Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

Old Town Mexican Cafe Review: Where to Find Good Mexican Food in San Diego

restaurantsLocal WallyComment
Old Town Mexican Cafe in San Diego

Old Town Mexican Cafe in San Diego

OLD TOWN MEXICAN CAFE - 2489 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110 - (619) 297-4330

Quick Overview:  Probably the best Mexican food in Old Town San Diego, their specialty is their carnitas (tender pork) and handmade tortillas.

Tip:  For the most authentic experience sit on the right side of the restaurant, the original seating with booths and colorful decorations. The left side was originally their patio seating, now converted into more dining area. It's sunnier but has less ambiance.

Old Town Mexican Cafe Bar

Old Town Mexican Cafe Bar


Buses drop off tourists, lines out the door, Food TV hosts gushing, but is the food at Old Town Mexican Cafe really any good?  After all, it's located in San Diego Old Town, arguably one of the most touristy places in all of San Diego.

I used to dine here all the time back when I first moved to San Diego to go to SDSU. Back then I was not a Mexican food expert by any means. Heck, I ate canned tamales and Taco Bell (disclaimer: I still would eat canned tamales if you put them in front of me). When I first started coming here you could get a heaping plate of carnitas, slow cooked pork served up with a plate of onions, cilantro, cups of roaring hot salsa, and a plate of handmade tortillas, for $5.50. I was poor, the food was great, life was good.

Carnitas at Old Town Mexican Cafe

Carnitas at Old Town Mexican Cafe

Today that plate costs around $15. That's still a good price but was it as good as my memories? Well, perhaps. The beans were great and unlike some who knock off points for melted cheddar cheese instead of Mexican cheese I'm cool with that.  Tasty, good.  As for the carnitas you can order them cooked different ways, from deep fried chunks to pan fried crispy. I ordered crispy, a mistake as the meat was dry and no longer succulent but the crispy edges were tasty. I think the non-crispy version would be better, or the deep fried chunks. And yes, they have horrible plating by today's standards but this is how it has always looked and it's always been more about the food than the presentation here.

You wrap the whole thing up in a handmade tortilla. Wait, let me tell you about these things. If you've only eaten supermarket tortillas get ready because these extra thick tortillas are the bomb, really delicious. Stuff them with meat and all the fillings and top with salsa and you are good to go.

Salsa at Old Town Mexican Cafe

I forgot to tell you. When they bring you the chips (really great chips, by the way, and free with every meal which is cool) make sure you ask for the hotter hot sauce. The salsa on the left is the hot one and is really tasty. The salsa fresca on the right is good but not quite hot enough, so mix it up and go to town.

Margarita at Old Town Mexican Cafe

Margarita at Old Town Mexican Cafe

You should also get a Margarita.  House margaritas in most restaurants are not very good so upgrade to a Cadillac. I don't remember the price but it wasn't bad and the margarita surprisingly strong, I had two and regretted it later but enjoyed the ride nonetheless.

Mexican Ribs at Old Town Mexican Cafe

Mexican Ribs at Old Town Mexican Cafe

I also ordered the Mexican Ribs, about the same price as the carnitas. I used to love these ribs, cooked on a rotisserie and spiced up with a delicious salty blend. Well, I knew I was in a bit of trouble when they brought out a side of BBQ sauce. And the ribs, while tender, had none of the great spices I was expecting but rather tasted like baby backs tossed on a gas grill. Meh. Don't get these, but the rice, yeah, the rice was really good.

Making tortillas at Old Town Mexican Cafe


Tourist Recommendation:  A

Local Recommendation: B

Ambiance:  B+

Food Quality: B+

Margarita:  A

Wally Comments: I still like Old Town Mexican Cafe and would not hesitate to go back with friends from out of town. There's a nice ambiance here and the food authentic enough to please everyone. The portions are good, the tortillas and margaritas worth the wait. For locals I'm not sure I would wait in the long lines and instead just head up the hill to Ponce's or go to North County to Fidels or Tony's Jacal but overall Old Town Mexican Cafe is a solid pick for authentic Mexican food in San Diego.

La Jolla Seals: The first seal pup of 2017 has been born!

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Baby seals on the beach in San Diego / La Jolla.

The Seal Conservancy is happy to report that the first pup of the season was born at Casa Beach on February 4, 2017!  But, wait - there's more! Mara and Jenny, two more pups, were born on February 5! Soon, these pups will be popping up all over the beach. If you missed the first few births, there is still plenty of time to witness the beauty of a live birth or watch pups and moms nursing, swimming, or being playful. Under the safe and peaceful conditions of a closed beach, we can reasonably expect there to be 40 - 50 successful seal pup births at the rookery this year, with the majority of births between February and late March.

Harbor seals are pregnant for 9 - 11 months? If pregnant seals have a safe place to rest before birth, then it is very likely that the average newborn pup will be born full term and weighing 20 - 24 pounds. It is very important that once this pup is born, the mother is undisturbed for 24 hours and is able to bond with the pup. Once the mom and pup have bonded, the newborn will nurse from its mother for one month before it is weaned and ready to swim and hunt on its own.


The chain is up and the beach is closed for the 2017 harbor seal pupping season, but this almost did not happen because of on-going litigation. Please visit our Latest News webpage to stay informed of the news at Casa Beach.

Follow the pup births at Casa Beach by checking in our Pup News 2017 page. We try to keep track of each birth as it occurs - sometimes 3 or 4 in one day - and update our page with details and photos of the newborn pups.

Islands Restaurant: Now Serving Paradise Bikini Beach Menu (and great burgers)!

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Screen Shot 2017-01-29 at 10.42.09 AM.png

I watch what I eat.  But I'm very weak when it comes to choosing between deliciousness and low calorie options.  I know, restaurants claim their healthy options are muy bueno, but I've been tricked before. I've ordered salads thinking they were topped with cheddar cheese only to find out its carrots.  And don't get me started on cauliflower mashed "potatoes" or noodles made out of squash.

So I must admit when I saw that Island's Restaurant, San Diego's own burger joint chain, was now offering a lower calorie menu they dubbed Paradise Bikini Beach, I was highly skeptical.  I mean, in my world paradise is not low cal, it's deep fried. But there I was, staring at the healthy menu and trying, really trying, to make a good decision.

Island's Paradise Bikini Beach Tacos

The options are slim (no pun intended).  A veggie taco, a Greek salad, a Turkey Burger, and chicken tacos.  I eliminated the veggie taco immediately as it seemed exactly what I did not want in a taco.  Turkey Burger sounded good but I think it's wrong to get a burger with a salad instead of fries so that was out.  I like salads but not as an entree so that was out.  That left the chicken tacos.  Hmmm, what to do, what to do?

Malibu Burger at Island's Restaurant

And then I looked over at the standard menu.  Big fat juicy burgers with bacon, cheese, sauce, and fries!  Fries!!!  Buffalo wings, onion rings, fried fish tacos!  I mean, there in front of me was temptation.  Do I order the healthier dinner or do I go with something I know I will love?  I had to make a decision and it had to be a good one.  My wife ordered first - she went chicken tacos.  Good call.  Now my turn.  I. Am. Weak. 

I did what I had to do.  I ordered the Malibu burger - a juicy burger cooked medium (still pink) with Applewood Bacon, American Cheese, Onion, Lettuce, Tomato.  And I ordered it smothered with Thousand Island dressing.  Fries?  Of course, do you think I'm crazy not to get an order of delicious hand cut fries??? 

I was feeling a tad guilty when my burger arrived, a giant plate of wholesome deliciousness. But my wife seemed happy as well.  What?  She liked her low cal option?  Gimme that!  I took a bite and you know, it was a pretty darn tasty bite! In fact, if you did not tell me this was a low cal option I would never know.  The chicken was nicely seasoned, the salsa fresca was as good as you'll find in any San Diego taco shop (meaning quite good), there was even cheddar cheese on the tacos.  And the tacos were full sized, not the trendy "street tacos".  They came with a side of beans, not bad, not bad at all.  In fact, while I still think that Veggie Tacos are a crime I give Islands a lot of credit for making a low calorie taco dinner that tastes as good as the real deal.

So we were both happy, my wife with her tacos and me with my burger.  Of course, my wife ate a few of my fries and I let her. I did feel a little guilty, after all.

San Diego's BEST Ocean View Restaurants Review: Eddie V's Prime Seafood in La Jolla

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(858) 459-5500    1270 PROSPECT STREET, LA JOLLA, 92037 (MAP)


Eddie V's in La Jolla - San Diego's BEST Ocean View Dining

Eddie V's in La Jolla - San Diego's BEST Ocean View Dining

I get asked a lot where to go for San Diego's BEST ocean view restaurant dining. In the past I had my usual suspects - George's at the Cove's Ocean Terrace, Marine Room, Jake's Del Mar - but now I have to add Eddie V's in La Jolla, the perfect combination of stunning views, elegant dining and exquisite food.  Think I'm overstating this?  I'm not!

Let's start with the location in La Jolla.  The view is full on ocean, located right above the La Jolla Cave Store (aka Sunny Jim Cave). Waves splashing, seals barking, we're talking full on unobstructed view, one of the best in all of San Diego.  How good is the view?  How about this?

How's this for a view?  Eddie V's in La Jolla.

How's this for a view?  Eddie V's in La Jolla.

When you're done staring at the view you'll be equally impressed with the menu. I love Eddie V's for lunch because unlike so many ocean view restaurants the prices are downright reasonable. Get a burger - I mean a really great Wagyu burger with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and fries- for $14! And this isn't a "back at the bar" special, this is white tablecloth, ocean view dining.  Or try the Maine Lobster Tacos, two full size, fully loaded tacos, for $19.  Yes, full size, not silly "street tacos".  That's a great deal anywhere in San Diego, even without a view.  Let me put it this way - whether you're a San Diego local or an out of town visitor, you have to come here for lunch.

So lunch it is.  I started my meal with some oysters. I love that they have plenty of oyster options. If you don't know what you want then have the waiter bring out a selection.  The oysters were fresh, clean tasting, a perfect start with a glass of sparkling wine.

And I love appetizers!  And Crab Cakes!  And Asian inspired food!  So when I saw Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and Kung Pao Calamari, well, you know I had to get them both. Let's start with the crab cake.

Crab Cake at Eddie V's La Jolla

Is that not perfect?  The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake at Eddie V's is perhaps my most favorite, a large serving with virtually no fillers. Crispy exterior, moist fresh crab, a spicy Remoulade sauce, if you love seafood you need to get this. Simply the best. Ever.

Next up was the Point Judith Calamari, served Kung Pao style with crispy rice noodles and cashews.

Nice, crispy calamari on top of a bed of even crispier and crunchier noodles, big enough to share with a group of four. I liked it, though if I had to choose I'd stick with the crab cake.  Still, I give Eddie V's an A for effort and my wife loved, loved, loved it.  But by now I was thinking of my entree.

That's right baby, I went for the Steak Frites! The steak was a 10 oz PRIME ribeye (this was lunch, after all) served up with a variety of truffle scented mushrooms and a side of crispy Parmesan-Chive French Fries. Oh, there was a salad as well but who cares about that when you have a giant steak and fries in front of you?  And yes, Eddie V's lives up to the PRIME in its name, the steak was perfectly cooked, tender, very delicious.  Dinner portions are even larger - 22 oz bone-in ribeye, anyone? 

Eddie V La Jolla seafood fish delish

My wife was a bit more responsible with her order, getting the Parmesan Lemon Sole with lemon garlic butter. Very light, crispy exterior, and very fresh.  Good one!  I've heard from others that the Hong Kong style sea bass is outstanding - next time.

Eddie V's La Jolla fried rice

Now for some reason we ordered a side of Crab Fried Rice with mushrooms and scallions.  I mean, I don't know what we were thinking as we already had enough food on the table to feed an Army. But wow, was this good. A bit decadent, a bit rich, a huge portion, really nice addition but oh so stuffed by now.

At night the menu changes up a bit, prices edge up into the $30's but it's right in line with San Diego's dining scene. Live jazz every night in the ocean view bar, Eddie V's in La Jolla doesn't miss a beat and nails it on view, ambiance, service, and food quality. It surely has to be one of San Diego's best Ocean View restaurants and one of our best places to eat overall!  Go there, spend some time at the bar or savoring the view, Eddie V's is one of the quintessential San Diego restaurant experiences.

EDDIE V'S LA JOLLA:  Best Ocean View Dining in San Diego, Classy and Elegant, Best lunch value in La Jolla, best place to impress a date, romantic dining, Best Views.


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The Concept Marks Southern California’s First Tribal-Owned Brewery

Harrah's Resort Brewery, SR76

Harrah’s Resort Southern California has announced the opening of SR76, a new 5,000-square-foot brewery situated adjacent to the resort and casino. The first tribal-owned brewing concept in Southern California’s burgeoning beer scene, SR76 is inspired by the ten-thousand-year ancestry of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and named after State Route 76, the original footpath along the San Luis River that led the tribe to the coast each season. The same road will now guide beer-lovers east from the Pacific to the brewery.

All of the beer offered at SR76 is produced onsite by Brewmaster Brian Scott and is exclusive to the brewery. The brewhouse was custom-built by Marks Design & Metalworks to maximize efficiency of the brewing process, and is comprised of American-made stainless steel sourced from Vancouver, Washington. A long-time resident of Escondido, Scott has held roles at Firehouse Brewing, Mission Brewery and Karl Strauss, and formerly served as vice president and then president of the San Diego Brewer’s Guild. Together, Scott and the Rincon Economic Development Corporation (REDCO), imagined a vision for SR76, one that would reflect the rich history of the tribe’s culture with beer that highlights the agriculture of the 5,000-acre reservation.

“The pathway that gave SR76 its name provides inspiration for the beer itself,” said Scott. “We thought to ourselves, ‘what can we take, from along that path, that would make for an interesting approach to beer?’”

Over the course of a year, Scott will produce up to 20 diverse brews that will be rotated seasonally, with at least four styles offered per season. Scott describes his beers as approachable, well-built and balanced, with intriguing undertones of flavor. To round out the first menu, he created four beers:

  • Temet (“Sun”): a light and approachable Kolsch-style ale with citrus and spice notes, the SR76 flagship brew
  • Supul (“One”): a delicate Apricot Saison that is refreshingly tart and earthy, with slight notes of apricot
  • Hellhole Pale Ale: an American style pale ale, named for Valley Center’s Hellhole Canyon, with citrus notes in the aroma and a clean hop finish
  • Paradise Creek Wheat: a full-bodied German Style Weissbier with strong notes of banana and clove that support its rich and fluffy carbonation

Beyond the tasting room, many restaurants within the resort will also serve beers created specifically to pair well with various cuisines.  

"Our partnership with SR76 is an extension of our commitment to the local community and a tribute to the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indian history," said Darrell Pilant, general manager of Harrah's Resort Southern California. "As a cultural hub that celebrates authenticity, Harrah's Resort Southern California is proud to offer guests a unique, world-class beer tasting experience in an upscale taproom setting."

Built by W.E. O’Neil Construction, SR76 is spacious and welcoming, with a modern design and open floor plan that allows for an easy view of the brewhouse. The tasting room was designed by San Diego-based Interior Design and Architecture firm, Community. A Design Collective, to offer a relaxing reprieve from the excitement of the resort and casino. Inspired by nature and the native culture of the tribe, the team used natural textures, like wood, to represent the earth, and paint colors like orange and blue to represent elements like fire and water – both the San Luis River and Pacific Ocean. Outfitted with comfortable contemporary furnishings, such as inviting leather couches in a spacious lounge area, the aesthetic of the space is modern with a tranquil vibe.

SR76 will be open for tastings and tours Wednesday and Thursday from 2pm-8pm; Fridays from 2pm-10pm; Saturday from 12pm-10pm; and Sunday from 12pm-5pm. Flights are $7 and single pints are $6.

San Diego 2016 Christmas Holiday Events

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Hanging for the Holidays in San Diego 2016


Best Things to Do from Ice Skating at the Hotel Del Coronado to Special Events at the San Diego Zoo

It may not be a white Christmas, but there is plenty to do in gorgeous San Diego to get you in the holiday spirit! Whether you’re visiting for just a bit or a long-time local, you’ll want to check out these holiday activities:

Neighborhood Holiday Lights

Garrison Street Christmas Lights (Point Loma) – this amazing neighborhood covers their homes in shining lights, nativity scenes, Santas, sleighs and so much more. You can drive through, but you’ll probably want to park and stroll down the street to truly enjoy the details. They are ready the day after Thanksgiving until December 31st. Plug this address into your GPS and you’ll find yourself right there! 3663 Garrison Street, San Diego, CA 92106. There are many wonderful neighborhoods all over San Diego that have similar over-the-top decorations. To find a neighborhood closer to you, use this handy map of Christmas Lights.

San Diego Boat Parade

For a unique coastal twist to the holidays, plan to see the 45th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. Find a Bayfront spot and watch the procession of approximately 80 lavishly decorated boats as they dazzle and entertain on December 11th and 18th, starting at 5:00pm.

Ice Skating

Outdoor ice skating is a special treat during the holiday season and here are two wonderful choices for this activity.

The iconic Hotel del Coronado offers “Skating by the Sea,” a seasonal oceanfront ice skating rink open from November 24th to January 2nd. Visitors will surly feel the holiday spirit strolling through their winter wonderland of beautiful decorations, DELights display, and the spectacular two-story lobby Christmas tree.

“Fantasy on Ice” at historic Liberty Station begins November 17th with live performances and remains open until January 8th. There are a variety of different public skating times so check here for more information. One hundred percent of profits from this rink benefit Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital.

Major Attraction Holiday Event:  San Diego Zoo, LegoLand, Seaworld

Visit the World-Famous San Diego Zoo from November 24th to January 3rd to experience “Jungle Bells.” Enjoy an array of holiday lights and animal-shaped light sculptures, ride the twinkle trolley, see the acrobatic trampoline elves, visit with Santa and much more.

Celebrate the Holidays at LEGOLAND with a life-size Lego Santa, reindeer and sleigh among twinkling lights, nightly snowfall and special holiday treats.

Visit Sea World’s Christmas Celebration to feel a wave of holiday cheer. The 320-ft. tall Sky Tower shines with twinkling lights and all the park’s various shows have Christmas themes. You can have breakfast with Shamu and Santa, visit Santa’s Cottage, see the 40-ft. happiest dancing Christmas tree, and much more.

San Diego is the perfect place to experience so many outdoor holiday activities to put you in the festive spirit. Plan ahead to make sure to enjoy all your favorites! Happy holidays!

Guest Post Provided by Molly McCrackin

Molly McCrackin grew up in San Diego and has been managing short term vacation rentals in the beach area since 2008. She is the owner and manager of Molly's Rentals - a short term vacation rental company that specializes vacation homes in Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and downtown San Diego.

Where to Eat in San Diego Gaslamp? Osetra Fishouse for the Freshest Seafood in Town!

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Looking for San Diego's Finest Seafood (and a fun seafood restaurant at that)?  Osetra Fishouse in Gaslamp is it!

Address: 904 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: (619) 239-1800

Menu: osetrafishhouse.com

Osetra Fishhouse in the historic Gaslamp District offers fresh seafood caught daily as part of a varied menu that also offers handmade pastas, unique cuts of meat (think Wagyu beef), and a raw bar, featuring the restaurant's namesake caviar, fresh Blue Point oysters, mussels and clams, and live Maine lobster. They are proud to offer several signature gluten-free items on the menu, as well as vegetarian dishes and a dessert menu featuring handmade desserts like flourless chocolate cake and New York-style cheesecake, along with grappas, ports, and other dessert wines to accompany them.

Osetra also boasts a full-service bar managed by master mixologist Marcelo, who can craft you an incredible personalized drink at just the mention of your favorite flavor. Or, choose from the extensive list of signature mules and cocktails, local craft beer, top-shelf spirits (including the exclusive Louis XIII cognac), and over 3,000 bottles of wine. Many of these bottles are stored in the restaurant's wine cellar, which was the underground vault for the First National Bank that used to occupy Osetra's building in the early 1900s, but several hundred are stored in the restaurant's 3-story wine tower - the only one in California. Better yet, flying wine angels will scale the tower, retrieve the perfect bottle for you, and have it delivered straight to your table.

Osetra offers several private dining areas for catered events, from business meetings to wedding rehearsal dinners to birthday parties. Choose the Atlantic Room or Pacific Room for intimate gatherings, or reserve the cocktail lounge or even the entire beautiful venue to impress your party.

Great Live Music at Little Italy Venue (+ Ultimate Spot for a VIP Experience)

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Music Box is a fantastic place to watch live music in San Diego; it was established in 2015, so (lucky for the insiders) it’s still a hidden gem. You’ll find it in the Little Italy neighborhood, near the downtown Gaslamp District. The vibe? Chic. Classy. Yet down-to-Earth. It’s a spacious venue that offers a variety of types of music too. You’ll find everything from rock and EDM to bluegrass, reggae and hip hop. So you can go one night for crazy rock and roll. Attend another for smooth jazz. Also, and very importantly, there’s delicious appetizers and hand-crafted cocktails that are high-quality - not your average concert beverages!

There is another awesome service here too: Music Box can be rented for almost any type of private event in San Diego. Corporate events, holiday parties, birthday celebrations, product launches, wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners - even ComicCon parties and events. Because this 3-level site has a variety of customizable options for booking an event, such as reserving a VIP box, an outdoor patio or even the entire 3rd level, the Music Box team can work with each person or business to create the right vibe and type of event that everyone will enjoy. Whether you want to host a birthday party for friends and family or are a company seeking party space (it can host 700 patrons comfortably), Music Box is happy to work with your needs.

Our top recommendation: Have a VIP experience for a birthday or bachelor/bachelorette party. Here’s how it works: Choose to combine a celebration, like a birthday, with a show already playing. (Simply check out the list of upcoming shows at Music Box to find the concert you want to attend!) That way - when you book your private area, you and your guests get the perk of having your own space.

It’s the ultimate VIP experience in San Diego

About Music Box

Music Box offers the highest of quality in live music and private event space, providing state-of-the-art sound, food, drinks, and experience. Music Box promotes sociability and functionality with a 700 capacity venue that spans 3 levels comfortably.  This includes unique lounge areas, VIP and opera box seating as well as an outdoor patio. Music Box is also home to an upscale dining experience which features locally-sourced, gourmet food and drink. Check out upcoming shows or book a private or sponsored event now at www.musicboxsd.com.

Golden Coast Mead Opens in Oceanside: Help the Bee's, Drink More Mead!

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Golden Coast Mead (based in Oceanside) was born in 2010 out of the passion of Southern California native, Frank Golbeck. Frank was first exposed to the magic of mead as a young kid on his grandfather’s apple orchard. He watched a room full of adults transform into a laughing, gregarious bunch, and he knew there was something special about this potion made from honey. Luckily, he made a career of it, and now shares his knowledge and passion for mead with the world.

Mead is the oldest form of alcohol, simply brewed by fermenting honey. Mead is sunshine and flowers in drinkable form and the only fermented beverage that doesn't need monoculture to be produced at scale. The result is a delicious, naturally gluten-free beverage with over 200,000 pollinations in every glass. With good mead, we can change the way bees are kept in America.

Mead is actually the oldest alcoholic drink on the planet, and is just now beginning to make a strong comeback. Golden Coast Mead crafts a distinctive style of mead: San Diego Style Mead. It is brewed with top quality California honey, and Palomar Mountain spring water, making it a truly local product. Because it is naturally effervescent, it is served cold and has a light, refreshing, and balanced flavor profile. There is no pasteurization, force carbonation, added sulfites, or filtration; this mead is a modern interpretation of ancient practices. The result is a delicious, gluten-free beverage with over 200,000 pollinations in every glass.

As an invested member of the community, Golden Coast Mead donates at least one percent of its gross revenue to Dr. Nieh’s Entomology Lab at UCSD, researching the health and preservation of the honeybees, as part of One Percent for the Planet, an organization and movement that encourages corporate philanthropy for the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.

For more information on Golden Coast Mead, please visit goldencoastmead.com or the company’s social media sites: Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/GoldenCoastMead), Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/goldencoastmead), and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/goldencoastmead).

The Golden Coast Mead tasting room is located at 4089 Oceanside Blvd, Ste H, Oceanside, CA 92056, and is open Wednesday-Friday 2pm-8'ish, Saturday 1pm-8'ish, and Sunday 12pm-5'ish.


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The Moment Has Arrived – Tickets Now On Sale For Southern California’s Most Anticipated Culinary Classic, November 14-20, 2016

San Diego, CA (September 21, 2016) – The San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® launches ticket sales for its 13th annual culinary classic held November 14-20, 2016, and announces an impressive lineup of new events and celebrity chefs. Featuring over 40 citywide tasting experiences, Southern California’s largest food and wine festival will welcome 10,000 eager epicurean enthusiasts to America’s Finest City.

Celebrity chefs slated to headline events throughout the week include: Rick Moonen of rm Seafood and Rx Boiler Room; Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill; Michelle Bernstein of Cena by Michy; Marcus Samuelsson of Red Rooster Harlem, Ginny’s Supper Club, and Streetbird Rotisserie; Cosmo Goss of The Publican Restaurant; Erling Wu-Bower of Nico Osteria; Suzette Gresham of Acquerello; Gale Gand, acclaimed pastry chef; television personalities, Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, the Hearty Boys; Stephanie Prida of Manresa; Renee Erickson of The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, and Barnacle; Steve Santana of Taquiza; Justin Woodward of Castagna; Dean James Max of DJM Restaurants, and Chef Jason French of Ned Ludd.

In addition to over 200 wineries, breweries, and spirits, over 60 of San Diego’s top chefs, sommeliers, brewmasters and tastemakers will participate in the weeklong culinary classic, with local standouts including: Chef Javier Plascencia of Bracero; Chef Jason McLeod of Ironside Fish & Oyster; Chef Giselle Wellman of Pacific Standard Coastal Kitchen; Chef Drew Deckman of Deckman’s En El Mogor; Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef Ron Oliver of The Marine Room; Chef Rob Ruiz of Land & Water Co; Chef Trey Foshee of California Modern; Chef Tim Kolanko of Mess Hall; Chef Andrew Bachelier of Campfire; Chef Christine Rivera of Galaxy Taco; Chef Aron Schwartz of Marina Kitchen; Chef Amy DiBiase of Tidal; Chef Andrew Spurgin of Bespoke Event Styling, and Chef Evan Cruz of Arterra, to name a few.

san diego wine + food fest

The annual wine and food festival showcases San Diego’s vibrant culinary community through cooking classes, chef dinners, and multiple tasting events. Brand NEW events, excursions, and experiences featured at this year’s food and wine festival include:   

Mercy of The Chef – A selection of the country’s most talented chefs jet to America’s Finest City to partner with beloved San Diego chefs on an opening night dinner series that hits locales across the region and in Baja. In the hands of the chef, anything goes at this epic opening night.

Celebrate opening night at:

  • Ironside Fish & Oyster in Little Italy with Executive Chef Jason McLeod and Stephanie Prida from Manresa in Los Gatos, CA
  • Deckman’s En El Mogor in the Valle de Guadalupe with Executive Chef Drew Deckman and Renee Erickson of Seattle, Washington’s The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Barnacle and author of A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus
  • Galaxy Taco in La Jolla with Chef de Cuisine Christine Rivera and Chef Steve Santana from Taquiza in Miami, Florida
  • George’s in La Jolla with Executive Chef Trey Foshee and Chef Justin Woodward from Castagna in Portland, Oregon
  • Campfire in Carlsbad with Executive Chef Andrew Bachelier and Chef Jason French from Ned Ludd in Portland, Oregon

Marcus Samuelsson Hosts: In The Spirit | Whisk(e)y – From Bourbon to Scotch, Tennessee Whiskey to Japanese Whisky, Irish Whiskey and Rye, taste through a variety of styles and brands that represent a broad spectrum of today’s marketplace. Luce Loft | Wednesday, November 16 | $75 per person

Safe Harbor | Sustainable Seafood: Myths, Truths & Misinformation – Featuring nationally prominent chefs, local fishermen, academics and activists, this live panel discussion is free to attend and takes a multi-disciplinary look at the impact seafood choices have on the wellbeing of the oceans. Presented by the Berry Good Foundation as part of their Future Thought Leaders series, the panel features Chef Rick Moonen as well as complimentary food and drink from Chef Isabel Cruz who will highlight local farms and fishmongers. Location TBD | Wednesday, November 16 | Complimentary

Dinner With The Culinary Icons + Live Auction Presented by Lexus– A star-studded evening with epic culinary talent of (g)astronomical proportions. This once in a lifetime dining experience features Chefs: Marcus Samuelsson, Rick Bayless, Michelle Bernstein, Rick Moonen, Javier Plascencia, Bernard Guillas, and Aron Schwartz. Wines include: Louis Latour, Kistler and Lewis Cellars, to name a few. Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, San Diego Ballroom | Thursday, November 17 | $300 per person  

Bounty of San Diego: Ranchers, Farmers + Fisherman – Discover the bounty of San Diego in a five course, wine-paired dinner honoring hardworking craftsmen and women. Join celebrated chefs, Aron Schwartz, Suzette Gresham, Bernard Guillas, and Gale Gand. Marina Kitchen | Friday, November 18 | $225 per person

Expedition: Tuna Harbor Dockside Market + VIP Lexus Grand Tasting –Join Chef Rick Moonen and local sustainable seafood champion Chef Rob Ruiz on a private guided tour of Tuna Dockside Harbor, complete with sustainability talks, tastings and a signed copy of Rick Moonen’s book. The package also includes VIP Entry tickets to the Lexus Grand Tasting with a special chef’s table experience by Rob Ruiz with freshly prepared sushi and sashimi made from fish procured during that morning’s harbor tour. Tuna Dockside Harbor | Saturday, November 19 | $500 per person

Pizzapalooza Featuring Battle of the Bartenders – From deep dish, New York, Neapolitan, Sicilian, grilled, Detroit, etc., people are passionate about their pizza. Take in multiple tasting stations from San Diego’s top pizza makers, hit up incredible mixology and craft cocktail stations, and vote during the Battle of the Bartender competition. Pizzapalooza also features the Gelato World Tour.  Location TBD | Sunday, November 20 | $55 per person

San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival favorites returning to this year’s event lineup include:

San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® Golf Invitational – Maderas Golf Course plays host to the most delicious golf tournament around. This 18-hole course features six culinary tasting holes, six wine, brewery and sprit experiences, and six hole challenges complete with over the top prizes. Maderas Golf Course | Monday, November 14 | $200 per person / $750 per foursome

Fish Taco TKO Hosted by Rick Moonen – The Fish Taco TKO is back for its fifth annual competition to settle the score on who is making the best fish taco. At this year’s taco showdown, the city’s best fish taco makers are dished an extra challenge; their taco must use sustainable fish. Fish Taco TKO features unique beer and tequila stations and two prize categories – People and Critics’ Choice. Quartyard Urban Park | Tuesday, November 15 | $50 per person

Ocean-To-Table Luncheon – Highly regarded as one of the most breathtaking vistas in San Diego, The Marine Room and its celebrated chef Bernard Guillas and special guest Rick Moonen host a five-course, wine paired lunch with chefs known for their respect, creativity and passion for the fruits de mer. The luncheon is a who’s who of local chefs and includes: Rob Ruiz, Dean James Max, Amy DiBiase, Jason McLeod, Andrew Spurgin, Evan Cruz and Ron Oliver. The Marine Room | Wednesday, November 16 | $95 per person

SommCon®: The San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® partners again with SommCon®, a leading conference and exposition for wine, beer and spirit industry professionals and serious enthusiasts. SommCon® features over 40 educational sessions led by Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine and an all star collection of the industry’s finest pros. Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina | Wednesday, November 16 – Saturday, November 19 | Prices vary per person

Expedition: Baja: Hosted by Fernando Gaxiola of Baja Wine + Food, spend the day across the border, discovering the wineries, chefs, and restaurants that make gastronomy from Baja one of the most talked about culinary destinations on the planet.  Featuring Chef Diego Hernandez of Corazon De Tierra. Baja, Mexico | Wednesday, November 16 | $325 per person

Lexus Grand Tasting Featuring the NEW Culinary Theater and VIP Experience: As returning platinum sponsor of the largest wine and food festival in Southern California, the San Diego County Lexus Dealers will take center stage with the Lexus Grand Tasting on the scenic San Diego Bay, featuring over 700 wines, 60 of San Diego’s top chefs, and over 30 gourmet food companies. The VIP Tent has never tasted so good as celebrity chefs Cosmo Gross and Erling Wu-Bower team up with local superstar Jason McLeod, Giselle Wellman, and Tim Kolanko to host this year’s NEW VIP Tent experience. Also NEW this year, join today’s hottest chefs for demonstrations at the Culinary Theater, including: the Hearty Boys, Javier Plascencia, Cosmo Gross, Erling Wu-Bower, and Rick Bayless. San Diego County Lexus Dealers consists of four dealerships providing word-class service to all of San Diego County, including Lexus El Cajon, Lexus Carlsbad, Lexus Escondido and Lexus San Diego.  Embarcadero Marina Park North | Saturday, November 19 | $135 General Admission, $175 Early Entry | $225 VIP

The San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® offers several ways for epicurean enthusiasts to indulge in the most decadent culinary experience of the year, including all-inclusive ticket packages that offer overall savings, and feature hotel accommodations as well as admission to a selection of the food and wine festival’s premier events. Discounted accommodations are available at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. Hotel reservations and ticket packages can be reserved by calling, 877.385.9595.

To preview the schedule of events and featured celebrities, visit the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® online at www.sandiegowineclassic.com.  Events, personalities, and participating wineries and restaurants are updated daily.

The 13th Annual San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival® is an international showcase of the world's premier wine and spirits producers, chefs and culinary personalities, and gourmet foods.  Held November 14-20, 2016 the event benefits culinary arts and enology scholarships awarded by Fast Forward Futures and the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.  Over 200 wineries, breweries, and spirit companies and 60 of San Diego’s top fine-dining restaurants will participate in the 2016 Festival. 

For more information visit www.sandiegowineclassic.com. Produced by World of Wine Events and Fast Forward.  For more information call 619-312-1212.