There are no shortages of taco spots in San Diego and at Oh-So Yummy, we've TKO'ed (taco style) on quite a few. During last year's Tacotopia, one of our favorite traditional tacos was the al pastor from The Taco Stand. It was only a matter of time before we found ourselves at the restaurant. The Taco Stand has three locations in San Diego: the original a few blocks from the La Jolla beaches, the second in downtown San Diego, and the newest in the heart of Encinitas, which was our choice for a media visit. Time to drive up the coast to North County!
Apparently our chosen weekend overlapped with the Encinitas Street Fair so parking was busier with a few roads closed off. After navigating through some crowds and street booths, we found the restaurant with a line out the door. Luckily, the line was shorter than it appeared, due to the cashier being only a few steps inside the door. The staff uniforms reminded us of old school diners like Ruby's or perhaps In N Out, maybe because of the white hats! The assistant manager Alex greeted us with a smile and mentioned he had some items planned for our meal. We just had to choose a spot to sit in the meantime.
Cozy outside seating was available for enjoying our fantastic San Diego weather. The bright sunshine mixed with shadows from the wooden slats were a little too harsh for photo lighting so we took to the shady tables inside the restaurant.
Dennis and I are big fans of Eclipse Chocolate's sweet and savory delights, which puts them at the top of our list for chocolate in San Diego. Recently, owner and chocolatier Will Gustwiller introduced a new way for chocolate fans to get up close and personal: Build-A-Bar Workshops. Build your own yogurt or ice cream has always been fun for us... now here was the chocolate lover's dream, other than owning Charlie's Chocolate Factory! We've always enjoyed the unique chocolate bars as well as cupcakes from Eclipse so couldn't resist the opportunity to spin up our own version! No experience was necessary in this casual chocolate-bar-making environment.
Check out the bar of ingredients! Over 30 different items are available to mix into your chocolate. My mind was swarming with possible combinations. They even let you sample the ingredients beforehand.
All instructions are written down or demonstrated, but Will and his staff also offered pairing ideas to assist in everyone's creative genius. Or... just go for the gold to create YOUR magical combo!
What's not to love about reasonably priced food and delicious to boot? Del Sur Mexican Cantina serves as a casual sit-down that offers traditional Mexican fare while being vegetarian, kid and dog friendly. Opened for about a year in South Park, it joins the restaurant family of The Haven Pizzeria and Kensington Cafe.
One cheery Saturday, we dropped in and picked out a high top table near the windows. I couldn't help noticing the beautifully organized bar, which soon became part of our brunch kickoff.
Tequila options from mezcals and blancos to anejos filled the shelf, and even included two special 'super anejo' and 'diamente' varieties. Admittedly, we have quite a tequila bar at home but fun cocktails grab our attention when we're out and about. My Cadillac Margarita included the restaurant's homemade lime agave and had subtle hints of lime with more orange accents. Dennis must be a grapefruit fiend because his Paloma didn't have enough grapefruit taste (similar opinion for Duck Dive). This might be something we experiment with at home in the future.
Our date nights are typically food adventures with one of our latest treks at Et Voilà French Bistro. Nothing is more romantic than looking deep into each other's eyes while gorging on cuisine known for its culinary excellence! We had an opportunity to meet owner Ludo Misfud as well as enjoy the inspired food creations of Executive Chef Vincent Viale.
The restaurant itself was softly lit and calm with occasional clinks of wine glasses around us. The tables were lined with butcher paper with a design scrolled on the side. I noticed Bo-Beau did something similar except used their own logo.
To start, we were brought fresh French baguettes with a toasty crust and a fluffy warm middle. The cold butter spread easily and we munched as we examined the menu. A multitude of appetizers, cheeses, classics, entrees, and even three types of foie gras were selectable, each titled in French followed by English descriptions. A separate vegetarian menu was also available, which was a thoughtful touch.
One of my personal missions for this year is to visit the beach more often. I remember a prior happy hour visit to Duck Dive where I took my *favorite* overhead shot while a cool ocean breeze ruffled my hair. With a new California and Baja menu at Duck Dive, we accepted a media invitation to revisit this popular Pacific Beach spot. BEACH DAY! Caitlyn was our friendly server for the day.
Mezcal Me, Maybe? $7 and the Peach Bramble $7
What's not to love about having a few drinks during your meal? Dennis's mezcal drink had a hint of smokiness without overpowering the passion fruit flavor! The grapefruit influence was more subdued because we couldn't really taste it! My girlie drink was very peachy and it seemed to have that invigorating fruity appeal you'd find while browsing Bath and Body Works. Has THAT ever popped into your mind during sippy time? A first for me! Both cocktails were on the sweeter side which left me very content.
The annual San Diego Latino Film Festival is hugely popular and recently introduced a foodie festival as part of the week's events. This year marked the second annual Sabor Latino food, beer and wine festival. Similar to Latin Food Fest, there were plenty of fabulous chefs, local and across the Mexican border, sharing their heartfelt creations and spreading their fondness for food. The full ticket also included unlimited beer and wine tastings from the participating vendors.
I've never attended any festivals in Mission Valley so ended up parking farther than anticipated (near the trolley station) of Fashion Valley Mall. Tents were actually set up between two parking structures just south of the AMC theater and food court area.
My plus one and I had general admission tickets which let us in at 2pm (VIP enters at 1pm). We were lucky enough to stop by for some paella from Paella Villa de Cervantes before they ran out! The portions were plentiful which may have contributed the short supply.
I love how this shot of Chef Daniella from Cocina Secret turned out. With their tent's background, it was almost as if we were in some resort being personally served by the chef!
Here's a closeup of her shrimp and quinoa ceviche with mango coconut cream plus a touch of curry. Yes it was tasty.
When a friend visits from out of town, what better way to catch up than over a meal at a new restaurant? It was SDRW and I stumbled upon Old Venice Restaurant, one of the stops from last year's Taste of Point Loma. With a lunch price of $10, we couldn't resist this opportunity to revisit. NOTE: this was last year's price and it went up to $15 for this year.
With our crew of four (me, Dennis, little brother Robin, and friend) we tried almost everything on the prix fixe menu!
Pesto Baked Feta - sheep's milk feta baked with pesto oil garnished with sun-dried tomato
We basically ordered CHEESE with toppings and it was a delightful starter!
We've been dining at Cohn restaurants for years now (happy birthday babe!) and finally made it out to Sea180° Coastal Tavern. There's one main reason for the tardiness... it's a 40+ minute drive for us to Imperial Beach! Still, the allure of Cohn Anniversary week had us going the distance. A two-course meal was the price of the year which meant $20.17! Street parking was easy peasy in January too!
The restaurant is part of the Pier South Resort. Their patio was perfect for people watching along Imperial Beach shore though there was a bit of chill in the air.
I like the reflection of the waters and umbrella from this entrance. We cozied up on a patio table to browse the anniversary menu. First the appetizers...