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Candelas celebrates 10th anniversary downtown

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On June 7, 1999, Mexican Nouvelle restaurant Candelas opened its doors at 416 Third Avenue and began a flourishing, reciprocal relationship with its downtown neighbors. Ten years later, it is still there with many of the same staff and guests frequenting its dining room and lounge.

"We began with the desire to build relationships with everyone that comes through our door," said Alberto Mestre, proprietor of Mestre Restaurant Group. "Our commitment to consistency in our food and our dedication to first-rate service has helped those relationships grow into friendships and our business increase prosperity over the years."

Of course, behind every successful restaurant lies a talented chef with a keen eye on the food, the menu and the presentation of his or her creations. Chef Eduardo Baeza provides a key ingredient in the secret sauce that has made Candelas a distinguished restaurant among San Diego dining establishments.

Baeza stepped into the world of fine dining at the age of 18 where his interest in the cooking style and flavors of France led him to Maxime's, an exceptional French restaurant in Mexico City. There, he mastered the art of culinary creation and developed his knowledge of French preparation and presentation.

Combining that knowledge with his passion for Latin flavors, he brought his talent state-side to create the Candelas menu. Today, he continues to deliver innovative Mexican nouvelle cuisine with a style and taste slated for sustained success.

Candelas shows appreciation for the supportive relationship it has with its neighbors with special recognition and generous happy hour offers. On a typical weekday, between five and seven, you'll find a handful of downtown residents in the lounge enjoying half-price appetizers and the famous homemade Candelas margarita.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary, Candelas is offering the tapas-style appetizer platter than has been popular since 1999 for the new price of $19.99. The platter was created to promote sharing and warmth, which are essential elements in Latin cuisine.

"On this special day, we also celebrate our loyal guests, dedicated staff members and quality suppliers for their continuing support as partners in our growth," said Mestre. "We are convinced the next 10 years will provide Candelas with even more opportunities to grow and to bond with the communities we serve."

Due to the success of Candelas' downtown location, the Mestre Group has opened a location in Coronado to share its unique culinary creations and dining style with a new market.

Whisknladle opens gourmet take-out eatery

The managing partners of Whisknladle restaurant announced the opening of Prepkitchen, a gourmet take-out eatery serving quick bites, complete lunches and fully balanced dinners in downtown La Jolla. Inspired by all the prep work that goes into making food from scratch, Prepkitchen serves handcrafted, artisanal food offering the convenience of to-go dining without compromising the quality of the meal.

"The success of Whisknladle has been so rewarding and we are excited to further expand our signature brand with the opening of Prepkitchen," said Arturo Kassel, managing partner of Whisknladle and Prepkitchen. "Our goal is to make the handcrafted cuisine we serve at Whisknladle accessible to those who want to dine in the comfort of their own home or want to grab a quick meal to eat-in on their lunch break."

Ryan Johnston, executive chef of both venues, has fashioned an a la carte take-out bill of prepared foods, made fresh daily, with a special emphasis placed on fresh high-quality proteins and organic produce purchased from local farms.

Prepkitchen's dinner menu, available all day from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. offers a selection of prepared entrees such as Niman Ranch Pork Loin Porchetta, Roasted Jidori Chicken, Braised Lamb Shoulder, and Handmade Pasta of the Day. Served by the half pint are side dishes of vegetables, starches and snacks such as Chicken Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, Squid Escabeche Ceviche, Rustic Potato Salad, Marinated Olives and more.

Also available is a cutting board of the house-cured meats and artisanal cheeses. Lunch menu items consist of a homemade soup of the day and a variety of salads and sandwiches. Other unique features include half bottles of wine carefully selected to complement the food and served at retail prices to-go and with an $8 corkage fee for dining-in. Retail and catering options allowing customers to order their own platter of antipasto, cured meats and artisan cheeses for easy entertaining are also offered.

Visit prepkitchen.com for more information.

Karl Strauss awarded 'Best Brewery'

Karl Strauss Brewing Co. was recently awarded the distinction of Best Brewery at the 25th annual Gold Medallion Banquet for the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association. The Gold Medallion awards recognize San Diego's "best of the best" and the company is proud to be on the list, edging out stiff competition from Stone Brewing Co. and Ballast Point Brewing Co. The Best Brewery category was just added last year and Karl Strauss has taken home gold both times.

"We are honored to have been chosen for this award," says brewmaster Paul Segura. "There were some great local breweries on the list and I think some of the bigger beers we've been releasing along with some interesting projects helped us to defend our title."

"It's a cool feeling to know people are still responding strongly to our beers two decades later," Segura said.

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