Where to Eat in San Diego: New Restaurant Openings
Inside an El Cajon Art Gallery, a Couple Serves Coffee Inspired by Their Mexican and Armenian Cultures
When Valerie Urrutia and Christopher Yerikian met on a dating app five years ago, they bonded over a shared love of java and a dream of owning a coffee shop. Their ambition grew alongside their romance—the couple founded an online roasting company, eventually hosting pop-ups and, now, establishing a brick-and-mortar space at the East County Art Association’s gallery in El Cajon. Urrutia and Yerikian describe their new shop, Surje Coffee, as an “elevated coffee and art-viewing experience.” There are plenty of places in town where you can caffeinate and post up with your laptop, but the duo hopes their unique setup will prompt guests to enjoy the surrounding art while sipping a latte and connecting with fellow customers. Their goal is to build community through coffee.
Urrutia and Yerikian’s Mexican and Armenian cultures, respectively, are also big influences on the business. The name Surje (pronounced surge) means coffee in Armenian, and the logo colors nod to both the Armenian and Mexican flags. On Surje’s menu, you’ll find Mexican ingredients like Oaxacan chocolate and mole bitters and Armenian specialties such as pistachios and rose.
Urrutia’s favorite drink on the menu is the lavender latte. The drink blends espresso and oat milk with a homemade lavender syrup that Urrutia’s dad created. Meanwhile, Yerikian recommends one of the shop’s coffee “cocktails,” zero-proof bevs that draw on classic drinks like the old fashioned while swapping caffeine for booze. Another must-order is the Mediterranean coffee with pistachio syrup, espresso, oat milk, a dash of Himalayan salt, and rose petals. All menu items are dairy- and gluten-free.
Coffee and Crepe Shop with Mexican and French Flavors Opens in Old Town
Married couple Gabriela “Gabby” Gonzalez and Benjamin Clement built much of their relationship in the kitchen, creating meals for each other from their cultures. Gonzalez would whip up tacos and enchiladas to share her Mexican heritage with her French husband, while he would craft homemade crepes for her. The pair recently opened Hola Paris in the outdoor food hall space Old Town Urban Market, blending Mexican and French ingredients into their coffees and crepes. Their “suiza” crepe, for example, is a spin on a green enchilada using Gonzalez’ homemade green tomatillo salsa and Clement’s mother’s crepe recipe.
On the coffee menu, Hola Paris is serving specialty brews with a Mexican flair, including the Mexican mocha, which uses Abuelita brand chocolate, and the dulce de leche latte, which utilizes sweet lechera (condensed milk) in place of regular milk. Guests can also select from a rotation of Mexican breads and French macarons to pair with their coffee.
As for the vibe, think pink. Gonzalez says she is a “big Valentine’s Day person” and is obsessed with the romantic hue. At the entrance, you’ll be greeted by a wall of pink flowers, and you’ll find more of the color inside, thanks to a pink and green wallpaper. Gonzalez adds that the theme plays into a Parisian vibe—the city is often associated with the rosy color.
Where to Eat in San Diego: Restaurant News & Food Events
Karl Strauss Brewing Company is celebrating its 35th anniversary with a special happy hour (M-Th) all month long at its four San Diego County restaurants (4S Ranch, Carlsbad, downtown, and Sorrento Mesa). Appetizers like their duck fat pretzel and ahi poke nachos are $10 and all their beers are $5 from 3 to 6 p.m. Their new Outpost beer garden in San Marcos is also offering $5 beers on Wednesdays and Thursdays during the same happy hour window.
The Lakehouse Resort in San Marcos is hosting their third annual Food and Wine Festival on Sunday, March 3, with unlimited tastings from local restaurants, breweries, and wineries. Tickets come with admission to the “Brandt Beef Experience,” in which five chefs create beef-driven dishes and pair them with local spirits.
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