Up in Little Italy at the new Porto Vista Hotel is The Glass Door restaurant. The hotel sits up on Columbia Street and the restaurant is on the fourth floor with an engaging view of the bay. There is a skinny outdoor patio that is perfect for a glass of wine and an appetizer as you watch the sunset. A pal and I shared simple presentations of flat iron steak with arugula and cherry tomatoes ($14) and a composed blue fin tuna niçoise salad with house cured olives, capers, pan roasted haricot verts that could have used a little lettuce or green to tie the elements together on the plate ($12). Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snacking. For information and reservations: 619-564-3755.
Up on West Washington Avenue, Olivetto Cafe & Wine Bar (website not up yet) serves homey Italian food in a newly refurbished space in Mission Hills (across the street from the Lamplighter bar). The room is comfortable, wood accents and walls without adornment (they look great). A nightly special of risotto with chicken ($14) filled the bill for properly cooked rice, good chicken to make a nicely flavored, uncomplicated dish. The restaurant makes a good addition to neighborhood eating. Open for lunch and dinner. For information and reservations: 619-220-8222.
Tender Greens, in Liberty Station (on Old Decatur Rd, behind Trader Joe’s and Vons) is a unique concept that uses local ingredients whenever possible including fruits and vegetables from Crows Pass Farms in Temecula, Pacific Beach’s Pacific Shellfish, and Con Pane breads from Roseville. This is the place you go when you don’t want to cook…but want good food at very reasonable prices.
At a recent media dinner we sampled some of the angus flank steak with Yukon gold mashed potatoes, the tuna noise salad with greens, potato, egg, olives and a zippy dressing, and a Chinese chicken salad with spicy greens and crispy wontons. What is terrific about this place is all of these dishes are $10. Yep, and they are satisfying and well made. Desserts are $3 and are homemade with seasonal fruits by executive soups chef, Rain Brandenburg’s mother, Susanna. While this is a casual and eco-friendly restaurant, the food is notches above many other local eateries. The original Tender Greens is in Culver City. Open daily from 11 am. 619-226-6254.
You’ve likely already heard about Wolfgang Pucks’ latest venture, jai at the La Jolla Playhouse complex. Recently, Puck was in town for the media lunch and we sampled some of the menu. The restaurant is contemporary, fits well with the UCSD campus…and is perfect for the theater-going public that longs for the ubiquitous Kobe burger ($16) or a tasty Chinese chicken salad ($8 or $14) or even a steak from Snake River Farm ($45). One of the tastiest dishes is the miss sake broiled butterfish with noodles ($23). This is Asian-fusion done with classic Puck oversight. It’s not Sago in food or in price: Most all of the mains are in the $20 range. Great for a drink and bite before or after the show. Catering available. For information 858-638-7778.