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Stories by Ian Anderson

The year of hot chicken and picnics

Right about now, I’m supposed to be indoor dining somewhere and reporting how great it feels that we’re trending back toward normalcy. But not so fast! Yes, restaurant owners and their bottom lines may be ...

How did San Diego wine fare during the pandemic?

San Diego’s wine industry had its best year ever in 2019, $46.2 million in gross sales marked a nearly 13 percent increase over 2018. Then came 2020. A year of pandemic closings and service restrictions ...

March 25, 2021
Birria El Rey gives noodles a shot

Birria must be rising in popularity around San Diego, because it’s gotten easier, not harder, to find the stewed meat dish during the pandemic. Mainly, we’re talking about Tijuana-style beef birria (Jalisco, the Mexican state ...

Pizza delivery has its own app

A pandemic has tested our collective love/hate relationships with delivery apps — enough at times to warrant government intervention. But before we all decide (or decide not to) return to indoor dining this spring, I ...

Rincon Reservation Road leads to beer

Back in 2016, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians established a 15-barrel craft brewery on its reservation near Valley Center. Called SR76 Beerworks, the brewery and tasting room operated alongside the Rincon Harrah’s casino. The ...

March 19, 2021
Best Donuts shop lives up to its name

With any luck, my quest to try all of the best donut spots in San Diego will never end. But for a moment there, it looked like it might have, and in an unlikely spot. ...

Ska Bar’s success resides on an Astroturf rooftop

I know indoor dining is supposed to be back, but some outdoor dining options are just too good to give up. Like one I recently checked out in Normal Heights. I’d driven by Ska Bar ...

Valley Farm is the market every neighborhood should have

“You’re going to Spring Valley?” she told me, “You know, the best kept secret in San Diego is a Spring Valley meat counter. It makes the best carne asada….” A couple nights later, a wide ...

One year later, is a return to normal in sight for San Diego beer?

UPDATE: Effective Saturday, March 13, California has removed the meal service requirement for breweries, distilleries, and bars. Until 8pm each day, customers may order adult beverages without also ordering food, for on premise, outdoor consumption. ...

March 11, 2021
Myung Ka brings Korean bento boxes to Penasquitos

Don’t let anyone tell you the pandemic has scared everyone away from the restaurant business. Against the odds, we’re still seeing new restaurant openings happen in 2021. One of them even persuaded me to drive ...

Setting Sun Sake cans an alternative to beer

This week, I cracked open a cold one. Pulled the tab of a 12-ounce can and heard that satisfying cshhht sound that usually presages enjoyment of an ale or lager. Except it wasn’t beer inside, ...

March 5, 2021
Farmers Bottega, where it already feels like spring

Scoring a weekend table at a decent outdoor dining venue has become something of a post pandemic sport. Go to any restaurant with patio dining on a sunny Saturday afternoon and you can expect a ...

Prager Brothers drives its artisan breads to Hillcrest

Spring wouldn’t technically arrive for another few weeks, but the sun was out. After what has nearly been a full, cooped-up year of covid, that was all the encouragement we needed to have a picnic. ...

Tu Taco is flamin’ hot in Chula Vista

When a friend of mine started working as an eighth grade teacher, he reported a wave of addiction sweeping through his classroom. The kids, as he told it, were hooked on Flamin Hot Cheetos. The ...

Keg Seeker seeks to modernize wholesale beer sales

Back in the fall of 2019, O’Brien’s Pub co-owner and general manager Tyson Blake was manning the bar, catching up with a regular customer. O’Brien’s is well known as one of the city’s oldest and ...

February 26, 2021
The Bachi Bus stops daily in South Park

The food trucks in South Park seem to be multiplying. Alongside the usual Mariscos/fish taco truck holding down the Target parking lot, there’s now a Sonora-style grilled taco truck. The Shawarma Guys truck is a ...

Eating is easy at Gelati & Peccati

I felt like a kid in a pizza store, looking through the front window of Gelati & Peccati. Rather than post a menu, the North Park eatery lays out its colorful spread of Roman-style pizza ...

Kaylee’s Culture is not just for kids

Third-generation San Diegan Kaylee McLaughlin married her high school sweetheart. When his Navy career sent him to a remote corner of Nevada, she and their two young children followed. For someone accustomed to having ready ...

February 19, 2021
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 ...

When dining is a choice between politics and survival

I’ve tried not to write about it, because I haven’t wanted to encourage readers to seek them out. But since December, despite state and local covid regulations restricting on-premise dining, hundreds of San Diego restaurants ...

Which is the better egg roll at Á Châu?

I'm not sure which happened first. Did we drive into City Heights because we had a craving for egg rolls? Or did the urge arise because we realized how close we already were to Á ...

Bread & Cie and a Valentine’s quiche

This year marks the first I spend Valentine’s Day as a married man. Not to gloat too much, but I hit the jackpot. My gorgeous and successful bride happens to be an accomplished home chef. ...

Ballast Point tries being the change it wants to see

White dude with beards. That’s the impression most have about who works within the craft beer business, and it’s often accurate. Within San Diego and the industry at large. Statistics offered by the Brewers Association ...

February 12, 2021
DoorDash answers mayor Gloria with a “regulatory response fee”

A couple weeks ago, I got a headline wrong. After mayor Todd Gloria limited the fees delivery apps can charge restaurants, I wrote: “Delivery fees are capped, but don’t expect to pay less.” Problem is, ...

R & G Salumeria Wine Bar, al fresco

The sun came out, making the return of outdoor dining a hot ticket all over town. At least, as we drove across town, we saw packed patios and parklets all over, and lines forming at ...

Athletic Brewing crafts brews without the booze

Though he once described a favorite Wisconsin farmhouse ale as “nutritious,” J.J. Watt probably did not become three-time NFL defensive player of the year by drinking craft beer. But he has apparently enjoyed a few ...

February 5, 2021
It’s not just noodles at Shan Xi Magic Kitchen

I’m always on the lookout for a new kind of soup to try, and yet for some reason I’m always surprised when I find one. What’s not surprising is that most of the unfamiliar soup ...

Will family meals stick around after the pandemic?

The clock was ticking towards the inauguration of the new president, and a look inside the fridge confirmed what I already knew: we were out of eggs. And any other breakfast protein. And bread. And ...

Delivery fees are capped, but don’t expect to pay less

Someone finally did something about the excess fees charged by third party delivery apps such as Doordash, UberEats, and GrubHub. And that someone was the new mayor. Recently inaugurated mayor Todd Gloria issued an executive ...

January 29, 2021
Breweries sue for the same covid rules as wineries

Like most San Diego breweries, Deft Brewing resumed drink service last week, when the three-week stay-at-home order issued in early December finally lifted (after seven weeks). The Morena neighborhood beermaker offers a shaded patio and ...

January 29, 2021
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 ...

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 ...

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