Monday, June 15, 2009

How to spend a weekend in San Diego

Ashton's mom came into town for her first San Diego visit on Thursday night, so of course we had a multitude of fun, awesome, and DELICIOUS things for us to do. Let me just tell you that 75% of what we had planned was where to eat! Thursday night she got in late, so the only edibles she encountered were the cookies upon check-in at the Doubletree. We more than made up for it over the course of the weekend. I missed the first part of the festivities on Friday as they experienced Hodad's in Ocean Beach, which I am incredibly envious of. I'd previously blogged about it here, and will someday fulfill my life goal of eating there. Until then, I will rely on their assurances that it was superb. Luckily, we had a great dinner planned at Ranchos on 30th, blogged about here. One of the reasons I love this place is the great salsa they have, and they had actually switched it up a bit this go. We got a more orange-y dollop which was interesting and a tiny bit sweeter than the original. A pleasant and unexpected change! It didn't seem to be permanent since our 2nd bowl was the darker red original, so who knows what is going on there. I got the fish taco combination which was absolutely stellar.

Saturday morning we got seated pretty quickly at The Mission in North Park, where we assured her that her first weekend brunch would be fantastic. Of course it was (like this time). I got an okay chai and a fabulous soy chorizo scramble, with their unbelievable rosemary toast instead of tortillas. A fortuitous decision, because their bread is the best rosemary bread I've had to date. Marylou opted for the Roast Beef Hash at our suggestion, and loved every bite. It was a 100% success. After waddling away from The Mission, we headed up the 101 to show her the north county sites like Swami's, the garden at the Self-Realization Center, a bit of Encinitas, Carlsbad, Leucadia, and the more picture-esque, quintessential California beach towns. After seeing the sites and stopping by the Hotel Del Coronado for a few drinks at their Sun Deck bar, we were ready to eat again, this time at our favorite Thai place to date- Amarin on Richmond Street in Hillcrest. It's hard for me to get something that's not a noodle dish, so I got my standby of Drunken Noodles with Squid and it was of course spectacular. Ashton got HIS standby of Green Curry, and it is just always first rate.

After all this food, I don't know how we managed drinks, but we made it all the way next door to Alibi for a few beers. Where it fit in our bellies, I'll never know. Fast approaching never-before experienced food coma levels, we called it a night, only to awake the next day starving as though we've never eaten before. We had made the strategic decision to make Sunday brunch at Urban Solace (again) to take advantage of the bluegrass band on Sunday mornings. The wait was a little longer than usual, so we seized the opportunity to run to Henry's to snag a few essentials for the dinner we had planned that evening. Our first choice was the Hillcrest Farmer's Market, but it was so woefully packed that we couldn't find a parking space within 500 miles and with a tight schedule had to make a quick stop elsewhere. However, brunch was definitely worth the wait, and my Portabello Mushroom Benedict was as the waiter promised, fantastic. I had been deciding between that or the Steak Benedict, and at his suggestion got the mushroom option because it supposedly sopped up more of the flavor. Well, he was right. Marylou and I went halfsies on one of each, and I thoroughly enjoyed the portabellos much more than the steak. Sadly, the bloody marys were pretty bad, and after having enjoyed an unbeatable one at the Sun Deck at the Hotel Del only the day before, I would have to pass on Urban Solace being a hot spot for them.

The rest of the day consisted of going to the Botanical Garden at Balboa Park, which is unmissable for anyone in San Diego. The indoor exhibit is lush, beautiful, and very well maintained and well planned out. Even someone not incredibly enthusiastic about flowers and plants will enjoy themselves. Next up was the obligatory downtown/Gaslamp excursion, with a stop at a curbside bar called Toscana with local beers on tap and $3 pints all day. There is nothing like a cold beer after a long weekend of entertaining to refresh one's palate! We'd had about enough of the exploration at that point, so we headed back to North Park to make dinner- not before stopping at the Greek Festival on Park Avenue to score some tasty additions to the meal!!! We got boxes of everything made by the hands of Greek women, so it was sure to be excellent. Dolmades, Moussaka, Spanikopita, it was a feast of epic proportions, and we hadn't even made the Tomato Pie yet.

Marylou has an amazing recipe for Tomato Pie which is possibly the most unhealthy and most delicious thing ever. I can't even blog about what goes into it here, because I need to recover for a year by dieting on lettuce and celery. Then, and only then, can I even begin to fathom it. Let's just say it was a hit with our friends who joined us for the home-cooked-plus-Greek dinner.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and this concluded our weekend. I think we hit all the highs that San Diego offers, and got to experience some of our favorites once again. This is a pretty good guide for what to do and where to eat, so the next time you have an out-of-towner stopping by, considering trying some or all of these places! You have my stamp of approval.

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