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
I first found Trade Winds Tavern after my coworkers set up an impromptu happy hour there. We were lured in by the $3 craft beer special throughout the month of February! My existing go-to for craft beer was happy hour at Crab Hut Mira Mesa but this one was much closer to my workplace! I sipped on a Ginja Ninja cider while waiting for Dennis to pick me up for dinner. Since we were going to Tin Roof that night, I only tried a few bites of their miso cod special.
A few days later, unrelated to that visit, I received an invitation to a media preview. As you can guess, we were more than willing to explore their food and drink menu!
Usually there are more tables inside but they opened up the space for the media event. We grabbed drinks at the bar and sat down at a nearby table. A DJ provided some jams for the evening.
The big downtown Mardi Gras block party returns on Tuesday February 28, 2017! Grab a bite & pregame your night while ALSO getting a discounted Mardi Gras ticket with our Food & Beverage package! You will receive a $30 food and drink credit at 17 downtown hotspots along with a DISCOUNTED Mardi Gras ticket.
Fig Tree Cafe has always been a brunch destination for us. We first sampled them during a Pacific Beach Restaurant Walk and have made several visits to the PB location. I recently found out they had dinner at their Liberty Station location and we were invited to give it a try!
We decided to sit in the open patio area which I can imagine is perfect for a daytime visit. I was amused by the two heat lamps near us because their curved shape reminded me of treadmills! Food first, workout next time?
The Haven Pizzeria is located right off the 15 freeway in the Kensington area. When I got the invitation to try out the restaurant, I realized we had sampled them during Taste of Adams Avenue in 2015! At long last, we would be returning for a full meal experience! There's a small parking lot to the right of the restaurant if you happen to get lucky, otherwise street parking is what you're left with. You order at the counter and then they will bring you your food. Of course we had plenty of yummy things to try!
Our last dining out in 2016 turned out to be quite fun AND satisfying. I've already been experimenting with beer over the past year but this time I could be my own bartender.
We were invited to Barrel Republic in Carlsbad, the newest of three freedom-to-pour locations. This business originally started in Pacific Beach, then expanded into Oceanside followed by Carlsbad.
After providing an employee at the ordering station with your ID and credit card, you'll receive an electronic wristband which will be used to activate whichever tap you desire! You choose when, where and how much to pour!
I've been wanting to try Grater Grilled Cheese ever since the first brick and mortar location opened in La Jolla. Before I knew it, there was another one in Mission Valley plus a third one is slated to open in Del Mar in 2017! We had a chance to stop by one of the existing locations (La Jolla) to check out this fast casual restaurant. It was an overcast Saturday afternoon and the beaches weren't as busy as the summer months so we were able to park across the street.
You basically order at the counter then they will bring your food out to you. Friendly Juan was working the front register and recommended a few items, as well as customized combinations that he personally enjoyed. The menu had plenty of grilled cheese options and we decided to try two flavors plus some other food items.
Overhead shot of the goods. I'm excited just looking at the picture again!