The flavors of the Mediterranean have arrived in the East Village at chef Travis Swikard’s new restaurant Callie.
The Late Bloomer cocktail paired with hummus topped with spicy green zhoug and pita.
The spot prawns al ajillo are served with a warm baguette.
After honing his skills under the watchful eye of iconic French chef Daniel Boulud at the Michelin-starred Café Boulud in New York City for more than a decade, San Diego native Travis Swikard has returned to the West Coast to bring his dreams of owning his own restaurant to life. Meet Callie, a new California-Mediterranean concept in the East Village, where Swikard has tapped chef Dustin Karagheusian, an alum of La Jolla’s Catania, and sommelier Tyler Grimsley to join him on his next culinary journey. Here, the chef dishes the details on bringing Callie to life. 1195 Island Ave., East Village, 619.255.9696, calliesd.com
What inspired you to open Callie? Aft er roughly a decade cooking in New York City with some of the best talent, including my mentor, Daniel Boulud, I was ready to return to my hometown and embed myself in the culinary fabric of the city—from the local farmers and fishermen and women to other chefs and restaurateurs, all collectively working together to make San Diego an even better place as a dining destination.
What was the inspiration behind the name itself? Named after the Greek word kallos, meaning the most beautiful, Callie draws from the flavors of Greece, Spain, Italy, Morocco, the Middle East, and every place along the Mediterranean coastline, and combines those flavors with a Southern Californian sensibility.
Crunchy Egyptian carrots with orangehabanero dressing.
The interiors are beautiful. Who executed the design? I enlisted L.A.-based Studio UNLTD, whom I’ve admired for years through their work on L.A.’s Bavel and Otium, among others, to create an inviting, fun space that doesn’t take itself too seriously and pays homage to San Diego’s surf and skate culture through subtle design aspects.
“The bar represents a wave, reminiscent of guests getting barreled beneath it, while much of the seating was inspired by the shapes of skate ramps,” notes chef-owner Travis Swikard, pictured above.
And what should we order? I definitely recommend starting off with the dips—hummus, babaghanoush and avocado labneh—to really gain an understanding of what we’re all about at Callie. Our Baja kampachi is a can’t-miss item as well, truly a bite of San Diego with green Israeli hot sauce that we make in-house, avocado and lime. Th e Aleppo chicken is also a standout and has quickly become a guest favorite. Pro tip: Order an extra pita and bring the rest home for lunch the next day. Our uni toast is also very popular; it’s our take on pan con tomate. To drink, you can’t go wrong ordering our Kook Juice cocktail made with mezcal, tequila, passion fruit, Aleppo pepper and lime. If you really want to try a little bit of everything, our Mediterranean Feast is the way to go to allow us to curate your dining experience.
Photography by: LUCIANNA MCINTOSH