I'm always telling myself that we need to brunch more. Hectic work week leads to sleeping later weekends (especially for this night owl) but admittedly, good food is worth getting out of bed for. We were invited to check out Dunedin, a New Zealand inspired restaurant in North Park. After lucking out with street parking a block away, we walked into the bustling establishment and were quickly seated by the host.
At the bar, we noticed our first perk of the morning... $1 mimosas! Those all you can drink deals work if your stomach is "bottomless" but seriously, I can only handle 2 or so drinks. This was perfect! We went for the flavors of blood orange (Dennis's fav) and pineapple (my fav) but there's also the choice of the standard oj and champagne. Keep 'em coming!
Shrimp and Pineapple: grilled shrimp & pineapple, peppers, arugula, avocado, peri peri
I first found Trade Winds Tavern after my coworkers set up an impromptu happy hour there. We were lured in by the $3 craft beer special throughout the month of February! My existing go-to for craft beer was happy hour at Crab Hut Mira Mesa but this one was much closer to my workplace! I sipped on a Ginja Ninja cider while waiting for Dennis to pick me up for dinner. Since we were going to Tin Roof that night, I only tried a few bites of their miso cod special.
A few days later, unrelated to that visit, I received an invitation to a media preview. As you can guess, we were more than willing to explore their food and drink menu!
Usually there are more tables inside but they opened up the space for the media event. We grabbed drinks at the bar and sat down at a nearby table. A DJ provided some jams for the evening.
The big downtown Mardi Gras block party returns on Tuesday February 28, 2017! Grab a bite & pregame your night while ALSO getting a discounted Mardi Gras ticket with our Food & Beverage package! You will receive a $30 food and drink credit at 17 downtown hotspots along with a DISCOUNTED Mardi Gras ticket.
Fig Tree Cafe has always been a brunch destination for us. We first sampled them during a Pacific Beach Restaurant Walk and have made several visits to the PB location. I recently found out they had dinner at their Liberty Station location and we were invited to give it a try!
We decided to sit in the open patio area which I can imagine is perfect for a daytime visit. I was amused by the two heat lamps near us because their curved shape reminded me of treadmills! Food first, workout next time?
The Haven Pizzeria is located right off the 15 freeway in the Kensington area. When I got the invitation to try out the restaurant, I realized we had sampled them during Taste of Adams Avenue in 2015! At long last, we would be returning for a full meal experience! There's a small parking lot to the right of the restaurant if you happen to get lucky, otherwise street parking is what you're left with. You order at the counter and then they will bring you your food. Of course we had plenty of yummy things to try!
Our last dining out in 2016 turned out to be quite fun AND satisfying. I've already been experimenting with beer over the past year but this time I could be my own bartender.
We were invited to Barrel Republic in Carlsbad, the newest of three freedom-to-pour locations. This business originally started in Pacific Beach, then expanded into Oceanside followed by Carlsbad.
After providing an employee at the ordering station with your ID and credit card, you'll receive an electronic wristband which will be used to activate whichever tap you desire! You choose when, where and how much to pour!
I've been wanting to try Grater Grilled Cheese ever since the first brick and mortar location opened in La Jolla. Before I knew it, there was another one in Mission Valley plus a third one is slated to open in Del Mar in 2017! We had a chance to stop by one of the existing locations (La Jolla) to check out this fast casual restaurant. It was an overcast Saturday afternoon and the beaches weren't as busy as the summer months so we were able to park across the street.
You basically order at the counter then they will bring your food out to you. Friendly Juan was working the front register and recommended a few items, as well as customized combinations that he personally enjoyed. The menu had plenty of grilled cheese options and we decided to try two flavors plus some other food items.
Overhead shot of the goods. I'm excited just looking at the picture again!
Barbecue is one of those things that we have yet to get enough of... so many places in San Diego just waiting to be explored by us! Brazen BBQ Smokehouse & Bar was an enjoyable stop during Taste of Hillcrest, especially this year's sample of Smoked Peruvian Pork with smashed potatoes. With this good thought and the temptation of incredible southern style barbecue, we excitedly rolled through for a media invitation.
The options of indoor seating included picnic tables, booths, and bar stools but the blissful San Diego weather led us to patio tables for grubbing and people watching. Each table had its dutiful paper towel dispenser, of which I was ever so grateful while continually getting my hands messy during the meal!
Smoked Pig Candy 9.99 - Thick bacon slices dusted with our Barnyard Dust and a mix of sugars, smoke to a delicious gooey perfection.
Ever tried Italian Japanese food? Don't let that unfamiliar combination keep you away. We were invited to try out this new spot called Shin's La Jolla in downtown La Jolla.
The restaurant was on the second story so it wasn't as easy to spot from outside. They do have a menu at the bottom of the stairs so that you can preview the menu before taking the stairs up to the restaurant.
My favorite sight inside the restaurant. Tree art surrounded by a gorgeous orange-red hue. Wooden beams completed the "forest" look on this wall.
The restaurant had a very simple modern aesthetic look, with easy on the ears jazz music playing in the background. This seemed the perfect ambiance for the lighter fare we enjoyed this evening. The restaurant wasn't too big but it was spacious for the existing guests. We were seated in the corner area so this was our view of the entire restaurant. There's a small outdoor patio on the far right side.
The menu was one page and consisted of a few main sections: appetizer, pasta, and entrees.
Encontro North Park is a quick service restaurant located on the busy intersection of 30th St and University Ave. It's been open less than a year and I've passed by this corner full of curiosity. We finally stopped in for dinner and a meet-and-greet with the new chef!
The seating is open with multiple communal tables and a few tables on the patio. After ordering at the counter, the servers will find you by number and then the feasting begins! One of the walls has a large mural of hops and more art will be added in the future! We visited during October so it was decorated for halloween.
After taking a seat at the window, Executive Chef Jason Hotchkiss came out to greet us personally! He described the menu as paleo style food, mostly meats and greens. Just about everything was made in house too. We suggested that he 'surprise' us since he knew the menu best.