Michael A. Gardiner

Michael Gardiner is a food writer and licensed California attorney living in San Diego. In addition to San Diego CityBeat he is the monthly food columnist for L’Chaim San Diego Magazine and the primary writer for the San Diego Food & Travel Blog,


Photos by Michael Gardiner

As a lifelong local, there are certainly more than 15 reasons why I choose to live here. We’re the biggest small city in the country, or maybe the smallest big one, and there’s none with a better combination of beach, biking, food and culture. more

Oct 17, 2017 12:40 PM Best of San Diego


Photo by Michael Gardiner

I am instantly suspicious when a new restaurant opens to massive hype and is declared “the best” of its kind. more

Oct 16, 2017 10:05 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

One leitmotif at the Modern is the fact the protein may be at the center of the dish, but it’s the vegetables that are the stars. more

Oct 9, 2017 11:05 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

Two of Bunz’s chef-driven burgers—often not my favorites—do sing. And they do so just when it seems they won’t. The Cowboy features smoked bacon, fried onion rings, BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, roasted pickled jalapeño, creamy coleslaw, lettuce. more

Oct 2, 2017 1:30 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

As Daddy’s Hot Dogs (1281 University Avenue) in Hillcrest proves, truly great hot dogs can be excellent things. more

Sep 25, 2017 11:00 AM The World Fare 1 Comments


Photo by Michael Gardiner

Seven years ago, Doña Esthela opened her restaurant after a lifetime as a washerwoman (she has the hands to show for it). more

Sep 18, 2017 4:00 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

McAfee’s Smok’d Hog (3749 Park Blvd.) serves up Alabama and Carolina barbecue, along with Pit Beef and other regional styles. more

Sep 11, 2017 11:15 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

Even some of the more standard Middle Eastern fare was a step better than most. The falafel was perfectly executed: crisp on the outside, moist inside. more

Sep 5, 2017 11:40 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

Italian food is simple food, and that’s by no means an insult. Italian fare is all about good ingredients prepared with skill and caring. It’s just as much about balance and patience as it is about time and elegance. more

Aug 21, 2017 12:27 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

I’m a sucker for a place that does one thing and does it well. It generally means the owners have the passion, courage of their convictions and the work ethic to craft special things. more

Aug 14, 2017 10:51 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

I never wanted to meet an alligator in a dark alley, much less eat one. I’ve never really wanted to eat any predator, for that matter. Humans generally don’t. more

Aug 9, 2017 10:23 AM Food Issue


Photo by Michael Gardiner

Part fresh fish market and part restaurant, Point Loma Seafoods grew out of the sport-fishing trade in 1963 when the Christianson family began selling fish purchased from sport anglers. more

Aug 7, 2017 1:41 PM The World Fare


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It would be easy to write off Chef Coral Fodor Strong’s Garden Kitchen (4204 Rolando Blvd.) as yet another restaurant trying to jump on the “farm-to-table” bandwagon. It isn’t. more

Jul 31, 2017 12:38 PM The World Fare 6 Comments


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

Much of Tras/Horizonte’s food will be familiar to Kokopelli fans. The Kraken was Kokopelli’s signature dish and its combination of mesquite-grilled octopus and a “pesto” of chiles poblano and cilantro remains exciting. more

Jul 23, 2017 7:33 AM The World Fare

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Photo by Michael Gardiner

Masala Street is the brainchild of Hermant Oberoi (former Executive Chef at the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai) and his son Saransh Oberoi (formerly of the two-Michelin-starred Campton Place in San Francisco, a Cal-Indian trailblazer). more

Jul 17, 2017 3:28 PM The World Fare

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Photo by Michael Gardiner

Carne asada tortas (Mexican sandwiches) are usually available, but why have that when there are tortas of beef short rib braised with guajillo chiles for the asking? more

Jun 30, 2017 5:39 PM The World Fare


Photo by Nancy E. Gardiner

Part of the problem is there’s no consensus on the parameters of what constitutes “cultural appropriation.” Despite the quasi-legal sounding terms used by the critics of Kooks, it’s clear there’s very little intellectual property protection for recip more

Jun 27, 2017 6:39 PM Features 1 Comments


Photo by Michael Gardiner

Barely more than a generation ago even some who called themselves “gourmets” (once-upon-a-time a politically correct synonym for “foodies”) were less than certain of how Tuscan cuisine differed from Sicilian. more

Jun 26, 2017 3:06 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

San Diego has grown a vibrant, diverse array of restaurants offering Chinese regional cuisines. One of the latest is Beauty Hunan (8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite S1). more

Jun 16, 2017 4:51 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

There may be more expensive burgers, but there is likely to be no place in town that demonstrates the proper architecture of a burger better than The Balboa Bar & Grill (1863 Fifth Avenue), more

Jun 12, 2017 3:30 PM The World Fare

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