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On Aug. 10, the Gourmet Food Truck Festival is at Del Mar from noon to 6 p.m. Photo courtesy Raindrop Marketing
Columns Lick the Plate

Lick the Plate: Foodie fun at Del Mar racetrack

For me, the horse racing at Del Mar has always been a secondary attraction behind the eclectic mix of big name and local bands they have brought in over the years. Of course I would bet a couple races, but I never really knew what I was doing enough to spend any serious money on it.

My son Quinn’s first concert was Ziggy Marley at what they called Four O’ Clock Fridays. One of my favorite live music memories at the track was The B-52s, the perfect party band for the venue. The music is now all under the umbrella of the Del Mar Concert Series as they have shows on Saturdays and Sundays on occasion.

Besides the music, the track has evolved into a destination for eaters and drinkers with events happening weekly during the season. Taste of the Turf Club is a big one happening on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. One of San Diego’s most celebrated chefs, Chef Brian Malarkey, will create fabulous meals for guests to enjoy at the exclusive Turf Club every Sunday of the season.

The $100 per person price includes a prestigious Turf Club table for the race day, Turf Club admission, choice of appetizer, entrée, dessert and bottomless mimosas, Del Marys or Chandon. That’s actually quite a good price for all they include. So get your fancy on one Sunday this summer and get to the Turf Club for this.  I may even break out my seersucker summer suit!

If you want to keep it a bit more casual, Happy Hour Fridays at the track may be your thing. It happens on Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m. It’s a great way to start your weekend off with Saint Archer’s Party in the Plaza at Del Mar! Enjoy half-off all of Del Mar’s crafty signature cocktails — unique to Del Mar during Happy Hour Fridays. Then, stay for live musical performances throughout the evening, ending with the Friday headliner performance starring some of the music industry’s biggest artists. Welcome the weekend with a delicious Del Margarita, a cool ocean breeze and of course you should bet a few races.

Keeping it on the lower brow side of the food spectrum lets talk about Donuts Day next. It happens from 8 to 10 a.m. Aug. 10. Come down to where the turf meets the surf for free coffee, orange juice and decadent donuts to kick start your day. You can’t beat that! Plus while you enjoy your delicious treats you can listen to Q&A sessions led by track announcer Trevor Denman with world-class jockeys and watch the beautiful horses during their morning workouts.

This is a great family event and kids will love all the free activities being offered including face painting, entertainers, free prizes and a meet and greet with Del Mar Mascot, Pony Boy! I feel like I need to meet this Pony Boy!

Back to the more refined events at the track we have Sip in Style that happens on Fridays at 2:30 p.m. New this year, Sip in Style gives non-Turf Club members the opportunity to enjoy a reserved table, the Turf Club’s legendary view, as well as a free drink and complimentary beverage sampling from different beverage partners each week. This year, the Turf Club is partnering with Veuve Clicquot, Stags’ Leap, Grey Goose, Patron, Maker’s Mark, Bacardi and Ballast Point. Complimentary beverage sampling is from 4 to 6 p.m., and all attendees must abide by the Turf Club Dress code but getting dressed up is half the fun. 

The Tacos & Beer Festival is happening this Saturday, Aug. 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. And what’s more “San Diego” than tacos and beer? For the first time at the track, come enjoy this match made in heaven with offerings from more than 100 local and regional breweries, as well as tacos prepared by more than 20 of SoCal’s top restaurants! Watch Luche Libre Mexican wrestling, take photos in the interactive photo booth and get your ins ins ins on with DJs providing the backbeat.

Your ticket includes track admission, five beer tasters and two tacos, souvenir beer mug and an exclusive trackside viewing area for live horse racing. You can upgrade to VIP and receive a third taco and early event entry at 1 p.m. for $39.

Next on the calendar is the Gourmet Food Truck Festival coming up on Aug. 10 from noon to 6 p.m. The food truck scene is still going strong in San Diego and this is a perfect gathering of some of the best of them in one spot.

Summer means BBQ and the Turf and Surf BBQ Championship is happening Sunday, Aug. 18 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the track. The biggest BBQ event in SoCal will feature more than 40 top BBQ pitmasters competing for more than $15,000 in prizes in the Turf and Surf BBQ Championship. I’m thinking the track is going to be smelling amazing that day! And as a bonus you will receive unlimited samples of competition-ready brisket, pork, ribs, chicken and tri-tip, plus seafood and desserts from professional cooks and top local restaurants. Your BBQ voice can also be heard by voting for the tastiest low and slow smoked meats in the  People’s Choice Award.

The Country Beer Jam is from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 24 and is one event that beer aficionados and country fans won’t want to miss. Enjoy award-winning beers, rare and unique specialty crafts and favorites from our thriving local brewing scene. All that while getting your country music thing on with artists playing live all day.

And to round out this fabulous foodie summer at the track they have the Taste of New Orleans from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 1. This first time event  has the south meeting the west where the turf meets the surf. Celebrate New Orleans culture at the inaugural Taste of New Orleans Food & Music Festival. Live Cajun music with headliner Cowboy Mouth and two stages featuring live brands throughout the day. Enjoy the tastes of Bourbon Street with gumbo, shrimp po’boys, beignets, crawfish etoufee, New Orleans themed drink samplers and more.

Besides all the events, there are many restaurants to enjoy throughout the season. Corona Beach House, Stretch Run Grill, Don Julio Veranda Café,  Clubhouse Terrace Restaurant, First Turn Restaurant, Café del Sol Restaurant, Il Palio, Blue Moon Celebrity Grill, 17 Hands Brew Pub, Paddock Tavern, Ballast Point Jockey Box to name a few. On top of that they have a plethora of cocktails created specifically for race season. 

So there you have it. Food, music, cocktails, horse racing and fabulous people watching in an iconic location. Learn more at


Top: On Aug. 10, the Gourmet Food Truck Festival is at Del Mar from noon to 6 p.m. Photo courtesy Raindrop Marketing