Food and Drink Blotter: May 2017

By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Food and Drink Blotter

Luis Pena, co-owner of Bracero Cocina de Raiz in Little Italy, said the restaurant will close for only a few days in either late May or early June to make way for a new concept that will be named Romesco Mexiterranean Cocina.

The re-branding will be loosely tailored after Romesco in Bonita, which Pena also co-owns. The kitchens at both restaurants were previously headed by celebrity chef Javier Plascencia, who left the family-run restaurant group earlier this year to pursue other projects in Mexico.

Pena told San Diego Downtown News that Romesco Mexiterranean will feature a tapas bar with checkered flooring on the ground floor and a cozier dining area marked by a mural on the second level.

“About 85 to 90 percent of the menu will be the same as Romesco and prices across the board will be lower than Bracero’s,” he added. “We’ll have Spanish-style tapas, Mexican pasta dishes and few signature items from Bracero such as albacore two ways and bone marrow sopes with shrimp.”

Pena cited a “fading clientele” as the reason for the change.

“We were booming in the beginning because we were a new Mexican restaurant. Then as time went by, we weren’t that new kid on the block anymore.”

The kitchen will be headed by Bracero chefs Eduardo Covarrubias and Adan Tintos. 1490 Kettner Blvd., 619-756-7864,

A dual establishment that serves smoked meats, fried catfish and innovative libations in one area and fresh coffee and crafty scratch-made bagels in another, is underway in the 8,600-square-foot space that was previously home to Blush Ice Bar.

The Smoking Gun and Spill the Beans are due to open in July by partners of the locally based Verant Group and Chef Kevin Templeton of nearby Barleymash.

A bar-restaurant and a coffee-bagel shop will join forces under one roof this summer (Courtesy Alternative Strategies)

Named after the shooting range that once resided in the building’s basement, The Smoking Gun will air major sporting events on flat screens and offer happy hour, dinner and a late-night menu.

The establishment’s coffee component will serve fresh brews throughout the day and hot bagels, which the owners emphasize “will not” be New York-style, but rather the light and fluffy type.

Both spaces will offer separate indoor seating and share a patio that runs the length of the building. 555 Market St., and

JT Meadows of New York West restaurant (see review in this issue) and San Diego Pizza Company food truck will open Fault Line Bar & Grill in the coming month. The East Village establishment will focus on Angus beef burgers and feature a full bar with 20 beers on tap, many of them from local breweries.

Meadows said he is aiming for a “neighborhood bar feel” that will include 10 large flat screens and an outdoor patio overlooking Fault Line Park, a 1.3-acre public space that opened two years ago. 1460 J St.

May is for food and drink festivals, and two big ones dominate the calendar this month.

Massive amounts of crawfish will be boiled for this month’s Gator by the Bay festival (Photo by Andrew Boyd)

Gator by the Bay will hold its 16th annual food and music festival at various times throughout the day from May 11-14 at Spanish Landing Park. The event features a “French Quarter food court” and 10,000 pounds of crawfish trucked in from Louisiana to the tune of live musical performances across seven stages.

Ticket prices range from $25 to $200, depending on the number of days and festival events guests attend. Children 17 and under are admitted free. For tickets and more information, call 619-234-8612 or visit 3900 N. Harbor Drive.

The third annual San Diego Paella Wine & Beer Festival sizzles into action from 1–6 p.m., May 13 at the Embarcadero Marina Park South. The event features unlimited tastings of paella from giant pots as well as samples of wine, sangria and beer from San Diego and Baja producers.

Tickets range from $40 to $125 and can be purchased through 200 Marina Park Way.

Seafood-loaded tom yum soup at Downtown’s newest Thai eatery (Courtesy Aaharn by Koon Thai)

An abbreviated version of Koon Thai Kitchen in Kearny Mesa has replaced The Flight Path wine bar at the southern stretch of Kettner Boulevard. The slightly redesigned space is now Aaharn by Koon Thai, which features about 50 percent of the menu items from Koon.

Top sellers include tom yum soup with shellfish, baked Alaskan salmon with garlic fried rice, stewed pork shank with chili sauce and traditional colored curries with a choice of beef, chicken, seafood and mock meats. 1202 Kettner Blvd., 619-542-9595,

The brunch at Hotel Del Coronado was named one of the world’s best (Courtesy Hotel Del Coronado)

Conde Nast Traveler recently named the Sunday brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado as the fourth best in the world, citing its platters of chilled seafood, house-made charcuterie, meat roasts and the newest addition to the feast, a build-your-own donut bar.

The brunch is held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Sunday in the hotel’s historic Crown Room and features seven food stations, each containing 10 to 30 items. The cost is $96 for adults; $35 for children ages 6 to 12; and free for kids 5 and under. 1500 Orange Ave., 619-435-6611,

—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at

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