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:
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.