Throughout his career, chef Richard Sandoval has been showered with accolades, from Bon Appetit's prestigious Restaurateur of the Year award in 2006 to a 2011 semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard "Outstanding Restaurateur" award; the 15+ concepts in his eponymous Richard Sandoval Restaurants span the globe from Los Angeles and New York to Quatar and Dubai.
His latest opening is a little closer to home for this Orange County resident; Sandoval just launched his first San Diego-based restaurant, and the second location for his Venga Venga Cantina and Tequila Bar concept, in Chula Vista's Otay Ranch Town Center.
Taking over and transforming a 6,000 square-foot space that was most recently occupied by El Vitral, Venga Venga hope to distinguish itself from its predecessor by offering a menu combining Mexican favorites and more chef-driven cuisine, steered by resident chef de cuisine Marissa Gerlach (Ritz Carlton).
Sandoval, who does have fine dining concepts in his restaurant stable, says that white tablecloths have gone by the wayside and that Venga Venga speaks to our culture's new way of eating. Here, that translates to sharable plates, two daily happy hours (one late night) and a bar that offers over 100 tequilas and mezcals. A bottomless weekend brunch, for $35, includes limitless sweet and savory breakfast dishes and cocktails.
When Eater asked Sandoval which of his concepts he might open next in San Diego, he told us that an offshoot of Toro Toro (DC, Miami) would be a good fit. He recently launched Toro to great success in Belgrade, Serbia; calling it a "Latin gastrobar", Sandoval said that Toro's premise centers around Pan-Latin cuisine and mixology.
· Venga Venga Cantina and Tequila Bar [Official Site]
· All Eater Inside Coverage [~ESD~]