SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off Celebrates 10th Year Raising Funds For Local Education On December 1 | Enter For A Chance To Win 2 Chili Tasting Tickets

November 16, 2019

What began 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! SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off returns to the intersection of Thorn and 32nd Street on Sunday, December 1 for its 10th Anniversary to raise funds for McKinley Elementary School’s Spanish, art, and music program. Enter for a chance to win a chili tasting for 2 and read on to learn what's new for this year's free-to-attend annual event.

SoNo Fest is an all-volunteer event that has become one of the neighborhood’s largest festivals, with 20,000 patrons hitting the block to taste, sip, shop, and rock their way through the best that North and South Park and beyond have to offer. Since its inception in 2010, SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off has raised over $450,000 for McKinley Elementary School’s International Baccalaureate program. Drawing top restaurants and breweries from the bordering communities, the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off features over 40 local chefs, 24 breweries, wine and spirits makers. A holiday craft market, two music stages, a food truck court, and kids fest area round-out the all-ages affair.

Battling it out for bragging rights to the best pot of chili in the city, the festival features 40 chefs from prominent restaurants in the neighborhood, each offering up a special chili inspired by their locale. Participating restaurants includes Blind Lady Alehouse, Tiger! Tiger!, The Haven, Cafe Madeleine, City Tacos, Kensington Cafe, Fernside, Panama 66, The Smoking Goat, Home and Away, Kairoa Brewing, Dunedin, Underbelly, Hamilton’s Tavern, Shank And Bone, Lucha Libre Taco Shop, Modern Times, Tribute Pizza, Waypoint Public, Starlite, Soda & Swine, South Park Brewing, Kindred, Station Tavern, Wonderland Ocean Pub, The Smoking Gun, The Original 40, and many more.

Not limited to the traditional bean-and-beef chili recipes, participating chefs pull out all the stops with their creative concoctions – past winners have included a Japanese Curry Chili from Underbelly, a Smoked Lamb Leg & Tri-Tip Chipotle Chili from Toronado, and a Shrimp and Seafood “Sausage-Style” Smoked Chili with Smoked Jalapeño Cream from South Park Brewing Company. Vegetarian and vegan creations ensure there’s something for everyone, with standout tastings from such notable establishments as Kindred and Fernside.

Drawing on North Park’s reputation as a craft beer mecca, SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off’s beer garden features 24 breweries from the surrounding areas. Hop heads will be able to purchase pours ($7 each) from Societe, Mike Hess Brewing, Pizza Port, and more. There will also be hard cider and kombucha options. Buona Forchetta’s vintage pizza truck will be slinging out their award-winning Neapolitan slices from inside the garden for those looking for a bite in-between sips.

Those looking to do some shopping can browse the Holiday Marketplace, where nearly 30 local makers and artisans will be offering a curated mix of locally-made goods, including kid’s clothes, stationary, jewelry, and home décor. The holiday market features brands such as Heart Soul Printing, Butcher Press, INKredible Design, and Stitches by Stacey. For music lovers, two stages feature local, live music all day long. An all-ages event, SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off also features an interactive Kids Fest on 32nd Street featuring multiple bounce houses, carnival games, face painters, and a kid’s fest stage.

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off is free to enter. For chili tasting, tickets are $22 and include a ceramic bowl or festival mug and 5 chili tastings. The Bring-Your- Own-Mug ticket is $17 for a 5-taste pass. Beer, wine and spirits will be $7 and there is a re-usable beer mug with 2 drink ticket option for $20. Proceeds benefit McKinley Elementary School’s Spanish, art, and music program.

The 10th annual SoNo Fest & Chili Cook Off takes place on Sunday, December 1, from 11am-5pm at the intersection of 32nd & Thorn Street in San Diego's North Park. For more information and to scoop tasting tickets, visit