The night was still young on this Taco Tuesday and a small party of ladies (plus Dennis) arrived at El Chingon, a new and eclectic Mexican restaurant in downtown San Diego. Believe it or not, we had JUST finished an influencer pairing at Meze Greek Fusion and were ready for part two of the evening!
A mariachi band serenaded guests right outside the door and our smiles broadened as we walked to our table inside.
BEST SIGN EVER plus guacamole, salsa and chips
Laughter errupted as we read the sign on our table - "Reserved - This ain't your table ese". It was a must-have in the chips and salsa pic and just the first snapshot of badass-ery running amuck in this bar. Additional phrases on the wall added more fuel for though. Meanwhile, the two fistfuls worth of guacamole were lightly limed and salted. The creamy texture was punctured with avocado chunks and topped with tomatos and onions. Lucky for us, the mellowed onions didn't overwhelm the rest of the ingredients. I forgot to sample the salsas in my excitement.
Meze Greek Fusion is celebrating FIVE years of business in the gaslamp quarter! We still remember when it used to be on the corner of 6th and J street and were completely blown away by the spacious new location one block away. The color scheme was gorgeous with a trendy yet comfortable ambiance and more than double the capacity. After admiring the new setup, we were quite eager to begin the media wine and food pairing experience for that night.
Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus (left) and Baba Ghanoush (right)
The signature item was the baba ghanoush and right away you notice there's something very special about it... the intense smokiness! The eggplants were grilled to give it that unique but addictive characteristic! The hummus was more gritty in texture but surprisingly not too spicy! Dennis was a big fan of these appetizers and went to town dipping pita bread into both. Everything was made in house except the pita bread.
Recently we had a chance to check out Nicky Rottens Bar & Burger Joint on a breezy summer weekend. Besides being one of only two sports bars in Coronado (where you can watch UFC, football, basketball, etc), it also offers a fantastic food and drink menu as well as being family friendly. The general manager Aaron told us some of the history of the restaurant and spoke of the latest additions to the revamped menu. Being so close to the ocean, he felt the time was right to incorporate some seafood alongside the already popular burgers and wings.
'Buffalo Wings - Crispy yet unbelievably tender wings made from farmraised chicken. Choose from 8 unique styles! Served with ranch and blue cheese dressings. 6 pieces or 12 pieces.
We decided to start with a six piece order of the wings naked and asked for the sauces on the side. There were plenty of flavors to choose from which are normally mixed in during cooking: Medium, Hot, Spiked Ranch, BBQ, Spicy BBQ, Teriyaki, Peanut Spicy Teriyaki and Sweet Chili Sauce. The skins were thin but fried well while the meat stayed juicy hot inside!
With all the non-stop hustle and bustle of life, sometimes all you really crave is an evening out with the girls. My friend San Diego Food Girl kindly set up an intimate dinner in downtown San Diego at Whiskey Girl. This longstanding entertainment establishment offers a impressive collection of 70+ whiskeys as well as cocktails, craft beers and most importantly tasty eats.
Whiskey Burger with shot of Jack Daniels - Whiskey basted burger topped with cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, Philly sirloin steak with sauteed onions and mozzarella cheese.
One big perk of this group... we follow the all important food/drink protocol - the camera eats first! Plenty of appetizers were ordered for sharing but I captured my money shot with the main entree. Isn't it majestic? The initials W.G. were branded into the top of the fluffy yet hardy burger bun. Underneath, the generous sized juicy patty, oozy melted cheese and protruding thick cut bacon made for a satisfying bite. This burger comes WITH a shot of Jack Daniels, which dear Savvy Sweets took for the team!
Living so close to the ocean, we're lucky to have fresh seafood within easy reach. Pacific Beach Fish Shop (or PB Fish Shop) provides both a local seafood market as well as a spot to grub on delicious fish. We arrived on a Saturday morning when they opened so there weren't any lines... at least not yet! PB Fish Shop even has its own parking lot to the west but that fills up even faster than the restaurant during the lunch rush hour!
I love the colorful chalkboard menu with pictures of the fish! What's even better is that they describe the tastes so picking one is hopefully a little easier. Most of these seafood options are available year round but they sub in specials here and there.
Here's the currently available selection of seafood at the shop. Those are nice cuts!
PB Fish Shop caters to a wide variety of palates since you can customize your order. The general process is to pick out your fish, your marinade, then the style of preparation (taco, salad, sandwich, plate).
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.
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.
I'm always telling myself that we need to brunch more. Hectic work week leads to sleeping later weekends (especially for this night owl) but admittedly, good food is worth getting out of bed for. We were invited to check out Dunedin, a New Zealand inspired restaurant in North Park. After lucking out with street parking a block away, we walked into the bustling establishment and were quickly seated by the host.
At the bar, we noticed our first perk of the morning... $1 mimosas! Those all you can drink deals work if your stomach is "bottomless" but seriously, I can only handle 2 or so drinks. This was perfect! We went for the flavors of blood orange (Dennis's fav) and pineapple (my fav) but there's also the choice of the standard oj and champagne. Keep 'em coming!
Shrimp and Pineapple: grilled shrimp & pineapple, peppers, arugula, avocado, peri peri