Well-known restaurateur and Casa Sol y Mar owner Diane Powers wanted to capture the spirit of the Mexican culture in all facets, including food and authentic flavors with a contemporary twist. From the painted walls and hand-woven Oaxacan fabrics, to the art and accessories on the wall made by contemporary Mexican craftsmen, she also wanted to have the interior depict the color and artistry of Mexico.
Family Dining at Casa Sol y Mar
The entire family can enjoy the healthy menu selections at Casa Sol y Mar. Nearly everything on the menu is fresh and made from scratch, including the salsas and tortillas. “We have many vegetarian and gluten-free selections, as well as a new healthy creations menu,” says Powers. “We’re constantly working on healthy items with tons of flavors, made with ingredients found in Mexico.” In addition to their deliciously appealing entrée salads and vegetarian selections, they’ve recently introduced a new healthy creations menu, which has six new and flavorful entrees, all under 650 calories, including several gluten-free options. Casa Sol y Mar has contemporary and upscale environment, boasting a beautiful patio and outdoor dining. “We want people to feel like they’ve taken a trip to Mexico when they come here,” Powers says. “We’ve done our best to make the restaurant appealing to everyone!” (www.casasolymar.com) Family Dining
The La Jolla Salt Company renders beautiful flake sea salt from the purified waters off the coast of La Jolla California.
La Jolla Salt Company
The La Jolla Salt Company was officially founded in Early 2014 but the foundation for the company started many years prior.
It was while serving in the United States Coast Guard as a Food Service Specialist that La Jolla Salt Company owner and proprietor Chris Polley was first introduced to the process of desalination. “Many of the ships in the Coast Guards fleet use the process of desalination to turn salt water into fresh potable water,” he says. “The byproduct of this process is Sea Salt!”
After leaving the U.S. Coast Guard, Polley returned to working as a chef in a few local San Diego restaurants. “This was right about the time when the farm to table movement began and Americans really started making more conscience food choices,” explains Polley. “The word organic was being thrown around a lot and honestly, in the beginning I really didn’t get it. It wasn’t until I landed a spot working under local chef and restaurateur Matt Gordon that this word, and the entire culture surrounding, it really started to make sense.”
Polley says that chef Gordon is strict when it comes to selecting ingredients, with never a single item brought into any of his three restaurants containing any unnatural ingredients. “This philosophy forced us to make many everyday dining staples on our own using only raw natural ingredients,” he explained. “When I saw that the menu included some items with sea salt, I decided to revisit the idea of rendering our own in house using local waters.”
When it came to sourcing water for the sea salt, the first place that came to mind was La Jolla. Known for its beautiful shoreline and strict ecological reserve limitations, Polley felt La Jolla was the perfect location to source clean mineral-rich ocean water.
With less than 10 inches of rain a year, and mostly sunny conditions year round, La Jolla turns out to be one of the best locations to render sea water into sea salt in the country. “I started off a little smaller than I am doing today. In the beginning I was going down to the Scripps Pier about once a week and collecting 30 gallons at a time in small five gallon buckets. I wasn’t always lucky enough to make it back to the restaurant with all 30 gallons. I remember one time having to pull off to the side of highway 52 because about 10 gallons of ocean water fell over in the back of my SUV and I noticed it leaking onto the street out of the back window,” Polley explains. “When I did manage to make it back with all of the water and began rendering it down, everyone was intrigued. We were now making one of the most fundamental ingredients available in the culinary world. We began making salt on a weekly basis and each time it came out just a little bit better.”
Perched on the corner of Date and India Streets, Napizza is not only one of the newest establishments in Little Italy, but it also has a new concept that is gaining attention. Green-certified and committed to utilizing locally sourced, organic ingredients with no preservatives or chemicals, this is not your typical pizza joint. But that new philosophy is underscored by one of the oldest traditions in pizza-making techniques. Pizza al taglio is the centuries-old art of utilizing special flour, yeast and water and allowing for a slow rise, creating a product with no equal. The large, square-cut pieces are familiar to anyone who’s sampled street food from Italy’s larger cities. Produce is sourced daily from local and organic farmers, whether you enjoy it on a pizza or sample it from the organic salad bar. Read more about Napizza in my new book: San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond.
Located in downtown La Jolla, this upscale fast-casual eatery features a walk-up counter where you can dine in or get your food to go. The menu offers a variety of authentic Mexican food ingredients including all-natural meats, sustainable seafood, local and seasonally organic vegetables, homemade all-natural stone-ground corn tortillas, and 6 homemade signature salsas made from scratch daily. Customize your guisados (grilled foods), which can be mixed and matched and are served as tacos that are layered with crispy hot cheese. Diners can choose from a variety of toppings such as fish, shrimp, chicken, carne asada, and gourmet Mexican vegetarian items like zucchini flower, corn truffle, and soy chorizo potatoes. For a healthy dessert or refreshing side, Puesto serves a Mexican street cup of sliced jicama, cucumber, carrots, mango, and dried mango sticks with lime, chili, and sea salt. Puesto Mexican Street Food, 1026 Wall St., La Jolla, CA 92037; (858) 455-1260; eatpuesto.com; Mexican; $$.
Nestled in the heart of North Park. Waypoint Public highlights their commitment and enthusiasm for great food and beer pairings while trying to hit the trifecta of great food, great beer, and a determination to appeal to a neighborhood demographic, which includes a growing number of young families. “There’s a growing demand for dining environments that cater to both children and adults and being family-friendly was an essential element when conceptualizing Waypoint Public from the get go,” says John Pani, co-owner of Waypoint Public. “I’m the father of three young children, and like many other families around our Kensington neighborhood, I want to enjoy great food and drink without sacrificing quality time with my family.” For group dining, Waypoint Public can accommodate larger groups in the main dining room, or the private “Bear Den” in the back of the restaurant. (www.waypointpublic.com)
Sophisticated and modern, Isola Pizza Bar offers warm and friendly service to every guest whom walks in the door. Located in a tiny storefront in the heart of San Diego’s Little Italy, the menu is a surprise that will leave you craving more for your next visit. Read more in the ‘San Diego Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes From America’s Finest City’, now available for pre-order.
ISOLA PIZZA BAR
1526 INDIA STREET
SAN DIEGO, CA 92101
(619) 255-4230 www.isolapizzabar.com
Best Restaurants and Local Eats/PO Box 675362, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067