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Travel the world in South Park

Vagabond: Kitchen of the World

Fall is upon us; no more sharing the beaches with summer tourists and for a brief moment we get our highways back. It also means restaurants have to work twice as hard to get customers in the door.

With prix-fixe menus starting at $20 per couple in some local eateries, this is a perfect time of year for trying a restaurant that you have had your eye on. So, with that in mind start checking your to-eat list and consider the following suggestions for a fun and inexpensive night on the town.

Try a quick Google search of the restaurant by name as it may pull up recent articles that describe seasonal specials and other recommendations. Next, go to the actual restaurant Web site and check for daily or weekly events and meal deals.

Don’t just rely on Yelp, as there are plenty of other independent sources to tap. I personally prefer Opentable.com for restaurant reviews and dining out points as they are always good for planning future nights out. I trust Opentable.com and have talked to their management and public relations team on many occasions and I have always found them to have integrity and to be very honest.

One of my little “fall finds” is a restaurant that describes its concept as a “Travel journal put into a restaurant.” Vagabond: Kitchen of the World restaurant embodies world travel and its pleasures and you don’t need to go further than the community of South Park for the experience.

Vagabond brings you the flavors of France, Vietnam, Morocco and the Caribbean with a unique and eclectic menu. Long hailed as one of the more romantic restaurants in the county and recipient of the Silver Fork Award from San Diego Home & Garden and named San Diego Magazine’s Best Restaurant 2008, Vagabond is, truly, the world on a plate. The restaurant has introduced a prix-fixe menu every Wednesday night for $49 per couple. This consists of a shared appetizer, selected entrées and a shared dessert. It is worth noting that the entrées change weekly, allowing you the excuse to visit more often.

The Vagabond’s wine list is extensive and offers wines from seven countries starting at $6 per glass. Daily happy hour is 4-6:30 p.m. with $2 off wine, beer and well drinks, excluding the signature cocktails. Happy hour also offers selected food items like Korean Style Pork Ribs for $6, the famous Crispy Calamari for $5 and many more options for you to discover and enjoy.

The new executive chef is Tom Connolly, 34, the former chef of Wood Tavern in Oakland, Calif. Connolly has an extensive background in seafood, classical French and Pacific Rim cuisine and will be introducing the new fall menu by the end of October. Chef Connolly will certainly be one of the chefs to watch in San Diego.

If you have not been to Vagabond it is time to put your travelling shoes on and make your way there; and guess what – you won’t even need your passport.

Vagabond: Kitchen of the World
2310 30th St., San Diego, CA 92104
Tel: 619-255-1035

Mike Spradley is a regular contributor to San Diego LGBT Weekly’s The Restaurant Insider, by Christopher J. Hile.

insider scoop

Halloween isn’t much of a restaurant holiday, but that doesn’t mean it is not a food holiday. Now I’m not talking about the mounds of Snickers, candy corn, and Skittles that people devour this time of year. I’m talking about that big round orange thing you didn’t have time to carve triangular holes into. Forget about pumpkin pie – or at least wait until Turkey Day to make yours; here’s a completely fresh use for that big orange thing I think you’ll find absolutely irresistible:

Pumpkin cheesecake crumble squares


1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced

1 cup pecan halves (about 4 ounces)

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup pure pumpkin

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger


1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Using on/off turns, blend first 4 ingredients in processor until coarse meal forms. Add pecans; using on/off turns, process until nuts are chopped. Add oats; process using on/off turns until mixture is moistened but not clumping. Press 3 1/2 cups crumbs onto bottom of prepared square pan (do not clean processor). Transfer remaining crumbs to lined baking sheet. Bake crumbs on sheet until golden, stirring once, about 12 minutes. Cool crumbs. Bake crust until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.

For filling:

Blend all ingredients in same processor until smooth. Spread filling over warm crust; bake until set, dry in center, and beginning to rise at edges, about 20 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

For topping:

Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Spread evenly over hot filling. Bake until topping sets and bubbles at edges, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. Sprinkle crumbs over topping; gently press into topping. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours. Do ahead. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Cut into squares.

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Posted by on Nov 1, 2011. Filed under Restaurant Review. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Travel the world in South Park”

  1. Mike, I like Vagabond, but looks like you need a new travel map: Vagabond is in North Park! South Park/North Park boundaries have been established for over 100 years and are well known.
    South Park ends at the south side of Juniper. There is absolutely no confusion on this, except, curiously, in the promotional media. I assume the restaurant owner wants to be associated with SP, but what is wrong with being in North Park? Nothing!

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