This Thursday, the 4th annual San Diego Diner en Blanc pop-up dining event will take place in a local public space. More than 2,000 people dressed in white will dine al fresco at an undisclosed location. After being picked up from a central meeting place, participants are bused to the secret venue, where they set up their own table, chairs and place settings, and enjoy whatever food and wine they packed for the evening.
Beginning in Paris more than 20 years ago, Diner en Blanc is now held in about 60 cities around the world. The elegant, mysterious concept has stayed the same and so has the all-white attire. I attended the event the first two years it was held in San Diego (the first at Harbor Island Park, the second at Liberty Station) and took bets on how long it would take to spill red wine on my white outfit. My friends and I split up who would bring what, except for wine, which we all brought (can’t take any chances!). It was really cool to feel like part of such a large, spontaneous, unifying event—and we were excited to dine and dance in the open air. Last year the event was held at the new Waterfront Park downtown, so I’m excited to see where we end up this time around.
I recommend packing a picnic-style meal, such as prepared salads or a cheese plate, since it has to be mobile and you have limited table space. Family-style dishes are also good so that your table of two or four can all share.
A key point during the event is the napkin wave, when all the guests twirl their cloth napkins above their head to signify the beginning of the meal (great photo opp). Come prepared for set-up and clean-up, but also to socialize, dance, eat, drink, and snap group selfies. After all, the event will only ever happen in that location once!
This year’s event was held at the Embarcadero Marina Park North, overlooking the bay.