The family was celebrating dual birthdays (Dennis and his sister Lisa) and decided on Dumpling Inn. It used to be a tiny but popular hole in the wall off Convoy Street but they recently moved into the next building (previously a supermarket).
Off to the far left side seemed to be party central because we, along with other large parties, were seated there.
To the right of the entrance was a pick-up or to-go area and smack dab in the center of the restaurant was a bar area, probably the center of their Shanghai Saloon add-on for the afternoon/evening crowds! There were plenty of tables all over the restaurant as well.
We browsed the menu but of course dumplings were a MUST at a dumpling house. This was the Pork Potstickers.
We've only tried one Argentinian restaurant so far (Pampas Argentine Grill) so when a groupon popped up for another, Puerto La Boca, I immediately picked it up. Puerto La Boca is located in Little Italy along the busy India Street but is pretty close to the I-5 Hawthorn exit. The groupon stated that a reservation was required so I called about 2 hours ahead to set up a table for 4. We were joined by two good friends.
Upon entering the restaurant, there's two dining areas, one to the left with a bar and piano area (pictured) and a dining area to the right. We were seated near the window in the regular dining area.
The first thing to come out was a complimentary appetizer with chimichurri, olives and butter, plus a sliced loaf of bread. The chimmichurri sauce was tasty though Dennis thought a little more spice would have made it better. The butter reminded us of Jack cheese but without the cheese taste, maybe because if all the stuff inside. Also this was more salty because of the mixins which may have included olives. The actual olives were just olives... but it was very nice to have so many options!
Earlier this year, Dennis invited me to join him for lunch at a vegan restaurant called Evolution Fast Food. It's not in the heart of Hillcrest, but rather a little farther south, located next door to the original Extraordinary Desserts. And if you happen to end up there for desserts, we'd totally understand! ;)
The parking lot is tiny but there's always street parking. You also have the option of going through the drive thru, which fits with the "fast food" name and theme. Dennis mentioned it's a bit awkward due to the sharp turn to the first window (hug that curve when you drive in)! After ordering, you wait a few minutes at the second window for your food and then continue on your merry way.
For dining inside, you place your order at the counter and wait for your name to be called. They have a few housemade lemonades and teas to choose from, showcased in clear plastic beverage dispensers. We upgraded one of our entrees into a meal deal for $2.75 extra, which adds fries and a drink.
I decided on a Mushroom Swiss Burger ($6.95). Evolution gives you three patty options: tempah, 1/4 lb beef, and black bean. Don't forget that the second option is "beef"-like ...
Last year Dennis and I were visiting family in Orange County and decided we were in the mood for sushi. We headed to a restaurant called "I Love Sushi" which Dennis had visited a couple times in the past. Maybe it had been a REALLY long time ago because it had been replaced by EON Sushi. The time was around 3pm so it wasn't too busy for one sushi chef and one waitress. Service was really fast anyway.
We usually look for rolls based on ingredients or appetizing pictures and ended up with three rolls that were also some of the most popular.
Bento Box (10.99) - tuna, salmon, albacore, avocado, spicy crab meat. This one was rice-less and the most interesting roll. The pieces were large plus the sushi wasn't tied together in any way. It was like a fish lasagna with fish layer on the bottom and top with crab mix in the middle.
We enjoyed the Latin Food Fest in San Diego last year and were pleased to be invited back for the Los Angeles grande tasting on March 21. Even though it's farther away, we knew there'd be many, if not all, new restaurants for us to sample! The sipping of spirits was also a plus.
The Los Angeles location was at Hangar 8, a 15000 facitity at the Santa Monica Airport. Paid parking lot ($10) and ticket pickup were to the right with the event to the left.
Entrance to the Latin Food Festival. It doesn't look all that big on the outside but there were additional booths, mainly the spirits, located in the back building.
We first got in the Stella Artois line for the purpose of collecting their cute glassware. I'm a fan of Belgium style beer so this one is nice and familiar. I also like their cider too.
While waiting for beer, Dennis picked up samples from the nearby Rosa Mexicano booth. The tableside guac was yummy but we needed more than two chips! The pink lemonade mixed drink was refreshing and light. The El Floridita booth had pork with a banana chip. The strands of meat were long which made it a bit chewier for us.
To the left of Stella was Coni'Seafood, serving raw shrimp marinated in jalapeno juice. There were definitely some hesitant looks as we took pictures. I finally gave it a shot and...
Burger much? You could have gone CRAZY during San Diego Burger Week! San Diego CityBeat ran this burger promo that included 50+ restaurants with... FIVE DOLLAR BURGERS! Not fast food five dollars but gourmet must get in my belly kinda burgers. Foodie blogger that I am, I took this as a challenge... how would this year compare to last year's San Diego burger week? You're about to find out!
On Friday, the first day of the promo, Dennis was still recovering from being sick so we went local. It's been years since we last visited Callahans but this seemed reason enough.
We started with the Burger in a Basket combo with half fries/half tots plus a choice of beer. The burger itself was rather simple though and ketchup became my add-on. The steak fries are a little thick and clunkier than I prefer but tator tots disappeared rapidly. I'm a sucker for tots I found. I'm still digging the blueberry wheat beer here too.
Dennis ordered the Club Callahan (12.59) and added a cup of Jalapeno Beer Cheese Soup (0.99). He wasn't completely ready to burger at this point but he would be soon...
Get ready to indulge in exotic flavors and delight the palate during the 15th Annual Taste of Hillcrest. On Saturday, April 18 from noon to 4:00 p.m., San Diego’s most fabulous neighborhood will bring together some of the best chefs and cuisines for food connoisseurs to experience on a self-guided culinary tour.
From cafes to bistros to five-star dining, Taste of Hillcrest will feature more than 40 restaurants and span more 12 blocks. Participants can treat their taste-buds to foods from all over the world including Italy, Mexico, Middle East, Asia and American favorites. Peruse the streets and take in the sights and sounds of Hillcrest, while selecting from fresh seafood, sushi, spicy Thai, delicious pastas and feel-good classics during the tastiest event this season.
continue reading for more info and the giveaway...
It was half past 8 and we were starving for dinner! A quick yelp search in Mira Mesa led us to Tim Ky Noodle, open until 9:30pm, later than most Vietnamese places in the area. Dennis whispered to me that it was in the same spot as Tan Ky Mi Gia, which had been here for ages... A staff member confirmed the new ownership and name change.
The new restaurant had been open for 2.5 months and was pleasantly decorated; I especially loved the neutral paneled walls and the woodgrain table finish. Also there was plenty of light inside which is always great for taking food pictures!
After a brief glance at the menu appetizers, we were already ordering the Fish Sauce Wings (6.99). Maybe I'm addicted after wing week and various other wings but this "fish sauce" flavor caught my eye!