Julia Weiler

Correspondent

  • San Diego, California, USA

Julia Weiler is a correspondent who covers San Diego for Forbes Travel Guide. Her wanderlust has lead her on far-flung adventures, like housesitting in Fiji, backpacking through Southeast Asia, road-tripping in Mexico and building homes in Papua New Guinea with Habitat for Humanity. Her stories are published in an award-winning series of humorous travel anthologies, including Whose Panties Are These?, What Color Is Your Jockstrap? and More Sand in My Bra (the latter of which she co-edited). Weiler contributes to Ocean Home Magazine and is a correspondent for the website Wine and Dine San Diego. When not wandering or writing, she likes surfing Southern California’s best breaks.

  • On April 30, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What restaurants have the best views in San Diego?

    Perched high atop the sea bluffs at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the Cliffhanger Café boasts breath-taking panoramas of the sparkling Pacific Ocean situated some 320 feet below.  Diners are treated to views that stretch from the dramatic sandy coastline all the way to the glittering horizon.  They may even spot migrating whales or pods of frolicking dolphins. 

    While the sea life is intriguing, those who look to the sky will be rewarded with wild life of another kind.  Paragliders, hang gliders and other airborne adventurers launch their flights right in front of the The Cliffhanger’s expansive outdoor dining area.  Take in the exciting views while noshing on fresh deli-style cuisine and hearty BBQ fare.  Visit on Saturdays from 1pm to 4pm and enjoy live music from up-and-coming San Diego bands.

    The Cliffhanger Café is located at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037 and is open from 9am until 4pm every day of the year except Christmas.

    *****

    Take in one of the most jaw-dropping panoramas in all of San Diego from Bertrand at Mr. A’s, a posh penthouse restaurant situated atop the 5th Avenue Financial Center building just minutes from downtown.  Sip kumquat juleps on Bertrand’s al fresco balcony or in the dining room and drink in the scenery of San Diego’s bay and stunning city skyline.  The striking view extends as far as Coronado, Point Loma, Balboa Park and even the iconic San Diego Zoo.

    In addition to the views, Bertrand’s boasts an enticing menu of modern American cuisine with French and Mediterranean influences.  Nibble on hearts of baby romaine with crab beignets and crispy roasted moulard duck breast
dressed in huckleberry sauce as the attentive staff sees to your every need.  Be sure to save room for desserts with wine pairings such as mousse with honey nougat and peanut brittle
served with a stem of Taylor’s 10-year-old tawny Port.

    Gayot.com recently named Bertrand at Mister A’s as one of the Top 10 Penthouse Restaurants in the United States.  The lofty and luxurious venue is located on the 12th floor at 2550 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103.

    *****

    With miles of shoreline lapped by Pacific waves, San Diego boasts a wide array of oceanfront and beachfront dining venues.  Whether you wish to soak in serene views of Mission Bay, an iconic sunset seascape or sit so close to the waves you can almost feel them crashing, here are three to savor.

    Baleen
    Located on the lush tropical grounds of Paradise Point Resort and Spa, Baleen boasts beautiful views of gorgeous Mission Bay.  This fine-dining venue is the resort’s signature restaurant and offers both indoor and outdoor seating in a peaceful waterfront setting.  The menu, which is reflective of the scenery, focuses on sumptuous seafood such as roasted dayboat scallops with a tangerine glaze, blue crab cakes enhanced by avocado and white sea bass served with preserved lemon raviolis.  Elegant cocktails are available as well as local micro brews and an intriguing list of wines.

    333 Pacific
    Located in Oceanside directly across from the west coast’s longest wooden pier, 333 Pacific features surf and turf-style dining, hip high-end ambiance and beach and sunset views that are quintessentially Californian.  Watch the sunlight glisten off the ocean waves as you dine on starters such as Pacific oysters then feast on twin lobster tails and a 25oz ribeye as the sun sets behind the iconic pier.  Be sure to stick around for dessert and savor stunning views of the famous pier lighting up the night.

    The Marine Room
    If the Marine Room in La Jolla were any closer to the pounding waves you’d have to dine there in your bathing suit.  Built smack-dab in the midst of sea spray, this famous high-end eatery has been thrilling diners with it’s surf-front location since it opened in 1941.  Considering its spectacular and unique frontage one might assume the fare takes a back seat to the setting.  Not so.  Thanks to the culinary skills of award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine, Ron Oliver, their French-inspired menu items such as trumpet mushroom torte easily rivals the view.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What restaurants have the best views in San Diego?

    Perched high atop the sea bluffs at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the Cliffhanger Café boasts breath-taking panoramas of the sparkling Pacific Ocean situated some 320 feet below.  Diners are treated to views that stretch from the dramatic sandy coastline all the way to the glittering horizon.  They may even spot migrating whales or pods of frolicking dolphins. 

    While the sea life is intriguing, those who look to the sky will be rewarded with wild life of another kind.  Paragliders, hang gliders and other airborne adventurers launch their flights right in front of the The Cliffhanger’s expansive outdoor dining area.  Take in the exciting views while noshing on fresh deli-style cuisine and hearty BBQ fare.  Visit on Saturdays from 1pm to 4pm and enjoy live music from up-and-coming San Diego bands.

    The Cliffhanger Café is located at 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037 and is open from 9am until 4pm every day of the year except Christmas.

    *****

    Take in one of the most jaw-dropping panoramas in all of San Diego from Bertrand at Mr. A’s, a posh penthouse restaurant situated atop the 5th Avenue Financial Center building just minutes from downtown.  Sip kumquat juleps on Bertrand’s al fresco balcony or in the dining room and drink in the scenery of San Diego’s bay and stunning city skyline.  The striking view extends as far as Coronado, Point Loma, Balboa Park and even the iconic San Diego Zoo.

    In addition to the views, Bertrand’s boasts an enticing menu of modern American cuisine with French and Mediterranean influences.  Nibble on hearts of baby romaine with crab beignets and crispy roasted moulard duck breast
dressed in huckleberry sauce as the attentive staff sees to your every need.  Be sure to save room for desserts with wine pairings such as mousse with honey nougat and peanut brittle
served with a stem of Taylor’s 10-year-old tawny Port.

    Gayot.com recently named Bertrand at Mister A’s as one of the Top 10 Penthouse Restaurants in the United States.  The lofty and luxurious venue is located on the 12th floor at 2550 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103.

    *****

    With miles of shoreline lapped by Pacific waves, San Diego boasts a wide array of oceanfront and beachfront dining venues.  Whether you wish to soak in serene views of Mission Bay, an iconic sunset seascape or sit so close to the waves you can almost feel them crashing, here are three to savor.

    Baleen
    Located on the lush tropical grounds of Paradise Point Resort and Spa, Baleen boasts beautiful views of gorgeous Mission Bay.  This fine-dining venue is the resort’s signature restaurant and offers both indoor and outdoor seating in a peaceful waterfront setting.  The menu, which is reflective of the scenery, focuses on sumptuous seafood such as roasted dayboat scallops with a tangerine glaze, blue crab cakes enhanced by avocado and white sea bass served with preserved lemon raviolis.  Elegant cocktails are available as well as local micro brews and an intriguing list of wines.

    333 Pacific
    Located in Oceanside directly across from the west coast’s longest wooden pier, 333 Pacific features surf and turf-style dining, hip high-end ambiance and beach and sunset views that are quintessentially Californian.  Watch the sunlight glisten off the ocean waves as you dine on starters such as Pacific oysters then feast on twin lobster tails and a 25oz ribeye as the sun sets behind the iconic pier.  Be sure to stick around for dessert and savor stunning views of the famous pier lighting up the night.

    The Marine Room
    If the Marine Room in La Jolla were any closer to the pounding waves you’d have to dine there in your bathing suit.  Built smack-dab in the midst of sea spray, this famous high-end eatery has been thrilling diners with it’s surf-front location since it opened in 1941.  Considering its spectacular and unique frontage one might assume the fare takes a back seat to the setting.  Not so.  Thanks to the culinary skills of award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine, Ron Oliver, their French-inspired menu items such as trumpet mushroom torte easily rivals the view.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    Where is the best shopping in San Diego?

    For a truly unique shopping experience head just a few miles northwest of downtown San Diego to the Ocean Beach Antique District.  Located on Newport Avenue, the district spans two pedestrian-friendly blocks and was named “best antique shopping” by San Diego Magazine.  The assortment of malls and shops offers an exciting mecca for treasure hunters and collectors alike.  It is also a coveted source of vintage décor and unique furnishing for local high-end interior designers.

    Visit Vignettes and be transported to Paris of yesteryear.  Shop for French sofas and settees clad in faded satin or curvy serpentine dressers awash in peeling pastel paint.  Among the shabby chic finds you’ll discover glitzy gilt mirrors and glamorous chandeliers draped with glittering crystals.  More than 24 dealers of European antiquities contribute to Vignette’s alluring collection.  The inventory is ever changing and is always beautifully staged.

    For classic collectables such as old-timey toys, retro estate jewelry and vintage dishes look no further than the Ocean Beach Antique Mall.  This is the oldest antique mall in Ocean Beach and is home to an almost overwhelming stock of unique nostalgia.  Peruse the assortment and come away with intricate silverware, one-of-a-kind oil paintings, and whimsical hats adorned with rhinestones and feathers.  Plan to spend a good chunk of time here, as there is plenty to see.

    The district has plenty of parking and is open seven days a week.  Plan to spend an entire day exploring this unique bevvy of boutiques, shops and malls.  Nearby cafes and coffee shops will keep you fueled for the adventure.

    *****

    Shoppers in search of high fashion at low prices will be thrilled to discover San Diego’s treasure trove of outlet malls.  Top-end designers and leading brand-name stores can be found conveniently clustered together in San Diego’s South Bay and Coastal North County.  Fashionistas who shop these stylish centers are rewarded with haute couture at discounts between 25 - 65%.

    An excursion to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets in Coastal North County is well worth the drive.  The outlet mall, located in the serene seaside town of Carlsbad, offers a lovely al fresco shopping experience complete with lush landscaping, beautiful storefronts and occasional live music.  Enjoy the ocean air as you stroll the breezeways seeking steals from designers such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Michael Kors and Elie Tahari.

    Las Americas Premium Outlets in San Diego’s South Bay is another gorgeous outdoor outlet mall.  Savor budget-savvy shopping sprees surrounded by elegant architecture, statuesque sculptures and beautiful courtyards dotted by bubbling fountains.  Visitors will delight in the vast array of discounted fashion from top-end brands such as Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria and Nautica.

    *****

    The seaside resort town of La Jolla is arguably one of the best and most pleasant places to shop in San Diego.  Often compared to Rodeo Drive, the La Jolla Cove neighborhood is an affluent area that is home to several hip shops and high-end boutiques.   Stroll the stylish sidewalks and discover cutting-edge jewelry, one of a kind outfits and lavish labels from designers like Armani and Ralph Lauren.  When you tire of hunting for haute fashion cool your well-heeled feet at one of La Jolla’s open-air cafés.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What is the weather like right now in San Diego?

    Although San Diego County is blessed with almost year-round sunshine, coastal towns experience cool temperatures and overcast skies in late spring and early summer.  During this period low-lying stratus clouds, also known as the marine layer, gather over the Pacific Ocean at night then are blown inland by morning.  Locals refer to the weather pattern as “May gray” and “June gloom”.  While there is seldom any rain associated with the heavy cloud cover, drizzle and fog-like conditions are common.  The overcast conditions often persist throughout the morning but usually burn off by early afternoon.

    While some San Diegans find this weather less than ideal, the beaches are much less crowded than they are during peak season.  Hotel rates often reflect this, and there are still plenty of activities to do despite the clouds.  If sunshine is a must plan to head a few miles east instead.  The marine layer seldom stretches more than a mile inland.  Temecula’s wine country is a great destination and offers a plethora of vineyards with tasting rooms, restaurants and high-end resort facilities.  If you want to vacation away from the fog but close enough to the beach to take advantage of the occasional sun breaks consider a stay at The Grand Del Mar or Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What would a perfect date night be in San Diego?

    When it comes to date night, dinner and a movie is the classic combination.  Now, thanks to Cinépolis Luxury Theatres, this tried and true duo can be done simultaneously and in seriously cool style.  The experience begins with easy booking.  Simply visit the Cinépolis website to peruse locations, movie listings and show times.  Next, purchase your tickets online and avoid the box office queue.  You won’t need to stand in line to get a good seat either.  At Cinépolis you get to view and reserve the seats of your choice.  They are guaranteed to be empty and waiting for you even if you arrive a little late.

    As for the seats themselves, there’s not a bad one in the house.  Unlike traditional cinemas, Cinépolis has just a few well thought out rows.  This ensures that everyone has enough space to stretch out (more on that in a minute).  It also eliminates the risk of having your view blocked by a taller guest in the row ahead.  Once you find your seats let the luxury begin.  Rather than you average movie chairs, Cinépolis is equipped with posh leather loungers complete with footrests and plenty of plush padding.   While single seats are available, most are arranged in intimate loveseats so couples can canoodle and cuddle in comfort. 

    Once settled, grab the groovy light-up menus located atop your personal side tables and plot your dinner courses.  The extensive menu features everything from spicy edamame starters and light fare such as flatbread pizzas to mouthwatering mains like truffle and porcini ravioli or grilled Angus skirt steak.  Desserts and coffee drinks also make the list along with traditional treats such as popcorn and hot dogs prepared with gourmet flair.  A member of the wait staff will take your order seat-side then serve up your selections while you take in the big screen action.

    If you wish to toast the occasion with a flute of Dom Pérignon (available by the bottle) be sure to book your seats in the 21 and over theatres.  These exclusive auditoriums feature a full bar menu including classic cocktails, craft drafts and an intriguing list of vinos available by stem or bottle.  Should you need another round (or anything at all) simply press a button and your server will appear to meet your needs.  Settle the bill from the comfort of you chair then stroll back out into the night with your sweetie, who will no doubt be impressed by this hip romantic date night.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the most romantic restaurants in San Diego?

    Named “San Diego’s sexiest steakhouse” by San Diego Magazine, The Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge is very sexy indeed.  Tucked into one tiny room on West Washington in the Mission Hills area, the venue is as cozy and mysterious as a prohibition era speakeasy.  A private walkway leads to the discreet entrance.  Step inside and find yourself wrapped in the dark velvety folds of The Wellington’s all-black décor.  The glamorous glint of mirrors and a petite yet twinkling bar offsets the darkness.  Meanwhile, from the pitch-black ceiling hangs a quartet of sparkling vintage chandeliers set around an even grander fixture dripping crystals. 

    The Wellington’s intriguing décor and intimate nature lends itself to romance as  couples can’t help but to sit in close proximity to one another.  The dim lighting encourages diners to whisper their tête-à-têtes, which are no doubt laced with sweet nothings.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings the hush of quiet conversation is enhanced by the twirl of live jazz played smoothly and at a soft volume.   The sound of shaken not stirred martinis being made mixes with the mellow music and adds to the sultry sexiness.

    While the starry-eyed ambiance lends itself to amore, the menu is equally engaging. Wellington’s talented young Executive Chef, Miguel Valdez, is the ultimate matchmaker when it comes to flavors.  His passion for great cooking results in dishes such as wild-caught yellowtail dusted in fiery spices and sage then seared and served atop greens grown with love in The Wellington’s very own Mt Helix garden.  His ability to marry tastes and textures extends to the dessert offerings with surprises such as elderberry blossoms dipped in batter and fried to golden perfection.

    The Wellington is located at 729 West Washington Street, San Diego CA, 92103. 
    Dinner Service is from 5pm until 9:30pm Sunday through Thursday and from 5pm until 10pm on Friday and Saturday.  Happy hour is from 5pm until 6pm daily.  Call 619 295 6001 or book online with Open Table for reservations.
  • On April 30, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best restaurants in San Diego?

    Situated within the penthouse level of The Centre at Lexus Escondido, Vintana Wine + Dine blends an unusual location and amazing panoramic mountain views with mouthwatering California cuisine from one of San Diego’s most celebrated Chefs, Executive Chef Deborah Scott.  The venue features 20,000 square feet of glamorous space, which includes a retail wine shop, an expansive dining room with windows that soar from ceiling to floor, and an enormous lanai complete with its own bar, dining tables and fire pits flanked by plush sofas and club chairs.

    Guests of the lux lounge can experience a wide array of top-shelf vodka martinis paired with small plates such as Chef Deborah’s nut crusted Brie, bacon wrapped dates, and shrimp-filled sweet corn fritters.  During social hour, which takes place from 2:30pm to 6:30pm daily, guests can enjoy high-end martinis for a mere $7 each and choose from a selection of seven appetizers offered at only $7 per.  They can then proceed to the glitzy dining room and savor signature surf and turf offerings such as pan seared mahi mahi or Vintana’s filet trio with bone marrow butter and a mélange of seasonal mushrooms.

    If you go, be sure to save room for Chef Deborah’s tempting desserts such as sweet tater pie with bourbon pecan ice cream and chili caramel sauce.  Vintana Wine + Dine is located at 1205 Auto Park Way in Escondido.   Lunch takes place from 11:30 am to 2:30pm.  Dinner is served nightly from 5pm.  If you plan to dine on the weekend be sure to book your table in advance by calling 760 745 7777.

    *****

    Celebrity chef and restaurateur Brian Malarkey of ABC’s The Taste and Bravo’s Top Chef fame boasts a collection of eclectic yet undeniably popular eateries in San Diego County.  While they share the commonality of fabric-themed names and the concept of providing a social dining experience, each restaurant is unique when it comes to atmosphere and menu. 

    Malarkey’s Searsucker, located in the hip and historic Gaslamp Quarter, is a favorite among San Diegans.  The bustling eatery dishes out contemporary American comfort food in a laid-back environment featuring rustic furnishings, open beams and architectural salvage pieces. 

    Also in the family, Burlap brings Malarkey’s penchant for unique ambiance and delicious eats to the seaside town of Del Mar.  Described by Brian himself as “Asian cowboy” the cuisine consists of surf and turf items presented with bold Asian twists.  The East meets West theme is also reflected in the restaurant’s quirky décor.

    The cowboy premise continues at Malarkey’s Gingham in La Mesa.  The neighborhood eatery touts itself as an “urban cowboy diner” and piles its plates with BBQ meats partnered with local craft drafts.  Decked out with a duo of bulky bars and a spacious patio built around a fire pit, it is a popular place to dine both indoors and out.

    Gabardine is the fourth fabric-themed eatery and is located in Point Loma where Malarkey also resides.  The concept for this venue is based on creating the atmosphere of a “neighborhood kitchen” where diners can “gab, bar and dine” in a relaxed and cozy environment.  The menu is made up of small and large plates featuring local produce and seafood along with side dishes meant for sharing.

    Last but not least, Herringbone in ocean-close La Jolla is Malarkey’s most recent venture.  The venue pays homage to its seaside location with an eclectic mix of décor that makes guests feel as if they are eating dinner in someone’s private bohemian beach house.  Mature olive trees, cozy sofas and fireplaces add to the homey charm while creative menu items from land and sea delight palates.

    *****

    If you are looking for fine dining, the best restaurants in San Diego are Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Addison, which is tucked into The Grand Del Mar, and Four-Star A.R. Valentien in The Lodge at Torrey Pines. At Addison, chef William Bradley crafts a prix-fixe seasonal menu with dishes featuring local ingredients and contemporary French influences. At A.R. Valentien, chef Jeff Jackson also focuses on fresh, local ingredients, but he turns out contemporary American fare. Both of them are great fine-dining spots.

    Located in the heart of downtown San Diego’s ultra-hip Gaslamp Quarter, Gaijin Noodle + Sake House takes the trend of Asian fusion and raises it to the level of culinary artwork.  Chef Antonio Friscia, while gaijin indeed, has a firm grip on preparing authentic Japanese cuisine.  It is this knowledge which allows him to bend the rules and mingle traditional dishes with other Asian elements for some seriously savory synthesis.

    Only the best and freshest local ingredients go into chef Friscia’s dishes and he takes the time to get his recipes just right.  His lobster and veggie infused dashis, for example, take him upwards of three days to craft which is evidenced in the exquisite broths of his ramen bowls and uni green tea soba noodles.   Another treat for taste buds is his “tongue & cheek” bao bao which offers a lot of bang for the bun with a spicy filling of braised beef tongue and cheek with peanuts, tamarind, jalepeño, cilantro and red rock sugar.

    Guests can wash it all down with sake or cool cocktails made with house-infused vodkas and kakigori, a type of Japanese shaved ice.  Be sure to save room for a sweet finish of mocha or green tea tiramisu.  Gaijin is located at 672 Fourth Avenue in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.
  • On April 29, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best restaurants in San Diego?

    Situated within the penthouse level of The Centre at Lexus Escondido, Vintana Wine + Dine blends an unusual location and amazing panoramic mountain views with mouthwatering California cuisine from one of San Diego’s most celebrated Chefs, Executive Chef Deborah Scott.   The venue features 20,000 square feet of glamorous space, which includes a retail wine shop, an expansive dining room with windows that soar from ceiling to floor, and an enormous lanai complete with its own bar, dining tables and fire pits flanked by plush sofas and club chairs.

    Guests of the lux lounge can experience a wide array of top-shelf vodka martinis paired with small plates such as Chef Deborah’s nut crusted Brie, bacon wrapped dates, and shrimp-filled sweet corn fritters.  During social hour, which takes place from 2:30pm to 6:30pm daily, guests can enjoy high-end martinis for a mere $7 each and choose from a selection of seven appetizers offered at only $7 per.  They can then proceed to the glitzy dining room and savor signature surf and turf offerings such as pan seared mahi mahi or Vintana’s filet trio with bone marrow butter and a mélange of seasonal mushrooms.

    If you go, be sure to save room for Chef Deborah’s tempting desserts such as sweet tater pie with bourbon pecan ice cream and chili caramel sauce.  Vintana Wine + Dine is located at 1205 Auto Park Way in Escondido.   Lunch takes place from 11:30 am to 2:30pm.  Dinner is served nightly from 5pm.  If you plan to dine on the weekend be sure to book your table in advance by calling 760 745 7777.

    *****

    Celebrity chef and restaurateur Brian Malarkey of ABC’s The Taste and Bravo’s Top Chef fame boasts a collection of eclectic yet undeniably popular eateries in San Diego County.  While they share the commonality of fabric-themed names and the concept of providing a social dining experience, each restaurant is unique when it comes to atmosphere and menu. 

    Malarkey’s Searsucker, located in the hip and historic Gaslamp Quarter, is a favorite among San Diegans.  The bustling eatery dishes out contemporary American comfort food in a laid-back environment featuring rustic furnishings, open beams and architectural salvage pieces. 

    Also in the family, Burlap brings Malarkey’s penchant for unique ambiance and delicious eats to the seaside town of Del Mar.  Described by Brian himself as “Asian cowboy” the cuisine consists of surf and turf items presented with bold Asian twists.  The East meets West theme is also reflected in the restaurant’s quirky décor.

    The cowboy premise continues at Malarkey’s Gingham in La Mesa.  The neighborhood eatery touts itself as an “urban cowboy diner” and piles its plates with BBQ meats partnered with local craft drafts.  Decked out with a duo of bulky bars and a spacious patio built around a fire pit, it is a popular place to dine both indoors and out.

    Gabardine is the fourth fabric-themed eatery and is located in Point Loma where Malarkey also resides.  The concept for this venue is based on creating the atmosphere of a “neighborhood kitchen” where diners can “gab, bar and dine” in a relaxed and cozy environment.  The menu is made up of small and large plates featuring local produce and seafood along with side dishes meant for sharing.

    Last but not least, Herringbone in ocean-close La Jolla is Malarkey’s most recent venture.  The venue pays homage to its seaside location with an eclectic mix of décor that makes guests feel as if they are eating dinner in someone’s private bohemian beach house.  Mature olive trees, cozy sofas and fireplaces add to the homey charm while creative menu items from land and sea delight palates.

    *****

    If you are looking for fine dining, the best restaurants in San Diego are Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Addison, which is tucked into The Grand Del Mar, and Four-Star A.R. Valentien in The Lodge at Torrey Pines. At Addison, chef William Bradley crafts a prix-fixe seasonal menu with dishes featuring local ingredients and contemporary French influences. At A.R. Valentien, chef Jeff Jackson also focuses on fresh, local ingredients, but he turns out contemporary American fare. Both of them are great fine-dining spots.

    Located in the heart of downtown San Diego’s ultra-hip Gaslamp Quarter, Gaijin Noodle + Sake House takes the trend of Asian fusion and raises it to the level of culinary artwork.  Chef Antonio Friscia, while gaijin indeed, has a firm grip on preparing authentic Japanese cuisine.  It is this knowledge which allows him to bend the rules and mingle traditional dishes with other Asian elements for some seriously savory synthesis.

    Only the best and freshest local ingredients go into chef Friscia’s dishes and he takes the time to get his recipes just right.  His lobster and veggie infused dashis, for example, take him upwards of three days to craft which is evidenced in the exquisite broths of his ramen bowls and uni green tea soba noodles.   Another treat for taste buds is his “tongue & cheek” bao bao which offers a lot of bang for the bun with a spicy filling of braised beef tongue and cheek with peanuts, tamarind, jalepeño, cilantro and red rock sugar.

    Guests can wash it all down with sake or cool cocktails made with house-infused vodkas and kakigori, a type of Japanese shaved ice.  Be sure to save room for a sweet finish of mocha or green tea tiramisu.  Gaijin is located at 672 Fourth Avenue in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.
  • On March 31, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What is one must-do activity when visiting San Diego?

    No trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to beautiful Balboa Park.  The best way to begin your day is to stop in at the Balboa Park Visitors Center in the House of Hospitality.  There you will find up to the minute information about the parks current activities and attractions as well as brochures, maps and just about everything you need to know about what to do and see.  The Visitors Center is open daily from 9:30am until 4:30pm.

    Balboa Park is rich in arts, history and culture.  There are more than a dozen museums to choose from including the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the Timken Museum of Art and the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center.  Highlights of the performing arts venues include such gems as Spreckels Organ Pavillion and San Diego Youth Symphony along with Starlight Theatre and Starlight Bowl.

    Those in search of more playful attractions will appreciate the Balboa Park Carousel and Balboa Park Miniature Railroad.  Meanwhile animal lovers will enjoy the exotic menagerie of the San Diego Zoo.  A collection of beautiful gardens such as the one found at the famous Botanical Building will delight horticulture fans.  The Japanese Friendship Garden is another favorite as is the Florida Canyon Native Plant Preserve where guests can get a glimpse of Balboa Park’s original landscape.

    For more information on this beautiful historic park and iconic San Diego landmark please visit:
    www.balboapark.org
  • On March 31, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best fine-dining restaurants in San Diego?

    Savor San Diego’s only Five Star, Five Diamond fine-dining experience at Addison located within The Grand Del Mar.  Helmed by Director and Executive Chef William Bradley the resort’s luxurious signature restaurant offers a culinary journey designed to engage the senses.

    Addison’s handsome European-inspired setting is a feast for the eyes.  Dramatic arched windows embrace the richly appointed dining room while framing picturesque views of the resort’s emerald-hued fairways.  Meanwhile a strategically placed wine cellar occupies the center of room to emphasize the restaurant’s extensive and extraordinary wine list.

    The library presents a more intimate setting while seating on the sun-kissed terrace offers al fresco dining cooled by Del Mar’s salty Pacific breezes.  Addison’s other gorgeous features include an impressive and well-stocked bar topped by marble and backed by opulent upholstery.  Top to bottom, inside and out, the restaurant’s setting is perfectly calibrated to match its world-class cuisine.

    The luxury continues with a dining experience composed of several exquisite courses, which shift along with the changing seasons.  The menu in turn acts as showcase to the freshest and finest ingredients available.  The elements are often sourced locally and are always prepared simply, elegantly and with extreme artistry by Chef Bradley and his talented team. 

    Course by course the pacing is impeccably orchestrated to allow diners to savor each and every bite.  Attentive yet discreet service ensures that guests will have their every need fulfilled while they enjoy a peaceful and uninterrupted dining experience.   Never rushed, guests are encouraged to linger over their meals and to stay as long as they like, even after the last bite is savored.

    Addison at The Grand Del Mar is located at:
    5200 Grand Del Mar Way

    San Diego, CA 92130
  • On March 31, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What restaurants have the best views in San Diego?

    Take in one of the most jaw-dropping panoramas in all of San Diego from Bertrand at Mr. A’s, a posh penthouse restaurant situated atop the 5th Avenue Financial Center building just minutes from downtown.  Sip kumquat juleps on Bertrand’s al fresco balcony or in the dining room and drink in the scenery of San Diego’s bay and stunning city skyline.  The striking view extends as far as Coronado, Point Loma, Balboa Park and even the iconic San Diego Zoo.

    In addition to the views, Bertrand’s boasts an enticing menu of modern American cuisine with French and Mediterranean influences.  Nibble on hearts of baby romaine with crab beignets and crispy roasted moulard duck breast
dressed in huckleberry sauce as the attentive staff sees to your every need.  Be sure to save room for desserts with wine pairings such as mousse with honey nougat and peanut brittle
served with a stem of Taylor’s 10-year-old tawny Port.

    Gayot.com recently named Bertrand at Mister A’s as one of the Top 10 Penthouse Restaurants in the United States.  The lofty and luxurious venue is located on the 12th floor at 2550 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103.

    *****

    With miles of shoreline lapped by Pacific waves, San Diego boasts a wide array of oceanfront and beachfront dining venues.  Whether you wish to soak in serene views of Mission Bay, an iconic sunset seascape or sit so close to the waves you can almost feel them crashing, here are three to savor.

    Baleen
    Located on the lush tropical grounds of Paradise Point Resort and Spa, Baleen boasts beautiful views of gorgeous Mission Bay.  This fine-dining venue is the resort’s signature restaurant and offers both indoor and outdoor seating in a peaceful waterfront setting.  The menu, which is reflective of the scenery, focuses on sumptuous seafood such as roasted dayboat scallops with a tangerine glaze, blue crab cakes enhanced by avocado and white sea bass served with preserved lemon raviolis.  Elegant cocktails are available as well as local micro brews and an intriguing list of wines.

    333 Pacific
    Located in Oceanside directly across from the west coast’s longest wooden pier, 333 Pacific features surf and turf-style dining, hip high-end ambiance and beach and sunset views that are quintessentially Californian.  Watch the sunlight glisten off the ocean waves as you dine on starters such as Pacific oysters then feast on twin lobster tails and a 25oz ribeye as the sun sets behind the iconic pier.  Be sure to stick around for dessert and savor stunning views of the famous pier lighting up the night.

    The Marine Room
    If the Marine Room in La Jolla were any closer to the pounding waves you’d have to dine there in your bathing suit.  Built smack-dab in the midst of sea spray, this famous high-end eatery has been thrilling diners with it’s surf-front location since it opened in 1941.  Considering its spectacular and unique frontage one might assume the fare takes a back seat to the setting.  Not so.  Thanks to the culinary skills of award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine, Ron Oliver, their French-inspired menu items such as trumpet mushroom torte easily rivals the view.
  • On March 31, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best outdoor activities in San Diego?

    For an outdoor experience that is classically Californian, prepare to stay up late and get in on the famous phenomenon known as the grunion run.  On certain spring nights following high tides, thousands of slender silvery fish called grunion surf the waves and ride the swells to shore where they perform a unique mating routine on the beach. 

    During this remarkable ritual female grunion will wiggle their way halfway into the sand in order to lay their eggs.  Meanwhile their male counterparts wrap them in a protective embrace as they fertilize their future offspring.  When the coupling is complete the pairs catch an outgoing wave and return once more to the sea.

    Grunion runs take place only in Baja and Southern California and witnessing this spectacle of nature makes for a truly unique beach experience.  One of the best ways to get in on the action is to go on a guided tour with Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.  The program is $14 per person and reservations can be arranged by calling: 858-534-7336.

    If you’d prefer to go it alone, grab a flashlight and camera then head to San Diego beaches on the following dates and times:

    2013 Season

    • Friday, April 12: 10:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.
    • Saturday, April 27: 10:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.
    • Saturday, May 11: 10:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.
    • Sunday, May 26: 11 p.m. - 1 a.m.

    *****

    One of the joys of living in San Diego is watching the setting sun slide behind the sparkling sea.  The sunset paints the sky in shades of brilliant crimson and gold and there’s always the chance you could catch that elusive green flash.  While there are countless places to sit outside and enjoy the spectacle, here are two of the best:

    Oceanside City Beach, aka The Strand
    For a classic California sunset complete with wide swathes of glittering sand, soaring palm trees, surfers, boardwalks and an impressive wooden pier watch the sun go down from the golden shores of Oceanside City Beach.

    Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach
    This is by far the most romantic spot in San Diego (if not all of Southern California) to watch the sunset kiss the sky goodnight.  Find a spot to sit on the sandstone, snuggle up to your sweetie and watch the magic unfold.
  • On March 31, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best hotels in San Diego?

    Embraced by the Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in the charming seaside village of Del Mar, The Grand Del Mar is a luxurious Mediterranean-inspired resort and the recipient of the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide’s Five Star rating.  Not only did the resort win this hard-to-earn title for amazing quality and service but so too did The Spa and The Grand’s fine-dining venue, Addison.

    Visitors who indulge in a stay at The Grand can expect world-class accommodations seamlessly entwined with top-notch amenities.  Lodging at the resort ranges from well-appointed guestrooms to generous suites and palatial villas overlooking serene landscapes such as the canyon preserve, the adults-only pool or the rolling fairways of the Tom Fazio-designed golf course.  

    Guests who spend time at the Spa will delight in the comprehensive menu of services.  Highlights include treatments such as hot stone massage, herbal salt scrub or the Renaissance ritual which features a warm body wrap of aromatic oils and mineral-rich mud followed by a rosemary-infused Swiss shower and gentle touch therapy calibrated to relieve sore joints and muscles for thorough relaxation.

    Dining at The Grand is another sublime experience.  Discover culinary bliss at Addison, the resort’s signature Five Star, Five Diamond dinner restaurant.  Other options include Amaya, a posh Tuscan-inspired eatery serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and a sumptuous Sunday brunch.  Both venues boast amazing menus and extensive wine lists.  For more casual fare guests can visit the gourmet café Cent’ Anni or relax al fresco while enjoying sips and nibbles from Poolside at the Grand Del Mar’s main pool. 

    Other diversions include guided tours of Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve on foot or via horseback, complimentary fitness classes and gratis Grand Beach Service, which includes round-trip transportation to Del Mar's 18th Street Beach.  Setup comes complete with umbrella, beach chairs, towels and bottled water.
  • On March 31, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best waterfront hotels in San Diego?

    When one conjures quintessential images of a beach vacation in San Diego the Hotel Del Coronado instantly comes to mind. With iconic red turrets that stretch deep into the sun-drenched sky and a perfect seaside setting bordered by golden sand, The Del is one of San Diego’s most beautiful waterfront resorts.

    Not only does the property boast a fabulous location and lovely accommodations, it is rich in history. Built in 1888 by visionary founders Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story, The Del has an illustrious past. The resort has a history of hosting 11 different presidents, visiting royalty and American legends such Thomas Edison.

    Hollywood came calling as early as 1901, and the Hotel Del was later used as the backdrop for many famous films including the 1958 comedy classic Some Like it Hot starring silver screen siren Marilyn Monroe. Due in part to its connection to the stars, the regal resort is easily one of the most recognizable properties on the west coast to this day.

    The Hotel Del Coronado is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and is commemorating the occasion with a 208-page book, Hotel del Coronado History. They are also offering special vacation packages. Lodging at The Del includes guestrooms and suites in the historic Victorian Building, contemporary accommodations at the Ocean Towers & California Cabanas as well as luxurious modern villas and cottages available at the Beach Village at the Del.
  • On March 31, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    Where can you get the best view of San Diego?

    When it comes to beautiful views the city by the bay has plenty to offer.  Whether it’s sea gazing from the balcony of an oceanfront resort, viewing the coastal landscape from the crest of a hiking trail or scanning the skyline from the deck of a sailboat, there are countless ways to drink in San Diego’s spectacular scenery. 

    While there are many viewpoints to choose from, the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma offers some of the best.  Visitors to the park may take in amazing panoramas of the Pacific Ocean, Point Loma’s dramatic coastline and awesome views of the harbor along with vistas of the city of San Diego. 

    Beyond the magnificent lookouts, the park offers much more to do and see.  Stop in at the Visitor center to gather information and check out exhibits.  From there the Old Point Loma Lighthouse is just quick trek away.  Continue south and discover Whale Overlook where you can scout for spouts on the horizon or gaze back at the lighthouse set against the glittering sea.

    Other highlights include tide-pooling, self-guided coastal hikes and bird watching.  Cabrillo National Monument is open 364 days a year, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  The park is closed Christmas Day, December 25th.