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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, www.sdfoodtravel.com.

Mada-Sao is a great place to tuck into a steaming pot of spicy broth. Read more

The World Fare

Smoked Half Chicken at Valley Farm Market BBQ Shack.jpeg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

When people think of barbecue in America it tends to be pork or beef that come to mind. That’s likely because not enough people have had the opportunity to try the Valley Farm BBQ’s smoked chicken. Read more

The World Fare

Chicken with Ground Bean Sheets at Ma’s House.jpeg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

Few have a culinary map of China in their head and even many who do know relatively little about the food of Western China where this Asian country crashes into the Middle East. Enter Ma’s House in Clairemont. Read more

The World Fare

Broccoli-Bacon, Sweet Corn-Basil and Ham and Cheese Empanadas at Empanada Kitchen.jpeg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

Empanada Kitchen’s offerings are true to the Argentine style. They offer nine daily empanadas (ranging from highly carnivorous to vegan) plus a daily special. Read more

The World Fare

Barrio-Dogg-02.jpg

Submitted photo

The Best Hot Dog winner for 2019 is Barrio Dogg, with its creative, even artsy, takes on the TJ-dog. Read more

Best of San Diego

House Special Lao Mein at A-Bowl.jpeg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

As A-Bowl in the Convoy District shows, the food of a megalopolis like Shanghai defies such easy definition. Read more

The World Fare

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Submitted photo

Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop is 2019’s Best of Steakhouses winner. Read more

Best of San Diego

Bully's East Bistro Sports Bar.jpg

Submitted photo

The Best Prime Rib winner for 2019 is Bully’s East Prime Bistro Sports Bar. Read more

Best of San Diego

Lobster at Puerto Nuevo #1.jpeg

Submitted photo

Puerto Nuevo-style lobster is a brilliantly simple thing. It’s Baja’s clawless spiny lobster—not the more familiar Maine variety—split lengthwise and pan fried in lard. It’s served with creamy refried beans, Mexican rice, and flour tortillas. Read more

The World Fare 2 Comments

Stir-Fried Kidney with Pickled Chili Peppers at Sichuan City.jpeg

Photo by Michael Gardiner

As the name would suggest, the food at Sichuan City is, like that of Spicy Hut before it, Sichuan. The flavor profiles lean toward the hot and spicy along with contrasting sweet and sour flavors. Read more

The World Fare

Smokin Hot Chik Sandwich at Liberty Chik.jpeg

Photo courtesy Liberty Chik Hot Chicken

Liberty Chik offers three main combos:  two breast pieces with fries, a sandwich with fries, and hot chicken with waffles. Each is offered in four heat levels: mild (why?), medium (same question), hot (getting there) and “Smokin Hot” (why you came). Read more

The World Fare

Bun-Rieu-at-Tu-Thanh.jpg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

The cuisine best represented in San Diego restaurants—both in length and in depth—may not be Mexican and may not even be American. Read more

The World Fare

Chicago-Dog-at-Lefty's.jpg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

The classic Chicago hot dog starts with a beef frankfurter and is accompanied by diced onions, fresh tomatoes, Day-Glo green relish, a pickle spear, yellow mustard and pickled chili pepper and a sprinkling of celery salt. Read more

The World Fare 1 Comments

High Tide Ceviche at Marea-Alta 2forweb.jpg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

There are moments when I know a restaurant or eatery isn’t going to suck even before I’ve tried the food. In the case of Marea-Alta (Carretera Libre Tijuana-Ensenada Km 41 22710) in Rosarito. Read more

The World Fare

Shoyu-Ramen-at-Hiro-Nori-2.jpg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

To be honest, I was prepared to dislike HiroNori (3803 5th Ave.). After all, it wasn’t so long ago that I proclaimed that San Diego’s ramen scene had jumped the shark. Read more

The World Fare

Fried-Sand-Dabs-and-Oysters-at-Imperial-Fish-Market.jpg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

From the fish and chips of the UK (and former colonies such as South Africa and Australia) to Japanese Satsuma-age, fried fish is eaten on every continent in the world. Read more

The World Fare 1 Comments

Stir-Fried-Escargots-with-Tamarind-at-Que-Huong.jpg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

Vietnamese cuisine is more than the sum of its conquerors’ and colonial rulers’ foods. From a millennium of Chinese dominance to a century of French colonization, and then decades of American influence, they all left their mark. Read more

The World Fare

Roasted Bone Marrow with Avocado, Onion Ash, Tortillas and a Tomatillo, Jalapeño and Poblano Salsa at Raícesforweb.jpg

Photos by Michael A. Gardiner

Where Gary Hart had no such answer to the “where’s the beef?” question, our region has plenty. Read more

Food Issue

Cold Tofu appetizer at Wa Dining Okonforweb.jpg

Photos by Michael A. Gardiner

Once upon a time it was assumed that meat in slabular form would be at the center of nearly every plate. It was a big, hulking steak and sometimes a braised lamb shank or barbecued pork ribs. Read more

Food Issue

Bondiola-sandwich-at-San-Telmo.jpg

Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

There’s something inherently charming about a place without pretension. A quick look inside of San Telmo Argentine Cafe (531 Broadway, Ste. B) in the Gaslamp and words like “unassuming” come to mind. I Read more

The World Fare