birthday

While searching for a birthday celebration location, I was pointed in the direction of Tribute Pizza in North Park. This pizza spot can tempt taste buds with its popular house made dough and inspired toppings, baked in a hefty wood fired oven. The website points out free customer parking one block away but we found all five marked spots already occupied by 5:30pm on a Saturday evening! The restaurant was busy so I made sure to greet my guests at the entrance before we ordered food.

Trust Restaurant has been in business for almost two years, which coincidentally is how long my foodie tribe has been praising it! The restaurant is located on the east side of Hillcrest and is self-described as "urban rustic food with the addition of wood fire cookery." With only a meatball sample from Taste of Hillcrest under my belt, I decided Dennis would take me here for my birthday!

Friends know me as the deal queen especially when it comes to food! I've compiled a master list of birthday freebies and offers including local San Diego businesses which I'll update approximately twice a year (once for my birthday, once for Dennis's birthday). Some offers improved this year. Souplantation now gives you a free meal instead of B1G1 with drink purchase. Some aren't as good as before such as Noodles & Co offering a rice krispie instead of an entree. Regardless, you do YOU and sign up for what you want to eat or whichever businesses you want to support.

Cafe 21 is a popular farm fresh and locally sourced restaurant with two great locations in San Diego. Their gracious menu also offers vegan options as well as wild, hormone, and free range meats to please everyone. We've visited the University Heights location a few times for lunch and dinner and rounded up our eats below!

Brunch visit

When I first heard of this restaurant, I only knew of it as a brunch spot. Finally, we found a free weekend to come in for a midday meal!

Monte Cristo - egg battered challah bread, roasted turkey breast, fontina cheese

Dennis and I met up with two of our friends to celebrate some birthdays. They suggested Slater's 50/50 so I figured it would be a good time to use my giftcard. The appeal of Slater's is their special 50/50 patty that is half beef and half bacon. Plus, they have some kick-ass bacon flavors to choose from.

The San Marcos location was packed but we were still able to get a table within 5 minutes. I feel like the Point Loma one is much busier so this is a good option if you really want your 50/50 patty!

B' B' B' Bacon Burger - 50/50 patty, thick cut bacon, bacon American cheese, sunny side up egg, bacon island dressing, bacon pretzel bun

For my birthday last year, Dennis planned an outing with friends at Searsucker in Del Mar. We've had lunch in the downtown location during San Diego Restaurant Week a while back so this was our first dinner experience. This Searsucker replaced Burlap which we had visited a couple of years ago.

The waiting lounge is sort of cowboy to me, maybe because I see that cow skin!

Here's the bar area with the popularly used "eat" sign! They have a happy hour from 4:30-6:30 on Monday through Friday plus all day on Wednesday.

The restaurant wasn't too busy that Saturday night so we were seated quickly at our table. We were handed menus to browse.

We all deserve a delicious birthday meal right? I decided to check out the very popular and recently opened Bracero Cocina de Raiz for mine. The headliner was Chef Javier Plascencia (last seen in my Caffe Calabria Specialty Produce post).

During the Taste of Little Italy, the restaurant wasn't even officially open yet Bracero was serving these grilled and roasted spaghetti squash tacos. So many unique items. I've been seeing beautiful photos on social media and we were NOT disappointed by the real thing. Are you ready to start drooling yet? These platings at Bracero were unbelievably gorgeous!

Albacore Two Ways / Seared / Tartare

This dish had lots of layers of flavor, texture and color. The top was seared albacore with a fried zucchini layer and another sort of catfish battered albacore in the middle

I was planning a birthday dinner for Dennis with friends and made a reservation for Davanti Enoteca in Del Mar. We've been here a couple times before, including San Diego Restaurant Week and have enjoyed the food.

It's a cute restaurant. Look at these big empty wine bottles as props near our table! I want one for my room!

There's also a bicycle out front for deliveries. Or maybe it's just a decoration.

They gave us this handy glossary guide when we were seated! I loved how it defined the unfamiliar words I've been seeing in italian restaurant names (davanti enoteca i.e. in front of the wine bar).

While waiting for the rest of our party, Dennis ordered the Churchill Downs cocktail. We were a little shocked when this cup full of crushed ice came out. The waitress said it was in the same style as the original mint julep...

We took a day off work to visit Catalina Island for Dennis's birthday. Did you know that you could get a free round trip starting the day of your birthday? I got this idea from marvelous Mary of This Tasty Life. You must sign up ahead of time and reserve with the email promo code they send you. 

Dana Point was our starting point since it was the closest. The telephone rep had told me to arrive 1 hour prior to departure but they don't even hand out tickets until 1 hour and 20 minutes before departure!

After getting tickets ($76.50 for mine, FREE for Dennis), we had to wait in another line to get long term parking pass ($12/day) because we had to move our car out of short term parking (free with a 4 hour limit only).

We hadn't eaten anything yet so we rushed to the nearby RJ's Cafe for a quick bite. This breakfast place was within walking distance, about 0.3 miles per Google maps.

I ordered a stuffed French toast with orange and cranberry sauce. It came out big and bulky! You could see the batter on the toast and inside was a huge chunk of cream cheese!

I'm known to love a good deal and am especially happy if it's food related! Hence, I spent quite a bit of time finding as many offers as possible for my birthday. This was in December so the majority of the offers should carry over to this year.

For my birthday, 100+ emails greeted me. Besides direct email lists for restaurants, I also used ibirthdayclub for smaller San Diego restaurants though it's a hassle signing up for individual restaurants. The majority were the "buy 1 get 1 free" type, but I did find a few winners in the process.

The Works (Mission Valley area) - a free 2-topping pizza through ibirthdayclub. This was the biggest surprise as I was expecting something small! I estimate 14" in diameter! We also ordered their breadsticks which came with yummy marinara.

Fogo de Chao (all locations) - $25 off your lunch or dinner. Considering lunch is already at $32, this is pretty slick.