Just Opened: Shake Shack at UTC

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photo: Shake Shack

If you’ve never heard of Shake Shack, that’s all about to change. The restaurant started in a literal metal shack in New York City in 2004 and served up traditional Chicago-style hot dogs, “roadside” hamburgers and “concretes” (frozen custards with mix-ins). The lines got longer and longer as the restaurant’s popularity built to a fever pitch. Luckily, you no longer need to book a trip to the Big Apple to indulge in a ShackBurger because they have brought the shack to UTC Mall for hungry San Diegans to enjoy. But does it live up to the hype? Read on to find out!

photo: Michelle Franklin

Burger, Veggie Burger and Hot Dog Lovers Rejoice!
Although the menu is pretty typical for a burger joint, the food sounds so amazing it will be hard not to say “One of everything, please.” Their all-natural Angus burgers start basic and build from there. ShackBurgers add cheese and special sauce, SmokeShacks include Niman Ranch bacon. Vegetarians can opt for the ‘Shroom Burger, which features a fried portobello mushroom filled with cheese. And the Shack Stack? Well, that combines the best of everything: a cheeseburger topped with a ‘shroom burger.

If franks are more your thing, there’s the Shack-cago Dog featuring pickles, relish, tomatoes and mustard and the chicken dog—a chicken, apple and sage sausage made especially for the Shack. Other savory items include a chicken sandwich (spicy or not) and crinkle-cut fries–– served plain or topped with cheese or bacon & cheese.

photo: Michelle Franklin

For Small Fries
While they don’t have a specific kids menu, you won’t have a problem finding something your crew will devour. Shake Shack is also willing to customize their food, so if your finicky eater insists on a plain burger slathered in ketchup or a hot dog with no bun, the kitchen is happy to oblige. And even though it’s not listed, don’t be afraid to ask for the off-menu grilled cheese sandwich made with American cheese and hamburger buns.

photo: Michelle Franklin

Save Room For Dessert!
Make sure you save room for dessert! They don’t call it the ‘Shake’ Shack for nothing. Their hand-spun shakes are rich and creamy and come in classic flavors like vanilla, peanut butter and salted caramel. They also have featured shakes like cookies ‘n’ cream. If you want something even more indulgent, try one of their concretes with an array of mix-ins. The Hopscotch includes chocolate toffee, dark chocolate and caramel sauce, while the S’more Peanut Butter Please has peanut butter sauce and a s’more bar from local favorite San Diego bakery Elizabethan Desserts.

Whet Your Whistle
Wash it all down with craft beers from San Diego and Brooklyn, including Modern Times, Latitude 33 and their very own Brooklyn Shackmeister. If you need a caffeine kick, they pour Stumptown cold brew, a variety of sodas and iced tea. Kids can sip Honest Kids apple juice.

Doggie Bag
And because we love our dogs, there’s a special “Woof” section on the menu featuring the Pooch-ini: a dog biscuit, peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard.

photo: Michelle Franklin

Local Influence
Not all Shake Shacks are created equally. Each location tries to embrace the style of its city. For UTC that means a light, airy dining area with ample patio seating. Bright green highlights play off the metal accents and wood tables (made from reclaimed wood) for a relaxed but modern feel–just like our hometown.

More importantly, Shake Shack partners with local businesses and non-profits. In addition to the local beers they serve and the Elizabethan Desserts s’mores bars, they’ve also partnered with Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon. When you order the Pie Oh My — a seasonal slice of Betty’s pie topped with frozen custard — five percent of the sales will support I Love a Clean San Diego.

photo: Dianne A via Yelp

San Diegans love burgers and with Shake Shack in town, we now have another amazing option when the craving strikes. With a cult following and so many tempting choices, long lines may be unavoidable for the foreseeable future. But you can cut down on wait times by arriving right at opening or by ordering via Shake App, which should launch for UTC soon.

Shake Shack
4309 La Jolla Village Dr., #2350
San Diego, Ca 92122
Online: shakeshack.com
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Have you been to Shake Shack yet? Let us know what your favorite menu item is in the comments.

––Michelle Franklin

The Most Cravable Cupcakes in San Diego

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Cupcakes will always be a favorite dessert––especially among kids who get their own personal portion of sweetness to hold in the palm of their hand. Cupcakes are also cuter than cake and prettier than pie with no utensils required to dig right in. Scroll through our gallery of local cupcakeries serving up the best-looking, best-tasting treats in town, in delectable flavors like s’mores, strawberry shortcake, salted caramel––even lemon pinot grigio!

Coronado Cupcakery

This cupcakery is owned by four sisters who were all raised on Coronado. They bake their cupcakes fresh each day and also serve muffins and Caffe Calabria coffee. Cupcakes come in creative flavors with fun names like Sassy Jackie (strawberry yogurt cupcake with vanilla cream cheese frosting) and Mexican Maria (Mexican chocolate cupcake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting). All cupcake flavors are also available as full cakes.

Coronado Cupcakery
Coronado Ferry Landing
1201 First St., #104
Coronado, Ca 92118
Online: coronadocupcakery.com

Photo by Coronado Cupcakery via Facebook

Where’s your favorite spot to bite into a cupcake? Let us know in the comments.

—Michelle Franklin

5 Fun & Festive Holiday Cooking Classes for Kids

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Some of the sweetest holiday memories involve food––so this season, teach your eager kitchen helpers valuable culinary skills by taking them to a festive cooking class! Pint-sized chefs and bakers can whip up everything from French crepes to pumpkin pie and autumn soups. Along the way, they’ll also learn how to measure and mix and the benefits of shopping “in season” for produce. Who knows? Maybe this is the year your littlest elf will bake Santa’s cookies himself! Read on for where to cook up some holiday spirit and delicious delights.

Artful Chefs: Junior Chef Winter Camp

Artful Chefs has a Junior Chef Winter Camp that will have your budding bakers creating beautiful French pastries. They'll learn how to whip up delicious tarts with cream filling, eclairs with ganache icing and the traditional Buche de Noel with fondant sculpting. They'll also learn important cooking techniques like using a hand mixer and piping bags, oven safety and ingredient prep called mise en place. The 3-day camp is for kids ages 8-15.

Date/time: December 26-28, 2017, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Cost: $80/session or $225 for all three

Artful Chefs
2515 Pioneer Ave.
Vista, Ca 92081
Online: artfulchefs.com

Photo: Artful Chefs

Tell us what you love cooking with your family during the holidays!

––Michelle Franklin

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Photo: Pop Pie Co.

Nothing feeds the soul and pleases the belly like comfort food. We’re talking pizza pot pie, the creamiest, dreamiest mac ‘n’ cheese, nachos made with tater tots instead of chips and more mouthwatering dishes that will leave you floating on cloud 9. We put our taste buds to work to find San Diego’s yummiest comfort food dishes. These culinary delights will give you the perfect dose of delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Read on to learn about hidden gem meals the whole family will gobble up!

Photo: Pop Pie Co.

Pop Pie Co.
You can’t go wrong at a restaurant with the motto: “In Pie We Crust.” This University Heights pie shop is a huge hit with families, serving up sweet and savory pies that rotate seasonally. In a genius move, they’ve combined two classic comfort foods—pie and pizza—and rolled them into a Pizza Pot Pie stuffed with pepperoni, veggies, mozzarella, basil and parmesan. Think of it as a San Diego calzone!

4404 Park Blvd.
San Diego, Ca 92116
Online: poppieco.com

Photo: Amanda R. via Yelp

EmpireHouse Urban Palate
This Mission Hills restaurant and bar is an updated version of the original that opened in Rome, New York in 1900 as a boarding house. It’s hard to be nostalgic about french fries because we eat them all the time, but tater tots always feel special. EmpireHouse’s “tot pots” take tater tots to the next level with delicious add-ons. Try the “tots Mcgee,” which come loaded with chopped bacon and melted white cheddar cheese, topped with sliced green onions and sour cream. We’re not drooling, you are.

127 University Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92103
Online: empirehousesd.com


Photo by The Trails Eatery via Yelp

The Trails Eatery
Once featured on Restaurant Impossible, this San Carlos spot offers down-home cooking for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast specialties include French toast made with croissants, corned beef hash and eggs, and granola banana waffles. But if you really want to indulge, go for the decadent—and oh so comforting—sin-a-mon pancakes. They combine everything you love about cinnamon rolls and pancakes into one, including delicious cream cheese frosting. We flip for this flapjack every time.

7389 Jackson Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92119
Online: thetrailseatery.com


Photo: Lemonade

This cafeteria concept originated in Los Angeles, but now has outposts in Hillcrest and at Westfield UTC Mall. Forget the mushy peas and soggy pizzas from your school cafeteria days; Lemonade serves up a variety of modern takes on the classics. For instance, their mac ‘n’ cheese ditches the processed cheese powder for real cheese and cream to create a super indulgent, heavenly pasta delight. And don’t forget to try one of their specialty lemonades while you’re there!

3958 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92103

4525 La Jolla Village Dr.
University Town Center, Unit D35
San Diego, Ca 92122

Online: lemonadela.com

Photo: Noel M. via Yelp

Solace & the Moonlight Lounge
This North County cousin to North Park’s Urban Solace, serves up an array of tummy-satisfying meals morning, noon and night with daily lunch and dinner and weekend brunches. Chicken wings, tomato soup and cheddar and chive biscuits are some of the tasty treats you’ll find on the menu. But if you’re really craving comfort, order their Wild White Mexican Shrimp ‘n’ Organic Grits which comes with sautéed peppers, caramelized lime and garlic butter.

25 East E St.
Encinitas, Ca 92024
Online: eatsolace.com

Tell us where you get your comfort food fix in the comments!

— Michelle Franklin

That’s Amore! Say Ciao to These 5 Gelato Spots

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“Gelato” may be Italian for ice cream, but don’t be fooled into believing they’re the same! Gelato is smoother, denser and more intensely flavored than its American cousin. Classic flavors include chocolate, pistachio and stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate shavings), but you can also try variations like panna cotta and strawberry basil. So gather the famiglia and scroll through our guide to see where to ‘ciao’ down on this Italian treat. Your taste buds will say “Grazie!”


As the name hints, this North County gelato shop is located in Escondido. They use local, in-season produce and carefully sourced chocolate and nuts in all their daily-made gelatos. Flavors rotate depending on the time of year, but look for sorbettos such as passion fruit, blood orange and pear. Gelato options include coconut, thin mint and candied maple bacon--it's practically breakfast! Speaking of which, they serve a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads too.

122 S Kalmia St.
Escondido, Ca 92025
Online: escogelato.com

Photo: EscoGelato via Facebook

Where’s your favorite gelato spot? Let us know in the comments!

––Michelle Franklin

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If the thought of sleeping in a tent on dirt in the wilderness sends shivers up your spine, but your kids really want to go camping this summer, we’ve found the perfect happy medium: a cozy stay in a retro, adorable vintage trailer! Use our guide to find where to take your clan to stargaze and roast marshmallows from the desert to the beach, while not having to earn a badge in surviving the great outdoors with no amenities! Read on for 5 Airstream and RV vacays to book now and hit the road.

Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort

Located close to Anza-Borrego State Park, Palm Canyon offers a little bit of everything: vintage trailers, Airstreams, hotels or spots for your own RV. The trailers feature an outdoor shaded area and come stocked with fresh linens. Everyone has access to swimming pools, WiFi, cable and an onsite restaurant. Spend the days observing desert wildlife and the nights observing the stars.

Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort
221 Palm Canyon Dr.
Borrego Springs, Ca 92004
Online: highwaywestvacations.com

Photo: Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort via Yelp

Have you ever stayed in an Airstream or RV “hotel” with your kids? Tell us about it in the comments.

— Michelle Franklin

Donut Miss Out on This Summer Dessert Trend!

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Photo: CREAM

Jelly-filled donuts are so yesterday. The ‘it’ dessert of summer is almost too good to be true: a donut ice cream sandwich! That’s right, the latest culinary craze combines two classic, decadent treats into one: cool, refreshing ice cream + glazed, chewy donut = donut ice cream sandwich meeting euphoric little tastebuds. We’ve found the best spots around town to get your hands on this super sweet pairing. Read on for the scoop.

Photo: Cookie Monster Ice Cream via Facebook

Cookie Monster
This East County ice cream shop prides itself on its premium handmade, small-batch ice cream that comes in eye-poppingly bright colors. The signature Monster Donut comes with two scoops of ice cream and can be topped with everything from cereal to mini chocolate chip cookies to mochi. Order yours with one of their specialty drinks (frappes, smoothies and milk teas) and your Monster Donut will be served right on the straw!

Cookie Monster
1591 Magnolia Ave.
El Cajon, Ca 92020
Online: cookiemonstericecream.com


Photo: The Baked Bear

The Baked Bear
Started by two childhood friends from San Diego, this custom ice cream sandwich shop has locations all over the city. You can mix and match your “bread” here between cookies, brownies and donuts. Cookie on top and donut on bottom? Sure, why not! Original-recipe ice cream flavors include Bear Batter, Rocky Road and Salted Caramel Fudge. Once your sandwich is assembled, roll it around in toppings like mini M&Ms, sprinkles or Oreo crumbs. You can even heat it up so the outside is nice and warm and the inside is still cool and creamy.

The Baked Bear
5950 Village Way
San Diego, Ca 92130

See website for additional locations.
Online: thebakedbear.com


Photo: Coronado Spice & Tea via Yelp

Coronado Spice & Tea
A spice and tea shop doesn’t sound like the most likely place for delicious ice cream and donuts, yet this North Park spot offers all of the above! Pick up some ancho chilies and grab a coffee and ice cream! There’s a rotating menu of local Mariposa ice creams and all can be sandwiched between a flaky glazed donut that can be rolled in an array of toppings and drizzled with chocolate or caramel sauce. Oh, did we mention there’s BBQ next door?

Coronado Spice & Tea
3202 32nd St.
San Diego, Ca 92104
Online: coronadospiceandtea.com


Photo: Donut Bar

Donut Bar
Maybe sandwiches aren’t your thing. Maybe you’re thinking the best part of ice cream is the CONE. You can still indulge in the donut/ice cream fusion by visiting downtown hotspot Donut Bar who have magically transformed their delicious donut into a cone, which they will fill with a rotating menu of lush ice cream. Oh, and you might as well pick up a maple bacon donut while you’re there!

Donut Bar
631 B. St.
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: donutbar.com

Photo: Afters Ice Cream via Facebook

Afters Ice Cream
With locations throughout Southern California, the much-Instagrammed Afters has finally arrived in San Diego. And with it comes the milky bun, the donut’s Asian cousin. Fill yours with mouth-watering ice cream flavors like Vietnamese Coffee, Mint Monster or Acai Blueberry. Roll it in everything from sprinkles to cereal to mini peanut butter cups. Lines can be long, but good things come to those who wait!

Afters Ice Cream
855 Garnet Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: aftersicecream.com

Where’s your favorite spot for indulgent ice cream sandwiches? Tell us in the comments.

— Michelle Franklin

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Photo: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

We’re betting our bottom dollar that this summer’s Del Mar Races are chock-full of exciting family fun. From the adrenaline-rush of cheering at the horse races to a slew of kid-centric activities for your little jockeys, this season is packed with special events and fun surprises. Read on to see just how to horse around at the track.

Photo: Del Mar Racing on Facebook

They’re at the Starting Gate!
July 19th is Opening Day and there will be plenty to see and do, including the annual Opening Day Hat Contest, so make sure to wear your most stylish toppers! After Opening Day, races run Weds.-Sun. plus Labor Day. Gates open at noon every day except Friday, when they open at 2 p.m. There are some exceptions, so make sure you check the calendar before heading out. Admission runs $6 – $30 depending on the day and those under age 17 are free (but must be accompanied by an adult). Parking is $10 – $15 with a tram service for those who prefer not to hoof it.

Photo: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Camp Del Mar & Family Weekends
If your kids don’t think watching mom and dad wager on horses sounds like fun, take them somewhere they’re guaranteed to have a blast: Camp Del Mar. Located onsite, this camp entertains kids with crafts, hippity-hop races on the race track, mini golf and more. Kids ages 5-12 are welcome to come to camp from noon until 30 minutes after the last race. Camp costs $24/child, which includes lunch, a snack and a T-shirt. Parents must remain at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club while kids are living it up at camp.

There are also plenty of special events sprinkled throughout the summer season, which will bring you back to the track time and again. Every weekend through the summer season is Family Weekend at the racetrack. Head to the infield for pony rides, stilt walkers, face painters and more. Racetrack admission is free for children and $6/adult. All infield activities are free.

Photo: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Family Fun Days
Family Fun Day is Sun., Aug. 6th from 12:30-6 p.m. Visit the infield for plenty of free activities, including rock climbing, trampolines, pony rides and magic shows. Children under 12 will also get a free Webkinz plush horse.

July 29 and August 12, why not start the weekend off right by heading to the racetrack for Donut Day? From 8-10 a.m. enjoy delish donuts, piping hot coffee and yummy OJ while enjoying Q&A’s with the jockeys and watching the horses during their morning workouts.

Photo: Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Food Trucks Over Fillies
If your family is more interested in food than fillies, the Gourmet Food Truck Festival is your best bet. On Sat., July 29 from noon-6 p.m., over 40 trucks will line up, serving a wide array of tasty eats, ensuring there will be something for even the pickiest ponies.

Daybreak at Del Mar
If you’ve got an early riser (and what kid isn’t?) make hay while the sun shines and head to Daybreak at Del Mar. Every Sat. & Sun. during the summer season, from 7:30-9:30 a.m., guests can enjoy breakfast in the open air restaurant, watch morning workouts and get in on behind the scenes info from former jockey Jeff Bloom.

Del Mar Racetrack
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar, Ca 92014
Online: dmtc.com

What’s your favorite thing about Del Mar Racing Season? Share in the comments.

––Michelle Franklin

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We get it, video games are fun. But wouldn’t it be so much cooler if your little Katniss Everdeen or Luke Skywalker stepped away from the screen to go on an adventure in real time? From archery and Lightsaber combat classes to fencing and training to become a Ninja master, summer is the perfect time to pick up an exciting new hobby and San Diego has plenty of offbeat class offerings for kids to think outside the box (or the boob tube). Read on for the scoop.

Ninja Kids at Gyminny Kids

Kids can train through three separate levels to become a Ninja Master at this exciting class which combines gymnastics, martial arts and freestyle movement in an hour-long class that's jam packed with fun. Each class focuses on form, agility, climbing and power. What a great way to channel and burn off extra energy!

17022 Camino San Bernardo
San Diego, Ca 92127
Online: gyminnykids.com

Does your kid have an offbeat hobby? Tell us about it in the comments!

––Michelle Franklin

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Nothing beats a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. The handheld meal of golden, crisp bread paired with gooey cheese is a crowdpleaser that both kids and adults want to gobble up. We’ve found where to go to sink your teeth into the best grilled cheese around the city. You won’t believe some of the twists on this classic sandwich that restaurants are dishing out! Read on for our top picks. Our mouths are watering already…

Photo: Grater Grilled Cheese

Grater Grilled Cheese
This local chain began as a popular food truck before opening a brick and mortar location in Mission Valley. They’ve since expanded to La Jolla and Del Mar. After all, why should North County be deprived of the top-selling lobster grilled cheese? Another favorite is the BAT with bacon, avocado and tomato. Non-sandwich options include truffle fries, salads and mac ‘n’ cheese. They also serve local craft beers and wine.

Grater Grilled Cheese
5618 Mission Center Rd., #1002
San Diego, Ca 92108

723 Pearl Street
La Jolla, Ca 92037

3545 Del Mar Heights Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92130

Online: gratergrilledcheese.com


Photo: Dan E. via Yelp

Brothers Provisions
This artisan market and deli located in Rancho Bernardo has a little bit of everything: they cater, they have a small market and they serve hot dinners like roasted salmon. But lunchtime sandwiches are the most popular, including the DGC or “daily grilled cheese.” You can dine on a smoked gouda sandwich while your kids enjoy the aged white cheddar.

Brothers Provisions
16451 Bernardo Center Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92127
Online: brosprovisions.com


Photo: Cheesy Express via Yelp

Cheesy Express
You can order from the menu or make your own unique grilled cheese creation at this casual Mission Beach spot. Go for the Mom’s Classic—simple cheddar and American on French bread, or opt for the most popular—BBQ and Mac Melt, which includes BBQ pulled pork and mac ‘n’ cheese between two slices of bread. They also have plenty of dippable soup options including tomato basil and broccoli cheddar.

3219 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: cheesyexpress.net


Photo: Extraordinary Desserts

Extraordinary Desserts
The Little Italy location of this beloved dessert spot has more than just sweets! They also boast a full menu of salads, paninis and grilled cheese. While they offer simple versions for kids, adults can indulge in versions with black truffle gouda or bacon jam. Tomato soup is also available and of course you’ll want to save room for dessert.

1430 Union Street
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: extraordinarydesserts.com

Photo: Grace O via Yelp

This beloved food truck is famous for its grilled cheese. But not just any kind of grilled cheese—this one has butter-poached lobster in it. If seafood’s not your thing, other melty options include pork belly, short rib, or duck confit. They also serve cheeseburgers, cheesesteak and truffled parmesan fries.

Online: deviliciousfoodtruck.com


Photo: Cheryl C. via Yelp

Supernatural Sea to Sandwich
This Mira Mesa sandwich spot specializes in seafood that is local, fresh and sustainable. Get the Aphrodite—shrimp and bacon grilled cheese, or the Minotaur—a Korean steak grilled cheese topped with kimchi. Go for the usual side of fries or change it up with fried rice and togarashi shrimp chips.

7094 Miramar Rd., #122
San Diego, Ca 92121
Online: supernaturalsandwiches.com

Photo: Moto Deli

Moto Deli
Get your motor runnin’ by heading to Moto Deli for a grilled cheese sandwich that’s a triple threat with a trio of cheese: provolone, aged white cheddar and munster, paired with tomato and oregano and grilled to a golden finish on sourdough bread. Kids can also order off the “Groms” menu for ages 12 and under, from a selection including quesadillas and gourmet turkey/cheese or ham/cheese sandwiches. After their bellies are full, your little munchkins will be ready for a super cool photo op standing beside the sweet collection of motorcycles on site.

810 N. Coast Hwy. 101
Encinitas, Ca 92024
Online: motodeli.com

Did we miss your go-to spot for amazing grilled cheese? Let us know in the comments.

––Michelle Franklin

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