Fiesta Cantina serves up a menu of tasty Mexican-style eats and throat deparchers in a festive space lined with high-definition TVs. Fix competition-craving eyes on a sportive game or a live UFC fight while mouths focus on chicken-filled Santa Monica rolls ($6) or the tres amigos dip platter, a posse of guacamole, queso, black bean dip and hot or mild salsa served with fresh corn tortilla chips ($8).
While trekking across New Zealand, Matt Baker and PJ Lamont stumbled upon a burger shack in Queenstown and immediately became addicted to the eatery’s organic, grass-fed beef patties. According to a profile in Beach & Bay Press, the duo often dined there more than once a day and eventually convinced the chef to both part with his recipes and train them how to make them. Upon returning home, the pair recruited PJ’s brother Martin for their budding endeavor: a gourmet burger place that would rely entirely on organic, grass-fed beef from New Zealand. After finding the right spot for their gastropub, the three put their own sweat into renovating it; PJ carved the wooden menu himself without using a woodpecker even once.
That menu quickly garnered its fair share of media buzz and awards by combining beef patties, ground fresh daily, with unique ingredients such as pesto aioli, grilled pineapple, and beetroot. Organic, local vegetables make up the condiments and the house tomato chutney, New Zealand’s hardier version of ketchup. But Bare Back Grill does more than burgers, satisfying appetites with natural chicken and lamb, tempura tofu, and seared ahi tuna coupled with a wide selection of beers and wines. Guests can gulp down Kiwi Steinlagers or sip Australian and New Zealand wines while lounging at either Bare Back location.
Linda and Mike McWilliams prefer to leave the rigors of raising grapes to their local vineyards, citing their lack of a chateau. Instead, they set their focus on crafting their vintages on the micro-level, making small batches and infusing them with an Old-World character and unique flavors such as habanero passion fruit. Their wines are named after places and figures from San Diego’s rich history, such as the Guadalupe Valley syrah and the Lake County sauvignon blanc.
Though restaurateur Phil Pace values a quick dining experience, his secret barbecue recipes have diners lining up out the door. Their willingness to wait is due to Phil's saucy baby back pork ribs, beef ribs, and mesquite-grilled chicken made with from-scratch dry rubs and sauces. A variety of sandwiches incorporate tangy barbecue sauce, from pulled pork and turkey to veggie burgers for the meat averse. Local adulation for Phil's BBQ’s smoked eats spurred San Diego Magazine to declare the eatery's barbecue the best in the city in 2011 and 2012. Beyond the work they do in the kitchen, the staff at Phil's BBQ works to improve the community at large. The restaurant has donated more than a quarter-million dollars to local children's charities, and their irresistible sauces have helped local police fingerprint and apprehend dozens of baby back ribs thieves.
At Wine Steals, a casual wine bar and market the bar?s barrels and shelves are filled with more than 40 international wines. The executive chef, a former US Navy galley cook, arranges artisanal meat and cheese boards and crafts wine-themed international flavor combinations that either spread onto pizzas or curl up into sandwiches. For example, the pinot noir combo mixes Italian flavors of prosciutto, asiago, mozzarella, and white truffle oil.
Servers suggest ideal pairings to novice and experienced oenophiles as they pass drinks and plates across a 14-seat stone bar topped with European-style zinc. Above the bar, a chalkboard framed by wine barrels lists 40 vintages available by the half glass, glass, or bottle. Throughout the space, plush couches and chairs gather around wine barrels with wooden tabletops for more intimate gatherings or heated staring-contest championships. Wine Steals? casual approach to wine and eclectic food has earned it the title of Best Wine Bar in the San Diego Union-Tribune's 2012 readers' poll.
“When [you] walk through the door, the first thing you’re gonna smell is bacon.” That’s a promise from Slater’s 50/50 founder Scott Slater, whose restaurant serves an infamous burger patty built from half ground beef and half ground bacon. Executive Chef Brad Lyons helped with the recipe, though the original inspiration came from the all-bacon patties Scott and his friends used to grill up during Chargers tailgate parties. For the restaurant, he decided to cut the bacon with high-quality beef that, like a baby's fake ID, is aged 21 days. As if the bacon-infused patties weren’t distinctive enough (as far as they know, Slater’s 50/50 the only restaurant in the world that serves them), Scott and Brad designed a DIY menu that lets patrons customize their burgers by size and with 11 cheeses, 40 toppings, 19 sauces, and four kinds of bread. Patrons overwhelmed by these options can instead order one of the specialty burgers, such as a Peanut Butter and Jellousy with creamy peanut butter, strawberry jam, and of course, thick-cut bacon. Bacon reappears throughout the menu, including as candied crumbles on brownies and in the syrup used in bacon milkshakes.