San Diego's ‘Sam the Cooking Guy' to Open Taco Spot at New Little Italy Food Hall

Television host and cooking pro Sam Zien is set to open Not Not Tacos within a "Food Hall" in San Diego’s foodie-friendly Little Italy community this summer

San Diego-based cooking aficionado Sam Zien – better known as television's “Sam the Cooking Guy” – will open a taco-centric spot this summer within a new food hub planned for Little Italy.

Zien announced Wednesday he will team up with Grain & Grit Collective, a new San Diego hospitality group, to open a “culinary station” dubbed Not Not Tacos. The spot will be housed inside a new foodie-friendly project called the Little Italy Food Hall (LIFH) at the Piazza della Famiglia, an area in the heart of Little Italy set to open this summer.

The Piazza della Famiglia, located at West Date Street between India and Columbia streets, is currently under construction, behind some green fences. Once unveiled, it'll be an 11,000-square-foot, European-style piazza designed to be a central community gathering space for dining, farmers markets, concerts and events, according to the Little Italy Association's website.

Along with Zien’s taco spot, the LIFH will boast six locally-driven food stations and a mobile outdoor area that will serve as a place for chefs – including Sam the Cooking Guy – to host pop-up cooking demonstrations. The buzzy hub will also feature a full bar program that includes local craft beer and cocktails.

Patrons will be able to walk through the hall and order their food fresh. For now, vendors that have signed on for the project, in addition to Zien, include Roast Meat & Sandwich Shop, Wicked Main Lobster and pizzeria Ambrogio 15. Two more vendors will be added to the roster at a later time.

Patrons will be able to watch their food being prepared at all of the LIFH stations, including Not Not Tacos. According to Grain & Grit Collective, all vendors will offer casual, counter-style service and patrons will be able to eat inside the hall or on the large piazza.

Grain & Grit Collective is managing the Food Hall; the developer of the project is local powerhouse H.G. Fenton Company.

Zien's taco station will be the area's flagship project, with Zien serving as an ambassador of sorts for the LIFH.

"This whole thing is so damn exciting," Zien said in a press release, adding that his Not Not Tacos station will focus on “genre-bending” taco creations. 

“These are definitely not your grandmother’s tacos – assuming your grandma made the expected Mexican-influenced type: carnitas, pollo, carne asada, etc.,” said Zien. “These are big, bold, full of flavor and made from things you wouldn’t normally find in a taco. Think meatloaf, salmon, pastrami – that kind of stuff.”

The dishes will come in tortillas but patrons can decide if they qualify as actual “tacos.”

“Well, they’re not not tacos,” Zien added.

Zien, who has authored several cookbooks, is also known for his TV show, “Sam the Cooking Guy.” Fans enjoy his “everyday guy” vibe and quirky approach to cooking; often times he cooks with whatever he can find in his fridge.

The websites for both Grain & Grit Collective and Not Not Tacos are currently being built. Foodies can keep an eye on both for updates on the Little Italy Food Hall.

Zien posted a cryptic message on Instagram earlier this week showing a photo of a construction crew looking over what appears to be a blueprint. He used the hashtag #ILoveAGoodSecret in his post.

Perhaps this was a taste of Wednesday's big announcement?
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