Oh food trucks…how I love thee. Let me count the ways that I love you:
Your food is cooked fresh to order.
You provide me good food without any unnecessary frills.
Most of the time you have me eating with my hands.
You satisfy my hunger and my soul.
Oh food trucks…thank you for completing my eating life in San Diego.
The food truck mania is not just some passing phase people. It is a staple that San Diego has been long behind on and over the last 5 years, that side of the business has significantly grown. One of the oldest food trucks in San Diego who also participated in the Food Network Great Food Truck Race – Devlicious, has been serving our great town for awhile now. Their signature item is the Lobster Grilled Cheese sandwich. So when a coworker and I found them parked just outside our office, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it for myself:
The lobster grilled cheese comes with a side salad with balsamic vinegar. The sandwich itself: butter poached lobster with melted jack and cheddar cheese and caramelized onions on sourdough.
It is a rich and delicious sandwich. The cheese melted perfectly, nestling in the sweet onions and lobster itself all on two pieces of crispy, fresh bread. I think if it was any other side, it would have been just too much for me to handle, but because it was a salad, it helped bring down the richness. As for the lobster you may be wondering – fresh, soft, sweet, and was not overshadowed in the least. And they gave you a good amount of lobster for the price of $12.
People may think this is “outrageously” expensive, yet a restaurant would have charged you $16-$18, and some places could get away with even charging up to $20 for this exact sandwich portion. Think about it people, how much would it cost you at a restaurant? These trucks have to not only pay for the food supply itself, but even with their bare minimum operations, there are still costs to run a food truck. Have you not seen the show itself? You need to charge every dish to cover your cost of food, overhead (eg. wages, truck maintenance), and still make a profit from every sale.
So come on San Diego! Go out there and support your local food trucks!!! There’s a great website that shows you all the food truck gatherings throughout San Diego called Curbside Bites and their calendar lists out everything. Granted, always check with the truck’s twitter or webpage for any updates on their locations.
Throughout San Diego County (and sometimes beyond)
My first time at D Bar was with two lovely ladies from my old job – KF and LT, when LT who had left SD several years back, was coming back to visit. I had to catch up with two wonderful and extremely driven ladies. We had a great afternoon catching up and just seeing what everyone was up to since we were all tied up in life itself. That day, we had sampled several dishes to just get an idea of what D Bar could do – just desserts or food as well?
On the left hand side, from top to bottom:
Crue Fries – their signature starter of garlic parmesan fries (perfectly fried), mac sauce, melted cheddar jack, bacon, ranch, and chives. This appetizer is salty but so addictive!
Naan-Burguesa – kobe burger, grilled naan, black bean hummus, chipotle mayo, havarti, avocado, and a side of chips. Since I don’t eat beef, KF and LT both were a little underwhelm by this burger. In part, the use of a grilled naan didn’t hold everything together so when you bit down, everything tends to slide out.
Tahini Grilled Salmon – on a bed of mixed greens, grilled baby bok choy, tossed in a ginger soy vinaigrette, and topped with toasted almond and edamame. This salad was again only ok and slightly underwhelming.
Now the real reason why we were here: desserts!
Molten Cake Thingy That Everyone Has – just the name itself made us want to order it. Plus the three of us have had really good molten cake thingies before, so we had to try it and see where D Bar’s stacked up. Their version is comes with raspberry compote and Sicilian pistachio ice cream, but we wanted to try their salted caramel ice cream and so we requested the swap. Well we can say that their cake thingy was quite good. Was it the best? We were all hard press to jump up and exclaim this was the best version we’ve had to-date, but it is a darn good contender!
Ch Ch Ch Churros! – Made. To. Order. Those are the three words that almost always ensures that you are going to have a great churro. And boy, D Bar knows their churros alright! It was the best freaking plate of churros ever!!! And it comes with a little dish of melted dark chocolate for dipping which was more for scooping out and eating straight.
On my second visit with two other wonder ladies – LA and JW, I knew there were two items I couldn’t go without: crue fries and churros. Except this time, it was for dinner so ordered more items to try in hopes that it would turn out better, but first…some drinks!
Normally, I don’t drink so I wouldn’t be posting about drinks, but my gals do and one drink intrigued us all – the Fresca Picante (martini glass one). This was a strawberry jalapeno infused tequila with agave and lime. I had taken a sip and the jalapeno is this after kick that happens a few seconds after drinking. It was such an interesting taste and experience that it had all three of us just inspecting it as we waited for food.
Oh these wonderful babies again…come to mama! NOM NOM NOM!!!
Bacon Mac & Cheese – because we were all feeling like mac n’ cheese. Don’t question us! We wanted this ooey, gooey bowl of melted goodness. It’s a four cheese mac, with bacon and cheese nips and panko crumb top. It was as decadent as it sounded, but good for sharing!
Lobster Risotto – grilled lobster tail with rosemary butter, served with roasted poblano risotto and broccolini and pea tendrils. The lobster was sweet and tender and I could have eaten several more of that tail! So good…
And since we were ordering so many rich dishes, I felt we needed at least one salad to help balance it out a little. The Grilled Caesar salad, drizzled with balsamic glaze and topped with shaved parm, it help give us that fresh crunch we needed.
Oh the desserts…delicious, delicious desserts…I pretty much dictated this order:
Chocolate Souffle – 65% chocolate souffle, nutella filled beignets with chocolate sauce, and praline ice cream. The souffle was not as airy as I’ve had in some places, but still delicious and fluffy. The beignets were too thick and not fluffy enough. Beignets are suppose to be little pockets of fried heaven (as I have experienced before in NOLA), so I was a little sadden to eat these little guys here. As for the chocolate, we learned from our waiter that they “pay more for the chocolate per pound than we do for the steak”. Now that’s something to be proud of! If I do say so myself!
And those churros, I ordered it knowing what I would get, but my friends were both skeptical. I told them that I swear by them and upon their first bites, I just ruined their ideas of churros forever. LA was just peeved at me for making her taste a damn good churro and now other churros will never be the same. Job. Well. Done.
D Bar as a whole, I love – from the food, atmosphere, venue and the people working there. It’s a great place to gather, enjoy a few dishes and drinks. Although I did not have pictures of my take out desserts from D Bar, I did try their macarons and chocolates. The macarons were much too dry! I was quite disappointed, but at least their chocolates were superb! I really hope the restaurant will continue to do well, so that I may keep coming back and try everything on the menu (but always with the churros).
3930 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
Ok, so I don’t normally track up to the San Marcos area for food. Or at all since it is never “on my way” to anything! However, my coworker introduced me to a place up in San Marcos about three weeks ago and my world has been forever changed. (And the realization dawned on me that San Marcos is actually NOT that far away from our office in Rancho Bernardo!)
CB started talking about getting Philly cheesesteaks one day and that got me really hungry. Then he proceeded to tell me the name of the restaurant – Philly Frank’s. Of course, the moment he gave me the name of the restaurant, I went hunting for the place online to see if it was worth my saliva (because I was drooling already at the thought of it). Upon browsing through Yelp’s comments, reviews, and the pictures, I was completely sold!
Since I don’t eat beef, the only “Philly cheesesteak” that I’m familiar with is of the chicken variety. There were good reviews for Philly Frank’s chicken variety and hence, there was an immediate need to make a lunch trip up. Fortunately, for us, the managers were all gone for training during the week and so, it was time to schedule a “long” lunch!
There were four of us who made the trip that one fateful afternoon – CB (the culprit), PY, XP, and myself. Between the four of us, we ordered the following: Cheese Steak, The Works (with peppers, mushrooms, and onions) – Beef (3), and The Work (with everything) – Chicken, two orders of seasoned fries and an order of the onion rings.
Needless to say, we had a LOT of food for the four of us that afternoon. We thought that we could tackle it without any problems-no that is actually a lie. Once we saw everything in front of us, we knew it would be a challenge that we had willingly accepted!
Unfortunately, I forgot to take an aerial shot of the table, but trust me, put all those sandwiches together and our sides and you’ll get the idea. And by the end, I ended up eating more than 80% of the fries, some of the onion rings, and half of my sandwich. There were definitely some food coma issues for the four of us upon our return to the office. Was it all worth it? HECK YES!!!!
It was so worthwhile, that CB and I made another trip last week with three other coworkers – MW, MB and RC. They too understood why we would risk falling asleep during work hours for this sandwich! Results were just the same as the first time – lots of food, happy eaters, and very tired workers.
Though the sad ending for our second trip, my leftover half of the sandwich was accidently left at the office fridge. It was over the weekend, but there were no notices that the fridge was going to be cleaned out, which is done every now and then. I come back to work on Monday morning, and was going to put my side salad I brought from home to eat with the sandwich, only to find my sandwich was GONE. Seriously, I don’t get people who take other people’s food! Sadly, that meant that I didn’t have the protein I needed for lunch that day and was starving soon after lunch.
This just means that I need to make another trip up to Philly Frank’s so I can have my other half of the sandwich!
151 South Rancho Santa Fe Road
San Marcos, CA 92069
My SD Restaurant Week restaurant number 2 was with a coworker of mine, JT (and no, it’s not that JT). Since she was working during the MLK holiday (in lieu of another holiday), we choose a place closer to the office. Our selection was because of the number of choices the restaurant had for the pre-fixe menu, and here were our choices for La Bastide Bistro in Scripps Ranch:
I have to say, this was our favorite course of the meal. According to JT, the crab cake was loaded with lumps of crab meat. She loved it and it did look pretty darn good from where I was sitting! My salad was absolutely delicious! The best part is the highlighted item – warm goat cheese, drizzled in the lavender honey. My goodness, I could have eaten TEN of these croutons! Paired with a fresh salad, it made me feel like I was eating something healthy and good. Althought I would have to say that those mushrooms were a bit out of placed. Had they been marinated mushrooms, that would have made the dish twice as good.
Our entrees was not our first choices, because they ran out of the Cassoulet (White Bean Stew with Duck Confit, Bacon & Sausage). 😦 JT enjoyed her stew, and it smelled nice, but it was not what I would want either. My Duck Confit was sadly under seasoned and a little dry. Also, my fries should have been crispier too. There’s nothing worse than a limp fry!
JT and I both ordered the Tartin, but again…much to our disappointment, the apple filling was too sweet for us. It felt like canned apple pie filling to me, but I cannot confirm that this was the case. The best part of this dessert was the ice cream.
Overall, La Bastide Bistro completely failed my expectations and they were not even set high to begin with! That was probably the worst part for me. Would I come back? For the prices they are charging both in their lunch and dinner menu, I think I’d rather opt for a different option.
La Bastide Bistro
10006 Scripps Ranch Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92131
So where was my next stop after my time in New York?…
Thank goodness we also had a stop in Tahoe as well during our visit to the Northern Nevada casino properties. Being my first time in Northern Nevada, I was shocked at the decay of the city of Reno. As we drove through the main road of the city, I could see how this was once the hustle and bustle of Northern Nevada. Now, it is a sadder scene with areas of abandonment and memory of the old days.
However, granted I was traveling with others this time aka – there was no excuse to NOT eat with tons of people and way too much food.
I will just go down chronologically of the meals that we had shared and consumed:
235 N Lake St
Reno, NV 89501
This was a Basque restaurant, serving traditional Basque cuisine. I had never heard of Basque food before and the only time I had even heard of “Basque” was during my travel to Europe and was given a brief history during our drive into Spain from France. So I was excited to see what this food was all about.
First, the dining room reminded me of an old bar or saloon. There were rows of long tables that you would share with other parties when it was a full house. However, that night, the place was already winding down due to the fact it was a late Sunday night. The meals were served family style with a choice of entrée for yourself. The entrees differ each night and so…let the food precession begin!
As you can see, they pretty much covered the bases with a soup starter, meats, and starch. The food was good overall, but it did not exactly blow my me out of the water. Still…it was a good start to the trip.
247 California Avenue
Reno, Nevada 89509
The following day, after our morning of walking the floors, we met up with another team working on another property for lunch at The Cheese Board. This place would be considered a casual French/American Bistro. They had sandwiches, salads, specials and of course – wine (which we did not have because we were all on ‘work hours’ and we were being good to stick to it).
This was so good! I don’t know how you cannot like warm, melting, good quality cheese.
Because this was the namesake of the Bistro…and the selections were all quite yummy.
(It was one of the better quiches that I had ever tried)
Overall?…A wonderful lunch spot and reminds me that Reno is still alive!
17 S. Virginia St. #180
Reno, NV 89501
Since we had such a nice lunch that day, we hoped that this recommendation we received from a fellow colleague would not fail us. Plus, it sat right by the river so it was the closest “seaside dining” we could muster for Northern Nevada.
Taste was there, but there was no texture. It was just a pile of mush on mush…sad 😦
Possibly the best thing I ate there that night. Fresh greens dressed in a delicious vinaigrette (plus there was texture here at least!)
Now our entrees:
Good lamb…even better polenta that was served under it.
Desserts (I laugh and make a face as I write/think about this):
The way they described it on the menu sounds interesting, yet it came out exactly as I had imagined: a brownie with a Klondike bar sitting on top. =\
Disgusting. Let me describe to you why: imagine cubes of stall bread that was pressed together and re-baked with no liquids to make it remotely moist and then try to cover it with chocolate sauce. This was the bread pudding. UCK!!
Now for this one – it was scrambled eggs in a dish with caramelized sugar. Yea…
(Chuckling) Ok…on the menu it does not tell you what kinds of berries are used, just that this was a berry crumble. So we asked the waitress and she tells us, “It’s a deep berry the chef uses.”
….Did you all catch that? “Deep berries.” If you were like us, you’d be asking (like we actually did): “What (the hell) are ‘deep berries’?” Are they berries deep within a forest? Are they philosophical fruits? What?! Let’s just say the waitress could not talk herself out of this one. (By the way, it ended up being strawberries…because they were out of deep berries apparently.)
My recommendations to you?…Skip the appetizers and desserts, go for the house salad and entrees only.
205 West 5th Street
Reno, NV 89503
The place is pretty self explanatory of what we had for lunch. However, in addition to our bowls of pho, we had orders of the Fresh Spring rolls and Fried Eggrolls
Now…on to Tahoe!
111 Country Club Drive
Incline Village, NV 89451
For our first night in Tahoe, we joined with the group at their hotel for dinner. Let’s just say we ordered more than what we all really needed. Let the bingeing begin:
I think the end of the meal was the favorite part of the meal for me that night. Look at that spread of delicious, fatty, sugary goodness. We had (going from left to right): Apple Trio; Mud Pie; Cheesecake; Crème Brulee; Chocolate Pear Nougat; Walnut Tart w/ Dolce Dulce Ice Cream.
My gawd…it was an overboard of sugar and we were all already at our breaking point but we were all very dedicated foodies (and a newly initiated one who was brought on to help us and was floored by the amount of food that we ate). My favorite from the platter? It would have to be the Walnut Tart with the ice cream. By the way…this was the platter at the end:
168 Hwy 50
Stateline, NV 89449
For our last lunch, we headed for some Mexican/Spanish food. However…it was not that good sadly.
The meat tasted fine for the tacos, but not astounding. Worst part was that the tortillas were too thick. You needed thinner tortillas to just hold the meats and let the (good) meat do all the talking. This place’s tacos were just a mumble in the air.
1001 Heavenly Village Way #26
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Our last night in Tahoe, for dinner, we opted for something amazing to make up for lunch, but yet, staying away from the steakhouses (we both needed seafood to balance out all the red meat). Thus, it was Kalani’s that really saved the day.
They were kind enough to split an order into two little cups for us. Thick, flavorful, sweet, a tinge of spice…wonderful.
Sweet, salty, sticky, and fall-off-the-bone tender. Though we both had enough meat the past few days, this was a great addition to our meal.
O.M.G. I cannot tell you how much I LOVE sea bass and its buttery texture. This fish really does fall to the slightest force from your fork and melts in your mouth as if it was butter. Amazing piece of fish and cooked with a crispy side to add a little texture. Suberb!
The special of the night was an ahi tuna steak topped with sweet, fresh crab meat, served on top of kimchi and “veggie sticks” (aka julienne carrots, zucchini and squash). This was good, but it was not a sea bass.
To round off the night, we finished with this delicious and wonderfully made creme brulee. The coconut flavor was in your face, but pleasantly so. By far…it was our best meal to date during this trip!
953 W 5th St.
Reno, NV 89503
Last day in Northern Nevada…back at Reno to grab a quick bite before we headed to the airport. We wanted something simple and quick. This little café had a great spirit and a hard working woman who I can only assume was the owner. She worked the counter, cash register, and waiting/bussing the tables. Naturally, you see her just running around the little café at great speeds.
While sitting there, you could watch your food be made fresh and also watch them bake their own breads for the menu items.
This was toasted bread slice (freshly made in-house), roasted pork, swiss cheese, ham, eggs overeasy, green salsa. With a little hot sauce, it is the cure for hangovers.
A mixed organic greens salad with tomato, kalamata olives, red onions, red bell peppers, feta cheese, avocado, procsiutto, house croutons.
We kept it simple and clean….well I did with my salad, can’t say the same for my colleague.
Well friends…that was my first time adventure in Reno and Tahoe. Will I be back? If it’s for work, I won’t have much of a choice, but if for pleasure, then I will definitely be back to Tahoe.