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Best Of 2009 — Dining
Best New Restaurant (Tie): Kitchen 1540 And Pasquale Del Mar
Striking a balance between fine dining and approachable food, Kitchen 1540’s executive chef and James Beard award-winner Paul McCabe offers an inimitable menu from which guests can choose their own dining venue. (858/793-6460, www.laubergedelmar.com)
At Pasquale Del Mar, a glamorous and sophisticated atmosphere matches an equally stunning cuisine. From Pasta e Fasull and Gnocchi Gorgonzola to Bucatini Carbonara, Old World Italian recipes reign supreme. (858/259-0504, www.pasqualedelmar.com)
Favorite Restaurant (Tie): Market Restaurant + Bar And Pamplemousse Grille
Daring to be the best in artful decor and au courant dishes, fresh and organic produce allows for a menu that changes daily at the creative and cutting-edge Market Restaurant + Bar. (858/523-0007, www.marketdelmar.com)
From his extensive experience and many travels to Europe, Pamplemousse Grille’s executive chef Jeffrey Strauss makes a personal statement with a creative menu and unrestrained wine list for a casual yet elegant dining experience. (858/792-9090, www.pgrille.com)
Best Casual (Tie): Wild Note Café And Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza
Located in the heart of Solana Beach’s Cedros Avenue Design District, the Wild Note Café is a casual bistro-style restaurant that serves up originality with Lobster Dumplings, Crispy Cornmeal Calamari, and a wild Teriyaki Tenderloin Kabob Salad. (858/720-9000, www.bellyupcantina.com)
More than just a pizza joint, Sammy’s is a family-friendly restaurant offering a wealth in culinary selections including pasta, sandwiches, salads, tacos, wraps, mini-burgers, and the famous Giant Messy Sundae. (www.sammyspizza.com)
Best Family Restaurant (Tie): Milton’s And Fidel’s
In spite of the numerous places that call themselves a deli, very few can claim authenticity. Since opening in 1995, Milton’s has evolved into a landmark restaurant offering a classic New York-style deli experience. (858/792-2225, www.miltonsdeli.com)
From the infamous Chile Relleno to the homemade salsas, Fidel’s has been serving authentic Mexican cuisine since 1956. The best quality meats, seafood, and produce will make your taste buds dance. (858/755-5292)
Best Quick Bite (Tie): Swami’s Café And Honey’s Bistro & Bakery
Readers satisfy their breakfast and lunch cravings at Swami’s Café from a wide selection of tasty offerings including omelets, breakfast burritos, French toast, waffles, wraps, sandwiches, fish tacos, smoothies, and much more. (760/944-0612, www.swamis.signonsandiego.com)
There’s nothing better than a myriad of delicious old-fashioned recipes prepared from scratch. Under the same ownership as Swami’s, Honey’s tasty favorites include the Italian Omelet, Bagel & Lox, Guacamole Club, Vogue Health Salad, and Honey’s Doughnuts. (760/942-5433, www.honeysbakery.signonsandiego.com)
Best Breakfast: Zinc Café & Market
Frittatas, foccacia breads, quiches, muffins, scones, croissants, and pastries — Solana Beach’s Cafe Zinc provides an incredible variety of foods for breakfast in addition to a savvy drink menu of specialty coffees. (858/793-5436, www.zinccafe.com)
Best Take Out (Tie): Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill And Pei Wei
Whether it’s take-out you need for a lunch meeting or dinner for you and your family, Rubio’s is the answer. Don’t miss the fabulous Fish Tacos or the Mango Crispy Shrimp Burritos. (858/481-8002, www.rubios.com)
The pan-Asian menu at Pei Wei offers unmatched Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. Favorites include Japanese Teriyaki Bowls, Pad Thai, Dan Dan Noodles, and Thai Coconut Curry. (760/635-2888, www.peiwei.com)
Best Dessert (Tie): Thyme In The Ranch And Del Mar Swirls
Satisfy your sweet tooth with made from scratch cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, sweet breads, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and more at Thyme in the Ranch. Not-to-miss items include the Banana Cream Pie, Lemon Bars, and Chocolate Dipped Macaroons. (858/759-0747, www.thymeintheranch.com)
Forget ice cream and get turned on to a healthier yogurt option at Del Mar Swirls. This small space is a new self-serve spot with yogurt flavors galore, plus enough luscious toppings to please even the pickiest palate. (858/755-5564, www.delmarswirls.com)
Best Sports Bar: Yogi’s Beach Bar & Restaurant
Great for watching sports on one of numerous TVs, playing pool, or relaxing outdoors, Yogi’s also offers tasty salads, pastas, burgers, steaks, and a nice medley of beer and wine, as well as fabulous ocean views. (760/943-0321)
Best Happy Hour: Bistro West
Enjoy happy hour specials in the bar Monday through Friday from 3:30-6:30pm. Choose from draft beers, specialty drinks, and margaritas, as well as a variety of scrumptious bar appetizers. (760/930-8008, www.bistrowest.com)
Best Wine List (Tie): The 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro And Pamplemousse Grille
The 3rd Corner, a quaint neighborhood restaurant in Encinitas’ Lumberyard, also offers a sophisticated wine retail shop with a selection of up to 1,000 bottles. Also enjoy wines by the glass, wine dinners, and monthly wine tastings. (760/942-2104, www.the3rdcorner.com)
If you appreciate and collect wine, there is an exceptional reserve waiting to be poured into your goblet at Pamplemousse Grille, and it’s especially exciting when the choice comes from a dazzling 1,950-item list. (858/792-9090, www.pgrille.com)
EDITOR’S PICK — Gastronomic Gem: The Sky Room
A plush ambiance in step with exquisite cuisine will have you relaxing and dining in the lap of luxury at La Valencia’s discrete crown jewel of La Jolla. Renowned as one of the premier dining destinations, The Sky Room sparkles with a breathtaking ocean view and reigns supreme as a special occasion restaurant extraordinaire. (858/454-0771, www.lavalencia.com) BOB STEFANKO
EDITOR’S PICK — Favorite Restaurant: Island Prime — C Level
From Hazelnut Crusted Diver Scallops to Tartare of Filet Mignon, executive chef Deborah Scott can concoct the most delectable of recipes with just about any ingredient. Plus, you can’t beat dining amid views of the San Diego skyline and Coronado. (619/298-6802, www.cohnrestaurants.com) MARIA DESIDERATA MONTANA
EDITOR’S PICK — Favorite New Restaurant: Hexagone
Hexagone is a sophisticated yet cozy French restaurant in midtown San Diego, only a block from the entrance to Balboa Park. Fresh salads, tantalizing entrees, and luxurious desserts, all beautifully presented, vie for guests’ affection. (619/236-0467) DARLENE G. DAVIES
More Best Of 2009: