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Stories by Patrick Henderson

Holidays at the big attractions

Legoland, Zoo, Seaworld, Liberty Station, La Mesa Village

San Diego’s mild winter climate makes it an attractive spot for people who don’t want a white Christmas. So that means there is a good chance you’re hosting out-of-towners over the holidays. That means that ...

While my family slept in

Had to try Nomad's gourmet doughnuts and Montreal bagels

I try to have three square meals a day, but for weekend breakfasts, I like to keep things round: As in bagels and doughnuts. One of my fatherly duties on Saturday is to get a ...

Reading the menu vs. eating it

Transitory Gaslamp means you have to straddle tastes

Running a restaurant in the Gaslamp isn’t easy. The transitory nature of the place means you have to appeal to discerning locals as well as tourist traffic passing by. That’s the challenge facing a place ...

Make room for shrooms

Dunedin brings New Zealand to North Park

British pubs are so boring, but a pub themed after one of its former colonies? That’s clever! That’s the conceit behind Dunedin, a New Zealand-themed pub in North Park that just celebrated its first anniversary. ...

Farm eating — the life for me

Rescued vegetables at Carmel Valley's Mendocino Farms

In the fast casual restaurant space, convenience and consistency is often the goal more than transcendent eating experiences. But places that can do all three can shine. Case in point: Mendocino Farms, an L.A.-based chain ...

Red Robin — 27 years later

The kids want to go back

Because I write food reviews, people assume that I like food. Yet you’d be surprised at how many people give me gift cards for chain restaurants. I get ‘em all: Chili’s, Applebee’s, Buffalo Wild Wings. ...

Special occasion burgers

SD Poke, Cafe Gratitude, Blind Burro, Caroline's, Royal Stone, Funky Fries, Westgate

I used to eat burgers all the time, but as I got older and developed a taste for all types of food, I became more discerning. Hence, when I have a burger these days, I ...

Pig ears, lamb testicles at Village North

Look for unusual on Convoy Street

I once read a piece written by an economist about how he looks at a restaurant menu. There was lots of good advice, but one thing that stuck out was his recommendation about weird-sounding items: ...

Perfect for a heat wave

Cold Peruvian soups and cold drinks at Liberty Station

Between now and mid-November, San Diego is likely to have the hottest days of the year. I love heat waves, but they usually don’t inspire cravings for anything other than ice cream. That’s why I’ve ...

Sweet, spicy, satisfying

Ranchwood BBQ, Whet Noodle, Red Card Cafe, Cannonball, Hundred Proof, Arriba Room, Sheldon's Service Station

BBQ aficionados can be particular, but this hole-in-the-wall in La Mesa should satisfy lovers of brisket and tri-tip. The meat is smoked for hours until tender in a tangy rub. Customers then can add the ...

A new place for selectively health-conscious OB

Healthy food and beachin’ drinks

Although the food scenes of Little Italy, North Park, and Convoy get more attention, Ocean Beach has also been experiencing a bit of a restaurant renaissance in recent years. A lot of decent eateries have ...

Seaweed burritos

Pokirrito is more an upscale sub shop than a sushi bar

Locals love both Mexican food and Asian cuisine, so why not combine them? That is the idea behind Pokirrito, a restaurant that gained a reputation for its sushi burritos. If you’re not a foodie purist ...

Where to get lunch during Comic-Con

Grab & go at Herb & Eatery

Brian Malarkey’s latest Little Italy restaurant Herb & Wood is attracting a lot of crowds and got a good review from the esteemed Barbarella Fokos, who called it a great special occasion dining spot when ...

The rise of octopus

Nicely charred, yet tender, tender, tender.

Galaxy Taco If you believe it’s heresy to pay more than $7 for a combo plate, Galaxy Taco is not for you. If you want really high-quality tacos that linger in memory, Galaxy Taco is ...

Werewolf has Homer Cakes

A local’s place in the Gaslamp

To me, a good breakfast is like a good blues CD: Talented artists work on an established formula, whether it be three chords or eggs, bacon, and potatoes. Done well, it’s simplicity with style. Brunch ...

Salmon and sourdough for breakfast

Royal Stone brings the brunch

The sign for Royal Stone Bistro, a Bankers Hill eatery on First Avenue, says “Seasonal. Savory. Sincere.” That’s an apt description of the brunch we had. I never thought of myself as a brunch person, ...

Does Harbor Town Pub have the best brunch dish ever?

Let’s hash it out

My wife and I have had a weekly brunch date on Saturday mornings since November. It’s been fun to have real conversations (without kids) while drinking real adult beverages (without kids). We’ve had a lot ...

Legitimate proof that La Mesa is hip

Blvd Noodles hits the boulevard

For some, a Starbucks is a sign that the neighborhood has arrived. For others, it’s a microbrewery. For me, it’s a noodle shop. La Mesa already has its share of sushi joints, pho spots, and ...

Eclipse hits the sweet spot with savory breakfasts

Rich. Very rich. And smooth. Very smooth.

When a restaurant has “Chocolate Bar” in its name people assume that the place is just a sweet shop or a candy store. In the case of Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro in South Park, ...

Madison’s Mediterranean brunch

A good call

Madison in University Heights has been open for about a year. My wife and I dined there in February and liked the cocktails, but we felt the food needed more seasoning. Then my wife said ...

Healthy but still “breakfasty”

Trust in brunch

My wife and I enjoy going to Trust in Hillcrest before going to a play at the Old Globe, and we thought we’d check out the brunch. Trust has been around a little less than ...

You gotta use your noodle

Ah, the comforts of ramen

Once found mostly on Convoy Boulevard in Kearny Mesa, noodle spots have lately popped up in hipster neighborhoods such as Little Italy, North Park, Hillcrest, and University Heights. Tajima started as a small restaurant in ...

Going bananas for waffles

The sweet dishes are the stars at Cafe 222

Saturday morning is one of my favorite times to walk around the Gaslamp. It’s not crowded, there’s parking, and the old buildings have grandeur in the a.m. sunlight. Except for the occasional jogging conventioneer, you ...

Way good huevos rancheros

The outdoor patio is special during brunch

My kids are currently spending their Saturday mornings working on a play, so my wife and I have been taking advantage of this by going out for brunch at different spots around town. We decided ...

Burger chain strives to be In-N-Out but doesn’t quite make it

Not habit-forming

I love a good burger but, these days, I’m holding out for a great one. It’s not enough for a burger to be okay — I need it to be transcendent. I’d rather have an ...

Golden Triangle restaurant drifts aimlessly

Just another hotel restaurant

My wife is vegetarian, so I’ve been seeking out restaurants with tasty meatless options. Her birthday was last week, and I was hoping to kick things up a notch by taking her to a place ...

A place for locals in a sea of Gaslamp tourists

Homemade sausages in a casual alehouse

The Gaslamp is a top dining destination, but I often view it as a Walt Disneylike imitation of a big city neighborhood. Many of the businesses cater to daytime workers or tourists and, consequently, don’t ...

Bloody good bloody mary at The Hills

La Mesa pub does brunch right

For the next five months, my kids are spending their Saturday mornings at a theater rehearsal. Date nights are difficult to do right now, but I can handle date mornings. For our taste of Saturday ...

Former gas station turned into hot La Mesa lunch spot

At your service

When La Mesa held its Oktoberfest in early October, a running topic of conversation was whether the city is the next North Park or the next Little Italy. La Mesa is a great city to ...

Best sandwich since New York

And you’re advised to take it like they make it

There are good places in San Diego for sandwiches — I’m a fan of Hillcrest Sandwich Shop — but it’s rare that I have a truly transcendent sandwich experience like I’ve had in New York. ...

The King is dead

In his new book, Swim Through Darkness, local rocker/writer Mike Stax examines the mysterious decline of '60s pop hopeful Craig Smith

In 1966, Craig Smith was friends with Beach Boy Mike Love and Monkee Mike Nesmith. Smith was a successful songwriter and singer marked as a potential pop star. By 1969, he believed he was the ...

Beach Boys, burgers, and the good life

Recession food

At its best, the hamburger is an affordable luxury, a piece of pleasure available to one and all. As important as Mexican food is to local culture, San Diego is still a burger town. The ...

Where dress flip-flops are a thing

Once people got picky about beer, they started getting particular about food too.

San Diego has always had the makings of a food mecca, but it’s only been in, say, the past decade that a majority of citizens have decided they don’t want to settle for an average ...

You can taste the ingredients

Fresh and simple at Mess Hall

When I first saw Liberty Station, I wasn’t impressed. I liked the open spaces but thought it was just another tourist trap that I didn’t need to visit unless out-of-towners forced my hand. My opinion ...

Top top-ten San Diegan

Gary Puckett comes home with the Happy Together tour

“Even today I’ll meet a 15-, 16-year-old girl who will tell me, ‘You wrote that song for me.’ That puts a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart.” Former San Diegan Gary Puckett is talking about ...

Staycation chronicles

Civico 1845 is good for vegetarians and carnivores alike

My in-laws took my kids to Florida for a week, so my wife and I decided to do a “staycation” of sorts by eating out every night while they were gone. Some restaurants we had ...

Bi this song by Alicia Champion

New single about bisexuality may not be a hit with the LGBT community

Alicia Champion knew she was bisexual from a young age. “When I was nine or ten [years old], I remember watching Power Rangers,” she recalls. “I had a crush on the pink ranger but was ...

Fun things to do in San Diego

A million things under the sun — we offer a few (some indoors)

County Administration Center Waterfront Park In 2014, 12 acres of former parking lots were converted into a public park facing San Diego Bay. Running both north and south of the county government headquarters established in ...

Eve of construction

Eve Selis talks rollerblading and how it lead to her new release

Stories about musicians suffering for their art are legion. Few of them involve rollerblading. But Eve Selis says her new record, See Me with Your Heart, never would have happened if she hadn’t torn her ...

Going whole hog for poke

San Diego Poke Company rides the wave

Poke, that raw fish salad associated with Hawaiian cuisine, has poked its way into the San Diego food scene recently. Some Whole Foods have bars dedicated to it, and there’s even an “I Love Poke ...

O, sue me

O-Town pop star comes home to San Diego

A lot of musicians feel they have to leave San Diego in order to “make it.” Jacob Underwood felt he made it when he was able to move back. “I live in the Gaslamp, but ...

Taco mecca

San Diegans will try anything in a (hard or soft) taco shell

It’s been said that no Chinese restaurant will ever go out of business in New York because there’s enough people willing to try a place at least once. That’s how Mexican food is in San ...

Where to take the cousin

Duke’s La Jolla, family friendly and slightly upscale

Living in San Diego, I get a lot of out-of-town visitors, so there’s a need for places that are nice but casual with decent food and an atmosphere that pushes the San Diego dream. Some ...

Cirque du Nortec

Tijuana electronica duo will make it home from the circus for Cinco

If you are reading this on May 5, there is a good chance that the two main members of the Nortec Collective are flying over your head from Montreal. The Tijuana-based techno musicians are scheduled ...

Life-changing gelato

Bobboi brings the flavor

My wife hosted a bridal shower recently and told me to take my son and go away for a few hours. We decided to go up to the La Jolla Cove area. It was still ...

Hunka hunka Bernie Love

Local indie kids throw a Berning Man fundraiser at the Tree House in Golden Hill

“It’s been percolating for a while. I’ve been wanting to do something to help the campaign,” says local musician/promoter Jakob McWhinney about his upcoming Bernie Sanders rally, appropriately called #BerningMan. The day-long concert is scheduled ...

Breaking the curse

Cucina Basilico serves authentic Italian in a La Mesa strip mall

There’s a strip mall near my home in La Mesa that seems to be a black hole for restaurants. They seem to disappear almost as soon as they open. Some of the places that have ...

Zappa's excellent adventure

Alex Winter filming Frank Zappa's treasure trove of a home

The man who played Bill in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure hopes his next excellent adventure involves Frank Zappa. Actor/filmmaker Alex Winter is currently running a Kickstarter campaign that, if successful, will raise $500,000 to ...

Best burger within a short drive

Charley’s Famous Hamburgers

When San Diegans discuss the area’s best burger, the two top contenders are usually Hodad’s in Ocean Beach and Downtown and Rocky’s Crown Pub near Pacific Beach. I understand. Both places make high-quality burgers. I ...

Pet project

Commemorating Beach Boys classic Pet Sounds at San Diego Zoo

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the San Diego Zoo and the 50th anniversary of the classic Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. Local history professor and music writer Steve Thorn has a pet project ...

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