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Stories by Naomi Wise

The Last Supper

San Diego Reader food critic Naomi Wise (Joan Golomb Goodwin) 1945–2011 ★★★★★ (Superb) Ratings reflect the reviewers' affinity for the critic and reaction to food, ambience, and service. December 14, 2011 We all gathered around ...

Tale of Two Fishes

It’s been ten years since I last ate at Top of the Market. Back then, the menu was similar to the downstairs Fish Market (plus a few luxury bites), with higher prices for identical upstairs-downstairs ...

Harvest Fests at Your Ease

It’s no longer difficult to find a restaurant serving Thanksgiving dinner, in part because, in these hard times, it’s a good opportunity (like Valentine’s Day) for a restaurant to reap a little profit and possibly ...

Secret Love

“Once, I had a secret love/ That lived within the heart of me./ All too soon, my secret love/ Became impatient to be free.” So sang Doris Day in the Eisenhower-era film Calamity Jane. My ...

Neighborhood Restaurants

Café 21 began as a lunch joint in University Heights, moved to a larger location there, and has now accepted the dare of downtown. It’s the zesty creation of a young couple from Azerbaijan, a ...

Muted Magic at Alchemy

The menu of Alchemy has expanded considerably since I first ate there after its opening, and the restaurant has become a South Park neighborhood favorite. Of course, there’s not much else to eat in the ...

Coronado Loves Locavore

I love driving through Coronado, admiring the comfy million-buck family houses where they might shoot updated versions of old TV favorites... Leave It to Lord Beaver, say, or Sir Ozzie and Dame Harriet. But not ...

Acqua Gets Off to a Heavenly Start

I woke up and — whoops — it was already mid-August. Nearly all my friends were vacationing in places with unbearable weather and aged parents. I wanted a little vacation of my own without those ...

Nine-Ten Is Off the Charts

It’s been too long since I’ve eaten at Restaurant Nine-Ten, but I’m always hoping for an excuse to revisit, as the restaurant’s reputation has slowly rocketed (forgive the oxymoron). July marked their tenth anniversary, with ...

Dreams of a Tropical Lagoon

On any regular Monday, most restaurants in San Diego are closed — on July 4, well, forget about it. That evening, Sam and I planned to see a movie in Hillcrest and wanted to get ...

Hello, So Long, Au Revoir

I’d spent most of a hot muggy afternoon at the dentist’s office, getting inspected and x-rayed and filling out a long, nosy form that began with “Are you alive? Y/N.” The obvious thing to do ...

To the Cloud!

Wine Vault and Bistro is one door south of Saffron, up three short levels of stairs. It opened in 2005, mainly as a wine shop, with tastings of wine and cheese. Then it expanded into ...

Smoking Zone: Coop's West Texas Barbecue

Coop’s is the new barbecue with the buzz. Since opening last October, it’s already garnered one major huzzah (Candice Woo in San Diego Magazine’s “best restaurants” issue for best barbecue). On Yelp, it’s incited an ...

Frankie the Bull at Proud Mary's

What’s a Louisiana restaurant doing in a Ramada in a sterile business district near Montgomery Field? Well, it’s making a lot of pilots happy, and me, too. With Magnolia gone and Bud’s moved up to ...

Big Flavors at Bayu's Ethiopian

Picking an Ethiopian restaurant presents a draconian choice: you can head for one of the cramped little places in City Heights (Asmara and Red Sea) for authenticity or choose more spacious places (Muzita or the ...

Chedi's American Thai

It’s not the windy city, the motor city, least of all the center city. It’s not Linda Vista, City Heights, or Convoy Street. It’s La Jolla, right? So the chic, newish Thai restaurant that’s been ...

Very Good Flavor Del Mar

Jason Maitland was the final chef at Arterra before the Marriott fired him and everybody else to remake the restaurant from scratch. (I haven’t been to the new incarnation and can’t say I’m eager: for ...

To South America with Cueva Bistro

They had me at empanadas. When I learned that Cueva Bistro was serving these sturdy Argentine/Chilean snacks — packets of thin-rolled, oven-crisped dough containing beef, chicken, and all manner of other goodies — it went ...

Adventure Travel at Wet Stone

Wine bars are proliferating here at the speed of, well, gastropubs. Many of the earlier arrivals (and some new ones, too) offer only a few nibbles (cheeses, cured meats, bruschetta, etc.) as ballast for the ...

This Little Piggy — Tre Porcellini

The very week that I received the elaborate press kit from Tre Porcellini (which means “three little pigs”), Barbarella mentioned the restaurant favorably in her column. Knowing her and David’s fine palates, I looked at ...

Miniaturized Antica

As mad fans of Trattoria Antica in La Mesa, my friend the Lynnester and I were thrilled to hear that its exuberant Sicilian chef Francesco Basile had opened a new place in Hillcrest. (Here, his ...

New Blue: Blue Point Coastal Cuisine

So, I find myself re-reviewing a Cohn restaurant because the chef has changed. And soon there will be others (such as Bo-Beau, the remake of Thee Bungalow). Yes, I’ve laid my grudge to rest. That ...

Average Easy Comforts of La Playa Bistro

La Playa is a sweet little neighborhood spot that its neighborhood obviously embraces — it was packed on a Thursday night. The Lynnester (slim, chic, and currently very blond) arrived early and seemed to be ...

Currant, Now As Then

Currant has become a different restaurant since I reviewed it three years ago, with all-new management and chef. I liked it then, and once we hit the main courses, I like it now. Chef Walter ...

Best Bites of the Year

The long recession has taken its toll, even on my “bests” list. Not only did I dine at few “destination restaurants” this year (and, sorry, you do get what you pay for, if you’re lucky), ...

Proper Gastro Pub: Better Than the Brits

Of all the gastropubs opening this year, Proper Gastro Pub seems to have the most extensive and ambitious menu, along with an especially rich selection of English pub-food classics, jiggered by chef Sean Magee into, ...

Another Man Done Gone from El Bizcocho

Stop the presses! The chef whose work is reviewed in this column abruptly departed El Bizcocho three days after this dinner. When our valiant mensch of a photographer, Alan Decker, phoned to make an appointment ...

Why Wild Bill Wins at Addison

Yes, I know. When I reviewed Addison in December 2006, shortly after its opening, I swore, “I wouldn’t go back there if somebody paid me — and somebody does.” Service conformed to some vulgar idea ...

Sweeter — and More Affordable at Suite and Tender

Suite and Tender is heartily sorry for what it did when it first opened and is doing sincere penance — and doing it well. I would never have gone back, but then I phoned the ...

No Cigar for Craft and Commerce

Craft and Commerce occupies the spot in Little Italy where a wannabe trendy restaurant named Illume briefly bloomed and died, trying to be a magnet for the hip young crowd moving into the nearby condos. ...

Thanks to the Cook — T-Day Dining

Back in the Neolithic Era, the year my in-laws were coming for Thanksgiving dinner, I was so nervous that when the doorbell rang, I dropped a raw egg on the kitchen floor. Today we have ...

With Candice and Da Man at Izakaya Sakura

My first meal at Izakaya Sakura was an especially joyous occasion. Not only did I get to enjoy sharing bites with Candice Woo (former CityBeat food critic who just replaced David Nelson at San Diego ...

Say It Loud at Maria Maria

“Black Magic” cooking? Often! Maria Maria is a small but growing chain co-owned by musician Carlos Santana along with a larger restaurant company (which also owns Bing Crosby in Fashion Valley). The menus are designed ...

Mental Eats: San Diego Cooks' Books

A reader recently asked whose food-writing I enjoy. Truth is, after so many hours of scribbling food prose, I’m totally full — when I hit the pillow I want mainly mysteries — Andy Dalziel, Inspector ...

That's Enfoodtainment at Searsucker in the Gaslamp

Searsucker’s chef Brian Malarkey became a celeb when he got to the finals on one of those TV chef contests. He didn’t win, but his roguish style and outgoing personality made him famous. At the ...

2010 Restaurant Issue

The 2010 Restaurant Issue, covering dirt to plate: foods locally grown and raised in San Diego County, top restaurant picks, top chefs to watch, and new food trends.

Thursday Night Fever at West Coast Tavern

Around the middle of the meal at West Coast Tavern, I realized that I’m really getting into the gastropub craze. They’re multiplying in nearly every neighborhood, offering an easy way to eat out with friends ...

Delivery Dining: Food When You Want It

Mama said there’d be days like this, but I don’t remember anything about “weeks and weeks like this.” Normally, I’d try to save a report on food-delivery services for the rains of winter, but in ...

Hot Time in Old Town's Cosmopolitan Restaurant and Hotel

I deliberately ignored the most recent previous incarnation of Old Town State Historic Park and everything in it. Oh, I did succumb to curiosity at one point, enough to have a margarita and a few ...

Sessions Public, a New Brave-Heart Gastropub in Ocean Beach

My posse-mate Lynne, queen of the food-blog scouts, discovered Sessions Public via a detailed, positive review on Chowhound, one of the most honest and sophisticated local food boards. (Oddly enough, the blogger was reporting on ...

Sweet Ideas

We were standing outside Blanca after our fabulous meal, plotting ways to hang on to its new chef of four months, Gavin Schmidt. “Even for a Wednesday, there aren’t enough people in here, given how ...

Cosmopolitan Comfort Cuisine

Carl Schroeder was the hot young chef hired by Bradley Ogden to oversee Arterra back when it was new. Schroeder made both his and the restaurant’s name there. Then he opened his own place, Market, ...

Korea's Got Cooking Talent!

The adventure began with an email from a work colleague: “You’ve got to try this place, even if you don’t review it. You should just go and enjoy it.” After checking blogs that gave more ...

Food Girl's Mexican Soul

I headed for Barrio Star with fear in my heart. Fear, and numerous variations of annoyance. Let’s start with the annoyances and touch on the fear later. Barrio Star is a new restaurant in Banker’s ...

You're Not in Guaymas Anymore

Some norteamericanos view Mexico as a romantic destination — aah, the wide beaches, the colorful villages, the open-air markets, the cute guys/gals, etc. On my initial trip to Mexico, my romance was with a fish ...

A Goat Comes to North Park

The small sign on the restaurant’s front door, displaying the charming logo of a clever-looking billy enjoying a pipe, is hard to spot when you’re driving by. You have to know where to look: the ...

Of an Earlier Era

My friend Charlie Perry (now food writer for the L.A. Times and various food-scholar magazines) used to live about a mile from me in San Francisco. Both of us were ambitious, striving cooks (we eventually ...

Not "Baah" but "Ahh"

I had to think twice about trying Little Sheep, a Mongolian hot-pot restaurant, but I figured that if I hated it, I could title the review “Baah, humbug!” That’s because my prior experience with hot ...

Whole New World

It’s summer-movie time, bringing all those boyish action flicks, indefatigable heroes with glam starlets breathing heavily all over them. This story, however, features a heroine, a dynamic brunette with more energy than Lara Cross, a ...

Cozy Mystery

I’ve passed Crown Bistro scores of times, always wondering about it: a little white building, well gardened and with an inviting front patio in front of a small white boutique hotel, it looks charming — ...