The food chain can sometimes feel vulnerable, especially when busy restaurant owners take forever to respond to my desperate pleas to recommend the next link. But it can't be broken! Since 2008, I've been asking folks in the San Diego food scene to turn my readers on to restaurants they've maybe never been to, and, last year, we left off with Roger Nakamura, owner of Hane Sushi in Bankers Hill, flattering the hell out of North Park's The Smoking Goat. So, this year, I started with the Goat, and the chain made a beeline northward. Here we go!
Fred Piehl, owner of The Smoking Goat, says: "Having a 22-month-old toddler and a big dog who likes to go everywhere with us makes it somewhat limiting, but it is important for us to go out together when I am not working. The Public House in La Jolla is one of our favorite go-to spots—mainly because I have been on a beer kick and their selection of Belgian beers is stellar. Not to mention, it is has a casual, comfortable outdoor atmosphere that has no pretension towards large furry dogs and active toddlers. I find it relaxing (as much as that is possible) to enjoy a good burger from a somewhat exotic list, sip on some delicious beer and watch our daughter lick ketchup off her fries and then go for another dunk." The Public House, 830 Kline St. in La Jolla
Tommaso Maggiore, proprietor of The Public House, says: "I've been frequenting Blue Ribbon Pizzeria since they opened. It's an intimate little location that has a small, heated patio, which makes for a very warm cozy feeling. Don't be surprised to have a 30to 45-minute-plus wait on the weekends, but believe me, it's sooo worth it. The traditional wood-fired pizza oven is in the dining area, so you can watch the pizzas being made by the chef. Their dough goes through a three-day fermentation process, their mozzarella is hand-stretched daily and all the ingredients are sourced locally and are organic.
Their pies are amazing. The menu has a ton of great appetizers, one of my favorites being the Ahi Tuna Crudo topped with Hass avocados, Ruby Red grapefruit slices and lemon olive oil. Also, coming from a beer-centric restaurant, I appreciate when restaurants that put out a superior product don't dumb their food down by having bad beer on tap. These guys are running on all eight cylinders with great food, a great selection of local and crafty brews and a great selection of wines from all over the globe. And with the name being Blue Ribbon, I love that they have 24ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon cans!" Blue Ribbon Pizzeria, 897 S. Coast Hwy. 101 in Encinitas
Wade Hageman, owner of Blue Ribbon Pizzeria, says: "Our pick is Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen in Oceanside. It's an eclectic, rustic gastropub, decorated with artist renderings of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, album covers for menus and mix-matched tables and chairs. I love the focus on the sustainable, organic sourcing of food for the menu, a strong emphasis on local craft beer and a great selection of small-production wines. It's the kind of neighborhood place North County is desperate for. You can drop in and have a beer and a bite, or hang with friends while sharing the excellent food. It's a must!" Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen, 626 S. Tremont St. in Oceanside
Roddy Browning, owner of Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen, says: "We all love great food. There are times that are not so good and we relish in the great efforts put in by truly passionate owners and chefs. A place we would like to add to the "food chain" is a new place in Carlsbad called Crust Pizzeria. Chef / owner Charlie Meola has been in the pizza business for some 30 years. He combines the artisan-style pizza with handcrafted ingredients. He does import a few things, but most of the ingredients are local. The Yana is our favorite pizza; it has Sopraffina ricotta cheese, Wisconsin mozzarella, prosciutto, sliced pears, Portobello mushrooms, belle chèvre goat cheese, glazed pecans and wild arugula. Fantastic!" Crust Pizzeria, 3263 Camino Los Coches in Carlsbad
Matt Othick, owner of Crust Pizzeria, says: "Market is hands-down the best dining experience in San Diego. From the service and the ambience to the food presentation and quality, it's first class. The experience always begins with a unique amuse bouche and these amazing corn muffins. The blue cheese soufflé or the B.L.T. salad are always a great way to start the meal. The best thing about Market is the chef uses only the freshest ingredients from local farms, such as Brandt Beef and Chino Farms. The menu is always consistent but with a twist, using seasonal ingredients. The portion sizes are generous, and I always leave happily satisfied. Market is always my first choice when dining out and entertaining visitors. Whether you want a fine-dining experience or a more casual atmosphere in the bar, Market is a must. Market, 3702 Via De La Valle in Del Mar