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I've lived in San Diego for about 10 years now but still love discoving new things about this beautiful city of ours. I was invited to spend a Saturday afternoon touring downtown Carlsbad along with a few local food blogger friends, both old and new, through the Carlsbad Food Tour.
Our gracious guide and the founder of the Carlsbad Food Tour is Cherimarie Poulos. She leads this easygoing journey through downtown Carlsbad and filled us with bites and fun little history bits throughout. I'll preview the places we visited but will leave the historic details for visitors to experience themselves!
The first stop of our tour was at Caldo Pomodoro, which means hot tomato. Their buttery garlic bread has won awards from SD magazine and can be dipped into a chunky flavorful marinara. I heard very good things about their sauces too. After sampling the famous garlic bread as well as their baked artichoke hearts, we settled inside to hear more history of the restaurant as well as some of the famous visitors who have stopped in for a bite!
A few doors down is the year old Viggiluci's Gourmet Market, which not only supplies the four Viggiluci's restaurants in San Diego but also allows patrons to buy the same ingredients that make a deliciuos homecooked meal like the restaurants. The store was filled with all kinds of food goodies, including these breads and gourmet pastas.
We strolled across the street to check out Humble Olive Oils. It's a nice open sampling space with a multitude of olive oil and balsamic vinegar flavors available. The best items for me were the fruity infused balsamic vinegars like the gravenstein apple and cara cara orange & vanilla. I couldn't resist buying a few products before heading home.
The Carlsbad Food tour has one wine tasting spot, the Witch Creek Winery. We started out with a crisp and fruity Sauvignon Blanc wine. Next, I correctly detected the cherry influence in the Primitivo 2012 Clarksburg, though I think cherry is unique enough to do this. I favored the Kathy's Cuvee though it had a more earthier but aromatic tone. The El Dorado Reserve Merlot had the most tannens of that lot. We finished with a sweet wine that reminded me of pomegranate. I was right on because it turned out to be a Honeywood Pomegranate White. My wine senses are tingling!
Gregorio's Italian Restaurant is upstairs in the outdoor mall behind the old Twin Inns and has been around for 25 years. We sampled an eggplant marinara tucked into a hawaiian roll.
Next on our tour list was Cafe Topes, a cute coffee tea breakfast/brunch restaurant. Slow down and enjoy the moment my friends. A few of us ordered something to drink while waiting for our next sample.
Hello cinnamon roll! It was precut so we wouldn't have to wait for a bite, other than the usual food blogger photos! The glaze resembled more of a cream so wasn't overly sweet . The other breakfast items being ordered by the regular diners looked mouthwatering too!
Cherimarie also showed us quite a few beautiful murals along this tour that you must see for yourself! This one is near the restaurant we visited next.
One of the oldest restaurants in town is Lola's Mexican Deli, which opened in 1943. The daughters still run the restaurants even though they are in their 70's and 80's. Across is the original location which is now a museum open by invitation only. I had my first bean and cheese burrito (that I can remember) and it was tasty! Apparently these beans come from heaven cuz they are so smooth (overheard while in the restaurant).
It was a gorgeous day to be on a tour. We walked to Cafe Panini which was rocking some palm trees outside their patio. It almost looks like they are holding up the restaurant's sign!
Their Turkey Panini has a little bit of red onion, tomato and lettuce on top of turkey in a toasty bun. The bread is more crunchy than oily or buttery like other paninis seem to be. There was also a vegetarian sandwich option.
The Carlsbad Chocolate Bar was an eyeful of candy, snacks, wines and other goodies. I sort of wish this place were in my neighborhood! Uhh, but that could be both a blessing and a curse!
Nobody likes waiting! Hands were reaching for these Sea Salt Chocolate Caramels even as I tried to snap a picture of the serving plate. I escaped with a piece and photographed it near the chocolate displays. This flavor did not float my boat but it could be a winner for those who do like caramels. And that was our final stop.
The Carlsbad Food Tour isn't like the "Taste of..." events I often attend. It's *just* enough to fill your tummy comfortably. The tour is a leisurely paced, educating nibble into the Carlsbad history/food scene and Cherimarie is a wonderful enthusiastic guide. I happen to enjoy learning as well as eating so recommend to those who feel the same. Even though it's over 2 miles of walking, there are plenty of breaks that it doesn't actually FEEL that way. Pricewise, it's a little more expensive than some other tours though the addition of a wine tasting may attribute to this. There are also two other tours: the Village Food Tour, and the Sweet and Savory Tour. More details are on the website: www.CarlsbadFoodTours.com.
Fellow blogger attendees: Kate from LateKateFoodie, Becky from Beckycharms, Lisa from Saltwater & Sunshine, Liz from Liz the Chef, Ani from Confessions of a Foodie, Kim from Live Live Too and Melissa from My PB + J. So lovely to see you ladies! :)
Disclaimer: I was hosted for this tour but the opinions are strictly my own.