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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Republic is expanding! Ocean Beach is where it's at!




THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Breakfast Republic, Newport Ave, Ocean Beach. Thursday, May 25th.

THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED: (full album)


Kombucha Flight (apple, peach, blueberry, mango) $8
Turkey Meatloaf Hash $13, with upgraded +$2, house red potatoes and sourdough toast
Side of grilled veggies (asparagus, spinach, onions, mushrooms) $4




NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS



  • Opened in 2015 with North Park store
  • 5 total stores are now open with 4 stores in the San Diego Metro area, Liberty Station, OB, Downtown and Northpark. The Encinitas and Downtown store are the two I have yet to visit.
  • All stores open 7-3pm daily.
  • Two new rotating monthly drink and food specials put out from customer voting.
  • Every single meal is made from scratch at the time of order. 





MY FINAL THOUGHTS:

Much like the other 2 spots I have been to on a number of occasions now, you can expect 4 things from BR each and every time you come in. Consistently top quality breakfast/brunch food staples, great coffee and kombucha, outstanding service and a truly unique dining experience. Come alone or per my recommendation, as a group. A place like this is meant to be shared with others where breakfast/brunch can be the highlight of the day. I waited about 15 minutes for my meal to come out even with the venue being pretty well dead close to closing time, but this is a good sign as I see it in that even then, time and care went into getting my meal just right. Ask for Heather at this location on weekdays. She is super kind, friendly and makes this place what its come to be known for; a "breakfast republic." 


Monday, May 15, 2017

An Old Town Staple brings the flavor: Cosmopolitan Restaurant




THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant, Old Town, San Diego, 

THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED: (click for full album)

  • Ahi Lettuce Cups
  • Chef's Daily Soup
  • Seasonal Salad
  • Smoked Adobo Chicken Fajitas





NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Built between 1827-1829 by Juan Bandini
  • Every dish is prepared when ordered, with house-made sauces, fresh vegetables and the finest meat and seafood 
  • Executive Chef Jose Pulido has been at the kitchen helm for 9 years and counting.
  • Brothers Ryan and Brandon run the ship as operations director and GM respectively. 
  • They have a seasonal menu that changes throughout the year with new dishes and specials featuring local ingredients at their peak ripeness.
  • The Orchard Garden Terrace (heated) is where I have dined several times now during the day and it makes for some of the best outdoor dinings you will find for a weekend brunch, lunch or early dinner. 
  • Hitting its high point as a true San Diego hot spot in the 1870's, the hotel soon fell into despair by 1888 and went nearly abandon.
  • In 2010 the building was put through a multi-million dollar renovation to restore the building to its current state of amazement. The upper floor is used as a hotel and the lower level, indoor, formal 1870's themed restaurant is called the Grand Sala.


THE CHEF'S INSIGHTS: (Jose Pulido)

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 stay with tradition and keep very consistent with our menu items and preparation methods. We make sure to watch the details of every meal we plate. We use the best possible ingredients and source as much as we can from local sources. Our seafood is always fresh and all of our sauces, seasonings and salsa's are made in house daily. We enjoy taking a blend of Mexican staples, American grill fare and seafood and adding slight twists on them. This way our customers see many of their popular favorite dishes but get a different experience than they have had before."


HOW TO REACH THEM:





Midwest Homestyle Comfort Food Found at Pop Pie Co.


THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Pop Pie Co. 4404 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA, 92116

THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED: (click for full album)

  • Chicken Pop Pie
  • Steak and Ale Pop Pie
  • Rhubarb Strawberry Pie
  • Coconut Cream Pop Pie
  • Mashed red taters and gravy (cauliflower blend and chicken gravy)
  • Cream cheese corn (cream cheese reduction, salt, pepper)




NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Been in business for since Oct 2016
  • They offer 6, 5" savory pies and 8, 3" sweet pies as well as 2, 5" breakfast pop pies.
  • They have several amazing sides, great local coffee and crazy good matcha lemonade and matchata tea
  • All pies are baked on a tight daily schedule to assure freshness of every pie put out.
  • Prior to this debut visit I had not had a homemade pop pie in ~5 years since getting my mom's homemade pies I was raised on as a child through early college years. This was much overdue!
  • Every savory pie has 9oz of filling chalk full of delicious tender meats and fillings!
  • Chicken pop pie is the best selling savory pie while the sweet pie favorite ranges pending the day......their all so good a true #1 has not yet been determined I guess!
  • They sell nearly 200 total pies on weekdays and almost twice that on weekends. 


THE CO-OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Steven Torres)


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?
"The crust! Our crust is what makes these so good. Its perfectly made with just the right amount of butter, flour and other ingredients to make for the unique flavor profile it has. The flakey light texture comes from the specific methods we use to bake the pies. Crust texture and flavor is the real key. We also use only the best local ingredients, nothing is ever frozen or processed."

HOW TO REACH THEM:



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Expanding the Pallet: Aqui Es Texcoco shows me how

This was a truly unique and fun experience as I have never been here before nor have I eaten many of the items I sampled here. Normally I go to places I have been once or twice before doing a blog review on them. Paco Perez the owner and head chef convinced me (after I met him at the Chilatruck review with his business partner Brad Henderson) to come in and try him out if it was unique foods I truly sought out for blogging. He said he had that in spades.....and ho how right he was!


 THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Aqui Es Texcoco, Friday, May 12, Chula Vista, CA.

THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:
Tortilla Soup
*Lamb Barbacoa Plate (mixed meats from lamb, cheek, head, tripe, flank)
Street tacos: lamb brain*, blood sausage*, cricket*, zucchini flour, huitlachoca*
Quail* and fire roasted salsa
Chicken Mixiote
Flan
Pulque (beverage)*
*Denotes first time trying this item...ever!



Fully cooked lamb head with skull. Can order as is for $20 if requested. 





NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Been in business for 10 years now at this location, 30 for TJ and 3 for LA
  • The venue has been featured on 5 different TV food shows and awarded "best of" 11x by local and even national food publications//reviews/authors.
  • All items sourced from the same vendor for all 3 stores to keep consistency.
  • Paco is an industrial engineer by training and education.
  • As a child through his adult life, Paco helped his mother in the first TJ store with all cooking.
  • They do full-scale caterings package for all kinds of events as well.
  • Sunday's are the busiest days for the Chula Vista store.
  • Prior to his LA store opening, they routinely had 100's of customers drive from LA on weekends and be at the door at 7am to pick up lamb barbacoa meat by the pound to take home for the week. Now thats demand!


THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Paco Perez)


Paco and I getting a shot in front of the celebrity photo wall.



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?
Love! My mother made sure that the METHODS we used were always consistent and kept 100% traditional. Her care and love for making real Mexico City themed food was unmatched. That rubbed off on me. Not only is what we offer unique and carefully sourced for all 3 stores but the way we do it is central to keeping with tradition, origins and sustaining strong consistency. You can come to any store today, next week or next year and get the same exact amazing experience of authenticity. Our customers have seen this and that'ss what keeps them coming back and spreading the word.




HOW TO REACH THEM:

Monday, May 8, 2017

Stealth Health: Nutrition from a Food Truck!



THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Eat Your Heart Out Food Truck, Tuesday, May 2nd, Societe Brewing Co. Clairemont Mesa.





THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:
  • BLT Sandwich (best seller) (love the bacon!!)
  • Grilled Portobello Sandwhich
  • Macaroon Cookie
  • Vegan Rice CrispyTreat
  • Hearts of Palm Vegan Ceviche



THE $$ SHOTS:




NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Been in business for 6 months now. Alex, his girlfriend Flora and business partner Zach, own and run the food truck.
  • All items are handmade, use no preservatives or additives of any kind.
  • All items made from scratch, nothing is ever frozen or fried. All ingredients are 100% locally sourced.
  • Zach has been a practicing chef for 6 years.
  • The menu is a blend of local SD favorites coupled with flavors of Baja and Asian cuisines.
  • Providing one of the only true 100% vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menus from a food truck in all SD.
  • They do full-scale caterings package for all kinds of events as well.


THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Alex George)

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: "We wanted to offer something that not only we ourselves would want to eat and enjoy but also something that many people in San Diego would enjoy as well. Originally it was items that did not need any utensils and it took off from there. We took the concept of vegan and vegetarian cuisine and adapted it for a food truck. You can't find this anywhere else. We are proof you can get good, healthy food from a food truck at a super value. We have diversified our menu enough to please the local pallet of San Diegans vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike."


HOW TO REACH THEM:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lobster and Luxury from CML Food Truck!

THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Cousins Maine Lobster Food Truck, La Jolla Open Air Market, Sunday, April 30th,



THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:


Ceviche Tostada ($2 of each sale goes to One More Wave 501(c)(3) for wounded warriors*


Lobster Tots with Maine Lobster, cilantro lime sauce, pico de gallo

Shrimp Tacos, with North Atlantic shrimp, cabbage, pico de gallo, cilantro lime sauce and corn tortillas
Maine Lobster Roll (my very first ever!) served chilled with mayo and New England style roll








NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS

  • Nearly 1lb worth of raw/gross weight Lobster is used in EACH lobster roll 
  • meat from the knuckle, claw and tail in every roll order
  • the get their Lobster from the BEST possible sources directly from the coast of Maine. 
  • All seafood product is obtained through fully sustainable means and entities
  • They now have 26 trucks in operation over 14 US markets
  • They have 1 restaurant location in LA
  • Barbara Corcoran from Shark Tank is the investor who got these guys rocking it big back in 2012 after she tried one of their rolls from their first truck.
  • They use only one particular style bread roll from Maine "New England style" to assure the right crunch and softness to match the Lobster meat.
  • The food truck business is still and always will be family run and managed to assure the principles and quality outcomes remain the same from day one on.
  • Aaron Lomac (left) owns & operates the SD based truck, Sabin (right) is an original founder (with Cousin Jim) *Alex (mid) a local US Navy SEAL is the partner for the non-profit founder of One More Wave that helps put wounded warriors back on adapted surfboards, wetsuits and gives lessons.


THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: Sabin (sporting his 1 more wave t-shirt and hat)



What is it about your food that makes it so good? What's the key or secret to making these items so much different than anywhere else?

Paraphrased: "What we provide is an affordable luxury for anyone who wants to experience top notch fine dining quality lobster without the price tag (or dress code) of those such of places. We provide a one of a kind culinary nostalgia for all those transplants and tourist from New England who have had authentic lobster rolls. Nothing can compare to what we offer here. Nothing magic, no secrets, we simply get the best product anywhere and let the quality and consistency do the rest for us. We will NEVER cut corners for any reason if it reduces the quality of our product. Quality is everything for each and every CML truck."


HOW TO REACH THEM:


Monday, May 1, 2017

Legacy and History behind Lakeside Donut Shop


THE WHO, WHAT, WHERE & WHEN:
Mary's Donuts Saturday, April 29th, 10101 Maine Ave. Lakeside, CA


THE BETTER BITES SAMPLED:
Bear Claw (PBJ style!)
Apple Fritter (their famous best seller and I see why)
Super Twist (it is truly super!)
Giant Cinnamon Roll (melt in your mouth amazing)
Raspberry Custard Cream Puff (this rivals the famous WI state fair cream puff!)
Maple Bacon Donut


THE $$ SHOTS:






NOTEWORTHY & INTERESTING FACTS
  • Been in business for 33 years from the original store location. This location in Lakeside been up and running since October 2016.
  • Pablo and Emily are the head bakers. Pablo works at both store locations and has done so for over a decade. He is a true master of his craft!
  • They deliver 1500-2000 donuts PER DAY to Barona Casino! 
  • The original owner, Mary is now 86 years old and still comes into the shops 5-6 days a week to check on the donut quality and perfection! 
  • Mary bought the former Zona's donut shop in 1984 which then became her first shop in Santee. The rest is history.
  • They also serve sandwiches and salads using fresh cut meats, house made croissants and local produce.
  • They serve Farmer Bros. coffee to wash down the donut goodness!
  • They are a 24/7 donut shop so everything is always fresh/warm if you ask for it. 
  • They have a small seating area for the kiddos to watch the bakers work their magic and roll out the dough, cut donuts, shape donuts, glaze/ice donuts and bake the donuts! 


THE OWNERS INSIGHTS: (Joel)

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: "We are a long standing, deep rooted part of this community where we have served multiple generations of local patrons who as children came in with their parents to get our donuts. Now they (as adults) bring in their children to do the same. Our consistency, recipe, quality and loyalty to our community is what keeps people coming back year after year. Our product diversity also assures that we have something of unmatched quality for all tastes to enjoy."


HOW TO REACH THEM: