Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Best Things I Ate This Month: February 2019

Braised beef noodle soup at Din Tai Fung, octopus salad at Biga, and smoked carnitas taco at Lola 55


Braised Beef Noodle Soup @ Din Tai Fung

For this month’s review, I headed to the world-famous house of soup dumplings (xiao long bao, or XLB), Din Tai Fung, which recently landed at UTC Westfield. For research, I tried seven San Diego restaurants that were renowned for their XLB (you can see the results of our hunt in this story). DTF has some truly good food, but it wasn’t their XLB that blew me away. It was the other dishes, from the fried rice to the green beans, and especially this braised beef soup. This soup is everything a broth should be, the flavors developed so deeply that it could be consumed, happily on the edge of delirious pleasure, as merely a broth. But then you add the chunks of slow-cooked beef, thick noodles, and veggies, and this ranks alongside or above the best pho or ramen in the city.

4301 La Jolla Village Drive, UTC Westfield


Octopus Salad @ Biga

Arguably one of the best places in San Diego to get lunch, the made-fresh Italian restaurant specializes in sandwiches and salads. I’ve eaten through almost everything on the gluten-heavy part of the menu, so on this trip I tried the warm octopus salad. The key to octopus is tenderizing it properly, or it comes off freaky looking, like seafaring pencil erasers. Biga’s is perfectly tender, pieces of tentacle placed among a bed of arugula, smoked buffalo mozzarella, Calabrian chili aioli, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Honestly, octopus is one of those proteins that I usually order only when I trust the chef or restaurant, and Biga continues to earn that trust.

950 Sixth Avenue, Downtown


Smoked Carnitas Taco @ Lola 55

The sheer value of Lola 55 is shocking. The East Village fresh-taco concept has an accomplished chef behind the line in Andrew Bent, who spent time at Chez Panisse and Tender Greens. He’s using hyper-fresh, top-notch ingredients and ratcheting them up by braising, smoking, curing, pickling, you name it—and pricing them between $3.25 and $5! I’ve questioned whether they can survive on such low prices for such high quality, but owner Frank Vizcarra swears the numbers pan out (he’s one of the country’s top restaurant-business minds, so I believe him). For the carnitas, they’ve got pork shoulder confit, crisped maciza (lean, white pork), shaved tomatillo, avocado mousse, pickled red onion, and cilantro on a corn tortilla. If I lived in the East Village, I might eat here every day.

1290 F Street, Downtown

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Experience Estancia’s newly revamped restaurant as an Insider

Toast the new Mustangs & Burros with craft cocktails and charcuterie

Your Restaurant Promiscuity Is Out of Control

How social media is making, and breaking, our neighborhood restaurants

Save the Date: San Diego’s First Bartender Shakedown

On March 2, twenty-one of the region’s best bars will be serving drinks under one roof
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Subscribe to the Blog

Edit ModuleShow Tags

SD Food News

The hottest thing in San Diego food right now just might be Tijuana.

About This Blog

Restaurant reviews, food trends, top cocktails, wine, beer and generally the best eats and drinks in San Diego, by Food Editor and general good guy Troy Johnson.

Recent Posts

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Sony Consumer Electronics Innovator Builds a Future Where Robotics and Connected Devices Prevail

Robust music and pictures ecosystem bring bespoke experience to TV and audio

Live the Dream with the Dream House Raffle

A multimillion-dollar dream home, fabulous trips, luxury cars, and more could be yours
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags