Dining Outside the Home: Old Town Mexican Cafe in San Diego, California. Tortilla Ladies make it look so easy. It’s probably because they’ve been stretching and rolling dough into perfect tortillas since their youth. Look through the windows. See how easily they handle the rolling pins? After all, handmade tortillas are the staple for practically every single Mexican dish. Not to mention, delicious. At Old Town Mexican Cafe, the food is authentic and has been for decades. If it’s not broken, why fix it? Take the House Famous Carnitas, for example. Crispy fried chunks of seasoned pork are served with chopped onion, leafy cilantro, smooth avocado, garden tomatoes, fresh lime, and refried beans. Wrap them up in warm tortillas right off the grill. Is it any wonder I never tried another dish? Yeah, they’re that good.
Dining Outside the Home: Solunto Restaurant & Bakery in San Diego, California. You may as well throw any semblance of willpower out the window when you cross the threshold into Solunto’s Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy. Especially if you’re hungry. Close your eyes for a moment. Inhale. The aromas alone of handcrafted breads, decadent pastries, napoletana pizzas, flavorful gelatos, and artisan coffees can mean only one thing. You’re going to be here awhile. But that’s okay. Solunto is all about family and friends socializing over a meal. Savor every bite; just leave room for more. The crisp Italian dessert shells, known as Cannolis, are filled with sweet, creamy filling. But don’t take my word for it. The pastry case is a feast for the eyes. Try one of everything. Solunto’s Bakery has “to-go” boxes.
Dining Outside the Home: Miguel’s Cocina in Old Town San Diego, California. When the menu captures the true spirit of Mexico, north of the border, it boasts of Miguel’s Signature Fajitas. What makes it so special, you wonder. Pay attention: Skirt steak and chicken topped with bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese and sliced poblano. ¡Ay, caramba! Now, you’re talking. Better order a hand-shaken margarita to wash things down. Look around. Handmade tortillas, crispy chips dredged between bowls of jalapeño white sauce and chunky tomato-fresh salsa. Is it any wonder if feels like a party?
Dining Outside the Home: Tom Ham’s Lighthouse in San Diego, California. Did you ever wish, as a kid, that you could eat in a real lighthouse? How cool is that?! Tom Ham understood the allure of making dreams comes true. This is the only restaurant in the United States to have a USCG operated and maintained lighthouse attached to it. Its location is even listed on nautical maps as Beacon #9, making Tom Ham’s Lighthouse an architectural landmark. Dine outside on a sunny day with a view of Harbor Island, Coronado Bridge, the San Diego Bay, and skyline. Munch away on Corn and Shrimp fritters before ordering the fresh Tuna Niçoise Salad. This is just a sampling of the fabulous food you’ll experience from the restaurant on the water’s edge. Thank you, Mr. Ham, for making dreams come true.
Dining Outside the Home: Los Locos Bar & Grill in San Diego, California. Tucked in the main thoroughfare of Old Town, sits an authentic unassuming Mexican cantina that serves jalapeño margaritas with a twist of outdoor music. It should. After all, this is the perfect corner spot for people-watching. For an afternoon snack, order the special of the day: Spicy Corn Nachos. Under the California sunshine, the cheese transforms into an ultra-melty obsession. Scoop up some black beans and pico de gallo. It’s okay to lick your fingers. Dishes like this are meant to be shared.
Dining Outside the Home: Harbor House Restaurant in San Diego, California. Who doesn’t get a thrill from watching adventurous boat traffic at the edge of a bustling downtown mecca? Harbor House Restaurant understands the thriving draw of Seaport Village. Have a seat in the open-air hotspot to watch the massive military vessels, luxurious yachts, and recreational traffic pass by. The landscape is ever-changing. When the food arrives, the experience kicks up a notch. For starters, the Ahi Tower is perfect for sharing. Notice the avocado, crabmeat, and papaya. It is a decadent prelude to the special of the day that will make your eyes practically roll back: Asiago-Crusted Sea Bass over a bed of creamy parmesan risotto. Now you understand why people flock to this area.
Dining Outside the Home: Searsucker in San Diego, California. How many restaurants do you visit that actually encourage “shared plates”? Searsucker doesn’t mind. In fact they recommend it. They understand the trend of grazing. After all, friends get together to unwind over savory foods and playful cocktails, so this is the best way to try new things. When you think about it, presentation is love at first sight. Small bites can offer big flavor combinations. Take a look at the Spicy Ahi Poke with taro root chips. You can almost taste the toasted sesame and spicy sriracha. But why take my word for it? Take a seat inside for a crowd or table for two on the patio. Either way, you can count on sharing.
Dining Outside the Home: Blue Point in San Diego, California. Slip into a cozy booth among white linen tablecloths, rich cherry wood, and black leather. One quick glance around the room reveals a nautical theme with impressive bar, a tropical fish aquarium, and raw oysters on the half shell. This supper club embodies old-world class, that’s for sure. Linger over cocktails, especially the Dean Martin-style Double Martini. How’s that for nostalgia. The extensive menu caters to a sophisticated palate from Soups and Greens to Hook, Line, Ranch, and Sinker specialties. For a top-notch evening on the corner of Fifth and Market, Blue Point is no fish story.
Dining Outside the Home: Toscana Cafe and Wine Bar in San Diego, California. After a day of walking around downtown in the bustling Gaslamp District, rest your feet at a corner table where the music is soft and the romantic mood is perfect for sharing. This is Toscana Cafe and Wine Bar, an authentic Italian ristorante, which features amazing dishes like fresh burrata and beet salad, for starters. If you have yet to try burrata cheese, it is a semi-soft cheese that is formed into a pouch, then filled with soft curd and cream. Once it is sliced open, the luscious cream spills out. Act like this is no surprise to you, but try not to lick your fingers. That’s amore.