Taste of Downtown 2014 - recap
Apparently October is "Taste of <SD area>" month. There's Taste of Downtown (Oct. 2) and North Park (Oct. 11) plus some new ones we hadn't heard of: Mission Hills (Oct. 14), Bankers Hill (Oct. 22), and Point Loma (Oct. 23). These events are a great way to sample and discover new restaurants in various neighborhoods. OSY was able to attend three of the above but our stomachs wish the events were more spread out, especially after Vegas last week where Dennis insisted we try 2+ buffets!
Anyway, this year's Taste of Downtown was on a Thursday from 5-9pm. Yep, FOUR hours to roam around downtown with bellies to fill. So what did we find this year?
First stop was Union Kitchen & Tap which had Farmhouse Meatballs made from Brandt ground beef and ground pork. The lighter Italian and parmesan flavor was delicious and an excellent start to our tasting adventure!
Across the street was Rocking Baja which sounded familiar. I realized we sampled its sister restaurant at Taste of Old Town! I enjoyed the bright flavor of the toppings and crispy battered fish of the taco though the side shrimp was just alright. The crusty garlic bread was beautifully done.
Fun prop alert! I thought the hilarious face was better than the brownie at Dick's Last Resort. Too much Hershey's chocolate made the dessert taste like sugary frosting.
At The Field, they served Guiness beef stew. The consistency is a little thinner than I prefer but our favorite part was soaking the earthy nutty bread!
At Ciros Pizza, make your pick of pizza by the slice: margarita or pepperoni. "Healthy" me leans toward the veggies. Typical implementation.
Henry's Pub (also the home of the amazing CLUCKMOO) served . I noticed that their bbq was on the sweet side.
I prefer a meatier inside but the outer crust of the duck a l'orange meatball from Florent Restaurant was nice. Tin Roof had a chicken and waffle nugget but it was way too sweet! Maybe they left it in the syrup too long...
Whiskey Girl had thai chili wings but it did taste a lot like the sweet chili sauce you can find in a bottle. They also had sliders.
Bastard Saloon had little pizza slices and artichoke dip. Dennis was a fan of the chips and dip.
This is me being silly at Bastard Saloon. I blame it on being a transplant from Texas. Plus the seats were freaking saddles! Giddyup ya'll!
We liked the semisweet berry lemonade from Doner Mediterranean Grill. The rest of the food (yoghurt sauce, falafel, hummus, pita) wasn't too bad. The bulgur (yellow rice looking item) was a little dry though.
The Viva Las Vegas roll at RA Sushi has crab mix with a little bit of spicy raw tuna mix and cream cheese plus a lotus root chip. It's slightly sticky from the sweet sauce. Sixth Bistro Avenue's jambalaya had a bit of kick in it.
I've heard so much hype about Donut Bar and we finally got to try some! The Mud Pie is the yummy flavor you'd expect but in a donut! The Creme Brulee had crystalized glaze on top with a vanilla bean type filling. We didn't get to try the other two choices of Cake Batter and Maple Bacon.
I didn't know Tender Greens had a location in downtown! Katie the rep used a blow torch to melt the cheese fresh for tasters. This is CHEESY goodness along with the contrasting balsamic glaze and jam.
At Pizza Studio, it only takes 2 minutes to cook after assembling the pizza. These were premade and at room temperature so you don't get quite the same experience. Try these thin crust pizzas fresh off the rack.
Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant is somewhat hidden on the Horton Plaza circle drive (or at least I've never seen it before). Their mussel bisque en croute was on the saltier side but paired perfectly with the subdued flakey pastry. Yummy.
Pinzimini was part of the hotel at Horton Plaza. Their Salciccia Pizza had italian sausage and pear in great proportions, a little salty but delicious! I'm soooo not into beets but I was surprised by how much I liked their drink sample, a mix of apple juice, beet juice and lime. Too bad it's not actually on their menu. *sad face*
The ceviche from Spike Africa's was seriously black pepper overload (perhaps a fluke?)
I did appreciate that Chef Kevin Bryan and his wife were out there greeting guests personally. I'm always a fan of things like that.
We hit our first line at The Commons Bar. Five minutes seemed forever since we hardly waited elsewhere. They sampled buffalo and sweet chili popcorn chicken. Of the two, I preferred the latter. The former was not spicy and a little stale.
I thought immediately "Carbs! Oh no!" at Hard Rock Cafe. The twisted mac & cheese was a bit undercooked and stiff but otherwise the three cheeses and parmesan bread crumbs made the flavor ok.
The fried rice was pretty tasty at Mint Thai.
At Royal India, we sampled food similar to the downtown preview. Their tikki masala chickens is yum!
Dennis is a fan of La Puerta already and their bacon wrapped hot dog with caramelized onions and peppers makes me a believer too. The taco with vinegared red onions was still good even as leftovers the next day.
At Heavenly Cupcake, we had choices! Yay! I'm not into cupcakes much so we grabbed some cake pops and some macaroons. The lemon cake pop was a bit too lemony creme inside but the other (like cookies and cream?) had a balanced flavor inside. The macaroons, especially the pistachio flavor, were my favorite dessert!
We also had succulent chicken kababs from Meze Greek Fusion, one of the items sampled during the preview.
(picture from preview event) Unfortunately we got leftovers at Blind Burro but my friend confirmed his freshly made Braised Pork Potstickers with Achiote were just as good as what we had sampled a few days before.
Moonshine Flats was HUGE! The map marked it incorrectly so we ended up going across the whole building from the back, past a dancefloor with linedance lessons! I was so tempted to join but we were on a food mission! Next time though! They served an all beef corn dog with their homemade batter with whole grain honey mustard for dipping. This tasty sample was pretty much a full sized corn dog. We decided to take home for later!
Comun Kitchen & Tavern actually changed up their menu throughout the night. At the preview we had acai but this elote was their third sampler. The roasted corn was fabulous and I nursed it for a few more stops so I wouldn't waste a bite.
(picture from preview event) At Bub's at the Ballpark we knew the ballpark sliders with chipotle aioli were excellent so we took those home for later (and they were great as leftovers too).
At East Tavern & Bowl, they served a really awful pulled pork slider. What were they thinking? Too hard bread with a strong sesame flavor took away from the meat, which was tender but lacking a decent sauce.
Next door was so much better. Alex and Vanessa from Lotus Thai served us food in a to-go box. So perfect when we were about to burst out our seams!
At the Knotty Barrel, I tasted the Mike Hess beer, which was on the fruitier side so I thought it was pretty decent (this coming from non-beer drinker). They also had homemade beer cheese. Say what? It was cheddar flavored with the texture of hummus.
I just have to say WOW. The Grow a Pear juice from Juice Saves was AMAZING! It contains carrot, pineapple, orange and pear but is a great blend of fruity yet mild sweet. Plus, it looks really cool with a pineapple top!
THAT'S the machine they use to juice. Looks kinda like some cannon from far away! The machine is unique and is able to juice a fruit more completely than other machines in the industry.
Oh Zanzibar! We love you because of your wicked selection of dessert and sides bar but the garlic roasted chicken wing ain't so bad either.
We finished the night right with dessert at My Yogurt. For their "sample" they gave each customer a small cup and allowed them free reign on any and as much yogurt and toppings you could pile!
So I'm proud to say we hit every spot except one restaurant that was incorrectly listed as participating and the two located at Seaport Village. Eddie V's and Gelato Paradise are just a bit too out of the way and the shuttle map didn't really seem to show them as part of the route. This event still rocks, even though there are less restaurants than in previous years. Not like you have room for them all anyway! We hope you enjoyed our recap and that you'll try out some of the above restaurants for yourselves!