Encore Champagne bar pops into Gaslamp scene

Posted: March 31st, 2014 | Featured, Features, Food & Drink | 1 Comment

Kai Oliver-Kurtin | Downtown News

A new Champagne bar has settled into the Gaslamp, offering an extensive selection of bubbly and food to share. The first of its kind in San Diego, Encore Champagne Bar & Dining Room is already toasting to success after its grand opening in January.

Encore patio as viewed from F Street (Photo by Tim King)

Encore patio as viewed from F Street (Photo by Tim King)

Encore’s bar menu offers drinks at every price point including Champagne, tasting flights, wine, craft beer, champagne cocktails, and a full bar of classic cocktails.

“We’re breaking the misperception that champagne has to be really expensive,” said Maija Talikka, Encore’s general manager. “We wanted to create an environment where guests could come in and try champagne in a place that has an approachable, inviting atmosphere, without it being pretentious or overwhelming.”

Located at the corner of Sixth Avenue and F Street, Encore merged two spaces within the historic Hill building to set up a wrap-around bar area and separate dining room, including an open kitchen dining bar and outdoor patio seating.

“Downtown there are cozy bar atmospheres and chic clubs, and we’re right in the middle,” Talikka said. “We have a bar

The open kitchen dining bar gives a "chef's table" feel (Photo by Tim King)

The open kitchen dining bar gives a “chef’s table” feel (Photo by Tim King)

atmosphere, but it’s still classy and trendy.”

So far, Talikka said the community has responded positively to Encore’s entrance into the Downtown scene.

“It’s about time,” she said patrons tell her.

Executive Chef Ryan Studebaker has created a “San Diego-fresh” menu to complement Encore’s champagne-centric bar offerings.

“We try to use as much local stuff as possible,” he said. “The menu changes as things go in and out of availability.”

With many shareable plates on the menu, oysters and caviar are the obvious standouts for champagne pairings.

“I’ve been able to incorporate more things into the menu than I expected,” Studebaker said. “I’m still able to use braising and heavier flavors. It’s a style of dining where you can get a lot of different flavors and techniques.”

The wrap-around Champagne bar (Photo by Tim King)

The wrap-around Champagne bar (Photo by Tim King)

Formerly a chef de cuisine at Prepkitchen Del Mar, Gingham, and Solace & the Moonlight Lounge, Studebaker is enjoying the freedom of developing his own menu and trying things outside of his comfort zone at Encore.

The hip new space will be hosting a series of champagne tasting events and pairing dinners in May, debuting the concept on April 24 with a champagne and chocolate pairing.

Encore is located at 531 F St., and serves dinner daily, a week day happy hour, and brunch on the weekends. For more information, visit

—Kai Oliver-Kurtin is a local freelance reporter who also works full-time doing social media marketing for the U.S. Navy. She enjoys covering events, restaurant news, culture and entertainment. Contact her at

One Comments

  1. Michael Long says:

    I applaud, to myself silently, when I see new businesses try new creative ideas. Since there are many wine bars…makes sense there would be a champagne bar.

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