What’s this? A food truck in Scripps Ranch? The Gumbo Pot, a Creole / Cajun / soul-food vendor on wheels that describes its food as “fantabulous” has added the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market to its schedule. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, stop by for Creole breakfast burritos, beignets and chicory cafe au laits (11778 Cyprus Canyon Road). If you spend your time further south, you can find The Gumbo Pot at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. twitter.com/gumbotime
Last week, North Park restaurant Urban Solace 1) ix-nayed all highfructose corn syrup from its ingredients and 2) bolstered its 3-to-6 p.m. Monday-through-Friday “comfort hour” menu. Items include the signature warm cheese biscuits with orangehoney butter ($4), sassafras-marinated skillet shrimp with chili-infused white-cogrit cakes (one of our faves; $6) and sweet-potato fries with Maytag blue-cheese buttermilk dressing ($4.50). Select draft beers and wines are $4. It was but a few years ago that the only place you could find a red velvet cake was in a Betty Crocker box mix. But the usually bright-red chocolateand-buttermilk concotion’s seen a rebirth via cupcakes, frozen yogurt and even cocktails. urbansolace.net
Downtown bar Vin de Syrah has added a red velvet martini to its menu. Syrah declined to divulge the ingredients, but you can play booze sleuth on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month when the cocktail’s available starting at 8 p.m. syrahwineparlor.com Speaking of cocktails, South Park restaurant Alchemy is doing the yacht-rock thing from 8 p.m. to midnight Sunday, Aug. 22. In addition to playing classic smooth-rock tunes and episodes of the online mockumentary about the careers of guys like Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald and Christopher Cross, the place will also serve specialty cocktails like a French 75, Rusty Nail and Blue Hawaiian. alchemysandiego.com
San Diego Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids backpack program summer fundraiser will wrap up on Saturday, Aug. 21, at 1 p.m. with a drawing at the Little Italy Mercato. Make a donation before then and be entered to win some crazy-good prizes like restaurant gift certificates, a cooking classes and custom-made cakes. You can also bring backpacks, nonperishable food items or cash to the Food 4 Kids booth at the Mercato—just get there before 1 p.m. to be entered in the drawing. The backpacks go home with school kids living in poverty whose families don’t have the means to provide healthy meals. Go to sandiegofoodstuff.com for details and a list of prizes.
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Spicy City. 4690 Convoy St., Suite 107, Kearny Mesa, 858-278-1818. Fans of traditional Sichuan cooking, this is your spot, where folks line up for dishes that manage to be both tasty and mouth-numbingly spicy.
25 Forty Bistro & Bakehouse. 2540 Congress St., Old Town, 619-294- 2540. Europe-trained chef / owner Mark Pelliccia turned this Old Town cottage into a sophisticated bistro with frontand back-patio seating. Dishes include creative takes on Italian (like eggplant parmesan ravioli) and tasty baked goods (croissants, tarts, cakes and breads), Pelliccia’s specialty. 25fortybistro.com
Mariscos Los Koras. 4297 Market St., Mount Hope. 619-264-1180. This nautical-themed restaurant’s owner is from the coastal Mexican state of Nayarit, which means seafood is the strong suit. Specialties range from grilled Baja lobster to Nayarit-style paella. Mariscos Los Koras’ sauces are excellent, as are the empanadas de camaron, fried turnovers filled with chopped shrimp.
Enoteca Style. 1445 India St., Little Italy. 619-546-7138. The paninis at this wine bar are tasty and named after nearby streets (the Laurel is akin to a tuna melt, while the Cedar pairs roast beef with caramelized onions, gruyere and a truffled mushroom spread). Also good are the salads—the owners also own Downtown restaurant Salad Style.
Korea BBQ & Tofu House. 4425 Convoy St., Suite 218, Kearny Mesa. 858-277-2220. Formerly known as Halmouny (“grandmother” in Korean), the new name came with a new location but the same Korean comfort food, like bibimbap, an everything-but-thekitchen-sink rice bowl, and soondubu, a Korean version of seafood stew served in a chili-pepper broth.
Ranchos Cocina. 1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., Ocean Beach, 619-226-7619. A good spot to go if you’re a fan of Mexican food who falls into the vegetarian or vegan diet category. Standouts include eggplant enchiladas, tamales made with soybean oil and tofu-stuffed taquitos. (There are plenty of meat options for carnivores, too.)
Mama Testa Taqueria. 1417-A University Ave., Hillcrest. 619-298-8226. Known for its signature fish tacos that beat chef Bobby Flay’s version, Mama Testa Taqueria features an eclectic salsa bar. For vegetarians, the poblano tacos are tasty, and the wine selection includes Guadalupe Valley’s Santo Tomas.
Girard Gourmet. 7837 Girard Ave., La Jolla. 858-454-3321. Run by Diana and Francois Goedhuys for the last two decades, the small shop offers soups, sandwiches, pre-cooked entrées to go and baked goods like pies stuffed with fruit from the Goedhuys’ farm. Highlights include the gingered corn and zucchini soup and roasted eggplant and pesto sandwich, served on homemade bread.
Sab E Lee. 9159 Mission Gorge Road, Santee. 619-328-1568. The owner of the popular Linda Vista Thai restaurant sold it to a friend and moved east to a more spacious spot that’s worth the drive. Standouts on the 80-item menu include miang-kum (a build-it-yourself spinach-leaf and chutney taco), tom yum soup and gai yang, a Thaistyle barbecued chicken.
The Smoking Goat. 3408 30th St., North Park, 619-955-5295. Designed by locals Bells & Whistles (Starlight, The Loft at UCSD) and owned by Cordon Bleu grad Fred Piehl, newly opened Smoking Goat features a menu that rotates monthly with a focus on seasonal sides, homemade pasta and locally procured meats. Always on the menu is the burger—so popular that it sometimes sells out.
Pho Lucky. 9326 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa. 858-586-7979. A pho’s only as good as its broth, and Pho Lucky’s base is rich and meaty-tasting. If you’re not in the mood for the traditional soup, try the bo kho, a fragrant beef stew served with bread for dipping, and the shrimp-filled spring rolls.
Bencotto. 750 West Fir St., Little Italy, 619-450-4786. Bencotto serves northern Italian dishes but also experiments with things like “Pasta Your Way” (you select the pasta and sauce pairing). The sbrisolona, a cookie-tart hybrid, is so popular that it’s served to-go.
The WineSellar & Brasserie. 9550 Waples St., Suite 115, Mira Mesa. 858- 450-9557. WineSellar recently brought in Chef Matt Smith, who did time at Taillevent, the famed Parisian restaurant. His menu combines classical technique with a focus on local produce and seafood. He’s also working to become a certified sommelier and every Saturday afternoon offers a pairing menu.