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Stories by Ian Anderson

The one place to try choclo

A culinary tour of South America, without leaving Old Town

Fun fact: the State Department has still been issuing passports during the federal government’s partial shutdown. For this, I am grateful. My renewed documents arrived this week, prompting the return of a favorite hobby: studying ...

Pizza Port’s mountain cousin

Julian Beer Co. slings pies and suds at a higher elevation

About 55 miles separate the communities of Solana Beach and Julian, but it’s the four thousand feet in elevation that set them apart. One's a beach town, appealing to ocean-lovers and well-heeled shoppers; the other, ...

A choreographed sushi feast

All omakase, all the time at Hidden Fish

Few meals will ever top the experience of going omakase at a top tier sushi bar. By literal translation, omakase implores the diner to “trust the chef,” and there’s rarely a better argument for doing ...

That vacation craving

A search for shredded beef leads to great bread

Every time on of my friends travels to Cuba, I start craving the stewed beef dish, ropa vieja. The pictures they share on Facebook never have anything to do with food: it's mostly cars, beaches, ...

That's not the fish taco you're looking for

Don't believe everything you read in a restaurant window

Some places are just doomed to fail. Specifically this one place in East Village, right across the street from Petco Park. It seems like every time I walk by, there's a new restaurant at 317 ...

Regular size front door

Sandwich shop's lateral move

I was driving past Big Front Door the other day when it hit me: that's not where Big Front Door should be. But it's really close. Two months ago, the six-year-old sandwich shop moved one ...

Conquering the far West Coast

Modern Times pours out of town beers in Encinitas

Modern Times Beer has arguably become San Diego beer's most compelling success story. At the time it opened, in 2013, with design-savvy beer cans, a bartop made from paperback books, and a gigantic Michael Jackson ...

Guisados and goat birria soup

The best way to get warm during San Diego's winter

No offense to all the people in Arizona who got snowed on, but where it really got cold this week was San Diego. It’s been the kind of Southern California winter where your nose is ...

Finally, something great out of D.C.

Buzzed about fast casual joint marries Chinese and Korean food in Encinitas

A portmanteau is a new word created from combining parts of two separate words, the way we get brunch from mashing together breakfast and lunch. We use some portmanteaus without realizing it, such as bodacious ...

Biggest beer news 2018

Green Flash, Monkey Paw, Council, Toolbox surprise this writer

The financial fallout of Green Flash Owner of the West Coast IPA trademark, and the first modern San Diego brewery to distribute to all fifty states, Green Flash Brewing Company spent several years in expansion ...

Grilled cheese science

To our credit or to our chagrin, San Diego has been the breeding ground for at least a couple of successful fast food chains: most notably Jack in the Box and Rubio’s Coastal Grill. Not ...

The value of prime tacos

Baja inspired eatery makes a case for better Mexican food

The value of Mexican food in San Diego keeps rising. I don’t mean the cost, because the costs at all our restaurants have been going up alongside property values, energy costs, and minimum wage hikes ...

Can’t stay mad at soup dumplings

How to score reservations to San Diego’s best new mall restaurant

Two years ago, we were driving through a dark evening storm, heading into the Westfield UTC with seats reserved for a new Star Wars movie at the Arclight Cinema. Entrance to the mall parking lot ...

More than a fantasy brewer

Time for beer drinkers across the county to discover ales of BattleMage

“The beer is just good! That’s why I come back all the time.” So says a guy to my left, loud enough the whole tasting room can here. A few of us nod along. He’s ...

Give this pollo a good home

It must be what backyard barbecues in Acapulco taste like

In the parking lot in front of the Rainbow Farms Supermarket (4727 Federal Blvd., Chollas Creek) sit a grill and smoker, a back of mesquite charcoal, and flag sign reading: “Pollos Estilo Acapulco.” Chicken, Acapulco ...

Coffee and lot to talk about

Toasts, pastries, and ice cream for breakfast downtown

It’s a coffee roaster right across the street from a Starbucks. Too many apostrophes and a forgettable name will forever doom it to misspelled branding (including on at least one of its own signs). Furthermore, ...

'Tis the season’s most rewarding ale

More than 40 local breweries tap hallowed brewer’s recipe for fire relief

If you’re a San Diego beer fan visiting breweries this winter, you may notice the same beer keep showing up on tasting room menus: Resilience Butte County Proud IPA. Your eyes do not deceive you. ...

A rancher‘s chicken

The lure of wood fire rotisserie inspires a local geography lesson

Hopefully, I’m not alone in confusing San Diego’s collection of ranch communities. We have Bressi Ranch, Scripps Ranch, and Carmel Mountain Ranch, plus lesser knowns Black Mountain Ranch and Fairbanks Ranch. Most are suburban enclaves ...

What the heck is a lichtenhainer?

How a San Diego dentist’s historical German beer became an American medal winner

There’s nothing easier to find in North Park than a good IPA. But a good lichtenhainer? Only one place that I know about. So, what’s a lichtenhainer? I wondered too. The unsurprising answer would be ...

Italian olives, smoked mozzarella, and roast beef

No pizza, but Buona Forchetta's wine bar makes a good sandwich

When word broke last year that the hip Italian restaurant in my neighborhood was opening a bodega on the same block, it primed me for a 2018 anticipating all the authentic, imported delights it would ...

An extraordinary battered sole

On a menu of lovely Thai dishes, a simple stir fry stands out

Turns out, I’ve been ordering cashew chicken all wrong. I’ve been doing so since my picky teens, when I was the opposite of an adventurous eater at Chinese and Thai restaurants. Probably for that reason, ...

Beer's still cheap in La Jolla

Rock Bottom has been doing this twenty years

I hit Rock Bottom on a Wednesday night — the one that’s been succeeding at the brewpub thing on La Jolla Village Drive for 20 years this year. The official name is Rock Bottom Restaurant ...

Photogenic, but still comfortable

North Park's new coffee shop has it both ways

In the food item as bowl domain, few have impressed me so much as the caramel apple dessert offered by the new North Park coffee shop, Deja Brew Lounge. Situated in a converted craftsman bungalow ...

Brick Bowl is a Korean restaurant

If you’re not down with sourdough or vinegar, you can order bibimbap or Korean ramen.

It reads like the sort of thing you have to try at least once. A new Kearny Mesa spot called Brick Bowl dishes up a new way of eating meat, cheese, and bread. Rather than ...

Solace for breakfast

A North Park restaurant changes its weekday game

Credit Urban Solace as a building block to the lifestyle destination North Park has become. The neighborhood didn’t yet have that national press cachet when Solace rode a rising comfort food trend into what’s now ...

When bad things happen to good breweries

Council Brewing to close, Benchmark Brewing barely holding on

The San Diego craft beer community was rocked this week by the news two of its best small breweries are in serious trouble. First, on Tuesday, Rachael and Matt Akin, the husband and wife team ...

Reader Holiday issue

SD Mission candlelight, Borrego's Christmas Circle, Oceanside boat rides, Rose Parade floats, Jewish Christmas, Julian tea, Tierrasanta lights, North Pole train, Kumeyaay solstice, Irish New Year

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 ...

An almost everything-free bakery

No gluten, no dairy, no soy, no eggs, no nuts. Just tasty pastries.

A sign near the door of this bakery promises all goods are free of gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, and peanuts. What’s left? I’m forced to wonder. Starry Lane Bakery originally opened out in ...

Yo quiero gorditas

Doing better than the “best Mexican restaurant”

If you watched a lot of Taco Bell commercials in the late 90s, you might have been left with the impression that gorditas are large tacos made with pitas instead of tortillas. However, like a ...

The world’s first hard kombucha bar

The flavor possibilities are infinite

They call this North Park tasting room the “world’s first hard kombucha bar.” Not hard to believe given high alcohol kombucha didn’t really exist prior to spring 2016. That’s when Chula Vista-based Boochcraft took kombucha, ...

Blankets, umbrellas, street food, and sun

The Sunday weekly that's not a farmers market

Here’s an awkward faux pas: I showed up at Lane Field Park Market last Sunday expecting to buy produce. It’s not a farmers market. For one thing, there are no farmers: this weekly market is ...

What's the market price on that fish?

Grilled local beats fried anything, despite the cost

I should have been ordering the local catch all along. When North Park’s Beerfish first opened a couple years ago, I went for the fish and chips. They were all right. After it retooled a ...

A La Mesa brewery gets better with age

Things get funky at the tasting room next door

Since the day it opened in 2015, Helix Brewing Co. has offered one of the county’s most appealing places to hang out and drink beer. Though right in the thick of La Mesa’s industrial zone, ...

Dessert for your camera

Photographing — and eating — raindrop cakes

They’ve been labeled a “viral food,” and “cult dessert,” and been likened to silicone breast implants. The Japanese call them mizu shingen mochi, but the internet really fell in love with them in 2016, when ...

Valluno picnic in City Heights

A tour of Colombian food on a single platter

It’s a large plate, draped with a plantain leaf, atop which sits a stunning variety of foods. There are rice and stewed pinto beans, and potatoes. The rice is topped with a fried egg, encircled ...

Setting Sun is setting sake trends

Plus a new tasting room and a Japanese Garden party

It’s a rare occasion we get to look at trends emerging in cities like New York and London, and say, That started in San Diego. So credit Josh Hembree and Keldon Premuda of Miramar’s Setting ...

Order one of everything

Deli cookies to inspire a sweet tooth

What’s the opposite of a sweet tooth? Because for a number of years in my early adulthood I was that. Making student loan payments instead of ordering dessert. Quitting soda and taking up coffee. Learning ...

The water of life flows in Spring Valley

A centuries old family scotch recipe goes legit

It’s tough to think of a peeted single malt whiskey as moonshine, especially from a recipe as old as any laws in this country. But for decades, that’s technically what Mike Curphy had been making. ...

Four kinds of fish and chips

The third favorite may surprise you

Probably one of the most urban things about downtown San Diego is its motley accumulation of restaurants. Most of the press goes to well-financed, high-volume eateries with glossy interiors, PR representation, and “up and coming” ...

Marrow on the side in Ysidro

A birria to stop you short of the border

Usually San Ysidro means a trip through the world’s busiest border crossing and, ipso facto, tacos for lunch. But this time I’m taking the second to LAST USA EXIT in search of bone marrow. And ...

Mexico's capital of craft

Baja brewers cleaned up in national competition

Back in September, in what has become an autumn tradition, the Great American Beer Festival heaped loads of recognition upon the general greatness of San Diego beer. Area breweries claimed five golds en route to ...

How much dough is put into these donuts?

Superior ingredients are just part of the story in Carlsbad

“There are two sides to every story.” This phrase has been following me around for several weeks. Maybe it’s the alternative facts-age replacement for that cliché of acceptance, “It is what it is.” Whatever the ...

Not the usual carne asada

Kennedy's Meat Co. updated with hybrid tortillas and choice beef

I don’t suppose many readers have occasion to go out in Escondido’s eastern sprawl for carne asada. I doubt most of us need to travel a mile to find a choice of spots serving it. ...

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 ...

Close, but no thanks

It's tough to quit your favorite taco truck

When I heard about a new mariscos food truck parking in Golden Hill, I started fluttering around it like a moth on a porchlight. Mariscos El Chingon has started parking daily in front of Anakin’s ...

Collaborations are more fun in pairs

Brewers team up for beers that play well together

Pouring nearly 50 distinct brewery collaboration beers this year, the Karl Strauss Brewing beer week party dubbed Collabapalooza (November 10) showcases a San Diego brewing community that remains for the most part interconnected and mutually ...

A cure for breakfast boredom

Mexipino is here to remind us how delicious combining cultures can be

Most breakfast menus tend to be long reads, just not very interesting ones. You’ll find an entire section dedicated to all the predictable variations of eggs, meat, potatoes and toast. Another to pancakes and waffles. ...

The golden age of small batch scoops

Stella Jean's is giving ice cream a new look

Let’s just call this what it is: a golden era for ice cream in San Diego. Made from scratch ice cream parlors have been opening up left and right this year, and the latest neighborhood ...

Behind the $15 lunch

North Park's Encontro serves steak from Cardiff

I’ve gotten used to paying 15 dollars for lunch. I remember days that would seem outlandish, but these days I’m unfazed by $15, when that charge includes tax and tip. That’s usually for a sandwich ...

Muffuletta in the hood

An early look at South Park's new neighborhood eatery

I’ll go ahead and say it. I never much cared for South Park Abbey. It had a solid beer list, and I would catch the occasional NFL game there, but between food and booze, and ...

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