Bars/Lounges · Beer · Japanese · Mexican · Pizza · Pubs · San Diego · Sandwiches

San Diego – Unfiltered

L’s best friend S and his wife E wanted to go on a couples’ trip, without their children. Okay with us, as we are childless. We picked San Diego because we heard there’s a lot to do and flights were affordable. Throughout the whole trip, L and E made references to Three’s Company, as the show was supposedly based in San Diego.

Come and knock on our door. We’ve been waiting for you.
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his, three’s company too.

Come and dance on our floor. Take a step that is new.
We’ve a lovable space that needs your face, three’s company too.

You’ll see that life is a ball again and laughter is calling for you.
Down at our rendezvous, three is company, too.

 

The Airbnb condo I picked was right under a plane route, located minutes away from the airport. Planes would roar by every five minutes. After a couple of days, we adjusted to the noise.

The local grocery stores around sold a six-pack of Leffe beer for only $10.00! Holy smokes. Back home, Highlander sells it for $20.00. I told L I couldn’t believe it was cheap. There must be something wrong with it, like maybe it was non alcoholic. I was wrong. It tasted just like the $20.00 beer I drink at home.

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Based on Yelp reviews, I checked out Artisian Bento for a late lunch. When I walked up to the counter, I asked for poke but I mispronounced it, as in “I will poke you” rather than “po-kay”. The youngish Asian American female stood there and looked at me like I just spoke to her in foreign language. I really wanted the po-kay and the silence was getting longer and more awkward, so I pointed to the dish on the menu and said slowly, “I want that one”.

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The complimentary miso soup was flavourful and packed with seaweed, soft bits of potato and other goodies. One of the best miso soups I’ve tried. The po-kay was cut up in small little pieces, silky in a light sesame sauce. The mixed grain rice was perfectly cooked, parts of the rice was covered with a delectable savoury sauce. The bowl was filled with greens, beyond the generic carrot and romaine genre, and garnished with ripe avocado slices. The chef behind the counter was nice (and a great cook) and said bye when we left. We thanked the disgruntled woman at the counter, but she didn’t look up from her iPhone. She’s really not helping stereotypes.

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We walked around Balboa Park and then headed to Little Italy. We stopped by Bolt Brewery as it was busy and seemed like a good spot with the breeze flowing through the open windows. L found the freshly brewed beer flat. I ordered white wine by the tap, which was only $7.00 for a large pour. The pizza we ordered ($15) was freshly made, but bland. The chicken was dry and tasted like it was the pre-packaged sandwich meat. Still hungry, I ordered the baked wings. Some of the wings were meaty, some small, but all soggy. I heard you can’t find a bad restaurant in Little Italy. I wonder if they have tried the food at Bolt.

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S & E’s flight was delayed five hours due to a lighting storm in Texas. To kill time, L thought it would be a great idea to go to a Trump rally. I would like to state that we are NOT Trump supporters, but L insisted and billed it as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience”. Getting stabbed in the heart is also a once-in-a-life-time experience, but that doesn’t mean it is special.

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The Trump experience was not a great one. There was a small group of anti-Trump people who accidentally wandered over to our side (the only non Caucasian people there besides me). Of course, of all the people to ask, he turned to me and said, “F%$#, are we on the Trump side?” I was so ashamed to be standing be there, I couldn’t meet his eyes nor verbally answer him. He screamed “I f******* hate Trump!” and then wandered away. I was worried there would be a riot or the angry people around me would beat him up, but instead, everyone just looked at him and one old man clapped and said, “Good for you. Nice language there buddy”.

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L considered buying a shirt as a souvenir but decided against it as it was bootleg version. I wanted to ask him if he was joking but I was too afraid of hearing his answer. I’m pretty sure he was serious. He’s a bit of a snob when it comes to labels.

night scene

When L’s friends finally arrived, I picked ALTITUDE Sky Lounge for the view of the city. I didn’t mind the crowd but S and L didn’t like it. There were people dressed like they were going to prom and pretty much everything in between. The age group varied from junior prom to middle-aged.

Altitutde

I ordered a Redbull with Titos vodka and our bartender free poured. Truly a wondrous thing. M ordered a a Moscow Mule, which was off-the-wall good. M couldn’t finish her drink so I gulped it down. I would have stayed longer but L and S did not care for the scene.

bao

E were hungry at this point and want something to eat. We wandered over to Underbelly in Little Italy, based on our Uber driver’s recommendation. We all ordered bowls of ramen and bao sliders. I found the sliders bland. The meat in the baos weren’t particularly tasty either.

Ramen

The noodles in the ramen was a little soggy, but I found the pork tender and the broth flavourful. The ramen did it’s trick, our bellies were full and soaked up all that alcohol.

bagel

The next morning we Ubered over to Pacific Beach and walked along the long stretch of beach. We checked out Mission Beach Coffee Break. I noticed all the customers were ordering acai bowls. I think acai is an “it” food in San Diego. We waited 15 minutes for our bacon, cheese and egg bagel. I found the egg omelette overcooked, but a couple of packets of hot sauce livened up the sandwich.

beach

We stopped by a local bar for beer and then headed back to Little Italy to another brewery, Ballast Point. At this point, I had a raging headache and I was so hungry I walked over to a 7/11 and bought Advil and a $2.00 chicken burger. I should have known better, the chicken burger was vile. The chicken and bun was mushy and tasted like soft foamy plastic. I took two bites, threw it away and headed back to the pub.

I really liked this Ballast Point. You walk up to the front and order from their large selection of beers. The place was packed the entire time.

duck nachos

We ordered duck nachos, fries and pretzel bites. The food is delicious and incredibly fattening. The fries were triple cooked, the exterior battered and crunchy. The duck nachos were drenched in a cream sauce and blue cheese. I would have returned again, but S said he didn’t want to go to the same place twice.

prezel

That night we went to Cornado Island. Our Uber driver was more like a tour guide, giving us the history of San Diego. The Americans really value their military. All along the streets, houses were decorated with their national flag. E told us in Dallas, people will get up and give their table away if a solider is waiting for a table. At functions, the MC will often announce the arrival of soldiers.

We waited over an hour to get into a Mexican restaurant our Uber driver recommended, Miguel’s Cocina. You would think that a long line-up would indicate the food at the restaurant is good. The food was what you expect from a buffet at a four star resort in Mexico. Our server was pretty bad. You could tell he did not want to be there. When S started alpha dogging our server, we knew it was time to go.

uni

The next day was the best. We Ubered over to the Hillcrest Farmers Market. It’s an open air market filled with craft stalls, produce, baked good and ready to eat food. I opted for uni ($10) from Poppas Fresh Fish Company. The uni was cracked open and washed right in front of me. The sea urchin was quite delicate, foam-like and tasted a bit like oysters. Other people kept coming up to ask me if I liked it. This also happens when I’m at a Chinese banquet with other non-Asians. Everyone asks me questions like I’m an expert, as the food is exotic to them. I like the attention and even if I don’t know, I’ll make up an answer. The one time people listen to me. I’ll take it, I’m not proud.

poke

One of the best things I ate on this trip was spicy tuna pokay from the San Diego Poke Company. The tuna tasted super fresh and the spicy creamy sauce made my hair tingle. It wasn’t a large portion, but it was filling. The seaweed, the seasoning and the rice was perfect.

We walked around the city, checking out Balboa Park and museums. We dropped into a cafe to drink a pitcher of $10 mimosa. I couldn’t believe it was so cheap, I figured it had to be non-alcoholic prosecco. I’m wrong again, it was real! I could feel my face turning pink.

outside bar

S picked the restaurant for our last night, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens-Liberty Station. We sat at our table for hours, drinking and eating the night away. Highlights include the duck tacos and that delicious, sweet corn salad.

The next day, we took Uber one last time to the airport. Surprisingly, I enjoyed my last meal at the airport. Hello Calgary, are you paying attention? Get your act together so I can stop bringing my own meals when I fly out of YYC.

I drank champagne from Bubbles Seafood and Wine Bar. The gentleman serving us was old-school cool. He paused dramatically and told us to “wait for it” as the cork popped high above our heads. Then we headed over to Phil’s BBQ. The BBQ Broham sandwich was delicious. The pulled pork was tender and had the most deletable sauce. Next time, I want to try the onion rings, which everyone else was ordering.

I like San Diego. The city is clean, safe and walkable. The only thing I’ll complain about is the exchange rate, but that’s not the city’s fault. I’m planning a trip to Seattle with my best friend the Yen this summer. Hopefully by then, the Canadian dollar will pick up. I don’t want to eat at McDonald’s the entire time.

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