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Stories by Ian Anderson

International Smoke and a $29 lunch

Alongside death and taxes, there’s at least one more certainty in this life: accumulate a few of food writing bylines, and publicist emails will find you. I receive dozens per day, occasionally duplicates finding me ...

What Lefty’s Cheesesteaks gets right

All things being equal, I’m going to choose the local restaurant over the out-of-town chain — especially when a clash of brands or menu items are involved. But that doesn’t mean I can’t give a ...

September 14, 2021
For one of the city's best sandwiches, look to Ranas Mexico City

I’m not a big fan of making lists, but within a couple bites of this pambazo, my mind starts sifting through all the hot sandwiches I’ve tried in San Diego. Can I think of five ...

Matsuoka rounds out the Yasai sushi menu

There is a lot going on at 4646 Convoy Street, suite 101. I was here just a couple months ago to try the Japanese style fried chicken of Junya’s Crispy Karaage. That counter shop shares ...

The beef behind Crack Taco Shop

I wonder, when the crack cocaine addiction became an epidemic in the 1980s, did anyone foresee that we would someday use the word crack to describe food? Yet, in the darker corners of American humor, ...

Ackee Tree and the real national dish of Jamaica

Jerk chicken, goat curry, oxtail, brown stew. Having spent fifteen years sampling dishes from at least that many Jamaican restaurants, I’ve come to view these as staples of the island cuisine built upon the pleasures ...

Smoked meat sandwiches overflow at Valley Farm's BBQ Shack

There’s an aisle of shelves in Spring Valley grocery Valley Farm Market almost entirely devoted to barbecue. It carries sauces, seasonings, wood chips, pellets, and a litany of accessories for the wannabe backyard smoker. I’ve ...

Seaport Fudge Factory has kept dentists in business for 30 years

I’ve photographed burritos, dumplings, and egg rolls, but probably the most challenging photo I’ve ever tried to take centered on a lump of fudge. I’d ordered the rocky road flavor, hoping that the large, white ...

The gray yet vibrant Hoxton Manor

Out in search of a romantic dinner, we approached a rather nondescript, gray storefront on University Avenue. The place didn’t even have a sign up — were it not for a handful of diners enjoying ...

Ring the bell for vegan pastries at Split Bakehouse

The past couple years have brought plenty of changes to Split Bakehouse. When Vanessa Corrales launched the brand in 2018 with acclaimed pastry chef Kristianna Zabala, the idea was to offer a wholesale pastry menu ...

Los Sushi Lovers makes sense of Mexican fusion

Other than the word sushi itself, there’s usually not much to learn about a sushi restaurant by looking at its name. Sometimes, if there’s a Japanese word, you can run it through an online translator ...

Chicago Not Dogs, not for purists

Plant-based eateries aren’t as tough a sell as they used to be in San Diego, but they’re still part of the volatile restaurant business, so even some of the good ones close before their time. ...

What’s that bloomin’ at Westerly Public House?

I’m not sure what spurred an interest when I learned that an Australia-styled gastropub had opened in Shelter Island. Probably, I’d be just as keen for the arrival of a gastropub claiming any national character. ...

Find Sindi’s Snack Shack for bánh mì and street toast

There’s a new snack shack in Solana Beach, even if the physical shack itself is anything but new. Sindi’s Snack Shack recently opened within the “Detached Garage of Witmer Residence and Drug Store,” built in ...

25 years later, Stone Brewing finds a new way to provoke us

Just when I thought Stone Brewing had run out of surprises, the announcement reached my inbox: “Stone Brewing Announces Buenavida Hard Seltzer.” I looked at the date: April 1. Haha, Stone, you got me, I ...

The universal allure of PT Eatery

When they arrive at the table, the rice paper wraps aren’t pre-made. The ingredients are laid out on separate plates: daikon, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, and pineapple chucks on one; grilled pork topped with peanuts and ...

An ocean of Konnichiwa Sushi

It’s not a huge place by any means. The pandemic sidewalk parklet probably holds as many customers as the dining room, if not more. We’ve grabbed our seats out there, sunglasses on, to bask in ...

MetlBar Creamery & Café not just ice cream for breakfast

One of the saving graces of pandemic summer 2020 was the emergence of Metl Bar: specifically, its talent for creating small batches of boozy ice cream. Often, they’re inspired by classic cocktails. So a negroni ...

Go crazy for Salad To-go-go

In my years covering local restaurants, I’ve witnessed San Diego foodies get excited about restaurants specializing in cheeseburgers, tacos, carne asada fries, ramen, sushi burritos, Neapolitan pizza, fried chicken, cupcakes, bone marrow, vegan brunch, and ...

Kensington Brewing Torero Blue and Bold

When students move back into University of San Diego dorms this fall, the home of the Toreros will feature a new set of official school beers. Torero Blue and Torero Bold are now the products ...

July 16, 2021
Best San Diego food in most hidden corners

Most restaurants count on location, location, location to help make a name for themselves. Others make do with whatever space they’ve got. The restaurants featured here don’t necessarily operate in conventional storefronts, on restaurant rows, ...

July 14, 2021
Aunt Mary’s Italian Cookies offer a sweet geography lesson

I’ve rarely given much thought to where cookies come from, and neither had the kid. But he could tell I hadn’t picked these up at the supermarket. “Where’d you get these?” he asked, a glazed ...

Hidden Craft, a gastropub on the rails

The windows rattle when the trolley rolls past. Which isn’t surprising, given how the shape of the building is defined by the way tracks curl east coming out of Santa Fe Depot. They carve an ...

Junya Crispy Karaage puts the ramen bar side dish front and center

There’s a good reason I have been writing about fried chicken over and over in the past year: it’s become more popular than ever. And not only because Nashville hot chicken has been having a ...

Half of Novo Brazil's brewing business now kombucha

Last October, when Chula Vista beer-maker Novo Brazil Brewing Co. took over the Ocean Beach taproom previously operated by Culture Brewing Co., it had a branding decision to make. The company has been brewing beer ...

Fried chicken gets caviar treatment at Naegi

Elaborate, green and black graffitied monikers float like crumpled leaves through a landscape of clouded mountain peaks, pink cherry blossoms, and blue waterfalls. The vibrant mural covers the broad, flat side wall of stand-alone storefront, ...

Catching Tin Fish at Santee Lakes

We pick up a bag of duck food along with our pedal boat rental, so as soon as we are out on the water, we aim for the first duck we see. It takes some ...

Beer City documentary celebrates San Diego's liquid arts

A new documentary chronicles the history of brewing in San Diego, showcasing the ways the city became an outsized contributor to America’s craft beer culture. Beer City: San Diego was made by Aubree Miller and ...

July 2, 2021
Long Story, an Irish Pub with quirks

Part of the allure of the Irish pub is that they’re pretty much the same all over the world. Go to pubs in Paris, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and you’ll find the experience replicated over and ...

The Grillery, and a sandwich called Steve

It’s in Poway, but probably not the part of Poway you’re thinking of. Most who go to this southeasternmost corner, along Scripps Poway Parkway, are going to work, going to Costco, or passing through on ...

Beer champion Nate Soroko, gone too soon

San Diego city council closed its June 22 session with an adjournment in memory in honor of bartender Nate Soroko, who passed away unexpectedly last week at 39. The memoriam, read by council president pro ...

June 25, 2021
Waffle Spot still busy after all these years

“Can we have waffles for breakfast?” For months during the school year, these were the first words my half-asleep brain heard every weekday morning. Not good morning. Not how did you sleep? Just “Can we ...

La Cresta Restaurant stands alone at 1600 feet

As the crow flies, the unincorporated community of Crest is more than two and a half miles from the nearest freeway. In actual driving terms, it’s closer to four. And not flat miles, either, but ...

Bootstrap Kombucha goes for a hard ReBoot

For five years, Susan McMillion and partner James Farnsworth have quietly been making and serving some of the city’s best kombucha out of their small shop, Bootstrap Kombucha. Operating on an industrial stretch of Pacific ...

June 18, 2021
White Elephant picks up where a Thai favorite left off

A Hillcrest favorite, Amarin Thai, closed last fall, after holding down its Richmond Street location for more than 22 years. Longtime fans of the restaurant may be pleased to learn that Thai food is officially ...

Wagyu Shawarma Grill takes trend to Rancho San Diego

The marketing cachet of Japanese-bred cattle seems to be rising. At least, I find myself writing about wagyu a lot more than I used to, as local restaurants and butcher shops embrace the notoriously marbled ...

No worries, Ataraxia Aleworks now pouring in Convoy district

To follow through on their plan to open a brewery, Daren Rudy and Alex Kim were prepared to move to Reno, Nevada. “It’s a growing population, annually,” explains Kim, “and also a growing craft beer ...

June 11, 2021
San Diego Reader Fun issue

Breakdance with Olympic prospects Kearny Mesa/Old Town Breakdancing will be an official sport at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, and local b-girls and b-boys have been practicing breakdance maneuvers in hopes of repping Team USA. ...

June 9, 2021
Ocean Beach Meat Company finds three ways to feed you

How’s this one for timing? Shannon Nault and Bobby Kokinda signed the lease for their first food-service business at the beginning of March, 2020. Let’s just say they wound up taking more time than they’d ...

A half century of prime rib and martinis at Bully’s East

If not for the flat screen TVs and masked servers, walking into Bully’s East would feel like entering a time capsule. At the center of the dimly lit restaurant stands a grand mahogany bar, from ...

Mr. Fries Man says Hellloooooooo!!! to Pacific Beach

Okay, so my go-to chili cheese fries spot wound up closing due to last year’s shutdown. Obviously, that’s a bigger bummer for the owners and staff of the departed Sister Ray’s restaurant than it is ...

Kové brings a hard yerba mate bar to Barrio Logan

San Diego is about to get a first of its kind taproom dedicated to hard yerba mate. Actually, tap “room” is inaccurate. The bar being launched by Kové Hard Yerba Mate is being built entirely ...

Good Seed Food Co taps into a another tasting room

If there’s one thing I knew for certain heading into Burgeon Beer Company’s new downtown tasting room, it’s that the beer would be fantastic. That’s been the case with Burgeon beers, pretty much across the ...

Everything's crisp at Chicken Lisa's

There is no shortage of good Mexican restaurants scattered among the 40 miles between my home and Chicken Lisa’s, but we press on. We think we’re getting close when we start to spot Escondido freeway ...

Narumi Sushi still offers specials and surprises in Lemon Grove

For several years now, Narumi Sushi, at the Fletcher Hills end of La Mesa, has been a favorite of my family. We’ve gone there for birthdays, when out-of-town relatives visit — any occasion we decide ...

Untappd is bringing beer festivals back to San Diego

Tickets are now on sale for a new downtown San Diego beer festival. This wouldn't have raised an eyebrow two years ago. It would have been unthinkable this time last year. But this year, as ...

May 28, 2021
Arlo makes Mission Valley a date-night destination

It was the first time I stepped onto the campus of the Town and Country since its 2020 renovation. As I remember it from my last pass through a couple years ago, the Mission Valley ...

​​​Anonymous women reveal misogyny in San Diego beer

“These stories are not mine and I do not vouch for their accuracy.” That was the all-caps message in the Instagram bio of East Coast craft brewer Brienne Allan, as she used the platform to share ...

May 21, 2021
Deli Belly wasn’t supposed to be interesting

There aren’t too many exciting things that can be said about sandwich shops these days. Most of them carry one of two or three deli meat suppliers — usually Boar’s Head or Dietz & Watson ...

Swagyu Chop Shop’s must-try 18-dollar burger

Here’s a surprising add to the list of things I never expected to do: agree to pay $18 for a cheeseburger, in Imperial Beach. Moments later, another: add a $10 side of fries. And, no, ...

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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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