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SD Food News: Feb. 20–24

The latest in food and drink happenings around town this week
Photo Credit: James Tran


Photo Credit: James Tran

The Mains

Big-Time Chef Joins Consortium Holdings Team

We’d gotten word that he’d been in town for months. He was rumored to have been hired by a big resort to chase Michelin stars, but changed course. Then a whisper that he was looking for his own intimate, Michelin-level thing, like his Seattle restaurant Tarsan i Jane, which GQ named one of the top ten restaurants in the world. But now he’s landed. Perfecte Rocher has settled in as the new director of culinary operations for Consortium Holdings.

Rocher’s resume is about as good as it comes: El Bulli and Martín Berasategui in Spain, then to the Bay Area (Campton Place, Manresa, Gary Danko); down to L.A. with smoke.oil.salt. Anyway, Rocher and a team of chefs will be in charge of tackling CH Projects’ most ambitious project yet. Their big risk, with a pool: the Lafayette Hotel in North Park, the venerated golden-age hipster beacon of San Diego history.

There will be seven food and drink concepts in the hotel when it reopens this June. To keep this in perspective, CH started with a tiny burger bar in 2007 (Neighborhood), filled it with weird art and bourbon, and is now about to crack open a 130-room hotel with seven food-drink places. What a ride.



NOVO Teams Up With Tijuana Torta Shop 

For the first time ever, San Diego will be able to get a taste of one of Tijuana’s most famous food joints without crossing the border (though, to be clear, we still strongly advise digging out your passport to eat at its birthplace). WashMobile, the family-owned spot for tortas (Mexican sandwiches), is setting up shop at NOVO Brazil Brewing Co. once a week—their first pop-up in San Diego. WashMobile has been a Tijuana staple for the last 60 years, serving their stacked tortas by chef Pedro Fuentes with brisket, panela, and homemade rolls. They’ll be at the brewery’s Chula Vista location once a week on alternating Tuesdays and Thursdays.



Food Collective Mission + Garnet Launches in Pacific Beach

Once the purview of mall rats and glaze-eyed airport travelers, the humble food court has surpassed its pizza-and-corndogs beginnings to become one of the most interesting places to eat in any given city. Culinary markets provide real estate for small-but-mighty businesses and succor for picky friend groups—and Pacific Beach recently welcomed San Diego’s latest. Food collective Mission + Garnet currently offers eats from four concepts (Spitfire Tacos, Earlybird Breakfast Burritos, Checkered Churros, and salad bar Head Lettuce), with sandwich spot Harvey Carver’s and loaded hot dog joint Scotty Dogs joining next month. Egg burritos start at 7 a.m., and tacos and waffled churros are available well into the wee hours, expanding post-party dining options in sleepless P.B.

Popular Birreria Pop-Up Opens First Restaurant in Vista

Hector Mendez has been cooking since he was seven—he picked up the craft watching his single mom, who would work two to three jobs and still find time to cook for the kids. Eventually he perfected the recipe for birria tacos, which he marinades for 24 hours, every single day. He started Birreria El Mendez five years ago by taking orders out of his home, then selling tacos outside of breweries.

Last month he opened his first brick-and-mortar in Vista. Mendez and his fiancé Miriam Castellanos run the restaurant inside a shared space with Panaderia Don Felipe’s off S. Santa Fe. Try the quesabirria taco, filled with birria and cheese, or their traditional birria tacos.



Quick Bites

Mr. Moto is going through quite the growth spurt. The San Diego-based pizza spot—think classic, thin-crust, massive pies—is opening another outpost this spring, bringing its eighth location to Convoy Street.

Gator by the Bay is back for its 20th year, transporting New Orleans vibes to San Diego from May 11 to 14 with live music and Cajun and Creole flavors.

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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