By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Replacing the short-lived Espettos Brazilian Skewers in Hillcrest is HiroNori Craft Ramen, a popular Japanese restaurant with locations in Long Beach and Irvine.
Due to open within the next two months, the ramen adheres to traditional techniques by using house-made noodles and barrel-aged sauces. The broths are softly boiled for 24 hours, and include a vegan option. Other menu options include pork buns, crispy chicken, and rice bowls with a choice of proteins. A complete remodel to the space is set to begin soon. 3803 Fifth Ave., hironoricraftramen.com.
With a strong cult following in place, the East Coast-founded Duck Donuts recently opened in Encinitas and could branch into metro San Diego, according to Laura Aughinbaugh, who is a franchisee with her husband, Brad.
The couple plans on opening two additional locations in North County in the near future, although Aughinbaugh says, “We’ll step up to the plate if the company wants more in San Diego. They are seeing first how these West Coast locations will go.”
Duck Donuts originated in Duck, North Carolina in 2006, and has since expanded to 73 outlets throughout the country, although there are only a few in California. The company is known for its made-to-order donuts, all of which have vanilla-cake bases. Customers choose from a variety of drizzles and toppings. Signature creations and donut sundaes are also available. 1452 Encinitas Blvd., 760-452-6849, duckdonuts.com.
North Park saw the recent arrival of La Catrina Tapas & Cantina, a modern-casual bistro that replaced Tostadas. The concept, says co-owner Roger Canez, brings to San Diego the flavors of Mexico, including those from the culinary culture of Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe wine region.
A vibrant, festive design sets the stage for a menu spotlighting fresh seafood, grilled meats and unique specialty dishes such as rib-eye on a Himalayan salt block, and surf-and-turf featuring octopus and carnitas with wild mushrooms. Mexican wines and local craft beers are also in the offing. 3139 University Ave., 619-436-0060.
Look for a Nov. 13 grand opening of Tahona, a mezcal bar and tasting room perched alongside Old Town’s historic Cemetery of El Campo Santo. The official launch, which coincides with Tahona’s first taco Tuesday, will feature specials on drinks and south-of-the-border fare from 5 p.m. to midnight. In addition, the establishment will donate $1 from every taco sold to Corazon de Vida, a nonprofit that supports orphanages throughout Baja. (The San Diego chapter was founded by Tahona’s owner, Amar Harrag.) 2414 San Diego Ave., tahonabar.com.
Butcher shops in San Diego County are scarce. So when a long-established shop expands, it deserves a shout out.
Up in Escondido, the cherished Kennedy’s Meat Company moved next door into new 5,000-square-foot digs featuring a restaurant, a market, and a spacious food-prep area to accommodate catering orders.
Founded in 1972 by Jesus Soto in Heber, California, the original store served as a convenient stop for basic staples as well as Soto’s famous carne asada. The Escondido shop marks the company’s third location. The others are located in Imperial Beach and El Centro. They’re co-operated by Soto’s grandson, Mark.
The butcher counter sells specialty meats such as Angus prime, wagyu and Kobe beef, pollo asado, and the legendary carne asada. The dine-in and takeout sections offer tacos, burritos, bowls, fries and more. 1766 East Valley Pkwy., 760-746-4622, kennedysmeatcompany.com.
As chef Brad Wise of Trust and Hundred Proof (both located on Park Boulevard) prepares for a January opening of a third venture called Fort Oak in Mission Hills, he is recreating the “sunny San Diego” dinner he presented in October to a sold-out dining room at the James Beard House in New York City.
In conjunction with his pastry chef, Jeremy Harville, the multi-course meal will be served from 6 to 9 p.m., Nov. 13 at Trust. Dishes include house-cured country ham; charred Pacific oysters with uni butter; barbecue quail; striped bass with ponzu and chilies; and a gourmet take on Cracker Jacks using a corn cake. The dinner is meant to showcase produce and other ingredients from San Diego and Baja. Each course will be paired with wines from global regions. The price is $160, which includes tax and gratuity. 3752 Park Blvd., 619-795-6901, trustrestaurantsd.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.