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Stories by Patrick Henderson

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 ...

The daughter who eats anchovies and huitlacoche

Well, it was the Westgate

It was time for a little father-daughter bonding and what better place than a drag show? Exactly! That’s why I had no problem when my daughter asked to go to Werq The World, featuring drag ...

Oceanaire a chain, but with some local nuance

$55 seabass, $49 halibut

“Not all chain restaurants are the same,” my friend told me while biting into a crispy piece of calamari. “Some chains just go for the quick buck with mega-meals. Others want that fast casual meal ...

Scaring up healthy food

Gluten-free tastes good at Flower Child

My son was ready for a rite of passage: Going through the haunted attractions at the Scream Zone on the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Yes, at the age of 12, he was ready to deal with ...

Farm doors on the bathrooms

La Mesa's Fourpenny House offers remnants of British empire — curries, roast

Some things are worth the wait. That’s how I felt when Fourpenny House opened on La Mesa Boulevard back in April. This Scottish-themed pub has been in the works for at least two years before ...

The Reader's 2018 burger issue

The most complicated of sandwiches The Friendly, Born and Raised, Balboa Bar, Viewpoint, Mishmash, Currant, Bleu Boheme By Mary Beth Abate We’re burger rich, y’all Craft House, Gourmet Sandwiches, Salud, Ty's, Bunz, Hamilton's. Chinatown Bar ...

Thanks, Hamburg

Verandina, Meze Greek Fusion, Rabbit Hole, Royale, Coaster Saloon, Terra American, Charles + Dinorah

Although the hamburger was named after the German city of Hamburg, America is the country that made it great thanks to access to relatively cheap beef, wheat for the bun, and the imagination of a ...

Fancy Hot Pockets?

What's worth savoring at Empanada Kitchen

I wanted my family to try something different, but it was a hot night and we wanted something casual. Knowing the family liked tacos, I thought empanadas might be a nice alternative, since they are ...

Reader 2018 Feast issue

Writers and their favotrites

When dinner is a gift El Jardin, Cowboy Star, Coasterra, Born & Raised, Charles + Dinorah, Nine-Ten, Juniper & Ivy By Mary Beth Abate I burst with hometown pride George's, Himitsu, Kokoro, Starlite, Gelato Vero ...

Don’t forget the giant chicken

Giardina, Pisco, Crack Shack, Ambrogio 15, La Valencia, Verendina, Primavera

This slightly upscale but still casual Italian restaurant is a hidden gem for East County foodies. Open and airy with a decor that is shabbily chic like an Italian farmhouse, there are plenty of dishes ...

The perfect canvas

El Chingon, Beerfish, CARVE, Volcano Rabbit, One Door North, Hundred Proof

The main reason San Diego is better than LA comes down to the fast food of choice: San Diegans have so many options for tacos, they never have to eat the same place twice. Los ...

Perfectly balanced BBQ

The sauce doesn't overpower the meat

Think politics is polarizing? It’s got nothing on BBQ. It’s a passionate topic where people have their theories on things like wood or propane. sauce or rub, and brisket or ribs. BBQ aficionados are picky ...

Light Greek

“Meze” is a Greek term for small plates

When my family and I managed to beat all odds and get Hamilton tickets through the lottery, we knew we wanted to make it an evening out by also getting dinner. But Dad had just ...

Lemon Grove goes upscale

Giardino marks neighborhood’s entry into fine dining

Lemon Grove doesn’t get hyped as a dining destination like North Park or Little Italy, but it may be San Diego’s hole-in-the-wall capital. Foodies know that in between the chain restaurants are wonderful ma-and-pa type ...

Cool vibe and crispy croquettes

But the best part was the Cuban sandwich

I haven’t had much opportunities to try Cuban food in San Diego — a taco shop always seems to get in the way — but I was intrigued when I discovered a new Cuban restaurant ...

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 ...

Let’s Be Friends

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