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The biannual San Diego Restaurant Week is a promotion we look forward to due to our ever growing "to do" list of restaurants. This year we were invited to preview the SDRW menu at Sbicca in beautiful Del Mar. This restaurant has been around for almost 18 years so they are doing something right!

Sbicca is only a stone's throw away from the ocean. There's two main seating areas on the lower level plus an additional upstairs patio that provides a better view of the ocean.

There was still some natural light outside so we chose to sit in this cozy side area. We were welcomed by Danny, the bar manager/assistant floor manager, and Amanda, the managing partner of Sbicca.

We started the night right with the Strawberry Basil Lemonade cocktail, a drink special created for SDRW by Danny and Amanda.

It's about that time again. San Diego Restaurant Week for the fall starts on September 20 through September 27, 2015.  Over 180 restaurants are participating! Check out your favorite restaurants or try something new! The prix fixe lunches are either $10, $15, or $20 and the prix fixe dinners are either $20, $30, $40 or $50!

The theme of Restaurant Week is "Celebrate Local" and I was able to check out a few samples ahead of time at the SDRW Launch Party at Go Green Acres. Browse the tasty creations below and something may inspire you to check out a new or old restaurant favorite!

Get a kick out of the tomato gazpacho with olive tapenade on a caper crostini from Blue Point Coastal Cuisine.

We've attended many "Taste of" events over the years but last week we had quite a difficult choice to make... Taste of Old Town or Taste of Downtown? They were unfortunately on the SAME night this year! In the end, we decided to eat, drink and be merry in historic Old Town San Diego. I suspect my interest in latin inspired food and alcohol has been increasing following events like Latin Food Fest San Diego and Tacos & Spirits at Harborfest.

The San Diego heat was still beating down on us at this event. I had gotten some kind of "flash flood" weather alert that morning, and came to find out it was only for INLAND San Diego. Old Town (as well as the rest of the city) was still hot and sticky but at least no umbrella was needed.

We came early enough to find great parking and pick up our wristbands and maps. There were 13 places to visit and 3 hours to do it. This year they seemed to be emphasizing the rules of two alcoholic tastes per person per station, even if there were more than two samples available. I thought we were able to try all varieties in the past. Most places remembered to mark off the map under the food and drinks columns.

Barra Barra Saloon has really amazing food based on the previous year trends.

Food, Wine & Jazz. I already like the sound of that. This was an outdoor event held on the beautiful St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort that featured the culinary talents of world-renowned chefs, wineries and boutique vintners. We attended as reps for sdcheers and made the 1 hour drive north to Dana Point. The last time we stopped in this area was for our Catalina Island birthday trip, which I recommend checking out.

We joined a huge line of cars waiting to get into the resort. We soon found out the reason - self-parking lots were full from the vendors so guests had to get valet instead. I have NEVER seen such hard-working valet workers as these guys. They were running back and forth to take care of the massive collection of guests for this event! Parking is yet another reason why you arrive at events early! 

After dropping off our car, we made our way through the resort building through the help of signs.

BiCE Ristorante recently added lunch hours to their restaurant about 2 months ago. This establishment has been providing fine Italian dining in the gaslamp for the last eight years and invokes the combined talents of general manager and partner Mario Cassineri and Executive Chef Francesca Penoncelli. Both hail from Italy and bring with them the whimsical flavors and inspirations from their upbringing. We were invited to try out their new lunch menu and stopped in on a Friday.

Upon entry into BiCE (pronounced B-chay), you'll find a contemporary and elegant open bar and seating. The group sales manager Fabrizio introduced himself to us and answered our many curiosities. We also took a peek at the happy hour menu, available between 5-7pm. With the tempting food options and sensible prices, it was no surprise to hear that their happy hour was very popular!

Soon we were seated in the main dining area by the lead server Alfio, a friendly gentleman who was attentive and full of suggestions. We were unsure what to eat so Alfio put in a order for some of the more popular items on their lunch menu.

We spent a lovely but hot afternoon enjoying Latin food, wine and spirits at the 3rd annual Latin Food Fest Grande Tasting in San Diego. This event was held on August 15 between 11-3pm and for one price gave all-inclusive access to over 50 restaurants/businesses. Our experience with last year's Latin Food Fest San Diego as well as this year's Latin Food Fest Los Angeles meant we were no strangers to this tasting event! The event was held at the Broadway Pier, a heavy tourist area next to US mid-way and other San Diego sightseeing places. A parking lot with $16 all day parking was across the street from the main entrance.

This post is divided into the following sections: 1) Food, 2) Drinks, and 3) Awesome People. There were several celebrity chef sightings plus a mini interview!

Food:

We came hungry and feasted our eyes on all the delectable samples awaiting us... then our mouths carried forward the mission to eat from every booth!

Cafe Sevilla's seafood paella and patata bravas were both beautiful and enjoyable.

At West Coast Tavern, we found chicken sopas - very nice and crispy on the outer shell with shredded chicken inside.

Earlier this summer, Dennis and I joined other San Diego food bloggers for a dinner sponsored by Specialty Produce and held at Caffe Calabria in North Park.

Specialty Produce is a family owned and operated food service and retail fresh produce supplier. The above is an example of what you'd find in one of their Farmers' Market Boxes, though they also have a smaller Farmers' Market Bag available.

We were privileged to have Chef MJ Testa of Caffe Calabria and guest chef Javier Plascencia (left) with Chef Claudette Wilkins Zepeda (right) prepare the food for the evening. Items from the Farmers' Market Boxes were the inspiration of the dinner that night!

To start, we enjoyed a few drinks at the bar.

It's always Curry Time somewhere in the world!

With the coming and going of restaurants, it's always amazing to hear about how one restaurant is still thriving after many years. Dennis and I attended a special media dinner last week because Curry World in Pacific Beach is celebrating its 20th year of business. That's about twice as long as I've lived in San Diego!

Passion Roots PR planned the event and even provided transportation! Pacific Beach is not the easiest area to park in so this was definitely a plus! A white van from "the DD" ie, Drunk Driver van service pulled up to our house and off we went! We made a quick stop to pick up fellow blogger Mary from This Tasty Life. I was a little surprised that we were heading AWAY from Pacific Beach but found out we were meeting up with the rest of the group in the North Park area.

There, a Black Limo Style Mercedes Sprinter awaited us there.

We were invited to check out Isabella Artisan Pizzeria & Craft Beer Garden. On our way there, we noticed that it was on the same road as the Costco on Moreno! The elevation of the restaurant combined with Costco tunnel vision (find parking, buy stuff, wait in lines, get the hell out) has kept us from noticing it before! But once you know about something, finding it becomes a lot easier! Their parking lot is shared with a few other businesses and was half full when we got there.

After entering, the open bar area is the first area to greet you.

To the left is the main seating area. It's very spacious inside with uncrowded seating. I'm also a fan of the red accents and lighting everywhere!

The cozy, well-lit patio was the perfect choice to enjoy the great San Diego weather though. It's also pet friendly; we saw a waiter filling a doggie bowl for another guest.

If you think Taste of Hillcrest is spread out, then you haven't been to Taste of Adams Avenue! Luckily, this event includes complimentary trolleys to get you around. We had media passes for this year's event but the usual price is $35/person or $40 the day of. There's four hours to sample and you get one taste per location. More official event info is here. I'd consider this taste to have three main areas, west of the 805, east of the 15, and the big section in between! Let's explore!