By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Having just passed its second-year anniversary, Havana 1920 in the Gaslamp Quarter has rolled out a fresh menu featuring new bocaditos (small bites), entradas (appetizers), entrees and cocktails. The items are inspired by recipes created by the Cuban grandmother of the restaurant’s chief operating officer, Joe Santos.
Look for such newcomers as Cuban breast toast; black bean dip with plantain chips; mushrooms flambéed in run; fundido made with three cheeses; and more. 548 Fifth Ave., 619-369-1920, havana1920.com.
The expanded space inside Little Italy Food Hall is making way for Graze by Sam, an eatery, bar and bottle shop conceived by TV personality Sam Zien (“Sam the Cooking Guy”) and the local hospitality group, Grain & Grit Collective. Zien also runs Not Not Tacos at the food hall.
“We want to serve items that I would serve you in my own home,” Zien stated in a written announcement, referring in part to casual fare such as salads and sandwiches. The spot will also offer organic and biodynamic wines, craft beers, cocktails and high-end spirits. Scheduled to open early next year, it will be located directly across from the food hall entrance in the Piazza della Famiglia. 555 W. Date St., grazebysam.com.
The Blind Burro in Downtown’s East Village fetched a couple of awards at last month’s Chef of the Fest Competition, which is part of the annual San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival.
Famous for its Baja-inspired fare and inventive margaritas, the establishment ranked second place for duck carnitas served with jalapeno-cranberry salsa. The dish, which also netted top honors in the poultry category, will appear on Blind Burro’s New Year’s Eve menu and then on the regular menu soon after. 639 J St., 619-795-7880, theblindburro.com.
Touted as a “contemporary steakhouse and whiskey society,” Huntress is due to open by the end of January in the Gaslamp Quarter. The upscale project is headed by the RMD Group (Sidebar, Rustic Root, and Volcano Rabbit, to name a few). It will also incorporate Lumi by Akira Back, a rooftop venue serving modern Japanese cuisine and crafty libations.
Huntress’ kitchen will be helmed by executive chef James Montejano; and Lumi’s culinary offerings come under the direction of executive chef James Jung. 376 Fifth Ave., huntresssteak.com.
Award-winning wines from DAOU Winery of Paso Robles will be paired to a five-course meal as launch to a series of wine dinners at Marina Kitchen, located inside the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina hotel. The event takes place from 7-10 p.m., Jan. 8, and features chardonnay paired with lobster, cabernet paired with grilled venison, and more. The cost is $165 per person.
The series continues on Feb. 29 (on Leap Day) with wines poured fittingly by Stag’s Leap Winery of Napa Valley. (Check the website for details as they become established.)
Both dinners are open to 40 guests. Forthcoming events throughout the remainder of the year will be announced on Marina Kitchen’s Facebook page. 333 W. Harbor Drive, 619-234-1500, bit.ly/37ZeoRv.
The casual counterpart to Animae, located on the ground floor of the Pacific Gate by Bosa luxury condo building, is now open. Named NIMA Cafe, the west-Downtown establishment offers playful spins on tea and coffee drinks, plus breakfast and lunch — for dine-in or takeout. Look for items such as pineapple ice tea, tomato-egg sandwiches, pour-over ramen, and more. 969 Pacific Highway, 619-432-1225, animaesd.com.
— Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.