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Stories by Barbarella Fokos

Of special concern to North San Diego County

Grassy Heaven Broad, open grasslands in the topography of San Diego County are the exception to the norm, which is chaparral-covered mesas and barrancas. And most of the natural grasslands, Mission Valley for example, have ...

August 24, 2020
The glamour and crime of Tijuana

Don't look now Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult not to stare at ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns. Under normal circumstances, ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns ...

August 8, 2020
Spring Valley – land of contrasts

Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley got its name from encyclopedia salesman One of the oddest things about the Dictionary Hill area, also known as La Presa, is the way the streets were laid out on ...

San Diego Reader 2019 Arts issue

Birds sing, elephants dance, and monkeys paint, but only humans turn those activities into art. And only humans evince a bottomless hunger for it: hence the endless parade of pictures on Instagram, stories on Netflix, ...

February 27, 2019
San Diego Reader 2018 Holiday issue

You don’t have to do anything this holiday season. Despite what the song says, you don’t have to deck the halls, join the chorus, or don any sort of gay apparel. You don’t have to ...

December 5, 2018
San Diego Reader 2018 winter fun issue

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 ...

November 7, 2018
San Diego Reader 2018 Feast issue

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

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 ...

August 8, 2018
Pigging out

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

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

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

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

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 ...

May 16, 2018
Mountain View backyard lies six miles east of downtown San Diego

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ...

February 7, 2018
Meat on the radar

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

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

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 ...

December 13, 2017
Not only Convoy

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

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

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

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 ...

November 15, 2017
Comfort-foody north of the 52

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...

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

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

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) ...

August 9, 2017
No quarters necessary

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 ...

July 6, 2017
Swayed by the curry

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

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

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

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

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

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”

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

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

[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 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

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 ...

San Diego Reader 2017 arts issue

If You’re Making Art and Getting Paid for It... “People used to say, ‘Oh, I love your music; I put it on when I go to sleep.’ At first, I was insulted: ‘Thanks a lot. ...

February 8, 2017
Where art resides

“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.” ...

February 8, 2017
Fresh picks at the Red Door

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

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

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

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 ...

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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