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Taste of North Park 2011

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With visitors coming in from out of town, i decided to show them the heart of our fine city by taking them to the Taste of North Park. With 46 tastes for $30, including alcohol, it was a great deal, and definitely worth doing again (by the way, 46 tastes in five hours is damn near impossible - around taste no. 25, we were too full to eat another bite). Did anyone else go? Here are my highlights and lowlights:

Highlights:

Cafe Calabria - Pizza and coffee - Until Saturday, I didn't have the chance to taste Cafe Calabria's pizza, but it was excellent. Like Pizzeria Bruno's in style, only not as wet, and had a good chew. It was something else. Oh, and the coffee was, as usual, excellent.

Urban Solace - Braised beef cheek sandwiches on cheddar biscuits with tomato jam - really, do I need to say more? Absolutely delicious.

Smoking Goat - Braised goat tacos with salsa fresca and cotija cheese - The Smoking Goat finally lived up to its name and served goat! The goat was tender, slightly gamey, and held up to the cotija and the salsa.

The Linkery - Kielbasa with spicy mustard - For some reason, I always thought kielbasa was red in color, but apparently not. Anyway, this was probably the best kielbasa I've eaten.

El Take It Easy - Pork Belly Tacos and Whiskey Sours - the tacos weren't as good as they have been at other tastings, but the whiskey sour was excellent.

Bar Pink - I'm not sure what the drink they served was, but it tasted good, and made the walk down 30th go a lot faster.

Lowlights:

Veg N' Out - Veggie Burgers with caramelized onions - I wanted to like this, and these burgers had a lot of flavor, but along with the texture, that was the problem - the flavors clashed in an unpleasant way.

Sea Rocket Bistro - Cod with tzatiki sauce and some kind of jam - Hands down, this was the worst dish of the day. The whole thing was underseasoned, bland, and the combination of cold, bland, cod and bland tzatiki was a total mess. Worst of all, we were only given chopsticks to eat the dish, and so, whatever combination of flavors the chef wanted us to taste were completely lost.

Paesano - Meat lasagna - This wasn't bad, but it wasn't especially good either.

Overall, it was a great event, and I was more than happy to plunk down my $30 for the taste. Also, I'm looking forward to more great meals from the places I visited.

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Linkery
3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

Urban Solace Restaurant
3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

Sea Rocket Bistro
3382 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

El Take It Easy
3926 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

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  1. I love a good "Taste of…" I guess I forgot again that it was over 40 places plus drinks. Next year. For me, North Park sort of begins and ends with Urban, Linkery and now El Take It and I forget there is more. Too bad about Sea Rocket. Maybe someone dug the flavors.

    Thanks for the report. You had a great day for it - or was it too bright? :) How were the lines/crowds? How much walking?

    And OT, what was the predominate spice in the kielbasa? I’ve had it there before and it totally was like the great kielbasa we’d get from a farmer relative in the midwest years ago. I just don’t know what the spice mix is or if the flavor is from the smoke.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

      It was a great day for the Taste, and because it was so spread out, the lines were manageable. The only place that was really crowded was Calabria, but that had to do with the wait for coffee.

    2. great writeup, " Braised beef cheek sandwiches on cheddar biscuits" oh my!

      I will try to check this out next year.

      1. Thanks for the report. I was bummed to miss it this year. Did you make it to Ritual, El Comal or West Coast? And yes, the $30 is well worth it.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hungerpane

          I made it to the West Coast Tavern - the bread pudding was lovely, though, at the time I was stuffed to the gills. I don't remember El Comal being on the list (aren't they in University Heights and Normal Heights?). Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the Ritual.

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          El Comal
          262 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910

          West Coast Tavern
          2895 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

          1. re: jmtreg

            El Comal is on Illinois St, just across the street from URBN. Their food is can be hit or miss, but I'd be interested to know what they were serving. Too bad you couldn't make it to Ritual, although I'm impressed you made it to 25 tastings!

        2. Am hoping to check out Taste of North Park this year. For the 2011 attendees, how was the food and beer supply going around 3pm? Do the pubs have the included beer tasters or only the art galleries?