By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Flappin’ for tenders in Hillcrest
It’s a persistent food trend that shows no sign of waning anytime soon. Point in any direction and you’ll find a kitchen that largely slings fried chicken — or breaded, fried chicken tenders to be exact.
Joining such rivals as Main Chick in Linda Vista, Ali’s Chicken and Waffles in City Heights and downtown, Young Cluck in Normal Heights, and Chick ‘n Cone in the East Village, is Hillcrest newcomer Cluck N Sip.
The eatery is located next door to Panda Express on Washington Street. It is owned by local business partners Echo Weng and Howe Yap, whose uncle owned the former Saigon on Fifth.
* Cluck N Sip upholds the tradition of selling the tenders individually, in combo meals, or in sizable sandwiches. The chicken is marinated in salt water and vinegar and breaded with a combination of flour, corn starch and secret seasonings. There is also a spicy version that isn’t as fierce compared to other places. In addition, several dipping sauces are in the offing. Among them is honey-mustard, barbecue, and “Hillcrest sauce,” which equates to spicy mayo.
Side dishes include the usual suspects: mac and cheese, coleslaw (think KFC-style), potato wedges, and instant mashed potatoes and gravy.
As for the “sip” part in the name, the shop makes its own fruit punch and lemonade.
Until supplies last, customers can grab a free T-shirt with the company’s logo while at the order counter. When worn to the store on a repeat visit, they will receive a 10-percent discount. 120 W. Washington St., Suite B, 619-228-9236, clucknsip.com.
Did you know…
…that the upcoming, annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival (Nov. 6-12) was recently named by USA Today as “the No. 1 wine festival in America?” Out of 10 well-known wine events in the nation, it beat out the Key West Food and Wine Festival (No. 2), the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta (No. 7) and the popular Taste of Sonoma in Santa Rosa, CA.
Now in its 19th year, the extravaganza features more than 30 culinary events taking place over six days throughout San Diego County. Among them is the festival’s Grand Tasting from noon to 3 pm, Nov. 11, at the Embarcadero South in downtown San Diego. New to the grounds will be a Brandt Beef pavilion and “CohnChella,” an area operated by the Cohn Restaurant Group.
Recently added to the festival is the Grand Fiesta that will showcase the culinary talents and winemakers of Baja. It will be held in Liberty Station’s Ingram Plaza from noon to 3 pm, Nov. 12.
Individual tickets and event packages vary in price. For more information visit sandiegowineclassic.com.
Step into the world of whiskey
Distillations from Wyoming Whiskey, which operates throughout “the Equality State,” will be the focus of a tasting at 6 pm, Nov. 13, at San Diego’s under-the-radar Whiskey House in downtown’s Marina District.
The establishment was certified several years ago by Guinness World Records for housing the largest commercial inventory of whiskey in the world — about 2,800 labels when we last floated out of the place a few years back.
The tasting will be conducted by Wyoming Whiskey co-founder David DeFazio, who will oversee pourings of four whiskeys: small batch, double cask, single barrel, and Outryder. Munchies will include filet sliders, house-made sausages and a charcuterie board.
A limited number of tickets are available for $65 in advance and $75 at the door. 420 Third Ave., 619-546-6289, thewhiskeyhousesd.com.
As we enter the season of giving, we’re directing a few deserved shout-outs toward restaurants that are ahead of the game.
From now through Thanksgiving, the Sicilian-style RustiCucina in Hillcrest will donate $1 to Father Joe’s Village from the sale of each pasta serving tossed table-side in the restaurant’s giant cheese wheel. In addition, RustiCucina is the designated Toy For Tots drop-off location for Hillcrest. Unwrapped toys will be received there through Dec. 15. 3797 Park Blvd., 619-310-5291, rusticucina.com.
The Breakfast Company recently donated 50 percent of proceeds from five days of sales to Magic 92.5 Jagger and Christi’s Christmas Wish drive. The annual program provides necessities to families in need over the holidays. 8950 Rio San Diego Drive, 619-537-7166, breakfast-company.com.
Down in the Gaslamp Quarter, El Chingon Bad Ass Mexican will donate an undisclosed percentage of profits from Thursday dinner sales in November and December to Love Thy Neighbor, which raises funds for under-served communities. Monies will also go to Border Angels, which defends the rights of migrants and refugees. 560 Fifth Ave., 619-501-1919, elchingon.com.
Lauded pizzeria debuts in San Diego County
What has been all the rave in Los Angeles for 25 years is now testing its culinary prowess in Carlsbad.
Say hello to Pitfire Pizza, which is known for “fire singed” pies made with fermented sourdough crusts. As of Nov. 1, it began lunch and dinner service within a 3,500-square-foot space at the Beacon La Costa shopping and community center. The eatery also offers pick-up and delivery.
Pitfire’s menu starts out with appetizers such as roasted chicken meatballs and vegetarian white bean soup. There are several crafty salads available as well.
From the pizza selection you’ll find the PB&J topped with pineapple, bacon and fresh jalapeños. There is also pesto chicken, the “field mushroom,” and the “smashing pumpkin,” mantled with goat cheese, leafy greens, pumpkin oil and pepitas.
Organic vanilla soft serve and house-made chocolate chunk cookies are among the sweet endings.
The Carlsbad opening marks the company’s ninth location with most others scattered throughout California. 7720 El Camino Real, Suite A, Carlsbad, 760-203-6642, pitfirepizza.com.
–Frank Sabatini Jr. has been writing about food in San Diego for over 35 years. He launched his own food blog during the pandemic, called, “The Hash Star,” which you can follow at thehashstar.com. He can be reached at [email protected].
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