New Finds (Greater SD)
I have fallen victim to these boards and have become a frequent diner of many of the board *favorites* so I fall in to the groupthink category defitinely....but is there anyone out there searching for new gems to share with SD posters?
I know the chances of having a mediocre meal is high and the unknown is daunting but is anyone outhere actively taking one for the team?
I guess I am alluding to a posting a la Punjabi Tandoor. I think it was Young chower who 'discovered' the place which is a classic example of the kind of posting I am looking for. Especially with the dreary ....sd restaurant's suck... threadspostings that now seem to be common on the CA boards.
My situation is location - i have a bunch a places I would like to write about but I feel it not worthwhile as most of you wont get out here. Whereas a lot of you live in and around SD.
I can only make the hour drive S to SD or N to LA so frequently.
Please report some new finds even if it is a two sentence posting.
A recent re-discovery for me has been Pho Pasteur on Linda Vista Rd. I hadn't been there in many years and had forgotten just how great it was. One of the better Vietnamese dining experiences I've had in San Diego.
Some of the standouts for me have been the beef in grape leaves, grilled pork balls, char-grilled pork w/ round rice noodle and coconut milk, pho ga, and beef porridge.
Bravo, Kare Raisu. Let's explore more and follow less.
The only problem with is that you often wind up with mediocre or worse places, and only infrequently a real gem. It's much easier to respond to a 'what's on your rotation' query than to take a chance with an unknown place. But they're out there.
What about posting interesting restaurants that have just opened, even if you haven't had a chance to try them? Or ones that you've been meaning to try but haven't gotten around to?
So everyone, take a chance, and tell us about it.
Kare, you might be surprised at the response you'd get posting places around Temecula, since lots of people work in SD and commute from Riverside. I don't live up there, but do drive through occasionally and might make a chow detour.
My contribution: a Persian restaurant just opened in Rancho Bernardo, corner of Bernardo Center and Cam. del Norte (7-11 center). And I saw another Persian place in Poway, on Pomerado Road I think. I haven't been to either yet, but hope to soon.
And for a personal recommendation that I haven't seen mentioned by anyone else: Taqueria Original in Escondido on East Valley Parkway near Ash (I called it Mariscos Taqueria in an earlier post). The market behind the restaurant has packaged mole (plastic bags, presumably made on site) that intimidated me, but I'll get around to try it eventually. And I almost forgot, El Nopalito in Encinitas serves a dark mole chicken (she called it mole oaxaquena (sp?), and laughed when I asked if it was like mole poblana), and a mole verde pork I think. Mmm the chicken was good. There were 8 dishes on the steam table.
The Persian place in Poway is Pamir Kabob House. It's next to the Winchell's and a Weight Watchers at the NW corner of Poway and Pomerado Rd (but the restaurant is actually along Pomerado). We were there for dinner on Friday and it was maybe 1/3 full, but the food is good, the prices are good, and the owners are so friendly and helpful.
I was having trouble deciding between two dishes for my entree (the sweet and sour rice with lamb and cherries, or the scallion dumplings in meat sauce) so they made an appetizer portion out of the dumplings and I had the other one for the entree. they also have a $6.95 lunch special Monday through SATURDAY, where the special changes daily. Yum.
It's a simple place, not fancy, but we're putting it on our list of places to eat close to home (I live in Poway).
I went back to Saffron for lunch, and had their three stew sampler over crispy rice. One was pomegranates (with walnuts and beef?) another was lentils and chicken, and the third was a leafy green with kidney beans. All three were delicious. My Iranian friend said she doesn't like the sour taste of the pomegranates, so she adds sugar. Price was $4.95, very reasonable. Most of the other customers were having kabobs, however. I'll try that next.
I neglected to mention that there are two kinds of crispy rice: one is just plain, like the bottom of a rice pot, the other has a very thin layer of bread (tortilla thin) underneath the rice, to make it extra crispy. Both have lots of oil that they were fried in, however.
Whoa...I need to check this place out Leucadian. I am game for any stew -epecially on rainy days such as this. I think it took over the old Ben and Jerrys that used to be there. I actually used to live in the condos right near here.
Is the rice spiced at all? Basmati? Only $4.95!? What was the flavoring on the green stew?
Let me know if you ever plan a chowdown there, as RB is my old neck of the woods.
Kare_raisu, please keep posting about local finds in your area. I wish we could have you down near my neighborhood, but exploring the chow in any town is important. Look at Ed from Yuma; he has single-handedly explored the limited offerings of Yuma, and found quite a few gems. I've used his recommendations for those times when we are headed to or from Phoenix and need a place to stop for lunch, and I sure appreciated the work he did. There are plenty of people who will find local reports on your area; many more people search and read these boards than it appears from the list of posters. I used to be a lurker myself, not so long ago.
If I had more time, I would do more exploring. My most recent new find (well, Kirk found it first) is Tita's Kitchenette in National City. The frequently-changing stews and vegetable dishes on the steam table reminded my of Super Cocina, but the BBQ'd (grilled) chicken and pork skewers were something else, especially for $2.
Perhaps I will try practice what I preach and start looking around mid-city. Jayne's was closed for sidewalk remodeling this weekend, but it is on my list.
I would like to read some of your new finds wherever they are. I have no problem to drive anywhere between LA and the border for a good meal.
I think one reason why a lot of people don't write about their new finds is because other posters (and I admit I do it myself sometimes) respond very fast that something is not authentic/good/made in the way it should be made and the original poster more or less has no idea what he/she is talking about (BBQ, fish tacos, restaurants in Gaslamp etc. are a few examples). People tend to forget that there is no wrong or right about taste. Everybody has an unique taste and shouldn't be critized for it.
I recently went (twice) to Bonnie Jean’s Soul Food on 54th Street. Before I went there, I thought the ugliest restaurant (outside) was the Pususa place on University…not any more.
As for the food, the wife and I thought it was quite good! The dishes we liked the best were:
Smothered fried chicken (covered with gravy)
Hot water corn bread, regular corn bread was okay
Collard greens seasoned with pork
Cabbage seasoned with pork
Red beans and rice
The mac and cheese was okay…skip it.
We did not try the chittlins, pork chops, or three kinds of fish; but we will return!
kare_raisu, we took your challenge last night. There was a power outage in University Heights nixing our at-home dinner plans. So instead of going to one of our usual local favorites for dinner (El Zarape, Crest Cafe, Arriverderci Pizzaria), we boldly headed out to try someplace new.
That new spot ended up being Cantina Mayahuel:
2934 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
The food is Mexican -- all fresh and prepared in the open kitchen. We ordered three tacos to share ($4 each) along with a side of rice and black beans ($2). The chicken taco was as close to perfection as we've ever had. Great flavor, juicy meat, crunch of a small amount of cabbage/cilantro along with a bit of creama and chipotle sauce on double corn tortillas. Yum!
Second best was the grilled shrimp. Last was the mahi taco which was dry and a bit bland. Also the beans and rice were very plain, even adding salt and pepper didn't help much.
Now for what we didn't try -- nearly every table ordered chips and guacamole. We guessed it must be pretty good since a lot of the other patrons were obvious regulars. Also several others ordered the torta which looked great, as did one of the beef dishes. They also serve beer and wine (limited selection).
They also have homemade mole one night a week (can't remember which night).
Total bill: $15 and change. Well worth the visit.
I understand where you're coming from, but these were very full tacos. The three we ordered filled up both my husband and me with no room to spare (we would have been fine with just one each). Also, it is table service, not a walk-up counter so the higher price is somewhat justified.
We ate at Cantina Mayahuel not long ago. I don't recall the tacos being that pricey, although the prices are pretty high for what you get. I believe that Paladar was saying that the tacos were three for $4.
The food was pretty good, although more on the "gringo" side of Mexican delicacy. The guacamole was good, although the chips are out of a bag - big no-no. Pretty decent, and nice to have the place in my neighborhood, but I wont be rushing back right away. Same food is available down the street at El Zarape for a few bucks cheaper.
Just got back from a night out in that neighborhood - first drinks at Cantina Mayahuel, and then dinner at Jayne's Gastropub.
It would be better if the chips at Cantina Mayahuel were fresh, but their kitchen is tiny and is right behind the bar, and they don't have a deep fryer. I think their daily special would be the way to go there. They do a mole, chile colorado, cochinito pibil, and a seafood special. I should have committed the days to memory, but alas I did not. I do remember that Friday was a mole day, and I think the seafood was on Sat. Some of them repeat. I asked for a sample of the Chile Colorado, which was the special today - and it was delicious. They had it simmering on the stove in a four quart saucepan. They also do tacos and tortas (we were sitting at the bar so I was watching them put the food together) and they looked good, but most of the regulars seemed to be ordering the special dishes. One comment - watch your step coming out of the bathroom - I almost took a tumble off the step just outside the door!
Jaynes was terrific - everything was delicious and the owners are lovely and gracious hosts. The menu was a bit limited tonight since it was their first night, but I had the short ribs and they were delicious. My husband had the free range chicken, which was reminiscent of Zuni chicken with a couscous side with arugula and currants. Our friend Tracy had the caesar salad and a side of frites - which were amazing. They made them a bit thinner, and they were crisp and well salted. Even better than Cafe Chloe's. We also started with the calamari appetizer which was really good - tender and crisp, with a nice spicy housemade cocktail sauce and tartar sauce. They have a simple short wine list - we had a bottle of Albarino and I had a glass of Pinot with my meal. This is what the menu looked like tonight - but I am sure it will change. http://www.jaynesgastropub.com/Page2.html
Overall, I highly recommend it!
It is not a really great find but still not bad. We went yesterday to a small italian restaurant on Barnett Ave. called Volare. I guess the interior decoration hasn't changed for the last 40 years and similar the menu (there are some really old reviews on the wall). It is a small restaurant with just about 40 seats and you have the typical american-italian stuff, some pizzas, sandwiches, pasta dishes, some meat and fish dishes. We had one of the daily specials which were homemade ravioli filled with spinach (very good) and the grilled calamari steak with scallops and scampis. Nothing fancy just a very good, large grilled calamari steak with two scallops and three scampis and some spaghetti with oil and a lot (and I mean A LOT) of garlic (which I loved). Both entrees also included a minestrone (very good), salad (below average) and garlic bread (average). Overall nothing really special and don't expect too much but if you are in the mood for american-italian cuisine you might give them a try. They are also relatively cheap (we paid including to softdrinks $29).
I was with a large party, so I tried several items.
We started off with a sampler of cold salads. These were all good. Two are Russian, the remainder Georgian. The Russian ones were a potato salad with peas and a mayonnaise-based dressing, and a cabbage-based slaw. The Georgian salads were a sweet shredded carrot, shredded beet, and one with what seemed to be green beans.
One thing that really stood out was the abundant use of fresh herbs and garlic. The butter brought out with the bread was seasoned with garlic and tarragon, and all the dishes had a pronounced herbal component.
Along with the salads were two bowls of soup, borscht and another called "Peter the Great". These were both amazing. Apparently they slow smoke their meat here, and the Peter the Great soup was strongly flavored by it. Hard to tell what's in it, so many flavors. But the smokiness stands out.
Borscht I'd never had before, and it was something of a revelation. Calling it "beet soup" really doesn't do it justice. It's a beef broth, and yes there are beets too, but also lots of herbs and chunks of tender beef. Very good, and something I'd go back for again.
Some other highlights:
Evening special of stuffed red-bell pepper. A large roasted red bell, stuffed with a ground meat mixture and dressed with a creamy sauce. Very tasty.
Leg of lamb - had a bite from someone's plate, tender and flavorful.
Beverages are also a highlight here. Russian tea served from a samovar was excellent, a number of good Russian beers, Georgian wine, and very nice Turkish coffee for dessert.
Overall, I'd describe the food as intensely flavored and rather brash. The abundance of herbs and garlic make for very lively dishes. Definitely one of San Diego's hidden gems.
On the Italian front, we have friends who live out by the 52 and Santo Rd ... an area not exactly teeming with restaurants. We always end up at Bellagio's, and I'm consistently pleasantly surprised by the food (with the exception of the side salad or house salad - whatever was added on to the entree. Think iceberg plus a tomato chunk).
Closer to home, we head to Da Nino's in Bay Park for our fix. The pasta dishes are good, the prices are low, the people behind the counter have thick Italian accents, and we've always enjoyed their pizza.
Just around the corner from Da Nino's is the Bay Park Fish Co., which is a small fish market and restaurant. I love Blue Water on India for seafood, but this place is even more casual and family-friendly, and great for the I'm-just-too-tired-to-cook but I-don't-want-to-change-clothes-to-eat weeknight dinner out.
Oh, one more! It's not really a restaurant per se, but Paradise Yogurt in the Ralph's plaza on Mission Center and Friar's is fantastic! They have upwards of 10 yogurt flavors at any one time, and they have low-lactose (Wow Cow - 12 calories an ounce!), and glucose-free yogurts in addition to the standard fro-yo (Danon YoCream). There's a Blockbuster in the same plaza, so I always look forward to movie and ice cream nights. =)
I posted last night in a discussion about Kearny Mesa that there is a new wonderful yogurt shop on Convoy - the same shopping ceneter as O'Brians and Tofu House. They opened Saturday. Maybe 20 flavors - self serve. Four fabulous Asian "tart" flavors then all the useuals. You pay by the oz. after making the perfect combo. They have fresh fruit and dry topppings. I had a very tart mango topped with a very sweet vanilla custard. And, get this, they are open until 11PM!