Ready to know more about San Diego?


Incoming: Two Ducks

The brother chefs who launched Wormwood spin off with pop-up dinner concept, aiming at brick and mortar
Photo Credit: Bay Bird Inc.
Dante and Danny Romero

Brothers and chefs Dante (left) and Danny (right) Romero.

Photo Credit: Bay Bird Inc.

University Heights’ Wormwood was and still is one of San Diego’s breakout restaurants in the last couple of years. Now the two chefs who helped make that name have gone off on their own with a clandestine new pop-up dinner concept (plus an eye on a brick-and-mortar). They’re calling it Two Ducks.

Behind every multi-layered croissant and every unbroken beurre blanc are chefs whose allegiance to service helps keep the restaurant industry afloat. Many chefs regularly work upwards of 50 hours a week, which is often incompatible with building a family or maintaining a social life. Brothers Danny and Dante Romero hope to channel a lot more work-life balance with their Two Ducks pop-ups. The first set of dinners occurs this July.

The fine-dining concept is the predecessor to a permanent Tortoise brick-and-mortar location. Tortoise was a pandemic-era underground series the brothers ran on the side during their early days at Wormwood. They pulled their concepts’ names from Aesop’s fables, which celebrate steady patience and venturing beyond the norm.

“Two Ducks is a continuation of something we were doing a while back, but Covid kind of shattered us,” Danny explains. “We always said we’d get back to it. We’ve grabbed all the things we’ve learned about cuisine and service and tried to create something that can lead us to what we ultimately want to do, but with our own rules.”

Danny and Dante have since amicably resigned from the executive and sous chef positions at Wormwood to pursue Two Ducks full-time.

Each dinner will be in a new and innovative space, and guests will receive an email the day prior with the event’s precise location. The eight- to 10-course experience will emphasize classic French techniques with sparks of Mexican and Southern Californian influence, plus optional beverage pairings.

“We want the space to be transformative and match what we do,” Danny says. “We are trying to be hyper-seasonal, so white asparagus, peas, and mint during the spring. Stone fruit and corn during the summer. We also have curated playlists that match our style. Think of classics covered in a modern way, like lo-fi versions of the Beatles and mariachi bands playing ‘Hotel California.’”

Two Ducks is currently accepting reservations for its July dinners. There will be two dinners a week and room to expand with demand.

“We are really going to lean on the outdoors, like what you’d think of in an open field with ducks flying overhead,” Danny says. “We want to create an experience where you don’t have to go eat afterward, but where you’re also not unbuttoning your pants because you’ve eaten too much. The goal is to have the perfect night every night—not just with the food, but the service too. We want people feeling like they are in good hands.”

Have breaking-news, exciting scoops, or great stories about San Diego’s food scene? Send your pitches to [email protected].

By Jared Cross

Jared Cross is a writer who grew up near the US-Mexico border in San Diego. He credits this experience with refining his appetite for food and culture.

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA