Inside Dish

Seasonal fruit salad with fresh mint at Addison (Photo credit Jakob Layman)

San Diego’s Culinary Community Celebrates Iconic Anniversaries & Michelin Awards.

by Sarah Daoust


San Diego’s dining scene has been action-packed—with beloved restaurants celebrating special milestones; a local fine-dining favorite nabbing the county’s first Michelin Star, and eight Michelin Bib Gourmand honorees announced across town. We rounded up some newsworthy items, which double as new reasons to visit some of San Diego County’s best restaurants. Consider this list a “Fall 411 for Foodies.”


Happy Anniversary!

 In the often-brutal, always-fickle restaurant industry, very few achieve longevity—especially to the tune of 50 years. Family-owned Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant, a staple of the Kensington neighborhood for five decades, has done just that. Known for its potent margaritas, chicken enchiladas, reasonable pricing (entrees average $15) and retro decor, the beloved gathering place first opened its doors in fall of 1969. Some Ponce’s fun facts: Padres right-fielder and MLB Hall-of-Famer Tony Gwynn was a regular, and today guests can order the “Number 19” (Gwynn’s favorite cheese enchilada and ground beef taco combo) in his honor; and since getting its liquor license 20 years ago, Ponce’s has sold more than 9 million margaritas. Here’s to 50 more years. 4050 Adams Ave., Kensington, 619.282.4413

 Another treasured San Diego restaurant outfit celebrates its 35th anniversary: the Busalacchi family. The Sicilian natives have created nearly a dozen restaurant concepts here over the years, beginning with Casanova’s Pizza, and then blazing trails in Little Italy—operating six restaurants within a block of each other at one point. Today, the family runs Barbusa , serving modern Sicilian cuisine; and two-in-one restaurant/ cafe concept down the street, Nonna + Zucchero —specializing in traditional Sicilian comfort food and authentic desserts. Heading up the family empire: patriarch Joe Busalacchi, his brother Frank Busalacchi, Joe’s sons, P.J. and Joey Busalacchi, and nephews, Vince Busalacchi and Nino Zizzo—who is the executive chef of all three. Guests can order from special anniversary menus this fall, offering decades-old dishes close to the family’s heart. Barbusa, 1917 India St., Little Italy, 619.238.1917; Nonna + Zucchero, 1735 India St., Little Italy, 619.234.1735, 619.531.1731

S.D.’s First Michelin Star

At long last, league-of-its-own fine-dining outpost Addison recently was awarded a coveted Michelin Star—San Diego’s first and only restaurant to receive one. As his contemporaries have long opined, Executive Chef William Bradley is more than deserving of at least one star. A master of French cuisine, the multiple-time James Beard nominee and Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef has helmed the immaculate kitchen of the Forbes Five-Star Restaurant since it opened 13 years ago. Look out for a refresh of the restaurant’s elegant European decor this winter. 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Del Mar, 858.314.1900 

Trio of tacos at Lola 55 (Photo credit Sam Wells)


Michelin Bib Gourmand

 The 2019 Michelin Guide also honored eight San Diego restaurants in its Bib Gourmand category, which highlights “hidden gem” restaurants that offer “high-quality meals that include two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less.” Campfire  in Carlsbad garners raves for its wood-fired American fare, craft cocktails and camping-inspired decor. (There’s even a teepee outside.) 2725 State St., Carlsbad, 760.637.5121 

Tracy Borkum’s trendy-casual Cucina Sorella  in Kensington and Cucina Urbana (which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary) in Bankers Hill serve locally sourced Cali-Italian food. 4055 Adams Ave., Kensington, 619.281.4014; 505 Laurel St., Bankers Hill, 619.239.2222 

At chic Juniper & Ivy, founded by Top Chef  veteran Richard Blais, dine on rockfish crudo and whole-roasted duck confit legs. 2228 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.269.9036 

At Kettner Exchange, the big-eye tuna pizza with truffle oil is a longstanding menu hit, as are the nautical-chic decor and rooftop lounge. 2001 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.255.2001

Lola 55  is a chef-driven taco shop serving beautifully crafted gourmet tacos and cocktails amid a modern backdrop of industrial ceilings, lush indoor foliage, a turquoise-tiled bar and turquoise-topped tables, and floor-to-ceiling windows. 1290 F St., East Village, 619.542.9155

Solare focuses on southern Italy and Sicily flavors, and boasts a 2,000-bottle wine cellar. 2820 Roosevelt Road, Point Loma, 619.270.9670  (Honoree El Jardin, opened by Top Chef  alum Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, closed late July and recently reopened as a casual cantina, sans Zepeda-Wilkins.)