Food & Wine

JOIN US FOR AN ELEGANT EVENING AT CHANDELIER LOUNGE CUISINE

A collage of a person sitting at a deskDescription automatically generated with low confidenceEast County Magazine & East County Dining Club

Invite you to an elegant evening at

CHANDELIER LOUNGE CUISINE

Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m.

Reserve space now!


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

RESTAURANTS AND OTHER FOOD AND ALCOHOL VENUES CAN NOW APPLY FOR RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUNDS UNDER AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN

East County News Service

 

May 4, 2021 (San Diego) – Applications can now be submitted for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund to offset losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To apply, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration’s application portal.  The fund is part of the American Rescue Plan and is open not only to restaurants, but also caters, bars, bakeries, wineries, breweries, food carts, inns and certain other businesses where food sales provided a major source of revenues.


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MOTHER’S DAY DELIGHTS AT HATFIELD CREEK WINERY IN RAMONA

By Miriam Raftery

 

April 27, 2021 (Ramona) – Hatfield Creek Winery in Ramona is offering several delightful Mother’s Day options including a May 9 Mother’s Day outdoor dinner, catered courtyard lunches all weekend, and treats with Mother’s Day weekend wine tastings.


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DISTILLERIES HOST COMMUNITY PARTY SATURDAY APRIL 17 IN SPRING VALLEY

Celebration caps Mike Curphy’s journey from moonshining to making award-winning spirits

By Henri Migala

April 16, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- East County is known for many things: beautiful wide-open spaces, nature, horseback riding and hiking, makers of some of the best banjos and guitars in the world, numerous wineries, and more. But many people don’t realize that East County is also home to internationally-recognized, award-winning distilleries.

One such distinguished distillery is Mike Curphy Distillery, located with two other distilleries in the business park off Via Orange Way, near the San Miguel Fire Station, in Spring Valley.

COMMUNITY PARTY SATURDAY, APRIL 17

Mike Curphy and two other East County distilleries (Liberty Call and San Diego Distillery), along with four local eateries and three live bands, will be hosting a community party on Saturday, April 17, from 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m. at the business park off 2731 Via Orange Way in Spring Valley.

There is no cost to attend the event; tastings, drinks and food will be available for purchase. Bring a chair to relax outdoors and savor tastes from the distillieries and local restaurants. (Also bring a mask, to comply with county health rules when not eating or drinking.)

In an exclusive interview with ECM,Mike Curphy shared secrets of his success and his extraordinary journey from moonshining to making award-winning spirits.


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HUNGRY IN LEMON GROVE? FOOD DISTRIBUTION APRIL 17

East County News Service

April 11, 2021 (Lemon Grove) – A drive-through food distribution for Lemon Grove residents will be held April 17 from 9 a.m. until supplies run out. The event is at the Lemon Grove Recreation Center, 3131 School Lane in Lemon Grove.


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PASSAGES: GROCERY INDUSTRY LEADER SHON BONEY DIES OF CANCER

By Miriam Raftery

March 21, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Shon Boney, a leader in the natural grocery store industry with long roots in East County, died March 8, 2021 at age 52 of brain cancer. 

Grandson of Henry Boney, the founder of Boney’s Marketplace, later known as Henry’s Marketplace, Shon worked in all aspects of the San Diego based business until it was sold to Wild Oats. He then moved to Arizona, where he co-founded and served as CEO of Sprouts Farmers Market, which grew into one of the nation’s preeminent healthy grocery store chains.


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CHEERS! BREWERIES, WINERIES AND DISTILLERIES CAN OPEN OUTDOORS, EVEN WITHOUT FOOD SERVICE

East County News Service
 
March 17, 2021 (San Diego) – Breweries, wineries and distilleries have been hard-hit by state COVID-19 restrictions. But effective March 13, they can now reopen for outdoor service in counties in the state’s most restrictive purple and red tiers – even if they don’t serve food.  

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SERVING SENIORS PROVIDES PROVIDES 1.7 MILLION MEALS TO FIGHT FOOD INSECURITY ONE YEAR SINCE COVID-19 SHUTDOWN ORDER

Source: Serving Seniors

March 11, 2021 (San Diego) -- One year ago, on March 12, 2020, Serving Seniors was ordered to shut down one of its core services to impoverished San Diego county seniors. As the largest provider of meals to San Diego County’s older adults, it could no longer keep its 11 congregate meal sites open due to the public health crisis.


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PASSOVER SEDER MEALS TO GO AT TERRA AMERICAN BISTRO

East County News Service

 

March 10, 2021 (San Diego) – Terra American Bistro is offering Passover Seder meals for two or four people to go. Order by March 24 to pick up March 27 from 12-4 p.m.

 

The Passover feast includes a choice of entrees including grilled salmon, citrus roasted chicken with onions and apricots, brisket, or vegetarian stuffed peppers . All seder plates include charoset (apples, walnuts and spices), matzo, gefilte fish with horseradish, matzo ball soup (vegetarian option available), mixed greens, choice of two side dishes, and flourless chocolate cake/macaroons.


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LA MESA JOINS CITIES NATIONWIDE TO CAP FEES ON FOOD DELIVERY APPS; LORENA GONZALES PROPOSES SIMILAR BILL IN CALIF. STATE LEGISLATURE

By Alexa Oslowski

March 9, 2021 (La Mesa) – On January 26, the La Mesa City Council voted unanimously to pass a temporary emergency ordinance placing a cap on commissions that can be charged by delivery apps (Postmates, Uber Eats, etc.) to restaurants.

“People have been using delivery services during the pandemic at higher rates than they have in the past, myself included,” Councilmember Colin Parent said during the City Council meeting. “One of the things I’ve come to understand is some of those apps can charge really exorbitant fees.”

The ordinance, which was proposed by Parent, received overall support in comments by members of the public, which were read in the meeting by City Clerk Megan Wiegelman.


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RIVIERA SUPPER CLUB IS FIRED UP TO BE OPERATING AGAIN--OUTDOORS

By Angela Kurysh

March 4, 2021 (La Mesa) – With COVID-19 health guidelines being mandated, most restaurant owners have been contemplating the future of their businesses and whether they can continue to operate. Restaurant owner Derek “DJ” Mull took risks when deciding to re-invent The Riviera Supper Club in La Mesa during early last April.

“I think we kind of did it backwards, where everybody else was thinking about closing, we ended up quitting our jobs and opening a bar and restaurant at the beginning of the pandemic,” Mull explained.


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TIN FISH RESTAURANT TO OPEN AT SANTEE LAKES

By Mike Allen
 
March 5, 2021 (Santee) -- About a year ago, Ed Kim was looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day, stocking up on supplies for his Tin Fish Restaurant at the end of the Imperial Beach Pier, anticipating a much busier day than usual.

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RAMONA WINERIES OPEN FOR OUTDOOR TASTINGS AND CURBSIDE PICKUP, STRUGGLE AMID PANDEMIC DISPARITIES

By Angela Kurysh

 

February 24, 2021 (Ramona) -- Virtual happy hours are among the innovations that wineries like Vineyard Grant James have rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted the Ramona wine region in San Diego’s East County. 

With San Diego being in the state’s tier 1, or purple tier, businesses are currently being allowed to slowly re-open while following strict guidelines. Currently, wineries that serve food are allowed to offer outdoor tastings with social distancing, as well as takeout or curbside pickup, but not indoor service.

 

Susanne Sapier, owner of Vineyard Grant James in Ramona, California, and President of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association, said, “I mean, you're open you're closed, you're open you're closed, so that's a really hard way to run a business.” 

 

Early in the pandemic, restaurants were allowed to operate while wineries were shut down which makes owners like Sapier question fairness of the rules. Now both can be open outdoors, but many restaurants are serving customers illegally indoors.  Sapier has been forced to choose to fully open to make a profit and risk the reputation of the business or follow the mandate and suffer financially. 


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DINE IN A BUBBLE BENEATH THE OAKS WITH YOUR VALENTINE FEB. 12-14 AT DESCANSO JUNCTION

By Miriam Raftery

 

February 7, 2021 (Descanso) – Looking for something special for your valentine?  Descanso Junction invites you to savor a private five-course meal by Master Chef Michael Wray – served up to you and your sweetheart in an intimate lighted bubble beneath oak trees.


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TERRA AMERICAN BISTRO OFFERS SUPERBOWL FOUR-PACKS TO GO

By Miriam Raftery

January 30, 2021 (San Diego)—The NFL Super Bowl is slated for Sunday, Feb.7. If you plan to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup, Terra American Bistro is offering a “Super Bowl Pack for 4” to satisfy your food cravings.

The pack costs $49 and serves four. It comes complete with two pounds of wings with tangy BBQ sauce, 8 brisket sliders, queso fundido with black beans, chicken chorizo and cheddar plus freshly fried chips. You can also opt to order a mixed six-pack of beer.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: WINTER BLACKBERRIES

January 15, 2021 (Mt. Helix) -- Global warming and climate change are affecting growing seasons.  ECM editor Miriam Raftery was surprised to find ripe blackberries in mid-January in her backyard on Mt. Helix in unincorporated La Mesa. Blackberries normally ripe in midsummer and go dormant in winter, but this vine never lost its leaves.

Several readers have shared that they were startled by mid-winter harvests of peppers and tomatoes this month.


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WEEKLY FREE MEAL PICKUPS FOR ALL CHILDREN AGES 2-18

By Miriam Raftery

January 9, 2021 (La Mesa) – Starting January 11, The La Mesa-Spring Valley School District will have curbside meal pickups on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 17 of its school campuses. (See list below).  The packs are available to all children ages 2-18, whether or not they are students in the district.

For more information, call (619) 668-5764 or visit www.LMSVSchools.org.  Below are the schools offering curbside meal pickups each Monday, excluding holidays:


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PASSAGES: WYATT OAKS WINERY CO-OWNER, PARTNER IN LA MESA WINE WORKS, DIES OF CANCER

East County News Service
 
January 8, 2021 (La Mesa) – Gavin McClain, the winemaker and co-owner of Wyatt Oaks Winery along with his wife, Stacy, has passed away of cancer.  He was a partner in La Mesa Wine Works, along with the owners of San Pasqual Winery.

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APPEALS COURT BLOCKS JUDGE’S RULING, ORDERS RESTAURANTS CLOSED AGAIN

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Terra American Bistro, a farm to table eatery in San Diego just west of La Mesa, had moved outdoors but is now back to offering take-out taco Tuesdays and to-go Christmas dinners, among other offerings, as a result of the latest shutdown order.

December 19, 2020 (San Diego) – Beleaguered restaurant owners are once again ordered to shut down, after three justices on the Fourth District Court of Appeals on Friday issued a stay blocking an order issued Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Wohlfiel.  The Appeals Court, responding to an appeal filed by California’s Attorney General, found that Wohlfiel acted too broadly in expanding an order in a case filed by strip clubs to also include restaurants, which were not parties in the case.

The state argued that Wohlfiel’s order jeopardized the health of county residents by undermining public health orders aimed at curtailing spread of the disease at a time when the Southern California intensitve care units are full, with zero percent capacity.

Wohfiel has issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the state and county from enforcing COVID-19 shutdown orders at restaurants and strip clubs.  Many local restaurants swiftly responded by reopening for outdoor and in some cases, indoor dining.  But the reprieve proved short-lived; the Appeals Court action means that restaurants are once again ordered to shut down except for take-out and delivery services.


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SENATOR JONES JOINS BI-PARTISAN GROUP DEFENDING RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES

11 Senators urge that Governor “immediately reclassify the restaurant industry as critical infrastructure before even more damage is done to our communities.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Giardino Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove, like many other restaurants, invested heavily in setting up outdoor dining, only to be closed down for all but takeout or delivery by the latest public health orders.

December 16, 2020 (Santee) – Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) and ten other Senators sent a strongly worded letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on behalf of out of work restaurant employees and owners suffering during the state-ordered shutdown of indoor and outdoor dining throughout much of California.

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HUNDREDS OF SAN DIEGO FAMILIES TO RECEIVE MUCH NEEDED GROCERIES AT ROCK CHURCH EL CAJON AND CITY HEIGHTS FOOD DISTRIBUTION

Partnering with local businesses to connect resources with those in need

East County News Service

December 10, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- On Thursday, December 10 the Rock Church City Heights campus will also host a food distribution and on Tuesday, December 15th, the Rock Church East County campus will also host their food distribution. All events are free and open to the community.


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HOLIDAY COOKING DISASTERS TO AVOID

By Miriam Raftery
 
December 1, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With many families avoiding holiday gatherings due to the pandemic and restaurants closed for indoor dining, some people not accustomed to preparing a Thanksgiving feast opted to attempt cooking at home. The rush to fix multiple dishes can lead to mistakes even by experienced chefs – and inexperience can lead to outright disasters. 
 
 
La Mesa resident Lori Kern posted on Facebook, “Ok, so let’s talk about our Thanksgiving dinner fails. This year mine wasn’t so bad. I blew up a cube of butter in the microwave. What did you do?"

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SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY OFFERS TIPS FOR A PET-FRIENDLY THANKSGIVING

East County News Service

November 23, 2020 (San Diego) - By keeping them safe, your pets will be as thankful for you as you are for them!

Thanksgiving can be a very food-centric holiday, but is it safe to share what you’re eating with your dog or cat? San Diego Humane Society has tips to help make this a safer celebration for everyone:

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DRIVE-THROUGH FOOD DISTRIBUTION FOR LEMON GROVE RESIDENTS

East County News Service
 
November 19, 2020 (Lemon Grove)—Lemon Grove residents can brighten their holiday season with free drive-through food distributions every other Saturday  from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, or while supplies last.  The next distribution will be this Saturday, Nov. 21.  The pickup site is at the recreation center, 3131 School Lane in Lemon Grove.
 
You must provide proof of residency in the city of Lemon Grove.  Food will be available to the first 240 vehicles; one family per vehicle.
 
Drivers and passengers should stay in your vehicle and be sure your trunk is clear so food can be loaded.

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‘TIS THE SEASON FOR HOLIDAY FAVORITES AT CASA DE PICO: TURKEY MOLE TAMALES, PUMPKIN FLAN AND MORE

East County News Service

Photo: Turkey Mole Tamales, courtesy of Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants.

November 19, 2020 (La Mesa) – This holiday season, Diane Powers’ award-winning Bazaar del Mundo Restaurants – Casa de Pico in La Mesa, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, and Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad, are welcoming guests to enjoy special holiday dishes infused with authentic Mexican flavors. Each restaurant will offer an annual favorite for both dine-in and take-out orders: Turkey Mole Tamales, two handmade tamales filled with turkey, raisins, chopped pecans and apples, all topped with a mole sauce and sesame seeds.

With vibrant and spacious courtyards, the restaurant patios overflow with festive and colorful decor providing a visual feast for all, as well as ample outdoor heating and increased seating. In compliance with State guidelines, San Diego County has moved into the purple tier, limiting services to outdoor dining only and Powers is following a strict plan that will provide a safe environment for her customers.

The holiday menus are available through the New Year and vary by restaurant; with dishes including:


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RESTAURANT OWNERS SEEK REFUNDS OF STATE AND LOCAL FEES

By Miriam Raftery

October 29, 2020 (San Diego) – Restaurant owners in San Diego and several other counties filed claims Tuesday October 27, asking for refunds of state and local fees assessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs seek refunds of costs incurred for liquor licenses, health permits and tourism fees at a time when public health orders shut down many businesses or forced them to operate at reduced capacity, while incurring added expenses.

The state has 45 days to respond to the claims, after which a lawsuit could be filed.


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GIARDINO IS OPEN FOR THANKSGIVING, ALSO OFFERS FEAST TO GO

East County News Service
 
You can pre-order Thanksgiving to-go, and enjoy in the comfort of your home. 
 
October 27, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – If you don’t want to cook at home this Thanksgiving Day, Giardino’s Neighborhood Cucina will be open for dine-in from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for turkey with all the fixings or some less-traditional entrée options. Or opt for take-home Thanksgiving Day specials including prime rib, short rib, butternut squash ravioli and oxtail cannelloni entrees, plus dozens of family-style dishes.
 
Giardino's Neighborhood Cucina in Lemon Grove is very popular in several online review websites, with 4.5 (out of 5) star review averages, or better, in YelpGoogleFacebookTrip AdvisorGrubHubMenuPix, and Z Menu.
 
Options include many seafood such as shrimp Alfredo, stuffed sole, or crab and shrimp ravioli, chicken and pork dishes, vegetarian options, pasta dishes, salads, appetizers, vegetable side dishes, a dessert sampler or individual desserts including a whole Limoncello cake, Nutella cheesecake, Tiramisu ray or Cannoli.

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FRAZIER FARMS MARKET BRINGS NEW NATURAL FOODS STORE TO LA MESA

East County News Service

 

Photos, top, by Miriam Raftery 

 

October 26, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting October 20 at the new Frazier Farms Market at the corner of Jackson Drive and Fletcher Parkway.

 

“We are pleased that they had the vision to open their third market in La Mesa. We were thrilled to welcome this family-owned business to our community,” says chamber president Mary England.  La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis joined the celebration along with Frazier Farms owners Norman and Kathe Frazier and their sons Matt, Nick and Alex Frazier.


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RESTAURANTS ADVISED TO COMPLY WITH COMPLEX ‘PARKLET’ DINING RULES

Many restaurant owners don’t understand regulatory layers and risk running afoul of laws

By Marco Polo Cortes, Owner of Marco Polo Permits 

October 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Restaurant owners say that outdoor dining has allowed them to survive the recent COVID-19 closures. Since August 31, restaurants in San Diego County can serve customers indoors – but only at 25% capacity. Sidewalk cafes and “parklets” can allow these struggling businesses to provide outdoor dining, but there are many misconceptions about the rules.


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HEALTHY VEGETARIAN RECIPES TO SAVOR

East County News Service

September 30, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- The Daring Kitchen has shared these tasty and nutritious vegetarian recipes for our readers to savor for rainbow veggie skewers, lettuce wraps, and stuffed banana peppers.


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