Blessed with a climate you can grow just about anything in and an abundance of fresh fish, the farm-to-fork movement is a natural fit in San Diego. Whether plucking fresh vegetables and herbs from their private gardens, or visiting local farms daily for fresh organic produce, many San Diego chefs are turning their restaurants into temples of locally grown treasures. Following are some of San Diego's top culinary talents whose menus define the term "as fresh as it gets."
At George's at the Cove in the beautiful seaside community of La Jolla, chef Trey Foshee creates food enchanting enough to distract from the breathtaking Pacific Ocean views. Foshee has a close relationship with Chino Farms; his daily schedule includes a morning spent at the vaunted produce farm. From the fan-favorite Chino corn soup with portobello mushrooms and roasted red pepper cream, to the local white sea bass featuring Chino beans, fingerling potato confit, pearl onions, roasted tomato vinaigrette, and Spanish chorizo foam, diners have the opportunity to sample the fruits of this great partnership. Even the cocktails at this oceanview hotspot feature local herbs and seasonal fruits and berries.
Arterra in the San Diego Marriott Del Mar, a restaurant named for "art of the earth," Chef Tony Miller dishes up contemporary, seasonal cuisine that reflects the best of Southern California. His passion comes through in his "from-scratch" menu items and personally selecting the very best ingredients from local vendors. The results are entrees such as seared local diver scallops with bourbon parsnip puree, bacon brussel sprouts, and uni foam and black cod "fisherman stew" with marinated pepper salad, chickpea fritters and fresh herbs.
La Jolla's Nine-Ten restaurant at the Grande Colonial Hotel, helmed by chef Jason Knibb, boasts farm-fresh produce and French-inspired cuisine in a casually elegant atmosphere. Working closely with local farmers, Knibb creates dishes that are often simple - for example, a selection of La Milpa Farms organic greens dressed lightly with champagne vinaigrette - and always sublime - evidenced in entrees like tender roasted loin of Colorado lamb served on a bed of Chino Farms squash, cipollini onions, mushrooms, and zucchini with a parsley puree and velvety shiraz reduction. Especially popular is the Mercy of the Chef five-course tasting menu, which offers diners the option of putting themselves in the capable hands of chef Knibb.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla is a love poem to California's golden age of Craftsman-style architecture. At A.R. Valentien, the signature restaurant, this reverence for nature and craftsmanship is echoed in the cuisine of Chef Jeff Jackson. On the menu are the best seasonal provisions from local farmer's markets and small growers in dishes like a fresh panzanella salad featuring saladette tomatoes, lipstick pepper, torpedo onion, lemon cucumbers and sweet Genovese basil, or velvety braised veal cheeks with persillade, watercress, pickled cucumber, cipollini onions and purple eyed peas. Jackson's commitment to using locally grown vegetables includes hiring a "food forager" who searches for products from specialty, organic local farms for A.R. Valentien's tables. The Lodge at Torrey Pines also offers a communal Artisan Table dinner on Thursdays. Enjoy a variety of seasonal dishes in a convivial, less formal setting, with ten to sixteen at the table. Items are served family-style in four courses: appetizers, main course, cheese, and dessert and coffee, along with wines selected by the chefs to complement each unique meal. The menu changes weekly based on seasonal offerings.
Just north of La Jolla, Paul McCabe, executive chef at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar's extraordinary L'Auberge Resort, has created a menu that puts a spotlight on fresh seasonal produce, sustainable seafood and natural meats. Locals buzz about Chef Paul's imaginative, ever-changing fare, evolved plate presentation and rule-breaking creations like the bison tartare with smoked bacon sabayon and Hiramasa Sashimi with compressed fennel and lemon jam sorrel. Choose a traditional 3-course meal, or try a sampling of tastes and small plates, perfect for the foodies who love to travel in packs.
Stand in line with San Diego's culinary elite at this legendary, unassuming family-owned farm stand nestled among the million dollar homes and luxury vehicles of Rancho Santa Fe.
Point Loma Seafoods
Situated at the hub of Point Loma’s sportfishing docks, Point Loma Seafoods has been family-owned and operated since 1963. This full-service fish market serves fresh-from-the-ocean plates and smoked fish at a great value. Guests can sit at picnic tables outdoors on the patio and munch on seafood delights while watching sportfishermen haul in their daily catch.
From Abbaye de Belloc to Zamorano, with over 100 varieties of artisan and imported cheeses that change weekly, Vennisimo is a serious study in fromage. Shops in Downtown, Mission Hills and Del Mar.
Bread + Cie
The Hillcrest flagship of this artisanal bakery is always packed with those seeking bread at its best, from fresh sourdough baguettes to fig and anise loafs. Sandwiches and salads make it a great lunch spot.