By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Downtown residents and hotel guests seeking a day of international eating outside of our urban core should look no further than SeaWorld in Mission Bay.
The popular theme park kicks off its annual Seven Seas Craft Beer & Food Festival on March 7 and continues for nine consecutive weekends through May 3. It spotlights an array of global cuisines and 150 beer options of every style from nearly 30 breweries. Live entertainment across three stages is also part of the event.
New to this year’s list of represented countries are Germany, Spain, Argentina and China. Among the dishes offered from some of those areas are bratwurst, homemade pretzels, and pork belly bao buns. In total, there are 45 food items in the lineup, served from 11 different themed areas throughout the park. Assorted wines and specialty drinks are also available.
Access to the festival requires regular park admission, after which food and drink samples can be purchased a la carte ($5 to $7.50 per food sample) as well as through 10- and 15-item punch cards. They cost $52 and $67 respectively.
In addition, SeaWorld’s “Waterfront” area will be utilized to afford patrons additional seating for eating and drinking while enjoying views of the bay. 500 SeaWorld Drive, 619-222-4732, seaworldsandiego.com.
Bay City Brewing Co. has opened a split-level tasting room in the East Village, where a grand opening is planned from 11 a.m. to midnight on March 16.
Located in an old five-level building, it occupies the ground floor and rooftop, with each of those levels offering 12 beer taps. There is also a kitchen that will make pizzas, wings, salads and breadsticks.
The Point Loma-based brewery was founded in 2015 by Greg Anderson and Benjamin Dubois, both originally from the Pacific Northwest. They’re known for such signature beers as “72 and Hoppy,” “Fiesta Island Pils” and “Bay City Pale Ale.” 627 Eighth Ave., 619-255-4700, baycitybrewingco.com.
Grabbing national honors by Nightclub & Bar for “2020 Country Bar of the Year” is Moonshine Flats in the East Village.
The country-rock venue, which spans more than 10,000 square feet across multiple levels, was lauded by the Massachusetts-based resource organization for its “high energy” and “fully engaged, outgoing staff.” Their specialty cocktails, tap beer list, and smoky barbecue were also cited.
The establishment is promoted as having San Diego’s largest dance floor. Live entertainment by up-and-coming artists are also a draw. 344 Seventh Ave., 619-255-7625, moonshineflats.com.
The new Venice-themed Saltwater is up and running with a menu that allows guests to potentially start a meal with Osetra caviar from the Persian Sea before progressing to fresh oysters, lobster fettuccine, steaks and lamb chops.
Housed in a prime Gaslamp Quarter address where Blue Point Coastal Cuisine operated for more than two decades, Saltwater seeks to mimic the atmosphere of a yacht drifting through Venice’s Grand Canal. Design details include sleek mahogany walls, faux portholes, and a marble bar.
The restaurant was launched by The San Diego Dining Group, which also runs other Downtown establishments such as Greystone Prime Steakhouse & Seafood, Oseteria Panevino, and Osetra Seafood & Steaks. 565 Fifth Ave., 619-525-9990, saltwatersandiego.com.
A complete $20 million renovation is slated for Hotel Solamar next year as the 235-room property and its anchor restaurant, Jsix, give way to Margaritaville Hotel San Diego Gaslamp Quarter.
Paying homage to the island-escapism fantasies long promoted by singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffet, the project is being spearheaded by Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and Margaritaville Enterprises. Their promoters say the property and re-branded restaurant “will feature spaces reflecting the Margaritaville state of mind.” We’re told the concept will debut “sometime in 2021.” For the time being, Jsix will remain in operation until further notice. 616 J St., 619-531-8744, jsixrestaurant.com.
A second San Diego location of Holy Paleta has opened in Little Italy, bringing to the neighborhood a vast variety of frozen “pops” inspired by the classic frozen treats found throughout Michoacan, Mexico.
The original shop opened last summer in Bonita. Its newest outlet, still in its soft opening, offers a larger seating area and will serve beer and wine once the license is approved. In addition, flavors unique to this location will eventually be introduced.
The paleta pops come in dairy and vegan varieties. Their flavors run the gamut from hibiscus-guava and tamarind to watermelon, strawberry-basil, pineapple-jalapeno and more. 2040 India St., 619-915-5366, holypaleta.com.
— Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.