Where the Chefs Eat: Richard Blais
Restauranteur, cookbook author and Top Chef star shows us around town meal-by-meal
If you pay attention to San Diego restaurants, or maybe just San Diego food, or maybe just food in general, you likely recognize chef Richard Blais. In addition to cooking, which won him first place on Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars, Richard’s resume includes restaurateur, cookbook author (see page 10 to win a signed copy), TV personality (he’s appeared on various cuisine-oriented shows on the Food Network, Fox and Bravo) and most recently, podcast host (check out his weekly “Starving for Attention” series at podcastone.com). He also owns and operates Trail Blais, the culinary company behind Crack Shack, Juniper & Ivy and more.
Where does one of San Diego’s acclaimed authorities on food dine? Tag along with Richard while he visits some of the places he goes when he’s not working.
Coffee: Bird Rock Coffee Roasters
For coffee, Richard and his 10-year-old daughter Riley (mom Jazmin and sister Embry couldn’t make it) meet me at Bird Rock Coffee Roasters in Del Mar that overlooks Torrey Pines and the lagoon. “The location in Little Italy (there’s also one in La Jolla and on Morena Boulevard) is across the street from Juniper & Ivy, so it was my first experience with local coffee when I moved to San Diego,” he says. “But this location is close to our house, and I love the view and the design.”
Menu favorites Of course the chef known for creating dishes using liquid nitrogen picks the nitro cold brew. Today, with Riley in tow, he also shares a lemon poppy seed muffin and morning bun with her.
2212 Carmel Valley Road, 619-272-0203, birdrockcoffee.com
Brunch: Claire’s on Cedros
For brunch, Richard likes Claire’s on Cedros. Claire Allison, one of the co-owners, is a friend of Richard’s, and this homey establishment with DIY windchimes, fashioned from vintage kitchen tools and spoons, which Richard collects, is a favorite Sunday brunch spot for his crew.
Menu favorites Without question, the Divorciados, a mountain of eggs, black beans, queso, grilled green onion, guacamole, salsa, tomatillo and ranchero sauces, is Richard’s go-to splurge. Riley likes the pancakes with blueberries.
246 N. Cedros Ave., 858-259-8597, clairesoncedros.com
Lunch: Mona Lisa Italian Foods
For lunch, the native New Yorker goes to the deli counter at Mona Lisa Italian Foods (above). “It recreates New York’s Little Italy experience for me,” he says.
Menu favorites “I love the sandwiches,” Richard admits, “but I come for the authentic pickled veggies and so much more as well.”
2061 India St., 619-234-4893, monalisalittleitaly.com
Something Sweet: VG Donut & Bakery
For something sweet, and always to celebrate a birthday, the Blais family visits VG Donut & Bakery, the retro bakeshop with a line out the door all morning every morning (but it moves fast).
Menu favorites Richard’s a maple bar kind of a guy, but the rest of the family appreciates variety so today he takes some iced, sprinkled, glazed, powdered and crumbled treats to go (which he shares with us) for Jazmin and Embry.
106 Aberdeen Drive, 760-753-2400, vgbakery.com