I seem to be very good at doing this – going missing for months without a peep. It may be only me, but there are times where I run into a rut and remain in there for some time unable to get up again.
When I was going through my archive of pictures, my mind was already mentally kicking me telling (more like yelling way too loud) that these were posts you were going to write. This just makes me feel guilty and I burrow further into my ditch which I’ve dug myself into.
However, after almost a YEAR of hiding, I’m coming back and picking up the pen again.
Without further ado:
My current food craving (literally right now as I type this, this is what I am craving) is the taco. Specifically a spicy shrimp taco with a crispy layer melted cheese on corn tortillas. What you see here are two examples of that from Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, which have three locations.
One gorgeous afternoon, CP and I wanted to make a drive to the beach and grab lunch. After much deliberation, I suggested we head back to Oscar’s for some tacos because what goes better than a nice, sunny day in San Diego in April? Tacos of course!
I got two spicy shrimp and one smoked fish taco (un-pictured). The amount of food that’s given to you is quite hefty and I left the shop lugging my happy stomach.
Each shrimp taco is filled with plump, juicy shrimps that have been marinaded and charred on the griddle. While its vessel is being warmed up with a layer of cheese that crisps up so that you get a nice cheesy crunch. Yes, that little bit of cabbage gives you that crunch too, but to compare cabbage to cripsy cheese sounds like an insult.
My tacos were then topped with a nice helping of habenaro salsa (me thinks they mix in some crema). Oh man…
ALL BOARD THE FLAVOR TRAIN! IT’S PARTY TIME! CHOO CHOO!!!
Like I mentioned, they have three locations, so get your bum out to one of them, try those tacos if you haven’t already and get on this tasty party train!
703 Turquoise Street
San Diego, CA 92109
746 Emerald Street
San Diego, CA 92109
646 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103
On a seemingly cloudy start to a Saturday, a group of nine ventured across the U.S. and Mexican border for a foodie adventure. What I am about to share in words and pictures, cannot fully explain or describe the experience and food we had. It is something to be enjoyed first-hand and then one can appreciate it fully.
The day started early in Tijuana at Marisco el Mazatenos. Now this place has been highly recommended by coworkers for the past couple of years and I finally got to taste it myself.
They start with providing chips and salsa, along with a seafood consommé. This consommé is your preview to the amazing food that one is about to partake. The broth is rich with flavors of shrimp, tomato, garlic and spices we could not pin point. With a little shredded lettuce, a squeeze of lime, you had yourself a cup of delicious soup to warm your belly.
Our first indulgence was their ceviche. It was refreshing, tart, sweet, and tangy and the appetizer to continue to excite the palate.
The main attractions and the reason why we were all there for: the La Mazatena tacos! Plump shrimp with garlic, tomato, peppers, and again probably with spices the restaurant will keep guarded. Melted on the tortilla itself, was a layer of cheese to make it more tantalizing.
All that was left was for us to dress them up with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, crema/white sauce, and a spicy green sauce (their “secret” sauce that even when asked by my coworkers on different occasions, no one knew since it was a made by the owner in secret). With a squeeze of lime, we were taken into taco heaven.
I’ve had my fair share of seafood tacos, but it was the complete package that took me to a food bliss that no other taco has ever taken me. Maybe I am over exaggerating, but from coworkers who have visited this restaurant on multiple occasions will proclaim again and again that this is the best seafood taco you will ever have.
That day, we had not only the shrimp tacos, but also the marlin and the octopus. The octopus was amazingly tender and melted in your mouth. There was no need to chew repeatedly on the meat in attempt to swallow it because it fell apart in your mouth. (Sorry, we only had a fuzzy picture of it sadly…we were all a little busy eating and given it was our first meal of the day, we were quite hungry.)
Breakfast was delicious, the service was friendly, and with our tummies full, we headed south.
The beautiful and off-season Rosarito beach is so relaxing. We came the weekend right after the colleges’ spring break, so we pretty much had the beach to ourselves along with locals and the few vacationers. The day was just absolutely perfect to just lounge around, play ball or kicking the ball around. The was way too cold to swim; I tried putting my feet in the water and my muscles immediately cramped up from the cold.
Well after spending a few hours on the beach, we were all getting pretty hungry so we headed off to Puerto Nuevo. However, along the way we did make a pit stop to get a snack:
I forgot what this was called, but it translates to “coconut shrimp”. As you can see, it’s not the fried coconut shrimp you would think. This is literally a shelled out coconut, filled with cooked shrimp and cucumbers. Refreshing, sweet and tangy, a perfect little snack on our way to our meal. (Actually, we also bought some tamales too along the way, but we ate those up so quickly that no one remember to take pictures sadly =(…they were quite delicious though!)
We arrived to the port town of Puerto Nuevo and for such a small town, there was no end in our choices for dining. However, our intended destination was La Casa de la Langosta:
And if it was not obvious what we were here for by just the name of the restaurant…
Delicious, delicious lobsters! At La Casa, you have 3 lobster options that they’ll either steam or fry (aka “Pueto Nuevo” style). There is the large, medium, and smaller lobsters and rule of thumb from what I found is the smaller the fish or crustacean, or anything from the sea in general, tends to be sweeter and tastier. Everyone went for the smaller, local lobsters, and most went Pueto Nuevo style, only couple went for the steamed version. The meal came with soup or salad, rice, beans, and tortillas.
Look at that pile of awesome, juicy, deliciousness. Geez louise! I can taste it just looking at the pictures. The meat was juicy, sweet and just a little spice for good measure. Who can say nothing taste better with a little spice? Butter wasn’t even needed since it was plenty succulent on its own. Just pile on some rice, beans and unbelievably soft and warm tortillas, we were in eating heaven.
Needless to say after our meal, we all kind of felt like Don Pisto…
So what’s a team of foodies supposed to do with the sun slowly setting and full bellies? Well…we enjoy the sunset, the scenery, and a couple of brewskis leftover from the beach earlier that day. Aaaah…life is good.
BUT WAIT!!! What was that? We needed more food? Tacos? Street tacos? Why yes, please bring us more!
At Tacos el Franc (yes, the name was not lost upon us when a coworker suggested it because it was just too funny…or maybe we were suffering from food-induced dementia), they serve a simple menu of meat on corn tortillas. Street meat…BRING IT!
Oh delicious cone of carnivorous delight, why do you tempt me so? How is it that you can still tempt me to consume you when my own stomach is still filled with the delights of the sea?
I do believe at this point in the day, we were all just delusional and following our gluttonous instincts – especially one of us, whom probably won in the day’s eat-a-thon. JA at the end of the day, polished another 5 tacos at el Franc and was still smiling at the end.
And although one would think that would be the end of the foodie trip to Mexico as would any normal, sane person would, but no, we were not sane nor normal to begin with. We needed dessert before calling quits – off to find some ice cream! Which we did and again, forgot to take a picture of our delicious and palate cleansing passion fruit ice cream.
That my friends, is how we have a good foodie adventure. No diets. No logic. No room for weaklings or food-a-phobes. All you need is a will of steel and determination and be willing to hand yourself over to pure pleasure of food.
Least to say, in order to truly appreciate what I’ve shared with you in this post, you have to experience yourself first hand. There are no words to describe the experience without it sounding repetitive, so just soak it all in via the pictures and pretend you were there…until you finally make it there yourself! 🙂
Disclaimer: We had two guys with us who grew up in Tijuana and has made multiple trips back and throughout Mexico. This made the trip a lot easier to navigate having someone who knew the landmarks and roads. It’s helpful to have someone who knows the city/country, or if you were to travel there on your own, do a lot of research and mapping of your destination beforehand. This is to keep you safe in a country that is more than willing and wanting tourists to visit, but to travel without preparation is not advisable. But most importantly, remember to have fun and be willing to take on the unfamiliar because in the end, you’ll find yourself in a more familiar state of mind then when you first started.
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.
My favorite Sunday ritual especially when it is sunny: wake up, go to the gym, clean up, and head down to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market!
The Hillcrest Farmer’s Market is one of my favorites and I love buying fruit there. It is the colors, the sounds, and most of all – the smells that keeps me coming back over and over again.
When I visit with CP, we will always (99%) have our lunch here. What’s on our menu you ask? Here is our favorite spread:
Tacos are a staple in our diets. For CP – chicken, for me – al pastor. Three corn tacos loaded with our selected meats, guacamole, cilantro, onions, and salsa. Whenever I go to a taco shop or any Mexican joint and see “Tacos al Pastor”, I must have it as I am on the quest to find the best al pastor! It is a long journey…with many tacos to be consumed. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!
A new addition to the spread are the empenadas! I have stared at the stand that sells these (across from Charlie’s Best Breads) for sometime, until I finally decided to try them. My first taste, I had gotten the chicken, spinach, and the cheese empenadas (3 for $5). Now ever since my first taste, I realized that the chicken empenadas were “money”.
The shell is like a pastry crust, a little thicker and not really flaky. However, it gives right away when you bite into them without fall apart nor taking my tooth with it. Which is perfect because these little puppies are FILLED to the brim with shredded, spiced chicken. Take their chimichurri and you have a samba in your mouth!
Pair this meal with horchata (for me) and fresh squeezed lemonade (for CP) and we have ourselves a wonderful picnic on the DMV lot!
3960 Normal Street at Lincoln (Adjacent to the DMV)
San Diego, California 92103
Sunday: 9 am – 2 pm
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.
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:
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:
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:
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):
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:
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!……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