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Eating around…Part II-A: Noshing around downtown San Diego

Like most office workers, lunchtime is that miraculous hour where we can have a taste of freedom, away from our work. And I tend to want that freedom to taste good, so I make my way all around the areas that are reasonably close to my work for lunch. This post will be a HUMONGOUS one, but trust me…they are all worth it (and I’ll try to keep my rants down to a minimum). Also one more note: the restaurants will not be in chronological order to which I visited it.

Let us start off with a chain *ducks under her desk to avoid any flying objects thrown her way*

Come on, which one of you out there can honestly say that you’ve NEVER eaten in a chain restaurant??? Even the biggest foodies out there have gone to one or another at some point. Seriously, not ALL chains suck. Some do, some more so than others, some a little less, and some are even decent. So let us calm the rage within us and let me talk about the Yardhouse.

For a chain that seems to be more for the beer than the food, their menu is not that bad. Heck, I will risk in saying that it’s pretty darn good! The first time I went there was for lunch with a couple of co-workers who really wanted their Lettuce Wraps, which they offered to let me try without me even asking, yay! I only tried the chicken filling and it was not that bad, not out of this world, but not bad at all. For myself, I decided to go all out and try their crabcakes and house salad dressed in spicy peanut vinaigrette. Both were wonderful enough for me to go a second time after Comic-Con with my little sister and ‘L.’

Although I was seriously tempted to get the crabcakes again, I forced myself to try something else, but I did get the Blackberry green tea that one of my co-workers got and I had tried as well, and fell in love with.

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As to my dinner, what was I going to get?! I wanted onion rings and no one else really wanted to share an appetizer of it with me, so I got the Portabella Burger with onion rings instead of fries:

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Portabella, eggplant, peppers, basil, feta, and sun-dried tomato mayo all on an onion poppyseed bun. The thing I loved the most with this burger was the layers of colors! I mean just look at it! Even if Yardhouse is a chain, they make the best looking portabella burger I’ve ever laid eyes on. And the onion rings (in the back, top right corner) were just as good. Perfect ratio of beer batter to onion and fried to crispy goodness.

With some help and persuasion on my part, my little sister finally decided on the (Mac & Cheese)^2 with roasted chicken, applewood smoked bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar and parmesan cheese with castellane pasta and white truffle oil:

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Now this is what I a call a mac & cheese! None of that stuff that comes in a certain blue box, nope…this is real cheese with cream and/or milk, pasta cooked to al dente, tender and not dried out chicken, and smoky bacon. The best bite of mac & cheese is the crust that forms on the top!

And ‘L’ got the Classic Cheese Burger:

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That came with fries that were to DIE for! The Yardhouse fries are super-thin shoestring fries that are, possibly, twice fried like pommes frites. I wanted to take more fries from her plate and kept asking if she wanted more onion rings just so I didn’t feel so bad for taking her fries. I wonder if they would let you have half fries and half onion rings with your burger…I will have to try it next time!

Now OFF to the next chain!! >> Rocking Baja Lobster (yes, another chain).

After watching the Padres play against the Giants (and winning, w00t!!) during the afternoon game, my boyfriend and I were famished. We had brunch earlier that day (more on that with another post) and were stuffed during the game. The plan was to get some overpriced food during the game, but since we were quite content still from brunch, we didn’t need to pull out a mortgage just to feed ourselves. However, since we didn’t eat during the game, we were both starved when we got out and set off immediately to find ourselves some grub!

As we had walked around the Gaslamp we looked over our options. My boyfriend and I only walked a few blocks up the Gaslamp before we stopped because we realized something. The more we walked, the more options were available to us, thus making it even harder to decide on what and where to eat! And we were slowly starting to feel the effects of low blood sugar from the lack of nourishment, so we stopped at a corner to talk about the options we had seen. Most were WAY overpriced and we just didn’t feel justified to go indulge ourselves that way.

Of all the places we passed by, Rocking Baja Lobster was one of the first and we both had wanted to try the place for sometime (not the Gaslamp one though, but the Old Town one). My boyfriend voiced out his suggestion of trying it and I immediately started pulling him back down the street towards it. Once again, I am completely happy with our decision. We both ordered the Tres Tacos del Patron (San Felipe Style):

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Three crisp batter dipped shrimp and/or slipper lobster tail tacos in warm flour tortillas with tomato, cilantro, cabbage, avocado and creamy cilantro-lime sauce. All of their meals it come with unlimited “create your own” Caesar Salad bar. The cool, refreshing salad was immensely welcomed after baking under the sun for the last 3 hours. And when our tacos came, I was excited because it looked positively scrumptious.

Taking that first bite of the lobster taco was absolute heaven. The crunchy, tender lobster meat was sweet and the cool cilantro-lime sauce mellowed out the deep-fried aspect of the taco, making it irresistible. Even though our waitress said that the shrimp was better of the two, I think both were equally good, but since you don’t usually get lobster tacos. I would highly recommend you getting 2 lobster and 1 shrimp tacos when ordering this!

Now that I’ve gotten the chains out of the way, I can get to the smaller but just as, if not, better establishments in downtown. I will give a small eating tour of San Diego’s Little Italy, going from the “ok” to the “spectaculars”!

Petrini’s is pretty much on the south edge of Little Italy and the only reason I went there was: 1.) They had relatively cheap lunch specials in terms of Little Italy, and 2.) I’ve passed by the place so many times as I enter Little Italy and had a yummy sample of their pizza once. So with that, I went there for lunch and had the eggplant parmesan that came with only 2 little slices of garlic bread:

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Talk about being skimpy. And truthfully, the eggplant didn’t blow me away. However, the meat sauce that covered the mediocre eggplant parmesan was very good. It had a sweetness that comes naturally from the tomato that I loved. It had the right spices so I didn’t miss or even need the red pepper flakes. I used the garlic bread to mop up all the sauce after I was done with the eggplant, which I thought tasted even better.

Would I eat here again? I’m not sure but I definitely won’t be ordering the same thing. I much rather have the Torta di Melanzane (Layered eggplant, mozzarella, pecorino, and Parmesan cheeses, topped with marinara sauce) from Cafe Zucchero even if it is twice as expensive, but worth every penny in my opinion.

I realized just how big this post would be if I did it all in one shot, so I will divide the downtown post into 2 parts for your sake. I’m sure your eyes would be too tired out if I did that. So now it will be divided into: savory and sweets. You’ve just finished the savory portion of the meal, stay tune for the soon to come sweets!……

>>Part II-B:  Noshing around downtown San Diego (cont.)

Yardhouse
1023 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 233-9273
 
Rocking Baja Lobster
310 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-6333
 
Petrini’s
610 W Ash St.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 595-0322
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