Welcome to month #2 of my Discovering San Diego series, where I spill the good and not so good of what we ate, drank, and saw this past month. Today, I’m co-hosting the Local Adventurer link-up with Esther from Local Adventures with Esther & Jacob. Since I just moved to San Diego everyday feels like a new adventure 🙂 The link-up is at the bottom of the page, so grab the button and link up your local adventure post. It can be anything! The next link-up will be December 4th, so if you don’t have something this time, you have plenty of time to get out there and discover what is at your door-step.
Juniper and Ivy
Loved, loved, loved it!! This currently holds the title of top restaurant in San Diego for us. This was recommended by a fellow patron at Hillcrest Brewery, so we looked it up, finding out it is Top Chef Richard Blais. Of course I’m even further intrigued especially after the great experience we had at Girl and The Goat. Well, Blais did not disappoint. We got seated at the chef’s counter, so we overlooked the kitchen, which I love getting to see all the activity…plus we got to see what dishes were truly popular. They have a variety of small dishes and entrees. I like to try as much as possible so we opted for all small dishes this meal. We had:
Cocktails: In The Ivy, Sunday Puncher, The Devil in Disguise
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Carne Cruda Asada
Heirloom Tomato with Feta ice cream
Squid with Bacon Fried Rice
Apple Tart with Bacon Streusel and Cheddar Cheese ice cream
My two favorite dishes were the squid with bacon fried rice and the carne cruda asada (amazing!). All the dishes were good though I would not recommend the tuna tartare just because I think it lacked any exciting flavors, if anything it was a bit under seasoned. We will definitely be making a return visit here.
Great Maple (for breakfast)
It was so good, but oh so filling. If you need a hearty breakfast this is your stop! We started with the bacon maple donuts (3 to a serving), and then got the Beef Brisket Popover and the Louisiana Purchase Popover. I think I ate one potato because the main part of the dish was so good and there was just not enough room to eat all the food. They also have a neat tea selection, I ordered the Guurl Grey but I could have gotten the Sexpot Green. I think next time we might just order one entrée. I’m looking forward to going back and trying their pancakes (peanut butter and fried banana please!). As a note Great Maple does a breakfast during the week and a different brunch menu doing the weekend…this was breakfast on a Friday. We also tried it for dinner on our house hunting trip in August, dinner was amazing too. Don’t worry a full dinner review will show up here in the future. It is a return kind of place!
Blind Lady Ale House (BLAH)
The pizza is spot on, simple, with high quality ingredients and tons of flavor. We have found our pizza fix with this place. Bonus is having a spectator beer list, including their own next door brewery features from Automatic Brewing Company. I have a feeling this place will become part of our regular rotation (we did go here twice this month). Next time I want to try the mussels! Also, I biked there both times 🙂
Cafe 21 on Adams Ave.
I went here twice for brunch this month. Once with P and once with Shannon!
The first time: It was a bit chaotic as they were missing their hostess, and our poor waitress was having one of those days. The food was worth the wait!! The menu had a ton of options, and I was agonizing over what to order. I decided to go with a more Fall type dish and ordered the dutch pancake with cinnamon apples. P had one of the best omelets I have ever had, the short rib omelet, the flavors were amazing.
The second time: Still a bit chaotic, even without missing a hostess. I think the service is simply disorganized. I basically had to attack our waitress for water. However the food did not disappoint again, so it is worth it.
This was our first true Pho restaurant experience (as in that is all they serve). I knew from looking it up what was expected but I think P felt a bit out of his element. Once we got the food though, all was good. I ordered the Pho with rare sirloin and lean brisket, and P got the Pho with flank steak. Both were good, with tons of meat and noodles. I would have liked a little more spice to the broth but you could add hot sauce or the jalapeno. The thai tea was overly sweet for our taste. You know a place is going to be good when English is not the dominating language you hear around you. You also can’t beat the price our huge bowls (medium size order) were around $7 each and it was filling.
Brooklyn Girl (Dinner edition)
Last month we went to Brooklyn Girl for brunch and decided we would come back for dinner. We knew we wanted to sample some of their oysters, so we did. I loved the red wine mignonette though I’m mostly a purist when it comes to eating my oysters. We got a dozen oysters, a few cocktails, and the special appetizer the crab rangoon stuffed squash blossoms. The blossoms were a bit disappointing, I think they forgot the crab as I could taste none, it certainly was not close to the one’s we had in Chicago. The service was great and I’m sure we will be back. It was a very relaxed dinner, just what we were looking for.
P and I tried this place on our house-hunting trip and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since. I have been especially wanting to try their chicken and dumplings. This past week the evenings have been a bit more chilly so we worked it in. We got the:
fried oysters, which were good but over breaded
chicken and dumplings, duh! great flavor though a bit more soup than gravy, still really tasty
beef cheek, great flavor but a huge piece, it is hard to eat that much of such a rich dish. It was definitely very Fall like.
Also pictured above is the meal we had back in August, that charcuterie board was awesome!
The Not So Good
Circa Not a top pick for me. P and I went for brunch and I was starving as Shannon tried to murder me at the gym before:) Even being that hungry I was not blown away by the meal, it was good but something was missing. I think there was too much going on in the dishes. I wanted to love it but it just missed the mark for me. Very cute space though and nice staff. We might consider giving it another try for dinner.
Salt and Cleaver Great menu but the flavors were just not there. I did really enjoy that they have an extensive draft beer list and offered tasting sizes! This is going in the same boat as The Neighborhood, good for a drink but find your meal elsewhere.
The Lion’s Share I was so excited about this place based on their menu, and I was disappointed. The decor is so cute, and I love the graphics on the menu. The drinks were really excellent and I would recommend it for a drink. It was the food that was so disappointing. While a few of the dishes were not terrible, the carpio was hands-down the worst I’ve ever had. It had no flavor, even the cheese didn’t taste like anything, it was bad. It was so bad that a dessert and cocktail was required from Great Maple to recover 🙂
Au Revoir The mussels were the saving grace of this place, the broth had amazing flavor and I was asking for extra bread to get more of it. P liked it overall but I thought everything except the mussels was so, so. It may have been the atmosphere, but I was just not feeling it.
Hillcrest Brewing Awarded friendliest patron medal for our experience there. The bartenders were very friendly too. I liked the vibe here and I we will be back at least to get a T-shirt. The beers were ok, some were much better than others. Better across the board than ThornStreet but not as good overall as some of the other breweries we have tried.
Coronado Brewing Company We decided to pop into Coronado Brewing for a beer and a bit since we were in the area after a day at the beach. I love their beer! The atmosphere is pretty lacking however, very dark and not what you would expect from a beach brewery. The food was good but the menu was not very creative or enticing to me. They have a great selection of beers, so I do still highly recommend a visit. They had over 15 beers on tap to choose from.
Polite Provisions This is such a cute a bar! I love the feel and interior! The drinks are good; not the best I’ve ever had but at $8 they are REALLY good. This is definitely on the repeat list. In fact I got Shannon to go with me for a little Sunday-Funday after our brunch.
Monkey Paw Great beer, but the atmosphere left quite a bit to be desired. More sports bar than brewery. The cheese steaks were quite tasty though, but I think we will get our Monkey Paw beer fix from Small Bar.
Council Brewing Cute space, though in a random warehouse spot (see the bottom left). They had a lot of cute decorations up for Fall, aren’t those pumpkins cute? It was nice to see they had put a little effort into the decor. This is a nano brewery (meaning the do batches on a small scale). They had quite a large selection (I was expecting maybe only 4-5 beers on tap) but they had 15. They had an excellent Dubbel, which was funny since we were just saying that you don’t find very many good Dubbels from American breweries. Their Dubbel was extremely well balanced. Overall, their beers were good but I was only wowed by 2 of the about nine total we tasted (P and I each got a taster and shared a few sips of the ones that did not overlap).
Rough Draft Brewing Company The beer was good, but nothing stood out to me. The space was a bit less industrial than Council or Intergalactic but still just in a strip mall type area. They do get extra points for offering popcorn as a bar snack, yum! San Diego has so many great breweries that it is hard to consider going back to places that don’t wow with either the beers, the atmosphere or both (it should have both).
Intergalactic Brewing Company Another warehouse brewing spot, this one though in the back of the building, making it a bit harder to find, though they did have good signage up. I was not impressed with their beers, I just don’t think they have the recipes down to make a solid beer. Kudos to them for producing the grossest beer I’ve ever tasted, garlic/onion is not a taste profile I would recommend for an IPA. A one on Untapped was too generous. Not a brewery we would be seeking out again.
Poor House Brewing Company This was a find that was in our neighborhood and we happened to bike by one day, so we decided to pop in and give it a try. The beers were good, nothing spectacular but strong recipes. The atmosphere was great, the bartenders super friendly and knowledgeable, and the patrons were chatty. We enjoyed our time here and will definitely be back.
Coronado Gorgeous beach. Very clean and plenty of beach space. I think it is the perfect spot for soaking up some sun and putting your toes in the water. We went on a Saturday around 10:30, and had no problem finding parking…it did begin to get quite a bit busier as we were leaving around 12:30. After our time on the beach we headed over to Coronado brewing…see that review under Booze! I went back another day by myself and it was just as nice. Even on a Friday, the parking was filling up by the time I was leaving around 12:45. Of course it could also be that it was such a gorgeous day!
Del Mar We took a little drive up to Del Mar after a few brewery visits to grab some dinner and the sunset. The sunset was pretty spectacular and I was so glad we caught it. I’m obsessed with getting more sunset shots now. For dinner we squeezed into PrepKitchen on a whim. Sorry, no pictures, it was dark and we sat at a community table that was not conducive to picture taking. Next time 🙂 The food was quite good. We had the charcuterie board which was amazing (and I’m kind of an expert) and the mussels which were cooked perfectly but the broth was only ok. The service was quite good too. It will go on the return visit list.
Balboa Park I envision a full post solely on Balboa as we explore more. I did not really grasp the magnitude of what the park had to offer or how large it was. This trip we just walked around, but we will certainly be back to explore some of the museums, zoo, and other offerings. For now you I just have pretty pictures to show some of the buildings, rose garden, and cactus garden. I could have spent hours in just the rose garden and cactus garden. The sun was not at the best angle for the pictures in the gardens but I was still enjoying snapping pictures left and right. The cactus garden reminded me of a landscape from a Dr. Seuss book. We had a fun afternoon just wondering around. For more San Diego Adventures make sure to check out my September post! Now share your local adventure!!
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Thanks for linking up, and see you Dec 4th!
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