RVSD April 2012 : Page 30

Pop Stars Watch out, duck fat fries. Popcorn is re-emerging as the moment’s savory salty snack and it’s, well, popping up all over town. At the Palomar hotel’s Saltbox, dig into the brown butter and lemon version, made from heirloom black popcorn seeds (left). Leave it to the luxury cinépolis to up the ante with an entire popcorn menu, with flavors including caramel and spicy chili. At Gingham , the snack gets buzzed in margarita form, made with house-infused popcorn tequila. –AM Foodie alerT 30 | | April 2012 PueSTO iNTeriOrS PhOTOGrAPhy By JOhN DOLe; PueSTO FOOD PhOTOGrAPhy By JAmie murrAy the RADAR | now! eaT SheeT Take a STand Clockwise from right: Hillcrest’s Taco Banh elevates the taco stand with a citrus chicken taco; Puesto in LaJolla tapped S.d. graffiti artist Chor Boogie for the bold murals, which grace the airy space; Puesto’s colorful salad bowl In the Mex S.D. is all about next-level tacos and sexy Asian Taco the Town No more reluctant ventures down to Avenida Revolución for serious street food. Nowadays, authentic, chic takes on the palm-sized treats are popping up all over S.D. “San Diego has always been the place for Mexican,” says Eric Adler, who owns Puesto Mexican Street Food (eatpuesto.com) in La Jolla with his brother Alan. “But people want authenticity and the upscale street style is being widely embraced.” The Adler brothers recruited Mexico City-born chef Luis Gonzalez to craft carne asada and shrimp tacos, served with griddle-crisped, shredded asadero cheese and toppings that include grilled cactus and pineapple. >>> North Parkers have been fiercely devouring the tacos at Carnitas Snack Shack (carnitassnackshack.com). Named after the owner’s pet miniature pig, this oinked-out shack—boasting a pig on its roof and a pig graffiti wall—has a menu that changes daily, but the homemade guac and salsa-covered tacos have become so popular that they’re now a staple. And over in Hillcrest, the newly opened Taco Banh (tacobanh.com) is an Asian-accented taqueria with a to-die-for Yaki-marinated Kobe beef taco that patrons can sprinkle with wasabi cream or hoisin black bean sauces. Spicy! >>> As a follow-up to local pizza hangs Basic and Urbn, restaurateur Jon Mangini plans to serve “elevated Asian” at Gang Kitchen (gangkitchen.com), opening in the Gaslamp this summer. Executive Chef Jo Ann Plympton’s preliminary menu includes pulled kutobuku pork, Sichuan lobster crêpes, roasted butternut squash with curry and gingerbread ice cream sliders. “Instead of cooking everything in a wok, all greasy with MSG, we use fresh ingredients and French culinary techniques,” says Mangini. In Mandarin, “gang” means “steel,” so Mangini and architect Graham Downes are combining industrial elements and Asian influences, which translates to mellow lighting and a Big Ass fan, like at Basic restaurant. “It will run really slowly, perhaps with a red light behind it. It will be really sexy and cool,” says Mangini. –James Reed and Dave Moye

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