SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off returns in December

See + Do Showcases top chefs, craft beer, all day live music, the holiday market and more in North Park, San Diego to raise money for McKinley Elementary School

Tuesday, November 2, 20210

What started as a humble community potluck hosted by the San Diego Ceramic Connection has grown into one of the most anticipated holiday events of the year – the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off, which returns Sunday, December 5 to the ‘Thorn and 32nd Street intersection to raise funds for McKinley Elementary School’s Spanish, Art and Music program.

This all-volunteer event has grown into one of the neighborhood’s biggest festivals, with nearly 20,000 hungry patrons coming to taste, sip, shop and play through the best of San Diego. Since its
Created in 2010, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off raised more than $ 565,000 for the school.

SoNo Fest is back!

After converting a large-scale in-person event into an online ceramic bowls and shirts sale in 2020 due to the pandemic, SoNo Fest is thrilled to be back on the streets this year. Last year’s profits of just over $ 15,000 were distributed among long-time participating restaurants that were hit hard by the lockdowns in 2020. Checks were handed out to restaurateurs and chefs, in gratitude for being the reason why SoNo Fest can remain a unique and appreciated annual event. . He illustrated SoNo Fest’s gratitude to these generous chili makers.

Attracting the best restaurants and breweries from neighboring communities, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off features over 35 local chefs, 22 breweries and, by popular demand this year, a cider bar run by Bivouac Ciderworks. A holiday craft market, two music stages featuring local bands, and a truck-mounted food court complete the deal for all ages.

Participating restaurants

The Wise Ox
40 original
The big front door
Mujeres brewery
Bivouac cider house
Tail and bone


Ceramic bowl or festival mug: $ 25, includes 5 tastings of chili | Beer, wine and spirits: $ 7 | Ticket sales started on October 25 here.


Fighting to boast of the best pot of chili in town, the festival features dozens of chefs from renowned neighborhood restaurants, each offering a special chili inspired by their region. Not limited to traditional bean and beef chili recipes, participating chefs go all out with their creative concoctions – previous entrees have included a Japanese chili curry from Stomach, a Chili of Duck and Pork Verde from Blind Lady Alehouse, and an island-style rice and white bean chili with local smoked fish + a fried croquette of Bivouac cider house.

The vegetarian and vegan creations ensure there is something for everyone, with exceptional tastings from establishments as notable as Kinship, Cafe Kensington, Fernside in South Park and more. Unique festival commemorative mugs and ceramic bowls handcrafted by the community of San Diego Ceramic Connection will sell for $ 25 and will include five tastings of chili. 5 additional tastings can be purchased for $ 20.


Building on North Park’s reputation as a craft beer mecca, the beer garden at SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off has 22 nearby breweries. Hop heads will be able to purchase castings ($ 7 each) from the Great American Beer Festival gold medalists, North Park Brewery, Society, Hess Brewery, Pizza Port, and more. Non-beer options include the Bivouac cider house and Brooch, JuneShine Hard Kombucha and Canned cocktails Cutwater.

Italian pizzeria Bona ForchettaThe vintage pizza truck will launch its award-winning Neapolitan slices straight from its portable imported pizza oven from inside the garden for those looking for a light bite in between sips.


Shoppers looking for holiday shopping can browse the Holiday Market, where nearly 30 local manufacturers and artisans will offer their unique, homemade products to keen shoppers. An organized mix of locally made products including children’s clothing, stationery, jewelry, and home decor, the holiday market features brands such as Heart Soul Print, Butcher Press, Wild cloud, and The library shop.


Truly an event for all ages, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off features two live music stages, providing all-day entertainment long after the first chili samples, by hometown favorites and local legends. Bancroft’s main stage is once again sponsored by a longtime SoNo Fest supporter, The Casbah. On 32nd Street, kids can find activities from local kid-focused businesses, from the arts to academics, and more.

McKinley Elementary School

Seeking to build a sustainable future and to offer greater opportunities to the children of the neighborhood, 100% of the profits of the festival go directly to McKinley Elementary School, a public school for children in North and South Park. To date, the volunteer committee has succeeded in raising nearly $ 565,000. By funding the International Baccalaureate program, SoNo Fest is directly responsible for the school’s ceramics, music, dance, garden, art and Spanish programs, providing hundreds of students with the opportunity to ” broaden their educational horizons and prepare for college and beyond.

Without the funds raised, these programs would not be available to students as these creative learning opportunities are no longer funded by the San Diego School District. The funds are also used to celebrate hard-working teachers with appreciation lunches, in-class item purchases and more. It’s more important than ever this year, as teachers navigate Covid protocols in public schools and keep our children learning in a safe environment.

About the SoNo Chili Fest & Cook-Off

With a fully volunteer staff of parents, teachers and local businesses working to raise funds for arts programming at McKinley Elementary School, the twelfth annual SoNo Chili Fest & Cook-Off has grown from an exchange of neighborhood chili at one of San Diego’s most famous. holiday traditions. Organized in conjunction with the San Diego Ceramic Connection, which makes a generous donation and provides the souvenir bowls for the event, the festival has raised nearly $ 565,000 since its inception in 2010, with 100% of proceeds securing annual funding for Spanish, art, and music to hundreds of McKinley schoolchildren. Towering over Thorn Street and 32nd border boulevards, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook Off invites top local chefs and restaurants from North Park, South Park and the greater San Diego area to partake in classic chili cuisine, feeding crowds of nearly 20,000. With nearly 40 restaurants vying for a spot in the Chili Hall of Fame, a sprawling beer and wine garden offers refreshing pints for thirsty patrons looking to refuel. Two stages play live music throughout the day, and a food court allows you to rest from the chili tastings. Hosting a holiday market alongside chili tastings, local artisans offer homemade produce and unique gifts for hungry shoppers. For more information, please visit their website here, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

See you there, San Diego!

Sun – December 5, 2021
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Intersection of 32nd Street and Thorn Street, North Park
North Park, San Diego

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