It's been a decade since we first did our first Taste of Downtown in 2006! It's usually held on a Thursday evening for four hours, giving you freedom to choose which places you want to go. This year didn't seem too busy or maybe we managed to beat the crowds! I think there were 40+ restaurants participating this year! There were also several locations that served alcohol samples as part of the taste! It was already sounding like a fun night before we began!

Tender Greens at Taste of Downtown 2016

One of the best samples was from Tender Greens. They always come up with very creative bites like this duck confit on brioche toast with a savory sweet pepper jelly and pickled fennel! What a glorious bite!

Whiskey Girl at Taste of Downtown 2016

Whiskey Girl got their wings down pat with the sweeter Thai Chili sauce.

When late night munchies attack, you must fight back! Recently I found out about Brian's 24 in downtown, available at all hours of the day AND within walking distance of one of my downtown spots!

Brian's 24 in downtown San Diego

We were invited to come in to experience what they had to offer - breakfast anytime, as well as anything else that caught the eye! 6pm on a Sunday fit into our schedule and also allowed for easy street parking. A booth by the window had a "reserved" sign which we correctly guessed was for us. Even before looking over the menu, I knew of one item I HAD to order...

Chicken and Waffles at Brian's 24 in downtown San Diego

Chicken & Waffles (15.99) - Our delicious Belgian waffle and 1/2 of a fried chicken.

In general I'm not that big into pancakes or waffles but the idea of chicken and waffles always gets me excited! The fresh waffles were lightly dusted with powdered sugar and topped with a sweet strawberry. We dutifully poured some syrup over it before taking a bite of the warm fluffy waffle but our eyes drifted toward the star of the dish... The fried chicken was extra crispy on the outside, almost shell-like, and pulled away from the juicy meat. It was piping hot too which is the way fried chicken should be!

Humphreys Restaurant is located on Shelter Island and provides California cuisine right next to the waterfront! I hadn't heard of this place until I received an invite to a media cooking class with Executive Chef Nicolas Bour.

lamb shanks at Humphreys

For the event, drinks and hors d'oeuvres started at 6pm. Dennis and I made our merry way alongside the serving tables. Here we had local grass fed lamb chops grilled to perfection!

tuna bites at Humphreys crabcakes at Humphreys

Seafood delights included tuna over seaweed salad with a little wasabi bite and meaty crab cakes sweetened by apple!

Tidal restaurant in Mission Bay of San Diego

When we were invited for a San Diego Restaurant Week (SDRW) preview at Tidal in Mission Bay, I expected delicious food but was also blown away by the gorgeous views of the water! I'm rarely in the Mission Bay area so was positively radiating with excitement from my surroundings!

marina view at Tidal restaurant in Mission Bay of San Diego island at Tidal seasonal craft and catch in San Diego

Outside the restaurant is a pier area and Dennis told me he found this "private island" while taking pictures! The picture on the right shows what's on the island. I could imagine someone using it for a small private wedding ceremony! Paradise Point, the company that owns the restaurant, has quite a bit of land in this area!

outdoor patio at Tidal seasonal craft and catch in San Diego indoor seating at Tidal restaurant in Mission Bay of San Diego

The patio was great but it was a tad too bright for pictures. After we basked in the sunshine, we were seated inside the main dining hall close to the windows with a view! I couldn't help but admire the pretty hanging lights in this huge hall. To our left was the open kitchen, allowing us a sneak peek into the cooking arena!

San Diego Reader has been keeping us busy this summer! We've already attended Tacotopia (Golden Hill Park) and Tacotopia at the Track (DMTC) and now there was another... BURGERS and BEER!

slider and burger socks at San Diego Reader Burgers and Beer

I was down. Apparently so was this girl I spotted with BURGER SOCKS on!!! That's genius!

entrance to San Diego Reader Burgers and Beer

Dennis was busy that day so I invited foodie friend HeadCinema as my plus one. The first annual Burgers and Beer event was held at Golden Hill Park and we entered through these gates. Similar to Tacotopia at the Track, we were allowed to go in an hour early for MEDIA hour from 11-12. Unfortunately I had some work to do beforehand so only made it about 10-15 minutes early but friend did get a head start!

We attended Reader Tacotopia in May and were rather surprised when a similar event popped up - Reader Tacotopia at the Track on August 13th! Once again, over 30 taco vendors would be competing to be voted the best! This time we came in for Media Hour which opened at noon instead of 1pm for regular admission! We were given two voter tickets, one for most traditional and one for most innovative.

taco drink holder from Cali Comfort BBQ at Tacotopia

One of the participating vendors, Cali Comfort BBQ, gave away this nifty cardboard food and drink holder! Look how nice everything fits! We had also purchased a Don Julio margarita to sip on between tastes.

al pastor spit at Tacotopia

Upon entering, a vendor (Lupe's) tantalized us with their al pastor spit! The excitement was growing inside of me and we were famished! Can we eat yet?

Ambrogio15 restaurant in Pacific Beach

Ambrogio15 is an authentic Milanese pizzeria that recently opened in North Pacific Beach. Ambrogio is the name of a patron saint of Milan while the number 15 represents the pizza diameter. We were invited to attend their soft opening weekend.

inside Ambrogio15 restaurant in Pacific Beach

The restaurant is tastefully decorated in Milano style, and even the lights and pizza oven were imported from Italy! In combination with the food, that's an amazing show of pride and love of your hometown. The three main waiters were actually the three owners, Giacomo Pizzigoni, Andrea Burrone and Luca Salvi. By interacting with the customers, they were able to answer questions, provide recommendations, and receive direct feedback.

I was recently invited to preview the new summer menu at AVANT Restaurant at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. After parking in their huge lot, I wandered past gorgeous gardens toward the buildings and found the restaurant on the left. Inside, the bar area was already bustling and the stylish dining room was beginning to fill up. There was also a separate room with glass walls outside the main dining area and the PR person waved me in.

Table for 12 at AVANT in Rancho Bernardo Inn

I was surprised to find myself inside AVANT Kitchen, a private dining area that staged an intimate 12 person wooden table (complete with a built-in lazy susan) and a showroom worthy kitchen in close proximity.

Poke bowls have become quite popular these days and I've been seeing them pop up everywhere! We recently tried it ourselves at San Diego Poke Company through a media invite. The restaurant is off the I-15 / Friars Road intersection in the Mission Gorge area and lucky for me, within driving distance from my workplace!

Dennis and I popped in midweek around 7pm and found a line to the door, though it was perhaps only 10 people, since this is a smaller space! ! Waves of people came and went during our visit but the line seemed to move fast.

San Diego Poke Co

First, you order at the counter. You can start off with one of the preconfigured bowls or build your own as you go down the line. It's like chipotle but for poke!

ingredient options at San Diego Poke Co

ingredient options at San Diego Poke Co

There are about 8 choices of seafoods, including fresh tuna, salmon, spicy tuna, albacore, octopus, scallops, etc.

Tacos and Tequila Festival at Silo - Maker's Quarters

We recently attended the Tacos and Tequila Festival in San Diego as media. Their offering of unlimited tacos, craft beer and tequila samples was too good to turn down. We saw a lot of happy people at the event.

Tacos and Tequila Festival at Silo - Maker's Quarters

Especially the hop, skip, and jump guy from one of the breweries! Is it surprising to see people posing for the camera when there's alcohol involved? Never. =)