Archives for category: San Diego

On this lovely Saturday morning, Wing and I were having a deep philosophical discussion on which Hogwarts house we’d be in. I chose Slytherin (because I have a crush on Professor Snape) and Wing chose Gryffindor (because he thinks he’s brave and awesome like that). Then, of course, we started discussing what it would be like should a San Diegan/Californian attend Hogwarts. I happened to look down at my computer desk and saw a “Frequent Woody Card.” I started laughing and showed it to Wing saying, “Look! It’s a San Diegan who’s just gotten into Slytherin!”

Many thanks to Woodstock’s Pizza for awesome food and making us laugh.

Woody Card

Dude, Snape my man. Don’t get mad. I brought pizza for everyone!

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Over the past week, Wing and I found ourselves in East County — the cities in the eastern part of San Diego County. We went there a few times for varying reasons. I happen to be very familiar with East County so, when it was time to eat, Wing let me choose the restaurants. I picked out some that I like and wanted him to try, and now I’m sharing our East County dining experiences with you.

Downtown Cafe, El Cajon (pronounced el kah-hone; meaning the drawer due to the city being surrounded by mountains)

Our first night, we ate at a restaurant in El Cajon called the Downtown Cafe, located in the newly renovated and now quaint and semi-historical downtown area. The Downtown Cafe had a nice variety of food on their menu and their alcoholic beverage selection was huge, including beers from local breweries. But Wing and I ordered burgers and soft drinks. He ordered a bleu cheese burger and I ordered the Santa Fe. We were impressed with the amount of bleu cheese and guacamole that we received. Wing said that we will definitely be back to try their other menu items.

Downtown Cafe

Casa de Pico, La Mesa

The next time we found ourselves in East County, we decided to go for Mexican. I knew of a great place called Casa de Pico, a local favorite ever since it was located in Old Town. Wing tried the cranberry mango chicken off of the seasonal menu and I ordered the chile poblano fresco off the vegetarian menu. Both were very good. The flavors in the cranberry mango chipotle chicken blended together perfectly and were subtle, not overpowering the taste of the chicken. The chile I ordered was packed with seasoned vegetables, topped with a creamy and delicious jalapeno sauce. We couldn’t resist ordering dessert, so we ordered the fried ice cream — a battered and fried ice cream scoop that rested on top of a bunuelo. Yum!

Casa de Pico

Anny’s Fine Burgers, Santee

The final trip to East County led us (and Mars) to Anny’s Fine Burgers. Its original store was in Santee, but it became so popular and crowded that it expanded and opened a second store in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. I’ve only been to the Santee location so my pictures are from there. Anny’s has a large variety of unique burger options. Since its opening, it has expanded to serving hot dogs and chicken wings. The burgers are huge so Wing and I split one. We ordered the hickory BBQ burger and some garlic Parmesan chicken wings. The burger didn’t disappoint. I was a little disappointed with the wings when they first put them on our table. I don’t really like the powdered Parmesan cheese which was sprinkled on them, but I ate one anyway. I ended up loving it despite the powdered cheese.

Annys

This week, Wing and I were busy so we didn’t cook. We either ate out or ate leftovers. (There will be restaurant posts soon.) So this Friday Failure is about a customer who assumed. And you know what they say about assume: it makes an a** out of you and me.

Saturday morning Wing suggested going to Busters Beach House in Seaport Village. We’d been there once before, and we really liked it, so I was game. Last time I ordered their Down-Island French Toast: “thick egg bread hand dipped in cinnamon ginger batter and grilled to a golden brown, topped with sliced banana, and toasted coconut” which was beautiful tropical island sunshine in your mouth. I planned to order that again, but when I saw the Griddle Combination and saw that I could have the French Toast with eggs and my choice of meat, I went for that.

You see, I assumed that it would be the same French Toast since that’s the only type listed on their menu. But when the waiter put the plate in front of me, I saw that it was plain old, regular French Toast that I could have made at home. (Disclaimer: their French Toast is so much better than my French Toast… I was trying my hand at a hyperbole.) I was sorely disappointed. But it was my fault for assuming. I should have asked so I could have had the amazing and exotic French Toast as opposed to the good but normal French Toast. Well, next time I know.

Koala that is awake and moving

Koala that is awake and moving

Last weekend, Wing and I joined Mars, his girlfriend aptly named Venus, and some friends at the San Diego Zoo‘s Food and Wine Celebration. It’s a tad expensive, but it’s worth it since all proceeds go towards conservation research and it’s just so much fun. The koalas groan and crawl higher into their trees to escape the atrocious humans who have consumed too much alcohol and are either on the prowl for food or are dancing away to the band’s music. (I tried to take a picture of the koala who was actually climbing a tree since it’s such a rarity, but my phone doesn’t do too well at night and I didn’t bother bringing a real camera.) But the animals ought not complain. This party was for them! Humans can’t help but be attracted to lively music, dancing, silent auctions, animal presentations, and of course lots and lots of food, desserts, and alcohol! Vendors and people from all over San Diego came to be a part of this night. So the koalas can just sleep in late the next day if we kept them up past bed time.

Entertainment zpa

Entertainment 1

We hit up a winery booth when we first entered (how could we not? It was right there upon entrance!), then we stopped at a vodka booth that had bottles that were flashing colors (like moths to a light!) where I tried a bit of the red velvet flavor. Then we stopped by numerous pastry booths… so at this point, we have nothing but alcohol and sugar in our bellies. But we headed to the back on purpose. People tend to stop where they see crowds. We moved on until the lines were thin, only stopping for the important things like pretty alcohol bottles and sugary delicacies.

Booths

We traveled further until we hit the area known as the Australian Outback (where I saw the koala who was climbing a tree), and there we found what we were looking for — small lines for awesome food. We stopped by El Indio for mini burritos and build-your-own nachos (our first taste of real food for the night!), then we went for some sliders and sweet potato casserole from Ruth’s Chris, grabbed some food from the Monsoon group Indian restaurants (where the ladies got our honorary third eyes), and Slater’s 50/50 where I finally tasted a sampling of the 50/50 burger… mmmm! Then we decided to meander over to the Treehouse and, along the way, we tried a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough which Mars and I loved (but we can’t remember who it was from), while Venus and Wing got shrimp skewers, lobster bisque, smoked oysters, and other supposedly delicious sea food items from various sea food restaurant vendors. Then we found a Popsicle vendor called Viva Pops where Venus and Wing tried the mango orange, I tried the lavender lemonade, and Mars tried the salted caramel. The mango orange and the salted caramel were the hits. The lavender lemonade was good but not like the other two flavors. But now I want to try the other flavors like Mexican chocolate! At the Treehouse, we sampled turkey pot pie from the zoo’s own restaurant, Albert’s, and delicious cookies from an up-coming bakery called The Cravory where I tried their birthday cake cookie and let’s just say, I can’t wait to go to their store when it opens!

Monsoon group booth

There are just too many good things to say about this event, so I’ll end the post by saying that it’s a ton of fun with a huge variety of food and drink tasting! We’ll be going again next year!

50% ground bacon and 50% ground beef. That’s right! Slater’s 50/50, located in Liberty Station (former navy base preserved but transformed into a shopping district), is the place for you if you love bacon! Actually, Slater’s 50/50 is the place for you whether you like bacon, or whether you like to try exotic flavors and nontraditional food items, or even if you prefer your food to be traditional (and they have a gluten free menu!). It’s also for you if you like beer, or if you like sports, or if you like bacon (did I mention that one?). You might be asking how all of this is possible in one restaurant… well Slater’s 50/50 is “burgers by design.” But it’s not just burgers, it’s also milkshakes (with an option to design your own with ingredient options like bacon or pop rocks®), mac&cheese, and other menu items. Mars and I have come here quite a bit. We love this place. The burgers are huge (we always take at least half home with us except this time someone ate my leftover burger! I was so sad when I couldn’t find it in the fridge the next day! I guess that’ll teach me not to label my food…) and the options seem limitless. We so far have only ordered burgers and the mac&cheese as an appetizer. We go when we’re in the mood for hamburgers so we’ve never ventured outside that area on the menu. Maybe next time… but we always say that…

Just one of the preserved barracks at Liberty Station

View from Slater’s: just one of the preserved barracks at Liberty Station

This last time we went, we ordered the jalapeno bacon mac&cheese, two burgers by our own design (I’ve only had the traditional burger patty and Mars always gets the “fire beef”), I got a s’more milkshake, and Mars ordered a beer. The burger is always good, but it’s not the best flavored meat around. It’s not really necessary though, when you have so many toppings to choose from! Their mac&cheese, however, is probably one of the best I’ve had at a restaurant. The jalapeno bacon is topped with a Cheez-it® crust and it just bursts with cheesy-goodness.

burgers & mac

Slaters_The RooOne of the many things that sets Slater’s apart from the typical burger joint (aside from their bacon fetish), is their “burger of the month.” They’re definitely not afraid to try new ideas! For example, for the month of September, they’re serving “The ‘Roo” — 50% ground bacon and 50% kangaroo meat. Unfortunately for you, neither Mars nor I was willing to try it. We are curious though! So if anyone ever has tried this burger or has had kangaroo meat, tell us how it is. We doubt we’ll ever try it, but we want a full description!

unique pics

Wing and I decided we wanted to do something a little different for a change. We decided to take the trolley to get lunch. You see, San Diego isn’t big on public transportation so most people don’t, or aren’t able to, take it on a daily basis. It was only during the last 30 years that we saw the trolley being installed and it still doesn’t go to some places you’d think a trolley would go to. But that doesn’t stop people from using it. As a matter of fact, during baseball season, if the Padres are playing home field, the trolley is packed. During school, if you’re on the green line, the trolley is packed with San Diego State students. And then sometimes the trolley is just plain packed on a random Saturday and you can’t figure out why. When Wing and I took it, there was standing room only. I’m not complaining… I’m just saying. Well, we decided to go get food at a place I’d been to before and remembered fondly called Bencotto. It’s located in a part of San Diego known as Little Italy (where the trolley does make a stop). Despite its name, Little Italy has a ton of different types of restaurants, but, yes, Italian food does dominate.

Bencotto is a small walk from the trolley stop but not bad at all. The atmosphere of the restaurant is modern with lots of natural light. After being seated, they brought us bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread was fresh and light and, for two, there was a generous amount. Our waitress told us that their meats are freshly sliced, but we didn’t really think twice (who wouldn’t say that?) until we saw them cutting prosciutto slices on a slicer and serving those slices to the guests.

After looking over the menu, Wing and I decided on an appetizer, the meatballs with spicy tomato sauce dip called polpette bencotto. The meatballs were good and there was a perfect amount for two people. The sauce wasn’t spicy to us at all, but we’ve learned we have a high tolerance for spice, so don’t take our word for it. For our meals, Wing ordered the tagliata alla senape, steak with a tomato salad, and I ordered the pollo alla pizzaiola, chicken in tomato sauce with mashed potatoes. Wing’s was picture perfect and tasted amazing. The beef was seasoned perfectly and the meat was so tender, it almost melted in your mouth. I was jealous. My food was pretty normal. It tasted fine, but no pizzazz really. And I think I’ve decided that I don’t really care for mashed potatoes with tomato sauce. But, hey, you have to try once, right?

bencotto lunch

Wing and I also ordered drinks. He ordered the lemon pop and I ordered the lemon-cake cocktail. Wing’s was a pretty drink (it was bubbly!) and tasted good, but mine was worthy of wow. The glass was rimmed with sugar and when you held it to your lips for a sip, the drink smelled of sugar cookies! Then when you took a sip, it tasted like lemon cookies. It was so good! How can you go wrong with a drink that smells and tastes like sugar cookies? And if all of this wasn’t enough, we decided to try a dessert. We split the tris cannoli that comes with three flavors: chocolate chip, pistachio, and espresso. I was really looking forward to the espresso and the chocolate chip, but Wing and I both agreed that the pistachio was the best. They were good, but I think we’d both try something else should we go again.

bencotto dessert drinks

Wing and I definitely want to go back to try other things (I’ve heard their gnocchi is great) and bring others with us. We decided that we want to take KlyRad because he claims he doesn’t like Italian much, but we wonder if he’d like it here since it has such a diverse menu. Mars “oohed” when I told him about my drink and so now he wants to go. We hope they’ll enjoy it as much as we did… and we hope you do, too, should you ever find yourself there!

Coffeeee! Daniiiiish! Those are the prizes when you bike ride to the Ferry Landing on Coronado Island at the break of dawn in sunny San Diego. Or, as the case may be, at the break of…. hey? where’s the sun amidst all this fog? Despite the fog, it was a beautiful bike ride. (Click here to learn more about the bike route.) Wing and I started at the Silver Strand and, as I said, biked to the Ferry Landing. It’s not a record-setting distance by any means, but I also don’t bike a lot so I wanted to make sure that I’d be able to make it back to the car without having to be dragged back. Yes, I made it and it was actually too easy. Next time, I’ll be ready for an even longer ride. But wait, I almost forgot. This is a food blog, not a biking blog. Move down, move down… on to the coffee stand! (For those who are interested in the bike ride, below is a series of pictures to tell you all you need to know. For those who are only interested in the food, feel free to skip past the amazing pictures by yours truly. I won’t be insulted.)

BIKE RIDE

When Wing and I got to the Ferry Landing, they were setting up for the Coronado Art Walk so there were booths and trucks and expensive oceanic art pieces everywhere. Had we known, we might have started out on our ride a bit later to check it out, but, as it was, we didn’t feel like sitting around so we just got coffee and went on our merry way. OK OK, the coffee stand. So we walked our bikes (as to avoid getting hit by a truck backing up on the sidewalk or perhaps slamming into a pricey piece of art and therefore having to purchase it … although that might have been a fun way to bring Paperboy to life…) through the shopping district and Coronado ride_mint mochaclaimed a table at the coffee stand. I ordered a mint mocha (now the current honorary profile picture) and a cheese danish while Wing ordered a Chai Tea with a shot of espresso (Dirty Chai) and a cinnamon roll. Now, I’m going to be honest here. The pastries were really nothing to write home about and the coffee was average. But they do have a ton of variety considering it’s only a small stand, and I was intrigued by more than one coffee flavor. I thought about ordering the bear claw (a new coffee flavor), but then I thought about getting the black and white… or maybe a frap… so I went with the mint mocha (mint and chocolate and coffee, oh my!). Also, let’s not forget the location. As they say, location, location, location. You’re at the Ferry Landing on Coronado Island in San Diego. Do you really need the finest pastries? Must you really sip the best coffee to be wowed by this? If you live in San Diego and can go anywhere in the city, perhaps. But if you’re visiting or on a bike ride that happens to end right there, nah. And, let me tell you, others agree with me. The outdoor tables got packed with other bikers who wanted their coffee and pastries.

Coronado ride_Coronado Coffee Co

So I hadn’t been to the Ferry Landing itself in about 17 years and things sometimes change in that amount of time. I was pleasantly surprised to discover some restaurants there that might be worthwhile to try out! We may even put some posts about them someday. For now, let me just provide a link to the Ferry Landing restaurants and another link to a restaurant along the way (with an interesting history if you’re into that sort of thing) called 1887 on the Bay (some of their cocktail names are awesome, by the way… I just clicked back from the menu to tell you that). If you get to any of these restaurants before we do, let us know how they are!