By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Lety Gonzalez of Uptown Tavern grabbed top honors at the seventh annual SoNo Fest Chili Cook-Off, held Dec. 4 at 32nd and Thorn streets.
The event featured 40 other chefs competing from restaurants throughout Uptown, and Gonzalez and her team won for Best Overall Chili with a recipe using smoked and ground pork, black beans, corn, chicken chicharro and cilantro crema. Gonzalez said the hearty chili will be making “special appearances” on Uptown’s menu over the winter season. 1236 University Ave., 619-241-2710, uptowntavernsd.com.
The public is invited for a sneak peek of the upcoming, second location of Nomad Donuts, from 6–9 p.m., Dec. 13. The open house coincides with a fundraiser for David Harp’s Foundation, which empowers at-risk and homeless youth achieve academic success through music and multimedia education.
The 3,100-square-foot North Park space is due to open in spring at 3102 University Ave., less than a mile from its original location at 4504 30th St.
A variety of gourmet donuts will be on sale for $2 apiece during the event, with more than half the proceeds earmarked for the foundation. 619-431-5000, nomaddonuts.com.
A cafeteria-style restaurant featuring scratch cooking with locally sourced ingredients opened Nov. 28 in the Hotel Circle space previously occupied by Adam’s Steak & Eggs.
Named Crust Kitchen, owners Steve Abbo and Andy Hirmez designed the restaurant with busy hotel visitors in mind while catering also to locals with elegant displays of salads, pizzas, sandwiches, roasted meats, side dishes and desserts. Customers queue up in line and point to the items they want to purchase, much like the system in place at Lemonade in Hillcrest.
Abbo and Hirmez also own the adjoining Travel Mart (formerly Albie’s Beef Inn) and Value Liquor and Mini Mart next door. 1201 Hotel Circle South, 619-501-1112, crustkitchen.com.
An events space featuring stadium-style seating and “dealing with food” is in the works at Specialty Produce in Middletown, said Bob Harrington, who owns the respected produce outlet with his brothers, Richard and Roger. Due for completion in early March, it will be available for cooking classes and other culinary demonstrations conducted by local chefs and instructors, some of whom worked at the former Great News in Pacific Beach before it closed.
Still under construction, it has already been named Studio Kitchen and will seat 50 to 100 people.
“We’ll be creating unique events in addition to doing some cooking school stuff,” Harrington added, noting the venue will incorporate a new, fully equipped kitchen. 1929 Hancock St., 619-295-3172, specialtyproduce.com.
Weekend brunch was recently introduced at Soda & Swine in Normal Heights. The six-dish menu, crafted by Chef Jason McLeod, captures the restaurant’s famous hand-rolled meatballs, which appear in a slider with egg, cheddar and chipotle mayo. Other choices include french fries with sausage gravy, bacon and egg; huevos rancheros; a breakfast sandwich on jalapeno-cheddar biscuits; and chorizo-wrapped Scotch eggs. Mimosas and Champagne slushies are also available. All of the food and drink items are priced at $8 or less. They’re available from 10:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. 2943 Adams Ave., 619-269-7632, sodaandswine.com.
Mixologist Erick Castro will take imbibers through the history and basic steps of making certain cocktails in a “holiday spirits” class to be held from 6–8 p.m., Dec. 19, at Polite Provisions in Normal Heights. The class is limited to 14 attendees, who will each be afforded their own workstation stocked with the essential ingredients. The cost is $60 per person. 4696 30th St., 619-677-3784, politeprovisions.com.
Northern California transplants and local sandwich lovers alike are applauding the recent arrival of Beach Hut Deli near Downtown, across from the USS Midway Museum. The ever-growing franchise, founded in 1981 in Granite Bay, California, is famous for its meaty over-stuffed sandwiches, many of which contain cream cheese and avocado. They’re whimsically named to reflect beachside culture, such as the grilled Buffalo-style chicken “Sunburn” with bacon and buttermilk ranch; the “Shark Bite” with ham, bacon, Swiss and cream cheese; and the “Beach Bikini” combining turkey, cream cheese, cranberry sauce and alfalfa sprouts on wheat bread.
The eatery’s stylish interior is distinguished by a beachside theme featuring surfboard tables and memorabilia reflecting California’s coastal lifestyle. There’s also a full bar and flat screens in every booth. 900 Bayfront Court, Suite 104, 619-501-3551, beachhutdeli.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.