The newly renovated Spa Kingston, formerly known as Lush spa, offers a fresh approach to the spa experience in San Diego. Owner and lead aesthetician Renee started her career like many others in the spa business: after graduating from the Douglas J Aveda Institute, she earned her license and got a skincare job in a high-traffic spa. But eventually, she longed for a new challenge. Wanting to learn the medical side of the beauty world, Maloney went to work for a plastic surgeon and became certified in a list of aesthetic medical treatments as long as the instructions for building a spaceship. With her new knowledge of IPL photofacials, peels, and laser hair removal, Maloney opened up her own business and never looked back. Each day, Maloney and her team of trained aestheticians combine the power of medical-grade treatments with the luxurious and relaxing elements of a top spa—including facials and waxing—to give clients warm and professional experiences that meets all their needs.
Master chef Kaz Sasaki has spent more than 15 years behind a sushi bar. But his roots in the craft extend much deeper than that. Chef Sasaki learned his skills from his father, Master Yuzo Sasaki, a man who was required to spend the first three years of his sushi apprenticeship perfecting his rice-making techniques before he was allowed to even touch a piece of fish. Chef Kaz also learned that great sushi not only looks good, but also has the right consistency—it's not too hard to chew or too soft and falling apart like a magician performing without his smoke bombs.
At Taki Sushi, chef Kaz composes a menu that includes sashimi, nigiri, and nearly 20 different special rolls. He also crafts other Japanese favorites, including shabu-shabu hot pots, sukiyaki, and udon.
Encorecake's bakers turn dessert into an art form. In a kitchen filled with the smells of fresh baked treats, they craft colorful cakes and cupcakes covered in fluffy frosting, in unusual flavors ranging from green tea and s'mores to jellybean and German chocolate. Ovens churn out French macaroons and warm cookies each morning, perfect for pairing with their freshly grounded coffee or Thai tea with boba. Customers can also request made-to-order 8-inch cakes layered with buttercream or chocolate, commission a customized multi-tier cake for a wedding, or project a hologram request for a 3D cake for a birthday celebration.
There is no rush at Kiks Café. The cozy, bistro-style tables and complimentary WiFi encourage passersby to stop, sit for a while, and enjoy a mocha made with organic coffee beans and Ghirardelli chocolate. To complement these drinks, the cooks deftly assemble sandwiches atop pieces of french, wheat, or sourdough bread, covering the slices with everything from black forest ham to pureed kalamata olives. The casual menu also includes salads with bits of grilled chicken, feta cheese, or croutons scattered amid leaves of romaine lettuce.
Owners Peter and Melissa Swanson make their years of food-service knowhow and commitment to locally sourced ingredients the hallmarks of Benchmark Pizzeria. Peter is a self-taught chef who has worked in restaurants since he was a teenager—most recently at Dopo in Oakland—and Melissa has played many roles in the food industry, most recently as a server at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Over their careers, the two have realized the effect that local and sustainable ingredients can have on a menu and a community, and strive to inject those principles into each dish they serve.
Every morning, Benchmark Pizzeria's chefs roll out fresh dough by hand to create their speciality—wood-fired, personal-sized pizzas in a style they dub “Neapolitan” with crusts that stay soft in the middle even as they blister on the outside. After they are left to rise, each piece of dough is stretched and sprinkled with hand-pulled mozzarella and toppings, then placed inside a wood-fired oven, which blazes at 800 degrees. With the pizzas come complementary flavors of organic salads, toasty calzones, and antipasto platters brimming with local, seasonal foods such as Reyes Point porcini mushrooms, pomegranate, and persimmon. The eatery's entire philosophy nods to local sourcing, including its use of produce from organic and biodynamic farms in the area, beers from Oakland's Dying Vines brewery, a selection of small-production wines on tap, and linen napkins from locally grown napkin bushes.