Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
Cafe 21 now has a second branch downtown, at 750 5th Ave. in the Gaslamp. How cool is that! They deserve their success. This is the place serving Azeri food plus other inspirations of the chef. (Homeland is in the same deep-south neighborhood as Georgia and Armenia. Each has a distinctive cuisine of its own, but all of them offers the tastiest, zestiest, most exciting food in the whole former USSR. 'Course, I haven't been to the whole ex-USSR, just a few restaurants in California, but from them I've gladly learned that in this area it's not all wintry potatoes, cabbage, and beets, it's sunshiny eggplant, peppers, walnuts, fruits. And at Cafe 21, huge gorgeous salads that look like classic Dutch still-lifes and taste like joy.
Meanwhile, Terra is going to close its long-running Hillcrest location on March 30, and reopen about a month later in the mysterious East (La Mesa or thereabouts), with a somewhat revised menu and lower prices, but still the same devotion to sustainable foods. .I'll bet the neighborhood there just (dare I say it?) drools over it. I'll miss it. I haven't eaten there in awhile, but when my boyfriend was alive, he used to park himself on the patio and eat a few tapas while I slogged through Trader Joe's, across the street, just to show up again as I hit the cash register and needed his help to shlep the cases of South American wines to the car...After that came the slog thru Ralph's, and I was grateful his appetite had been somewhat stanched or else he would have sneaked every junk food in the store into our cart.