Best Areas to Dine with a View in San Diego

Whether you’ve lived in San Diego your whole life or are new to America’s Finest City, the ability to be comfortable outdoors year-round just never gets old—particularly if you hail from colder climates. Add to that an abundance of sweeping landscapes and vibrant, world-class cuisine, and we’d say we’ve got quite the trifecta here.

If this all sounds too good to be true, well, it’s not. But if we’re being fastidious, we suppose there is one small drawback to living in California’s coastal paradise. You see, with the number of picturesque settings and outstanding food options, the challenge isn’t finding a table with a view—it’s narrowing down the list of choices.

From uptown to downtown; oceanside to bayside, we’re running through the top spots to take in San Diego’s views during Restaurant Week and beyond.

The Best Spots to Dine by the Beach

For the best in San Diego’s seaside fare, a drive along scenic Highway 101 is sure to yield great results. And while we usually encourage planning ahead when it comes to picking the best meal, in this case, we kind of think the less planning—and more wandering—the better. Here’s a route to get you started:

Kick-off the day in Oceanside with breakfast on or near the pier before heading south through Carlsbad to Encinitas where, if you’ve struck the right balance of driving and meandering, you’ll be ready for a fabulous oceanfront lunch in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The stretch of South Coast Highway 101 in the charming and historic surf town of Encinitas serves as its own little restaurant row, with a variety of great dining options to take in the view before you hit the road due south.

If you’re planning on spending time at the beach, Del Mar, just south on the 101, is the perfect place to sunbathe for the afternoon, do a little shopping at the plaza and grab a happy hour bite at one of the city’s several beachside haunts. Fair warning, however—these places fill up quickly, so you may want to try for a reservation if possible, especially if you anticipate finding yourself there around sunset. But for that, we’ve got an even better idea…

Up next on our epicurean tour of the San Diego coastline is La Jolla, home to adorable sunbathing sea lions, out-of-this-world ocean views and what we’re convinced are the most incredible sunsets on this side of heaven. It also happens to be home to one of San Diego’s most vibrant dining scenes. For the best views, we recommended scouting out a spot near the cove—and be sure to bring your camera.

Once dinner’s done, we couldn’t think of a place better to end a San Diego beach day than in the quintessentially-California town of Ocean Beach. While the bohemian beach community is bustling during the day with surfers, skaters and sunbathers alike, the food and beverage scene really comes to life at night. Grab a local beer at one of several breweries along Newport Avenue, or make your way toward the ocean for a (responsible) nightcap at one of several beachside bars before calling it a day—or ditching the car and calling a ride.

Best Areas to Dine Around San Diego Bay

For the ‘best of the bay’ in terms of culinary experience, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend starting in the Crown City of Coronado, where world-class, waterfront restaurants abound. If you’re coming by ferry, you won’t have to wander far—there are several great options right at the Coronado Ferry Landing, where you’ll get a stellar view of the downtown skyline across the bay. As you make your way into town, follow Orange Avenue (a dining mecca in itself) as it curves left to visit the historic Hotel del Coronado or pop into a dockside restaurant along one of the island’s marinas.

If you’d rather stay cityside, Downtown San Diego offers several bars and restaurants right along the water—and, of course, the historic Gaslamp Quarter, a vibrant hub for food, art and culture. If you find yourself downtown after dark, hit up one of the area’s 20-plus rooftop lounges for a spectacular 360-degree city view.

Looking for a more off-the-beaten-path setting? Harbor Island, Shelter Island and Point Loma all have varied, world-class dining options set among serene bay views.

Best Views Period.

As much as we love to tout the fact that we have 70—yes, 70—miles of coastline along which to enjoy some of the world’s freshest, most vibrant fare, we also happen to have a plethora of natural wonders that also serve as an ideal backdrop to a delicious meal. From the rolling hills of Escondido to the sprawling gardens of Balboa Park, it’s actually pretty difficult to get a bad view in this town.

San Diego Restaurant Week 2019 is hitting all corners of the city with eight days of deals from new establishments and time-honored culinary institutions alike. Check out www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com to narrow down your picks by neighborhood, cuisine or price range, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all the mouthwatering updates. See you September 22–29th!

Best Nights of the Week to Dine Out

It should come as no surprise that one of our absolute favorite things to do here at San Diego Restaurant Week is to go out to eat. With all the R&D that tends to go into deciding where to eat, it’s easy to neglect another key consideration: is there an ideal day of the week to dine out for the best experience? Let’s see what the experts have to say on the subject.

Sunday Funday or Fiasco?

We’re not just referring to the sequence of events that generally unfolds from the all-you-can-eat-buffet to bottomless mimosas. Turns out, in the restaurant biz, Sundays can be tough. “After a busy Friday and Saturday night, it’s not uncommon for restaurants to be running low on product on Sundays,” says one restaurant manager.

It’s also not a peak staff day—according to dining editor George Mahe, more experienced personnel tend to take Sundays off after powering through the busy weekend. The late Anthony Bourdain made no secret of his disdain for brunch, lamenting “highly traumatic memories” of his years on the Sunday midday shift.

But for diners, Sunday staples like all-you-can-eat specials offer the best deals in terms of bang for your buck. And if you ask us, we need not know what’s happening behind the scenes—so long as the Bloody Marys keep comin’.

Mondays: A Hidden Dining Gem?

For reasons similar to Sunday, Mondays aren’t generally at the top of the list, either. With many restaurants receiving their food deliveries on Tuesdays, inventory can be running low following the weekend rush, and, again, you’re probably not going to find the executive chef behind the line on a Monday night. In fact, many restaurants are closed altogether.

That being said, we actually love dining out on Mondays. Assuming the place is open, it’s easy to snag a table, you don’t have to wait forever for a drink, and, hey—we all deserve something to look forward to on a Monday.

The Tuesday-to-Thursday Sweet Spot

Tuesdays are ideal because, well, tacos. But there does seem to be somewhat of a legitimate consensus among industry insiders that Tuesday is the best day to go to a restaurant.

In a 2014 article, Bourdain named Tuesdays—and weekdays in general—as the optimal days for dining out. Not only do many restaurants get the “good stuff” on Tuesdays, but according to Bourdain, you’re more likely to get a well-rested, creatively-inclined chef during the week than on the weekend.

Tuesday seems to be the starting point for a kind of midweek sweet spot—the time when the food is freshest, restaurants are well-staffed, and you don’t have to pull out a bag of tricks to get a table. As the weekend nears, restaurants are increasingly well-equipped for the impending Friday-Saturday rush. Plus, if Thursday’s happy hour turns into a few too many, Friday is generally an easier one to get through at the office.

Friday & Saturday: Hit the San Diego Restaurant Week Scene

Yes, it’s busy. Yes, it’s crowded. But it’s the weekend—and we’re not going to sit idly by and not partake in our favorite activity during our favorite time of the week. And with more restaurants open for lunch on the weekend, it’s the perfect time to snag a spot by the water and enjoy the best of San Diego—sunshine, coastline and world-class cuisine.

No matter your favorite time of week, day or night to dine out, San Diego Restaurant Week is ensuring you get the best food at the best value. Check us out at www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for all the best prix fixe, three-course menus coming up September 22nd-29th.

Breaking Down the Kombucha Craze

You probably have at least one person in your life raving about kombucha. And if not, statistically speaking, there’s a good chance you are that person.

Whether you’re a proud proponent of this ancient Chinese health elixir or wondering what exactly the hype is about, here’s what you need to know about the fermented mushroom tea known as kombucha (it really has nothing to do with mushrooms).

What Exactly Is Kombucha?

Advertised largely for its health benefits (and sometimes for the taste, depending on the one you get), kombucha is a slightly bitter, slightly sweet fermented tea containing sugar, yeast and the “good bacteria” known as probiotics. Kombucha is loaded with these tummy-loving immunity boosters, which is undoubtedly why it’s being touted by nutritionists, influencers and your health-conscious friends alike. While black tea is most commonly used as the base ingredient, kombucha can also be made with green tea or oolong tea – just not herbal tea, as it’s not conducive to the health of the SCOBY (more on that in a second).

How Is Kombucha Made?

The key ingredient in kombucha is, for lack of a better descriptor, a blob-like mixture called a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). And while no mushrooms are involved in the process of making the SCOBY, it’s the fungal element (again, no more flattering synonym available) that likely created the mushroom association – that, or the fact that the Chinese words for mold, fungus and mushroom happen to contain the same character.

Once the SCOBY is set, it’s added to a mixture of tea and sugar and left to ferment for a week to a month, at which point the product is transferred into bottles and refrigerated to slow down the carbonation and fermentation process. Because fermentation involves converting sugar into alcohol, kombucha naturally contains a small amount of alcohol, which is why slowing down the process is crucial to preventing the ABV from creeping up too high.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

Evidence of the specific health benefits of kombucha is limited, but because the tea is rich in good bacteria, some research suggests it may offer some of the more studied benefits of probiotic supplements.

Whether founded or myth, many swear by kombucha for its digestive and immune-boosting qualities – and that’s nothing new. In fact, the purported health benefits of kombucha date as far back as the fermented tea drink itself, thought to have originated in Northeast China around 220 B.C. In addition to its more widely regarded benefits, people have credited kombucha with treating some pretty serious ailments, from high blood pressure to AIDS and even cancer. These claims, while intriguing, are purely anecdotal.

Is Kombucha Dangerous?

Not only do we not know much about the health benefits of kombucha, but some experts believe it may actually be harmful if certain precautions aren’t taken. Because the tea is often brewed at home, there is the potential for contamination due to improper handling, especially since you’re dealing with raw, fermented materials. If you get a bad batch (the smell of which may or may not tip you off), you’re probably fine if you drink a glass of it, but much more could lead to tummy trouble or a more serious allergic reaction. All things considered, it’s probably better to just buy kombucha than to make it yourself.

For commercial production of kombucha, the FDA has suggested several good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to promote product safety and has issued specific regulations around the alcohol content, mandating an ABV limit of 0.5 percent for commercial sale as a non-alcoholic refrigerated beverage. If the ABV exceeds 0.5 percent, the product must be labeled with the health warning statement required by the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act of 1988.

Going Kombucha Crazy in California

While kombucha likely originated in ancient China, we had a feeling its resurgence had roots in SoCal – and turns out, we were right. The first-ever hard kombucha bar opened in San Diego’s North Park just last year, and a quick search of kombucha in San Diego turns up nearly a dozen cafes, tap rooms and retail locations serving the super drink.

Miss the kombucha train or just not quite on board with it yet? Check out San Diego Restaurant Week January 20th-27th to find your 2019 #foodlove. And for more foodie insights, be sure to follow us on social media @SDRW.

How Happy Hour Came to Be

The workday is done, the drinks are flowing (sometimes two at a time!) and the sliders are half-priced – what’s not to be happy about? But despite the obvious joys this aptly-named early evening ritual brings, it wasn’t always about discounted libations.

Whether you’re plotting your escape from the office or already delightfully floating in dollar drafts, let’s take a moment to examine how exactly this 3-6pm-ish tradition came to be.

It All Started Aboard the U.S.S. Arkansas

According to a May 1914 article published in the Chicago Day Book, men aboard the U.S.S. Arkansas in World War I began setting aside a “happy hour” as a way to entertain the crew while at sea. While this account doesn’t involve alcohol, it does describe some shenanigans that are certainly enhanced by it – especially after a few too many with coworkers. The article lists such activities as “chorus singing of popular songs” (read: karaoke), “boxing bouts” (like when the mounting tension between Tom from accounting and Jim from sales inevitably comes to a head after one too many $2 tequilas), and a “feminineless tango” (typically the anti-climactic aftermath of a Tom-and-Jim brouhaha).

Prohibition: A More Intuitive Origin

As we might have guessed, the association between alcohol and happy hour is largely attributed to the prohibition era – the period from 1920 to 1933 during which the manufacturing, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors was constitutionally banned. Not entirely unlike the event we know and love today, happy hour is said to have been a pre-dinner – albeit secret – gathering during which alcoholic beverages were consumed.

A Complicated History

While battleship sailors and resourceful revelers are the most widely-regarded explanations our research turned up, the use of the term “happy hour” can be traced as far back as Shakespeare – and the notion of drinking before dinner as recent as last Thirsty Thursday. So, the next time you’re partaking in this much-loved tradition, remember to raise a glass to our forefathers for making it okay to get a little tipsy before sunset.

Join SDRW for Happy Hour Week

Beyond the fact that it’s 2019 and we can toast out in the open, as San Diegans, we get to enjoy happy hour in one of the world’s most vibrant food and beverage scenes. From $1 oysters on the beach to Taco Tuesday specials galore, San Diego is hands-down one of the best cities to partake in America’s happiest of hours.

Looking for a new venue to get your post-work drink on? There’s no better time to scope out the scene than during San Diego Restaurant Week January 20-27th. More than 180 restaurants across the city will be showcasing their best in gastronomy and mixology with prix fixe menus, promotions, and – you guessed it – happy hour specials. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SDRestaurantWeek for all the best deals.

How to Scope Out a Restaurant for Date Night

Whether you’ve been together for 10 days or 10 years, there’s one question that always arises in every relationship: what to do for dinner. From the earliest days of your courtship, setting the right tone when it comes to dining can be as monumental a moment as deciding whether you’re dog or cat people.

With all the awkward conversations to be had, weird quirks to overcome and inevitable decisions to be made over the course of your relationship, we’re giving you one less thing to worry about with our tried-and-true tips for choosing the perfect date night restaurant for any occasion.

1. Don’t Try to Break the Bank

If you’re in a new relationship, it makes sense that you’d want to impress your date with a five-star experience. While wining and dining certainly has its place, we recommend that place be reserved for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, promotions and other major milestones. If you’re just getting to know each other, choosing a less formal, more relaxed setting can help alleviate some of the pressure—both on the conversation and your wallet. The best memories are often born from spontaneity, and you’ll probably cherish the one of that awesome late-night taco joint you stumbled upon over that awkward seven-course meal you started to fear may never end.

2. Be Wary of Food that Fights Back

Ramen, buffalo wings, corn on the cob—all delicious, but perhaps best to save the tougher-to-eat foods for dates five and beyond. Especially as you’re just getting to know each other, trying to balance the act of eating and conversing is a challenge in itself. No need to make it that much more complicated with foods that require slurping, peeling, cracking or any other tool beyond a fork and knife. As a good rule of thumb, if it can’t easily fit on a fork, it’s probably not the best choice for at least a preliminary date night. So maybe hold off on all-you-can-eat crawfish night for the time being.

3. Set the Right Ambience

Date night is about connecting, which is why it’s so important to choose an environment that allows you to really enjoy each other’s company. Obviously, being able to hear is number one, but it’s not just about acoustics. It’s about the atmosphere as a whole.

If you’re starting with happy hour, consider finding a spot outside or on the beach and kicking off the evening with some sunshine before moving inside for dinner. The quality of the food, of course, is a non-negotiable—but you also want to strike the right balance between sharing a table with the couple next to you and being the only two people in the place. After dinner, take a late-night stroll to your favorite café or gelateria. Creating the perfect date night will take some trial and error and will vary depending on the occasion, but thinking more about the experience as a whole rather than the meal itself will help ensure a night to remember (for all the right reasons).

4. Keep a Shortlist

This is key to avoiding what can easily become an hours-long decision every time you decide to go out (not to mention having to consult the embittered feedback of the Yelp community to aid in the process). As you find a great spot, make note of it and add it to your list of go-to restaurants. In San Diego especially, there will be plenty of opportunities to try the newest and hottest in world-class cuisine, but having a list of places you both know you like is an absolute must. Not only will a shortlist save you considerable time in the decision-making process, but it will allow you relive some of those great memories you’ve established over the course of your relationship.

5. Take Advantage of Restaurant Week

There is an unparalleled time to scope out the scene and build out your perfect date night: San Diego Restaurant Week. With more than 180 restaurants participating in eight straight days of vibrant tasting menus, uniquely crafted cocktails and unbeatable deals, it’s a fun and cost-effective way to check out some of the best in local fare and set the stage for your 2019 #DateNightGoals.

Is your favorite date night spot on our list of participating restaurants? Visit www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com/restaurants to see which of San Diego’s culinary masterminds will be showcasing their talents January 20-27, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @SDRestaurantWk for all things #SDRW!

Why Food Makes You Happy

Food is one of life’s greatest, simplest joys.

It’s a staple of happy occasions—the common ground that connects even the most disparate of personalities. An emotional trigger that evokes memories of some of life’s sweetest moments. The catalyst that propels us from a ravaged state of hanger back into our normal, likable selves, passing not an ounce of judgment in the process.

We at the San Diego County Chapter of the California Restaurant Association have been in especially high spirits over the past several months as we’ve been preparing for what is naturally our favorite week of the year. And now that it’s here, let’s just say we’re ready to dig in (to all the food). As we kick off San Diego Restaurant Week 2018, we decided to examine why exactly food makes us happy—and as it turns out, there’s a fair bit of science behind it.

The Right Foods Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check

You know that weak, hopeless feeling that hits like a ton of bricks, usually a few hours after that scone you grabbed in the haste of the morning rush? While some may write it off as being stressed or tired, the more scientific explanation is that it’s your blood sugar plummeting after having spiked—in the case of the scone, most likely due to its high glycemic index. That morning treat may have given you a boost at the time, but a few hours later, it can seriously mess with your glucose levels—and your mood. In the long term, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can lead to depression and anxiety, so best to stick to foods that are high in protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

Nutrient-Rich Foods Can Boost Your Health and Your Mood

Maybe it’s just us, but whenever we read a study that says red wine boosts heart health or coffee reduces the risk of certain cancers (this from Harvard Medical School), we tend to ignore the other ten we come across making any claims to the contrary. In all fairness, several of our favorite foods have been proven to have both mood- and health-boosting elements, which leads us to the conclusion that food does, in fact, make us happy—and that pairing that second glass of wine with a piece of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate is medically necessary.

Food is Best Enjoyed with People You Love

Whether you’re heading out to try the latest from Brian Malarkey or hosting Sunday brunch at home, great food pairs well with great friends. Don’t get us wrong—it pairs equally well with a pair of sweats and a Netflix binge, but sharing the culinary experience with a group of family, friends and even new acquaintances is a sure-fire way to spend at least a few hours smiling and laughing. Food is also a marker of some of the happiest of occasions—birthdays, weddings, holidays and all those milestone celebrations we look forward to commemorating with our favorite people and our favorite foods.

The Simple Joy of Cooking

An argument in the case for entertaining at home is that the act of cooking, in and of itself, can make you happier, at least according to the BBC. Not only are you typically enjoying the experience with a group of friends or family, giving the gift of food can incite feelings of delight similar to those you get when you realize you nailed it on the holiday gifting front. It’s also a skill you can continue to refine—the more you do it, the better you get. And the better you get, the more you will enjoy it!

It Just Makes Us Happy

Though we don’t have much technical evidence to underscore our final point, we think it’s important to state the simple, albeit unsubstantiated, fact that a beautifully executed dish is something to smile about. As we head into San Diego Restaurant Week 2018, we cannot wait for all the vibrant, Instagram-worthy plates we’ll be enjoying from more than 180 of our favorite restaurants—with our favorite people.

As excited as we are to hit the ground running for #SDRW2018, we are equally excited to see what you come across in your pursuit of culinary delight. Be sure to share your experiences with us on social media @SDRestaurantWK!

How Your Taste Buds React to Spicy Food

We’ve all seen that guy—the one mopping up his forehead over a basket of hot wings or taking the chef to task over a yawn-worthy Pad Thai that boasted a four-chili-pepper rating on the menu. (And by “seen,” we mean “been.” We’ve been that guy.)

Once the sweat and tears have subsided and we’ve regained our composure, we inevitably find ourselves wondering why exactly we insist on enduring that level of discomfort in the name of a spicy dish—and, more importantly, whether we’re doing irreversible damage in the process.

With San Diego Restaurant Week just a few weeks away, we’re here to clear up the misconceptions so you can clear your palate for eight days of the city’s best in spicy fare—or whichever of the 180-plus gastronomic experiences in which you decide to indulge.

‘Spicy’ Isn’t Exactly a Flavor

Sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (aka, savory)—these are the five basic tastes recognized by our taste receptors. Notice how spicy isn’t one of them? That’s because it isn’t so much a taste as it is a pain signal.

Let’s back up a second. In order to understand why our brains interpret spice as pain, it’s important to first understand, on a basic level, how the human tongue works. The tongue has millions of microscopic receptors that allow us to taste flavor, as well as a whole other set of receptors that enable us to feel pain—those are called VR1 receptors. When a piece of spicy food hits your tongue, it sends a signal to your brain, which interprets it as something physically hot and, in turn, cues the burning sensation we all know too well.

Capsaicin is the Culprit

Capsaicin is a chemical found in chili peppers and the active ingredient that makes spicy food, well, spicy. It’s also the thing that tricks your taste buds into thinking there is something actually hot in your mouth—and the trigger for the fire alarm set off by your brain. And if you’ve ever forgotten to put on a pair of kitchen gloves before chopping up a hot pepper—or worse, forgotten you chopped up a hot pepper and then accidentally rubbed your eyes—capsaicin is the one to blame for that burning sensation, too.

Myth: Spicy Food Destroys Taste Buds

While intensely spicy food can have some undesirable effects on parts of the body we won’t mention here, the good news is, it doesn’t actually destroy your taste buds—it just numbs them. The common misconception that too much spicy food can lead to the inability to taste is a myth that’s been debunked by seasoned scientists and amateur foodies alike. The loss of sensation might make you think your taste buds are dying, but it’s only a temporary effect. You should be back to normal and ready for your next vindaloo within 24 hours.

How to Beat the Heat

If the burning sensation we feel from eating spicy food is actually our brain interpreting it as something extremely hot in temperature, then cold water should naturally be the solution, right?

Unfortunately, no. Water doesn’t really help at all in this instance and, in fact, can make things worse. Capsaicin is insoluble in water, which means it does nothing but actually spread the sensation further around your mouth when you take a sip. While it may be tempting to reach for that glass of ice water on the table, you’ll fare much better with a dairy product like milk or sour cream, or a sugary drink like juice or even wine, as sugar blocks capsaicin from attaching to your pain receptors.

What Have We Learned?

Now that we’ve gotten to the bottom of why exactly spicy food makes us feel as if we may spontaneously combust, let’s take a moment to investigate why we do this to ourselves in the first place. For starters, research has shown that spicy food can boost your metabolism and may even lead to a slightly longer life. But gratuitous statistics aside, let’s be real—we do it because as painful as it may be, the pleasure of consuming the vibrant, world-class cuisine we are lucky to enjoy as San Diegans far outweighs the temporary pain of our mind literally playing tricks on us.

So, eat more spicy food, wash it down with a glass of wine and sweat it out with us during #SDRW2018.

Perfecting San Diego’s Favorite Food: The Taco

Whether you’re hosting Taco Tuesday at home or taking to the streets for a taco-and-margarita crawl, as any San Diegan knows, not all versions of our signature fare are created equal. It’s not just the finished product that’s delicious—it’s the authenticity of every single ingredient that goes into it, from the masa used for fresh tortillas to the splash of lime before taking that first bite.

As restaurants all over town are stepping up their game in preparation for San Diego Restaurant Week, we’re hungry with anticipation for the freshest takes on our most beloved dish. But before we dig in, let us share a few tips and tricks for both perfecting and enjoying San Diego’s favorite food—the taco.

The Tortilla: A Non-Negotiable

Ask any reputable tortilla maker (yes, it’s a trade—and a highly sought after one at that), and you’ll quickly learn that hand-crafting tortillas is a laborious task, especially at a restaurant’s pace. The end result, however, is unrivaled.

The key to a great taco is the culmination of individual ingredients working together in perfect harmony. While in theory, any type of grain corn can be used to make masa dough, choosing a high quality dried corn is best—and if you can source it locally, even better. If you’re making your own tacos, a pack of tortillas from the grocery store may very well do in a pinch, but if you can take the time to source and nixtamalize your corn to make your own dough, the effort will come through in flavor and texture.

Choose Your Protein Wisely

Carne asada, birria, carnitas, Baja fish—in Southern California, we are fortunate to have some of the world’s most interesting and diverse options to serve as the main component of our favorite dish. The best part is that there is no shortage of outstanding restaurants in the area offering flawlessly executed versions of each meat or fish.

When it comes to the quality of your protein, we say leave it to the professionals—though we may be the slightest bit biased there. If you’re feeling ambitious and ready to tackle the challenge at home, buy from a local butcher or fish market. And if you’re going Baja style, a firm white fish such as halibut is a must.

Toppings Are Not an Afterthought

Before we talk toppings, we’ll tell you that less can be more. We’d be remiss if we went on about the importance of freshness and quality in selecting your ingredients just to have it all overshadowed by a whopping dollop of sour cream.

That being said, there is absolutely a place for toppings in the San Diego taco scene—just be strategic. A little pico de gallo, handmade guacamole, crema and a splash of lime can be savory enhancements to the dish—and of course, no fish taco is complete without a drizzle of Baja sauce (if you want to be a little heavy-handed there, we won’t judge).

Pick Your Sides

In San Diego, if there’s one thing we do as well as we do tacos, it’s fresh chips and salsa. If these aren’t an automatic accompaniment to your order, it’s worth the few extra bucks to add them on. You might also consider rice and beans—but only if you’re notably hungry. Otherwise, you run the risk of filling up before you get to the tacos.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy San Diego’s top-notch tacos? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #SDRW2018. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter to stay up-to-date on all things San Diego Restaurant Week, September 23-30, 2018.

How to Take Better Food Photos

In the Instagram age, food photography has become as much a way of life as the act of dining out itself. Even those of us who once protested in hanger when a companion delayed the first bite for a photo are learning to savor the art of the #foodsnap before digging in.

As San Diego Restaurant Week 2018 approaches and the city’s culinary masterminds craft what promise to be some of the most Insta-worthy tasting menus we’ve seen yet, we’re sharing tips on how you can help spread the #foodlove by fully capturing the art of the fare.

Work with Natural Light

World-class beaches aside, if there’s one thing that abounds in San Diego, it’s sunshine—and if there are two, they’re sunshine and great food. When dining during daytime hours, take advantage of the natural light; it’s the most authentic way to highlight the unique colors and textures of the items on your plate.

While outside and seaside are often synonymous in SD, shooting in direct sunlight, especially by the water, can be a bit too harsh and may cause your photos to look washed out. Opt for softer sunlight by dining indoors near a window, or find a shady spot on the patio. Shooting outside on an overcast day is even better, although we don’t get many of those!

Try a ‘Foodtography’ App

This is especially useful if you’re dining after dark or unable to achieve that perfectly lit environment with natural light. There are so many free photo-taking and photo-editing apps designed to make your food more photogenic, whether you’re looking to create better lighting or touch out a slight imperfection.

Foodie, for example, is a free app that knows when your camera is hovering over your food and helps determine the best angle and lighting to capture its most alluring features. It even has filters for different types of food (Tropical, Picnic, Fresh and BBQ, to name a few), addressing the fact that a Mai-Tai requires vastly different brightness and saturation levels than, say, a plate of fish tacos.

Edit Lightly

Both the challenge and the fun in food photography are capturing the essence of the dish, but when you overedit, you can end up losing some of that substance. If you’re looking to emphasize a specific element of the plate, such as a really bold garnish, an app like Photoshop Fix can increase the lighting and saturation around the areas you choose, without sacrificing the integrity of the other items on the plate (e.g., turning your white rice brown). And if you’re just looking to give your photos a bit of a boost, go with a basic editing app like Flickr over the iPhone or Instagram editing tools.

Get in

Yes, people love photos of food. But what they love more—other than actually eating the food—is photos of people. If you’re out with friends, transform your happy hour toast into a photo op with those brilliantly crafted cocktails that are sure to be a staple of San Diego Restaurant Week serving more as props than focal points. Or better yet, snap a photo of the bartender serving them—with his or her consent, of course.

This goes for dinner, too. If you’ve got a beautiful plate of sushi in front of you, complement the scene with a pair of chopsticks or a shot of your group. Bringing a more personal element to your photography will not only boost your likes and comments but also preserve the experience. Great food pairs best with great company, after all.

Savor the Subject

The whole point of dining out is to enjoy the food you’re eating and the company you’re with. Normally, we’d say take a quick snap when your entrée comes out and put the phone away until dessert, but with the multi-course tasting menus characteristic of Restaurant Week, we realize this isn’t the most practical advice. That being said, do try to ditch the phone between shots and take in the full experience—food, drinks and atmosphere.

Will we see you at San Diego Restaurant Week? Check out our contest page for your chance to win two VIP tickets to the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, two restaurant gift cards or $100 to Donovan’s Steak and Chop House. Happy eating, snapping and posting!

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