Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Einstein Bros. Bagels

Well you can tell I am kind of in a cheap mood lately, what with my slight displeasure at the Lai Lounge and my choice of Lalos Tacos for lunch. Next stop on the cheap trip was Einstein Bros. Bagels, which, surprisingly I had never been to before. We were looking to pick up breakfast on Rosecrans street, and although slightly tempted by the famous Breakfast House we didn't quite feel like that much grease.
So Einstein Bros it was and I have to say again I was very pleasantly surprised. Opting for the Spinach Omelet on a Five Cheese Bagel I really enjoyed my breakfast which was warm (it has been so chilly in San Diego lately, and yet I never learn about wearing proper footwear) but not heavy. I have to say I was a little put off by the Candy Cane bagels (Red and Bagels just don't seem to mix) but many of the other menu items looked very intriguing, in particular the Lox Bagel. Looking forward to my second round of Einstein Bros. soon which................. won't be for a while. We are heading over to England to visit my wife's family for a while. I will make sure to carefully document our fun Holiday eating whilst we are there and try to shut away some stereotypes.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lalo's tacos

Living in Hillcrest there are so many different places to grab a bite to eat. Some of the more strip mall types are often looked over and simply ignored. This can be a mistake Bai Yook Thai cuisine is one of our fave places for takeout, Wine Encounter has a really great selection and Unlce Biff's cookies are wonderful!
There are many places that I must admit I often over look also, and Lalo's tacos had been one of these. Perhaps due to the reputation of some small fast food Mexican restaurants I was just afraid of the lard, but I shouldn't have been so alarmed- Lalo's offers some of the more healthy Mexican food around.
The reason I ended up at Lalo's was actually due to a fault of Chipotle, Chipotle's managers might think its location in central Hillcrest is a great one, but when parking is that hard it must occasionally hurt there business. This was the case for us, after driving around for a couple of minutes and realizing that nothing was available we headed instead to Lalo's which has parking (albeit shared with a dozen or so other stores and always very crowded).
Entering the store I was very impressed with the range of the menu, not only were there dozens of different tacos to try there were also many other dishes, including burritos with wholewheat tortillas. Something I have often lamented the lack of at other Mexican establishments.

We ordered our food happily and were pleased to see it arrive within minutes.

Of course my burrito (chicken) with its wholewheat tortilla was not the best I have had in San Diego, but it was good and for the $4 or so I paid for it exceptionally good value. Most of all I appreciated the healthy aspect, the wholewheat and the distinct lack of dripping lard.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lei Lounge

Well we thought we would try a new place for brunch today and headed over to Lei Lounge in University Heights. Wow just wow, what incredibly over priced brunch- the only thought I can have is that people are paying for the atmosphere which really, fo my tastes was rather over the top and incredibly fake.

Stuffed into a back yard in University Heights Lei lounge is trying to transport you back to Hawaii- bright white linens adorn the tables, purple (fake) leis are placed on every table, there is hawaiian palm thatch on the roofs and little tables filled with lava rocks for the cooler nights. some tables are set out in little alcoves.

For brunch you may choose between a range of different entrees for $11.95. ouch- no champagne was included, so this had better be good we thought. After seeing many couples presented with cute little cakes, I thought maybe the outrageous price included a complimentary dessert- no such luck.

I ordered the mini kobe beef burgers whilst my wife got the only veggies option; a garden omelet. for her I believe the price was particularly egregious- 12 bucks for an omelet (which by the way included no fancy ingredients such as wild mushrooms, goats cheese, sun dried tomatoes or anything which could have commandeered this price), and a few breakfast potatoes (again nothing special, just fried potatoes). The brunch drink specials were more reasonable- $3 for a champagne cocktail, with a range of different choices available. these were pretty good. In fact the kobe beef burgers were good, one of the more reasonable options for $12.

Perhaps it was because we were at the lei lounge an a windy and slightly chilly day but this forced Hawaiian atmosphere just wasn't doing it for me. Even in the Hawaii the endless fake leis presented at every turn got to be too much, but here is San Diego it seemed particularly silly. University Heights is such a cool little neighborhood with eclectic little dining spots and interesting looking craftsman cottages- this place just seemed to me to be in the wrong spot- PB or somewhere might be a better location. and if we are going to go for this Hawaiian theme get some better real estate, just a little garden setting going, or a cool view please don't just pack a whole bunch of people into a tiny little courtyard and have them pretend they are in paradise.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Sky Bar

Well after two nights at December nights in Balboa park I think I am something of an expert on what to do and what not to do.

First trick- do not even try to find parking near the park. we walked from home and it took about 25 minutes. If you don't live close enough park about 25 minutes away and walk, it will save you a lot of time. (Morley Fields area seems like a good place to park, then just down Morley fields drive and up the hill, you are at Balboa.)

Second- come on Friday. Friday was much less crowded, Saturday was (with the exception of the Sky bar which I will come to later), mayhem.

Third- wear comfy shoes. Balboa park is pretty massive, you will be walking around a lot, standing most of the time when you eat/ drink/ watch performances. Good comfy shoes are essential.

Forth- If you need a break go to the organ pavilion, you can almost always find empty seats and most of the choral ensembles they have there are top notch.

So what's good.....

Well initially the taste of San Diego (ten tastes for $10) looked interesting - although I did like the set up last year much better along the Cabrillo bridge. Then we realized that ten tastes meant waiting in ten lines. The restaurants taking part were not too interesting either- Baja Betty's El Indio, Mo's etc. we can go to these restaurants any old time. Plus no one seemed to be offering anything very interesting.

The international food was more fun. Irish stew was heartily enjoyed as was Palestinian cheese pie, Hungarian sausage and Swedish pea soup. Some of the countries just didn't seem to be putting in the effort though- the Italian tiramisu was not tiramisu and seemed to eb a frozen ice cream cake from Costco, the Meatballs all looked they came from Ikea and the Scottish beer on offer was Karl Strauss??

In the bustling beverages quarters our favorite was the spiced hot chocolate with Rum from Austria, the eggnog was a bit too strong and the different varieties of glogg just okay.

Elsewhere we enjoyed an Indian taco which was good, although a rip-off at $6.

Entertainmentwise my wife always enjoys the young ballet and tap dancers in the Casa del Prado, we also went to see excerpts from the nutcracker which was fun. The San Diego zoo were showing off a delightful South American Anteater that I don't remember ever seeing before. The organ pavilion had some nice shows on and it was fun to look in at the Old Globe and the set off the Grinch.

So the highlight and the secret of December nights- the Sky Bar in the Natural History Museum. This is a bar set up on what is essentially the roof of the museum. There is a $5 cover charge to enter, but oh how that $5 was worth it! After the crowds and masses elsewhere in the park I fully expected this bar to be packed, with the free appetizers having already been ravaged over- much in the style of Casa Guadalajara on a Friday happy hour.
I couldn't have been more wrong, the bar was nearly deserted, calming music was playing and the views were spectacular. As we walked through the doors out onto the roof we were greeted by a bartender who attended directly to our drinks and then ushered over to the free appetizers- turkey wraps and a wonderful vegetable soup.
the Natural History museums sky bar was definitely the find of the night and I am happy to be able to share this secret with blog readers. Next year you know where to head to!

Friday, December 01, 2006

December Nights Tonight

Very excited to head out to December nights tonight and sample some of that yummy international food, not to mention the restaurants on the bridge and of course the international holiday style beverages area.

Will report back!