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,


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It’s a judgment tossed our direction by La La Landers and other unjustifiably snobby sorts: “San Diego food sucks...except for the Mexican food, which is pretty good.” more

Mar 20, 2017 3:45 PM The World Fare 7 Comments

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Photo by Michael Gardiner

The menu at Isabel is short: birria, birria and birria. Order the full bowl or half bowl, birria tacos, quesadillas, a quesataco (of birria), consomé (of birria) or tortilla sandwiches of, wait for it, birria. more

Mar 13, 2017 3:47 PM The World Fare


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Where Mammoth’s masters have proclaimed their ambitions but struggled on the execution, Skadi Chef Ian Algerøen has worked quietly for the better part of two decades to give Mammoth a high-end restaurant worthy of a celebrity ski town. more

Mar 3, 2017 5:37 PM The World Fare

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Photo by Michael Gardiner

There’s a perception that all Middle Eastern food is the same: it’s all hummus and shawarma, falafel and dolma. Like the slogan, this perception may be built on a grain of truth, but it ignores substantial differences between distinct Middle Eastern more

Feb 27, 2017 2:22 PM The World Fare


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It once seemed cool to like Russian cuisine in a sort of ironic, vaguely countercultural sort of way. It may now be mandatory to like Russian cuisine in a sort of fascistic, vaguely homoerotic sort of way. Sad. more

Feb 20, 2017 3:00 PM The World Fare 1 Comments


Photo by Michael Gardiner

Sushi is often treated as either high art or commoditized fast food. Aficionados celebrate the uber-expensive omakase tasting menus of places like Urasawa in Beverly Hills even as a businesswoman grabs uber-cheap supermarket sushi on her way home fro more

Feb 13, 2017 2:43 PM The World Fare


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The Mercado is a food market and a quasi-permanent junk/treasure shop. Much of it’s housed in a large, semi-enclosed structure with vendor stalls and roll-up gates. more

Feb 3, 2017 3:38 PM The World Fare


michael gardiner

Every neighborhood has a cursed corner: The place that’s seen more restaurants come and go in a decade than the number of years any actually stayed. more

Jan 27, 2017 3:19 PM The World Fare


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Bahn Thai’s known for its noodle dishes. The broccoli in the chicken pad see ew was colorful and crisp, and both the chicken and noodles themselves were nicely cooked. more

The World Fare 3 Comments


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

The restaurant business is notoriously fickle. Today’s empire can quickly become tomorrow’s smoking pile of rubble. And you may not even get a t-shirt to show for it (though you might just get a large tax deduction). Brian Malarkey knows this. more

Jan 9, 2017 1:40 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

Perhaps the best dishes at La Querencia are the carpaccios. In addition to beef, Guerrero offers scallop, salmon, squash and beet versions. more

Dec 30, 2016 3:00 PM The World Fare


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When I heard that Facing East Noodle & Bar (4647 Convoy St.) was doing black truffle and foie gras versions of xiao long bao, I was excited and dubious in equal parts. more

Dec 27, 2016 11:00 AM The World Fare

The way 2016 played out, 2017 surely has to be better, right? Right. We won't judge readers if they just want to stay home, play Prince records and cry, but why not kick 2017 off in style? more

Dec 20, 2016 6:30 PM , , , Culture


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

The story of lunch at The Red Door Restaurant is a tale told by a persimmon. That persimmon wasn't supposed to be the star of the dish, mind you, but it went ahead and told the story anyway. more

Dec 19, 2016 3:00 PM The World Fare


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The "Tortas Washmobile" name may sound like something right out of a Saturday Night Live sketch but the carne asada tortas it slings are what every little carne asada torta wants to be when it grows up. more

Dec 12, 2016 12:00 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

"Edible art" is an idea often attached to Japanese high cuisine like sushi or kaeseki. But the notion that Japanese food is inherently precious and high-end is exaggerated at best. more

Dec 7, 2016 10:30 AM The World Fare


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Hot pot is having its moment. It's a moment that was, perhaps, crowned when Anthony Bourdain sang its praises and wielded it like a weapon in Eric Ripert's direction on the Sichuan episode of Bourdain's Parts Unknown CNN show. more

Nov 28, 2016 12:00 AM The World Fare


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In Britain and many of its former colonies, pie brings to mind a world of robust, savory offerings. Pop Pie Co. (4404 Park Boulevard) in University Heights aims to get us in touch with our inner Brit. more

Nov 17, 2016 12:00 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

While we don't have many good tapas bars in San Diego, certainly not enough for a classic Spanish "tapas crawl," perhaps the one that best exemplifies the tapas spirit is Cueva Bar (2123 Adams Ave.) in University Heights. more

Nov 11, 2016 12:00 AM The World Fare


Photo by Michael A. Gardiner

We pretty much suck at deli. There are many types of food and restaurants we do really well in San Diego but deli just isn't one of them. more

Nov 4, 2016 12:00 AM The World Fare