Barbecue is one of those things that we have yet to get enough of... so many places in San Diego just waiting to be explored by us! Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar was an enjoyable stop during Taste of Hillcrest, especially this year's sample of Smoked Peruvian Pork with smashed potatoes. With this good thought and the temptation of incredible southern style barbecue, we excitedly rolled through for a media invitation.
The options of indoor seating included picnic tables, booths, and bar stools but the blissful San Diego weather led us to patio tables for grubbing and people watching. Each table had its dutiful paper towel dispenser, of which I was ever so grateful while continually getting my hands messy during the meal!
Smoked Pig Candy 9.99 - Thick bacon slices dusted with our Barnyard Dust and a mix of sugars, smoke to a delicious gooey perfection.
Free Food for the Free Spirited at Flower Child. That newsletter header caught my attention! The restaurant's grand opening was set for December 6th but Pacific San Diego Magazine was promoting an exclusive hosted preview on the prior Friday or Saturday on a first come first serve basis! Of course I signed up to claim a spot which included a plus one.
The restaurant is located at Flower Hill Promenade off I-5 and Via De La Valle. Since it was dinner prime time, parking was a little harder to find in the lot. Dennis ended up parking on the street but another option was the parking structure at the nearby Whole Foods market. We noticed Flower Child took over the space of the former Sea & Smoke restaurant.
Upon entering, my eyes were drawn to these drink fountains of fun! It included three fresh lemonade flavors (pomegranate ginger, flower child lemonade, and organic apple cinnamon) and three tea flavors (black, mango, one more). There were two drink stations in the restaurant, one in front and one in back.
Foie gras sliders, bacon wrapped jalapeno tacos and duck a l'orange meatballs? Yes, just a few of the unique items sampled at Florent Restaurant & Lounge within the last two years. We were recently invited to check out a new protein-driven menu by Chef Brad Hightow. There were 18+ new recipes incorporated for brunch, lunch or dinner! A Wednesday dinner worked best so we parked at Horton Plaza before getting seated at the restaurant.
Our first appetizer appeared. This eye-catching array of colors drew me in. There was a slight crisp to the paper thin skin and a wonderful sprinkle of sea salt. I'd say it was just a tiny bit too spicy for my weak spice tolerance but I did enjoy that first bite prior to hitting the seeds! And just because I liked the texture and taste, I attempted a couple more bites before chasing it with the nearest liquid!
Ever tried Italian Japanese food? Don't let that unfamiliar combination keep you away. We were invited to try out this new spot called Shin's La Jolla in downtown La Jolla.
The restaurant was on the second story so it wasn't as easy to spot from outside. They do have a menu at the bottom of the stairs so that you can preview the menu before taking the stairs up to the restaurant.
My favorite sight inside the restaurant. Tree art surrounded by a gorgeous orange-red hue. Wooden beams completed the "forest" look on this wall.
The restaurant had a very simple modern aesthetic look, with easy on the ears jazz music playing in the background. This seemed the perfect ambiance for the lighter fare we enjoyed this evening. The restaurant wasn't too big but it was spacious for the existing guests. We were seated in the corner area so this was our view of the entire restaurant. There's a small outdoor patio on the far right side.
The menu was one page and consisted of a few main sections: appetizer, pasta, and entrees.
Encontro North Park is a quick service restaurant located on the busy intersection of 30th St and University Ave. It's been open less than a year and I've passed by this corner full of curiosity. We finally stopped in for dinner and a meet-and-greet with the new chef!
The seating is open with multiple communal tables and a few tables on the patio. After ordering at the counter, the servers will find you by number and then the feasting begins! One of the walls has a large mural of hops and more art will be added in the future! We visited during October so it was decorated for halloween.
After taking a seat at the window, Executive Chef Jason Hotchkiss came out to greet us personally! He described the menu as paleo style food, mostly meats and greens. Just about everything was made in house too. We suggested that he 'surprise' us since he knew the menu best.
The sliders from MishMash were excellent during San Diego Burger Week so a revisit was in the works, plus I had some giftcards to burn from my burger week win. One lazy weekend, we drove out to Barrio Logan for lunch and found parking across the street from the restaurant. The weather was still quite warm so we chose indoor seating over the blue umbrella patio seating.
The bar inside MishMash includes a few taps from Iron Fist Brewery next door. I heard that you could also order food from here while at the brewery. What a convenient partnership!
We quickly looked over the menu and put in our order. Here's a top down shot of our meal.
It's been a decade since we first did our first Taste of Downtown in 2006! It's usually held on a Thursday evening for four hours, giving you freedom to choose which places you want to go. This year didn't seem too busy or maybe we managed to beat the crowds! I think there were 40+ restaurants participating this year! There were also several locations that served alcohol samples as part of the taste! It was already sounding like a fun night before we began!
One of the best samples was from Tender Greens. They always come up with very creative bites like this duck confit on brioche toast with a savory sweet pepper jelly and pickled fennel! What a glorious bite!
Whiskey Girl got their wings down pat with the sweeter Thai Chili sauce.
I first noticed Red Card Cafe when they followed our Oh-So Yummy Instagram. I peeked at their account and saw they were opening soon in San Diego. A few weeks later, they popped up again for San Diego Restaurant Week with a $20 dinner. A visit was ripe for the picking. Their San Diego Restaurant dinner menu included a choice of appetizer, entree and dessert for only $20 and is attached at the end of the post.
Other than a visit to Isabella Pizzeria, we use Morena Blvd in this area strictly for Costco shopping. I was cruising through idly and barely caught sight of the restaurant. There was parking along the street but google maps indicated a back parking lot with an entrance north of the building. I somehow missed that.
My friend Cisco (i.e. headcinema) joined me for dinner. He takes creative eye-catching photos so I like learning tips from him. The strung lights, red umbrellas and natural light enticed us to sit outside before the last rays of sunshine disappeared over the horizon. Picture op!