When my cousin and Vampire Diaries- watching partner-in-crime, Lindsey took a job with a great company in San Diego, I was a sad panda. Mostly because we hung out weekly to watch TVD, (or True Blood during summers) gossip, and knit. Moving meant saying goodbye to our usual rituals. Moving also meant the possibility for visits, and in October, I flew out for a girls weekend.
Lindsey moved in July, so she had some time before I visited to get to know the city a bit. I’d been to San Diego twice previously, but both times I was under 21, and more interested in the zoo than the culture.
We ate. We talked. We laughed. We ate. We talked. We ate. We ate. We ate.
I had two food items on my wishlist: tacos and ramen. We have great food in Bloomington. We’ve got the farm-to-table thing down pat. Seasonal food? Great. Ethnically diverse food options? Plenty. But these are two glaring holes in our food offerings. We don’t really have great options within a 1-hour radius either, so I knew I had to make it count.
After arriving, I did quite a bit of sleeping and snuggling with this little nugget
We decided to do tacos for lunch since we were starving. We planned to do ramen that night for dinner, and we thought we could get away with both in one day. Lindsey recommended a great taco place not far from her place in North Park- Tacos Perla. We decided to halfsies- my favorite food strategy- so we could each get something different and try each’s others choice.
She went with Carne Asada and I got Adobada.
The best part, aside from the FREAKING DELICIOUSNESS OF THE TACOS, was this cool salsa set up
Great, great way to start off a weekend long eating fest. The food was fresh, seasoned perfectly, and each of the salsas were amazing. I was also converted on my preconceived notion of pineapple water. Thought it was useless. Tasted it. It was delicious. Damn it.
We ended up back at her place to relax (and keep talking. When we weren’t eating, we were talking) before heading out to dinner at Underbelly. I’m apologizing now for the poor quality of the photos. I was only rockin my iPhone 4, lighting was terrible, but I wasn’t going to miss it!
We started with the pork belly buns. These things cannot be described. Texture was spot-on. Salty, sweet, sticky perfection. We could have eaten 100 more. Thankfully, we only had one each because we would have had major regrets.
The beer selection was good. We happened to be there on $3 San Diego pint night, so I got a local IPA that was great with our food. Had we been sitting at the bar, I would have had endless refills on it.
We both went with the Belly of the Beast Ramen, because you don’t pass up the opportunity to have brisket and braised short rib in a bowl of hot steamy goodness. (sorry for the terrible quality of this shot)
The broth was good. The brisket was surprisingly bland and a bit dry, but the short rib was divine. I loved the soft-boiled egg. I chose to add a few drops of the ghost chili mayo they had to accompany and it was awesome. The best part was the oxtail dumplings. I ate one, then saved the other for my very last bite. Overall this was a great first Ramen experience for me. I thought it was flavorful and delicious. Now I’m on a mission to try it again asap!
We went out for ice cream after (as only the truly gluttonous do) and while I don’t have pictures, I do have one of my favorite stories from the experience.
While talking to the young lady working behind the counter, she asked if we were visitors. I told her that Lindsey lived there, but that I was visiting from Indiana. She gave me a bit of a confused furrowed-brow look and I said “I take it you’ve never been?” and she said, “To Indiana? Yea, I haven’t. I couldn’t even tell you what State that’s in”. Hilarious.
When you only have three days to eat as much as you can, regardless of what your digestive system says, you get up, and get right back on the horse. Lindsey wanted to take me to the farmer’s market in Little Italy, so we planned to grab a quick treat, go to the farmer’s market, then the dog park. Dinner was going to be a big one, so we wanted to do lots of walking to make room.
Our next stop was a must. The Great Maple smelled divine. There were so many amazing plates of food around us, and the menu was extensive. But we were only there for one thing-
Maple-glazed bacon donuts. They are amazing as they sound. I know bacon is a super trendy thing to put on donuts, but damn if it isn’t delicious. On top of the donuts being the perfect balance of bacony and sweet, the coffee from this place was memorably good. I care about coffee. A lot. It must be great. And I’m glad to report it was.
We took a break (albeit brief) from food to check out the farmer’s market and the dog park. Before we went to dinner, we ventured out on a beer collecting mission. My husband is a beer nerd. He loves beer. When he sent me out to California without him, he packed an empty box and enough bubble wrap to get him home some treasures. He had a few typical wish list items:
And he also had a few from Firestone Walker and Stone.
I bought a lot of beer to haul home to him (because I’m an awesome wife like that) but my biggest regret was not buying these little treasures just to embarrass him when I feel the urge.
For dinner on Friday night, we went to a place called Craft and Commerce. Their food style is right up my alley. Using our plate-sharing agreement, we ordered a few starters to get the party going. Lindsey insisted on the corndogs. I insisted on the fried pickles (always fried pickles- I’d eat gas station fried pickles) and we decided on sweet potato fries with bleu cheese crumbles for funsies.
Not gonna lie- we were stuffed after this. But we weren’t going to give up without a fight. Lindsey had never had bone marrow, and it’s one of my faves, so I ordered us some. It was the first time I’ve eaten marrow and not been thrilled. The texture wasn’t as creamy as usual. Lindsey took one bite and decided it was not for her. Luckily, she’d had the foresight to order biscuits with preserves and cheese fondue. She enjoyed those instead.
On Saturday, my final day and night in San Diego, we got up early and went for a long hike on the beach. I’ll spare you the 400 pics I took, but needless to say, it was stunning. Going from frigid fall in Bloomington, Indiana to warm summer in San Diego was bliss.
Dinner Saturday was a big deal. This one I requested for two reasons- one, you can’t go to San Diego (well, Escondido) and not make it a point to go to Stone Brewing. They are legendary in the beer world, perhaps top dog, and two- my husband needed to experience it by proxy.
We had a perfect table right next to the patio. We could see the bar, we could see the patio.
We started with ceviche. Seafood- let alone fresh seafood- is a rare commodity in the land locked Midwest, so we took advantage.
We also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have pretzels with beer cheese sauce when at a world famous brewery.
Of course I’d be divorced if I neglected to mention the beer:
We split brisket again for dinner (FYI brisket is the best). It was delicious. Well seasoned, balanced. Overall great.
We opted out of dessert because we were headed to the Cinepolis to watch Gone Girl and caramel corn was calling my name (and also because not another bite of food would fit in either of our stomachs).
When you are stuffed full of great beer and food, luxury movie-going experience is where it’s at.
My favorite moment of the weekend happened here. I’m so juvenile.
Overall, the weekend was the best. I laughed more than I ate, which, judging by the length of this post was more than I thought possible. Lindsey will be home for Christmas, and I can’t wait to do this again on my home territory.
San Diego has so much food to explore. I already have a short list for next time (which includes more tacos). Great weekend. Still recovering.