A Family Affair: Karina’s Mexican Seafood Celebrates 40 Years in San Diego

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Welcome back to the Happy Half Hour! This week our special guest is David Contreras Curiel of Karina’s Mexican Seafood, a San Diego institution that is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week. David and his siblings are leading the family business that his parents started back in Spring Valley in 1981, and he shares with us the story of Karina’s humble beginnings. David’s father, Don Arnulfo Contreras, and mother, Maria Ines Curiel, founded the restaurant (which is named after their eldest daughter) to create a better life for their six children. Don was a good cook, so he built the business by preparing the seafood dishes that he’d grown up enjoying in his home state of Sinaloa, such as ceviche. For a short while, the entire family lived above the restaurant, and David started working there when he was six years old. Today, there are several Karina’s locations around the county, and the family also operates Savoie Italian Eatery, Taka Sushi, and Saffron Thai. David has 25 nieces and nephews, and he says they’ve all been involved in the restaurants or are currently working at them. We learned how they source their fresh seafood, the future goals for the company, and David’s expert tips on what to order when you visit. Hot Plates this week is a lot of talk about the Michelin guide (and it’s big news!). Michelin announced it awarded four stars to San Diego restaurants: Addison was promoted from one to two stars, and Jeune et Jolie, Soichi Sushi, and Sushi Tadokoro each received one star. Earlier this month, five local restaurants received Michelin’s Bib Gourmand designation: Callie, Cesarina, Ciccia Osteria, Dija Mara, and Morning Glory. What do you think about the results of the awards? Let us know! In the last news item, Andrew Bachelier, formerly of Jeune et Jolie, confirmed that he and pro skater Tony Hawk are opening a new chicken restaurant in Encinitas called Chick N’ Hawk. In Two People, $50, David Contreras Curiel recommends the quinoa bowl with chicken at Little Lion Cafe in Ocean Beach, and any of the entrées at Harbor Breakfast in Little Italy. My pick is the papa rellena at Too Sabrozo Delicatessen, a new Colombian food stand at local farmers’ markets. David Martin says to get the royal pho at Pho Ca Dao, and Troy’s pick this week is the crispy chicken buns and coconut shrimp at Sbicca Del Mar. Thank you for listening! As always, we want to hear from you. Need a restaurant recommendation? Is there a guest you want us to book on the show? You can call us at 619-744-0535 and leave a voicemail, or if you’re too shy, you can email us at happyhalfhour@sdmag.com. See you next week!

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