San Diego

Weekend roundup

April 15-18

Outdoor Fun

San Diego Botanic Garden Orchid Show

Through May 2. Explore the “World of Orchids” in bloom at the garden’s Dickinson Family Education Conservatory, which has been transformed into a floral wonderland. Orchid contributors include the San Diego County Orchid Society and Palomar Orchid Society; along with select plants from commercial nurseries. The 37-acre oasis is also home to the Hamilton Children’s Garden, including the famous Toni’s Tree House; as well as the Seeds of Wonder Children’s Garden and the Junior Quail Trail. Reservations required. W-Su 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 300 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, 760.436.3036.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Reopened. Animal adventures await at the park, which is open and offering several one-of-a-kind safari experiences. Our pick: the Sun Up Cheetah Safari—a private, two-hour tour that includes an early morning stroll from the park’s entrance to Shiley’s Cheetah Run. Guests will be introduced to various wildlife; get a rare opportunity to see a cheetah (the fastest animal on land!) run at top speed; and enjoy brunch at The Watering Hole at Kijamii Overlook—boasting the best views in the park. See website for required advance reservations and pricing. 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, 619.718.3000.

Food + Drink

“Low + Slow Ox Barbecue Saturdays”

April 17. Calling all carnivores! The Wise Ox butcher shop and deli has launched a biweekly barbecue series (every other Saturday), during which pit master Ryan Sharpe (pictured) is serving up meats by the pound and half-pound straight from the smoker. Offerings include brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey and sausage with your choice of house-made sauce; plus sides such as barbecue beans, potato salad, corn pudding and mac ‘n’ cheese. All orders include pickles, pickled onions and bread. 11 a.m. (until sold out). 2855 El Cajon Blvd., North Park, 619.564.8976.

Mr. Moto Pizza, Little Italy

Now Open. The local chain is expanding at an impressive pace with its eighth location. The new Little Italy outpost serves a variety of white pies with homemade garlic paste; and red pies with zesty marinara sauce. We suggest the Stuffed Belly white pie with chorizo salami, jalapeño, caramelized onion and a ricotta-stuffed crust. Or build your own pizza, with a choice of “drizzles” that include truffle oil and a raspberry-chipotle glaze. And be sure to try the famous stuffed knots. Open daily (see website for hours). 1702 India St., Little Italy, 619.539.7370.

Quiero Tacos

Now Open. A fish taco battered with Mike Hess Brewing beer—along with a side of bay views—makes for a quintessential San Diego meal. Seaport Village’s newest casual restaurant, Quiero Tacos, also houses a 24-tap tasting room. Enjoy a Hess beer flight on the patio while sampling tacos that range from Hawaiian-style chorizo to Spanish octopus; plus vegan tacos and burritos. And don’t miss weekend breakfast featuring chilaquiles and the Sunshine Taco with a sunny-side-up egg. M-F 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sa-Su 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. 879 W. Harbor Drive, Seaport Village, 619.230.5433.


Now Open. Culinary celeb Sam the Cooking Guy (Sam Zien) expands his presence at Little Italy Food Hall with the opening of Samburgers. Starting under the umbrella of his EATS by Sam outpost at Seaport Village, the concept has grown into its own freestanding eatery. Expect hearty, creative burgers—with patty options including ground chicken, fresh salmon, the plant-based Beyond Burger, and Sam’s signature blend of ground sirloin, brisket and short rib. Try the jalapeño burger and chili-cheese tots. Su-Th 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; F-Sa 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. 550 W. Date St., Little Italy, 619.900.7267.

New Lunch Menu at Valentina

Now Available. Take a culinary tour of Europe if only for a meal. The quaint bistro and wine bar has launched a new lunch menu with dishes such as oysters and littleneck clams on the half shell; the Nicoise salad with seared tuna and baby Yukon potatoes; steak frites with Thai-chili chimichurri; chicken paillard with lemon-caper sauce; and passion-fruit panna cotta with raspberries for dessert. Patio and sidewalk seating available. Reservations recommended. F-Su 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4-9 p.m.; Tu-Th 4-9 p.m. 810 N. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas, 760.943.6686.

New Menus at Puesto

Now Available. Known for its hand-pressed blue-corn tortillas and organic fare, the artisanal Mexican cocina has rolled out new spring menus. The seasonal cocktails are particularly festive—namely the refreshing Bird of Paradise made with Espolon Blanco tequila, Campari, Grand Marnier, pineapple and lime; and the Cannonball with Del Maguey Vida mezcal, apricot liqueur, pineapple, fresh lime and Angostura bitters. New dishes include citrus-cured, local rockfish ceviche; Jidori chicken asada tacos with crispy cheese; and vegetable enchiladas with gouda. See website for all locations, addresses and hours.

Arts + Culture

Mainly Mozart’s Festival of Orchestras

April 15-18. It’s music to our ears. Mainly Mozart—the first major arts organization in the U.S. to perform classical music to a live audience (since the pandemic hit)—returns for a drive-in concert series at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The event brings together members of NYC’s MET Orchestra and Washington, D.C.’s National Symphony (concertmaster Nurit Bar-Josef is pictured) on the same stage for the first time. The lineup includes string favorites, concertos and Mozart classics. Visit website for safety guidelines and to purchase tickets. 7 p.m. each night. 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar.

Museum of Photographic Arts

Reopens April 16. Balboa Park’s beloved museum dedicated to all things photogenic reopens with plenty of artsy eye candy. Opening Friday, Beginnings, Forever: From the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts / Shinnyo-en is a must-visit exhibit. Explore the works of nearly 20 iconic and emerging artists made before they were age 35—including postwar Japanese photographers and contemporary artists from across the globe. Among them: Eikoh Hosoe, Yoshinori Mizutani and Ismail Ferdous. F-Su 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is “pay what you wish.” 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park, 619.238.7559.

Photo credits: Valentina by Sophia Kicko. Puesto by Anne Watson. Mainly Mozart / Nurit Bar-Josef by Scott Suchman. All other images are courtesy of the businesses and venues featured.

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