By Frank Sabatini Jr | Dining Out in San Diego
The personal-finance website, WalletHub.com, recently released its report on 2018’s Best Foodie Cities in America. San Diego ranked ninth from a list of 182 municipalities across the nation. The study took into account numerous indicators ranging from the cost of groceries and affordability of high-quality restaurants to diversity of restaurants and the number of food festivals, craft breweries and wineries per capita. Ranking “best” on the list is Portland, Oregon, with Pearl City, Hawaii coming in last.
The buildout is finished and interviews for potential employees are underway at the upcoming North Italia in Fashion Valley Mall. The modern-Italian restaurant, due to open in November, was launched by Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concepts, which owns eating and drinking establishments in a dozen states. The company also operates the newly opened Blanco Tacos + Tequila in Fashion Valley Mall and Flower Child in Del Mar. Heading the kitchen after months of training is local chef Rich Sweeney, formerly of Waypoint Public. 7055 Friars Road, northitaliarestaurant.com.
In addition, the popular Brazilian snack known as pao de queijo is slowly making its way into San Diego households with the expanded distribution of “Brazi Bites.” Starting Oct. 1, the cheesy tapioca bread balls can be found in the frozen sections of San Diego Costco locations, including the store in Mission Valley. Once exclusive to Brazilian eateries, the gluten-free orbs are made with tapioca flour and grated cheeses. When baked, they sport the airiness of fresh dinner rolls. The Oregon-based manufacturer has already secured the product in Whole Foods in Hillcrest, and most Ralphs and Sprouts outlets in Uptown and beyond. brazibites.com.
Hurray for the whiskey-saturated Aero Club! Contrary to rumors that the 71-year-old dive bar in Middletown would be razed, its legacy will live on thanks to a property takeover by Chad Cline and his cousin Jason Nichols, both of whom operate other urban hot spots such as The Waterfront Bar & Grill, Werewolf and Banzai.
“We’ve been going to the Aero Club for a long time and thought the landlord was going to sell to developers,” said Cline. “It has a lot of history and we decided it would be a shame to let that go.”
The acquisition takes effect Oct. 1, and Cline promises to build upon the bar’s enormous whiskey inventory. The shelves currently hold more than 1,200 different labels amassed by former owner Bill Lutzius, who went on to open Chinatown Bar and Grill in City Heights.
Cline added that most of the staff will be retained.
“The employees know whiskey well. We have no intention of going in there and starting with a clean slate.” 3365 India St., 619-297-7211, aeroclubbar.com.
On the retail front: Just as Subway phases out its $5 foot-long subs, Rubio’s Coastal Grill has stepped up to the plate with a five-spot deal that buys you an original fish taco and any Mexican or craft beer in the house. The offer is available every Tuesday at all locations for an indefinite period of time. rubios.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.