Category Archives: Restaurants

San Diego Harbor

San Diego Harbor is undergoing a major revamp these days. As you can see from my pictures below there is construction equipment in the background and old buildings being torn down to make way for the new. It is hoped that the future harbor will rival big city waterfronts like San Francisco or Seattle at some point. The most recent projects to have completed were the cruise ship terminal and the visitor information center and kiosks such as the popular Carnitas Snack Shack.

 

Phase 2 and 3 remain to move forward on what is known as the Embarcadero re-development project. If you are interested, you can find out more here: https://www.portofsandiego.org/central-embarcadero.html and here: http://fw.to/o2HaWMK

The San Diego harbor is really a gateway to San Diego and downtown though, so it is a great place to either start your visit to San Diego, check out what is happening as a local, get some exercise on the walking paths, take the kids for some low cost fun at the new waterfront park or even head on over to Little Italy for some great dining options.

Waterfront Park

Parking can be a bit tricky in this area, the waterfront park pictured above has some underground parking for a fee, otherwise you may have to lace up those walking shoes and be prepared for hitting the blocks down here or opening up the wallet for some pricey downtown parking fees–whichever eases your mind the most is up to you.

One of the biggest attractions here is the San Diego Harbor tours–Hornblower and Flagship are the two main ones and they are all located just to the left of the above photo. You can do a 1-hour tour or go out further for some whale watching which is a nice, relaxing way to see San Diego from another perspective.

Tour Boats lined up

The Embarcadero walking path also tells a little history of San Diego’s military and its contributions. At the southern end of the walking path, you will see one of San Diego’s more famous landmarks, (which can also be seen in the background of my homepage ;-)) along with other memorials and sights to see.

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All in all, there is a little something for everyone at the Embarcadero and is an area with a lot of history for San Diego.

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Summer is Swinging–Balboa Park After Dark

A chance encounter of the Balboa Park after Dark event last Friday had that jazz standard going in my head:

Balboa Park was alive with food trucks lined up all along the promenade, jugglers and plenty of live music–a DJ, a jazz group at Panama 66 and other bands playing throughout the park. The museums were all open late and a new sculpture exhibition scattered throughout the main plaza.

It was nice to see young and old enjoying the park. Taking in the ambience, eating a churro or fish n’ chips or looking at the duck family parading around the pond.

This is a great event to bring a date, bring your family or friends and dance a little, eat something and check out a little cult-chah…this Balboa Park after Dark event will run every Friday up until September 2nd.

San Diego’s Public Market Soaring to New Heights

The new Liberty Station Public Market opened last weekend, termed a ‘soft opening’, but a media rep happened to alert me and I went down to sniff around. Most of the shops have opened, there are a few still under development, but it has already launched as a roaring success judging by the crowds down there today when I returned for another brief sniffing around.

The new public market is aiming to match the scale and success of other public markets in large cities–Pike’s Place in Seattle, San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and Essex Public Market in the big apple, New York City.

An earlier attempt was made a couple of years ago in Barrio Logan on a smaller scale yet no less heroic effort, but sadly it was never able to garner enough support to make it off the ground before closing less than a year from when it opened. The location, while up and coming, was maybe too much of a deterrence for many, so that was a big reason for its failure to thrive.

The Public Market’s opening in Liberty Station is in tandem with the new ‘Arts district’ that is opening many new galleries, museums and shops alongside the market. Also, the second Stone Brewery restaurant is adjacent to the market so I am sure that doesn’t hurt to draw visitors.

In addition, you really can’t beat the location as a block down from the market is the harbor and the walking path that starts and goes all the way down to Spanish Landing. Families can spend the whole day  here and it is a popular site for events–runs, festivals, family fairs.

I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the shops when they open. What I haven’t seen yet is actual produce, but there is supposed to be a spot with local farms represented like Suzie’s Farms, Be Wise Ranch and others.

Today, I opted to try the Empanada shop–Parana. They have about ten different types of empanadas and three different sauces, chimichurri, a pepper chimichurri and a celery cream sauce. I was not blown away, but there aren’t too many places where you can get empanadas to go, so I won’t be too complainy.

We also tried Crafted Baked Goods for some sweets and got a couple of gorgeous looking cupcakes which tasted better than they looked, but again, just glad it is there and I am sure it will appeal to the masses.

For more information on the other shops and restaurants in the new Public Market, check out this link:http://libertypublicmarket.com/

 

 

 

 

Sweet Community in Old Escondido

Escondido has been becoming a significant suburb of San Diego in its own right over the past few years. Areas that once were full of old, unoccupied run-down shops and signs of blight are becoming renewed and EscoGelato is part of that movement. Nestled in the older downtown part of Escondido, EscoGelato is part of the revival of this area. Their website emphasizes that their gelato is made from scratch and that they support local farmers and artisans. One of their headers on their website is community and you definitely get a sense of community walking in…

The frontage is welcoming and dog-friendly with plenty of outdoor seating on the sidewalk. Inside has all sorts of different seating arrangements and knick-knacks on display. T-shirts hang from a clothesline, art is  on display and gift items hang out on a neat little bookshelf. The interior is bright and airy and there is an assortment of baked goods, salads, espresso drinks and soups and sandwiches to choose from in addition to the many options for gelato. This is a perfect spot for lunch in Escondido or breakfast with your furry family members.

So, we have already settled in with the inviting and interesting atmosphere, pleased with the offerings for food and now it is time to try the menu. We tried the half-and-half with a half tomato-and-cheese panini on Rosemary bread and Harvest salad, the tomato bisque soup and a Clementine Izze. The salad was mixed greens from a local organic farm, with bleu cheese, spiced pecans and dried cranberries and a light viniagrette. The panini was very flavorful with the rosemary bread and the provolone and tomato complemented it nicely.

The gelato was the star of this show, however. As my fellow Pursuiter commented, “You can tell there was fresh ingredients put right in there”. It tastes authentic and we all agreed it was some of the best gelato we have ever had, having tasted gelato around the world between the two of us, Escogelato earned high accolades from us.

Escogelato is a good excuse to come see some of the regrowth and development in Escondido and try some of the best gelato there is!

Down on the Left Bank

Cafe’ Madeleine is a little private cafe’ tucked away off of the main village in South Park. I am loving this neighborhood more and more as I explore it further. This sweet spot is where you pull out your beret and best French slinky dress and petit chien (little dog) and enjoy a rich Espresso or latte (in my case Mexican Mocha, ftw) and a crepe or pastry.

It is peaceful here and laid out are a good assortment of local fashion rags and lifestyle magazines along with some books for a longer visit.

The decor is very vintage and stylish in a homey way and you could go here and maybe strike up a chat with a local or not be bothered the entire time you are here. This place has good energy and a nice vibe. It is like the antithesis of a sports bar, so I expect you won’t run into any meatheads here, not there is anything wrong with that. It is just that this is not the place.

For our first visit, I tried a savory crepe of ham, swiss cheese, Bechamel and tomato with spinach and a salad on top. My other half had a sweet crepe with banana, chocolate and powdered sugar dusted on top. The portions were huge and worked out as enough for an extra meal for later. These crepes are of a thicker consistency than the buckwheat ones I have had in France, but still good.

Afterwards, it is nice to take a stroll around the village and window shop in some of the boutiques located within the village of South Park.

S’mores Pancakes…Need I Say More?!

Let me start off by saying that this place, Breakfast Republic is intentionally created to be able to become a chain. They are selling t-shirts with catchy slogans, trucker hats and tank tops. They have the butcher roll hanging from the wall that all of the new hipster joints have. I think at least one server had a handlebar mustache. I heard one of the young servers say, “I think that was a 90’s movie. I was born in 1995.”

You can just tell from the decor and the replayed kitsch that Breakfast Republic will not be unique to North Park and its charms, but will probably soon be found in many major lifestyle centers throughout North County and South Bay soon.

But, damn if their food isn’t spot on! We need more good breakfast joints in San Diego. I don’t do old greasy diners with oil slicks floating on top of the coffee from the chemical creamer with no expiration date. Or, the naugahyde-covered booth seats that have the sheen of grease and better days coated in.

This location is nearby the original Carnitas Snack Shack and is a little inconspicuous, so I think once people start finding out about it, it is going to get a lot more packed.

The menu has some very tantalizing options, especially if you are a big fan of French toast and pancakes. If you like Eggs Benedict, there are several different varieties of that as well. I had the original with avocado and tomato and it was delish! My daughter had the Oreo pancakes, but it was a tough decision between that and the S’mores pancakes. Most importantly, they have an espresso machine and Mexican Mochas which automatically earns you extra points in my book.

Pushing Through the Pavement

 

In the very center of what is a diverse community of recent immigrants from third world countries is an institution, founded by a young man, Bill Tall who grew up in this evolving neighborhood. City Farmers Nursery has been in existence since 1972, according to their website.  Sitting on approximately an acre of land, Bill’s philosophy is to be the antithesis of the big box retailer. He is also very involved in the local environmental community speaking at Monsanto rallies and holding educational classes on everything from canning to raising chickens and starting garden beds. City Farmers Nursery offers many unique plants and items that you won’t find at other nurseries and visiting the grounds is like visiting a small farm. On the grounds are horses, goats, turtles, tilapia, chickens, turkeys, roosters, parrots and other birds, a friendly Rottweiler and a cat that sleeps on the register counter most times I have been there.

Last year, Nate’s Garden Grill opened up on the grounds serving up organic farm fresh ingredients with a smart selection of craft brews with a hipster down-home vibe going on. At the cafe’ you order at the counter and sit down at one of the tables amidst local artwork and a selection of books and games in the bookcase. Families stream in, Dads with their steampunk hats and moms with their  sugar skull tattoos and eco-concious diaper bags. For breakfast, biscuits are homemade, bacon is crispy pork-belly or lunch includes such favorites as locally-made bratwurst sausage on a pretzel bun with sauerkraut.

Further offerings on the grounds include a coffee cart just outside of the nursery where you can get espresso drinks or a homemade danish to go or fresh-squeezed lemonade in a relaxed, garden setting.

City Farmers Nursery is a must-see, a diamond in the rough and worth a venture into a misunderstood rough neighborhood, a city where the weeds are pushing through the pavement and the grit and blooming wildflowers.