Axios San Diego

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It's Friday, the weather is shaping up to be great and the Dodgers are coming to town. It's all happening — really!

  • Today's weather: Coast — Cloudy today with highs near 65. Inland — Partly cloudy with highs around 70.

Today's newsletter is 903 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: A roadmap to San Diego's growing food scene

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

San Diego hasn't always been a great food city, says San Diego Magazine critic Troy Johnson. But now, it's arrived at that bleeding edge of being the country's newest and next big food scene — where the most excitement and culinary growth happen.

Why it matters: Restaurants tend to reflect the people in a city, and San Diego is cultivating talented chefs, culturally diverse concepts and sustainably sourced dishes that are keeping it on the cusp of being a food destination.

Between the lines: San Diego restaurants are either going big by investing into the experience with over-the-top design to create a scene (think Lafayette Hotel) or streamlining their operations to counterservice (like It's Raw Poke Shop).

  • Rising food, rent and labor costs squeezed out the middle ground of sit-down neighborhood bistros.
  • Fast-casual spots are on the rise, but they're more creative, innovative and have better food than ever before, Johnson told Axios.

Driving the news: San Diego Magazine recently released its Best Restaurants of 2024 issue that's "a butter-drenched bible to our sizzling dining scene, bursting with all the bites, sips, chefs, and trends."

  • It features critic and reader picks for everything from upscale, Michelin-recognized restaurants (Callie) to hole-in-the-wall birria spots (Ed Fernandez) and the best Filipino food in the city (Lia's Lumpia).

Dig in: Wolf in the Woods in Mission Hills was named restaurant of the year.

  • The European-inspired wine bar and tapas cafe "feels more like home than my own home," Johnson said.
  • The sweet corn-and-piñon soup is one of the best things he's ever tasted.

What we're watching: This year, North Park finally made good on its promise to be San Diego's next culinary epicenter, Johnson said.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Troy Johnson's thoughts on San Diego's status as a food city.

Zoom in

2. 📉 Housing funds to San Diego fell in 2023

A stacked column chart showing federal and state funding for housing production and preservation in San Diego County in fiscal years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. Funding dropped from $725m to $631m over that time period.
Data: California Housing Partnership; Chart: Axios Visuals

California and the federal government gave San Diego County less money last year than in 2022 to build or preserve low-income housing.

Why it matters: The 13% decline in funding comes in spite of a regional shortfall of 134,537 rental homes that are affordable for some low- and very low-income households, according to a report from the California Housing Partnership and the San Diego Housing Federation.

By the numbers: San Diego County received $236 million from state housing programs in the fiscal year that ended in 2022, but that slipped to $188 million last year.

  • Federal housing sources also fell — from $489 million in 2022 to $442 million last year.

How it works: Low-income housing developers compete against each other for state and federal money to finance their projects, and their applications are considered more competitive if they can secure local dollars to match.

What they're saying: Danielle Mazzella, the report's author with the California Housing Partnership, said some yearly fluctuation is inevitable, based on when projects are ready to seek state or federal support.

  • "A dedicated source, though, would solve a lot of problems," she said.

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3. The Lineup: Catch up on local news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🗣️ Douglas Hamm, owner of a property eyed by Mayor Todd Gloria for a new 1,000-bed homeless shelter, has agreed to revised lease terms with the city after officials balked at the initial deal. The new deal would charge less rent, run for a shorter term and call for Hamm to share renovation costs. (Voice of San Diego)

🦀 Tuna crabs — which are actually lobsters — are swarming San Diego's coasts. The crustaceans have been pushed from their usual home in the high seas to San Diego's canyons by El Niño currents, researchers believe. (New York Times)

🎓SDSU's graduating students will pass through metal detectors at commencement this weekend as the university boosts security due to nationwide Gaza protests. (Union-Tribune)

4. 😎 Legit low-key kickbacks

Wonderfront's dance club tent. Photo: Courtesy of Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival

If you're headed to the Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival this weekend, check out our insider guide (including free events open to the public).

If not, here are some other options:

TODAY

San Diego Padres

Stand for good against evil as the Los Angeles Dodgers come to town for a three-game series.

🦐 Gator by the Bay

Take in the annual three-day bash with more than 100 acts playing zydeco, blues, rockabilly and New Orleans jazz on seven waterfront stages.

🌸Carlsbad Flower Fields

It's the final weekend to stop and smell the ranunculus flowers at the 55-acre farm that's a spring tradition.

🎺 Mariachi Sol De Mexico

Enjoy one of mariachi great José Hernández's two touring acts.

SATURDAY

🧘🏼‍♀️Mamaste yoga

Relax at a free yoga class and then socialize over coffee with other moms while your kids make Mother's Day cards.

🎡 Fiesta de Los Peñasquitos

Take in the annual street festival for Rancho Peñasquitos with live music, food and craft vendors, and carnival rides.

🍷 Coronado Art and Wine Festival

Taste wine at a street festival, with more than 80 artists displaying their work.

SUNDAY

🪶 Balboa Park Pow Wow

Celebrate 45 years of service from the San Diego American Indian Health Center with traditional crafts, performances, dances and music.

🌊 San Diego Wave

Root on the Wave against defending NWSL champions Gotham FC during AAPI Heritage Night.

Our picks:

⚾ Andy is expecting a strong showing from the Padres this weekend.

💕 Kate is reminding everyone to call your mom Sunday.

This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by James Gilzow.