If watching Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern tickles your pickle, then this is the list for you. If you’re up for the challenge, these daring San Diego dishes are sure to delight.
Bice San Diego: Exotic cocktails
Bice adds a show to the dinner experience on Fridays and Saturdays by preparing exotic cocktails tableside. Try a red pepper margarita (served in the hull of a real red bell pepper) and a tobacco-infused Old Fashioned (served in a light-bulb-shaped glass packed on dry ice in a cigar box).
425 Island Ave., Gaslamp, 619.239.2423, bicesandiego.com
Bleu Bohème: Foie gras au torchon
The ever-popular French delicacy of Burgundy snails (escargot) comes served in a cassoulet with Mexican shrimp and creamy chicken oysters. But a newer dish is the foie gras au torchon. The goose liver appetizer is served with rhubarb preserves, arugula and – ready for this? – crumbled Trefoil Girl Scout cookies.
4090 Adams Ave., Kensington, 619.255.4167, bleuboheme.com
Curadero: Octopus tacos
This new Mexican restaurant inside downtown’s Hotel Palomar specializes in authentic Mexican street food like birria (a spicy goat stew). The main fare is two-bite street tacos with proteins ranging from braised short rib and pork shank to tender charred octopus.
1047 Fifth Ave., Ste. 100, downtown 619.515.3003, curadero.com
Breakfast Republic: Breakfast hot dogs
Step aside, eggs and pancakes. Breakfast Republic is putting on the dog with its new Breakfast Hot Dogs entrée: bacon-wrapped hot dogs in buns, topped with sautéed bell peppers, onions, red salsa and a fried egg; served with a side of house potatoes.
North Park: 2730 University Ave., 619.642.0299; Liberty Station: 2865 Sims Rd., Ste. 106, 619.693.5434 251; Encinitas: N. El Camino Real, 760.452.2121; East Village: 707 G St., 619.501.8280; Ocean Beach: 4839 Newport Ave., 619.255.7255, breakfastrepublic.com
Decoy: Buttermilk-fried quail
Think small with the buttermilk-fried quail at Decoy Restaurant at the Lakeside Hotel and Resort in San Marcos. Tastes like chicken, but it’s a bit sweeter and more delicate. It’s served Southern-style with a drizzle of truffled honey and a side of Carolina BBQ sauce.
1035 La Bonita Dr., San Marcos 760.621.0909, lakehousehotelandresort.com/decoy
Del Sur Mexican Cantina: Jackfruit tacos
Jackfruit, the pebbly skinned fibrous cousin of the fig and breadfruit, is a favorite with new vegetarians who say it has the taste and texture of meat. Del Sur Mexican Cantina serves marinated jackfruit tacos on tortillas with cabbage, chile crème and chipotle aioli.
2310 30th St., South Park 619.501.0643, delsurmexicancantina.com
Farmer & the Seahorse: Wild boar sloppy Joes
Chef Brian Malarkey’s café in Torrey Pines gives the old classic a twist, serving ground boar meat on a Kaiser roll with smoked cheddar cheese and sage-dusted onions.
10996 Torreyana Rd., Torrey Pines 858.260.5400, thealexandria.com/farmer-the-seahorse.
Farmer’s Table: The Barn Yard bloody mary
As restaurants compete to see who can stick the most food items inside a bloody mary glass, here comes the epic Barn Yard, a pitcherful of the breakfast cocktail served with an entire roasted chicken, seasonal and pickled veggies, bacon-wrapped shrimp and mozzarella-and-cherry-tomato skewers.
8141 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa 619.724.6465, farmerstablelamesa.com
Herb & Wood: Bone marrow pizza
This hand-tossed delight has a topping consisting of bone marrow, snails, Gruyere cheese, fine herbs and caramelized onions.
2210 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy 619.955.8495, herbandwood.com
Jsix: Duck confit rillettes
Chef Anthony Sinsay renders duck meat in its own fat and cooks it down into rillettes, a rustic pate topped with herbs and served with warm toast and housemade apricot mustard.
616 J St., East Village 619.531.8744, jsixrestaurant.com
Madison on Park: Blue Dream mimosa
The other-worldly color in this refreshing new brunch drink comes from blue-green algae, which is mixed with alkaline water, lemon, ginger and Fuji apples to create a crisp, tangy, ocean-inspired beverage.
4622 Park Blvd., University Heights 619.269.6566, madisononpark.com
Mister A’s: Caviar service
If you’re going to eat fish eggs, might as well do them up fancy-like at Bankers Hill’s rooftop restaurant. Mr. A’s luxury service includes a 1-ounce serving of caviar (Siberian, American Malossol and other varieties, based on availability) served with minced red onions, boiled eggs and parsley, and served with crème fraiche, blinis and toast points. The plating alone takes 20 minutes. Cost is $130 to $195.
2550 Fifth Ave. (top floor), Bankers Hill 619.239.1377, asrestaurant.com
Parc Bistro-Brasserie: Escargot
This year-old French bistro does a nice, classic presentation of Burgundy snails with garlic, butter and parsley. If you’re not in the mood for snails, but still love adventure, try the torchon de foie gras, served with fig jam, balsamic reduction and a side of toasted brioche.
2760 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill 619.319.9472, parcbb.com
Romesco Mexiterranean Cocina: Chapulines
This new incarnation of the former Bracero restaurant in Little Italy is embracing Oaxacan delicacies like these lightly spiced dehydrated grasshoppers from south of the border.
1490 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy 619.756.7864, romescomexmed.com
The Hake: Uni
This seaside restaurant’s 20-ounce Prime bone-in rib eye is served with a side of fresh uni, better known as sea urchin. Encased in a spiky purple exoskeleton, the creamy-textured edible center of the urchin includes the sea creature’s gonads, which produce its eggs. Both are served with smoky scallions and charred jalapeño butter.
1250 Prospect St., Ste. B10, La Jolla 858.454.1637, thehake.com
The Land & Water Co.: Braised beef tongue
Chef/owner Rob Ruiz won “chef of the fest” at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival for his crispy beef skewers, which are made with marinated and slow-cooked beef tongue. It’s billed on the menu simply as “crispy beef skewers.”
2978 Carlsbad Blvd., Ste. 110, Carlsbad, 760.729.5263, landandwaterco.com
The Taco Stand: Cactus tacos
This San Diego-born Mexican-street-food chain serves vegetarian tacos filled with strips of flame-grilled cactus (spines removed, natch), melted cheese, cilantro sauce, tomatoes and avocados.
Downtown: 645 B St., 619.546.0570; La Jolla: 621 Pearl St., 858.551.6666; Encinitas: 642 S. Coast Hwy. 101, 760.230.2061, letstaco.com
Trust Restaurant: Chicken liver toast
Chef Brad Wise’s house-made chicken liver mousse, topped with house-made mustard, is served with grilled levain braid, radish slices and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. An eye-popping dish for rare-meat lovers is the beef tartare, topped with tonnato (anchovy-spiked sauce), quail eggs, mustard seeds and Worchestershire vinaigrette, and served on a house-made lavash cracker.
3752 Park Blvd., Hillcrest 619.795.6901, trustrestaurantsd.com
Village North Chinese Cuisine: Offal delicacies
Steven Ji’s new Northern Chinese restaurant makes the most of its proteins with a wide selection of sweet and savory dishes that leave no part of the pork unloved. Among the dishes on Ji’s spring menu are sautéed pork kidney, braised pork intestine, pork lungs and crispy pig ears. Ji also serves Chinese-style steamed live fish, pretty much the freshest preparation you can get, but not for everyone.
4428 Convoy St., Kearny Mesa 858.277.1888, facebook.com/villagenorthsd