Before social pressures, we would just eat and tell others to eat wherever we always ate. These days, it seems, recommendations come skewed by hype (to which I too am not immune) when what we really should be sharing are the places we return to over and over even when no one is looking.
So, here is an un-scientifically compiled list of the restaurants I frequented in San Diego the most in 2019, which was totally inspired by this tweet:
Hands down one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego. I love about 90% of the menu and never hesitate to recommend it to anyone. While I rotate between many of the dishes, the Black Pepper Cashew Chicken—trimmed mushrooms battered and fried in “beef jerky” (my words) sauce served with always perfect rice—special (above) is almost always on my table.
Summer Rolls are one of the great culinary inventions in the history of man. A perfect package of crunchy vegetables, fragrant herbs, and the soft but snappy bite of rice paper enriched with the sweetness of some sort of sauce. At Purple Mint Vegetarian Bistro I appreciate that they don’t dilute the rolls with extra noodles, offering rice paper stuffed with tofu, purple mint, lettuces, basil, jicama, and carrots. The sauce, although spiked with crushed peanuts and pickled carrots, runs bland and benefits greatly from a kick of hoisin ($5.95).
There are two types of people: Those that love a specific style of pizza, and those who love supreme examples of EVERY style of pizza. Tribute Pizza—where pizza topping combinations are inspired by all the American greats—is for people who love them all.
The cavernous hall of the old North Park Post Office seemed an audacious choice for a debut restaurant. But attention to detail and a sweeping love of pizza quickly attracted customers.
Every January healthy resolutions and organized efforts drive up the demand for vegan food and someone will proclaimed it the “Year of the Vegan.” Then February rolls around and the food world returns to the status quo. This February is different.
Towards the end of 2018, partnerships between thriving plant-based protein brands and the fast food industry were taking root. One of the biggest pairings here in Southern California was the union of Beyond Meat and Del Taco.
While vegan options at fast food outlets may seem absurd—as an insider in the vegan community I can tell you that this has been the goal of many all along.
See, I often hear omnivores deflect vegan ideas, lamenting “…if only the food tasted good…”. But we all know that in reality, most Americans will eat plastic garbage if it’s cheap enough. And for new vegans, what many miss more than eggs and cheese are cheap convenient foods.
Large windows open onto Highway 101, pulling the ocean breeze into Encinitas’ newest vegan food and beer destination.
Dozens of cyclist fly by as the crowd slowly forms outside of The Far West Lounge by Modern Times in Encinitas. Within 20 minutes of opening, the bar is full of breakfast sandwiches and beer flights.
Curling around a marble top horseshoe bar, friends sip beer as their kids climb the underlit stadium seating in soccer practice threads. The papered walls wear badges of the company’s strong “mid-century maximalist” branding—from trays of felted TV dinners to cross-stitch rackets by Modern Times’ inhouse “art gnomes.” In the corner, a mini mart offers beer cans, coffee beans, and Modern Times branded swag to-go.
“Historically, food and wine events and prix fixe menus with wine pairings have centered around meat,” says PlantBasedPopUp founder Anna Keeve. “Because of this, plant-based eaters miss out on these tyes of experiences. It’s time to reframe the way we look at this concept of pairing food and wine.”
PlantBasedPopUp is here to change that, partnering with top-tiered restaurants to host monthly plant-based wine pairing dinners in San Diego County.
A pot of herbal Alternifolia Tea and plate of pickles arrive without notice—a fading hospitality in today’s nickle and dime culture. In the traditional Chinese-style, cabbage and carrots are quick-pickled in salt and then bathed in a sweet vinegar brine. The portion is just enough to wash away the muck of morning and rouse salivation. … Shangri-La Vegetarian (San Francisco, CA)
Donna Jean offers a vegetable forward menu with midwestern charm and California sensibilities.
Under the dappling of the summer sun, pink radish bulbs push through the dirt under the kale leaves and carrot tops surrounding Donna Jean’s patio. Between the magenta shocks of bougainvilleas, tables fill with dukkah-dusted turnips and pizzas dotted with smoked dates and pickled shallots.
Vegetables drive the menu—but all dishes are quietly supported by the spice and experience.
A midwestern boy at heart, Chef Roy Elam carries the lessons learned there—use everything, force nothing.