food. Under his watch, Marquis was one of the city's largest purchasers of local farm goods. When the pandemic hit, he was furloughed. He spent time at home with his kids. Then Pamela convinced him to join Ranch45, which she'd managed for three years (she's an accomplished chef and wine person herself, having spent years overseeing nearby Pamplemousse Grille and the once-mighty Arterra). Now they're expanding, taking over the space next door and putting in a real butcher shop. The idea is to be the supplier for all of the local top restaurants, and for the locals who want to know where their meat comes from. For this podcast we sit and talk with Schwartz about the ideas of simple food sourced from a place you know. About bringing small purveyors and general stores back to a community. In “Hot Plates,” we break the news that The Joint in O.B. is working on a ramen joint on Newport Avenue down the street from their original location, as well as opening two restaurants in Hawaii; Indian standout Charminar is opening the upscale Dosa Studio next door; and Ballast Point has a new culinary director in Tommy Dimella (who also spent years at Pamplemousse). For “Two People, Fifty Bucks” Aaron points to Juanita's taco shop in Leucadia, where he takes his family after a surf; Troy raves about Starfish Filipino Eatery in O.B. (get the sisig); and David gives a shout out to the pop-up submarine tiki bar experience, Acey Deucey Club. See ya next week.

    Stone Delicious IPA, a birria flatbread, and a Claudia Sandoval

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 10, 2022 63:52

    The birria flatbread at Stone World Bistro & Gardens is one of those dishes that's gone in minutes. On this podcast, we huddle around it. Poke at it. Demolish it with chef Israel Ortiz. It's the kickoff of our new video series with Stone, which will highlight a few local restaurants and our favorite dishes that their cooks and chefs and food people have created. It's a celebration of Stone's Delicious IPA. After years of tinkering on the recipe of the ultimate beer that pairs well with food, Delicious is the result. Izzy walks us through what makes the flatbread sing, and we talk about how birria has overtaken the fish taco as the official food of San Diego. Our other guest? She was working at a branding agency in San Diego. At company events, she'd bring her salsa. Everyone loved it. On a lark, she tried out to be a contestant on Masterchef—that massive cooking competition on TV with Gordon Ramsey. She told her job she'd be gone for a bit. She wasn't allowed to tell them anything about how well she was doing on the show. As it became longer and longer that she was away, her company had to let her go. She came home, jobless, and couldn't tell a single soul what had happened. She'd won. She'd get the $250,000 check in six months. Until then, no money, no job, a young daughter at home, a single mom. Half a year later, she got the check for $250,000. She'd won. She is Claudia Sandoval—friend, talented chef, Richter-scale personality, judge on Masterchef Latino, and with her own series of Food Network travelogues now, Taste of the Border—in which she visits with chefs, farm workers, and food people along the U.S.-Mexico border. “The people were so amazing, and the food was incredible,” she says of Taste of the Border. “We meet these migrant workers who are out picking chiles in the heat of New Mexico. At nine in the morning, it was 109. So we got to know these families who are living on the farms, hand-picking every Hatch chile you buy at the grocery store. That is teh grit and the soul of the show, plus we get to explore some amazing restaurants.” On this episode, she talks about her experience filming and the things she's learned (hint: the border-regions of Mexico are the North American epicenters of Chinese food). She explains her new line of next-day delivery meals (chile rellenos, adobada pork chop, etc.). And we just kind of loudly laugh a lot. In “Hot Plates,” we talk about the opening of Sandpiper (in the place that was formerly Galaxy Taco), and I give a few of the can't-miss dishes from chefs Trey Foshee and Christine Rivera; talk about the new restaurants going into a remodeled historical building in Oceanside from the same people who brought you Louisiana Purchase (Grind and Prosper Hospitality); I announce I have finally given up a life-long effort to appreciate the charms of uni (everyone at the table thinks my mouth is broken); we talk about the two new restaurants being opened by the Jeune et Jolie and Campfire team (Wildlands and Lilo). For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” chef Izzy says he can't get enough of Cocina de Barrio; Troy raves about the corn cake and double-cut pork chop at Sandpiper; and David is all about the North Park farmers' market, Knockout Bread, and other vendors. See ya next week.

    The Magic of Woodsmoke

    Play Episode Listen Later May 27, 2022 48:46

    We've been here for two weeks and I'd like to stay another thirty. I've brought my overnight bag and a note from my wife. Gonna make my case. We're at Park Hyatt Aviara, a 200-acre resort, one of the classic San Diego properties built far above a wetland preserve in Carlsbad. The ocean is right over there. We're sitting at a long dining table in Ponto Lago, their Baja-inspired restaurant and a star of the recent $50 million makeover of the property. You can smell the crackling red oak and the char on various excellent proteins. I see a mezcal collection. I'm talking with chef Christopher Carriker about the magic of woodsmoke. David's talking to him about the magic of heavy metal music. There is a hamachi and blackberry aguachile, a Sinoloan specialty, with sliced fresno chiles, green onion, and mint. There's a charred octopus zarandeado with chorizo aioli, chicharrons and kumquats. It's Baja ideas mixed with French sauce skills and the unbeatable San Diego seafood and produce. Carriker is from Portland, which isn't short on a food scene. But, for a chef, he says, it's nothing like San Diego. “The farms we have right up the road? It's incredible,” he says. “I had to get used to the long growing seasons when I came here. I'd think, ‘well, it's winter guess I have to switch to root vegetables,' and then realize summer fruits were still in season. Crazy.” This episode we dive into why every chef and restaurant is turning their gas powered ovens in for piles of expensive wood. Chef Chris walks us through the various woods and their very specific charms (citrus burns hot, is best for searing), and why Baja cuisine is so compelling. In “Hot Plates,” we discuss the new concepts being opened by chef Phil Esteban's Open Gym group—White Rice Bodega in Normal Heights, and Wavy Burgers (Filipino-style burgers) in National City. One of North County's hottest restaurant groups, Leucadia Co. (Moto Deli, Valentina, etc.) is opening two new locations of Hamburger Hut (Wagyu burgers) in Encinitas and Oceanside. The mighty Carruth Cellars' run in Little Italy is coming to an end in the middle of June, but the good news is that just about the same day they open their massive spot in Liberty Station, a 10,000 square foot wine wonderland with a gourmet cheese shop and expanded menu. And finally, Societe Brewing is expanding into a new location in Old Town, continuing the signal that the historic part of San Diego is getting a blood transfusion. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” Troy raves about Amalfi Cucina Italiana's pan-fried artichokes and pizza, and marvels at the surreal man-made wonder that is Lake San Marcos. David raves about the bratwurst at Bagby Beer, and chef Chris gives a nod to a fellow wood-smoked restaurant and one of San Diego's best, Fort Oak. Thanks for listening, y'all. Tune in next week when we broadcast from Stone Brewing Liberty Station for the kickoff of a new video series with the city's homegrown beer heroes.

    Richard Blais: Chef, TV Star, Golf Influencer

    Play Episode Listen Later May 20, 2022 55:52

    This is a fun one. I've known Richard Blais for a long while, and we tend to bring the best stories out of each other. Like golf foraging. When most of us lose our golf balls in the bushes, we venture into the brush and come out with scrapes and a handful of profanities. When chef Richard Blais sucks at golf, he goes into the brush and comes out with wild fennel and some carrots for dinner. When he opened his first restaurant at Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad—Ember & Rye, a modern steakhouse with a wood-burning grill that's always on fire above the 18-hole course—he took up the clubs. “So maybe occasionally my ball would go into the bushes,” he admits. “I go in there to get it and I found all this wild fennel and carrots and radishes and garlic and nasturtiums.” Over the last year, fans who know Richard through Top Chef and Guy's Grocery Games and his new show on Fox, Next Level Chef, may have looked at his Instagram and wondered if he was training for the PGA. “I became a golf influencer,” he says. “I got a free hat.” Richard is on fire. On Next Level Chef he's teamed up with Gordon Ramsey and Nyesha Arrington in a cooking competition show that's probably got the most elaborate set in the history of food competition shows—a three-level “restaurant.” Competitors start in the basement and move their way up with each challenge. “We shot the first season in Vegas,” he says, “and at the time it was the tallest non-permanent structure in the city. What an odd stat.” Richard and I have known each other for years at this point. He and I talk about his restaurants (“no matter how much media I do, I always come back to the kitchen—I love restaurant life”), rank the classic side dishes for American steakhouses and how Ember & Rye tweaks the standards (ie, the traditional creamed corn becomes corn creme brulee). I relay one of my earliest Richard memories when we were both on a TV show together and the producers made me take off my glasses because they couldn't have “two guys with big hair wearing glasses.” I spent the entire episode unable to see what the cooks were making (“looks like Karen's got lobster,” I'd say, and someone else would say, “yep, that's skirt steak”). It's a great, free-association conversation between a couple friends, one of whom happens to be one of the most accomplished chefs in the country who calls San Diego home.

    San Diego Chef Grows Michelin-Star Mold

    Play Episode Listen Later May 5, 2022 50:04

    During the day, Michael Vera cooks at standout Pacific Beach restaurant, The Fishery. In his off time, he grows delicious bacteria. The words mold or fungus may not make your mouth water, but they should. They're the gateways to fermentation, which gives us bread, coffee, miso, chocolate, beer, kimchi, wine, cheese, soy sauce, other forms of dear-god delicious. And right now, no fungus is hotter than Japanese koji—rice grains cultured with aspergillus oryzae. “It's a sweet, funky marinade that tenderizes and intensifies with umami,” says Michael Vera, owner of West Coast Koji, a company he created during the pandemic by using Home Depot racks to ferment various things in the living room of his North Park apartment. “My wife was not happy with the state of our apartment for a very long time. It was a huge laboratory full of funky stuff.” Now he sells his koji to Michelin-star restaurants like Jeune et Jolie and Rustic Canyon, plus Juniper & Ivy and Consortium Holdings. Koji is famous for its umami-cranking transformation of proteins, and you can taste WCK's effect on the duck breast at Matsu in Oceanside. Anyone can buy dried koji at Asian grocers, but WCK's is fresh, and rare. There are only probably 10 commercial koji producers in the U.S., which makes his delicious fuzz business a boon for local cooks. On this episode, Michael gives us the 101 on koji and the fascinating world of culinary ferment. For “Hot Plates,” it seems everyone is moving to North County. We talk about the northward expansion of Lola55, long one of the best taco operations in the city now headed to Carlsbad. We finally are allowed to spill the news on George's chefs Trey Foshee and Christine Rivera's newest concept—Sandpiper, an oysters and wood-smoked meats joint that will go into the former home of Galaxy Taco. The group behind Nolita Hall and Half-Door Brewing have taken over the spot vacated by Civico by the Park—a sprawling space on the bottom floor of the Mister A's building. And the vegan superstars behind Kindred are going to open their spinoff soon—called Mothership, owner Kory Stetina calls it “just your run of the mill crashed starship on a tropical alien planet kind of spot.”

    San Diego's New Star of Modern Japanese Food

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 15, 2022 54:51

    I must stop talking about the cabbage. I won't shut up about it. So I figured if I brought chef William Eick to talk me through it, it will resolve my lingering emotional fixation on what is one of the best dishes I've eaten in a very long time. Eick opened Matsu about six months ago. It's a minimalist ode to modern Japanese cuisine. He's been a talent in San Diego for a long time, and this is the big idea, what he's been working for. In a spare room in Oceanside, where the “biggest” design element seems to be a single white orchid on a bar top, he's serving 8- and 10-course tasting menus. And the cabbage is the shocker. “I've been obsessed with Japanese culture since I was five years old,” says Eick. “Everything about it. A modern Japanese restaurant with a tasting menu, there are probably only a handful in the country that I can think of.” For this episode, Eick walks us through some of the magic tricks that make Matsu stand out. For instance, he creates various dashis (Japanese broth, a cornerstone of the cuisine) like the one in his crab dish that is made with carrots and A5 Wagyu beef trimmings. We talk about how Japanese cooks and chefs have been masters at discovering new levels of flavor (the concept of “umami” is Japanese). And William gives us a primer on koji, the incredible Japanese marinade that makes his duck breast vastly more interesting. Gives it a good funk. In “Hot Plates,” we talk about the San Clemente icon Nick's going into the former International Smoke location at One Paseo. The owners of Madison are opening an all-day brunch spot in Normal Heights called Madi. Wolfie's Carousel Bar (if you're not familiar, you need to check this out) has hired a new chef, formerly of Coronado's excellent Little Frenchie. And renown Japanese fried chicken chain, Tenkatori, is opening in San Diego. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” I rave about the chilaquiles at Cocina 35, and whether or not it's OK to call them breakfast nachos (a term told to me by a great Mexican chef, but which some food purists get very, very angry about and defend chilaquiles' honor). David can think of nothing but baseball (it's his cabbage), and points people to Mexican food classic Lolita's by Petco Park for game days (trivia: Lolita's is family of the legendary Roberto's). And William makes a regrettable decision to tell the world about his favorite ramen spot, which was a secret until right about now. Go, Padres. See ya next week.

    Grand Ole BBQ y Asado is Back!

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 1, 2022 54:07

    It is, finally, open. Almost. When Grand Ole BBQ y Asado shut down its North Park location for renovation, it was supposed to be for a couple of months. That was three years ago. In the interim, we had a pandemic. But now it's been fully redone. It's ready to open, soon as the last health inspections pass. This is big news because, well, Grand Ole is great. Owner Andy Harris has kept himself busy with their other location in Flinn Springs, which is about as close to a Texas backyard barbecue joint as you can get without leaving San Diego. It's still got that backyard, wooden bench vibe. But most grandmas will like these benches. “I wanted it to be for everyone to enjoy their time there—like if your grandma wanted to come she wouldn't think it was gross,” says owner Andy Harris. “Like my aunt came to the old one and she was like uh no.” In the spirit of everyone, Grand Ole will be the first local barbecue restaurant I can think of with a vegan menu. Andy's also got a “sommelier type guy” for the new spot, wants to prove that beer isn't the only thing that goes well with brisket and ribs and smoked turkey. And of course he'll have craft beer galore on taps throughout. With a full kitchen (the original spot just had a cubby hole), they'll be able to do more menu options and non-barbecue dishes. They'll also have kimchi and a few Korean dipping sauces. “I met a woman who was a dealer at a local casino,” says Harris. “Maybe I go there occasionally. Anyway, we start talking and she says she makes the best kimchi I've ever tasted. So she brings me some. And it is the best I've ever tasted. So now she's going to make all our kimchi. Marcia Marcia Marcia kimchi.” In Hot Plates, we get the sad news out of the way—Metl in North Park, with their boozy milkshakes, had to close (their downtown location is going strong). Stone Brewing won its lawsuit against Molson Coors, whose rebrand of Keystone was deemed to be a pretty bad trademark infringement (the Keystone cans sure looked like the name was “Stone”). The San Diego Beer News Awards rolled out their winners, with some of the bigger awards going to Hopnonymous, McIlhenney Brewing, Pure Project, North Park Beer Co, Burgeon Beer Co., Stone, Societe, and Treevana. And this weekend, one of the best food events in San Diego is finally back after three years—”Celebrate the Craft” at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, an outdoor collaboration cooking event under the sun with Kelli Crosson (AR Valentien), Javier Plascencia (Finca Altozano), Eric Bost (Jeune et Jolie), Jojo Ruiz (Serea, Lionfish), and Travis Swikard (Callie). For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” Troy is still a little stunned by how good Matsu is, and how chef William Eick can do what he did with that cabbage dish. David has a billion tasters of mezcal at Camino Riviera in Middletown/Little Italy, and Andy is all about the sole with white wine at San Diego classic, Anthony's Fish Grotto. Thanks for listening, guys.

    Kingfisher Takes San Diego by Storm

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 24, 2022 46:53

    In 2004, Jon Bautista made his mom cry. She spontaneously wept when he told the family he'd enrolled in culinary school. To be fair, in the same breath he also broke the news that he'd dropped out of the undergrad program at SDSU to do so. Parents have news thresholds, and hers was breached. “This was before Top Chef,” he says. “She just said, ‘You're never going to make any money.'” Now, 17 years later, Bautista is chef of one of the city's most raved-about restaurants, Kingfisher, a partnership with the local family who owns the beloved local restaurant, Crab Hut. It's modern Vietnamese. It's also a bit Franco-Californian, because Bautista spent five years as chef de cuisine of George's at the Cove under Trey Foshee. It's a bit Filipino, he says, because he is Filipino. Cooking has never been more borderless. The Golden Hill restaurant is booked months out, with a long waiting list (they do have a few walk-in tables). Their duck—dry-aged in house, lightly smoked, brushed with palm sugar—is the treasure for early-birds. They only sell eight of them a night, and zip they're gone. For this podcast—the first recorded in-person at the San Diego Magazine offices since 2020—Jon brought a beef tartare with toasted quinoa, pickled ramps, crispy shallots, chiles, cured egg yolk, sesame-rice crackers, watercress, lettuces, herbs. The not-secret ingredient—Red Boat No. 5 fish sauce—makes it a killer riff on a classic. And the joy of abundant ingredients is very Vietnamese (think of the pile of greenery you're presented with your pho). “This is everything,” Bautista says of Kingfisher. “I was struggling during the pandemic. For the first time in my adult life I was unemployed. I was drinking too much, I gained weight, I was depressed. And then this happened.” We talk about the long road to here. In “Hot Plates,” we yap about The Friendly's expansion to Pacific Beach, and what that says about America's love affair with little places that could. Herb & Sea is throwing a party for Wildcoast, the San Diego-based group that does great work conserving marine ecosystems, with a five-course “Treasure Fish Feast” featuring lesser known local fish (eating only salmon and halibut and sea bass is not only boring but also creates a pretty unsustainable future). Over in North Park, Bivouac Ciderworks is throwing a four-course dinner to celebrate Women's History Month that pairs Mexican-inspired dishes with special small-batch ciders (Mexican Hot Chocolate Cider, a beer-cider hybrid, etc.). Also, the owners of Tahini are opening up a Middle Eastern-inspired specialty coffee shop called Finjan, and this June the owners of Don Pietro are partnering with Gustavo Rios and Sal Busalacchi (of the Busalacchi Italian restaurant lore) for a two-story, jungle-themed concept in Old Town. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” Jon shows the breadth of his food arts by nodding to both Callie and the almighty Filet-O-Fish, David raves about Cafe Madeleine, and I get wistful about my glory days as a struggling writer in Golden Hill and fondly recommend Krakatoa. Thanks for listening, everyone.

    San Diego's Mike Hess Brewing Releases Exclusive Hazy IPA for SeaWorld

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 18, 2022 27:20

    I'm not sure how many stages of coping there are, but when Greg Hess told his wife and family they were moving to San Diego to start one of the first “nano breweries” in the country—I'd bet they ran through most, if not all of them. Probably added one or two. Harris' brother, Mike, had the idea in 2010 to go even smaller than a microbrewery. Launched a brewery in an 800 square-foot cubby hole. It may not have sounded like a “sure thing,” but it sure became one. Now Mike Hess Brewing is one of the most recognizable names in local craft beer, with tasting rooms in North Park (the OG, opened in 2013), O.B., Imperial Beach, Seaport Village, and Walnut Creek (where the Hess clan is from). For today's podcast, he joins us under the metallic tower of funfear that is the Emperor, SeaWorld's new roller coaster—the fastest, tallest, and longest plunge coaster in California. To commemorate the unveiling at the tap, Hess Brewing created the Emperor Hazy IPA, which will be served exclusively at the park. A portion of the proceeds for the beer will go to Penguins International to fund their conservation, education, and research efforts for the species. We also talk about the future of Hess, including the deal they signed to revive the iconic location where Alpine Beer Co. was created—a 4,000 square-foot space with a 5,000 square-foot patio. They'll carry on the tradition of having a beer wonderland in the nearby hills of San Diego. In “Hot Plates,” Mabel's Gone Fishing–an oyster and gin shop from the beloved local owners of The Rose natural wine bar—is making its long-awaited debut in North Park soon. L.A.'s famed breakfast tacos joint, Homestate Tacos, is landing in the Freeman Collective in South Oceanside, joining BlackMarket Bakery, Northside Shack, Corner Pizza, and Artifex Brewing. The Freeman project should be a hangout for a long, long while. In Sherman Heights, Cafe X is opened by a mother-daughter duo in the cultural hub that is 1835 Studios—a spot for food trucks, art galleries, community doings. And a while back we did the hunt for the best birria in San Diego, and El Prieto was our personal favorite—a food truck in the parking lot of a muffler shop by the border. Well, they just opened a second spot in Mira Mesa and you should go immediately. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” Troy pays homage to a San Diego icon of brunch and points you to the liquid obscenity that is the bloody Mary at Hash House A-Go-Go (pair it with the sage fried chicken with polenta and fried leeks). David recognizes the continuing evolution and betterment of San Diego mainstay, Crazee Burger, and Greg Hess hails the almighty Rocky's Crown Pub. See ya next week.

    Roller Coasters, Hazy IPAs, and Podcasts... Oh my!

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 11, 2022 40:00

    I'm suspended fourteen stories above San Diego Bay. I am being dangled over the edge of a cliff made of metal. I smell vaguely of quality craft beer. I am an offering to the gods of amusement. Questioning life choices, my emotional state in that jittery nook between joy and terror. Just hanging there, looking directly down, wondering how good latch technology is these days. Intellectually, you know how safe this is. You know the byzantine safety measures in place. But intellect is no match for that primal scream inside you that says “WHAT THE NO.” This roller coaster's new trick (new to me, at least) is that, instead of just plunging you down the thrill drop, it dangles you over the edge and then stops for a full 3-5 seconds. Lets you take it all in. Then it lets you go. It just drops you, at a 90-degree angle, 143 feet down, 60 miles per hour freefall. Your feet just dangle the whole wild time. The Emperor, SeaWorld's new roller coaster, opens tomorrow (March 12). It's been two years in the making. It's the tallest, fastest, longest dive roller coaster in California. And it's where we podcast from this week. You can hear our adrenaline shakes. To commemorate the coaster's arrival, local craft brew success story Hess Brewing created the Emperor Hazy IPA—a juicy little number that's available exclusively at the park. And it's coinciding with SeaWorld's Seven Seas Food Festival and Craft Beer Festival, which runs now through May 1. VP of Marketing Erika Diprofio—whose name either sounds like a law firm or an expensive perfume—explains the coaster, the beer, and the cause (a portion of sales of the IPA will go to Penguins International). We also hassle the newest member of the SDM media team—our social media manager, Rachel Frank—and make her get on the mic with us to meet you guys. Rachel is a ball of energy and creative force. She created and ran her own music platform, She dressed as a panda “to meet friends” in San Diego, and it became such a big hit that she ended up dancing on stage in panda gear with Snoop Dogg, The Flaming Lips, you name it. During the pandemic, she created a short film, “I'm An Ant,” about the meaning of life in an ant costume. It's wonderfully weird, charming, creative. And… it's a finalist at Cannes World Film Festival—after winning Best Experimental Short at the Paris International Film Festival. She'll be creating the new SDM on social media going forward. We actively adore her. Point is, it feels good to be podcasting in public with real people again. Our Zoom-exclusively podcast era has come to a merciful end. In “Hot Plates,” we talk about one of San Diego's best brewpubs, Gravity Heights—a collaboration between master brewer Skip Virgilio (he co-founded AleSmith) and chef Ryan Johnston and Whisknladle Hospitality—which is planning to open a second location in Mission Valley, and Anthony Wells of Juniper & Ivy is a semifinalist for a James Beard Award. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David's has a codependent relationship with soup (this time at Pho on Fifth), Erika professes her love for all things Callie, and Troy found himself in a sweet life spot while staring at warm focaccia bread with melted brie cheese, balsamic, and Granny Smith apples at Seneca, the rooftop restaurant from Consortium Holdings.

    The Giant-Big Chef News at Iconic Lodge at Torrey Pines

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 4, 2022 56:20

    Kelli Crosson bid her time, put in the work, earned this. The California native cooked alongside Jeff Jackson for 11 years at AR Valentien as his chef de cuisine (the iconic restaurant's second in charge). Starting at The Lodge at Torrey Pines over 20 years ago, Jackson was the one of the earliest and brightest stars of San Diego's food scene—doing farm-to-table before it was a marketing buzzword, cooking tip-to-tail when the rest of America was “just cook the sexy cuts.” Under his watch, the family-owned Lodge became a high-culinary attraction on par with the famed golf course it sits on. Still is. And now he's stepping aside to let his beyond-ready apprentice take the reins. Crosson is now the executive chef of all things Lodge—A.R., The Grill, banquets, events. If you eat it, she's had a say in its creation. Jackson is still very much “around.” The Evans family created an emeritus role for Jackson—corporate culinary advisor (soon you'll see his guiding influence at the new restaurant at Evans' family's other property in Mission Bay, The Bahia). On this episode of “Happy Half Hour,” we get to know Crosson beyond the kitchen. How she grew up on a fruit tree farm (“we'd take our entire bedroom and put it under the orange trees, just live under there”), how at age 27 with a good marketing job she decided to upend it all and grab her knives, and how the magic of AR Valentien and the Lodge gets done (hint: source the absolute best ingredients on the local part of the planet, tweak them with just enough of your accumulated art as a chef, but let them shine), and what makes that famed “Drugstore Burger” so explitively good. In “Hot Plates,” we talk about the up-and-comingness of O.B. restaurant, The Joint, which recently hired a chef whose resume includes Cowboy Star and Mister A's. We preview the Lakehouse Food & Wine Festival—some of north county's top chefs (including Jeff Jackson) and restaurants cooking and serving drinks on the edge of Lake San Marcos (at the Lakehouse Hotel & Resort). Dog lovers have a new hangout—a massive utopia for pets and humans called Dog Society (there's craft beer and putt putt golf and acai bowls and dog toys and sandwiches and massive TVs and dog runs). We discuss the closure of International Smoke, the concept from star chef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry, and in brighter news the owners of Beeside Balcony in Del Mar have opened a modern Italian concept right next door called Cevasco's (for chef Christophe Cevasco). For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” Kelly professes her love for ramen, identifying Tajima as her go-to and Menya Ultra on her hit list. David raves about Kingfisher, the new modern Vietnamese concept from star local chef Jon Bautista and the local owners of the local staple Crab Hut. And Troy continues on his personal brunch journey, raves about the house-smoked lox benedict and cinnamon roll beignets at Provisional Kitchen in the Pendry Hotel. Thanks for listening, y'all.

    Lan Thai Enclave Expands “Food as Medicine,” Takes Over San Diego Farm

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 24, 2022 59:53

    As a young girl growing up on a farm in San Diego County, Lan Thai's dad would hand her shrimp shells from that night's dinner and tell her, “Go feed the trees.” Lan was too young to understand why, but she did. The trees grew gaudy with fruit. Years later, as she was becoming a chef and diving deeper into the nutritive and health properties of food, she learned you can't grow healthy food without healthy soil. And shrimp shells are star soil-makers. Born in a Thai refugee camp as Lan's family fled the communist takeover of Vietnam, they found their way here. Started growing their own sustenance, fishing local waters for proteins. Her father hadn't studied soil science, or farming for that matter. “I asked my dad how he knew shrimp shells were good for soil,” she says. “He said ‘Grandma told me.' So, in addition to science, I'm a strong believer in the wisdom of ancients.” On top of passed-down food wisdom, she started studying the scientific studies of healthy food. Her restaurant—Enclave, a small cafe inside the workspace of hard kombucha company, JuneShine—incorporates what she learns. It's not all twigs and probiotic superseeds. She serves fried chicken and waffles. But every dish on the menu, she explains, has some fermented element. In this episode of HHH, Lan explains why fermentation is a key to unlocking healthy properties in food. We also talk about her newest project: she just took over a 19-acre regenerative farm in Bonsall where she'll grow food for her restaurants (she just opened a second location in UTC Westfield)—everything from fruit trees to a medicinal herb garden—and eventually plans to make it into a destination with cabins and an education center, classes on permaculture, food preservation, composting, cooking. In “Hot Plates,” the longtime Mission Beach staple, Saska's, is being reborn as Mo's—a new, Tecture-designed steakhouse with private liquor cabinets and a throwback wood-and-vinyl booth vibe. Cross Street Chicken has opened its third location in the Del Mar Highlands Town Center, with a full cocktail bar run by a former drinksman from Sycamore Den and Fernside, and local steakhouse success story Rare Society is about to become a nationally known brand. In not-so-good news, the economic fallout of the pandemic hit local brewery Modern Times, who had to close their outposts in Portland, Oakland, Santa Barbara, and L.A. But fans of Texas brisket can rejoice—after three long years of renovations and the world falling apart, our perennial winner of “Best BBQ,” Grand Ole BBQ, is reopening its original North Park location. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” Troy has been out at brunch venues across the city filming a preview for SDM's upcoming “Brunch Bash.' While “working,” he discovered the cover star of this month's issue of SDM—the fried chicken and waffles at Brian's 24. David went to Whiskey House for all the Whiskey, and Lan went to Lola 55.

    JoJo Ruiz Is Everywhere

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 16, 2022 50:42

    Why does brunch feel so good in all the right parts of your soul? It is redemptively irresponsible. It's breakfast, if breakfast were better. If your weekend was a pinball game, brunch is that bonus ball. You're not really sure what you did to deserve it, but it's extending your play time, so—hey there, little bonus ball. Anyway, point is, our annual sold-out Brunch Bash is back. April 22 at Carmel Mountain Ranch Estates. You should come. Because, on a very nice stretch of grass, we'll loiter under the expensive San Diego sun and lose the appropriate amount of composure as we sample fried chicken and waffles, house-smoked lox benedict, banana bread with espresso mascarpone, croissant French toast, Mexican donuts, polenta with pork belly, Italian meatball soup, chilaquiles, granolas, parfaits. And there will be bloody marys and bubbles and agua frescas and tequila coffees and hard kombucha and iced horchata and organic superfruit hard cider and CBD beverages. Basically, people we admire make some pretty amazing things. At these parties, we invite all of them to some great place to share them with you, and to spread the word of the good things they do. To keep with the theme, this episode of “Happy Half Hour” we invited one of our favorite chefs, JoJo Ruiz—who has helmed many a brunch at Lionfish (Pendry Hotel), and Serea (Hotel Del). He tells us about the new restaurant concepts he and Clique Hospitality are opening—a sushi handroll joint called Temaki in Encinitas, and Joya Organic Kitchen in Torrey Pines. And then we discussed the joys of brunch. “I think I may be the only chef I know who likes cooking brunch,” says Ruiz. In “Hot Plates,” we talk about Wildwood Flower, a new bakery/general store in Pacific Beach that's doing wild fermented sourdough breads, grinding their own flour every day. The famed Peterson's Donuts in San Diego—with the bear claws as big as your face—has sold to someone who cares about the legacy. And our pick for Best Filipino Food in last year's “Best Restaurants” issue—White Rice—is expanding to a second location in Normal Heights. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David raves about Swan Bar, chef Jojo becomes the second guest in two weeks to rave about the mystical tequila charms of Cantina Mayahuel, and Troy marvels at a damn good burger at The Joint, a place known for sushi.

    The New Owner of Mr. A's Joins us to Talk about what Changes He will (and will not) be Making

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 21, 2022 65:42

    The iconic Mister A's is being sold (don't worry, it's not going anywhere, and this is a good story). Last week, we talked with Bertrand Hug—the restaurateur of restaurateurs, the don of dining and longtime steward of the rooftop restaurant—about why he chose to sell to his right-hand man. Today on the podcast, we have the man himself, Ryan Thorson. Ryan earned this (and paid for it). The SDSU grad got his first job at Buster's Beach House in Seaport Village, then landed a low-level managers job at Mister A's and just dedicated his life to it. Worked 100-hour weeks at times. He rose through the ranks over 11 years, becoming Director of Operations. He and Hug developed a father-son relationship, and, when Hug decided it was time to let go and focus on his original baby—the world=class French restaurant Mille Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe—he turned down offers for more money and entrusted Mister A's to his young partner and friend. Ryan tells us the whole story—including how he originally got turned down for the job because Bertrand didn't like his facial scruff—and what he plans to do with the San Diego classic when he takes over in March. He's not going nuts with the design, but he's enlisted top designer Mauricio Courturier, who designed this place. In “Hot Plates,” things get a little wild. Takashi Endo is opening another Menya Ultra Ramen in UTC, and we all give our answer about which is the superior soup: ramen or pho. We talk about Shake Shack opening in Carlsbad and I for sure am going to get driven out of Southern California in a hailstorm of fire because I admit I prefer it to our own better-burger legend (sacrilege). The Pink Lady—La Valencia Hotel–is renovating their famed Mediterranean Room and adding a new patio concept to celebrate its 95th birthday. Temaki Bar is going into Encinitas, a handroll place from Clique Hospitality (Lionfish, Serea, Joya Organic Kitchen) and sustainable seafood chef, JoJo Ruiz… And 3R Brewing—a Native American-owned craft beer from the Rincon Reservation—just opened in Ocean Beach. For “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” Troy was reminded how much he loves the vegan food at Cafe Gratitude, especially that butternut squash dip with focaccia. Ryan wastes zero time in declaring his love for everyone's favorite tequila-and-mole hideaway, Cantina Mayahuel. And David checked out the brand new Thai Street Food restaurant in North Park, Kin Len. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at Hope you all enjoy. See ya next week.

    The Massive Impact of Kitchens for Good

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 14, 2022 64:25

    Atiim “Tee” Smith is now one of the promising young cooks at one of the city's better restaurants, Cucina Enoteca. He started his kitchen career a few years ago at Water Grill, also worked at Jake's Del Mar. It's quite a positive development because, in 2014, he was facing 64 years to life in prison. Smith turned his own life around, a success of his own design. But he had some help from one of the more inspiring organizations in San Diego—Kitchens for Good. KFG is a nonprofit that essentially provides a free culinary school for people who need a second shot for a variety of reasons. Their apprenticeship program offers technical skills, some life coaching, career counseling, a network of support. Their “Hunger Relief” program prepares over 100,000 healthy-side meals every year to help San Diego families, seniors, and anyone facing food insecurity. Both Tee Smith and KFG director of programs Dennis Crosby join us on this episode of “Happy Half Hour” to talk about Tee's personal evolution and how Kitchens for Good has managed to make an impact. The segment is just in time for the opening of their new store in Pacific Beach. There, they sell top of the line kitchenware that's already been cooked with but lightly used, so it's affordable for cooks on a budget. In “Hot Plates,” we talk about the pop-up LEGO bar coming to San Diego for a few days only (you can book your tickets here). The space in North Park where the beloved Tiger! Tiger! Recently closed is getting a new location for Sushi 2. Verbena Kitchen in North Park is putting on a special dinner as a fundraiser for neighbors who had a devastating fire. The team behind Kettner Exchange and Camino Riviera and Grass Skirt—which includes damn good chef Brian Redzikowski and top bar man Eric Johnson—is bringing a new 19th century pirate bar (OK, it's just old-school nautical but in our book that means pirates) with a gin focus. After a wildly successful run and acquisition by AB-InBev, Saint Archer has been discontinued and removed from retail shelves. In “Two People, 50 Bucks,” Troy raves about the shawarma egg rolls at South Park food truck, Shawarma Guys. David ate his way through the menu at Wormwood and can't stop talking about it, Dennis gives the worst performance in the history of “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” and Tee tells us what his favorite dishes to order at Cucina Enoteca. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    The Creative Team Behind San Diego's First Absinthe Restaurant

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 17, 2021 44:26

    Absinthe sure got pigeonholed. We are all aware that within 15 minutes of drinking it, you speak in tongues, dictating the next great American novel onto the bar napkin. Another 30 minutes, and you descend into madness. Such a mythologized spirit, the drink of long-dead poets and thinkers and ascenders and descenders. And now it has its own restaurant in San Diego, sort of. Wormwood just went into the space recently vacated by the beloved Jayne's Gastropub. It's the project of Amar Harrag, who brought a jolt of modern blood to Old Town with Tahona and its accompanied secretish bar, Oculto 477. Beverage director Ben Marquart (Ironside, Saiko Sushi) has been tasked with creating the city's first absinthe bar, proving that the black licorice-flavored, green golbin-colored spirit is far more diverse and nuanced than once believed. In the kitchen is chef Danny Romero, a native of Calexico who moved to San Diego 15 years ago, fell in love with the fire and grit and hustle of the restaurant kitchen. He worked at two-star Michelin restaurant Addison in Del Mar, and along with other members of the staff, was part of the popular underground dinner series, Tortoise. Both men come on this week's episode to talk absinthe and explain the concept. In news, the luminously haired kitchen maestro Richard Blais has another national TV show coming out in the next couple of weeks—called Next-Level Chef on Fox, he'll be alongside Nyesha Arrington (Top Chef) and Gordon Ramsey, and one of the first contestants will be a San Diego influencer, AE Southamavvong. In La Jolla, the Puesto group has named the chef for their upcoming Italian concept in La Jolla, Marisi. Chad Huff (ex-Providence) will be in the kitchen along with spirits director Bea du Bois who was at three-star Michelin The Restaurant at Meadowood. Phenomenal food nonprofit Kitchens for Good (essentially, a free culinary school for people who need a little help), has just opened up their own store and you should absolutely shop here for the holidays. And finally, we spotlight a new brand, Betera, a sparkling NA beverage brand launched in San Diego by a couple of former chefs who worked for Jean-Georges. For two people, $50, Troy says we absolutely must go support Priscilla Curiel and her new Tuetano Tacqueria location in Old Town. David went to Awash Ethiopian Restaurant for the Special Tibs and meat and veggie and meat sampler plates. Ben is yet another person to rave about El Barbecue, and Chef Danny recommends the Vodka Pasta at Cardellino and the scallops at Chef Jun.

    Meet Amy Truong of Paru Tea Bar

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 10, 2021 51:25

    Ted Lasso is the hero we need and America's de facto life coach, but he needs to fix himself when it comes to tea. It is finally taking off in U.S. culture, at least partially because consumers are looking for healthier drinks and are increasingly sober-curious. Sure it took a while. Ever since they threw the king's stash into the Boston Harbor, coffee seized power and has served a few thousand consecutive terms in the part of our hearts where we keep the love for hot beverages. But now specialty tea—sourced from very specific, often family-owned tea gardens across the world—is ascending our love charts in U.S. culture. It seems like it took matcha—a tea the color of Instagram—to open our hearts to coffee's low-key cousin, but we're here for it. San Diego's Paru Tea Bar—the good-tea concept by married couple, Amy Truong and Lani Gobaleza—is proof. On this podcast, Truong explains their humble beginnings in 2017 (she would collect rideshare scooters and charge them to earn extra money while they launched their business in a series of pop-up tea events). They opened their first brick and mortar in Point Loma in 2019, and now they just unveiled their second —a 1,200 square-foot tea sanctuary and art gallery on Girard Street in La Jolla (their first art exhibits feature a La Jolla High alum who used dried Paru tea leaves to paint her work. At the shop they'll be house-milling matcha, the only shop in California to do so. So people caught up in the grasp of the matcha movement can taste it freshly pulverized, not bagged and shipped. In “Hot Plates,” Troy and David talk through a spate of new openings in San Diego, including: the city's first absinthe bar and bistro, Wormwood; the new high-design distillery, Swan Bar; a new concept in Torrey Pines from the group behind Lionfish and Serea; and one of our favorite Italian chefs, Accursio Lota of Cori Pasificio. In “Two People, Fifty Bucks,” David raves about the carnivore catnip down at El Barbecue from chef Ami Cisneros (formerly chef at Grand Ole BBQ); Amy points to her favorite spring roll joint in Hillcrest, Goi Con; and Troy is rekindling his love affair with sushi at two of his favorite sushi joints within walking distance of each other in Bankers Hill (Hane and Azuki).

    Did Troy Johnson and his wife Claire really just buy San Diego Magazine?

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 4, 2021 59:35

    Wait, what? Longtime writer and person on TV Troy Johnson and his wife Claire have become the new majority owners of San Diego Magazine. When did this happen? How did this happen? Are writers allowed to own things? In this special edition of “Happy Half Hour,” David demands some answers. He interviews Troy and Claire and asks them all the major questions, about their hopes and dreams and whether or not David will be getting a substantial raise. Questions like: WHY? Will Troy still write and host podcasts and be on Food Network? What changes are coming to San Diego Magazine? The short version: Troy and Claire believe in SDM and local media and local people. This is them, investing everything they are into where they live. For the long version, take a listen. A new SDM is currently being blueprinted and dreamt up and mapped out in our offices and on our Zooms. It's all very exciting.

    Meet Mike Minor, the New Executive Chef at The Marine Room

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 55:52

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week's special guest is Mike Minor, the new executive chef at The Marine Room in La Jolla. The Marine Room has been one of the city's most iconic restaurants since its opening in 1941, and Mike will be filling the shoes of Bernard Guillas, who put his French twist on the restaurant's seafood fare for the past 27 years. Mike talks about his plan to make the mainstay restaurant even more sustainable when it comes to sourcing local catch, like swordfish and tuna. While he promises to honor the restaurant's tradition, he also wants to evolve the menu around classic dishes and add his own flair. One example is the new Perfect Egg dish, which is an egg stuffed with corn veloute, sous-vide egg yolk, foamed egg whites, and caviar. Before his new gig, Mike was the executive chef at the acclaimed Border Grill in his hometown, Las Vegas. He also ran a “Mexicue” food truck that fused authentic Mexican cuisine with Texas barbecue which was voted Top 200 Food Trucks in the country. Aside from his chef life, Mike is a proud punk rocker with an intriguing background. He recalls his first job as a pool boy which may or may not have been tied to the mob, as well as other stories from Sin City that will be featured in his upcoming autobiography, Growing Up In Vegas. In Hot Plates, Brad Wise is opening the Solana Beach location of his steakhouse, Rare Society, this weekend. Pacific Catch, a sustainable fish house chain from the Bay Area, just opened up at Westfield UTC. The San Diego City Council recently approved making parklets permanent for restaurants. In Two People, $50, Mike chose Rocky's Crown Pub in Pacific Beach and Mike's Taco Club in Ocean Beach. Troy's pick is Vaga in Encinitas for the warm rolls, bagna cauda clams, and signature burger—you can read his review on Vaga in our November issue. David recommended the Victory At Sea Beer Dinner from Ballast Point in Miramar, which comes with four courses that include creamy lobster risotto, pancetta-wrapped scallops, and filet mignon. Thank you for listening! The Happy Half Hour team will be taking a short break, and the show will return in December. As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at

    We Go Inside Barons Market, a Local Family-Owned Grocer

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 55:28

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week, we're chatting with Rachel Shemirani, senior vice president at Barons Market. Barons is a gourmet grocery store that was founded by a local family in Point Loma and has nine locations in San Diego and Riverside. Rachel's father, Joe, started the business in the early '90s because he couldn't find an organic grocery store that sold food he enjoyed. Rachel and her sister, Dana, started working in the stores as cashiers when they were in high school, and now they both hold leadership positions in the company. Rachel oversees advertising and marketing, and is also the gatekeeper for new products—she leads weekly food panels to hand-select new products, which involves 40 people sampling anywhere from 80 to 120 different products, and whittling down the best. Rachel says that everything sold on Barons' shelves has made the taste testers' cut. We chat with Rachel about how they compete with large grocery chains and what sets them apart, how they've been weathering the pandemic, and how they're dealing with current supply-chain issues. We also get insight on what it's like to work with your family every day, how organic foods have improved drastically over the years, and some of the cool new foods you can find in their stories. In Hot Plates, CloudKitchens—which launched a ghost kitchen in Barrio Logan last spring—is opening a second location over by San Diego State University. Mamá por Dios, an upscale Mexican restaurant that started in Beverly Hills, is opening in the Gaslamp. And Convoy Street got a new restaurant, Eastern Dynasty, specializing in Cantonese barbecue. In Two People, $50, Rachel's pick is Harry's Taco Club in Pacific Beach; she says to get any of the burritos and margaritas. Troy's pick is the burger at Harbor Town Pub in Point Loma. David went to Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey in Palm Springs, and recommends the scallops with walnuts and yuzu. Marie's pick this week is El Cacho in Chula Vista for mariscos. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    Addison Received Two Michelin Stars! We Check In with Chef William Bradley

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 14, 2021 49:31

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! We're excited to have chef William Bradley of Addison back on the show. In case you missed it, Addison was recently elevated from one Michelin star to two a few weeks ago, for the 2021 Michelin Guide California. We had William on the show in January, and he's back to talk about what this latest award means for the restaurant and for San Diego's dining scene. William shares how he and his staff moved away from serving traditional French cuisine to “California gastronomy” instead—dishes that include elements from the multitude of cultures found in the state, along with regional ingredients. A new bite on their tasting menu, the chicken liver churro, is an example of this. William says he believes that not cooking from someone else's playbook and simply striving to be different is why they were awarded a second star. He says getting the first star was “like climbing Mount Everest,” but he and his staff didn't want to become comfortable after receiving that recognition, so they continued to innovate. William shares how he found out the news, what's changed since, and what's in store for Addison's future. We also talked about the pressure (and responsibility) that comes with this kind of award, and discussed the fact that four restaurants in San Diego now have Michelin stars. Want a reservation at Addison? You can search for a booking on Resy or OpenTable. In Hot Plates, Avonte Hartsfield, owner of Rollin Roots, is rebuilding his vegan food truck after a fire thanks to an outpouring of community support. In South Park, the former site of Hamilton's Tavern will be turned into a new pub, Bock, by the owners of Bottlecraft. Matsu, a Japanese restaurant by chef William Eick, has found a permanent home in Oceanside and is now open. In Two People, $50, William has a new recommendation for us: the omakase sushi at Ken Sushi Workshop in Carmel Valley. Troy's pick this week is the sweet-tea-brined chicken at Flying Pig Pub in Oceanside. David got the fried chicken at Streetcar Merchants in North Park, and Marie picks the chow mein and crispy pork from the food court inside 99 Ranch Market on Balboa Avenue. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    Meet Saman Javid, the New Executive Chef at George's at the Cove

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 61:06

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week we're excited to welcome Saman Javid, who is now leading the kitchen at La Jolla's iconic George's at the Cove. Saman is from the Bay Area, and he started his culinary career working at Fork in Marin County and B Restaurant in Oakland. He then moved to New York City, where he was sous chef at the acclaimed Gramercy Tavern for several years. He joined George's about four months ago as executive chef. Saman says he was always surrounded by delicious food, as he grew up in a Persian family (and his family also owned a restaurant). We chatted about his vision for the landmark restaurant (George's has been in the neighborhood for nearly 30 years), the difference between the produce in New York and California, and what excites him about San Diego's dining scene. And since we've had Michelin on our minds lately, he shares what it's like to work at a restaurant that has a Michelin star. In Hot Plates, Pamir Kabob House, an Afghan restaurant that closed its doors earlier this year, is reopening in La Jolla. The Golden Door, an exclusive spa and wellness retreat near San Marcos, recently opened a country store and farm stand selling locally grown produce, pantry items, and housewares—and 100 percent of the proceeds go to charity. For Two People, $50, Saman has two recommendations: Pho Duyen Mai in Kearny Mesa and The Fishery in Pacific Beach. Troy's pick is the crispy rice paper-wrapped pork ribs from Juniper & Ivy, and David recommends the beef empanadas and wings at Rouleur Brewing in North Park. My pick this week is the tacos at La Tiendita Mexican Market in Clairemont (available on weekends). Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    A Family Affair: Karina's Mexican Seafood Celebrates 40 Years in San Diego

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 30, 2021 47:24

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week our special guest is David Contreras Curiel of Karina's Mexican Seafood, a San Diego institution that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week. David and his siblings are leading the family business that his parents started back in Spring Valley in 1981, and he shares with us the story of Karina's humble beginnings. David's father, Don Arnulfo Contreras, and mother, Maria Ines Curiel, founded the restaurant (which is named after their eldest daughter) to create a better life for their six children. Don was a good cook, so he built the business by preparing the seafood dishes that he'd grown up enjoying in his home state of Sinaloa, such as ceviche. For a short while, the entire family lived above the restaurant, and David started working there when he was six years old. Today, there are several Karina's locations around the county, and the family also operates Savoie Italian Eatery, Taka Sushi, and Saffron Thai. David has 25 nieces and nephews, and he says they've all been involved in the restaurants or are currently working at them. We learned how they source their fresh seafood, the future goals for the company, and David's expert tips on what to order when you visit. Hot Plates this week is a lot of talk about the Michelin guide (and it's big news!). Michelin announced it awarded four stars to San Diego restaurants: Addison was promoted from one to two stars, and Jeune et Jolie, Soichi Sushi, and Sushi Tadokoro each received one star. Earlier this month, five local restaurants received Michelin's Bib Gourmand designation: Callie, Cesarina, Ciccia Osteria, Dija Mara, and Morning Glory. What do you think about the results of the awards? Let us know! In the last news item, Andrew Bachelier, formerly of Jeune et Jolie, confirmed that he and pro skater Tony Hawk are opening a new chicken restaurant in Encinitas called Chick N' Hawk. In Two People, $50, David Contreras Curiel recommends the quinoa bowl with chicken at Little Lion Cafe in Ocean Beach, and any of the entrées at Harbor Breakfast in Little Italy. My pick is the papa rellena at Too Sabrozo Delicatessen, a new Colombian food stand at local farmers' markets. David Martin says to get the royal pho at Pho Ca Dao, and Troy's pick this week is the crispy chicken buns and coconut shrimp at Sbicca Del Mar. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    We Talk Vegan Food, Music, and Tiki Drinks with Kindred's Kory Stetina

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 68:37

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week our special guest was requested by listeners, and we're excited to have him on the show: Kory Stetina, owner of Kindred in South Park. Kindred is a vegan restaurant and bar with a heavy metal vibe that opened in 2015, and it's regularly been named both a critic's and readers' pick for Best Vegan Restaurant in our annual Best Restaurants issue. Kory says he's been vegan since his early 20s, and he was first exposed to vegetarianism through his love of punk rock. He initially started Kindred as a pop-up when he couldn't find any local food-and-drink events that catered to his diet, so he started with vegan dinners paired with beer. He anticipated a small crowd, but a couple hundred people came out instead—seeing that demand eventually led to him opening the full restaurant. Since then, Kindred has redefined ideas of what vegan cuisine is and could be, and its “Permanent Vacation” tropical-themed cocktail nights have been a hit—Kory estimates that most of his clients (80 percent) are not vegan, but enjoy the food and atmosphere regardless. We chat with Kory about music, the decor (and the famous bathrooms) at Kindred, and his upcoming project, Mothership, a tropical-themed space bar that's opening in South Park. In Hot Plates, Oceanside is getting a new hotel (The Brick), and it will have a restaurant and bar from the team behind Louisiana Purchase and Miss B's Coconut Club. San Diego breweries took home 18 medals at the Great American Beer Festival, and new breweries Puesto Cervecería and Tap Room Beer Co. won silver medals (congratulations!). In South Park, the owners of The Rose Wine Bar opened a new bakery, Secret Sister, next door, and they're also working on Mabel's Gone Fishing, a gin and pintxos (small appetizers in Basque country) bar in North Park. For Two People, $50, Kory recommends the vegan chicken shawarma, fattoush, and falafel at Shawarma Guys. David's pick is the spicy szechuan noodles with stir-fried veggies from Tribute Pizza, and Troy's pick this week is the carne asada burrito and quesadilla from Roberto's. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    We Indulge Our Sweet Tooths with Baker Justin Gaspar of Hommage Bakehouse

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2021 52:48

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! We're back after a short Labor Day break, and we're with Justin Gaspar, the head baker at Hommage Bakehouse in Pacific Beach. Hommage, which launched last fall, is based inside La Clochette du Coin, a French bakery and café. Justin, who is from the Bay Area and worked at the acclaimed Manresa Bread (that's the bakery that spun off from Manresa restaurant, which has three Michelin stars), says the pastries he bakes at Hommage honor both his Filipino heritage as well as his classic French training. Justin walks us through the menu, from the croissants to the kouign-amanns and breads, and gives us a preview of soon-to-debut pastries like an ube custard bun. You have to try the kouign-amann with blueberry compote! Justin also shares with us the big news that he will be competing on Baker's Dozen, a new Hulu show that streams on October 7. In Hot Plates, Cocina de Barrio, a Oaxacan restaurant in Hillcrest that made our Best Restaurants list for Best Birria, is opening a second location in Point Loma. Kingfisher, a modern Vietnamese restaurant and bar that's been in the works, is opening soon in Golden Hill. Mike Minor, who worked at Border Grill in Las Vegas, was promoted from chef de cuisine to executive chef at The Marine Room. Finally, Michelin is publishing its guide to California this month, and yesterday they released a preview of restaurants in San Diego as “new gems and returning culinary stars.” For Two People, $50, Justin recommends the Bees Mode pizza at Tribute Pizza. Troy's pick this week is the ahi crudo at Catania, and David says to order the jungle curry mussels at Hoxton Manor. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week.

    We Share This Year's ‘Best Restaurants' Issue with Chef Brad Wise

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 2, 2021 66:33

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! We're sorry that the audio quality this week isn't fully up to par; David was still in the desert during recording. In case you missed it, our 2021 edition of Best Restaurants just went online, and the print edition is available in stores. On the cover this year is Rare Society, a neighborhood steakhouse from Brad Wise, chef and owner of Trust Restaurant Group. Brad is originally from New Jersey, and he made a name for himself in San Diego's food scene with Trust and Fort Oak, which both specialize in open-flame cooking. He's since expanded with The Wise Ox Butcher and Cardellino. We're here to learn more about his new projects (Rare Society and Wise Ox are both expanding to North County!), and how he's overcome current challenges, like understaffing. On this episode we show Brad the cover of the September issue, and he walks us through the dishes we featured. Also joining us is Lauren Winget, one of our former podcast hosts! She is now working at Trust Restaurant Group. Listen in on the behind-the-scenes talk. In Hot Plates, the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park is reopening tomorrow after a three-year renovation, and with it will come new eateries: The Craft Café in September, and Artifact later this fall. Carlsbad Aquafarm, an oyster farm in North County, recently opened the property to the public for tours and oyster tastings. Andrew Bachelier, the former chef of Jeune et Jolie, posted on Instagram that he has a new restaurant, but the post left us with more questions than answers—listen to find out what Brad has to say. In Two People, $50, Brad recommends Callie, and says to get the hummus, pita, and pasta. Troy's pick this week is the pulled pork from Cali Comfort BBQ in Spring Valley. Lauren and I both went to Wolf and Woman's new monthly Malaysian-Tamil pop-up dinner, and highly recommend it. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    From Madison Avenue to Margaritas: Meet Ian Tenzer, Puesto's New R&D Chef

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 26, 2021 57:26

    Welcome back to Happy Half Hour! We are sorry, the audio quality this week isn't fully up to par. You can blame David for being in Las Vegas for a heavy metal concert. This week our special guest is Ian Tenzer, the executive research and development chef at Puesto Mexican Artisan Kitchen & Bar. Ian joined the company last fall, which started in La Jolla and now serves its popular tacos and micheladas at nine locations in Southern California. Ian moved here from New York, where he worked with acclaimed chef Daniel Humm for several years and as sous chef at Eleven Madison Park, which has three Michelin stars and was named the World's Best Restaurant in 2017. In his current role, Ian creates new menu items for all of Puesto's locations, which he calls a “dream position,” and he's working on making their operations completely environmentally sustainable. We chat with Ian about what it really means to be a “zero-waste” restaurant and how he's doing it, what it was like to cook at Eleven Madison Park, and the new fall/winter menu we can expect at Puesto. He also shares details about their newest restaurant, Marisi, which will open in La Jolla early next year. And if you want to experience more of Ian's cooking, he'll be at a new local chef dinner series at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel on September 14. In Hot Plates, Tahini is expanding its shawarma restaurant in Kearny Mesa, and is also opening a new Middle Eastern coffee and dessert shop. Chula Vista Brewery is opening its second location soon in Eastlake; the new tasting room will also feature Texas barbecue from Oak and Anchor BBQ. In case you missed it, a local chef based in San Marcos is competing on Christina Tosi's new Netflix show, Bake Squad. We also have a call for pitches for an upcoming issue of San Diego Magazine—tune in to find out how you can contribute if you have a story to share with us! In Two People, $50, Ian's recommendation is the Spam musubi from Leilani's Cafe in Pacific Beach (which I was thrilled to hear!). Troy says to try the lamb meatball with ras el hanout (a North African spice mix) and naan at Arlo in Mission Valley. Marie's pick this week is the shrimp tempura udon at Musashiya in Kearny Mesa. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    We Get the Inside Scoop on Upcoming Concerts and Events (Including Golf!) at Petco Park

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 19, 2021 39:49

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! We're recording this episode from a premier club suite at Petco Park, thanks to this week's sponsor, the San Diego Padres. Our special guest this week is Jaclyn Lash, the Padres' vice president of special events. She joined the team in 2011 and oversees all events for the Padres and Petco Park, including concerts, game-day festivals, private and special events, and gatherings for the team. Before joining the Padres, she was at Jimmy Kimmel Live!, coordinating guest appearances and booking musical artists. We had to ask what it's like to meet and work with celebrities regularly, and she shares some fun stories (one including Kanye West!). Jaclyn is here to tell us how they transform the ballpark into venues for everything from the Monster Energy Supercross to The Links at Petco Park, a nine-hole golf course; and about upcoming concerts such as the Hella Mega Tour on Aug. 29 with Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer. You can see a schedule of more upcoming concerts here. In Hot Plates, the owner of RakiRaki Ramen opened a new restaurant, Matsuoka Pure Sushi, specializing in temari sushi and kaiseki bento. Karina's, a local institution for Mexican seafood, returned to downtown with the opening of a new cantina. Chef Kaci Goff of Wolf and Woman (and a podcast alum!) launched a new monthly dinner series, Lucky Cricket, with Taylor Berk, sommelier at Puffer Malarkey Collective. The dinner features several courses of Malaysian-Tamil cuisine and wines produced by female winemakers. In Two People, $50, Jaclyn is excited about Wolfie's Carousel Bar in Little Italy, which Troy just got a First Look at. Troy recommends the El Xolito hot dog at Barrio Dogg (located in Barrio Logan and Petco Park), and I got the El Borracho fries from Grand Ole BBQ inside the park. David and Troy got seafood without me and went to South Beach Bar & Grille in Ocean Beach for fried oyster tacos. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    We're Talking Beer and Baseball from a Suite at Petco Park

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 12, 2021 33:38

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! We're returning from a short break and taped this episode from a premier club suite at Petco Park, thanks to this week's sponsor, the San Diego Padres. We're here with Eddie Quinn, vice president of partnership services for the Padres and the park's resident beer expert, as they face off against the Miami Marlins. Eddie started his career with the Padres as a bat boy before he headed off to college, then he returned to San Diego and rejoined them as a sales representative. He's been with the team ever since (more than 15 years!) and worked his way up to his current title. He tells us about the craft beer program at the park and how many different breweries they partner with, and names his top three favorite brews that are available on site—listen in to get his recommendations! In Hot Plates, we have some big news to catch up on. Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen restaurant, named after the chef's popular TV show, is opening its fourth (and largest) location at Harrah's Resort in Valley Center next spring. La Puerta, a cantina that's been in the Gaslamp for over a decade, opened its second location in Mission Hills. After being on hold for a few years, LA icon Roscoe's House of Chicken N Waffles announced it is opening soon in Barrio Logan. Chef Bernard Guillas, who has been at The Marine Room for almost 30 years, recently retired. For Two People, $50, Eddie is a fan of the Beagle Burger at The Regal Beagle in Mission Hills. Troy's pick is the omakase with dry-aged bluefin tuna at Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub in Oceanside. David recommends the chile verde at Cantina Mayahuel in North Park. My pick is the branzino and cheese cart at Seneca, Consortium Holdings' new restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    Say Hola to Hellote, Which Serves Mexican Street Corn with a Twist

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 22, 2021 32:09

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week we're with Emmanuel Favela and Tony Haro, founders of Hellote in Chula Vista. Hellote is a new outdoor eatery that specializes in elote, Mexican street corn, served in both traditional and nontraditional ways. Emmanuel and Tony opened Hellote last fall, and they both have backgrounds in architecture (but zero restaurant experience), yet Hellote has been a success. We chat about how they conceived of the idea and created such a fun and inviting space on Main Street. We also learned that Emmanuel once worked as a designer at Funko (which explains the adorable Hellote logo!) and that they went to Texas to get special corn roasters that can cook the ears at a scorching 800 degrees. They walked us through the menu: Aside from a standard elote (Valentina sauce, lime, Cotíja, mayonnaise, and Tajín), there are dessert tamales, arrachera baked potatoes, inventive snack boxes of roasted corn topped with black ash mayo and chicharrones, and entire ears of corn covered in Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Aside from visiting them in Chula Vista (you'll want to Instagram the shipping container park), you can also see them at our Best of San Diego Party next month at Liberty Station. In Hot Plates, Biga is back and will be serving their pizza and sandwiches at the new Rady Shell at Jacobs Park along with other local food vendors and chefs (including Richard Blais). A taquería that everyone on the show agreed is a favorite, Tuétano Taquería, announced they're opening a second location this summer in the upcoming Old Town Urban Market. For Two People, $50, Troy's pick isn't within the budget, but he recommends the steak at Cowboy Star downtown. David says to try the boozy ice cream and Cajun eggs Benedict at Metl Bar in North Park. Emmanuel's go-to Thai restaurant is 55 Thai Kitchen in Golden Hill, and Tony's pick is the beans and rice from Las Cuatro Milpas in Barrio Logan. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    We're Celebrating Pride Week with Roanna Canete of North Park's Gluten Free Baking Co.

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 15, 2021 47:06

    Happy Pride Week! Our special guest is Roanna Canete, owner of The Gluten Free Baking Company in North Park. Roanna founded the company in 2015 when her son was diagnosed with a gluten allergy and she started baking for him—that led to formally studying cooking and baking, and starting the business. The storefront opened on 30th Street in the spring of 2020 and offers donuts, brownies, bagels, and pastries that are all gluten free; they can also make wedding cakes and gingerbread houses. In honor of Pride Week, Roanna created a menu of cupcakes and a special Pride rainbow cake, and she's donating 20 percent of the sales to The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization focused on empowering the Black LGBTQ+ community. We talk with Roanna about the importance of allyship, and how business owners can get involved in social justice issues and help make a difference, even in small ways. In Hot Plates, the founding chef of Dija Mara is opening a new Southeast Asian restaurant in North Park. Buona Forchetta opened another pizzeria, its eighth restaurant in the county, in San Marcos. Attention Top Chef fans! Animae and Unplated are hosting a charity dinner on August 1 featuring four chefs from the most recent season, filmed in Portland, Oregon, and the proceeds are going to the nonprofit World Central Kitchen. For Two People, $50, Roanna's pick is the tangerine chicken at Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant, and she's also a fan of Meráki Café in University Heights. Troy recommends the Morroccan spiced lamb at the newly opened Verbena Kitchen in North Park. David tried the bone-in ribeye at Rare Society, and Marie visited White Elephant (a new Thai restaurant in Hillcrest) for the crispy duck salad. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    Meet Tara Monsod, Animae's New Executive Chef

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 8, 2021 35:41

    Welcome back! This week we chat with Tara Monsod, who recently took over as executive chef at Animae, the high-design Asian fusion restaurant owned by Brian Malarkey and Chris Puffer. Tara has also worked at Herringbone, Burlap, and at the acclaimed Osteria Mozza in her hometown of Los Angeles, and this is her first executive chef position. She recently changed Animae's menu, and several of the new dishes reflect her Filipino American heritage and the flavors she grew up eating. David and I checked out the new menu (and didn't invite Troy), and we recommend the scallop crudo with calamansi (a citrus fruit from the Philippines) and the beef short rib kare kare, made with a savory sauce of peanut oil and bagoong (shrimp paste). We chat about Tara's passion for cooking and have a bigger discussion about whether Filipino food is finally getting the recognition it deserves, especially in a city that has one of the largest Filipino American communities in the U.S. She also shares the biggest lessons she learned from the late chef Anthony Sinsay, who mentored several chefs in San Diego and helped put our Filipino food scene on the map. In Hot Plates, Ponto Lago opened in Carlsbad last week with a Baja-inspired menu of ceviche, a daily roast of different proteins, and even dishes prepared tableside. Chef Phillip Esteban, our 2020 Critic's Pick for Best Chef, opened the brick-and-mortar location for White Rice in Liberty Station last week. It serves silog, Filipino rice bowls topped with an egg. For Two People, $50, Tara recommends the hand-pulled biang biang noodles from Shanxi Magic Kitchen (which we featured on the cover of our June issue!). David visited the North Park Farmers' Market for Gourmet Tamales and hot sauces from Down to Ferment. Troy enjoyed his first brunch at Breakfast Republic, and Marie liked the carne asada torta from Roxy's Tacos. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    A New Film Documents San Diego's Craft Beer Scene

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 1, 2021 70:54

    David, Marie and Troy are still at our sponsor, Home Brew Mart. Rumor has it David brought a cot and this is where he lives now. Understandable. The Linda Vista store is where the city's first bootstrap scientists got all the ingredients, materials, recipes, rumors, and know-how to start the craft beer revolution in San Diego. It's also home to Ballast Point—makers of one Sculpin IPA, one of the most famous craft beers in existence—who's celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Colby Chandler—the second-longest serving employee who helped create Sculpin way back when—will share a few pints and some stories of craft beer's days in the manger. This week we talk to the creators and host of a new documentary film, Beer City: San Diego. Host Aubree Miller (who's also the creative director of Amplified Ale Works) and producer Dave Wadsworth spent three years documenting San Diego's craft beer world, talking to the brewers, owners, and personalities who helped build the culture. The film also features and serves as tribute to longtime craft beer supporter and eminently great human being, Nate Soroko, who passed away recently. Some of the proceeds of the film's premiere party (Aug. 5 at The Casbah) will go to Nate's family. In Hot Plates, we cover Pop Pie Co. and Stella Jean's Ice Cream, which is opening a new spot in one of San Diego's original neighborhoods. We discuss the boom of the Mexican stew, birria, now that everyone's going nuts for Mike's Red Tacos, a new birria food truck in Morena. Plus, one San Diego bar made it into Esquire's annual “Best Bars in America.” For Two People, $50, Troy is still knee-deep in donuts and shares his story about sitting down with the owner of the iconic VG Donut (get the apple fritter) in Cardiff. David suggests hitting up Garibaldi, the speakeasy-ish spot inside the InterContinental Hotel downtown. Aubree reluctantly points people to her favorite natural wine bar in South Park, The Rose. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!

    We Talk Beef Jerky with Will Dryden, Founder of Baja Jerky

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 24, 2021 49:02

    Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! We're recording in person at Home Brew Mart by Ballast Point in Linda Vista, our sponsor for this week's episode. Ballast Point is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and Home Brew Mart is where the company began. We're with Colby Chandler, Ballast Point's former vice president and speciality brewer. He's the creator of the award-winning Sculpin IPA and the company's second-longest-serving employee! This week's special guest is Will Dryden, manager of operations for Baja Jerky. This new beef jerky company is headquartered in San Diego, with recipes created by Michelin-starred chef Brandon Rogers (Benu in San Francisco). Will fell in love with the cuisine in Cabo when he lived there, so the line has six Baja-inspired flavors of jerky like street taco, serrano lime, and even churro. He talks about how Baja Jerky stands out compared to national brands, the challenges in getting national distribution, some details of the high-quality beef they're sourcing, and where you can buy some. In Hot Plates, Pizza Port is opening a new location in Imperial Beach. Silverlake Ramen announced that it's expanding from LA to San Diego. An alcoholic herbal tea is being brewed at Kové Hard Yerba Mate's tasting room in Barrio Logan. For Two People, $50, Will's pick is the Brandt Burger at Ranch 45 in Solana Beach; David and I got fried chicken sandwiches at Corner Chicken in East Village, and Troy recommends the seasonal huckleberry donut at Sidecar Doughnuts in Del Mar. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from our listeners. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? Let us know! You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you're too shy, you can email us at See you next week!