BY ANDREW BETITA, Chef Aestus (Santa Monica, California)
As a San Diego-native, chef Andrew Betita knows the best places to get your grub on.
Currently headlining a brilliant modern and farm-to-table-inspired menu at Aestus – a contemporary hotspot situated right on the sophisticated Wilshire Boulevard – Betita is bringing his master chops from his run as sous chef in various renowned restaurants in southern California. But he credits his early years at Jose Andres’ The Bazaar at the SLS as a period where he learned the most to form his current culinary style: modern and traditional Spanish cuisine and its underlying connections to the Mexican and Filipino dishes he grew up cooking and eating with his family.
At Aestus, don’t miss his brilliant new American cuisine, including:
fire-roasted chicken that comes to life on the open kitchen’s wood-fired grill to soulful housemade pappardelle to grilled lamb chops that find their foil in whatever hyper-seasonal ingredients are at their peak.
When it came to where should we go for a delicious bite in San Diego, chef Betita gave us a hearty list that will make your next trip an incredibly tasty one!
1. Galaxy Tacos
This year my sous-chef and I have been traveling to Baja and eating a lot of progressive Mexican food. The cuisine at Galaxy Tacos is delicious, wonderfully sourced, technique driven and stunningly beautiful! I’ve made it a point to stop by every time I head down to see my family. I always order the birria clams and a grilled trout. Chef Trey Foshee is killing it!
My cousin Irene first brought me to TJ Oyster Bar a few months ago. Every time I’m here I always order a dozen oysters and a tamarindo michelada (or three). It’s a family-owned restaurant, which recently opened a second location down the street from the original.
Facebook/TJ Oyster Bar
If you love Mexican seafood, then Oscars is THE spot to get your grub on! The fish is fresh and the flavors are spot on. Make sure to order some fish tacos and the mixed ceviche (fish and shrimp).
Some of my favorite people in San Diego live down the street from this gem. Claremont has excellent Japanese food and Yokohama Yakitori Koubou certainly stands out. The meat is so fresh and they always nail the execution. I love to eat the chicken tails, chicken skin, chicken thigh and a pitcher. I love chicken!
Facebook/Yokohama Yakitori Koubou
Tita’s Kitchenette makes great home-style Filipino food. I stop here when I need my afritada or sinigang fix. Spring for some lumpia and finish it off with a turon and a halo-halo. I’m allergic to peanut butter, but I hear the kare-kare is killer!
If you’re game, then Restaurante Casa Plasencia is well worth the wait at the border and on your way back home from Tijuana! The octopus will blow your mind and they have delicious wines from El Valle de Guadalupe, where they specialize in big red blends. Make sure to head upstairs and get an education in matador history, where the walls are beautifully plastered with torero memorabilia and art, chronicling Tijuana bullfighting.
Have an amazing meal of your trip at chef Andrew Betita’s Aestus Restaurant.
What do you think of the chef’s recommendations? Let us know in the comments.