San Diego hits the culinary map

The oceanside town of San Diego may be better known for its surf crowd and craft beer than its culinary prowess, but that is all about to change. A recent influx of food specialists from the area and abroad have brought San Diego a burst of elite fare. Online culinary arts program students with a penchant for wine and meat will be truly satisfied. Multiple artisanal butcheries have opened in recent years and the wine selections at local stores and restaurants have dramatically improved.

Neighborhood locations
Near the beach, surf enthusiasts and foodies alike will be able to enjoy the rustic offerings of Heart and Trotter. James Holstagg and Trey Nichols began this venture through a Kickstarter campaign. The two plan to serve up-market sausages, sandwiches, wine and beer under the guidance of head chef Lhasa Landry. In tune with the farm-to-fork trend, Heart and Trotter will only feature meat from within a 250-mile radius of the city.  Also along the sandy shores is 3rd Corner. This wine store keeps things casual for the locals. With cheap but quality wines available with its meals, the restaurant’s offerings are purely California centric.

In the Kearney Mesa area, Cook’s Pig Ranch expanded its operation to include a new artisanal location. The ranch supplies its meats to more than 60 farm-to-table restaurants in the Southern California area. With Travis Stockstill at the helm, this location plans to offer craft sausages and an on-site smoke house. In this and many other areas, wine rules as the alcoholic beverage of choice. Cate Hughes of San Francisco now sits as the wine director for Cucina Urbana and Cucina Enoteca. These restaurants feature clever food and wine lists that have more than 200 ​bottles from  far and wide.

Rita Pirkl runs the Kensington neighborhood’s Village Vino. Originally a wine marketing executive for the Napa Valley region, Pirkl brought her experience and intelligence to San Diego with this shop. Pirkl’s goal is to make San Diego a town that enjoys exquisite wine just as much as the more traditional wine regions of California.

San Diego has also seen many new chefs exploring creative versions of local seafood. In the reopening of Indigo Grill, Jason Maitland runs the kitchen and has been toying with new ceviches (with local bass, scallops or ahi), which will accompany the DJ and nourish late night diners.

One recent San Diego transplant is Nate Appleman. From San Francisco, this James Beard award-winning chef will bring food clout to the area, if nothing else.

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