This week, Stephanie Parker, the founder of Epicurean San Diego, walks us through her Rolando Neighborhood in East San Diego.
Stephanie Parker is local food advocate, hospitality extraordinaire and founder of Epicurean San Diego, a boutique culinary tour and farm to table event company where she loves connecting her guests to how their food and drinks get to their table by taking them to some of her favorite artisan food and beverage producers across San Diego.
She serves as the Secretary for Slow Food Urban San Diego, sharing in the mission of good, clean and fair food for all San Diegans.
Stephanie loves traveling and experiencing new destinations through their food culture. In her free time, you’ll find her in her garden, out with her dogs, at a brewery with her husband or on her yoga mat.
Rolando is a quiet, charming neighborhood nestled just south of San Diego State and west of La Mesa in east San Diego.
Founded in the early 1920s, the name “Rolando” was derived from its rolling hills. Though the area didn’t really start to develop until the 1940s and 1950s, one of the first advertisements from 1928 proclaimed: “City of Rolando. San Diego’s Largest Residential Project. The Only Subdivision on Two Main Highways—Where you will love to live!”.
My husband and I bought our house in Rolando Park, the sister community South of University, back in 2015.
We loved the central location between the 94, 8 and 805 freeways and adored our neighbors, who included some original owners with amazing stories to tell, and some young families, like us.
My husband is now on the Rolando Park Community Council, and it’s been an amazing journey watching our neighborhood grow over the last few years and to see the impact volunteer-run organizations are having.
Local businesses are the heart and soul of our ‘hood, and are a major factor in why we “love where we live”.
Happy Hour at Garden Kitchen
4204 Rolando Boulevard, Rolando
If you’re a regular Edible San Diego reader, chances are you’ve heard of Chef Coral and her amazing restaurant, Garden Kitchen.
Chef Coral changes her menu daily depending on what her local farmers and fishermen can provide. On any given night of the week, you’ll find Garden Kitchen filled with Rolando locals as it’s become a neighborhood go-to spot for a great local meal and a perfectly paired glass of wine.
Speaking of wine—Garden Kitchen Wine Lounge was recently opened. Stocked with 35 wines by the glass and an epic small bites menu, it’s my new favorite place to walk with my hubby and pups for happy hour.
Insider tip: Head over to the Wine Lounge and take a wine tour. The expert behind the bar will chat with you about wines you typically like, then custom curate a flight of five two-ounce pours for $20.00.
Fresh Catch Sushi at Fish Pit
4632 College Avenue, Rolando
In the words of our trusted Catalina Offshore fishmonger, Tommy Gomes, “Good seafood isn’t cheap, and cheap seafood isn’t good.” That said, Zach at Fish Pit offers killer seafood (from Catalina) for a pretty darn affordable price.
The menu is designed so you choose the type of fish you want and then decide if you’d like it as a poke bowl, tacos or sushi. I love that we can have a super casual, high-quality meal at Fish Pit without breaking the bank.
Pro tip: Any day of the week, any group size, call ahead and let Zach know you want to do the chef’s special all-you-can-eat. It’s $30 and Zach will feed you ‘til you throw in the towel! Also, don’t miss dollar oysters on Thursdays.
Hiking & Fetch at Chollas Lake
5850 College Grove Drive, Rolando
Chollas Lake was built as a reservoir in 1901 to help serve San Diego’s water supply. In 1966 it was turned over to the Parks and Recreation department, and in 1971, it was designated as a youth fishing lake.
Chollas is the perfect spot for a morning stroll with your pup. (Or, if you’re like my husband and our crazy cattledog, a run to the lake for a couple laps.)
It’s peaceful, dog and kid friendly and has a couple different trails leading from the lake into the canyon.
Pro Tip: They have a ton of different programs, summer camps and clinics for the kiddos, but you have to sign-up in advance as they tend to sell out.
Lattes & Cold Brew at Marleez Koffee
7281 El Cajon Boulevard, Rolando
Marlene and Nick opened Marleez Koffee, a cute little shop that features Mostra Coffee, to create a place for their community to gather around a good cup of Joe.
They host a range of events and activities, and my first visit was to participate in a pop-up cycling class. My post-ride cold brew was perfect and I was hooked. Their signature drink, the Koko E Latte (a coconut latte) is the one to order.
Pro Tip: If you bring in your own mug you get 10% off.
Tri-Tip at Corbin’s Q
6548 El Cajon Boulevard, Rolando
Every morning, Corbin wakes up and lights his grill on the corner of Rolando and El Cajon Boulevards. He grew up on a ranch and has been a man of the grill his whole life, even welding his own grills and trailers.
What started as a tent at the La Jolla Farmers Market in 2013 is now a brick and mortar where guests are warmly greeted by their super friendly staff—I’m talking REALLY friendly. Corbin’s passion for hospitality and community is matched only by his passion for making great BBQ.
If you’re a first timer, get the CQ Sampler so you can taste a little bit of everything. But, whatever you do, make sure and order the Tri-Tip. It is TO. DIE. FOR. Perfectly cooked, nice and juicy. Get crazy and make it a combo with a side of country mac and cheese.
Pro Tip: They have a secret menu, but Rule #1, is to not talk about the secret menu, so with Corbin’s permission, that’s all I’ll say. If you look hard, or follow them on social media, you’ll find it.