By Frank Sabatini Jr.
A fourth San Diego location of Tender Greens is coming to Westfield Mission Valley Mall in the next couple of months. The company, which specializes in “slow food done fast,” launched originally in Culver City before branching into Liberty Station, and then Downtown and La Jolla. Its newest location will stick to the core menu of salads, sandwiches and meal plates using fresh ingredients supplied by regional farmers and ranchers. The yet-to-be-named chef for this outlet, however, will be free to create daily specials based on seasonal bounties. 1640 Camino del Rio North, tendergreens.com.
The Canadian-founded Pita Pit is opening a Linda Vista outpost in early fall, close to the University of San Diego. With locations in 11 countries, the chain is known for its fast-casual pita sandwiches stuffed with grilled meats, fresh veggies and various legumes. This is the second time around for Pita Pit in San Diego after operating a shop in the College Area for nine years before suddenly closing in the winter. 5175 Linda Vista Road; pitapitusa.com.
Some of the vendors slated to take up initial residence at the upcoming Liberty Public Market in Point Loma include a couple of familiar names to the Downtown food scene. Already on board are The West Bean Coffee Roasters and Venissimo Cheese. The project, spearheaded by Coronado restaurateur David Spatafore of Bluebridge Hospitality, will spotlight 30-plus artisan vendors in a circa-1920 warehouse in Liberty Station. Others from the San Diego area include Wicked Maine Lobster seen at various farmers markets, Moo Time Creamery from Coronado, and Cane Patch Pies entering into its first brick-and-mortar location. The market is due to open in late October.
Old Town’s only Thai kitchen, D’O Thai Cottage, has closed after operating on a high-traffic block of San Diego Avenue for the past three years. The restaurant was sporadically dark since May, and just recently took down its website and permanently shut its doors. Prior to the Cottage, the space was home to Café Pacifico. There’s no word yet on who will take over next. 2414 San Diego Ave.
America’s favorite comfort food takes center stage at the upcoming Fried Chicken Challenge, to be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 18 at Local Habit in Hillcrest. The inaugural event is being presented by the Facebook network group, Eating and Drinking in San Diego, which has enlisted a total of six competitors such as Rich Sweeney of Florent Restaurant & Lounge (and of the former R Gang Eatery); Jason McLeod from Ironside Fish & Oyster; and others. Nate Soroko of Toronado will be curating beer for the tastings. A panel of judges, including Soroko, will evaluate the chicken based on juiciness, crunchiness and overall flavor. Tickets are $45 per person, which includes samples from each chef, along with beer pairings and various side dishes. Seating is limited, and advanced reservations are required. 3827 Fifth Ave., 619-795-4770.
Chefs from nearly a dozen San Diego restaurants will take part in the second annual Ceviche Showdown, from 2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 23, at 57 Degrees in Middletown. Recipes ranging from citrusy to sweet will enter the ring as visitors get to taste the entries and vote on their favorites. Among the establishments taking part are Puesto; Bernini’s Bistro of La Jolla; Sirena Gourmet Latin Seafood Restaurant; George’s at the Cove; and more. Tickets are $24 in advance, and $35 at the door. 1735 Hancock St., 619-234-5757, fiftysevendegrees.com.
The much-anticipated Lemonade out of Los Angeles made its San Diego debut in Hillcrest on Aug. 3. It will be followed by a second opening in Westfield UTC La Jolla later in August. Its Fifth Avenue location moves into the modern, 2,500-square-foot space left vacant earlier this year by Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria. Touted for its chic, cafeteria-style concept, customers are offered a cornucopia of mix-and-match vegetables, brick-oven flat breads, braised meats, and of course, several varieties of gourmet lemonades. 3958 Fifth Ave., lemonadela.com.
Several design changes were made at The Red Door in Mission Hills, which recently reopened to unveil a new midcentury, modern look that includes new seating, a fresh paint job and exterior awnings constructed of natural wood. In addition, the front door has been given a new shade of red, and newly planted drought-resistant ivy will soon begin cascading from the roof.
The owner of City Tacos in North Park is taking his passion for south-of-the-border fare another step further with his upcoming Tostadas, due to open by late August in the space that formerly housed Swoon Dessert Bar. “Mexican food is a thing of beauty,” professed Gerry Torres, who also owns IB Street Tacos in Imperial Beach. For his newest venture, look for crafty combinations of seafood, seasonal produce and zippy house-made sauces set atop fresh tortillas. 3139 University Ave.
A second and slightly larger location of Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop is now open in North Park in the space where Marie’s Café formerly operated. The offshoot arrives several months later than originally planned. Jose Luis Rojano, who owns the business with his two brothers, said their second venture is “the same fun and unique concept” as the original shop in Mission Hills. 3016 University Ave., 619-296-8226.
Technology and confections combine at the new iDessert by Jean-Philippe in Little Italy, where visitors select from a number of cakes, crusts, sauces, fruits and more at iPad stations for customizing their sweet creations. The colorful shop was launched recently by renowned pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury, a native of southern France who hails from The Bellagio and ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. 1608 India St., Suite 104, 619-544-1033.
After nailing down a secret solution that prevents drop biscuits from crumbling under the stress of hearty ingredients layered between them, the chef team at True North Tavern has introduced to the menu “bomb ass” sandwiches and sliders. Served with tater tots, their fillings include fried chicken with Serrano peppers; prime beef patties with bacon and bleu cheese; and grilled portobellos with goat cheese. The trio of chefs involved in perfecting the buttery beauties included Andrew James Reyes, who was a finalist on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” (Season 5). 3815 30th St., 619-291-3815.
— Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.