Walking past El Vitral along the open stadium of Petco Park, shelves of premium tequila glisten in the restaurant window. Walking into the establishment, it becomes evident that tequila is definitely a theme. And why not? It is a quality product from Mexico, which falls in line with Chef/Owner Pablo Becker’s whole vision. His vision is to introduce all things good from fine Mexican cuisine and changing the way San Diego views Mexican food. If that isn’t the best first impression, wait until you walk into the main attraction, the open kitchen. Floor to ceiling stainless steel wrapped in glass pane, the kitchen is the ultimate centerpiece. Chef Becker compares the development of a restaurant is like fitting together pieces of the puzzle. He knows because he speaks from experience. When he first started in the restaurant business his mentor asked him to start like any other employee with no prior experience; by washing dishes. From there, he went through every step of the business from the bottom up. Today, as a restaurateur, he knows a restaurant inside and out and top to bottom. In fact from the hostess to the bartender, all are trained to answer any questions a patron might have about the décor, the various brands of tequila and most importantly, the food. Also on his team is Chef de Cuisine Norma Martinez. She heads the concept menu and blends items in like grandma’s mole recipe. With Chef Becker’s depth of culinary skills, extensive restaurant experience, and love for the restaurant industry, El Vitral is a definite home run.
Some restaurants don't only speak for themselves, but yell. And you should be caught by Mama Testa, every dish is made from scratch. In an age when fusion is all the rage, Mama Testa is happy to show that going back to the authentic is by no means archaic. Each dish represents a focus on the traditions and techniques responsible for producing complicated flavors and textures. This is all especially true when fish tacos are the topic of conversation. Mama Testa was the first restaurant in San Diego to take on Bobby Flay, as part of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. And although these tacos may not have been the original cause of Mama Testa's good reputation, besting Flay was a great way to prove that it was one fish taco you don't want to miss.What made all this possible is Cesar Gonzalez, owner of Mama Testa, and his passion for Mexican cuisine and culture. He didn't want free range chicken just for the health reasons or because it was the current trend, but because only free range can bring out the flavors realized by the dishes as they are made in Mexico. In fact, all the fresh ingredients are for making Mexican food the way Mexicans do. And Cesar knows that just the food is not enough to give a sense of the culture, so he has made sure that while you dine, you can't help but notice the decor; pieces taken from themes of the golden era of Mexican movies and chairs baring actor's names. The entire idea of Mama Testa Taqueria is to fill your senses with the flavors, smells and sights of Mexico. A goal it has surely achieved.
The concept of advanced skincare is very foreign to me. Even more foreign is the idea of having someone squeeze my pores to extract goop out of face. I've been using bar soap on my face for all my life, Dove, Neutrogena, Dial, Irish Spring, you name it. This has served me well for most of my adult life, but I'm older now, and my years of neglect are definitely evident, especially in Facebook pictures. It was a recent Facebook picture which I quickly untagged that prompted my visit to Moxie Skincare. My forehead was shiny, I had dark circles under my eyes, and my crow’s feet looked like eagle’s talons. I looked tired, haggard and old.Elizabeth was highly recommended by my lady friends and her salon was conveniently located so I figured, “what the hell, I'm gonna get me a facial” (it didn’t hurt that she was drop dead gorgeous).I’ve always thought of facials as a luxury for the affluent. Unnecessary pampering for people with way too much disposable income. I was wrong. Elizabeth was awesome. The facial I received was nothing like what I expected; it was clinical yet relaxing (I actually dozed off during portions of it…maybe even drooled). She asked me what my skin concerns were, walked me through every step of my facial, recommended products and provided a regimen for me to follow at home. I’ve also noticed a difference in my skin immediately after the treatment and days after.Her office was beautiful, clean and had plenty of free parking. I’ll definitely be back!
When first entering Qticles on a mid-weekday morning, the room was dimly lit causing me to think they had not yet officially opened. However, within seconds I was warmly greeted by the owner and upon glancing behind her, I saw that there were three employees sitting calmly at their stations, talking softly to each other, waiting to start their work day. The bright orange hue that serves as the backsplash to this open and roomy space creates a dual energy to the business. Somehow it generates both a vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere in which to spend an hour or two indulging in manicures, pedicures and facials. Being in the Pacific Beach neighborhood for six years, Qticles has seen a variety of clientele from beach wanderers to wedding parties to groups of friends looking for a fun girls' night out. The owner casually chatted with me about nail polish tips and colors and was comfortable letting me explore her salon. So while they welcome walk-ins, judging from her friendly demeanor, I can see why they have repeat customers who rely on them for their pampering needs. On a relaxed block in an eclectic area of town, mornings find crowds trickling in at a slower pace. But as I was leaving Qticles, three girls walked in, each wanting a French manicure, and the nail technicians that were relaxing earlier were quick in prepping their stations for their first of what I would assume many customers of the day.
Went with a friend to this Spa. The woman at the desk was very friendly. She informed us of the services that they offer and what time(s) they could fit us in because we were not scheduled appts. and it was Saturday morning. We paid our fees and wen to the back area to wait for body scrub/massage. There were shower stalls, steam sauna, and dry sauna, also hot tub. They also have a relaxation room where you can take a nap or just relax. They also have lounge chairs and offer complimentary coffee, tea, and water. When you are called for your scrub/massage, you go to this corner of the room where you lie on a table covered with plastic and the scrubbing begins. You are scurbbed head to toe, front and back. (Not for the extremly shy, because you are totally naked). The only person clothed is the attendant. After the scrub, you are rinsed with very soothing luke warm water and then the massage begins (if you opt'd for that). Scrubbing attendant was very professional (doesn't speak much English), but was good at his job. Your genitals are exposed, but never touched and when possible, he has your junk covered with a hand towel. You are never made to feel weird or uncomfortable. Afterward, you get dressed, grab yourself some water and check out with the woman at the desk. Great place if you have a couple of hours to spend and want a refressing Korean style scrub/massage for $100.
11/16/2010Four Seasons Nails & Hair
When I entered the salon, owner, Phillip Nguyen was already in the midst of giving a pedicure to a loyal customer. Before opening his own salon in Pacific Beach three years ago, he had been working in La Jolla where this particular customer had been a client. When he moved, so did she. Customer loyalty is one of the draws to this tucked away salon on Cass Street. Although, at first skewed from view, this doesn’t keep customers, old and new, tracking it down for a pleasing pampering experience. The salon is open and bright, playing easy listening music and providing an overall relaxing vibe and friendly engagement from Phillip. The salon caters to the nail care of both women and men. Phillip advises that many men from the nearby golf course do need their nails buffed from time to time. And the beaches can do a number on people’s feet, leading them to come see him to smooth and beautify them. When he’s not busy on the nails end of things, he also does facial waxing and is a hair stylist. Although the salon does have four nail technicians, it’s fair to say that Phillip is the jack of all trades able to perform any service for his customers coming in for nail, skin or hair treatment. Judging from his easygoing personality, I can see why he has loyal customers who see him for repeat visits and why a newcomer might make the decision to come back.
WorldSpa is an intimate full service salon and day spa that is tucked into a charming area of UNiversity Heights. Upon entering the salon, it seems limited in terms of space, but this is not the case at all. Worldspa opens up in the back including a 2500 square foot courtyard decorated with beautiful statues and ornaments. The courtyard setting is zen and tropical with a private thatched roof cabana, a 450 gallon splash pool, and the sound of fountain water. Inside, the spa has an infrared redwood dry sauna, a eucalyptus steam shower, and four additional thatched roof cabanas. Also, the relaxed attitude of the staff makes you feel comfortable while inside or out. The spa looked so wonderful that I had to experience their services for myself. I received the "chocolate massage". After entering a candle lit private room I was told to lie on the internally heated massage table and relax. The soothing music playing in the room made it easy for me to fall asleep. I was gently wakened by the masseuse who proceeded to massage me with chocolate oil. This oil, along with all the other oils used at WorldSpa, is made in house. I overheard talk about marshmallows in the waiting area before my massage. I didn't understand it then, but that's exactly how I felt after my WorldSpa experience.
PB House of Style has been in business for ten years and is run by Vanh and her three sisters who are all stylists. Catering to both men and women for haircuts, highlights, coloring and waxing, this trio has created a relaxed and fun atmosphere for those seeking services a couple blocks from the beach. Whenever I visit a salon or am looking for a new stylist I make sure to check out the goods, meaning I rate the stylist's hair. I was able to speak with Anna, a stylist and one of Vanh's sisters, and was immediately envious of the style and color of her blonde hair. She said it's great working with her sisters and they cut and color each other's hair, which is great for them since they are professionals.Top 40 music plays in the background and the latest fashion magazines line the table. It's the kind of upbeat, comfortable vibe that you would expect from a family run business who all work in a field they love. It's a clean and simplistic decorated salon without being dull. It's an upbeat feel without being overwhelming. PB House of Style is in a great location being only a couple of blocks from the beach on one of the main streets in Pacific Beach, Grand Ave. It's been a staple of the community for a decade but is also a great find for newcomers looking for a new hairstyle or look.
Dream Hair Design is all about becoming the person you dream yourself to be…at least when it comes to your hair. “If it’s dream-able, it’s achievable,” claims Staysea Hodge, owner of Dream Hair Design and variations on that motto are painted on every wall of his salon. Staysea has been cutting, designing, and doin’ do’s for the last twenty years, catering mainly to Hillcrest’s African American community in everything from weaves to highlights. The salon itself looks dreary and small from the outside. On the inside, however, it is buzzing with life and energy at each of the seven cutting stations, all of which are usually occupied simultaneously. The stylists become quick friends with the customers, joking around while they start an up-do or retouch a series of cornrows. The prices at Dream Hair Design will not break your bank: ladies can get a number of services ranging from $25.00 to $100.00 and gentlemen can walk away with their ears lowered for a handsome $10.00. Plenty of parking is available behind the store, as is a private room for hair projects that might take more than an hour or two to complete. “Whatever you want,” Staysea remarks in regards to his business, “it’s a dream a way.”
Order the Squash Blossoms...Order the Squash Blossoms...did you hear me? Order the Squash Blossoms!My friend and I ate here before going to the theater and the biggest problem was I ate way too much and was uncomfortable during the entire musical. Nothing like watching Wicked while turning green yourself! Seriously, the squash blossoms are so delectable and light, full of flavor, and simply one of the best appetizers I've ever had. We also shared the polenta board, which is polenta severed table side with the ragu of the day. The polenta was creamy and delightful, and the ragu is always different ours was filled with summer veggies and full bodied flavors.For our main courses I ordered the spring lamb bolognese rigatoni and my friend ordered the short rib pappardelle. I really wish I had stopped eating half way through my pasta, however it was so delicious I couldn't control myself. Cucina Urbana is totally worth putting on your list of places to mangia!