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Monday, April 25, 2016

French Toast Frenzy!

OK San Diego, here we are again for week 4 in the Better Bite series already! This weekend I went ahead and took on one of my all time favorite breakfast food items ever. Almost equal to my love affair with buttermilk pancakes. The item I speak of is FRENCH TOAST! The close cousin of pancakes as I think of them. Its a flour, eggs, butter and other goodness in the end right? Anyway.....these 5 establishments were the top finds based on my Yelp.com search criteria and found at the bottom of this post. You will not go wrong, cannot go wrong and will leave pleased and in most cased pretty full after dining at one of these amazing french toast specialist of San Diego! Read on and fair warning.....drooling is a side effect of too much staring.



BRIAN'S 24 - Blueberry Stuffed French Toast, $12
Price Point- 5
Creativity- 4 
Overall Taste- 4
(purely amazing "stuffed" french toast variety)


CREST CAFE - Sam The Cooking Guy's Blueberry Biscuit Bundt French Toast, $9.50
Price Point- 4
Creativity- 4 
Overall Taste- 4
(the unique bundt biscuit concept works!)


TRACTOR ROOM- Staple French Toast, $14
 Price Point- 2.5
Creativity- 4 
Overall Taste- 5 
(Massive portion and super thick bread slices, I love it!)


FIG TREE CAFE - Berry Sweet French Toast, $13
 Price Point- 3
Creativity- 3
Overall Taste- 4.5 
(the homemade jam sauce is out of this world as is the sweet cream!)



HASH HOUSE- Staple French Toast, $15
Price Point- 2.5
Creativity- 4 
Overall Taste- 5 
(portion alone could make this a new scoring area!)



Special thanks go out to Johnny Rivera of Hash House and Tractor Room, Chelsea and Melissa of Fig Tree Cafe, Robin and Andrea of Brian's 24. You guys all rock!



All venues selected above were chosen based on Yelp.com review standing of: 100+ reviews, 4/5 stars, and located within 15 miles of Point Loma. Must be in business for 1 year or more. All scores rated 1-5, 5 being highest score possible.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Donuts Do Battle for a BetterBite!

OK folks! We are back for another insight to where the better bite in SD can be found! This week the item up on the hot plate is.............donuts!!!! Not just any old donut either......my personal all time favorite, my measure of all donuts, my barometer for any venue worth its weight in dough and sugar and icing.....the APPLE FRITTER!

So lets jump right into things here.

I was only able to review 4 venues per my rules and guidelines of how I select the venues I choose each week. I could not find a 5th venue that had 100+ reviews and 4/5 stars within 15 miles of Point Loma that had a formal apple fritter for sale. I will note sadly that as bad as I wanted to desperately try out Nomad Donuts I passed as they did not offer a formal apple fritter to go head to head with the other 4. They did have and do offer a "fritter du jour" which is more of a savory/sweet combo style fritter then what I needed for my review taste off. I summoned my strongest willpower to pass as I have heard raves about their donuts!

The 4 venues I present to you are:



Donut Bar, Downtown SD ("brad fritter")
Taste- 5
Texture- 5
Apple Index- 5
Score-15


 Rose Donuts, Linda, Vista
Taste-5
Texture-4
Apple Index-4
Score-13

 Golden Donut, North Park

Taste-5
Texture-3
Apple Index-4
Score-12

 Donut Star, Mission Hills
Taste-5
Texture-2 (last one they had, may have been sitting too long, bit dry inside)
Apple Index-4
Score-11



Price wise all of the venues were between $3-4 so I did not score them on price as I do not see $1 difference as being variable enough to change my stance on a fritter that is at least worth buying again. I was able to get to all of these within about 60 minutes of drive time, get home, plop them on the counter and start the sample process right away before they got too cool and stale. I snapped the pictures of each fritter on site at the venue when they were pretty well fresh and not yet banged up from the drive home.

In the end every fritter I had I would undoubtedly order again! They were all outstanding in every aspect. The hardest part was not devouring the whole donut from each venue before going to the next one! Had I done so I am pretty sure by 2 of them down, I'd have hit sugar shock and wanted nothing more to do with any fritters period. They were all huge by the way!

You could argue that Donut Bar had an unfair advantage with the "brad fritter and its unique bacon and maple glaze. Well that's just how they do their fritter, no one is stopping the others from doing the same or more, that's what I say to that.

So the next time you have a donut fix, consider going with the all-mighty apple fritter from these 4 donut experts in SD to satisfy your sweet tooth and land "A Better Bite."




Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Carrot Cake Show Down!

OK then San Diego! Its been just over a week and we are back with the second formal posting of "A Better Bite" which is actually a short throwback (4 week-ish) to what was technically the first head to head food item taste test I did with my single all time favorite dessert item ever and that of course is nothing other than classic, old-school style (how grandma used to make it) CARROT CAKE! To not post this head to head show down with my favorite cake/dessert item would be criminal as you San Diegans need to know which is truly the best as I see it. These venues deserve to be noticed as they offer your pallet an experience you will not soon forget!

Note some changes to scoring here.....I will be adding in a price point score to all items reviewed here and in the future. Price/value is a key factor in my and likely your selections if your "better bite" choices. I removed aroma scoring for this review for obvious reasons, carrot cake does not really have a distinct aroma I am aware of.

Also worth mentioning now, all future reviews will select venues based on the same criteria as listed in the first intro post and an additional a new factor.......location. The venue must be within 15 miles of Point Loma. This is for the simple reason that it helps cap the 100's of 100's of possible venues I could include in these 3-5 way taste off reviews. 

The very last thing I will add before I get too long here is that the food items I select here on out will more than likely be items I can feasible get for take out and bring home. The items will not be of the traditional sit down restaurant, full entree like items as I feel I would lose to much of the true experience with the venue, the service, the food quality etc......

With that now said......lets get to the scoring to see what "the better bite" of Carrot Cake is in San Diego!


Flavor- 5
Texture- 4
Appearance- 4
Price Point- 5 ($4.50)
Score: 19



Flavor- 5
Texture- 5
Appearance- 5
Price Point-  2 ($10)
BB Score: 17



Flavor- 5
Texture- 5
Appearance- 3.5
Price Point- 3($7)
BB Score: 16.5


Flavor- 4
Texture- 4
Appearance- 4
Price Point- 3($7)
BB Score: 15


Flavor- 5
Texture- 4
Appearance- 2
Price Point- 3($7.50)
BB Score: 14


Again, please remember what I said in post #1, none of the venues I pick are "bad" far from it in fact! The reason I pick them at all is that I have had them before and loved it. Plus Yelp.com has the venue at 100+ reviews and 4/5 stars or higher.  So regardless of score and placing seen here........your going to have had the top tier offering that SD has to offer you.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The first head to head: BBQ Best Tri-Tip

OK so the very first 5 way head to head "Better Bite" review taste off! Here we go!

Right out of the gates I'm going with a food almost anyone, anywhere should be familiar with (except all you vegetarians perhaps)....BBQ! Not just any BBQ either but my personal favorite, the Tri-Tip. I feel that this cut can in many cases if not all be a barometer measure of any good BBQ joint's quality across the board. No doubt that beef and pork ribs as well as brisket can hold their own because they certainly can. BBQ chicken is a stretch for me if you count that as real BBQ meat. Beef based BBQ is a class all by itself and in m opinion, Tri-Tip remains supreme.

I will note that two of my all time favorite local BBQ spots that also happen to rate very well on Yelp.com and Tripadvisor are not featured here......Bull's Smokin' BBQ in Linda Vista and Kansas City BBQ in downtown San Diego. The reason being that they simply do not serve Tri-Tip cuts on their menu. As bad as I wanted them both featured here I had to keep with the theme and compare like cuts to like cuts. To do otherwise would be unfair and hard to truly compare on the same scale. That said the 5 venues features are as pictured below.


Close up individual shots of each sample: All samples half pound. Price range $9.50-$11.35 tax included.


Scores & Notes (I did not add any sauces to the meats for the sample scores below)*

Phil's BBQ- (thin cut, deli style)
Notes: A sweet-spice like addition going on without adding any sauce on my part. This was the moistest of them all. The smell was equally as sweet as the flavor. I knew this was gonna be good before even digging in! *Some sauce already included with how their meat is served.

Flavor- 5
Texture- 4.5
Aroma- 5
Appearance- 3.5
Score: 18

Brazen BBQ- (thick cut slices)
Notes: Very strong and flavor enhancing smokiness. Almost a small battle between nose and mouth to try and absorb more of the smokey flavor/smell. Their sauce was the one I liked most for the record.

Flavor- 4
Texture- 5
Aroma- 3
Appearance- 4
Score: 16


RanchWood- (super thick cut slices)
Notes: IMO, the best thick cut strip form of them all.As a last minute entry into this review of which I picked up at the Little Italy Farmers Market, this was a wildcard shocker that I had not known of them until now! A great choice for those wanting Tri-Tip flavor they can add their own sauces to.

Flavor- 4
Texture- 5
Aroma- 1
Appearance- 4
Score: 14

Fire Side- (thin cut slices)
Notes: Their claim to fame is the fire grilled meats they have and their Tri-Tip is no different. You can tell on the smell alone something is different about this Tri-Tip. Then your pallet confirms it within a few chews. Sauce they use is the sweetest of them all I shall note. Great for those who like sweet style BBQ.

Flavor- 4
Texture- 4
Aroma- 4
Appearance- 2
Score: 14

Cali Comfort- (thin cut deli style)
Notes: This would make for one amazing sandwich with the BBQ sauce it comes with. Sauce has a very nice sweet-zingy-tang to it that bolster the meat very well. A little went a long way! Meat alone left a bit more to be desired. 

Flavor- 3
Texture- 5
Aroma- 2
Appearance- 2
Score: 12






Introductions

Hello everyone!

My name is Joshua and I am a 31 year old male (single) born and raised in Madison, WI but transplanted out in spring 2010. I have been in SoCal for 3 years this past March and love it! I reside in Point Loma near Liberty Station (lucky me!) In these 3 years I have found SD (San Diego) a hotbed of culinary offerings, food options, authenticity and diversity. If you want it you can find it in San Diego without question. I have lived in 4 states from 2010 to present. In that time I have had LOTS of food from LOTS of places and most it very good to outstanding. But San Diego holds a special place in my heart (and stomach) right now compared to all other places. This blog will show you why that is in visual and descriptive fashion!

I am a full time fitness professional for the US Navy as a civilian employee currently assigned to the USS Essex command (ship) stationed at Naval Base San Diego. I will be here for at least a year or more while out ship get work done so this gives me lots of time to fully explore, seek and savor the many "bites" that await me. That said I want to make a few things very clear about my blog.


  1. I normally eat very clean and strict 90% of the time during the week similar to a New Nordic diet combined with parts of Paleo
  2. I will feature my better bite reviews once a week when I am typically having my weekly Saturday or Sunday "splurge meal" 
  3. I rarely ever eat wheat or flour as it jacks up my blood sugar real bad, real quick even in small amounts. (nothing against gluten however....just saying...)
  4. I am lactose intolerant for the most part. Plain Greek yogurt and low fat cottage cheese I can handle OK but that's about it. Sad really bring a born and raised cheese-head from WI.
  5. I teach 2-3 fitness classes a day for my job. 30-60 minutes each. 5-6 days a week. I train as a powerlifter myself 6 days a week for 90 minutes or so. I hike almost every weekend for 2-4 hours pending hike. That said I am very active and like it that way. I don't sit still well. 
  6. I eat about 4000 or more calories a day every day even on my rest days. Anything less and I lose weight which I DO NOT want to do. At 6'2'' with a metabolism showing no signs of aging.....I don't look, feel or perform well at under 200lbs.

So now that you have some of my life principles, dietary reasoning, food philosophies and lifestyle factors known, you can hopefully better follow where I come from and how my food reviews are part of my otherwise healthy, balanced and active lifestyle


This blog will function in a different way. I will not simply feature 1 food item or 1 food venue by itself. I do that quite often and have for 6 years on my Yelp.com review page. I have been a Yelp Elite member for 5 years as a matter of fact. Please check my reviews there as well for that kind of 1 place, 1 dish type of review. But here I will be doing more of a head-to-head taste-off review of 3-5 venues that all offer up 1 kind of popular food item. Be it carrot cake, BBQ, pancakes, fish tacos, cali burritos, poutine fries, sushi, burgers etc......I will find the top 3-5 venues (no less, no more) in the San Diego County limits as found on Yelp.com and TripAdvisor. Those that hold the most reviews with higher scores will make my cut to be in that weeks head to head review for "a better bite".

All head to head food reviews will be scored 1-5 on a scale as follows:
  • appearance
  • taste
  • texture
  • aroma(if it applies to that food)
1 being the low end and 5 being the high end. Food items sampled with the highest overall score then take the top spot at "the better bite winner".

So......my last notes to all of you is to please leave comments with local area food venues and food themes you want to see me put in head to head taste off review and feature it here. I am open to ideas. Right now I can say that I have a Tri-Tip BBQ review on its way which will be my first official posting from just this weekend! Stay tuned!

Happy eating San Diego and remember..... always look for "a better bite."