San Diego restaurants
Part II in a series
By the East County Eaters
Week 2: Alpine Beer Company Pub (Alpine) and Vine Cottage (La Mesa)
September 11, 2014 (San Diego's East County)--Last week, we opened our Best Happy Hours in East County series by focusing on some premier locations for cocktails. This week, our eager team of eaters and drinkers hit the road once again, this time bringing you reviews of a local brewery’s pub that’s one of the most popular watering holes in the backcountry, along with a European-style bistro with a wonderful wine bar and some of the best happy hour food deals in town.
Part 1 in a series
By the very happy East County Eaters at East County Magazine
Week 1: Terra American Bistro (San Diego/La Mesa area) and Viejas Resort & Casino (Alpine)
September 4, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Our intrepid team of East County Eaters have been on the road in search of the best Happy Hours across our inland region. (It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!) Each week, we’ll be featuring two locales offering diverse experiences. Whether your tastes run to sushi bars or cowboy bars, wine bistros or craft brew pubs, urban eateries or mountain taverns, you’ll find plenty to whet your appetite!
To kick off our series, we start by featuring two of our favorites: Terra American Bistro, a bistro and bar that prides itself on farm-to-table fresh cuisine--right down to the fresh-squeeze passionfruits in our cocktails and the refreshingly tasty and affordable appetizers, plus we tried our luck at Viejas Casino and Resort -- a four-star vacation destination hotel with some great specials sure to make you happy. Cheers!
Mystic Grill and Bakery
8191 Fletcher Parkway, La Mesa, CA 91942
Review by Stevon Marshall
June 5, 2014 (La Mesa)--When people hear or think of California, most think of the great weather, the celebrities living in Hollywood, amusement parks, and so on. But when it comes to food, most consider California’s trademark food to be burgers or Mexican fare. But with an influx of immigrants from around the world, San Diego’s East County is now home to an array of international restaurants – including quite a few serving up Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes.
I've been living in California my whole life and I've dabbled in a variety of cuisines: Asian, Italian, Southern, some Mediterranean and of course, Mexican. So while interning at East County Magazine, we decided to take a team of tasters to try out Mystic Café, specializing in Mediterranean foods: our editor, Miriam, our “East County Eater,” Leon, and myself, along with two of my internship peers, Jaden and Kayla.
By Miriam Raftery
March 5, 2014 (Santee) – With its mesquite-grilled steaks and walls lined with neckties snipped from good-spirited patrons, Pinnacle Peak has long been a favorite dining spot in East County. Many of our readers savored prime rib from Pinnacle Peak at our holiday party and next up, will be enjoying a special New Orleans-style feast at our Mardi Gras party March 12. (View your invitation here.)
Owner Toni Toni Petroro wants customers to know, "We're still here!" A story in a Santee online news site indicated the city wants to lease the land where the restuarant now sits for condominum development. But the restaurant isn't closing after 30 years of serving the community. Instead, they'll be relocating to the heart of cowboy country in East County's Lakeside. Soon, Pinnacle Peak will be moving into the former Lakeside Steakhouse location on Maine Street in downtown Lakeside. But there’s still time to stop by the original location for old times sakes!
Review by Mark Gavit
Village House Kalina
38302 Parkway Drive . La Mesa . CA . 91942 , (619)461-1100
February 1, 2014 (La Mesa)--With a focus on Russian and Ukrainian dishes, The Village House Kalina does an excellent job of capturing the tastes and culture of these countries.
Review by Julian Rudd-Falls
La Mesa Bistro and Bakery, 8697 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa http://www.lamesabistro.com/
January 25, 2014 (La Mesa) -- La Mesa Bistro and Bakery has a diverse menu of tasty foods. Serving breakfast and lunch, this Bistro and Bakery is perfect for anyone look for a good dine-in.
Upon entering La Mesa Bistro and Bakery, I noticed it has an extremely long list of specials near the entrance. I grabbed a menu from next to the register, and stepped into line. Although I had two or three people ahead of me, I wasn’t truly sure I would be able to browse their very large menu in time to choose a food I’d like to eat! Depending on what mood you’re in, their menu offers dishes from burgers and waffles to healthful fruit smoothies.
Review by The East County Eater
December 10, 2013 (San Diego) -- The Bridges Bar/Grill/Bay at 4800 Art Way (off El Cajon Boulevard near 63rd Street) in the SDSU College area has it all. A spacious sports bar with upscale and delicious food, specialty drinks, great local brews and excellent wines, Bridges is the perfect place for the East County Eater, who expects something special when dining out.
Open for just over a year, Bridges is named for the seven bridges across the San Francisco Bay and delivers on the promise of Bay Area quality dining. The restaurant is so-named because owner/CEO Salvatore hails from San Francisco and most of the seafood recipes come from that region. Palma has a vision of an upscale and friendly sports bar with a menu reminiscent of the Bay Area. Bridges is just a few blocks from SDSU, but the atmosphere is 500 miles away to the north where great dining, seafood and sports combine for an upscale metropolitan experience.
Review by the East County Eater
Dolci Café Italiano, 2650 Jamacha Road, Rancho San Diego (El Cajon) www.DolciCafeItaliano.com
May 13, 2013 (Rancho San Diego)--Another culinary prize has turned up in East County. Dolci Café Italiano is located next to Ralph’s in the Rancho San Diego Town and Country Shopping Center. At once, the place felt entirely familiar and also seemed rooted in family and history. It has the ambience of the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego—and for good reason. George Georges, the owner - also owns three restaurants in The Gaslamp. Chianti, La Fiesta and the Urban Bar & Grill.
George has been a restaurateur for 18 years. He describes Dolci Café Italiano as “Italian-Mediterranean food served bistro café-style...Everything is cooked-to-order, everything is custom, everything is fresh, everything is gourmet…Even the lasagna.”
An East County Eater Review
By Ariele Johannson
First in our series on the best roadside diners along East County's highways
An East County Eater review by Ariele Johannson
April 24, 2013 (Lakeside)--Cafe 67 in Lakeside is a delight, featuring great home-made food and an entertaining vintage ‘50s “movie” decor. The restaurant atmosphere is “old-fashioned diner,” but even better. Patrons take a step back in time when they enter this eatery decorated with old movie posters, antiques, ceramic icons like Betty Boop, and movie star portraits.
The menu at Cafe 67 is also reminiscent of old movies, TV shows, and cartoons. The Kids’ Menu has several choices with names such as The Fonz, Lassie, Snoopy, and Spanky. Best of all, the food is hearty and home-made, with breakfast and lunch served all day at the Café.
182 East Main Street, El Cajon, CA 92020
By Ellinoa Blake
Last week, after a morning of all work and no play, my editor and I craved escape from the heat wave --and more importantly a bite to eat.
We headed into the heart of El Cajon to the aptly titled Downtown Café. We found welcome relief from the sweltering heat as we swung open doors and stepped into the Downtown Café, a bold corner centerpiece of Main Street rich with vintage flair and historic ambience.
GINGHAM RESTAURANT TO OPEN IN LA MESA: TV "TOP CHEF" FINALIST TO COOK UP FARE IN "URBAN COWBOY DINER"
BRAVO “Top Chef” Finalist Brian Malarkey Will Dish Out “Meat Market” Cuisine
January 6, 2012 (La Mesa) – Dubbed the first “urban cowboy diner” and offering “meat market cuisine”, Gingham restaurant is set to open next week in La Mesa in a remodeled building that formerly housed Gio Bistro Wine Bar.
You won't have to ride the range or wait for meats slow-roasted over a chuckwagon campfire to savor the fare at Gingham's, which is slated to open the second week in January.
By Megan McGlamery
Photos by Woo-Jin Shim and Natalia Robert (http://full-circle-images.com/)
December 30, 2011 (San Diego)--Since 1933, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has been helping refugees rebuild their lives after fleeing tumultuous wars or other catastrophes in their homelands. The IRC is currently active in 22 U.S. cities as well as overseas. In 2001, the IRC created its Microenterprise Program with the goal of helping refugees create their own businesses.
In the last 10 years, the IRC has helped 175 San Diego-based refugees become small-business owners. To showcase some of the great refugee-owned eateries of East County, the IRC hosted a Micro-finance bus tour, offering patrons a chance to sample some delicious cuisine from Iraq and East Africa.
Zeytoon Restaurant at VineRipe Market
Persian and Mediterranean cuisine
8191 Fletcher Parlway
La Mesa, CA 91942 (next to CostCo)
By Megan McGlamery
Nestled in La Mesa next to the VineRipe Market is Zeytoon, a delicious Persian and Mediterranean restaurant now under new ownership. Zeytoon, which translates to olive, serves a wide variety of flavorful appetizers, salads, entrees and sandwiches, all of which are reasonably priced and generously sized. The market is also a treasure-trove of specialty foods from around the world.
Scroll down for coupons and details.
November 17, 2011 (La Mesa) -- TV and radio personalities, sports stars, elected officials, comedians and entertainers will be serving up fare at Hooley's Irish Pub & Grill in La Mesa from 5-9 p.m. tonight--all for a good cause.
Proceeds from Celebrity Waiter Night help benefit the 36th annual East County Toy and Food Drive. This year, the number of families in need is high, due to the economy and many who are without jobs.
By Miriam Raftery
October 17, 2011 (Spring Valley) – Troy Street was packed with people. The air was pungent with the aromas of sweet and spicy smoke from an array of barbecues—some amateurs, some professionals, all fired up for participation in the second annual Spring Valley Tailgate Party and BBQ Festival. Organized by Cali Comfort Sports Bar and the Spring Valley Chamber of Commerce, the second annual event drew a large—and hungry—crowd of barbecue enthusiasts and sports fans.
By the East County Eater
Vinz Wine Bar
201 East Grand Ave.
September 7, 2011 (Escondido) – Situated in the heart of downtown Escondido, the Vinz Wine Bar is an ideal place to savor a quiet lunch, "happier hour", or dinner and—coming soon—night life complete with a new piano bar. The European-style eatery specializes in “small plate” offerings, such as an array of “wine bites” that are both delectable and affordable.
“Wine is the first thing, closest to my heart,” says owner Vinnie Griffin. “We have 40 to 50 wines by the glass.” There are also port wines, draft and bottled beers available—with cocktails to be served up next, since the establishment just got a full liquor license approved. Watch for a piano bar to open up in an adjacent space in the next 30 days.
July 30, 2011 (Tierrasanta) - Javier Ugarte, chef/owner at Andiamo! Ristorante Italiano, is a native of Peru. Tonight, he invites you to experience an evening of Peruvian cuisine and live music from the coast of Peru.
8248 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa CA 91941
Reviewed by a team of East County Eaters
July 2, 2011 (La Mesa) –When it came time to review Swami’s Café, East County Magazine found a team of eager volunteers. The menu is too vast and diverse for any single “eater” to assess, so we sent in our ravenous reviewers to sample the fare. Each enjoyed it so much that they went back again—and again!
June 28, 2011 (San Diego) -- Executive Chef Jeff Rossman’s farm-to-table cookbook-come-love story to local growers, From Terra’s Table: New American Food Fresh From Southern California’s Organic Farms (Chefs Press, 2010), adds a new honor to its list of accolades. The San Diego Book Awards Association just named the tome Best Cookbook 2011 in the Seventeenth Annual San Diego Book & Writing Awards, tying with Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen.
From Terra’s Table was a labor of love, written not only for home cooks, but in homage to the growers who labor so we can eat healthfully,” said Rossman, who also owns Terra American Bistro. “We're humbled to be recognized by the San Diego Book Awards Association for this.”
From Terra’s Table contains just over 200 pages of wine- and beer-paired recipes from Rossman’s 14 years of professional cooking, first for Terra Restaurant in uptown San Diego’s Hillcrest and, now, Terra American Bistro in San Diego’s East College Area. Rossman also highlights the stories of the local growers and artisans from which he sources and outlines resources for food activism and advocacy.
June 22, 2011 (San Diego)--SummerFest tickets are selling fast! Join us June 26 at Mission Trails Regional Park for a feast cooked up by Chefs de Cuisine, plus wine and beer tasting, live music, thousands of dollars in prizes and more -- all for just $25 ($20 if you buy 2 or more tickets) if you buy in advance online (at the door: $30 or two for $50).
Get tickets and prize list here: www.eastcountymagazine.org/summerfest-2011
Scroll down to view the juicy details of the full menu--then make plans to join us for this fabulous midsummer feast!
Photos by Sami Roy Photography
June 11, 2011 (El Cajon) – Paipa’s Buffet restaurant has reopened in a new location within the Syucan Casino. The restaurant, which is entirely smoke-free, has been renovated with a new kitchen, seating for 320 people, more specialty food stations and new design elements.
Executive Chef Paul Schwab is complementing visual upgrades by incorporated new menu items including brick oven pizza, a fresh pasta station, grilled steaks, freshly made tortillas,and an expansive new dessert bar.
By Miriam Raftery (guest columnist)
7091 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92115
May 24, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – When Chef Jeff Rossman invited media members to a tasting at his new Terra American Bistro, I relished the opportunity. Author of the cookbook From Terra’s Table: New American Food, Fresh From Southern California’s Organic Farms, Rossman’s specialty is farm-fresh organic cuisine. He previously ran Terra Restaurant, a popular eatery in Hillcrest, before moving east just one block from La Mesa to have a larger kitchen for his catering service and be closer to local growers.
The dinner lived up to expectations, providing a flavorful dining experience that reflects the freshness of the ingredients as well as the chef's creative flair.
By Miriam Raftery
May 21, 2011 (La Mesa) – How do you outdo a sold-out crowd of 400 at a Taste of La Mesa event featuring foods and wines from 28 local vendors?
“Next year we’re expanding to host the Taste of the Century,” promised La Mesa Chamber of Commerce president Mary England. Held at the La Mesa Community Center, the savory event will expand across the hall --with room to double the size during La Mesa's centennial celebration in 2012.
This year’s Taste of La Mesa featured some new vendors as well as familiar favorites.
Popular chef/cookbook author’s new eatery opens today
By Miriam Raftery
April 7, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Not every new restaurant parks a tractor outside. But for Jeff Rossman, executive chef and owner of Terra American Bistro, the vehicle symbolizes his commitment to supporting local farmers.
“East County needs a farm-to-table restaurant that focuses on sustainability and supporting local growers, artisans and families,” says Rossman, who is also the author of the new cookbook, From Terra’s Table: New American Food, Fresh From Southern California’s Organic Farms.”
February 4, 2011 (Alpine) – Chinese New Year kicked off at Viejas Casino yesterday with the opening of Emerald Asian Cuisine.
Owned and operated by San Diegan Mike Lee and his family, Emerald Asian Cuisine is known for its award-winning Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, including authentic pho, Vietnamese coffee, Banh Mi, and much more.
Chez Nous Gourmet Deli and Café
9821 Carroll Canyon Road, Suite E, San Diego
Review By Tanya Huang
December 15, 2010 (Scripps Ranch)--As I pull into the familiar small parking lot, the first places I’m forced to notice are Carl’s Jr. on my right and the local salon on my left. Then, slowly but surely, my eyes are drawn to the sky blue sign, “Chez Nous.” I feel as though I’ve spotted a long lost friend in a crowd of strangers. It’s been months since I’ve been home, in Scripps Ranch, and even longer since I’ve indulged in the best sandwich in town.
November 21, 2010 (Spring Valley) – Cali Comfort Restaurant and Sports Bar invites you , your family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving all day—and join a holiday crowd to cheer on your favorite team while watching NFL football. The family-owned restaurant in Spring Valley will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A loaded turkey dinner plate with all the fixings plus homemade pumpkin pie costs $15.99 – one of the best bargains in town.
If you attended East County Magazine’s holiday party last year, you'll have fond memories of the scrumptious feast served up by Cali’s cooks and catering crew. We at ECM are also thankful for Cali’s for being the major sponsor of our Sports section. Please tell them thanks if you visit—and let them know you heard about them through East County Magazine!
East County News
October 21, 2010 (Julian) -- On Sunday, October 31, at 5:00 p.m. Jeremy’s on the Hill California-Style Bistro teams up with Stone Brewing Company to host a five-course Beer Pairing. The event will feature local produce and ingredients, as well as specialty hops and at least one course featuring grass fed American bison from Star B Buffalo Ranch and Hops Farm.
Guests are invited to wear Halloween Costumes (if they dare….) and prizes will be awarded.
October 15, 2010 (Spring Valley) – The first annual Spring Valley Tailgate & BBQ Festival will be hosted this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 pm. In front of Cali Comfort Restaurant & Sports Bar. Troy Street will be closed down between Bancroft and Central avenues for the event, which includes BBQ samples, family activities, a children’s fun zone, street vendors, and more.