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Stories by Barbarella Fokos

Winter fun in San Diego

Hot springs, Sleeping Giant at La Jolla Cove, pickleball, puppets, special trails, minus tides, snow, poinsettias, wind tunnels, San Diego Gulls

Drums, giants, and Mother Goose Stargazing in Anza-Borrego 652 Palm Canyon Drive Borrego Springs This year, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was officially designated an International Dark Sky Community, thanks to years of concerted effort to ...

Reader 2018 Feast issue

Writers and their favotrites

When dinner is a gift El Jardin, Cowboy Star, Coasterra, Born & Raised, Charles + Dinorah, Nine-Ten, Juniper & Ivy By Mary Beth Abate I burst with hometown pride George's, Himitsu, Kokoro, Starlite, Gelato Vero ...

The experience needs to deliver

Peohe's, Marine Room, La Bonne Table, Wine Vault & Bistro, Solare, Bo-beau, Vincent's

The market is saturated with food delivery services, which means it’s getting easier and easier to order in on those nights we don’t have the time or energy to go shopping and prepare dinner at ...

Pigging out

New BBQ joint in La Mesa

There’s no doubting Chef Hanis Cavin’s affinity for pigs. On his forearm is a tattoo of a butcher’s diagram of pork cuts, and in his home is his beloved pet, Carnitas—the not-to-be-eaten little piggy for ...

From Chargers to Game of Thrones

OB Noodle House Bar 1502's new theme

This was my first time dining at OB Noodle House Bar 1502, but I’d seen it on multiple occasions from the patio of Raglan Public House across the street. Had I known they had a ...

A new place to dim sum

Come early to Mira Mesa but not too early

It wasn’t until I entered Fung Fung Yuen that I realized I’d never set foot in a dim sum restaurant that was this new. The carpet was spotless, there were no nicks on the back ...

Rainbow dumplings

Silence at our table as we ate dessert

I love the name of this restaurant: "Steamy Piggy" is adorable and appalling. How dare they use an endearment such as “piggy” to describe the food I’m about to eat? On an instinctive, American level, ...

Tacos de Barbarella

Ortega's, Cantina Mayahuel, Kensington Cafe, El Zarape, Cocina 35, Barrio Star

Tacos may have been designed to be eaten on the go, but I prefer to take my time toggling between tacos and tequila, ideally a nice añejo. While I enjoy a compact street taco from ...

Mountain View backyard bent to his will

Five kinds of cherries, an apple tree, tangerines, plums, peaches, passion fruit, pomegranate, blue Java bananas, lemons, two varieties of grapes, a strawberry patch, and a seasonal vegetable garden

Often found sporting a waistcoat and a woolen flat cap, James Gielow is a self-described “Neo-Rennaisance man — an artist at heart and hand, with the soul of a scientist and a philosopher.” He spends ...

Happy hour for dinner, the French way

Leave content but not overfull

I like making a dinner out of happy hour or, as the French would say, making un apéro dînatoire. That is, to sip, socialize, graze on a variety of offerings over time, and leave content ...

New Zealand joins UTC glitz

A step up from the airport

Westfield UTC Shopping Center was once a typical Southern California mall, but is becoming a small city geared toward the one percent. Soon there will be luxury condos on premises, so that people can walk ...

Happy hour with the world's best chef

Haven't heard of the Three Shrimp award?

San Diego has a world-famous chef, and I don't mean any of the usual Food Network suspects, who are known for their TV personalities. Last year, Chef Accursio Lotà of Solare Ristorante snagged Best Chef ...

Fish & chips by the sea

Lunch at Mitch's Seafood

As my man and I ventured from our home office together in search of lunch, we each had a distinct mission: David wanted grilled fish, and I wanted a pretty view and post-lunch stroll, and ...

Meh

Lunch at Green Dragon Tavern & Museum

A year and a half ago I attended a special dining event at Green Dragon Tavern & Museum, and I’d been meaning to get back to sample from the regular menu. But, because it's all ...

Used T-shirts, medical gauze, old hankies

The faction of San Diego artists who work in textiles

Whether it’s oil painted on canvas, a photograph printed on paper, or a dance performed on stage, an artist’s medium is chosen because it best suits the message the artist intends to communicate. And for ...

Meat on the radar

It’s rare that a steak isn’t cooked exactly to order at a steakhouse

Call it economic anxiety, call it freelancing for a living, but for whatever reason this past year, my fine-dining experiences were limited to a handful of special occasions. When you spend more money than you’re ...

More pasty than pastry

Think twice before ordering a gluten-free donut

Holy Matcha, a tiny cafe specializing in the powdered green tea for which it’s named, feels like it was designed by an Instagram algorithm. The interior is all pink and green, and everything — down ...

Tell Amazon what they want to hear

... or they may unlist your product

On November 1, local artist and entrepreneur Rachel Eva was hopeful about the impending holidays. Standard Spoon, the boutique barware company Eva founded two years ago with her collaborator and husband, Shawn Michael, was only ...

Not only Convoy

My mother makes her demand

The Convoy district may be San Diego’s hub for Asian food, but that doesn’t mean all the good ones are concentrated in that area. For example, tucked into a strip mall on an otherwise restaurant-bare ...

Clairemont Mesa's Blvd. Hunan food tested me

Outside the boundaries at Village Kitchen

When David and I agreed to join our friends Katie and Jordan for dinner at Village Kitchen, I was mildly apprehensive. This Chinese restaurant in Clairemont is known for its Hunan-style cuisine, and I wasn’t ...

Crudo on a Thursday: out of the foie gras, but not the sea bass

Look beyond the pisco sour and gin fizz

Dining out has never been just about the food. Every aspect factors into the overall experience, from the way you’re greeted at the door to the lighting at your table. With the advent of countless ...

E-lynched in Barrio Logan

“Knock some sense into this bitch.”

On October 26, Jenny Niezgoda launched a Kickstarter campaign for La Gracia Modern Fruiteria, a café and coffee bar she planned to open in Barrio Logan. Hours later, with 14 backers and $812 of her ...

Comfort-foody north of the 52

Mama Kat's pleases a finicky mom

My mother and I met up with my sister Heather for lunch and a pedicure one recent weekday, and chose to eat at Mama Kat’s because it was located in the same strip mall as ...

La Jolla movie restaurant tries to get it right, but...

A Lot to be improved

Just as traveling through a snow storm reminds me to appreciate our Southern California sunshine, I’d like to thank The Lot in La Jolla for reminding me to appreciate the times I have dined out ...

Savory and satisfying and gigantic at The Original Pancake House

Give in to the fantasy

We hadn’t intended to go to The Original Pancake House. One goes to Convoy for excellent Asian food, not old Americana, but alas, upon arrival at 10:30 a.m. David and I realized that all of ...

Fusion is foremost

Al Reef, Koon Thai, Bully's East, Izakaya Masa, Grass Skirt, Prep Kitchen, La Bonne Table

Prep Kitchen is quintessentially Californian in that it exalts comfort food by making it seasonal, and in that fusion is foremost. On this menu, you’ll find fish tacos (tomatillo salsa, cabbage, cilantro, avocado crema: $14.95) ...

No quarters necessary

Nonstop gaming at Fleet Science Center

Fleet Science Center welcomes gamers of all ages and levels with Game Masters: The Exhibition. This traveling exhibition that originated at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image opened on July 1 and runs through ...

Swayed by the curry

Koon Thai, sans Styrofoam

Sometimes sifting through delivery apps is the best way to find a new restaurant. You pick a food genre, browse, and then select something and it arrives, like Netflix for dinner. I discovered Koon Thai ...

Trends come and go, but Parkhouse Eatery remains

Don’t ever change

If there’s one thing in this ever-changing world I can rely on, it’s the menu at Parkhouse Eatery. The place that was serving up avocado toast long before it was a thing is also home ...

Fast-ish food of the ramen variety

Nozaru Ramen Bar on Adams Ave.

Fast-ish food is so hot right now. Five years ago, a girl had to drive all the way up to Convoy for a decent bowl of ramen, but now you can’t drive a mile through ...

Happy Hour becomes happy dinner

Bavarian pretzel, deviled eggs, Duroc pork — at Leroy's in Coronado

I love an early happy hour, or as Leroy’s Kitchen and Lounge refers to their late afternoon-but-not-quite-early-evening discount time, “Social Hour.” Leroy’s starts at 3:00 p.m., allowing three whole hours for discounted drinks and half-off ...

Don't shoot the cook

Chilaquiles and cochinita in downtown San Diego

In the movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Johnny Depp plays a dangerous and dashing CIA agent with a penchant for puerco pibil. “It is a slow-roasted pork,” Depp’s character explains as he takes ...

Late-night options

Despite the hour, the kitchen doesn’t slack

Though I appreciate many of this town’s 24-hour taco shops, it’s nice to have options for when David and I — hungry after a long event — are looking for late-night dining. Plenty of events ...

On the way to the “super bloom”

The first bite was reminiscent of a backyard barbecue

We didn’t know where we were going, not at first. All I knew was that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I wanted to drive, ideally toward a field of flowers, as my news ...

Service stands out at Herb & Wood

A dining spot for the special occasion

After one of the hype-iest openings in recent history, Herb & Wood remained for many months a place I was afraid to visit, lest it disappoint me the way a few other big-money, big-hype restaurants ...

Another take on veggie wonder Donna Jean

Comfort food, vegan style

[Ed. note: Ian Anderson reviewed Donna Jean on March 9.] We are all omnivores by nature, but I am also one by choice, as in I choose to eat a variety of foods that include ...

Three Little Lion cubs

The spirit of Belgian Lion lives on in granddaughters

The Little Lion Café inhabits a tiny building at the edge of Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, right at the point where the long straight street becomes a winding road that hugs the coastline. The Little Lion ...

New Orleans Cafe puts the Old South in the Old West

Try something with the word “creole” in it

Between the quality shows at Cygnet Theatre and the lighthearted comedy of Old Town Improv, I’ve been finding more reasons to spend time in Old Town, an area that, along with the Gaslamp, I once ...

Where art resides

Typically, artists “just want to make work in private.”

“Artist residences are about taking the time to explore your work in a new way,” says Melissa Walter, who is currently the artist-in-residence at Bread & Salt, “a gallery and experimental center for the arts.” ...

Kensington: the only real neighborhood in San Diego

Where a guy can paint his house the color of a taco stand.

Dino the dachshund and a Chihuahua/Brittany spaniel mix named Olivia walk through Kensington on a cool, clear afternoon. Behind them ambles Peter LaMontia. The trio head for Village Vino. Every one of Kensington’s restaurants features ...

Fresh picks at the Red Door

At farm-to-table restaurants, new season means new menu

My friend Rosa convinced me — with an arsenal of photos she’d taken of dishes, including her favorite mac ’n’ cheese — to go to the Red Door for happy hour. “The vegetables are always ...

Dine like a revolutionary

See an actual Sam Adams signature while drinking a Sam Adams beer

On the rare occasion David and I make a trek to Carlsbad, it’s usually to go to the European restaurant and store Tip Top Meats (primarily for products by the Hungarian brand, Bende, which is ...

Savory smoked selections

Grand Ole BBQ y Asado sells out

The San Diego restaurant scene is vast in terms of dining options, but in its own way it is also small and many chefs and restaurateurs are friends in what is, for the most part, ...

The salads here are tasty

“You like it? It was good?”

It had been years since I’d been to the Pappalecco in Little Italy, so my expectations were neutral when I walked into their most recent location in Kensington. The first thing I noticed was how ...

About to get meaty

Look away, vegetarian friends

My favorite burger of all time is still Starlite’s (see Mary Beth’s note about it) primarily for its classic perfection (Brandt beef, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, brioche bun). But having a go-to doesn’t preclude me ...

Oh, those free-range birds

Late lunch in North Park

David and I finally made it to Encontro, in that magical empty hour between lunch and dinner. The restaurant is positioned at the corner of University Avenue and 30th Street, which puts it right in ...

Strong libations! You’ve been warned!

Drinks and a view at Bali Hai

When I’m stressed out, an ocean view is the tonic that I crave. There’s something so calming about that expanse of blue, the ripples on the surface, the wide openness of the water. Recently, after ...

Literature for the white-socks-and-orange-slippers set

If I can read a book, I can get a job

At first glance, Unit 800’s classroom looks like any ordinary high-school classroom. It has all the usual stuff: bookshelves, white board, map of the world, and around a dozen student desks. Pinned near the ceiling ...

The Hanged Man

This is it. The final installment of Diary of a Diva.

I have kept every message I’ve ever received, the most poignant and rewarding being the responses to my stories about my struggles with anxiety and depression.

Cruise loos

The salty-dog bowel-and-bladder conundrum

David is the guy who, upon hearing a fart joke at a party, rolls his eyes and repeats the adage that, given enough time, all conversations seem to devolve into discussions of bodily functions.

Let’s Be Friends

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