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Stories by Patrick Henderson

Tacos next to Old Town cemetery

Waitress didn't get the pina colada joke

Tahona Bar in Old Town is one of those places that is going to get a lot of jokes, just because of its location: next to the Old Town cemetery. “Tahona? I’m dying to go ...

San Diego Reader 2018 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 ...

One more craving

Park Blvd. croissants come close to Paris

It was my wife’s birthday and I was on a quest: To find a really superlative chocolate croissant. Here’s the backstory: We got engaged in Paris back in 2000, and one of the other highlights ...

San Diego Reader 2018 winter fun issue

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 ...

San Diego Reader 2018 Feast issue

Cowboy Star, Gelato Vero, Riviera Supper Club, Peohe's , Mariscos El Titanic

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 ...

San Diego Reader 2018 taco issue

Tacos with seafood, tacos that tell a story, tacos from Tijuana

Great atmosphere, better tacos Baja Oyster, Border X, Carnitas, Canteen at Quartyard, Candelas, Señor Taquero By Ed Bedford Shrimpquest 2018 City Tacos. Lolita's, Oscar's, Mariscos Alex, Blue Water By Ambrose Martin Year-round taco festival Corazon ...

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 ...

San Diego Reader 2017 guide to holiday fun

Bar crawl, good causes, Tijuana, Legoland, Zoo, Seaworld, Liberty Station,

A holiday tourist in my own city Tree farms, Nativity scene, gondola and trolley rides, Christmas movies by the pool. By Siobhan Braun Why not a holiday bar crawl? Bike ride, Messiah sing-along, Santacon bar ...

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. ...

San Diego Reader 2017 Burgers issue

Urge is the root word

Burgers with a side of ambience Brewski's, Bruski, Legacy, Banzai, Sunrise Deli, San Marcos Brewery, Tivoli, Balboa Bar. By Chad Deal Burgers for those with exquisite taste Craft & Commerce, Barleymash, Mastiff, Fathom, Notorious, Burger ...

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 ...

San Diego Reader Feast — 2017 restaurant issue

Slow cooking, fusion, BBQ, slices of Chicago pizza

It's a mess. A glorious mess. Azerbaijan on Adams Ave., the Buzz Burger with bacon jam, Surf Check in Shasta travel trailer, old-school Japanese in Chula Vista. — Ed Bedford Save room for the Mexican ...

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 ...

San Diego Reader 2017 Fun issue

Eagle Mining, Bike the Bay, USS Midway, Lucha Libre

Climb the California Tower in Balboa Park Balboa Park’s California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man was closed to the public in 1935, but after extensive construction and safety renovations it reopened for ...

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 ...

San Diego Reader 2017 guide to tacos

Taco secrets, octopus, importance of tortillas

Taco means tiny taste of temptation. Satisfaction by a thousand different cuts of meat and veggies. Is it just me, this wacko taco love affair? I don’t think so. Every San Diegan has a secret ...

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 ...