By Ken Williams | Editor
Taste of Morena focuses on food
Seems like every neighborhood in San Diego has its own food festival, and each has their own quirky personality. Taste of Morena, for example, focuses exclusively on showcasing food and drinks.
“Tasters get to taste samples of restaurant offerings at the restaurant instead of a central location, which provides a better quality experience,” said Kimberly Weber, a member of the board of the Morena Business Association, which sponsors the annual event.
“We have a fun trolley to shuttle people to the entire list of participating locations so people don’t have to walk — just park at one place and enjoy the ride.”
The ninth annual Taste of Morena will take place from 5 – 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, with a mission to raise awareness for the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program.
Savory food samples, sweet treats, and drink specials from microbreweries and local bars highlight the event. Unlike some other food festivals, Taste of Morena ignores the entertainment side and instead lets the food and drinks shine.
Participating venues represent a variety of cuisines include Bay Park Fish Company, Home Brew Mart by Ballast Point, Bay Park Coffee, Urbane Café, Baci’s, Pacific Time, Fiji Yogurt, Bull’s Smokin BBQ Restaurant, Dan Diego’s, JV’s Mexican Food, Tio Leo’s, Luce Bar & Kitchen, Andres Restaurant, Offshore Tavern & Grill; Zpizza, Sardina’s Italian Restaurant & Bar, La Gran Terraza, Pita Pit, Poseidon Project, The Clutch Bar, Side Car, and Siesel’s Old Fashioned Meats.
For example, La Gran Terraza will serve a sample of its crab cocktail, made of avocado puree, red peppers, red onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Bull’s will offer a pork slider and a braised beef slider to participants. Pita Pita will have chicken souvlake and falafel. And Poseidon Project will say “cheers” with a taste of its specialty punch bowl beer cocktail.
The Morena neighborhood — which is on the east side of Interstate 5 — includes West Morena Boulevard and Linda Vista Road, between Friars Road and Clairemont Drive. More than 400 businesses, restaurants and breweries call Morena their home, Weber said.
Taste of Morena benefits the Morena Business Association.
“This is our major fundraiser for the year,” Weber said. “As a micro-district, we don’t charge fees to member businesses. The Taste helps fund our mixers, monthly meetings, website, mobile app and banner programs, which increase the stature of the business community and promote engagement with residents who shop, dine and use the many other services in the area.”
Only 600 tickets — $25 per customer — are sold for the Taste of Morena.
“The event sells out quickly,” Weber said.
There are three locations to purchase tickets: Jerome’s Furniture, located at 1190 W. Morena Blvd., will take charge cards and cash; Cole’s Fine Flooring, located at 1170 W. Morena Blvd., will take cash only; US Bank, located at 5330 Napa St., will take cash only.
Old Town Trolley shuttles will run a continuous loop to participating restaurants the night of the event. Participants are encouraged to park in Jerome’s Furniture’s spacious parking lot, located at 1190 W. Morena Blvd. in the Morena Plaza Shopping Center, and take the free trolley from there.
In addition, a special tram will take participants to and from La Gran Terraza on the campus of the University of San Diego. Staff from the San Diego Food Bank will be at La Gran Terraza, encouraging participants to donate money to the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. The program provides weekend food packages to chronically hungry elementary-age students from low-income families. For a donation of $5.50, one child will receive enough food for a weekend. For a $200 donation, that child would be taken care of for an entire year, according to the association.
Weber said the Morena Business Association would like to broaden the food festival’s appeal.
“We certainly hope we get lots of new people, but the Taste has always been very popular with locals,” she said.
—Ken Williams is editor of Mission Valley News and Uptown News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at KenSanDiego, Instagram account at KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.