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The barrio movement is in full swing with a New Yorker at the helm. As one of the oldest and most culturally vibrant urban communities of San Diego, Barrio Logan is home to New York transplant Chef Gayle Covner’s dual culinary operations: Blueprint Café, an approachable locals spot serving fresh, perfectly executed and lovingly balanced fare daily for lunch, and In Good Taste Catering, from where Covner creates meals for the likes of Bruno Mars (during a recent concert) and top San Diego execs, among others. As executive chef/owner of both operations, Covner’s blazed the trail for women in the local food movement since her arrival in the early ‘80s.

With the goal of preserving the community’s cultural heritage, Blueprint sits as an oasis of fresh delectable fare at an affordable price tailored for residents. Covner’s fresh-food philosophy shines through her dishes, crafted with hand-selected, locally-grown fruits and vegetables and whole fish brought to her directly by local fishermen who are often spotted lunching after their drop-off. Daily specials are based on the whims of Covner’s sharp palate, enhanced during her time cooking in New York and Greece. She serves a community of artists and architects, who make Blueprint a staple, as well as the families that immigrated to the neighborhood not terribly long ago, bringing with them tenacity and heart – two things Covner certainly doesn’t lack.

While showcasing the craftsmanship of one of San Diego’s first professional female chefs, Blueprint Cafe also pays tribute to local talent. Photographs and paintings by local artists don the brightly hued walls, highlighting the vivid culture of the barrio. The name, Blueprint, comes from the architectural firm tucked neatly between the cafe and the catering kitchen. Gayle’s use of a multi-purpose space gives Blueprint a unique edge while engaging in a trend sweeping through urban communities.

Aside from its vivacious atmosphere, what keeps people coming back is Gayle’s elegant take on casual dining. Gayle’s no-nonsense attitude, combined with her fierce dedication to her craft, make for a perfect dining experience without the fine dining price tag.

San Diego commends you, Chef Covner. After all, who wouldn’t want to be served a delicious and affordable meal prepared by the same hands that have catered to Bruno Mars? You can find the Blueprint Café at 1805 Newton Ave., San Diego 92113.

Photos by: Robert Benson

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