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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lets Mangia! Eating Well in Chula Vista...

I took a little side-stroll into Chula Vista after work this particular evening being I work just outside National City on NBSD. I had a late day, still had to hit the gym and did not feel like making dinner when I got home to Point Loma later. Something local would have to do! I slid over to the 24 Hour Fitness in on 3rd Ave in Chula Vista to get my pump on and pump we did! Working up an appetite, I needed to find close, fit the bill of pallet pleasing and stomach filling without causing me to pass out 30 minutes after eating.......what to do...?...Mangia as we say in Italian! Eat!

A check with (190 reviews, 4/5 stars) pointed me to a place just 3 blocks...yes 3 blocks away with high reviews, promising pictures, good prices and a seemingly authentic Italian menu offering......decision made! Mangia Italiano on Third is where I was headed.

615pm or so I came in and found the place fairly busy with a group in the back and several families in the front half of the restaurant partaking in their Tuesday night dinner buffet option ($12) which upon my review looked really good and almost swayed me to opt for it with its vast range of salads, pastas, soups, pizzas and grilled meats. The notion of going more traditional Italian got the best of me however and I stuck to my guns and ordered off the menu. Feast your eyes on my selections below...

Veggie Premavera (low carb entree selection, no pasta)
Well seasoned, not too much oil or butter, great option for those who want flavor, satiation and portion without calories or a gut bomb later. Comes in a shrimp option also!

Dinner Salad
Small serving, nothing amazing or over the top but it comes with meal so mine as well take it. Salad was crisp and fresh.

Minestrone Bowl of Soup
Robust in flavor, chalk full of veggies and potato. Nice smooth tomato base with good seasonings.

House made Foccacia Bread
Served warm and fresh right from the kitchen. Herbs adds nice flavor! Sop up the soup with this! Just do it!

My whole meals was under $23 before tipping so prices here are very affordable for what you get. Service is pretty quick as well. Being it was decently busy but not packed they were moving pretty well. McKenna and Ashley were the two servers I happen to interact with on this visit and both are amazing! Super kind, friendly and helpful to all my needs the whole visit.

Be sure to say hello to Kathy the owner as well. I got a chance to speak to her after my meal to ask about the history of the venue (10 years and still going strong), menu design, Italian influences (classical/traditional Italian dishes) within it as well as the rare but nice to see tenure many of her staff and head chef have there. Many with 7 years or more working for her. The head chef has been with Kathy since they first opened which I found very interesting and a testament to the genuine vibe they have going here. I would say they have something going here at Mangia Italiano on Third! And its more than just a place to find Abetterbite!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Debut at THE LOT

I am officially off my contest prep diet at last!!

As of this posting (Nov 20th technically) my 20 week contest prep diet has ended of which the last 6 did not have me dining out 1 time! Or at least eating anything when I did go out with others.......sad but true sacrifice of being a stage based fitness competitors and fitness model on the side.....worth it yes, struggle at times?......also yes! But thats done and so now I can loosen the reins up just in time for holidays to enjoy being a bit more normal fitness folks standards mind you!

To kick off my return to humanity and normal culinary experiences beyond my own grill or kitchen, I made big plans to make my debut visit to THE LOT in Liberty Station in Point Loma with a close friend and fellow foodie of mine Maggie. This was also her debut visit to the venue so we both had a novel experience to come in for. Let us begin.....

A Sunday evening around 630pm after a draining 3 hour photoshoot I got into the venue and had a 645 RSVP but was quickly seated anyway in prep for Maggie to arrive. The single catch we had all night (which was rectified) was that the app order I placed at 7pm slipped the order placement and at 725pm had still not come out....nothing major. The GM Brent came to the rescue and he himself took our full order down and got it placed pronto.

Maggie and I both got to meet the sou chef William Jacobson to ask some questions on our menu item selections which was cool for us as we both love knowing how and where the food came from and comes to be what it is. Brent was sure to take care of us all night with regular checks which I liked. 

As my pictures below show, the two of us got a full spread of foods from the menu to try out and review. 


1855 flank steak, (mine)

marys chicken, hers (Maggie)


chicken tortilla soup

Brussels sprouts

shishito peppers

LOT salad

grilled veggie flatbread

Notes on the items we got:

Sprouts and peppers, simple, get them both! Some of the best of both apps I have had anywhere. A must!

Flatbread- Nothing super amazing IMO. Very flavorful as all toppings are local and fresh. I am not a bread/flour/wheat person so I tend not to have a taste for items like this but again, I still would get it again for sure. Not a crumb was left between us so consider that to folks!

I would order all of these again hands down no question. My steak was amazing and cooked perfectly medium rare as I like it. Chimi topping was on point! The red roasted potatoes which I am a HUGE fan of were $$ as well. Soft but not crispy with just enough evoo and butter to add flavor but not drench it either. 

The soup here really blew my away! Way good! Full of robust flavor made only from a chicken broth base and pureed tomato and carrot according to the chef. I was very impressed with this soup and I am a soup NAZI!

Our LOT salad was good but not amazing, it simply lacked a texture pow and we both agreed that some wasabi peas or spiced croutons would do just the trick to match the pickled veggies and light lemon dressing they use on it. 

Maggie's chicken dish which I sampled was some of the most moist chicken I have ever had. The plum sauce they use with it is a must use on every bite as well! And OMG the polenta it was served over! Melt in your mouth warm, cheesy creamy goodness!

Service, food, all good, price are higher yes, but you get what you pay for plus the ambiance is worth the added cost IMO. When you can watch the SNF game on the big screen and take in a nice meal all at once......your winning in the game of finding ABetterBite!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Village Impresses!

So here I am with yet another Yelp Elite event to highlight about for you all! This one being a bit different in that it not only highlights amazing foods but also an amazing venue and living residence in Mission Valley. Having lived in an apartment just 3/4 of a mile away from this community during my first year of life in San Diego, It was ironic I had passed this place so many times before and had no idea how awesome this neighboring location of apartments truly was. I know better now and I think you are too!

This event was held on a Tuesday night from 7-9pm where myself and about 100 or so other local SD Yelp Elites amassed to experience the full spectrum hospitality of the Village in terms of staff, food, amenities, rooms and more.

The upstairs lounge space we had reserved for our group was very nice. 2 large flat screen TV's to watch game 6 of world series was perfect as it would be for any big sports event. 2 large seating areas for guest. A kitchen demonstration and cooking space, a balcony area adjacent to the kitchen with amazing views of the pools outside.

The food came racing out from behind the kitchen counter all night where we had some very well prepared apps all night long. We had enoki mushroom sliders, prime rib sliders, bruchetta, noogatine desserts, artichoke hearts over goat cheese on crostini, chocolate cake that looked like it was actually worth dying for, creme brulee cups, wine, cosmos and much more I am sure you will see in the slide show of pictures.


The single bedroom demo room I looked at was just breathtaking. Super modern, open, lots of windows for natural light to come in, big closets, an open kitchen with movable center work counter space, big bathrooms. Very spacious and open which I liked. Nice little patio space to see outside as well.

The gym rivaled any small scale express gym you may see out in town and in fact beat some of have seen hands down. New top of the line Precor fitness equipment, machines, cardio, free weights, group exercise (rooms and classes with instructors) TRX spaces and more. I found this way cool being a fitness guy by profession and by hobby! No need for a gym membership if you lived here!

The pools speak for themselves, 1 lap swimming pool, several lounging pools all over the property, salt water at that! One pool they keep heated year round as well!

They have gas grills all over the property as well which are first come first serve use. These are like top notch massive grills as well. As one self proclaimed grill master I found this quite impressive all by itself. I would likely be found down at those bad boys nightly if I lived here, no joke! Between the open space fully equiped kitchens, clubhouse kitchen demo space and these outside gas grills, I think I would be known as the community "cooking/baking/grilling guy" very quickly! What a way to make quick friends right!?

The clubhouse (where the event was hosted) was out of this world. Lounge areas, study areas, pkush chairs, hardwood tables, coffee lounge spots, a full bar area with seating, TV's. coffee station, happy hour specials, high speed wifi and more! reason to leave this place!

In a couple months I am told a small market is opening up as well stocked with essential grocery items sourced from only local merchants and farmers markets! OK now you really do not have to leave at all!

Now after all this info and footage you have been priveed to I cannot speak on prices, I did not see those nor do I have that info as of this posting either. I am told spaces range from $1800 to $2800 by some of my fellow Yelp Elite folks I attended with but that is all I have for you. My awesome tour guide Heather is sending me just this info when she returns from some time off so I can link that in the comments below when I get it.

If anything else I highly suggest you stop in and ask for Heather to offer you, your own tour to see the property, pools, gym, clubhouse etc........let this wet your whistle for now but don't stop there. Go check it out for yourself and see how amazing the Village really is. You are sure to find A Better Bite here but oh so much more as well!