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SD Food News: April 3–7

The latest in food and drink happenings around town this week


The Mains

The Daughters of Birreria Don Rafa Opening Two New Concepts

When sisters Chantelle and Crystal Godinez were in their teens, their parents opened a restaurant in Chula Vista called Birreria Don Rafa (which was included in our roundup of the best birria in San Diego). It was in that art-lined outpost that Chantelle and Crystal learned the ins and outs of the food business.

Now, the sisters are carrying that experience to their own concept, a charming morningfood joint called Sunday Breakfast Society—an idea born after Chantelle’s search for an “Instagrammable” brunch spot in her Eastlake neighborhood came up short. Chantelle describes the restaurant’s vibe as “1920s with a modern twist.” Expect a whole lot of pink, plus decor and plates worthy of an IG reel all their own (and while social media hype sometimes masks underwhelming eats, that happily isn’t the case with the Godinezes—this family’s birria is fantastic). Birria dishes will still play a big part, whether on the chilaquiles or the tacos de birria with handmade tortillas. The restaurant will begin serving soufflé pancakes from Easter onward.

Chantelle and Crystal will also open a Mexican restaurant called Carne y Hueso in June 2024 at The Waldorf in North Park (for more on what the iconic Waldorf building will become, see last week’s Food News).



Heritage Barbecue & Beer Co. Opens Cheeky Cowboy Cocktail Lounge

Heritage Barbecue & Beer Co. opened its first San Diego County location a few months ago, slinging Michelin-recognized ribs and brisket from chef Daniel Castillo. But a quiet corner of their 10,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar remained untouched—a hidden speakeasy space tucked into the restaurant. Now Castillo, his wife, and their business partners are making use of this unique niche, turning it into a moody cocktail lounge called Ladies Love Outlaws (a name inspired by the 1972 Waylon Jennings song). It’s run by their bar director, Wyatt DeMars, with western-inspired craft cocktails like “Big Buckle Energy” (featuring mezcal, cucumber, cinnamon, and Aztec chocolate) and the “Bolo Tie” with corn whiskey, rye, poblano, lemon, and oat. To get inside, there’s a separate entrance at 505 Vista Way—for that secret, prohibition-era feel.

New Indian Restaurant Opens in Rancho Bernardo

Nikesh Patel owns several pharmacies—but he’d rather be dishing up lunch than bottling pills. So when he and his two restaurateur business partners got an opportunity to open an eatery in San Diego, they jumped. “When I’m at the pharmacy, sometimes I feel tired,” Nikesh reflects. “Here [at the restaurant], I haven’t felt tired yet.” The 13-table Darbar Fine Indian Cuisine opened last week in Rancho Bernardo. The outpost specializes in northern Indian food (which encompasses many of the most popular regional Indian dishes in the US). Some of Nikesh’s favorite eats at the restaurant are the daal makhani—lentils cooked in a soup of herbs and spices—and the paneer tikka masala, which features paneer cheese in a rich, tomato-based gravy with spices, bell peppers, and onions.



Quick Bites

Brandon Jennings, formerly of Tao Group Hospitality, joins Rancho Santa Fe’s Michelin-recommended Mille Fleurs as the French fine dining restaurant’s new executive chef.

Pacific Beach’s Truckstop recently reopened after a seven-month remodel. They’ve added an ocean view deck and new lunch dishes like birria tacos, plus a pup menu for doggy diners featuring grilled chicken and ground beef.

Several local breweries are joining forces to host the 5th annual Pucks & Pints event on April 8. Watch local brewery reps battle it out in a charity hockey game before getting a buzz going at the beer festival. Proceeds will benefit local charities like the Boys & Girls Club of Greater San Diego.

San Diego’s first Vegan Festival kicks off on Saturday, April 15 at San Diego’s Waterfront Park, with 70 vegan vendors showcasing their food, drinks, and clothing. The event is free to attend.

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


By Elena Gomez

Elena Gomez is an Emmy-nominated reporter who has spent much of her journalism career working in broadcast news in San Diego and Los Angeles. She joined the San Diego Magazine team as a freelance writer in 2020.

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