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Stories by Ian Anderson

Picking up poke and musubi from Chris Ono Grinds

It figures given the year we’ve been having that fate, and/or the state of California, picked the coldest, windiest time of the year to re-institute outdoor dining in San Diego. I’m sure there are plenty ...

Main Chicken shows up hot and fast

Scores of San Diego restaurants have closed permanently during the pandemic, but there’s at least one subset of eateries that only seem to be growing stronger: those serving Nashville hot chicken. I’ve tried so much ...

Bitchin Sauce is everywhere now

About ten years ago, young mom and aspiring personal chef Starr Edwards started bringing her food samples to farmers markets in Leucadia and San Marcos, hoping to drum up business. Among her samples was a ...

Celebrating 100 years of Aztec Brewing

North County’s Aztec Brewing Company will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year — no small milestone. But it will also spend the year celebrating something bigger: the one-hundred-year anniversary of the Aztec Brewing brand. According ...

A tale of two Thai restaurants

It’s kind of surprising that I haven’t written before about Bahn Thai. I’ve been eating at the University Heights restaurant since it opened, going on ten years ago, and I’ve returned often. The most likely ...

A romantic deal makes Cesarina impossible to ignore

I’d seen enough photos to know Cesarina offers one heck of a romantic dining destination. A lot of good that does anybody now, though. Or so I thought. Truth is, in the past couple years, ...

Rising number of breweries hosting drinkers despite shutdown

Peering in from the sunny sidewalk, my eyes took a moment to adjust to the dim light. Once they did, I found a room half filled with customers, belly up or seated at tables near ...

January 15, 2021
TJ Burrito Co. and Blue Luna Café join forces

They bill themselves as virtual restaurants, available to order through all the usual delivery apps. But there’s a little more back story to TJ Burrito Co. and Blue Luna Café & Deli. Including a walk-up ...

Despite the times, Smokey and the Brisket

From a diner’s perspective, one of the more amazing aspects of the past year has been that a handful of entrepreneurs have gone through with new restaurant openings. Most don’t have much choice in the ...

How high are the hidden costs of restaurant delivery?

Restaurant delivery apps were already thriving before the pandemic hit, and without doubt they have benefited from our current all take-out, all-the-time dining culture. But, if you’ve used any over the years, you may have ...

Hard tea gets a new twist with Yerbuzz

We’ve already seen the evolution of hard seltzer yield a spinoff known as hard tea, and now a San Diego business has launched around a further expansion of the concept: hard yerba mate. Yerbuzz blends ...

January 8, 2021
Shank & Bone's beefed up phở

There’s a sort of fundamentalism that exists in certain corners of the foodie universe, wherein self-appointed protectors of the cuisine will tell you which ingredients are allowed or not allowed in a dish. On the ...

Overdue revisit to Kroran Uyghur Cuisine

When Clairemont restaurant Kroran Uyghur Cuisine opened in mid-2018, it brought new cultural fare to San Diego, one not often found within the United States. I was excited to try it and spent most of ...

Speakeasy flattens the three-tier system

If you go to the website for East Village booze maker Old Harbor Distilling Co. these days, the Shop link will take you to a product page featuring the brand’s assorted craft spirits, including Barrelflag ...

December 29, 2020
TakeIn gets delivery mostly right

Delivery apps are great, but they also suck. Great because they deliver virtually every restaurant to your doorstep — an especially handy service during a shutdown. Terrible because they charge money coming and going: customers ...

December 29, 2020
Mr. Trustee's hot chocolate season

When I covered Mission Hills’ Mr. Trustee ice cream counter on its sweltering opening day this summer, I did not anticipate revisiting the spot on a cool winter afternoon. Nor did I expect to be ...

Where and how we will be allowed to drink beer in 2021

The business of making and selling beer went all kinds of sideways in 2020. So, with vaccinations beginning across the country, when can we start to look forward to some semblance of normalcy? The first ...

December 24, 2020
San Diego Reader writers alone at Christmas

Christmas Jerk I managed to avoid being homeless on Christmas Eve 1979, but just barely. Unemployed since that summer, I found a cheap flophouse on 12th and Island where 70 bucks a month got me ...

December 23, 2020
Exquisite sushi at Catalina Offshore

There have always been many great reasons to visit Bay Park fish market Catalina Offshore Products, most of them having to do with seafood you take to prepare at home. But if you’ve stopped by ...

Sundara, an Indian kitchen with distinction

Despite being a repeat customer at plenty of all-you-can-eat Indian food buffets, I don’t yet feel as though I have eaten all I can. Though I have left most of them well satiated, from a ...

Cali Comfort BBQ: slow and low, safe and easy

If your pandemic bingo card has restaurants re-opening in response to a judge declaring strip clubs can not be shut down by the state’s stay at home order, well congratulations! — you might win 2020. ...

Biggest local beverage stories of 2020

It will surprise exactly no one that most of the biggest beer and beverage stories of 2020 revolve around the most impactful happening of this or any year: the covid-19 pandemic. Public response to the ...

December 18, 2020
From National City to 664 TJ Birrieria

Tender shredded beef birria, swimming in reddish brown broth that leaves an orange ring ‘round the edges of the Styrofoam cup containing it. That’s the Tijuana-style specialty of National City’s 664 TJ Birrieria. But it’s ...

Drive-thru brunch at Great Maple

Great Maple has just about done it all this pandemic. It socially distanced its dining room, it expanded its outdoor seating. It expanded its outdoor seating again, erecting tents in its parking lot and filling ...

When you can't stop eating Fredcel Lumpia

Nobody’s out to bad-mouth underperforming restaurants during a pandemic, shutdown or otherwise, so I’m not here to name names. But I will say that we took the family out to try out a new to ...

At Shrimp Heads and everywhere regular customers save the day

With only a few weeks left in the year, San Diego restaurants are back to take-out and delivery only for effectively all of them. A new stay-at-home order went into effect on Monday, December 7, ...

Izola lowers a breadbasket in East Village

On Thursday night, a few minutes before sunset, I found a parking spot at 13th and G Streets in East Village, and called upstairs to let them know I had arrived. From the sidewalk I ...

Brewery taprooms don’t stay closed for long

Sorrento Valley barrel-aged sour beer-maker California Wild Ales announced last week it will be opening a taproom in Ocean Beach. Actually, it’s taking over the same Newport Avenue taproom originally opened by Helm’s Brewing, and ...

Tortillas star at Taquería Zapata

I got lucky this time: there were only two people in line. It would still take five or six minutes to reach the front, but considering the near 30-minute wait I found on my last ...

Persistent donut cravings lead to Copper Top

It was just one of those mornings everybody and their brother wanted donuts. Out on an early morning errand, I knew I would pass the bustling Solomon Bagels & Donuts on the way home. I ...

Spoiled Vegans Cafe, on the cusp of everything

It wasn’t long before the pandemic started that I first heard of Spoiled Vegans. At the time, the small business had been a pop-up business, serving plant-based breakfast sandwiches and waffles within an East Village ...

New Motion Beverages and Embolden Beer Co brew 32 flavors

Miramar brewery 32 North quietly closed this summer. As the pandemic redefines how beer companies can do business, the brewhouse and frequent wedding venue was sold to a symbiotic pair of startups covering a range ...

The two Harumamas

As I stare down at my plate, a pair of doughy eyes stare back at me. Steamed dough eyes, to be exact. Part of a steamed bun shaped and colored to look like a Holstein ...

Going beyond banh mi at Banh Mi Hoi An

Used to be, whenever I found myself hungry for lunch in the Sports Arena/Loma Portal area, I’d wind up enduring the lines of either In-N-Out Burger or Phil’s BBQ. That changed for the better a ...

Order pizza and pinsa from Civico by the Park

Eating more take-out this year has meant eating more pizza, and I have, frankly, been amazed how many good pizzas are available around town. Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about a new ...

Izo Mezcal: San Diego's resident agave spirit brand

About 16 years ago, Gaston Martinez moved to San Diego from his native Durango, Mexico. “It’s always been my dream city,” he says, “I came here for a two-week vacation and that was it.” Having ...

Halibut three ways at Bay Park Fish Co.

As dining out is once again restricted to outdoor only, take-out and delivery are back to being crucial to all restaurants’ survival. I plan to curbside pickup what meals as I can, then, when I ...

The purple tier is coming, but first Dae Jang Keum

Maybe it was because the purple tier was coming. Maybe we just wanted tabletop Korean BBQ. Whichever it was, we showed up at Dae Jang Keum, a.k.a. DJK Korean BBQ, feeling adventurous. Dae Jang Keum ...

ReBru Spirits turns old beer into new booze in Barrio Logan

Have you ever wondered what happened to all the beer that couldn’t be sold when the ‘rona shut down bar life last March? In San Diego, the answer may be found in a new distillery ...

November 12, 2020
Brunch becomes a celebration at Cocina de Barrio

Twenty-dollar bottomless mimosas were behind the decision to go for Saturday brunch in Hillcrest. Everyone had endured four frustrating nights without election results and hoped to temper our collective anxiety. But by time we head ...

In Logan Heights, a home kitchen dishes Superior Soul Food

In search of soul food, I found myself parking in a dark corner of Logan Heights. There were no streetlamps, only the flash of headlights speeding onto the freeway onramp at the end of the ...

Societe Brewing is finally as big as its reputation

Open seven days a week, the Kearny Mesa tasting room of Societe Brewing Company has been a bustling hub of San Diego beer for most of its eight-plus years in business. Bolstered by a reputation ...

November 6, 2020
Banh Mi Babe raises the bar on campus sandwich shops

It’s been a little while since I’ve eaten a good bánh mì. So when I heard about a newish spot that had apparently opened during the pandemic, I placed an order online. Then I copied ...

All thumbs up for Massachusetts Mike’s

I’m used to having leftovers. As someone who writes about food, I’ve long been in the habit of ordering more food than I can eat. And as a bachelor, I could always count on all ...

Eats by Samburger the Cooking Guy

San Diego-based TV chef Sam the Cooking Guy has become Sam the restaurateur guy in the past couple years. First, he opened a Not Not Taco counter in the Little Italy Food Hall, then he ...

Cooler weather just an opening for Pelly's clam chowder

San Diego saw a hint of autumn weather over the weekend, opening a short window to enjoy the sorts of things we haven’t been able to enjoy during this endless summer of heat waves. Like ...

Sushi plus Mexican equals vegan at The Village

One day at lunch, back when the gabled diner at 2611 El Cajon Boulevard was home to Anthem Vegan, I implored my dining companion: don’t trust the burrito. The menu was huge, and there were ...

San Diego Reader's Best Of issue

Look for the online list of Best Of voting winners soon. We have printed and re-stocked extra copies of this week's print version where the Best Of voting winners are listed. Best place in San ...

October 21, 2020
Grant's Market becomes Grant's Coffee Room

I thought the two-dollar cup of coffee had become a relic of another time, like the handshake, or sushi burritos. I still come across a $2.75 cup on occasion, but for the most part, coffee ...

We Got Beef on the waterfront

We did not go to the waterfront in search of beef jerky. We thought we’d enjoy a nice stroll along the San Diego Bay Walk, maybe grab something from the Tuna Harbor Fish Market, held ...

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