Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chill'n with the Chilatruck


THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Chilatruck, Wednesday, April 26th, Las Americas Premium Outlets Lot


THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:
Chilaquiles Torta w/ green salsa and chicken
Torta Cubana w/grilled beef


THE $$ SHOTS:
Pictures!


NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Both owners, Brian and Paco are both industrial engineers by trade/training
  • "Paco" Francisco Perez is the life long, well-known celebrity chef of Aqui Es Texcoco who's been featured on numerous major food and chef themed TV shows.
  • They have been running the food truck since late Dec 2016
  • All ingredients from the bread, meat, salsa, chips etc. are made fresh daily or delivered daily.
  • The grilled beef is a mix of NY strip and sirloin marinated with spices and olive oil to lock in the full flavor.
  • The tortas served here are kept identical to the traditional way they are found in Mexico City.
  • They have one of the best green salsa's you will ever find. 
  • Their corn chips used in their chilaquiles plates and tortas are specially made to have an optimal crunch/softness.

THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Brian Henderson)



What is it about your menu that makes it so Good? What's the key or secret to making these items so much different than anywhere else?
"We intend to stay with original means of serving our menu just as they always have and continue to do in Mexico City where such items have always been hugely popular. Our traditional methods are what make them so unique and so good. We strive to make a food revolution with the foods we serve to San Diego and eventually everyone."


HOW TO REACH THEM:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Kicking it with some Kabobs!


THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Kabob Village, 3145 Rosecrans St. Point Loma, CA, 330PM, Friday, April 21st


THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:
Lamb Kabob Plate
Chicken Kabob Plate
Greek Salad
Sabzi
Tabuli Salad
Avgolomeno Soup

THE $$ SHOTS:
Pictures!


NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Kabobs are the obvious best seller here. Lamb, salmon, chicken, beef, and sirloin options.
  • They have been a family owned business for 10 years.
  • The owner, Rafee Zakir has owned and run 12 prior restaurants in NY and San Diego.
  • Nastrin and Nazir are the two mastermind chefs in the kitchen who whip up all this Medeteranian/Persian cuisine goodness. 
  • They have IMO, some of the best baklava you will find anywhere!

THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Rafee Zakir)

What is it about your menu that makes it so Good? What's the key or secret to making these items so much different than anywhere else?
Paraphrased: "The use of only traditional recipes with traditional cooking methods, spices, and ingredients. We strive to be very consistent with our menu while offering great prices and value to our customers."


HOW TO REACH THEM:
Website: Link
Social: Facebook

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tandoori House: Using spice and tradition for real flavors




THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Tandoori House, 3146 Midway Dr. Point Loma, CA, 330PM, Thursday, April 20th


THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:
Vegetable Samosa
Vegetable Korma
Alu Gobi
Chicken Tika Masala
Chicken Vindaloo
Tandoori Chicken
Cabbage and Cucumber Salads
Onion Naan
Alu Paratha


THE $$ SHOTS:
Pictures!


NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Been in business for 4 years at this location. Had prior location in La Jolla under a different business name, India Palace.
  • Rishi and Bonnie (brother-sister) own and run the store with their father Amarjit
  • They have all the classic Indian dishes such as curry, biryani, korma, jalfrezi, masala, vindaloo and an impressive list of naan/paratha breads. 
  • All entrees can be made vegetarian. All entrees can be made with chicken, beef, shrimp, fish or lamb.
THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Bonnie)


What is it about your menu items that make your food so Good? What's the key or secret to making these it so uniquely delicious?
Paraphrased: "We stick to the most traditional Indian recipes and methods for making our dishes. We do not alter, change or try to get too fancy. What we have works and works well. We also only use the very best of ingredients and source our Indian spices very carefully for our dishes."


HOW TO REACH THEM:
Website: Link
Social: Facebook

Northside Shack: A better bite and better for you!

You will notice this blog post has a different format and flow to it than those before it. This is the new format I intend to use moving forward to make it easier for me to showcase the experiences I have at these venues and easier on you the food-centric blog reader to get the main points in a quick, clear and accurate way. Please comment on the format and give me feedback on the change. 





THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Northside Shack, 1255 Rosecrans St. Point Loma, CA, 330PM, Wednesday, April 19th


THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:
Small sized 50/50 acai bowl


THE $$ SHOTS:
Pictures!


NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • The bowls are always super fresh, packed with flavor and of course......really good for you as well. It's a small sized shop but it's a true grab n' go type of place. Couple tables outside to dine and dash if need be but if you're like me this is usually a pit-stop meal type deal and I like it that way. In, out, quick!
  • They make ~600 bowls a week on the average. 
  • Acai is the #1 seller they have and I can see why.....it's just plain really good!
  • Pam the owner, a former paralegal, is at the helm of this Point Loma mainstay where she keeps the staff churning out some of the best and biggest bowls, blends and bites that one can get at a great value.

THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Pam Olvera)

What is it that drives you to do what you do at Northside shack?
"Passion. Passion and Passion. I love food, fruit, and veggies in particular.  I love being able to create that look on people's faces. The feeling of accomplishment.  My OCD lol."

How long have you been there and what is it that makes your place unique?
"Three years May 15th.  I do things completely different from anyone else.  I believe there are no rules in food. We shop, hand select and prepare our fruit and veggies daily.  I never buy what we won't use in a few days.  I am very precise about how the fruit is cut (texture) and what it looks like.  I am a fanatic about flavor.  It must taste good. I don't buy 'the customer is always right' hype.  I aim to please and take lots of pride in what I do.  I hire like-minded people. We like what we do.  We don't want to ever feel like we owe anyone anything, we want to do what we do.  In turn, people appreciate it and our product. 

What is it about your acai bowls that make them so Good? What's the key or secret to making these things so good?
Passion. Perfection.  Patience. 


HOW TO REACH THEM:
Website: Link
Social: Facebook

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Maki Maki Sushi: Its how I "roll"




Most of you know by now I am a HUGE sushi fan! More so a San Diego/SoCal sushi fan. With joints placed on every corner in town (hello PB) it can be a challenge to pick the best place that really offers something different, above average, unique and consistent each and every time you come in. Now I like anyone have my go-to places which most the time are a small pool of three AYCE style joints which live up to the above requirements.....fresh, unique, above average quality, great service, good value, and consistency. I've been known to hammer down some serious sushi at those places......I dont mess around when it comes to my sushi! But when the need for 6+ sushi rolls is not what I crave but rather a more "normal" sushi style lunch/dinner, I have my few go-to places as well. And once again I am lucky enough to have a few of those right here in Point Loma. On this particular lunch visit, I bring you into Maki Maki Sushi . You can also find them on Instagram @MakiSushiSD and on Facebook.

This is a smaller joint in the corner strip mall of Midway and Rosecrans easy to miss if your not looking for it. Smack next to Rubios on the corner of Midway going towards the 5.

Maki Maki Sushi is a family owned and ran business. Vi is the head sushi chef, born in Vietnam but moved to Japan where her 3 daughters were born and raised. These 3 daughters now also help run the business. Maki is one of her daughters names fittingly so. This family has now been managing the business for 4 solid months and it seems to be doing well. Its got a good lunch crowd and a busy weekend crowd as well. (prior to Jan 1, this location was a sushi joint before as well but different name and owners). But even when busy I have never seen the speed of service suffer which I like about Maki Maki Sushi. Consistency!

With lunch combo deals, rolls of the day, combo specials and a daily happy hour, you can score a solid bargain here almost any time of day and day of the week. With 19 specialty rolls, 2 baked rolls, 3 deep fried rolls and 16 basic/traditional rolls to pick from.....there is something for everyone's sushi preferences. My picks from this visit are the rainbow roll (my fav), the protein roll and the ceviche roll. I also get 1-2 bowls of miso every time I have sushi and these guys do it better than most I have found. The reason being is that they use bonito broth adding a true Japanese flavor to it. The ceviche roll was new for me on this visit and I really liked it! I suggest trying this one for something really unique. See the slideshow of pictures to feast your eyes and see for yourself.

SO the next time you in the Point Loma area and need to find a solid lunch or dinner deal solo or with a small group, roll on into Maki Maki Sushi to find yourself A Better Bite!


Friday, April 21, 2017

The magic that comes from Meze!




OK so this being a place I have known about and been to at least 5-6 times in the past year or less makes this a staple downtown venue for me. It's my favorite downtown Greek place that's for sure. Consistent service, authentic menu, great value and a super cool vibe inside and out. Great for groups, great for dates, great for solo lunch or dinner stops. Can't really go wrong with this place. That place being none other than Meze Greek Fusion off 6th Ave in the Gaslamp District.

On this visit, I strolled in about 6:45pm on a Tuesday evening to grab some quell my fix for real deal Greek goods. I knew I would find it here and find it I did. See the picture storyline for an up and close look at how things went down.

Meze has been in business for five years this April now and still going strong. It's no surprise that Patrick Davoudi (GM) and his brother Raymond Davoudi whom own and operate the joint are doing so well. When two things are consistently offered each and every time to your customers, good things happen. The two things being, really great food at a great value and top notch customer service. Meze has this in spades in my many experiences including this one. This is in large large part due to the skills of one man working behind the scenes, head chef Aleko Achtipes. The venue itself is very eclectic and modern with nifty lighting, a chill vibe making it an ideal setting for small and large group dining, special occasions or business lunch/dinner events.

Items I highly suggest you try for a real Greek food experience (among many others) are the avgolemono soup, any of the slovakia meat dishes (or get a combo like I did if you can't decide) dolmas(vegan) or dolmathes (sirloin stuffed) and of course when dining Greek you have to grab either some hummus and pita bread or my favorite, baba ghanoush which they do very well here! I must mention any of the lamb dishes as well! All of them are on point!

Patrick even got me to expand my selection by convincing me to try one of their desserts with what little stomach space I had left. I have had traditional baklava many times before and really enjoyed it. I went rogue and opted for a spin on this classic, cheesecake baklava! The pictures make it clear that this did not disappoint at all!

After this experience, there is no question that I have found and experienced another Better Bite of the Greek Fusion kind. And to that I say OPA!!

Miguels Cocina offers so much more.



Taking stake of what I have right here in my corner of the woods here in Point Loma made me realize there are some really great, unique and diverse options to pick from when it comes to finding A Better Bite in San Diego. All major cuisines are present, long standing establishments, new kids of the block, grab n' go, fine dining, casual etc....you name it, Point Loma has it. One such place I have been to a number of times at their other store locations as well as this one is Miguels Cocina off Shelter Island drive just a block south of Rosecrans.

I invite you to take a look around at the experience I had on this particular Tuesday afternoon visit. Drooling is acceptable.

Slideshow of pictures

Miguels has been in business at this location since 2004. The Miguel's first store being in Coronado in 1984 (what a great year!), which remains there to this day. The Point Loma store used to be the Brigantine prior to its transition to what it is now. The venue has become truly responsive to the neighborhood/SD area and because of this, really has allowed itself to become woven into the fabric of Point Loma, beyond just the food and drinks. Customers like me and many others have gotten to know the staff and the people behind the operation. The owners/managers have customers with kids who play on the same sports teams, go to school together etc. The family owned restaurant is very active in the community and donates to numerous organizations as well. I really like that kind of blended relationship that Miguel's has with the local area.

Veteran staff like Brian, the assistant general manager and Nemisio, the head chef are two such people that are just great people to know not only for their ability to produce and market great Mexican cuisine but also because they just love what they do and care for their customers. Miguel's has a unique trait about it within its staff in that they have many of the same people still working for them today that used to 10-15 or more years back. That kind of tenure in the restaurant biz does not happen often these days. I guess they kinda like it here huh?

OK so the food. If you do not find an item or version of an item you want on the menu all you need to do is ask. They can make anything you want, the way you want it. Brian was clear in explaining to me that they are a "you bet we can" kind of restaurant. They also have a daily rotation of salsa that you just need to ask for and should!. They have about 6 made in-house salsa's to pick from. Also, make note to try one or both of their unique sauces called macha and chile de arbol! These are so good and unlike any other Mexican sauce I have had lately.

My meal consisted of a delicious shrimp cocktail, chips and guacamole, a giant surf n' turf burrito covered in house-made enchilada sauce with a side of refried beans and Mexican rice..., all amazing as it always has been in the past. Oh and PLEASE! Do not miss the mole sauce here! I love mole when its good and hate it like no other when its junk. Lucky for me the stuff they have here is pure $$! Nemisio says it's the cinnamon type they use as well as the unique and rare Mexican chipotle chocolate they use that gives it such a pungent and unique flavor. I could put that on a sock and eat it I swear!

So there you have it folks. Point Loma comes off as a bit of a sleeper neighborhood at times. No reason for that with places like Miguel's Cocina to get your Better Bites in 7 days a week. And with 5 other locations in SoCal you can be sure you're not far from one of their locations. Plus, they do brunch Saturday and Sunday 10-3pm here in Point Loma!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Greatness found at Gordy's Bakery



Its not often I learn of a place I never even knew existed during my now almost 4 years as a San Diegan. Especially so in the healthy baked goods world. I tried my very first bite of a "plonk" a week or so ago at Larry's Deli in the Gaslamp and it blew me away with how dense, flavorful and all round awesome it was. I asked Tim the owner where the heck he got those from and he let me know of his "guy" he has up in Encinitas named Gordy of Gordy's Bakery. Tim and Gordy have some lengthy friendship and Tim is lucky enough to get stock of all the plonk goodness that Gordy has to offer. I am glad that's the case because I may still be clueless to all that I now know about Gordy's Bakery.

Gordy's Bakery is the kind of place that you would not expect to find in a small strip mall. The reputation of the joint made it seem so much more. But as they say, great things come in small packages. Gordy himself is quite a character as well. After speaking with him for some time on himself, the business, the store, the baked goods etc.....I find he is a trained chef between 1979-1980 at the Culinary Academy of California first as a chef and then as a pastry chef. He ran a running shoe shop called Moving Shoes for 10 years before opening the bakery. He now coaches cross country for San Dieguito in Encinitas as well. They guy has even trained for Ironmans which gets him major kudos in my book!

The major thing I liked about Gordy's business principles which could be tasted very easily in every item I tried out, is that it's 100% honest food your getting. It's real food, natural food, wholesome food based goods. Nothing fake, no tricks, not trying to make something taste better than it should, not trying to preserve the shelf life of anything. He lets the love of baking with real foods do the work for him and he has done this for 7 years now since opening the business and let me say, it's working all right!

The original plonk is his best seller by far he tells me and I can see why. It got me to drive 29 miles up the road on a Monday afternoon to get to the source myself and try another one after all. Ironically enough Gordy tells me the plonk was a mistake in its creation. It was never intended to be made. Lucky for all of us, it did! He says that runners and athletes of all ages often stop in to get them not just for taste and health but for how well they keep one full and balance blood sugar during the day. These things may look a bit smaller than most muffins but boy are they dense with nutrients and delicious! Not cardboard bran muffin dense as many may think, far from it!

One other item Gordy has available with a unique and particular history behind it is "the lunch lady bar" which as Gordy tells me, was served on the lunch line of almost every local grade school in the area and anyone in his generation knows exactly what they are. He has customers come in familiar and new alike who try one and all agree, it's like being right back in their grade school cafeteria all over again. Gordy says he has lost count of how many fellow alumni have come in his bakery and had the "lunch lady bar experience." How cool is that to have an item not just delicious by itself but to have a history of its own that only those locals would be able to recognize and affiliate with when they come in to try it for the first time or the 10th time. That's food with meaning!

Take a look at the slideshow of goodness!

My personal favorite item I must put a plug in before closing out or I'd be selling you short otherwise.....The R-Bar. DO NOT PASS ON THIS! Oatmeal raisin cookie was the predicted favorite since it is my all time favorite cookie ever. That was outstanding in its own right hands down. But this R-Bar (raspberry bar) was beyond phenomenal! Crumbly soft oatmeal/cookie/butter texture of the top and bottom layer crust and explosive raspberry flavor from real raspberries center layer. I could have eaten 5 of those alone no doubt! If you like fruity baked goods, your in for a treat!

Gordy's also has a full list of beverages, coffees and more. He serves a great medium blend coffee from La Costa Coffee Co. It makes for the perfect pairing to wash down some baked goods, trust me!

I urge anyone in Encinitas or San Diego or anywhere in SoCal for that matter to make the trek out to visit Gordy's Bakery and let the experience change your expectations to what baked goods really are meant to taste like. You won't be able to go back to anything else after this! A Better Bite awaits you!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Point Loma Staple: Swami's Cafe




It was due time I gave some attention my little neck of the woods here in Point Loma in that this segment of the city has its own plethora of good food spots sure to offer anyone a A Better Bite no matter what you're seeking. For me, I often seek the same kinds of things repetitively since I do follow a particular dietary approach and guideline. It just works well for me to find a few staples, stick to them and keep with what is working for both my preferences, flavor, nutrition and service/value. One such Point Loma venue (a second SD area venue in North Park as well) is Swami's Cafe. I have been here at least 10 times since they opened this location. The service is great, the coffee is strong and the food is delicious each and every time. I find myself coming here to get 1 of 3 things every time be it lunch, dinner or weekend brunch. Those items being the soups, the salads, and acai/pitaya bowls. They never get old, never disappoint and are a bargain price for the portion you get!

On this Friday afternoon visit, I even went out on a leg for something new and got their guacamole turkey club sandwich which like everything else, was just awesome! Plus it comes with yam fries which as you all know.....are my all time favorite side item so kudos on that option!

Take a look around this slideshow to see what awaits you on your next or first visit to the Point Loma Swami's Cafe.

GM, Martin, and his staff are awesome people. I love places like this where you're always as welcome to come in by the people who greet you as the food that you can indulge in. Service is fast, friendly and kind. The venue is super spacious and has all round windows for natural light to flow in. Outdoor patio seating and a back porch/group area is also available for diners in large numbers.

If eating well, eating wholesome and eating for flavor is your goal then Swami's does not miss the boat! You can get all this and then some when dining here. Try this location or the NP location or their other 6 locations in SoCal as well. Check them out on Facebook as well!




Friday, April 14, 2017

Deli Sandwich Superstar in the Gaslamp



Anyone who follows my blog knows I am a major fan of the deli sandwich. Even if you don't you should know this about me. Huge, uber, big time sandwich fanatic. My favorites being the club, roast beef, turkey or ham sando's every time. I rarely ever turn down the chance to experience a tried and true venue or a new kid on the block if those items are listed on a menu. Tis the case for this debut experience at Larry's Deli on 7th Ave right next to PETCO park in the Gaslmap district of downtown San Diego. Let me show why these guys are a must stop sandwich shop for any Padres ball game goer for pre-game grubs or post-game munchies.

Slideshow of sando goodness at Larry's Deli. View Slideshow

Tim, the manager of the deli is a super cool dude hands down. As a partner in the hospitality group that also owns The Nolen and the Courtyard Marriot, Tim knows a thing or two about running a thriving business. I come here now for the small talk and the laughs as much as the food to be quite honest. Having now been here multiple times for a lunch bite, I can say they have consistent service each and every time. If I lived any closer to downtown this would be my daily lunch stop. With 11 signature sando's to pick from there is something for every taste.  So far, the Turkey club as well as a shot at the classic #1 hot pastrami has been my experience. Neither are a disappointment at all. And how could they? With meats sourced from RC provisions, bread delivered daily from Bread & Cie, produce obtained locally from Speciality Produce....and anything else made right in house.....you cant get a bad sando with top notch ingredients like this.....ya just cant! The outcome is a lip smacking good sandwich that makes each bite taste as good as the first bite.

I will note now that their whole grain cornichon spread is a mustard like spread unlike I have ever had before and I love it! Get this on the #9 turkey for sure. The #1 Pastrami is a sure winner for anyone with a love for top notch pastrami on real NY toasted Rye bread and melty gruyere cheese.

The sandos are the true heavy hitters of course, the limelight items, but DO NOT dismiss the other amazing items they have here as well. The house made potato salad and cole slaw should complement every sando experience for the real deal deli experience. Oh and the cookies! They are either made in house (choco chip fans?) or sourced from Bread & Cie. The muffins (plonks as they are called by the makers) are sourced only from Gordy's Bakery in Encinitas. In my humble opinion, the "fruit bomb" version I had may have been the best muffin I ever had, no joke! Their 100% natural as well so all goodness and no guilt! They also make a vanilla spice bread pudding with nothing else than the leftover Bread & Cie from only a day before.

Sips and suds.....they got that too. Beer on tap, can or bottle, craft and domestic. Soft drinks, cold brew nitro coffee from stumptown coffee roasters, wine, juice, water, you name it they got it.

Oh and snack stuff for the game....yep got that too. Chips, nuts, and some amazingly good jerky! Grab a bag or two to snack on during the game.

All in all, this is a really unique place that the Gaslamp greatly benefits from not only for game day goers but for downtown city workers needing a place to land A Better Bite for breakfast or lunch since they are open 7am-3pm daily. Hours will adjust for game days as well I am told. Its fitting they are located next to PETCO park because Tim and his crew, the menu.....nothing but a homerun in my book!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Find some Ono Grinds without the plane ticket!


This past Tuesday I was finally able to put my favorite all time Hawaiian joint on my blog here after what has been 7-8 visits in the past 6 months alone, it was due time to make sure you readers became aware of this hidden gem in my neck of the woods here in Point Loma. Mind you they do have two other local store locations as well but I have yet to check those out.

Ever since my two, week long stays in Pearl Harbor via port calls for my job with the Navy, I have been in love with all things Hawaiian food from fine dining, the slow food movement, traditional Luau's, and unique mom and pop joints that have been around for decades. I love all of them!

It took some looking but I have found some solid spots in San Diego in the past 4 years as a resident. Good and authentic are not always the same thing however and this is where Homestyle Hawaiian stands above the others, their doing both very well!

On this visit, I wanted to feature my top menu items I have now had many times before among many other items as well. Musubi, spicy poke, every kind of teriyaki meat they have, you name it, I have tried it. All delicious! But the items I crave most and find myself sitting down to are what follows.


Small place with limited seating but only ever an issue around lunch hour and near closing hour. Other times this space works just fine for hungry San Dieagans seeking real deal Hawiian grub at fantastic prices. During those lunch and dinner times wait times can be 20-25 minutes as a norm so plan ahead, call it in and pick it up hot and ready. Its worth the wait people!



The board of daily specials. Big Braddah is rightfully named as you may need your big braddah to come in and help you finish the meal. Da Beast is the same deal.....only a beast could finish that 3+lb tray off yummy Ono Grinds!


They take great pride in their traditional recipes and menu items. Place is decked out with decor around the inside showing off  the legend of Eddie Aikau.



Can't decide on what to get, not sure what to try? Problem solved. Order this entree item from the specials board. "The Big Braddah" is a generous helping of the heavy hitters for a classic Hawaiian meal. Katsu chicken with an outstanding Lava sauce, a kalbi rib, kalua pulled pork and a side of mac salad and white rice. Bring the appetite as this can feed a bear!



And you cannot close a meal without some dessert right? On those hot sunny San Diego days to close out your meal or just cool off with a sweet (and healthy sorbet dessert alternative) grab a pineapple dole whip as shown here or get it "float style", dropped in a cup of cold OJ.


And then we have the Hawaiian version of the donut hole. Malsadas! A Portuguese confection of yeast bread in an egg sized ball, deep fried and rolled in granulated sugar. Served hot and melt in your mouth awesome!



And then my true #1 favorite Hawaiian inspired entree item....the Loco Moco! As shown here its a basic combo of made in house hamburger patty covered with 2 fried eggs, gravy grilled onions over a bed of white rice. The best part about Homestyle Hawaiian is that you can build your own by choosing the meat type and rice type you want. I find kalua pork is an amazing rendition as well!



Wash it all down with their made in house traditional lemonades! I got pomegranate and loved it!



The people making it happen! Tricia and Gill (husband and wife) and chef/owner couple are the magic behind this operation. They are some of the nicest and most hospitable people I have met in the restaurant biz. They truly care about their customers and enjoy what they do by putting out delicious food in a consistent fashion and amazing prices.

Ono Grinds sums it up perfectly (good food) in Hawaiian, in that your going to get exactly that by coming in here or getting some take out which many folks here do almost daily. I can say with confidence that you will find A Better Bite every time you visit, no boarding pass needed either! Oh and you should all know that they cater for groups big and small alike. Make any gathering a rocking Luau of your own!

A hui hou!



Monday, April 10, 2017

Pancakes 4 Ways

By now I assume most of you readers I have, are well aware of my love affair with pancakes. If not, you have much catching up to do on this blog as well as my social media as its riddled with shots of pancake glory. This blog adds to that collage of hotcake goodness. Many of you know that I have issue with flour and wheat (NOT BECAUSE OF GLUTEN) but simply because flour in any amount seems to make me sleepy and sluggish for the rest of the day each and every time I consume it. That being the sad truth of it, I need to pick and choose my battles wisely and in most cases, I choose pancakes! It also seems that when I consume flour right after training sessions it has far less impact on me so that has been a strategic reason for these Sunday Funday pancake outings with my boys.

In fact for the past 8-9 Sundays or so almost without fail, myself and my 2 training partners have been doing our Sunday lifting sessions and then finding our favorite hotspot pancake places to crush some carbs. This was my latest pick so read on!


You should also know by now I have my favorite go-to spots pending the kind of pancake I am seeking out. Massive buttermilk hotcakes is all about Brians 24, exotic specialty pancakes like apple pancakes, dutch baby's, german pancakes, 49er pancakes is all about Richard Walkers, but for pure variety of flavored pancakes where you can find 18 kinds of pancakes on the menu......none other than Family House of Pancakes in National City off E. Plaza Blvd. Open 6am-10am you can land some hotcake goodness all day long 7 days  week. They also have a location in Chula Vista open 6am-2pm daily but I have not yet made it into that location.

I came in about 7pm after a solid workout session at 24 hour fitness and found the place pretty mellow, not too busy at all. This was my 4th visit to FHOP this year already just to score some pancake love. With 18 types to offer you can make many visits and never get the same thing twice!

Our selections on this visit can be seen below so feast your eyes on these!



Tropical Pancake with grilled pineapple on top and inside the pancakes plus toasted coconut.


My personal favorite and pick for the night, the sweet potato pancake!


Mellow blueberry pancake


Chocolate chip pancake


Our spread of hotcake goodness!



If you happen to be craving pancakes of the non-traditional kind, this is your spot to hit up for sure! Again, 18 types to pick from each ranging from $8-9 for a stack of 4 pancakes is a solid deal and given how good they all are....it's truly A Better Bite indeed!

This weekly routine of ours is not likely to end anytime soon so if you folks know of other local San Diego pancake hotspots, please comment below and let me know about them so I can feature it here!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

They don't Monkey around....much.



After just having learned of this 5th avenue location and its recent opening (6 weeks at time of visit) I was excited to make my debut to another downtown Gaslamp venue of which I do not often hit up frequently due to parking issues. This occasion, however, was a none parking issue as I made it for a mid-day 2ish lunch stop to kick off my Friday and my weekend.

At the corner of 5th and Island this place is hard to miss. A big old Monkey King mural printed along the Island Ave side of the building is easy to spot. A shot of the mural with the owner Matt and myself.



The interior is spacious and open. The front side wall/windows have natural light pouring in from 5th ave. A long bar area for folks to grab sips and drinks while watching the game on any of the multiple televisions they have up. If I recall right, Matt Nosse, the owner, says they have a custom built, 38 steel panel, floor to ceiling, LED backlit TV coming in very soon as well. It will display patterns of migrating butterflies along the back wall. From what I got a glimpse of, this will be unlike anything anyone else has in downtown!




Outdoor seating is available along 5th ave and Island Ave for about 20-25 seats for those looking to catch the bustle of the Gaslamp during their meal. Views from outside seating...




The menu is diverse and authentic in its representation of both Thai and Japanese cusines. Not a fusion as I found it but rather a blend of both styles in traditional form. My picks for this visit was the traditional pho bowl of rare steak and noodles plus fixings. I also got the Tom Kah Soup bowl. Lunch is served 11-3, dinner 5-11 with HH specials and small plates from 3-5.






Both my items were spot on delicious! Robust flavor, nothing fancy or over doctored, simple foods prepared well and served correctly.


Matt, his lead bartender/manager Garret, and one of their servers, Ulyssess were all super kind and very friendly. They like what they do and seem proud to be part of it.

Monkey King has something different going for it then I have found anywhere else in Gaslamp. A place for the more mature adult crowd to escape the club scene and yet still find a mellow, laid back lounge with an upscale, casual vibe, great drinks, and good food, Perfect for the solo diner wanting to grab a happy hour drink after work, the guy or gal who wants to catch the game and a bite at the bar or even small groups who want to get a good meal before heading out for a night on the town. All will be pleased with what they find at Monkey King.


History Lesson: The name of this 150-year-old building comes from its origins when Gaslamp used to be the primary Chinatown area of the area. A secret gambling/lottery hall survived for many years in the open basement under what is now the restaurant. Until its discovery and shut down by local police raids, it was known in secret as "The Monkey King" The picture on the hostess stand when you enter shows the building as it was in the early 60's as The Nanking Cafe.






Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Liking what I found at Luce!



Another debut experience for me this week! Heck yeah! Matter of fact had it not been for a really insightful podcast episode on DineLocalSD (episode 4), I may have never even bothered to make this visit happen. I had driven by Luce Bar & Kitchen many times before but never stopped in. After listening to the interview with head chef Kat Johnson, that all changed. Go check out the podcast yourself to find out why that is, but also, look on below and let your eyes do all the explaining for you!

Going on 5 years this coming September, Luce is doing well, let me say that! This place was fairly busy in my opinion for a Wednesday night but as told by the waitstaff it was actually unusually slow. I got lucky then I guess as my service was quick and responsive all night long and man can that kitchen spit out plates quick! Like a well-practiced orchestra from where I sat and oogled the dishes coming out.

I ended up going with the ceviche, the daily veg special of fried brussels sprouts and then an entree of Mary's chicken. Every item I got not only looked great, smelled great, but it was great! 3 for 3 on this visit for sure!

Ceviche very fresh and flavorful, not too citrusy, not too soupy and they use big chunks of mango, whitefish and avocado among other tasty items which I truly liked!

Sprouts I got minus parmesan cheese just cause I was not feeling it really, not sure why, just did'nt. No loss in flavor at all! Crispy sweet bacon pieces, a hint of balsamic reduction that was not overpowering or used too heavily. Perfect char and absolutely delicious. I had to pace myself as that could have been a meal by itself if not careful! Oh and DO NOT miss the house made hot sauce they serve with the sprouts! This stuff is money! Not fire hot but flavorful with a unique kick I really liked!

Mary's chicken was fantastic. Two major pluses, the strawberry rhubarb glaze works very well for this dish. Never had that with chicken before, glad I did cause I like! Now the polenta; something I just cannot make well myself worth a damn so I only get it when dining out and it's so pleasing to get it done the way it's meant to be as I found here. The chicken itself is super moist and tender.....again that glaze, my gosh!

The service here is impeccable! Everyone is friendly and kind. My server Erin was a class act for sure. Got me anything I needed when I needed it. She knew the whole menu and beer list very well. Super cool gal! You'll be well taken care of if you get her on your visit, trust me.

Now feast your eyes on the goods up close.....then go score yourself A Better Bite!

PS....Had there been room left, I would have certainly scored the daily dessert special posted up which was a salted caramel ice cream sandwich with heath bar cookies! Tell me that would not be pure $$!



Sunday, March 19, 2017

H2O Sushi & Izakaya Debut




To my great surprise and something all of you need to take note of as well, more so for all you sushi lovers for sure! I just got word that H20 Sushi and Izakaya now offers their AYCE sushi all day, all week! Not just on weekends from open to 3pm anymore as I had last heard. This was music to my ears (and belly) when I called into to ask their hours. The price is just $25 for dinner and $20 for lunch. The menu you can pick from is HUGE! Hand rolls, long rolls, premium rolls, nigiri, small plates, salads and even sweet potato fries! Yes, sweet potato fries people! Do you know how awesome it is for me to find sweet fries (and really good ones) on a sushi menu!? 

This was my debut visit to this 5th ave Hillcrest hotspot which was ironic really in that just across the road (directly across) is RB Sushi, another top notch and long time favorite of mine for AYCE sushi outings after crushing solid lifting sessions at the adjacent 24 Hour Fitness. Since RB, only one other venue has impressed me and caught my attention with AYCE value, quality, and service, OB Sushi in well.....OB. 

But now I come strolling into see just what these guys have to offer compared to the already highly set bar I have for my sushi expectations given the two places mentioned above. 

5pm, Sunday evening, not terribly busy at all. No wait, grabbed a bar seat and ordered right up. 3 rounds to order as much as you want but you must finish it all in 2 hours or you get charged for leftovers. Standard rules for AYCE sushi as far as I know. Service was fast, chefs are awesome, friendly and know their craft. Server Hannah was rock solid awesome! Tentative and kind, knew the menu inside and out and made sure I was taken care of the whole visit. I spend almost an hour and a half getting my fill of some of the best sushi I have had in a long time! Nothing I had was just average or even OK. It was all outstanding! The sweet fries were even exactly as I like them to be. Thick, hot, crispy and finished with a dusting of sea salt and brown sugar. Kudos x10 just for those alone!

Take a look at the slide show of pictures of betterbites I found at H2O Sushi Izakaya


Now I have 3 rock solid places to pick from for AYCE sushi. All within 4 miles of my house, all next to a 24 Hour Fitness gym and all about the same price with the same availability for lunch or dinner 7 days a week! San Diego truly does spoil us sushi lovers it seems! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Burger Challenge Debut Event!



THE SINISTER 6 TRUE 1/4LB 
SLIDER CHALLENGE DEBUT!


I just recently got the privilege of being able to take my favorite dining venue for burgers in any city/state I have ever lived in my 32-year life span, and coordinate the first official burger challenge they have offered! Is this real? Could a midwest born & raised burger loving carnivore/foodie like me be so darn lucky? It turns out I am and dreams do come true (yes I dream about burgers).  





Just this Sunday, March 12th, I had previously setup a date with Jeff Hall, GM of Slaters 50/50 Liberty Station to work with me to design and structure an event I have sarcastically toyed with for almost my full 4-year residence in SD. It finally caught traction with Jeff and we made it happen at last! Best of all, I got to test drive this "sinister" plan of ours and now all of you can sit back and find out what it is, how it works and perhaps even hit the course yourself and give it a shot.

The Rules:

  • 36 minutes timed
  • 6x 1/4lb burgers (post-cooked!)
  • 1 must be the burger of the month (BOM)
  • 14 burgers to pick from
  • Cannot have any two burgers the same
  • No veggie burgers
  • No chicken burgers
  • No pork burgers
  • Burgers must come just as described on menu



For those brave/crazy/burger loving types like me.....if you do finish the 6 burgers in time, by yourself. Consider yourself (full) and a worthy victor for having Slain the Sinister 6 Slider Challenge!

As of this writing date, no official award/prize/wall of fame is set up. However, that is likely to change very soon now that its been proven that it can be done. And if that does not convince you......check out the photos below and that should be all the motivation (teasing) you need! 

Better yet, check out my youtube channel for the full video as it actually happened! Click here.


The slideshow of burger awesomeness awaits you! Click here!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Java Joint Opens in Point Loma








When I get wind that a new coffee joint is opening anywhere in town, my eyes and ears perk right up and I am the first guy in line to know when and where it's happening. When I am told its just a couple miles down the road from me, it's on like donkey kong!

Just this case played out this week and weekend off Rosecrans on Shelter Island Drive at a place called the Coffee Hub Cafe which is right next door to the well-known Point Loma Wine Pub (their is a reason for that I will get to!).

This Saturday morning from 8-1200, Sandy and Andy, the owners, held a grand opening event for all community members near and far to attend. They had a short half hour bike ride planned, prizes to win, a live singer, free coffee samples, games, and the full breakfast menu of bites available for the customers to try out. I had a wonderful time visiting with Mia their PR person and regular loyal customer, Sandy one of the two owners and some of the other very kind and friendly staff who were busy at work serving up the many people who were eager to try out the goods like I was! Andy was so busy do the bike thing I never did get to meet him.....next time!


Here are some unique facts about Coffee Hub Cafe you may want to know.....

-The Coffee Hub soft-opened on February 3, 2017

-It's owned by husband/wife duo Sandy and Andy Hanshaw -- Sandy is a small business owner and Andy is Executive Director of the San Diego Bike Coalition. The Coffee Hub came out of Sandy's passion for gourmet food and Andy's love for bikes.

-Sandy Hanshaw's other restaurant, The Wine Pub, shares a kitchen with the Coffee Hub -- The Coffee Hub serves coffee and breakfast/lunch. After it closes for the day, The Wine Pub serves dinner and wine.

-Sandy Hanshaw takes pride in her community and aims to give back wherever she can. She hosts fundraisers and various philanthropic events at her restaurants such as Bike for Boobs, Woofer Wednesday's and Point Loma Heroes.

-On Fridays they offer a FireFigther Fridays offer in which all Firefighters with their badges, get a free small coffee open to close. How cool is that!?

-The Coffee Hub uses only beans roasted from the (very) local SWELL coffee roasted also in Point Loma near Modern Times. 

-The Coffee Hub has an active Facebook Page for community members to interact with the owners as well so check that out!


I will say right out that this is some of the best coffee I have had in a long time! Dark, robust, fresh and an aroma that will wake you up all by itself! I did not get the chance to try out any of the bites they have (yet) but a look over the menu shows me that they have more than a thing or two I would love to come back and try out. 

Cyclist, coffee junkies, coffee house fans.....all of the above, this is the new place to come in and be seen. Grab a seat at the tables inside, the chairs outside and take a minute to relax and enjoy this Corner of San Diego tucked away in Point Loma. A cup of coffee is waiting for you! And for that matter, Abetterbite as well!


Grand Opening Day storyline of photos available here.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Unique Eats: Sunday-Funday Episode II


The beauty of doing some "cross pollination" between my blog here and my youtube channel (below) is that I can get away with driving you readers to my channel and then hopefully my channel viewers to my blog. All with the same exact content but in a different format. I can give you readers a teaser as I will here and then direct you to the "meat and potatoes" video segment over on the full video. Those folks who want just a quick insight, a few pictures, a basic review, and be done with it, this post is for you! Its a win-win for ya'll really. And for me, I can introduce you to the post, post some $$ shots and leave some links to the venues, drop a few honest comments, and be done with the post! That's a wrap! Now take a look, check out these venues, watch the video and go get yourself "A Better Bite" right now!



Pizza Nova Famous BBQ Chicken 10" pie ($13 with tax post 20% military discount)



The ever famous Tiramisu Pancake full stack from Cafe 21 Gaslamp ($14 with tax)



Guahan Grill Point Loma 6lb Chicken Fried Rice Challenge Plate. $25 if not finished in an hour. Free and you win $25 plus a t-shirt if you do! As of now, only 3 people have done it ever!




The pictures do some justice, yes, but the full video feature is where its all at peoples! Take a look, hit the like button and come back for more next week!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

My San Diego Bucket List #7 & #8

This week I made two unusual stops (for me) into two very well known dessert/bakery/pastry shops to take a yonder at two more entree items that our good friend Troy Johnson placed on his 103 items to try before you die in San Diego.  My list of 21 continues with stops 7 and 8 at Le Parfait Paris Liberty Public Market location and then Extraordinary Desserts on Union St. in Little Italy. 

As one who does not really have a true sweet tooth or craving for things like cookies, cake, pie, chocolate etc.....I am much more a savory flavor type guy. I can take it or leave it when it comes to baked goods and sweets without a second thought. But if Troy says these two places have something this good, then perhaps I need to go find out and be sure I am not missing something big, just in case....

For both venue's I did a take out order of the respective item each place has. I brought them home and sampled them out later on in the day after my workout sessions. The items at hand being shown below.....





Pain au Chocolate Aux Amandes

Never actually had a dessert croissant before so this was new. Heck, it had even been a year or more since I had a croissant period. I found this to be a unique little dessert in flavor and texture. Crusty sweet, crunchy outside, soft layers of buttery inside with a delicious layer of chocolate cream on the bottom studded with crushed almonds. Cost was ~$4 and worth it for the novelty alone. 




Blueberry Cheesecake Coffeecake

Any kind of cake I ever get these days is almost always my favorite, carrot cake. So going off the norm and trying a 2-in-1 style cheesecake + coffeecake design was really a stretch for me. The stretch proved worthwhile as it is just that. A perfect balance of cheesecake flavor with coffee cake design and texture. Super moist, very nice cheesecake tartness, soft coffee cake like base and a solid hit of fresh blueberry within and on top of the cake itself. I am glad I had this in the fridge for a bit before biting in as I feel this is certainly best served a bit chilled. Cost was ~$7.




If you are in need of a simple but novel sweet treat to sink your teeth into but want something different, unique and sized just right for moderation, these two picks are sure to deliver you A Better Bite indeed! How "sweet" is that?