Downtown San Diego Stories

Encore Champagne Bar open downtown

With its late-night happy hour, Encore fills the niche between club and restauarant

What a cool idea is Encore Champagne Bar. Decked out in white leather and crystal chandeliers, it has a vaguely Russian sensibility; the kind of cheesy opulence that’s earnest, retro, fun, and attractive all at ...

San Diego Rep visits Detroit...or is it Kansas City, maybe Denver?

Truth fall

They have trod the proscribed path: college, marriage, no beer-drinking in the front yard.

Hotel downsizes for financial reasons

Reduced by nine stories, but still 183 feet tall

A developer has scaled down a hotel project at 401 W. Ash Street, previously approved last September by Civic San Diego. The reason for the downsizing was due to the developer's difficulty in obtaining financing ...

The original Ataris

“I got a call from the band’s manager,” guitarist John Collura tells the Reader. “I’d been out of the band for, what, six years? He said, ‘What do you think about getting the band back ...

Stephanie Blythe is a romantic

Superstar mezzo-soprano coming to San Diego

Stephanie Blythe is in San Diego to sing. It’s what she does, and she does it as well — if not better — than anyone you’ll ever hear. I was able to sit down and ...

Sushi, SoCal-style, on a roll!

Sushi Freak wants you to play chef

What if you could walk into a sushi joint and invent your own sushi roll? Just tell the chef "Gimme some of this, some of that, and I don't care if they shouldn't go together, ...

Great, though not goat

The golden-brown steaming lake of birria sends wafts of beefy, spicy, cilantro-y, almost mole-ish richness swirling up my nostrils. And now the lime I’ve squirted on it makes it so purr-fect it almost sings as ...

The Ring, without words

The Ring Without Words. That’s all I need to write. The Ring Without Words. I’ll add the time and dates as well. Friday, February 28th and Saturday, March 1st, at 8:00 pm and Sunday, March ...

Lights! Camera! The first annual San Diego Film Awards!

Awards gala takes place March 6 at Horton Grand.

TIMPANI! Ladies and gentlemen, the Film Consortium San Diego is proud to announce the star-studded, first ever San Diego Film Awards! A relative new kid in town, the FCSD "has been actively working to mobilize ...

Serious changes bode ill for Saltbox restaurant

With a dumbed-down menu and a reduced dining room, Hotel Palomar restaurant isn't the spot it once was

Pity about Saltbox at the Hotel Palomar. The place used to have something going for it when Simon Dolinky wore the big hat in the kitchen. His dishes weren’t always mind blowing, but they had ...

Everyone loves the soprano

Tatiana Lisnic is winning the ears and hearts of San Diego

Something amazing is happening at San Diego Opera right now. In an opinionated industry, as we discussed with Frank Porretta, there is a consensus regarding soprano Tatiana Lisnic. Every, single person I know who has ...

The Stars come out

The San Diego Performing Arts League is an umbrella organization dedicated to promoting local arts groups. The SDPL operates the Arts Tix booth at Horton Plaza (selling discount and full-price tickets) and the ArtsTix website. ...

Cinderella’d into Acme Southern Kitchen

Wow. What a difference from last time. I stuck my nose in in early January. This is near the old Central Library, Ninth and E. The sign, “Acme Southern Kitchen” was up, but inside it ...

A marketable-adjective bistro takes over

Meatballs and tapas supplant French appeal

I never made it to Café Paris, but there's enough Francophile to me that I'd looked forward to it. Wine and small plates can be just the thing some evenings, even if you have to ...

Cheap Buds, saintly salads

Crossroads at House of Blues has sweet food/booze/music deals

Will somebody please tell me where there is a better happy hour deal than here at the House of Blues' Crossroads Bar? Two-dollar pints of Bud Light! Five-buck quesadillas. Free live music! So okay, the ...

Eating with a Southern California accent

Deep-fried tomatoes get their due

Americans tend to be sentimental about Southern food whether or not they've ever lived below the Mason-Dixon. It seems to be linked to some sort of nostalgic national identity, to the point that poor-quality biscuits, ...

Portable Paintings

“Small paintings whisper to you. They tell a secret to you and you only.”

One of the great movie gangsters was also a smart, discriminating art collector. As Rico Bandello in Little Caesar (“Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?”), Edward G. Robinson, born Emmanuel Goldenberg in ...

Kevin Burdette: Shakespeare is a "gateway drug into opera"

An interview with a comedic opera singer: part 1 of 2

Watching Kevin Burdette perform a comedic opera is kind of like watching Jim Carey perform opera — only Kevin sings better. Kevin is a lanky bass from Knoxville who nearly stole the show last season ...

Duck egg: cure for happy hour blues?

Grant Grill has novel dish that it, uh, curates

I swear. If I see the word "curated" one more time I'm gonna scream. "Curated," "hand-crafted" "flights" of booze, food, you name it... the hand-ringing pretentiousness has swept like a virus through the menus of ...

San Diego Symphony back from opera

Pipa master Wu Man to solo with orchestra

With Pagliacci in the books at San Diego Opera, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra returns to the Jacobs Music Center for a concert off the beaten path this coming weekend. The first rarity of the ...

Fresh and fluffy

Ed gets a quick class in cheesemanship at Venissimo.

“It’s Hook’s cheddar. Costs $40 a pound. That would come to about $15 per sandwich.”

Free trade backlash at downtown protest

Congressional members Darrell Issa and Susan Davis targeted

Protesters took to the streets near the intersection of Front Street and Broadway downtown on January 31 to denounce efforts to "fast track" approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and, more broadly, free-trade agreements of ...

Joshua Bell is back in San Diego

A quick interview with violin mega-star Joshua Bell about his upcoming concert.

Joshua Bell is a busy, busy, man but he will be coming to San Diego to give a solo recital on Friday February 7th. We all know and love him in San Diego for his ...

Dog-Friendly Dining: Café Chloe avec mon chien

Parisian-style bistro welcomes pups at outdoor tables

It may yet be years before Paris opens its first San Diego-style restaurant (though it has apparently availed itself of California cuisine in food truck form). While French gastronomy might be missing out on the ...

Meet the Dishcrawl Ambassador

On a Tuesday evening in late September, Lindsay Marks stands in the center of a group of people at Spike Africa’s Fresh Fish Grill and Bar on Broadway. She wears a cheek-stretcher of a smile ...

San Diego's top spots for picnics

“The park offers a bird’s-eye view of downtown skyscrapers, planes lifting off from the airport, Mission Bay, the ocean...”

The "barely there" dress code of the Gaslamp

Saturday night my husband and I went to a concert at Balboa Theater, afterward we decided to walk down to Quality Social for a couple of drinks. After walking a half a block on 4th ...

New life breathed into “Atmosphere” project

Future low-income apartments set for Cortez neighborhood

The dead-in-the-dirt “Atmosphere” downtown condo project, which crashed in 2004, is getting a new lease on life. Now it will definitely become a low-income apartment complex, through efforts by Centre City Development Corp. (now Civic ...

Yelled at by Skinny Puppy

After listening to a Skinny Puppy record, one feels as if having been yelled at by an angry parent. Dark moods, riddled with an irritation that either leaves you speechless or that you can completely ...

Pork chops and nostalgia at YMCA’s Grand Central Café

Army & Navy brekky

“Don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t love my place up in the Hollywood Hills, I’d come live down here.”

Cocktail queen becomes west coast’s only mezcalier

All tequilas are mezcal, not all mezcal is tequila.

Sommeliers, professional wine experts in charge of ordering and pairing wines, are fairly common in upscale restaurants. One San Diego restaurant pro is doing the same thing with mezcal, one of Mexico’s most important contributions ...

Earth’s fastest violinist

Juilliard-trained David Garrett won’t talk about departing the Royal College of Music in London after one semester, but he can play 13 notes in one second and is scheduled to play Balboa Theatre on January 26 — so what’s the big deal?!

Trust me. I’m a chef.

Ed gets protective of his egg-topped pizza in the Gaslamp.

“Hi there!” “Hello. Care to see...” I notice they target the man every time. Good strategy.

New chef makes headway at Gang Kitchen

Downtown Asian-fusion spot picks up Craig Jimenez, comes closer to reaching its full potential

It’s been a year since Gang Kitchen’s initial Reader review, and the restaurant’s kitchen has seen some shakeups. Craig Jimenez, formerly of Roseville Cozinha and Craft and Commerce, is in as the new executive chef, ...

In the Time of the Butterflies at San Diego Rep

In 1960, Rafael Trujillo, the brutal dictator of the Dominican Republic, confessed to his inner circle: “My only two problems are the church and the Mirabel sisters.” Patria, Minerva, Maria Teresa, and Dede Mirabel grew ...

Extreme Midget Opera

San Diego Opera needs a little person on stage.

San Diego Opera has a casting problem. They need an actor to be featured in the upcoming production of The Elixir of Love. Why the problem? I mean, the role is paid, it’s a non-singing ...

Down under collaboration for Karl Strauss

Back to scene of company’s inspiration for San Diego’s eldest brewery

Twenty-five years ago, Chris Cramer had an epiphany when he entered an Australian brewpub called Sail and Anchor and drank one of its house beers. The concept of brewing beer on-site blew him away, leading ...

Deep South arrives downtown

Acme Kitchen promises grits, green tomatoes and angel cakes

"I like being early," says Terryl Gavre. She's the wunderkind gal who started up Café 222 (remember her on posters wearing a waffle on her head?), and then Bankers Hill Bar/Restaurant, and then Bankers Hill ...

Beer of the Week: Play Date Stout

With the camaraderie between San Diego County breweries, collaboration beers are natural and frequent occurrences. For many brewers, the only inhibitor to embarking on a group project is the inability to fit a collaboration into ...

Ed does — eek! — salad

New year, new eating habits to gain (and 10 pounds to lose)

Oh Lawdie. Some much gunk. This whole holiday season I have gone ape on burgers, spuds, chocolate cakes, Cool Whip, donuts, burritos, donuts, grog, beers, vino... Time to pull back. Take the higher road. Eat ...

Is Downtown eating its own?

This week's departure of Croce's makes you wonder why the good places downtown so often die young.

Croce's is on the way out — of downtown — and on the way in, to Bankers Hill. Like Café Bassam before it, the beloved live music icon had to abandon downtown and retreat up the hill because it had been too successful. It sounds as though Croce's Park West will be pretty much the same, but the Gaslamp won't. A bit more life has just been sapped from it.

Dumpster dining host planned a street Christmas

Environmental activist Rob Greenfield takes up the homeless challenge

After spending a whole week eating nothing but food found in dumpsters of grocery stores, Rob Greenfield hosted a dinner party at his home in Ocean Beach on Friday, December 20. With the goal to ...

Gothic in the Gaslamp

Bah, humbug!

You can’t go wrong with black. It’s slimming. It’s simple. It’s sleek. It’s the shade that Audrey Hepburn is remembered most for wearing in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Her little black dress is a look that ...

The Nutcracker's incorrect notes

California Ballet's Nutcracker at the Civic Theater

I went to The Nutcracker on Friday night at the Civic Theater. The production was by California Ballet and I have to admit that I was impressed. Of course, I'm not an expert when it ...

Beethoven 9th: San Diego Symphony (2 of 2)

As beautiful as the Brahms performance was, it was not the primary draw to last weekend’s concerts. The big piece of music was Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. We weren’t disappointed. The performance was magnificent. The ...

Beautiful Brahms at San Diego Symphony (1 of 2)

Saturday night was the first time I've been able to catch the San Diego Symphony after their return from touring China. The first sound they made was Brahms' Variations on a Theme by Haydn and ...

Lotus Thai Happy Hour: where's the Thai?

Ed is underwhelmed at the HH offerings, but learns a lot about seasonings

"Uncle Jerry was from Baton Rouge," says David. He's at the next stool, sipping his ruby-red Zen of Zin ($5). "He'd make his own seasoning and for the holidays, send it out to our family ...

L.A. NFL stadium rivals sink big cash into Brown bid

U-T San Diego ramps up push for new Chargers venue

The professional football season is nearing a wrap and the campaign for San Diego mayor is ramping up, time yet again for another push by La Jolla real estate maven, Republican money-man, and U-T San ...

Pizzeria Mozza opens strong

Highly-anticipated LA pizza restaurant serves exceptional cuisine, living up to its own hype and then some

It was so easy to bear Pizzeria Mozza all the ill will in the world. For starters, people go bonkers over the one in Los Angeles, and, as any true San Diegan knows, nothing good ...

Deviled Egg Craze

The one item on the menu that keeps me coming back to the Lion's Share is their deviled eggs. The restaurant sits at the south end of Kettner Boulevard in Downtown's Marina neighborhood. Dark wood ...

Beethoven 9th

Beethoven's Ode to Joy is on this weekend

Speaking of Germans, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is coming up this weekend at Symphony Hall. The orchestra, conductor Ken-David Masur, and the San Diego Master Chorale are all familiar entities, but what about the soloists? ...

Tri-tips and home-made pickles: Hot!

New eats in downtown's oldest drinkery

They're smoking, upstairs above the Tivoli Bar. Smoking tri-tip, that is. JJ and Ashley, his wife. They're the new proprietors of the grill at the far end of the ancient bar, the one with the ...

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