By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Forget acai bowls and kale salads if you’re delving into the newest foods at the San Diego County Fair, which opened June 1 and continues through July 4. This year’s lineup includes deep-fried filet mignon, which pales in sinfulness compared to items such as spaghetti and cheese compacted into the shape of donuts; bacon-wrapped baklava; chocolate-flavored pasta served in red velvet waffle bowls; lasagna nachos; ramen burritos; and unicorn cotton-candy ice cream sandwiches.
On the liquid side of things, there will be plenty of suds and spirits for the tasting as the grounds make way for the San Diego International Beer Festival (June 15-17) and the Distilled Spirit and Cocktail Festival (June 23). 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, 858-755-1161, sdfair.com.
The food court on the second level of Fashion Valley Mall will soon feature its first-ever cheesesteak tenant. Charley’s Philly Steaks is due to open by mid-July, according to franchisee John-John Kim, who previously ran restaurants in China and South Korea. The space was last occupied by Muscle Beach Lemonade & Hot Dogs. Charley’s spans the globe with 500 locations and features a variety of cheesesteaks made with beef or chicken. 7007 Friars Road, Suite 925, charleys.com
The new El Tianguis in North Park has one of the most straightforward menus of any Mexican eatery in San Diego. Aside from agua frescas, horchata and sodas, customers are faced with four easy meal decisions: beef, chicken, potato or lentil-quinoa rolled tacos. They’re served with or without sour cream, cheese, lettuce, salsa and guacamole. The quaint space captures the vibrant colors of Mexico’s markets and bazaars, which are known as tianguis throughout Latin America.
The eatery is owned by Oscar Ancira, whose family founded the highly successful Deli Mex, a wholesaler and manufacturer that supplied taquitos to retailers mainly in markets west of the Mississippi. Ancira says that when his family sold the business in 2001, they were making 2 million rolled tacos a day, hence the idea to open an eatery specializing in “what I know best.” 2810 El Cajon Blvd., 619-677-3581, eattaquitos.com
What the heck is a glampisphere, you ask? The answer lies in North Park’s Air Conditioned Lounge, which opened a groovy, outdoor space tailored for private events and business meetings. It features an elevated bar, retro-style tables and chairs, and a soothing waterfall. Situated on the building’s back patio, the glampishere was created expressly to “ignite creativity and spark conversation among guests,” according to Air Condition’s public relations team. 4673 30th St., 619-535-6007, glampisphere.space.
High-butterfat decadence has descended on the Gaslamp Quarter with the recent arrival of Cali Cream, a walk-up ice cream shop featuring nearly 70 flavors every day. The business is owned by Ken Schulenburg (aka Scoop Dogg) and Juliana Ortiz, both of whom worked in the retail industry and call themselves “foodies by nature.”
The ice cream is made onsite and uses pure sugar, natural colorings and regionally sourced ingredients. Aside from several dairy-free options, the ice creams ring in at 16 percent butterfat (12 percent is the average in commercial brands). In addition, the large selection stays exclusively within the sweet category.
“We’re staying away from all the crazy stuff and letting Salt & Straw have that part of the market,” said Schulenburg, referring to certain savory flavors found at the Little Italy ice cream parlor.
Cali Cream’s dreamy concoctions include Red Dawn (black raspberry and chocolate truffles); Death by Chocolate (dark chocolate with fudge ripples and brownies); and peanut butter with salted fudge. 425 Market St., 619-450-4078.
— Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.