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Gaslamp Quarter Restaurants Show Locals Some Love

Tarragon and Dijon Mussels at JSix.
Tarragon and Dijon Mussels at JSix.
Courtesy Photo

Newsflash! If you’re a San Diego local, and think dining in the restaurant-laden Gaslamp Quarter is just for tourists, then you’re missing out on some mighty fine eating! In fact, there are a number of excellent restaurants that go the distance to insure a sophisticated dining experience that will make you want to return time and again. Even better--some are currently offering “Locals Only” promotions.

At BICE (pronounced bee-chay) Ristorante, at 425 Island Avenue, Executive Chef Mario Cassineri is on a mission to delight diners’ palates with what he calls “real Italian”cuisine. Drawing on the freshness of locally sourced and sustainably harvested products, as well as top quality specialty items that he imports directly from Italy, the affable chef is adept at putting his own spin on classic dishes and conjuring up new gastronomic pleasures.Cases in point: Carpaccio di Tonno e Panzanella—a traditional bread salad is reincarnated with raw ahi tuna and micro basil greens, while Tortino di Parmeiana di Melanzone, aka Egglant Parmigiana, melts in the mouth with paper-thin eggplant slices and pesto garnish. BICE’s housemade egg-rich pastas are rich and flavorful with just the right amount of texture, and gluten-free and whole wheat pastas are always available as well. Hint: if you’re lucky enough to dine when the Black Squid Ink Spaghetti with Mixed Seafood and Mushrooms is on the menu, your taste buds will thank you profusely for ordering it.

With daily happy hours featuring $5 drink and food items, BICE has built up a loyal following among locals, because as Chef Mario says, “We care about our customers and want them to be able to dine with us regularly, not just on special occasions.” To that end, BICE has lowered prices on 50 percent of the menu items and offers frequent patrons the exclusive BICE Black Card, giving regular diners preferred seating and a 20 percent discount.

Three blocks away, in the Hotel Solamar at 616 J Street, JSix offers a 10 percent discount to anyone who lives or works in the 92101 zip code. Cultivating local fans is an extension of Chef Christian Graves’ relationship-building philosophy—all ingredients in the reasonably priced menu items are locally and sustainably sourced. Graves’ feels it is important to build long-standing relationships with both suppliers and customers to provide the best experience. Not content with cultivating only relationships, JSix boasts a rooftop garden where culinary herbs and fruits used in such wonderfully inventive craft cocktails as basil gimlets or lavender rum coolers are grown, truly accentuating the concept of “keeping it local”.

On a sparkling summer evening, a perfect starter at JSix is the Roasted Peach and Burrata Salad, with the crunch of tangy arugula balanced with the slight sweetness of honey glazed peach and the creamy lightness of the fresh cheese. Follow with appetizer or full sized portions of Slow Roasted Corn Ravioli, silky cheese-filled pasta triangles, topped with a delicate mélange of tender corn kernels, woodsy chanterelle mushrooms, and braised leeks, or Tarragon and Dijon Mussels, farmed fresh in Carlsbad. Cleanse the palate with Blackberry Cabernet sorbet with Champagne, the epitome of summer in your mouth, before indulging in your main course, Seared Rare Local Albacore Tuna, a seasonal specialty.

Join the complimentary JSix Lunch Club and get free valet parking M-F, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m., and after six lunches, your seventh is free!

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, 770 4thAve., serves not only 25 different types of pizza, including gluten-free and vegan varieties, but also a full menu of salads, tapas, pastas, specialty dishes, sandwiches, wraps, desserts and other casual fare. Enjoy a meal at Sammy’s when you attend a Padre’s game, and get 20 percent off your check when you show a ticket stub from that day’s game! The Chilled Roast Vegetable Salad goes very well with a Brie Cheese With Truffle Oil artisan pizza!

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  • City: San Diego