By Frank Sabatini Jr.
San Diego’s biggest Epicurean event, the San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival, has returned for the 13th year with a host of chef-driven dinners, culinary presentations, and wine and beer tastings held at various venues throughout San Diego. It continues until Nov. 20.
The festival’s main attraction is the Grand Tasting, which features samples from more than 700 wines, plus foods from nearly 70 of San Diego’s most notable chefs and gourmet vendors. It will be held from noon–3 p.m. Nov. 19 at Embarcadero Marina Park North (500 Kettner Blvd.) Tickets are $135 or $175 for early entry at 11 a.m. For a complete list of events and highlights, visit sandiegowineclassic.com.
Al Reef Mediterranean Restaurant has shuttered about a year after opening in the heart of North Park. The windows of the large, double-storefront space are papered over, and no explanation for the sudden closure was posted on its doors, website or Facebook page. Recently a sign was added that stated: “Urban Café & Grill Coming Soon.” 2835 University Ave.
After an eight-month closure, Mark W. Bihm and his husband, Humberto Villegas, will reopen their New Orleans Creole Café in Old Town by early December. The tucked-away restaurant, which occupies two historic structures for a dining room and kitchen, received permanent foundations and new wiring and drainage systems. In addition, the buildings have been repainted, new corbels were added, and the dining room’s front porch was expanded.
“The property is back to its 1860s glory,” Bihm said, adding that new pasta dishes will be added to the menu, and he will soon begin bottling and selling the restaurant’s Cajun-style barbecue sauce, which originates from a family recipe. 2476 San Diego Ave., 619-542-1698, neworleanscreolecafe.com.
The East Village will see the arrival of Breakfast Republic in February 2017 by restaurateur Johan Engman, who established the breakfast-lunch concept in North Park and Liberty Station, and just opened a third location in Encinitas. His East Village venture will move into the space previously occupied by Zanzibar Café. It will feature a sidewalk patio and signature menu items such as creative pancake flights, house-made crab cakes, and shrimp and grits with eggs. 707 G St., breakfastrepublic.com.
J & L Eppig Brewing opened Nov. 2 in an abandoned North Park building that was once a strip club. The 2,000-square-foot space features a tasting room and 16-tap beer system that has so far made way for a series or lagers, a coffee stout, and a Gose-style brew accented with grapefruit.
The venture was launched by Todd Warshaw, his wife Stephanie Eppig, and two brewers formerly of Ballast Point — Clayton Le Blanc and Nate Stephens. The lagers and business name, Warshaw said, are an ode to his wife’s family history, when two of its members ran breweries in the mid to late 1800s in Brooklyn, New York.
In the absence of a kitchen, guests are welcome to bring in food or have it delivered. Washaw adds he will eventually start working with local food trucks. 3052 El Cajon Blvd., 619-501-1840, eppigbrewing.com.
And the first-place winner of Cooking Channel’s “Sugar Showdown” is … Chef Kristianna Zabala of Nomad Donuts, who came away with the $10,000 prize after recently surviving a few elimination rounds during the show’s second season. One of her winning creations early in the competition was a cranberry-goat cheese cruller with chocolate-orange drizzle. The cruller has since landed on Nomad’s rotating menu. 4504 30th St., 619-431-5000, nomaddonuts.com.
San Diego-based Primos Management has opened Primos Public Corner, a full-service restaurant and bar in Mission Valley’s Fenton Marketplace. The company operates more than 20 fast-casual eateries under the name Primos Mexican Food, although this is its first large-scale establishment, said chief marketing officer James Quijano.
In addition to a wide selection of Baja-style cocktails and craft beers, the food offerings include everything from mole french fries and bourbon-Sriracha flautas to New York strip tacos and fire-roasted chile rellenos. 2401 Fenton Pkwy., Suite 104, 619-684-5777, primospc.com.
—Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.