In Carlsbad Village, a cluster of three renovated historic beach houses surrounding a communal space recently opened to form a new casual dining destination: The Cottages. The adorable spot on bustling Roosevelt Street features Revolution Roasters and Stella Jean’s Ice Cream as well as two new iterations of already popular restaurants from dynamic duo and restaurateurs Jessica and Davin Waite: plant-based The Plot Express and island- and Baja-influenced Shoots Fish & Beer.
Meanwhile in Downtown’s East Village, three distinctly different Japanese concepts have opened under one umbrella (and roof), that of sake somm and restaurateur Ayaka Ito, proprietor of award-winning Beshock Ramen & Sake Bar. Enter Asa Bakery & Café on 14th Street for its fresh pastries and breads complemented by coffee and Japanese teas. Within Asa, accessed through a secret door reminiscent of a speakeasy’s entrance, you’ll find Sushi Gaga — an intimate, ten-seat-per-night, 18-course omakase (chef-selected) dining experience. Also sequestered behind Asa’s secret door is Bar Kamon, a 1920s-inspired, East-meets-West bar featuring Japanese craft cocktails with a Western edge.
As San Diego’s coastal communities continue to level up with new hotels and eateries that beckon us out of our bubble, this month it’s Pacific Beach’s turn with the beachfront debut of The Wayfarer San Diego. The renovated and refreshed former Blue Sea Beach Hotel offers 126 rooms that rise around a boardwalk-fronted pool and outdoor fire pits with ocean views and a quintessential SoCal beach vibe.
What’s Now Kick off spooky season right with a murder mystery on Catalina Island on October 7 as the Catalina Country Club hosts its third annual Bats in the Belfry fundraiser to benefit the Catalina Chimes Tower Foundation. The Roaring ’20s dinner party takes a dark turn as guests band together to solve a mysterious death before reveling until midnight at the post-whodunit Bootlegger’s Bash after-party.
Spirits of the liquid kind will enliven the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s La Jolla campus when the San Diego Spirits Festival returns the weekend of October 7 and 8. This 14th annual cocktail celebration will feature some of the industry’s finest spirits plus local distillers and exciting brand debuts in an all-you-can-taste lineup of 65-plus labels complemented by live music and entertainment. Also on October 7, Del Mar’s One Paseo goes Bavarian with Oktoberfest, its take on the annual beer festival that features craft brews and other libations, lawn games, German-inspired bites, live music, and more (lederhosen optional). Hosted on One Paseo’s lawn located behind Harland Brewing from 2-6pm, the ticketed, 21+ celebration will even crown its own Mr. and Mrs. Oktoberfest. On Sunday, October 8, Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe hosts its 9th annual Taste of Rancho Santa Fe, where guests will indulge in taste-sized bites and sips from more than 70 food and beverage partners for a delectable day on the lawn of the soon-to-reopen Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, with a bonus sneak peek op inside its highly private and extensive renovation.
Later in the month, One Paseo hosts a different kind of cultural celebration when Sounds & Sips returns on October 21. The free, 90-minute performance features musicians of the San Diego Symphony on One Paseo’s lawn from 3-5pm. While the symphony brings the sounds, on-site beer and wine vendors bring the sips at the event’s no-host bar.
Fall also marks the return of Sunset Pier Walks at Birch Aquarium on Saturdays and Sundays through December 10. With advance registration, guests are invited to join limited tours on the normally closed-to-the-public pier with Birch Aquarium naturalists at golden hour for a 90-minute tour with hands-on science stations to learn more about the groundbreaking research taking place at the institution.
Enjoy an exploration of the culinary variety on October 20, when the Japanese Friendship Garden hosts its Chef’s Table in Niwa — literally meaning “in the garden.” Guests will savor a nine-course dinner featuring an inspired menu infused with Japanese flavors custom-created for the evening by Chef Ron Oliver. Take a 180-degree turn from garden zen to Savage Gardens, San Diego Botanic Garden’s exciting display of carnivorous plants that concludes on October 29. The exhibition includes unique installations for a bug’s-eye take on their exciting and dangerous world and a collection of plant species that go way beyond your tame little Venus Flytrap.
This year, Halloween falls terrifyingly on a Tuesday, so get a jump on celebrating the weekend before at Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s Spooktacular Extravaganza on October 28. The family- and (more importantly) costume-friendly evening kicks off at 5pm with magical activations for the kids and lively libations for the adults as a DJ spins. Don’t miss the live “Thriller” dance performed by Scripps Performing Arts.
What’s Next In a unique cultural event that extends across our border, on November 2, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra will perform at Tijuana’s Centro Culturo Tijuana. The engagement, which will kick off the center’s annual Día de los Muertos celebration, marks Music Director Rafael Payare’s Tijuana debut. Payare and the symphony return stateside for the 2023-24 Season Opening Under the Stars on November 4 at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.
Two November festivals remind us that eating and drinking is cause for year-round celebration. On November 8-12, the 19th annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival at the Port of San Diego brings together local foodies and the chefs, Food Network stars, cookbook authors, winemakers, and epicures who shape our culinary scene. Don’t be fooled by the title — the staggering list of 800 labels being poured includes wine, spirits, beer, and low- and no-alcohol sips from around the globe. Over at Kona Kai San Diego Resort, the third annual Sails and Ales Beer Fest on November 10 brings together 35 different local breweries, alternative spirits, and wines, plus tasty bites to pair with them (think: giant BBQ pork skewers, Asian-style spicy chicken wings, and stout brownies), with all proceeds benefiting the SEAL Family Foundation.
And if the holiday season sneaks up on you every year, here’s your early reminder that what we like to think of as its unofficial kick-off — the return of the Rady Children’s Ice Rink in Arts District Liberty Station — happens on November 16. Now you have plenty of time to find your scarves and mittens before you bring back your double axel.