Steingarten LA’s dining room, awash with muted golden tones and dominated by a kaleidoscopic art piece, doesn’t immediately scream German biergarten. Its menu, however, astutely outlines the restaurant’s integral blend of hearty Old-World fare and contemporary California cuisine. More than 20 varieties of sausage—including traditional bratwursts and spicy lamb links as well as game offerings of wild boar and berry—sit beneath toppings of pickles or house mustard. Each of the 8-ounce burger patties is made from grass-fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free beef, and can be custom-built with toppings such as smoked mozzarella and applewood bacon. True to form as a German-inspired eatery, Steingarten accents their food with exhaustive drink lists, including a beer list with German, Belgian, and American craft brews on tap. Creative cocktails include a white manhattan, made from clear American whiskey, and a cocktail of the month that has been aged in a used whiskey barrel.
With a drink in hand, patrons can stroll over to Steingarten’s intimate outdoor patio flanked with high stone walls and trellis-climbing ivies. In one corner, rosy cushioned benches surround a slender fire pit that flickers subliminal messages from behind a glass enclosure. The ivy motif also manifests in wrought-metal curlicues on each door and over the beverage fridge that takes up an entire wall at the bar.
In 1927, after seven years of Prohibition, Vincent Rizzo had an idea. He would buy a winery. While this may have been an unconventional move, he knew he could get Bernardo Winery at a lower price and keep the business thriving with an unlikely product: olive oil. In a stroke of cunning and arguable genius, the first-generation Rizzo owner made use of the olive trees growing on his property, selling the cold-pressed virgin oil to many of the tuna canneries in downtown San Diego. He also continued production of sacramental wine and grape juice that was, according to the winery's website, "guaranteed to ferment by the end of the road."
The winery grew to be one of San Diego County's major wine suppliers in the late 1940s, and Vincent turned the family business over to his son, Ross, in 1962. Ross's passion and dedication fueled the winery's success until his passing in 2008. Ross Rizzo, Jr. now keeps his father and grandfather's legacies alive, adding new varietals and winemaking techniques to the company's repertoire while paying homage to the old ways. Ross still sources his grapes from local vineyards and produces and cellars his wine to develop each variety’s distinct flavor.
Guests can get a behind-the-scenes look at the historic winery during tours and tastings, and the scenic spot also hosts private parties at several outdoor venues and in the Barrel Room, where wooden rafters and huge redwood wine-storage vats create a rustic feel. Once they are done tasting, visitors can wander through a micro village of shops and studios or get a bite to eat at Cafe Merlot. The sprawling property features nods to its storied past with accents such as wagon wheels and an antique thresher machine and events such as grape stompings, otherwise known as do-it-yourself purple pedicures.
Rosie McCann's specializes in twists on traditional Irish fare, tweaking classic Celtic dishes and drinks in a traditional pub setting. The menu showcases plates of irish nachos, sliced spuds slathered in jack and cheddar cheeses, olives, fresh salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and jalapeños. The Americanized version of shepherd's pie simmers grass-fed Humboldt beef and vegetables in a rich irish stock before adding a helmet of mashed potatoes au gratin. Heftier appetites can get satisfaction with bangers & mash, a Celtic take on the English classic, that douses irish sausages and garlic mashed potatoes in Guinness gravy. 10 premium imports or 4 microbrews stand ready on tap, and malt mixologists also pour specialty beer drinks such as the Black Velvet, a whistle-whetting blend of Blackthorn hard apple cider and Guinness.
The dining room echoes the colors of the Irish flag, with burnt-red walls and bright-green stained-glass windows. Guests can cozy up in plush booth seats bedecked in plaid and gaze at glass chandeliers that hang from the ceilings as they sip on mimosas or savor lunch and brunch fare.
Noeteca‘s owners spent their lives looking forward to running their own restaurant, so it’s no surprise that the French-inspired tapas spot feels comfortable in its own skin from early morning meals until late into the night. During the day, Noeteca seems like a cafe, where patrons sip on international coffees from local roasters brewed by the cup or for personal-sized French presses. At brunch menu, familiar dishes share space with ambitious French-inspired offerings—the croque monsieur becomes a croque Napoleon with slices of bread pudding layered with black forest ham and emmantaler. When the weather is nice, guests can wander out to a patio colored by a flower and herb garden to learn the sun’s secret handshake.
As evening falls, candlelight fills the dining room and guests switch their focus to wine. The award-winning list includes more than 30 varieties, each available by the glass or half-glass. For dinner, patrons can build their own cheese plates or share a tarte flambèe, Alsatian flatbreads the San Francisco Bay Guardian said have “a lovely thin, blistered crust that was a bit softer and more luxurious than a typical pizza crust”.
Samba Global Cuisine's menu spans continents, uniting dishes toasted over the leaping flames of a Brazilian grill with those cooked in the heated clay interior of a tandoor oven. Samba's signature rodizio dinners deliver skewered meats to tables, where they are carved by servers directly onto diners' plates. Picanha, a cut of beef, is a popular choice. For those who would rather not indulge in the all-you-can-eat option, the picanha burger—covered in mozzarella, grilled mushrooms, and peppers—offers a taste of the Brazilian beef.
Indian offerings include seven types of naan bread, chicken tikka masala, and biryani rice entrees. Samba serves Mediterranean as well, from falafel appetizers to shish kebab lunches and pizzas dotted with feta cheese.
Though the food comes from various regions, the venue positions diners under the same sky—or at least, a ceiling charmingly painted to mimic the clouds. Samba also celebrates birthdays with above-average fanfare: drums, tambourines, and song, instead of the traditional treat of fine-dining establishments, a lobster clutching candles in its claws.
The Scribner family has been a fixture of the Sacramento River Delta since 1893, when George Washington Scribner settled along the river bend that would eventually bear his name. Five generations since the fertile soil first beckoned the patriarch, the family is still putting the original barn to good use—now as a tasting room where the Scribners' award-winning wines get the attention and ambiance they deserve. The family’s alluring adult beverages reach their palate-pleasing potential thanks to the expertise of 50-year winemaker William Ghiglieri, who helps the Scribners maintain their century-old legacy. Visitors can rent out the vineyard for private events, lending a convivial elegance to such get-togethers as corporate parties, bridal showers, or pet goldfish funerals.
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