The third annual Cupcake Extravaganza Weekend is back at Eclipse Chocolat. From Saturday, July 3, through Monday, July 5, the café will sell 28 varieties of its gourmet cupcakes, including limited-edition flavors like rosemary-cashew caramel and roasted banana butterscotch. Boxes of nine cupcakes, usually $27, are discounted to $20, and with each purchase, you can enter a drawing to receive a free box of cupcakes every week for two months. eclipsechocolat.com Venissimo's Downtown cheese shop, at 871 G St., is home to the Academy of Cheese, which has just announced a new lineup of classes. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 8, “Getting to Know Cheese” will cover the hows and whys of cheese, from its history to preparation and storage. You'll get to sample every style of cheese along with complementary wine. Beer lovers can discover the kinship between beer and cheese from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, July 12, when you'll get to taste pairings of cheeses with their perfect beer match. Classes are $50; call 619-358-9081 to reserve a spot. venissimo.com Starlite is celebrating its third anniversary with a couple of new handcrafted cocktails, including the Cardinal, a mix of rye whiskey, strawberry and house-made cherry bitters, and the Pacific Northwest, a boozy ode to that area's lush vegetation that combines vodka with pine, tarragon and cucumber. starlitesandiego.com The new Mission Hills Farmers Market is now in its second week of operation; the small market is located along Falcon Street on the block between Washington Street and Fort Stockton and is open every Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. Among the local food and farm vendors are Sadie Rose Baking Company, Jackie's Jams, Suzie's Farm, Sun Grown and Smit Orchards.
The Fishery in Pacific Beach (5040 Cass St.), which is both a restaurant and a fish market, has added some new items to its summer lunch menu, including a wild-caught king salmon salad with local greens and heirloom tomatoes and a Cajun-spiced rockfish sandwich with corn and avocado relish. And their Tuesday Tastings—seasonal with a menu that changes weekly—is still one of the best deals in town, just $28 for four courses. thefishery.com.
Opera Patisserie, one of City- Beat's favorite local purveyors of the petite French cookies, will hold a macaroon-making class from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 24. The cost is $95, and the class is limited to eight people. operapatisserie.com W Hotel San Diego has a new executive chef, John Garcia, who was recently invited to cook a fundraising dinner at New York's legendary James Beard House. His updated menu for the W includes a roasted beet salad with blue cheese and pistachios and a grilled swordfish with ramps, clams and tomato-onion compote. thew sandiegohotel.com
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Ranchos Cocina. 1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Ocean Beach, 619-226-7619. A good spot to go if you're a fan of Mexican food who falls into the vegetarian or vegan diet category. Standouts include eggplant enchiladas, tamales made with soybean oil and tofustuffed taquitos. (There are plenty of meat options for carnivores, too.)
Mama Testa Taqueria. 1417-A University Ave., Hillcrest. 619-298- 8226. Known for its signature fish tacos that beat chef Bobby Flay's version, Mama Testa Taqueria features an eclectic salsa bar. For vegetarians, the poblano tacos are tasty, and the wine selection includes Guadalupe Valley's Santo Tomas.
Girard Gourmet. 7837 Girard Ave., La Jolla. 858-454-3321. Run by Diana and Francois Goedhuys for the last two decades, the small shop offers soups, sandwiches, pre-cooked entrées to go and baked goods like pies stuffed with fruit from the Goedhuys' farm. Highlights include the gingered corn and zucchini soup and roasted eggplant and pesto sandwich, served on homemade bread.
Sab E Lee. 9159 Mission Gorge Road, Santee. 619-328-1568. The owner of the popular Linda Vista Thai restaurant sold it to a friend and moved east to a more spacious spot that's worth the drive. Standouts on the 80-item menu include miang-kum (a build-it-yourself spinach-leaf and chutney taco), tom yum soup and gai yang, a Thai-style barbecued chicken.
The Smoking Goat. 3408 30th St., North Park, 619-955-5295. Designed by locals Bells & Whistles (Starlight, The Loft at UCSD) and owned by Cordon Bleu grad Fred Piehl, newly opened Smoking Goat features a menu that rotates monthly with a focus on seasonal sides, homemade pasta and locally procured meats. Always on the menu is the burger—so popular that it sometimes sells out.
Pho Lucky. 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa. 858-586-7979. A pho's only as good as its broth, and Pho Lucky's base is rich and meaty-tasting. If you're not in the mood for the traditional soup, try the bo kho, a fragrant beef stew served with bread for dipping, and the shrimp-filled spring rolls.
Bencotto. 750 West Fir St., Little Italy, 619-450-4786. Bencotto serves Northern Italian dishes but also experiments with things like “Pasta Your Way” (you select the pasta and sauce pairing). The sbrisolona, a cookie-tart hybrid, is so popular that it's served to-go.