Saturday, July 21, 2012

San Diego, California (Dining)

I've traveled to San Diego twice during the last few years. The first was for five days in October 2009 and the second time occurred in May of 2012 for a business trip. Below is a description of all of the restaurants I ate at during my two visits. I also have a blog entry that describes sightseeing in San Diego.

Phil's BBQ:
When planning where I would eat at during my business trip to San Diego, the first place I decided on was Phil's BBQ due to the numerous reviews I had read on travel and restaurant blogs and the fact that it had more reviews on Yelp than I had ever seen for any other restaurant (over 4000). The massively popular restaurant currently has two locations (one in San Diego and one in San Marcos) with a third location to eventually open in Santee. I went to the location in San Diego. Unfortunately the restaurant does not take reservations so if you aren't planning on ordering take-out be prepared to wait for a very long time! My co-worker and I waited over an hour to get seated. However, the long line further cemented my reasoning for wanting to visit; I knew it was going to be good!

I ordered Baby Back Half Rib Dinner with a large size of Macaroni Salad. I misunderstood when ordering that I actually could have gotten two different small sides instead of just one large size of the same item. Although we had waited quite a long time in line, once we ordered our food arrived rather quickly. The ribs were incredibly delicious and extremely moist. The macaroni salad was also quite good, but as I mentioned previously I would have rather had someone else than just the salad. My co-worker ordered the Baby Back Rib and Chicken Dinner with two small sides of Fresh Cut Fries and Sweet Baked Beans. The chicken was also quite tasty and I absolutely loved the beans. Next time I go I will try to arrive a litter earlier in the evening in hopes of not having to stand in line for as long!
Interior of Phil's BBQ in San Diego.
Baby Back Rib and Chicken Dinner with Sweet Baked Beans and Fresh Cut Fries from Phil's BBQ in San Diego.
Baby Back Rib Half Rib Dinner with Macaroni Salad from Phil's BBQ in San Diego.

Super Cocina:
While in San Diego on my second visit I wanted to eat at least one authentic Mexican restaurant during my trip. Fortunately, Super Cocina was located just a short drive away from our training site in Mission Valley. Don't let the shabby exterior appearance of the building detour you; you will be pleasantly surprised when you walk inside.This home style Mexican restaurant serves food in a cafeteria-style environment with many of the dishes displayed in a glass case as you walk in. The menu board above the display case is in Spanish but don't let that intimidate you as the staff is ready to assist in translation. I ended up getting a combination plate which included carnitas (pulled pork), chicken mole, and rice and beans. The carnitas were unbelievably delicious; hands down the best carnitas I have ever eaten in my life! The chicken mole was also terrific. Best part of the meal? That entire plate of food cost less than $10!
Combo plate from Super Cocina in San Diego.

Zia's Bistro:
During one of the nights I was in San Diego for my training there was a planned dinner for our group at Zia's Bistro, which is located in the Little Italy neighborhood. This probably wouldn't have been on my first choice list of places to eat at due to its so-so reviews, but I didn't have much choice in the matter! The interior of the restaurant was cozy yet modern with a very nice outdoor eating area. Due to the large size of our group we ate inside.

The group ordered multiple appetizers including Calamari Fritti, Bruschetta, and Caprese. All three items were good but nothing extraordinarily memorable. For my main dish I ordered the Pollo Piccata with Risotto. Again, as with the appetizers my dish was good but nothing I would go running back for.

The restaurant worked well for our large group and catered to our needs quite well but the next time I am in San Diego I will try a different Italian restaurant!
Exterior of Zia's Bistro in San Diego.
Fun mirrors at Zia's Bistro in San Diego.
Calamari Fritti at Zia's Bistro in San Diego.
Caprese from Zia's Bistro in San Diego.
Bruschetta from Zia's Bistro in San Diego.
Chicken Piccata from Zia's Bistro in San Diego.

I ate at this Mexican restaurant during my first trip to San Diego several years ago. The fun and energetic restaurant is located within the heart of Old Town. I ordered the Margarita Shrimp Tacos Platter which I remember as being good but not necessarily something I would order again. This restaurant serves typical Mexican-American food that most of us are familiar with. If you would prefer something more traditional then I would recommend that you head to Super Cocina as described above.
Margarita Shrimp Taco Platter from Cafe Coyote in San Diego.

Michele Coulon Dessertier:
This amazing little bakery is located in a lovely area of La Jolla. I stopped in for lunch during my visit to La Jolla and ordered the De Parma Prosciutto Sandwich. My friend ordered the Free-Range Chicken Salad which was beautifully presented. For dessert, we split one of their popular slices of Gateau Aileen cake which was not only gorgeous but also quite yummy! I would definitely stop in this wonderful little place again the next time I am in La Jolla!
De Parma Prosciutto Sandwich from Michele Coulon Dessertier in La Jolla.
Free-Range Chicken Salad from Michele Coulon Dessertier in La Jolla.
A slice of Gateau Aileen from Michele Coulon Dessertier in La Jolla.

During my first trip to San Diego, my dinner meal at a lovely French restaurant called Tapenade was definitely the dining highlight of my visit. Tapenade, like Michele Coulon Dessertier is also located in the heart of La Jolla. Every single item that was presented to me that night was incredibly delicious and brought me straight back to France. The dish that still stands out the most in my memory was the gnocchi appetizer; I remember that I oohed and awed over that with every bite I took. Unfortunately, I did not write down everything that my friend or I ate that night but I can assure you that it was all amazing!
Gnocchi appetizer dish from Tapenade in La Jolla.
Assiette de Charcuterie Maison from Tapenade in La Jolla.
Coq au Vin de Bourgogne from Tapenade in La Jolla.
Seasonal fish entree from Tapenade in La Jolla.
Profiteroles, Glace a la Vanille Tahitienne, Sauce Chocolat from Tapenade in La Jolla.
Dessert plate from Tapenade in La Jolla.

Cupcakes Squared:
While stopping in at a grocery store, I happened to run across a cupcake shop called Cupcakes Squared. Being a huge fan of cupcakes, I thought I might as well check it out. I ended up buying one of their Not So Red Velvet and Vanilla cupcakes, both of which were tasty and moist. I really loved the concept of the square cupcake shape; so different and unique compared to other cupcake shops!
Cupcakes Squared in San Diego.
Cupcakes Squared in San Diego.

Hash Hash A Go Go:
Prior to my first trip to San Diego I had heard about Hash Hash A Go Go through one of my favorite blogs. At the time I was unaware that it was a chain with multiple locations throughout the US including Las Vegas and Chicago. The restaurant is one of the most popular places to eat breakfast in San Diego so it is advisable that you arrive early otherwise you will have to wait quite awhile for a table. Fortunately, I visited on a Monday which meant that there was no wait. I ordered a Strawberry Lemonade to drink which was delicious as well as one of the scrambles (Hardwood Smoked Bacon, Avocado, Onion & Swiss). My friend ordered one of the house hashes, although I don't remember which one it was! The food was delicious and extremely filling. The portions at Hash Hash are massive and an entree could easily be split between two people.
Strawberry Lemonade from Hash Hash A Go Go in San Diego.
My bacon, avocado, onion and swiss scramble from Hash Hash A Go Go in San Diego.
One of the house hashes from Hash Hash A Go Go in San Diego.

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