College Area Taste 2014 recap

I got lucky and won a pair of tickets to College Area Taste from the SD food blog This Tasty Life. We also bumped into Mary herself (and Jake) at the ticket pickup and joined their posse for a few hours! Awesome!

For a while I thought this was Taste of College Area, similar to the other San Diego annual taste of x events, but it's actually called College Area Taste! Sneaky! Anyway, it is a food sampling trek and was held on Sunday April 13, 2014 between 11-3pm near San Diego State University (SDSU). Tickets are normally $25 pre-sale and $30 the day of. Will-call was located outside of the College Area BID Office (4704 College Ave) and was very quick. About half of the locations were right around the corner from the pickup location.

We started out at the Living Room Coffeehouse. To the far right was a black bean soup with chips but no actual beans. I didn't care for it much because I like my soups chunky. Next to it was a chicken salad whose mayo I didn't like either but I'm very picky on mayo. I did however enjoy the Quiche Lorraine. There was also yummy oatmeal with fresh berries and pecans. I found it to be the same texture of overnight oats which I recently discovered from Sun Diego Eats. The dessert next to it was flakey and nutty, half dipped in thick glaze. The cookie had a soft crisp edge and gooey chocolate.

We noticed a sign about the chance to win prizes so I checked into the Living Room through Yelp. Later we realized it said to check into the EVENT but we weren't able to find it on yelp other than the one from 2012? But I wanted some prizes… *sigh*

Bistro Sixty had pulled pork tacos with sour cream (a bit too much). Pork meat was decent but a bit too wet. I thought it would have tasted better with some other ingredients instead of only meat and sour cream inside.

Capriotti's Sandwiches served meatball sandwich which made me immediately think of Mangai Mangia without the fried and stick! Their freshly handmade meatballs were very good. Since we've had the Bobby before, we saved that for later. It's like Thanksgiving in a sandwich! There's a sweet cranberry layer among cubed stuffing and turkey. Yummy.

At Social Life Pizza, we grabbed one of each sample. The bbq chicken was my favorite of the two and had a pleasant bbq sauce on it that wasn’t overwhelming. On the other hand, the margherita slice I had was all cheese so I thought it was quite plain. Where’s the tomato and basil!? Afterwards, we were walking to the next place and Mary or Jake mentioned enjoying the margherita. My dear Dennis responded with a question asking where they got it from… and I had to remind him this was the pizza kind, not tequila kind! I’m thinking we’ll be going to the Tequila Trail again this year…

One of my favorite tastings was at Tea Station. They were sampling multiple of their tea flavors! Both the lychee green tea and mixed fruit tea on the left side were really delicious. The pink colored rose milk green tea was good at first but tasted watery compared to the others. The honey milk green tea fared better for me. I also liked the purple taro milk tea (not pictured). For the snack portion, the left side of the toothpick was a sample of the fish ball, which had a strong seafood taste. The right side had popcorn chicken, “no spicy” as they labeled it. I bet it would have tasted much better fresh and with the spices! We missed the new batch that came out afterwards.

At Smashburger, we tried a San Diego burger with fresh avocado on it. Dennis commented that the meat was better than the downtown location which was dry. The orange sauce reminded me of thousand island dressing though an experienced salad dressing eater would know for sure.

Jersey Mike’s Subs had three options including a veggie one we didn’t try. I liked the Italian sandwich with its multiple meats (ham, prosciuttini, cappacuolo, salami and pepperoni) on the right the best. The supreme club with turkey and angus roast beef was satisfactory too but the bacon was a bit hard for me. Want to try them? Join their bday club for a free sandwich and drink on the day of your birthday or just purchase one yourself!

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue sampled bbq chicken and katsy chicken. We grabbed some teriyaki sauce to go and saved the meat for later.

Woodstock Pizza gave us a choice of the Aztec classic or veggie slice, plus a cinnabread with apples for dessert. It was a hearty pizza and Jake mentioned that the crusts were rolled over! That’s the first time I’ve ever seen that. The cinnabread came out piping hot but it was too sweet in general, especially with the candied apple pieces.

We popped into Top 10 Oriental next. The tasting guide showed a logo with the text “Top 10 pho oriental restaurant” so I was baffled seeing sushi on the sampling menu for a pho place. I was expecting the typical vietnamese beef noodle soup. Anyway, here’s their deep fried roll in all its glory.

For the sample plates, there were two choices with different items on each. We combined ours to make the above picture. The edamame was overcooked and soggy looking. The crab inside the rolls didn’t really taste that great. The fried roll was probably the best thing on that plate but wasn’t enough to convince me to return, at least not for sushi… Too much rice and a bit dry for everything. Did they have soy sauce for the sampling? I’m not sure.

Rojelio’s Taco Shop provided pollo asado taco fillings. We felt like it would have been great in a burrito. The rolled tacos on the right were no bueno and room temperature. Taquitos always taste bad after sitting out too long though!

At Effins Pub and Grill, we selected one each of the corned beef and pulled pork tacos. I can’t believe the corned beef dish was spicy, pickle flavored, and way too salty all at the same time! We couldn’t even eat it more than the sample bite. The pulled pork taco wasn't to our liking either and didn’t seem to go with the tortilla. The tasting guide said sliders which may have worked out better than flour tortillas...

We decided to drive to the next place and Jake chauffeured us around. You rock dude! We went to the far end of the map to Ranchwood Catering and BBQ. Here we sampled a parfait shaped dish with oh so yummy mashed potatoes, brisket, and a mildly sweet and tangy sauce. Sooooo good together! I was getting full but I ate all the carbs anyway! Unfortunately, the one beef slice in the sandwich was lonely and needed some friends. We also just tossed out the bread since it was filler at this point.

I was most interested in trying Terra American Bistro after seeing Mary’s review of it during San Diego Burger Week. The carmelized onions in bacon aioli were room temperature when I sampled it so I didn't really care for it at the time. At home we reheated it and the taste magically improved! I want it fresh and hot next time. Perhaps a visit in the future?

At Fluffy Duffy’s Snow Cream, we didn’t get to sample their famous snow cream but we did have some kind of snow cone with a scoop of ice cream in a cup. Topping choices were gummy bears and m&ms. I like the extra crunch of the m&ms due to the cold temperature. There was some syrup left afterwards though. An interesting mix. Now this place got me curious about the ‘snow cream’ that wasn’t available due to their machine being out of commission…

At The Grille we received a empanada that just wasn’t good. I don’t think they should be flakey like this one. Also the pita with falafel and hummus was just okay. I think they are a new restaurant so they may still be adjusting things now.

At Bridges they sampled some steak with ginger teriyaki glaze, which I thought had a sweet taste to it. The shrimp was garlic strong, slightly salty and oily. The servers told us we could bring our event ticket in after 3 for a free beer but seeing as we were stuffed, we just thanked them and left.

We looped back into the original food plaza to visit Yogurtland. Once here, they gave us TWO sample cups instead of one. Interesting because when we go we will try 2-3 flavors with one sample cup anyway. For that day’s flavors, we tried the mango (always good), the guava sorbet and the black currant berry tart. There was a fourth cup of vanilla date shake but I had already starting eating it before Dennis could take a picture.

The last dessert place to hit was Cold Stone Creamery. They were sampling their ice cream cakes so I grabbed their cookies and cream flavor. The ice cream was the typical creamy texture but the cake portion was extremely hard. There was also a sugary frosting on the top so I decided Dennis’s upcoming birthday cake would NOT be from here (Baskin Robbins is better). They were also out of strawberry cake so the serving lady gave us a small scoop of strawberry! I thought it was a bit too sweet but that’s how almost all strawberry ice creams I have tried are.

We had around 20 minutes left until 3pm so we began to hustle to the last few locations. 4.0 Deli served a sandwich sample with a nice toasty edge. There was simple turkey meat inside with a yummy pesto layer. I had it for breakfast on Monday but was wishing I had a toothbrush at work because of the strong garlic taste!

At the Pita Pit, I asked for both white and wheat pita bread to go with their regular and spicy hummus. I really enjoyed both hummus flavors and was thankful that the ‘spicy’ one wasn’t like the SPICY black bean hummus Dennis usually picks up from Baba Foods at Costco!

Our last stop and the final place on the map was Bangkok Poco. I was here 5 minutes til 3 so was happy that they were still handing out their samples “to go”. They gave us a simple thai iced tea while we waited for food. It took a while and Dennis kept asking me if I was sure there was anything else. We waited a little more and to our surprise, they handed us this huge to go bag!

Inside the bags was pad thai, rice and yellow curry in the cup! The pad thai sauce was similar to sweet and sour but leaned toward bitter due to the zucchini. it was vegetarian, I thought it went well with the leftover bbq chicken from L &L BBQ! That right there was half my lunch on Monday. Today I finally got to the yellow curry and was content with the general flavor. The tofu was a bit spongy and strange though after a few days so I suspect it’d be fine prepared fresh.

We headed to the nearby trolley stop on the map. It was already 10-15 minutes past 3pm so we weren’t sure whether the trolleys were still running. The map stated that they’d run from 11am-3pm. After a few more minutes, Dennis and I started walking toward the ticket office and our car. Out of curiosity, I decided to test out the ‘route’ function of Map My Fitness. Ten minutes and over half a mile later, we saw the trolley pass us with two women at the trolley stop earlier! Lesson learned: the trolley DOES run after 3pm but don’t try to push your luck!

Seriously, we were so full from this event and had enough leftovers for a light dinner AND lunch the next day! It’s also a very leisure event because it’s not as crowded as some of the other taste events. You can check out the food locations and map in the attachments below.

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Comments

J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats's picture
Submitted by J.S. @ Sun Dieg... (not verified) on Thu, 04/17/2014 - 1:47pm

Thank you for the link Lynn!! And wow that is a lot of food :) The Terra burger and the San Diego burger from Smashburger looked yummy. But agree that having the former kind of cold would ruin it. Burgers is one food I never like doing take out because they taste sooo much better fresh off the grill/super hot.

And um I always use the same little sample cup to try like 7 types of frozen yogurt the thing practically begins to disintegrate at the end...oops. I'm not even necessarily trying to decide what to get (I nearly always get peanut butter and taro) but I just want to taste some of the other ones haha.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Thu, 04/17/2014 - 2:04pm

We try our best to get as many samples as possible on all our 'taste' reviews. I hate to waste food but if a sample is bad, we do throw it out to save room for something else! We've hit all locations for the smaller events but only 70-80% for the large ones!

I purposely requested Yogurtland and Cold Stone Creamery as one of our last stops because you always have room for dessert and if not, we could get it easily another time! It worked out too since Yogurtland didn't do anything special for this event.

Mary's picture
Submitted by Mary (not verified) on Thu, 04/17/2014 - 3:40pm

It was so fun meeting up with you and doing the whole taste together! Man, too bad we missed out on those last three, haha. We gave all of the leftovers to Jake's son who was super happy to have all of the leftovers to sample. My favorite was Terra's chicken slider. That "empanada" was terrible. Ugh.

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 1:43pm

Glad to have company who understands our picture taking habits! And also knows the area a little better than us. One of my favorites was the mashed potato parfait. I dunno why but it really hit the spot at that point!

Faye's picture
Submitted by Faye (not verified) on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 9:10am

Oh man you guys did so well at this tasting. I'm envious. Those were some good looking samples. Was there ever an issue getting the samples or were they readily available (w/o a wait, etc)? I've only taken the trolley a few times but always with friends. I'm pretty sure I would have no clue how to do it on my own :(

lynn's picture
Submitted by lynn on Fri, 04/18/2014 - 1:56pm

Most were readily available with a few that I assume were prepared very fresh, including smashburger, 4.0 deli, and bangkok.

We didn't take the trolley at all since Jake generously drove us most of the way. When it is free like at this event, I am sure all you do is hop on and go! No worries!

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