Isabel Cruz

Effectively a self-taught chef with cooking in my blood, I drew influence from my Latin family and the Korean, Thai, and Japanese families living nearby. Food, for all of us, was a central topic, and once I saw how a great meal started great conversation and friendship I never looked back.
Barrio Star Taco
EVENTS
Chef Showdown: Chef Showdown is a unique fundraising event that features two teams of San Diego's top chefs competing in Iron Chef style on September 18th. In past years, Chef Showdown featured many local and national celebrity chefs, food critics, and talent which has included Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room, Emmy award winner Sam the Cooking Guy and the Food Network's Marcela Valladolid of Mexican Made Easy. Top local chefs will compete for culinary victory using surprise ingredients and ingenuity.
EDUCATION & EXPERIENCE
Barrio Star. San Diego, CA. Chef Owner
Dragonfly. Ashland, OR. Chef Owner
Coffee Cup. La Jolla, CA. Owner
Isabel Pearl. Portland Oregon. Chef Owner
Stargazer Farms. Sandy, OR. Owner
Isabel's Cantina. San Diego, CA. Chef Owner
SKILLS & EXPERTISE
Accounting
BOH operations
Food sanitation
Food styling
Food/menu costing
Ingredient sourcing
Inventory control
Kitchen management
Labor cost management
Leadership
Menu development
P&L management
Product ordering
Time management
Her food is exotic, fresh, dynamic--and healthy! Taking the fusion craze to the next level, Isabel manages to allow for, and encourage, healthy yet delicious choices in all her menus.
GALLERY
VIDEO

  • Cooking with tequila

  • Isabel Cruz Prepares a Refreshing Drink for Cinco de Mayo
Share
Isabel Cruz
Isabel Cruz
San Diego, CA
United States

Isabel Cruz Restaurant Group
Chef Owner


Effectively a self-taught chef with cooking in my blood, I drew influence from my Latin family and the Korean, Thai, and Japanese families living nearby.  Food, for all of us, was a central topic, and once I saw how a great meal started great conversation and friendship I never looked back.  Drawing from these influences and experiences, I've spent my career re-creating that feeling in my restaurants.

I began by opening a small group of restaurant/coffee houses in San Diego in 1990.  The 3 Mission Café Concepts were a very successful starting point to my life as a restaurateur.   In 1998, I was ready for a new challenge and took a role as Shareholder.

Starting in 1995, my vision had grown, and I began the next phase by taking on the Coffee Cup Café in La Jolla.  It's a great little 18-table diner blocks from the beach in a vibrant part of town.  Coffee Cup was the original name from years back, and even though we are a full-serve breakfast & lunch restaurant, we kept the name.

Since then, I've opened 2 other San Diego restaurants.  Isabel's Cantina in Pacific Beach serves as our "flagship" restaurant where I find myself testing new menu items and working with new ingredients.  Barrio Star in Bankers Hill is more New Mexican fare.  It's hip & edgy, and a great place to grab ala-carte tacos & specialty margaritas.

In addition to the San Diego Restaurants, we have a wonderful space in scenic Ashland Oregon.  Dragonfly Café & Gardens is situated underneath a Cabaret Theater 1 block off of Main Street.  We also have a wonderful Restaurant, Isabel, in the Pearl District in Portland.  It's glass walled and has an open kitchen, giving people a very urban dining experience.

In 2009, we found a beautiful but abandoned Lilly Farm in rural Sandy, Oregon, 15 miles outside of Portland.  Situated above the Sandy River, we acquired this amazing 60 acre farm and have restored the beautiful farmhouse and many of the auxiliary buildings.  Over the last 3 growing seasons, we've expanded our production and are now supplying produce to our Portland restaurant and many other local restaurants.  We also host weddings and other events at the farm.  I'm very proud of Stargazer Farms and what it is becoming.

2007 brought a big milestone.  I released my first cookbook, Isabel's Cantina, with Random House.  It was a great way for me to share my food concepts in a way that people could relate with.  I was fortunate enough to have Isabel's Cantina named as one of the New York Time's top cookbooks of the year.