Sunday, August 21, 2016

Media Night at Whiskey Girl and Double Deuce

Last Wednesday, I was invited to experience a media event promoting Whiskey Girl and Double Deuce in the Gaslamp District.

The night started with some of Whiskey Girl's great food and cocktails. We sampled some of their signature burgers served as sliders, salad, wings, and pizza. The food was very good, and the cocktails were awesome! 

 The signature drink is the mule -- 6 different types! The mules are served in a traditional cup, cold and refreshing. I enjoyed the melon mule, which was sweet and light.

On to Double Deuce for bull-riding and cocktails! 

I've never ridden a mechanical bull, in fact, I don't know that I've ever seen them except on TV. It's seriously something that everyone should try, just for the ridiculous factor. 

Drinks in boots make the experience perfect! Check them out this Thursday, August 25, for their 8th anniversary with free bull rides, open bar from 8-10, food, and prizes! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tacotopia at the Racetrack

The San Diego Reader has been showcasing San Diego's most famous food item, the taco for the past couple of years. If you haven't yet attended one, I highly, highly recommend it. What, I ask you, what could be better than hanging out in the warm sunshine, sampling tacos from the city's finest? Tacotopia is a contest of sorts, wherein attendees sample over 40 different vendors' taco offerings, then select a winner based on innovation, and of course, best traditional taco. 

The summer event was held at the majestic Del Mar racetrack, which I have thoroughly enjoyed attending this year. Gathered were 40 of the best and most innovative purveyors of tacos in the San Diego metro area. I really can't say enough good things about this event, so I'll just do a brief discussion of some of my favorites! 

Lolita's was my first taste, a pollo asado taco with all of the classic toppings. Very tasty, very traditional.

I absolutely adored the chicken mole taco served by Common Theory. Rich, classic, and delicious, and topped with pickled onion, this taco was savory heaven. 

 A very unique taco was served by South Park Brewing Company. Kalua pork and a sweet pineapple and cabbage slaw was combined to make a perfect sweet and salty bite. Very fresh tasting, and surprising.
Another favorite (but who am I kidding, I didn't have a bad bite all day) was the Japanese take on a taco by The Patio. Seasoned sashimi tuna wrapped up in a fried wonton wrapper, served with seasoned, sliced cucumber. Absolutely perfect for a hot summer day; light and filling.
Most original taco of the day was from City Tacos. Kalua pork served with a slaw of mango and greens, accented with pork rinds and a two-colored shell! Beautiful to behold, and delicious to eat!
Their neighbors, Tostadas, served up fresh seafood tostadas topped with sushi tuna, avocado, tomatoes, and spicy mayonnaise.
TJ Oyster Bar served up a high quality, classic shrimp taco. Sauteed shrimp with lots of cheese! Yum.

The winner for the event was Blue Water Seafood with a spicy shrimp taco that perfectly capture San Diego and all of its seafood taco glory. Fresh ingredients and classic styling go a long way!

 We finished up with cookies from Sami's! No tacos here, but a sweet treat is the best way to end such an indulgent day.

After the fest, off to the races! Always a beautiful day to check out the racetrack!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wine & Roses New Location!

I love, love the Wine & Roses event, traditionally held at the Grand Del Mar. However, this year, the locale has changed to the Darlington House, located in La Jolla, for a more intimate event. I highly recommend attending -- what's better than award-winning wines and great bites of local food? Read on for more details!

 The 33rd annual Wine & Roses Charity Wine Tasting event will be held at the Darlington House in La Jolla on Sunday, September 18, from 3 pm to 6 pm.  The Social Service Auxiliary of San Diego has recreated this yearly fundraising event for its return in 2016—making it an exclusive event—catered by a premier local caterer and featuring premium wines from all over California.   Attendees can expect a more intimate atmosphere this year with tray-passed small bites while tasting excellent wines, all while enjoying soft tunes from a grand piano in the living room.  The most important detail of the event still remains the same—helping the at-risk children of San Diego attend Camp Oliver, a youth summer camp non-profit organization in Descanso, CA. All proceeds from the Wine & Roses event benefit Camp Oliver.

 This ticketed event has an exclusive maximum of 200 guests and starts at $150 for the Rose Garden tickets and $250 for the Platinum Garden tickets. A purchase of a pair of Platinum Garden tickets will cover a campership fee for one child. Valet is included in the ticket price for guests. For more information, or for ticketing info, please visit

Friday, August 12, 2016

The New Yorker

San Diego definitely has its jolly share of great pizza places, in all varieties: wood-fired, deep dish, new American, and, of course, good old New York-style giant slices. New York pizza is famous, and for good reason. It's relatively cheap, easy to obtain, and most of all, it's delicious. Wander the streets of any borough and you'll find tons of small shops with a variety of large slices -- some better than others. 

San Diego's claim to fame is the fish taco and all things Mexican-American, but just gotta have a real slice. Not only does The New Yorker, located in the beautiful Gaslamp District of downtown, serve a great slice of pizza, they also bring about the feeling of New York! 

Now, the pizza is strictly New York: large, thin crust with lots of cheese and toppings, but the beer is all San Diego! A nice long list is presented filled with local and non-local craft beers to accompany the pizza. I chose the Allagash White from Maine, and Steve the Pizza Port Chronic from good old Ocean Beach! 

To keep things healthy (ha!) we went with a Caesar salad to start things off. The Caesar here is served like a wedge salad, just the romaine hearts, dressing, croutons, and cheese. Sometimes simple truly is the best. 

 Okay, enough build up, the real star was the pizza! The pizzas, as is New York tradition, are sold by the slice or whole pies. The toppings are classic New York -- no fancy-dancy bleu cheese or anything. These are classics! We chose the crispy pepperoni, a New York favorite where the pizza is loaded with pre-cooked pepperoni, giving it a smoky, almost bacon flavor.

Check out all of those pepperonis!
 I love that they don't skimp on the toppings. So many pizza places do that, and it's annoying. If anything, there were almost too many pepperonis (as if that's even a thing).

The cheese and sauce were good, and the crust was a solid, nice chew. The slices were filling, so prepare to be stuffed!

After all of that, I'd like to be demure and say that we skipped dessert, but of course we didn't! The dessert menu is short, but everything is decadent and yummy. We chose the chocolate lava cake with a scoop of ice cream. It was the perfect, rich end to our dinner, just a few bites of chocolate-y bliss. 

The New Yorker is open for lunch and dinner daily, with later hours on weekends. Grab a slice and a beer and enjoy the atmosphere of a NYC pizzeria without leaving the comfortable sunshine of San Diego! 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Encontro North Park

When people come to San Diego, I always hope that they look beyond the beach communities and downtown to see all of the eclectic things San Diego has to offer. It's hard to know at this point how San Diego looks to outsiders -- the city has changed a bit in the time that I've lived here, and the world around us has changed. For example, I know that San Diego is a craft beer destination, but do people in New York think of it as such? 

I'm getting pedantic, so I'll just continue and say that I really hope that visitors explore more than just the Hotel Del and La Jolla Cove. Check out the great restaurants, bars, and art galleries of North Park, Normal Heights, Hillcrest, and University Heights! These are the heart of the city, and some of the best places for a unique meal or experience. 

Encontro is the new kid in the bursting indie scene of North Park. Taking full advantage of San Diego's reign as craft beer capital, Encontro offers an extensive list of local beers to compliment their delicious gourmet sandwiches and salads.

 With an open-air atmosphere, patrons can drink in the energy and views of the North Park neighborhood. Stop by for lunch and indulge in a window seat accompanied by a local beer and artisan sandwich.

I made a visit this week for lunch, and was very impressed by the varied beer list -- everything from IPAs to sour beers, it would be impossible for a beer aficionado to refuse one of these brews! I chose the Council Brewing Beatitude Guava Saison: sour on the nose, with a clean, crisp, fruity finish. Steve chose the Fall 2 AM Bikeride, a vanilla coffee stout. Whoa, Nelly! Such a rich, slightly sweet beer.

 So how was the food? Very good! Scrumptious, in fact. Keeping with the casual "bar food", the menu consists of gourmet sandwiches and salads, but prepared in a manner and using ingredients not typically employed by pubs. The bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwich enchanted me, while Steve stuck with a classic favorite of his -- pulled pork with french fries.
 For a twist, I chose as a side the portobello mushroom fries, something I would never think to make into a fry preparation, but certainly something that delivered big on flavor and presentation. The mushroom is cut into strips, then gently battered and lightly fried. They aren't terribly salty, as the flavor of the mushroom is quite enough to satisfy. I really enjoyed them and would order again.
 The pulled pork sandwich was solid: flavorful pulled pork that was moist and had a good bit of sauce, but not a messy amount; the bun was sturdy and did not become soaked from the meat; and the cabbage was lightly dressed with vinegar to make the slaw.
 We also ordered the buttermilk corn biscuits, which were divine. Very soft and sweet, they were the perfect accompaniment to our meal. They would be a great bite for those looking to pair with a salad! I'm from Appalachia so I take biscuits pretty seriously, and these passed muster. Enough said.
The double-stacked BLT with avocado was all San Diego and all delicious! There is seriously nothing safe from us San Diegans and putting avocado on everything! Why? Because it makes everything better and delicious! The sandwich was already great -- thick-cut bacon, crispy lettuce and juicy tomato, all between toasted, buttery sourdough. The avocado really brought the sandwich to the next level, and made it so filling as well! I only managed to finish half because it was so hearty.

We finished up with a churro milkshake, served charmingly with a churro as garnish. I had never had a churro until I moved to SoCal a number of years ago, but now I can't get enough of them! My favorites are sold at the border crossing at Tijuana, freshly fried and heavy on the cinnamon sugar. This churro tasted just like those! The milkshake was the perfect finish, a great dessert to share or keep for yourself, and a great alternative treat-drink for those who do not favor beer.

Encontro is a great addition to the already amazing restaurant collection of North Park. It's sure to find a great home and add a lot of interest to the neighborhood with great food and drink, wrapped up in cheerful service and a beautiful venue. Cheers! 

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