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Three Dots and a Hunger

Toby Keith coming to SD; Carnitas will strike again; Blind Lady to Balboa Park

By Troy Johnson

Often wear your chaps alone at home and wish you had a more public, less disturbing forum for this behavior? I’ve word that Toby Keith will be opening a San Diego location of his Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill near the Downtown area… Carnitas Snack Shack has signed on for their second location in the Del Mar Highlands (in the former Counter Burger space next to Urban Plates). But a third location in a grittier, shackier environs is also close to being signed. Let you know when it’s official…San Diego’s beloved beer-and-pizza hangout Blind Lady Ale House has won the bid to take over the Balboa Park Sculpture Garden Court Café (next to the San Diego Museum of Art) with a new sister concept. Art appreciation doesn’t require craft beer, but it certainly won’t hurt—especially with various “old” institutions like Balboa Park attempting to curate a younger crowd… Prepkitchen La Jolla turns five years old this week, and created an anniversary pale ale with New English Brewing called the “Kitchen Sixer IPA”… Guiseppe Ciuffa is a busy man. Long one of the city’s top caterers, in the last year he’s taken over Caroline’s Seaside Café and partnered in three upcoming spots—Bottega Americano, Sonata Bistro and High Note Café. The latter two will both be located in Downtown’s Symphony Towers. The Bistro will serve breakfast and lunch and Sonata will be a bakery/espresso spot with liquid from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Sonata opens June 9… All remnants of The Gathering in Mission Hills—one of the only restaurants to let grown men in capes pull rabbits from hats in public—are now but memories. Personally, I’ll miss their bread the most (it tasted remarkably like dish soap). Its replacement Harley Gray Kitchen & Bar (from the owners of The Boathouse) is now open. With Lefty’s, Red Door, Wellington, Brooklyn Girl and the impending second location of The Patio on Goldfinch, foot traffic to Mission Hills should really begin to spike. Which means the karaoke semi-pros at The Lamplighter will have to step up their bullying tactics to keep the rookies off the mic… Karl Strauss was San Diego’s trailblazer in the craft beer movement (when they opened in 1984, they were the first San Diego-based brewery in 50 years). Then all these young whippersnapper breweries showed up with their arty graphics and artier beards and kind of surpassed Uncle Karl. Well, now Strauss is correcting that problem with a brand overhaul. One of their biggest moves is the new $1.5 million redo of their Sorrento Valley brewery. They hired talented firm Public Architecture (who also designed the killer morning-light-from-god glass box that is Snooze in Hillcrest) to do roll-up garage doors, plus lots of wood, steel and concrete to go along with those zen-tippler koi ponds… Swine Bar—the new project we told you about from the porkers who created Slater’s 50/50—has signed on for a space on Park Blvd in Hillcrest (formerly Gulf Coast Grill and Babbo’s Gar & Grille). That location had a fire over a year ago and needs some serious work. It’ll be open later this summer, with former Linkery sous chef Mark Younggren on board. Sounds like they’ll be taking a Crazee Burger approach with this one and picking random zoo animals (camel, python, etc.) to turn into burgers. I’m told they’ll also open a Downtown location… Café Chloe chef Katie Grebow is killing it with her basics-of-French cooking classes at sister space, Oliver & Rose. Next one is May 15, where she’ll tackle frisee au lardon and rack of lamb with herbes de Provence. Classes run a couple of hours, it’s BYOB and includes a generous amount of apps and nibbles. That Oliver & Rose space is something special…. Just saw this from chef Bernard Guillas’ new spring menu at Marine Room: “Trilogy of lobster, cobia, steelhead w/ pickled papaya, caviar, lemon verbena consommé.” Jesus, yes… Two new chefs worth tasting have just arrived in San Diego. The first is Jake Andrews was pulled from the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach to take over as chef de cuisine at Sally’s Seafood on the Water (at the Manchester Grand Hyatt). The second is good news for Venga Venga. The project from celebrity Mexican chef Richard Sandoval had lost its opening chef de cuisine and seemed a bit rudderless. But now chef Paolo Mendoza has been hired to give the architecturally stunning spot a jolt….

Carnitas Snack Shack will strike again soon.

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