The Face Of Award-Winning Mexican Dining
Diane Powers | Casa de Bandini
1901 Calle Barcelona
Carlsbad, CA 92009
It’s a fact: San Diegans love authentic Mexican food – and no one brings the “fiesta!” to North County better than the iconic Diane Powers.
An accomplished entrepreneur and design professional, Powers presides over the Bazaar del Mundo Shops & Restaurant Group – a quartet of Mexican-inspired shops and Mexican restaurants that enrich San Diego’s history and enhance San Diego’s landscape throughout the county. Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad, like all Powers’ projects, is replete with gardens, fountains and hand-picked Mexican and South American folk art, drawing locals and visitors from every direction.
Known for her unique perspective and signature style, Powers credits her passion for Latin American color and culture to her extensive travels throughout Mexico and many other South and Central American countries, during which she gained insight and understanding for her life’s work.
In 1968, Powers – a San Diego native – embarked on plans for a Mexican attraction that would combine the essence of Mexican cuisine, music, arts and crafts, landscape and architecture. The result in 1971 was Bazaar del Mundo, a vibrant complex of shops and restaurants – including Casa de Bandini – in the Old Town State Historic Park. During its 35-year tenure, Bazaar del Mundo evolved into the most popular and successful attraction in the California State Parks system and one of San Diego’s top three visitor destinations.
The county-wide locations of the Bazaar del Mundo Shops and restaurants have been the result of Powers’ determination to relocate her enterprise when, despite her overwhelming success, she lost her lease in the Old Town State Historic Park in 2005. Without skipping a beat, Powers’ forged forward to reopen her businesses – and her loyal fanbase followed.
After two years of searching, Powers’ husband, commercial real estate broker Brent Gilman, found the perfect spot to relocate the beloved Casa de Bandini: The Forum Carlsbad. Today, the restaurant continues to wow guests with its award-winning cuisine, refreshingly giant margaritas, vibrant atmosphere and strolling mariachis.
Originally opened in 1980, Diane Powers took inspiration for the restaurant from Juan Bandini – a Peruvian who immigrated to San Diego as one of early California’s first Dons. Also influenced by Mexico’s early period of elegant living and dining, Powers filled Casa de Bandini with beautiful art collections from Peru and magnificent gilt gold mirrors. Outside, many long-time diners may also recognize the Mexican Cantera stone fountain centered in the Talavera tiled pool as the same one from the original Casa de Bandini in Old Town. Powers found this magnificent, hand-carved piece in the late 1970s during a trip to Guadalajara.
Powers credits much of the restaurant’s success to longtime general manager and Carlsbad native Gilbert Gastelum, as well as Chef Ignacio Garcia – both have been working at Powers’ various enterprises for decades. “We all are so proud of this restaurant, and we all share in the passion for what we have created,” she said.
Powers’ painstaking attention to detail is evident in everything she does from selecting the décor that evokes her trademark style to understanding her customers – making time to read each customer comment card from her four restaurants. Her outstanding passion for quality has propelled Powers’ Bazaar del Mundo Shops & Restaurant Group to the esteemed position as one of the largest 100% woman-owned businesses in San Diego and one of the top 500 woman-owned businesses in the nation.