Highlights from the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival's House of Blues After Party and Grand Fiesta
The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival celebrated its 19th year in grand style, once again taking America’s Finest City—and beyond—by storm. Growing just about every year since its inception [pandemic era notwithstanding], the festival’s astounding cuisine, exquisite drink and the vibrant culture covered a full week of elevated events across town, as well as an annual escape south of the border. This year’s array of festivities drew in the largest crowd on record, with attendees flying in from across the country.
A new attendance watermark and broad draw are well-founded: The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival has been rated as one of the top food events in the nation. Some of the top culinary talent in both Southern California and Baja California are the foundation for the event’s rich history, as well as the many local wineries, breweries and distilleries that give both regions their reputations in the beverage world. And yet again, adding to the bottomless tastings and live entertainment was another perfect San Diego weather weekend. Not too many places where you can sip and savor to your heart’s content amidst an cloudless 80-degree day in mid-November.
While the Grand Tasting undoubtedly stands as the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s flagship event, across a week of culinary festivity there are two other exceptional gatherings that should certainly be on people's radars: the House of Blues After Party and the Grand Fiesta. These events not only complement the festival's offerings but also bring their unique flavors to the table.
The House of Blues After Party brings the festival to San Diego’s Gaslamp District on a Saturday night. After the sun sets on the grand tasting, this after-party kicks off in style, creating an electrifying atmosphere where food, wine, and music harmoniously blend. For those who can rally from their grand tasting-induced food coma, this soulful celebration finds the perfect balance of upbeat food and drink festivity with lively party vibes.
There’s no question that good taste remains the after-party’s top priority. Grind & Proper’s Chef Quinnton Austin’s Alligator andouille cheesecake bites were nothing short of mind-blowing. Sushi on a Roll’s Chef Jeff Roberto came with an entire tuna in tow, providing the crowd with more sashimi than most have ever seen at one time. Add on tartare and scallop ceviche atop bone marrow, carnitas fries and more for a top-tier culinary assortment that should motivate any foodie to rally from their grand tasting-induced food coma.
Champagne and craft cocktails kept the party going. Tequila Cazadores Cristalino, Mt. Gay Rum, Westward Whiskey and wines from Danza Del Sol were pouring across the venue’s fun maze of rooms. An intimate crowd (by festival standards) enjoyed weaving their way in and out of the multi-dimensional House of Blues, enjoying beachy oldies from Band Overboard from the concert floor as well as stadium seating in the floor above.
The party flows right into Sunday, where the Grand Fiesta takes the spotlight as a true showcase of San Diego's iconic Mexican food scene. Taking place in Point Loma’s Liberty Station, the Grand Fiesta has risen as an international coming-together of nearly two dozen taco purveyors from across San Diego and neighboring Baja California.
Creativity flows as freely as tequila and Mezcal throughout Liberty Station’s grounds, where the elevated takes on tacos ensure that there's a taco for every palate. Coco Maya’s short rib tacos were nothing short of eye-fluttering while the ahi tuna skewer tacos atop homemade flour tortillas from Amores drew in oohs and aahs from deep within. The wanders were seemingly endless, with even more incredible tortilla-enclosed creations from the likes of Coasterra, Puesto, Palmy’s, Sandbar and more adding to the Grand Fiesta scene.
Alongside the delectable taco offerings was an array of margarita and Mexican lager tastings, as well as wines from across Baja. Live music wove the festivity together, with a vibrant crowd taking in another blissful summer-like day to wrap up a record-breaking year.
For more information on The San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival and to stay updated on what’s in store for 2024, visit SanDiegoWineClassic.com.
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