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,


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


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


Photo by Michael Gardiner

The origins of today’s fish taco likely lie in the Port of Ensenada where Japanese fishing boats tied up and Mexican food vendors tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to sell to those fishermen. more

Jun 5, 2017 4:14 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

I was excited when I got word that a place describing itself as a “Chinese tapas bar” would be opening in Point Loma. I love tapas, I love dim sum and I loved the idea of the intersection of the two. more

May 26, 2017 3:20 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

A place for everything and everything in its place.” It’s an aphorism that reflects a different time and place and a peculiarly compartmentalized view of the world. more

May 22, 2017 3:36 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

There may be a number of similarities between San Diego and Andalusia, where tapas began, but excellent tapas bars around every corner simply is not one of them. more

May 12, 2017 5:07 PM The World Fare

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Photo by Michael Gardiner

Increasingly, it seems, top restaurants in Los Angeles and London, New York and New Dehli, San Sebastian and São Paulo look the same, feel the same and have even begun to taste the same. more

May 8, 2017 4:38 PM The World Fare


Photo Michael Gardiner

Just about anything taken to its logical extreme falls apart. The torta ahogadas (“drowned tortas”) of Guadalajara are an example of that. more

May 1, 2017 3:19 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

I’m a sucker for a place that does one thing and does it well. It’s a testament to a virtue, increasingly lost of late, that competence matters and in having the courage of one’s convictions. more

Apr 24, 2017 3:32 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

About a month ago I wrote in this space that San Diego tacos suck and “the problem isn’t them, it’s us.” We’re getting the tacos we deserve, the ones we’ve asked for. It didn’t take long for me to be informed of the error of my ways. more

Apr 17, 2017 3:40 PM The World Fare

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Photo by Michael Gardiner

Tasty Pot describes itself as offering “Taiwanese-style hot pot” with the soups served in individual bowls instead of a communal pot and coming pre-loaded with various combinations of ingredients already simmering in the broth. more

Apr 7, 2017 5:30 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

Lebanese food is another one of those cuisines people tend to lump together with “Middle Eastern” food. Incorrect as that may be, it’s not without reason. more

Apr 3, 2017 4:01 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael gardiner

Brazilian food, like many New World cuisines, is defined by the crashing together of disparate cultures. In Brazil’s case, the clash happened among the indigenous Indian cultures, colonial Portuguese and African slaves (as well as subsequent waves of more

Mar 27, 2017 3:06 PM The World Fare


Photo by Michael Gardiner

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 11 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


Photo by Michael Gardiner

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


Photo by Michael Gardiner

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