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10 Most-Listened-To Happy Half Hour Podcast Episodes of 2023

Happy Half Hour, Petco Park

Since 2016, San Diego Mag‘s Happy Half Hour podcast has been highlighting the city’s finest food and drink makers and sharing the best in food news each month. This year, co-hosts Troy Johnson and David Martin spent 28 episodes catching up with the city’s top chefs, industry insiders, and local talent to find out what makes San Diego’s food scene so great.

Among them, these 10 came out on top as the most-listened-to Happy Half Hour episodes of 2023. Haven’t checked them out yet? Give them a listen below:

San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour Podcast thumbnail image featuring a smash burger from Tanner's Prime Burgers
Courtesy of Tanner’s Prime Burgers

#1 Three-Star Michelin Chef Opens Burger Joint in San Diego

In this episode, Troy and David sit down with Brandon Rodgers of The French Laundry and Benu to discuss his newest venture: Tanner’s Prime Burgers, founded in partnership with Brandt Beef. Listen as they crush beef tallow fries and ice cream sandwiches, Brandon’s wife’s cookies, and a burger made with New School American Cheese.

San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour Podcast thumbnail image featuring a jar of coffee from James Coffee filled with coldbrew

#2 Coffee in Offices with Guitarists

David Kennedy, co-owner of James Coffee Co., joins the pod to share the story of his coffee company and its efforts to get rid of single-use coffee cups and be as environmentally responsible as humanly possible. Kennedy also describes how ditching single-use cups didn’t quite go exactly as planned. Go listen. It’s a fun one.

San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour Podcast thumbnail image featuring an image of Tracy Borkum, founder of The Kitchen at MCASD
Courtesy of Urban Kitchen Group

#3 It Will Rain On Your New Outdoor Restaurant

San Diego restaurateur Tracy Borkum and executive chef Tim Kolanko from Urban Kitchen Group discuss their newest eatery, Gold Finch (a contemporary take on a Jewish delicatessen), and their next prix-fixe dining concept in the center of MCASD. This episode has everything from illegal yard sales to lessons about adaptation and Olivia Rodrigo.

San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour Podcast thumbnail image featuring a photo of Troy Johnson with his pet dog

4. San Diego Food and Drink: Year in Review

To be fair, this was an episode in December 2022, but we left it in because you continued to love it and we needed another reason to post a pic of our resident mascot: Miles Davis Jr. This episode goes back to the start of Happy Half Hour, when Troy and David were just young whippersnappers with a mic and a dream. Today, Troy co-owns the mag and David is its chief sales and marketing officer, and HHH has nearly one million plays to date. Troy also lays out his hit list of the “10 Best Things I Ate This Year.”

Salad from Parakeet Cafe with arugula, tomatoes, and other vegetables
Courtesy of Parakeet Cafe

#5 SD’s Parakeet Cafe Starts Big Expansion

On this episode, the gents talk with Carol Roizen and Jonathan Goldwasser, the owners of Parakeet Cafe, on the very personal reason why they created their healthy café and how they turned it into a huge success. Carol also calls out her favorite sushi spot in San Diego, David finds yet another soup that he can’t live without, and Troy slow-claps for the polenta plate at Cucina Urbana.

San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour Podcast thumbnail image featuring four tacos from San Diego Padres' stadium Petco Park

6. Raising the Bar on Stadium Food in San Diego

Troy and David get the inside scoop on Petco Park’s food and drink scene while grabbing a cold one at Alesmith’s 394 bar. Joined by vice president of hospitality Josh Momberg, they learn what it takes to feed nearly three million people each year. Go Pads!

San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour Podcast thumbnail image featuring a to-go meal from Banh Thai featuring meat, sprouts, and egg
Courtesy of Banh Thai

7. What to Eat in San Diego Before You Die

This one isn’t as morbid as the title implies. The guys discuss their favorite meals of all time and get a sneak peek at the year’s Petco Park concerts, which included faves like Jimmy Eat World, Band of Horses, and Pixies. David also raves about the Sakura Bloom at Morning Glory, an egg-white cocktail worth a sip.

Table full of food from Coronado french bistro, Little Frenchie
Courtesy of Little Frenchie

8. The Hit of Coronado

Having launched just before 2020, Coronado’s Little Frenchie made it through a global pandemic to become a Michelin-recognized spot and one of the best damn French bistros in San Diego. Troy and David chat with Blue Bridge exec chef Matt Sramek and VP of Operations Matt Gordon, who helped make Little Frenchie what it is today. They talk life on the island and their pandemic silver lining.

Chef and cheesemaker Eric Greenspan standing against a wall

9. The Next Big Thing: New School American Cheese

One of the best chefs in the country, Eric Greenspan, stops by to talk about his latest project: reinventing American cheese. He shares the story behind the new fromage, made with real butter, real cream, and aged cheese. Troy and David couldn’t get enough. Neither could the public when it was first introduced at the inaugural Del Mar Wine + Food Festival.

San Diego Magazine's Happy Half Hour Podcast thumbnail image featuring chef Drew Deckman standing in a field in Mexico

10. The Life of Failed Umpire Drew Deckman

Rounding out our top 10 list, Baja’s wildly intelligent chef Drew Deckman stops by the office to chat with Troy and David about the precarious future of Valle de Guadalupe. Troy calls Drew “one of the funniest, most articulate, humblest, and give-a-damn people” he’s ever met as they chat about Drew’s failed dreams of becoming an umpire.

By Nicolle Monico

Nicolle Monico is an award-winning writer and the managing digital editor for San Diego Magazine with more than 15 years of experience in media including Outside Run, JustLuxe and The San Francisco Chronicle.

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