Three San Diego Date Night Ideas: Bracero, Caffe Calabria [Giveaway] or Cook with Specialty Produce

Three cheers for date nights! Papa Bird and I have a professional Disney princess who babysits and sings. And with the Little Birds happily entertained, we are starting to venture out to more San Diego restaurants. Here are three of my top date night picks in San Diego for foodie couples — including a giveaway to one of them below.

Abby of Baby Birds FarmMany thanks to Jenny from Vintage Sugar Cube for the picture of Papa Bird and me.

Disclaimer: Specialty Produce invited us to a night of fresh Italian and Mexican dishes by chefs Javier Plascencia of Bracero and MJ Testa of Caffe Calabria in order to sample their Farmers’ Market Boxes. There was no obligation to write about them and my decision to post was based on my excitement to share them with you. Opinions are my own, as always.

shrimp and squash from specialty produce, made by chefs javier plascencia of bracero and mj testa of caffe calabria

1. Modern “Baja Med” Fusion at Bracero in Little Italy

Javier Plascencia’s restaurant empire in Tijuana ranges from the modern MisiĆ³n 19 to Mediterranean/Mexican “BajaMed” fusion and often features fresh Baja California ingredients. Over the last decade, he has frequently outshone most San Diego chefs. Bracero Cocina de Raiz, named after a guest worker program that brought Mexican labor up to the U.S., is his second restaurant this side of the border (after Romesco in Bonita), opens tonight in Little Italy, and is at the very top of my list of San Diego restaurants I most want to visit. Check out a sneak peek of their modern Mexican fusion menu here, and see why I can’t wait.

Below is a sample of what to expect: Yucatan-style cochinita pibil sopes, made from heirloom corn masa, slow braised pork, heirloom beans and fermented pineapple. You can make a reservation for their upstairs dining room here, or try your luck walking in to the more casual downstairs and crudo bar. And if I haven’t convinced you to try Plascencia’s cuisine, maybe Jonathan Gold or Dana Goodyear can.

cochinita pibil sopes made by chef javier plascencia of bracero at a specialty produce event at caffe clabria

2. Neopolitan Pizza and Craft Cocktails at Caffe Calabria in North Park

When I was chipping away at my Masters of Social Work, I often studied at Caffe Calabria. I usually ordered a Viennese and brought home a bag of the beans they roast on site. Since then they have added a traditional wood-fire pizza oven from Naples, and brought in chef MJ Testa. Caffe Calabria has also started mixing craft cocktails with the same level of attention they bring to the coffee bar. Enter to win two free pizzas from Caffe Calabria at the bottom of this post.

My favorite dish of the night was chef Testa’s Grilled Prawns with farmer’s market box squash and peppers in a cream sauce, inspired by the Amalfi Coast of Italy. I was too busy chatting and the first dish she put out was inhaled by the crowd. For dessert, she roasted white donut peaches and served it with a honey marscapone crema.

As an aside, they have done a lot to renovate the upstairs and back patios. I would definitely look into Caffe Calabria for hosting a private event. The building was once a bank and has tons of character. North Park has changed a lot since I lived there, and there are a ton of bars and clubs to walk to after dinner. Want to be the lucky couple to win dinner there on me?

caffe calabria cappuccino with a roasted doughnut peach by chef mj testa

You can see more of our night in the gallery below.

3. Cook at Home with a Specialty Produce Farmers Market Box

Specialty Produce also sent us home with a sample of the Farmers’ Market Box. If you have been a long-time reader of Baby Birds Farm, then you know how much amazing produce Papa Bird has grown over the years. Lately, with the drought, he had been letting much of our veggie garden convert to native plants and flowers. We were impressed with the Specialty Produce Farmers’ Market Box and plan to order more. I also am partnering with Specialty Produce to offer my readers a $2 discount off every box if you create an account here and enter the group code BABYBIRD when setting up your account. Full disclosure: I’m not getting any kick backs, but I not so secretly hope they will like me and invite me to events like this one. If you credit me for the referral by using the code I will be forever grateful.

Example of a Specialty Produce Farmer's Market Box

a Rafflecopter giveaway

14 responses to “Three San Diego Date Night Ideas: Bracero, Caffe Calabria [Giveaway] or Cook with Specialty Produce

  1. Wherever did you find a Disney princess who babysits? That sounds awesome!

    • Suzanne, pretty cool, huh? She is my boss’ niece. She also brings her 12-year-old cousin as a babysitter in training, which the Little Birds just adore.

  2. We love date nights…both for evenings we can get out without the kids, and even at-home date nights which we try to do a couple times a month after the kids go to bed. Last weekend it was homemade crabcakes with coconut rice. Great giveaway!

  3. I need to find a Disney princess to babysit! Grandma and Grandpa will do until I find one though. :)

  4. Med Fusion? sounds amazing! And princess sitter? Even better!

  5. What a sweet giveaway. Love your photography too!

  6. I love specialty produce – they always have great events and if i recall correctly a knife sharpening guy…. I would love to get back there again for a future date night. But, Caffe Calabria will do just fine in the mean time!

  7. What a great round-up of San Diego restaurants! I need to get out of N. County and try some of the great downtown offerings!

  8. Pingback: Roasted Beets, Radishes, Squash and Green Beans with an Orange-Dill Vinaigrette [Recipe] - Baby Bird's Farm and Cocina

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