Bite San Diego - The Boulevard
I've heard of the Bite San Diego walking tours before and was finally able to check one out last week. The El Cajon Boulevard tour we signed up for is a new tour held on Wednesday during dinner between 6-9pm, compared to the rest of the tours held on the weekend's early afternoons. This particular one was right around the corner from trendy North Park area, which has so many good eateries as is!
The starting point was the beautiful and historical Lafayette Hotel and validated parking was available if needed. We easily found close parking on the side street though. Our tour guide Eddie was at the entrance, keeping a lookout for us and making it oh so simple to join with the rest of the group.
We were seated in the outdoor dining area with several other tour guests. Tour guide Eddie began teaching us some history while we waited for the food. I like that he's chill and knowledgeable and was the mastermind behind the history of a few other tours as well! I definitely learned a few things that night.
Our first bite of the tour was the Tomato Basil Pasta from Hope 46 inside the Lafayette Hotel. I didn't really think about it at the time but Dennis commented that they served this in a disposable cup! I guess easier cleanup that way? The item served at this location and some of the others may be different depending on the night so you never know what you'll get!
Pizzeria Luigi was our second stop and only a block away. Apparently this place has been on food network twice and has high ratings. It's not that big inside so I can imagine it being really busy on the weekends when people are out and about!
Slices from multiple pizza flavors were brought out and we could start with two slices each. The pizza here has decent dough but I prefer to have a more crispy crust underneath. They have these in a glass display and reheat them in their stone ovens after you order. I enjoyed the pesto pizza the best. The other pizzas were margharita, bbq chicken and one I believe to be "white girl" according to the menu and ingredients. Since we had a few no-shows (too bad for them), there were a few left up for grabs at the end. Don't fill up quite yet with four more places to go!
Our next stop was Flavors of East Africa. This was the only place on the list that I had been to before. My book club read Purple Hibiscus and were inspired to try some African food here! Sorry, no pictures from before because I was very busy back then.
We had three huge platters of food served family style and spooned them into our own plates. The rice dish in the back had a slight curry influence and chunks of soft carrots and potato. The collard greens on the left had the typical slightly bitter taste and was flavored with spices including anise, which is like licorice but wasn't too strong in this dish. The chick peas/kidney beans/etc on the right had flavor but were still mild and seemed to be prepared softer and slightly different than what I have ever made.
After a quick walk to the next place, we arrived at the Chicken Pie Shop, in business for about 75 years. Inside they even have vintage signs showing the prices from WAY back when... seriously somewhere around nickels and dimes for food! Amazing! The daylight was fading fast at this point of the tour.
This is some cool concrete art right in front of their entrance! Hello rooster and chicken!
We were served their chicken pot pie. Ours were made into mini pies divided into quarters for the tour. Comfort food at its best! I really like the pastry texture here. The gravy felt like it was made from chicken broth. Cole slaw is also served on the side for those who like it.
We hit Lips next. I thought it was funny that the tour info warns you of the drag queen antics in case you aren't going to be comfortable with their sense of humor. Lips is for the 21+ adult crowd and definitely contains adult humor while the singing and dancing entertainment is going on. The hostess was definitely improvising and being clever and snarky with the entertained audience. It's pretty cool that you get to see some of the show in this tour!
This was their chicken marsala. Eddie mentioned that the food here was pretty decent for this type of venue. I must love mashed potatoes because those disappeared fast! Chicken was juicy enough and worked fine for me. There were also these bite size cheesy bread bites (I think) which came with the food.
Our last stop was the popular Tiger! Tiger! which I have seen on San Diego Food (dot) Net, This Tasty Life, and a few other web blogs. Now I've got a place to go with the name! Our party sat out in the back area, enclosed by gorgeous wine barrel building and decorations. Also Eddie's brother was there sitting at another table within 20 feet! Apparently he is ALSO a tour guide for the same company! I bet he's just as cool as Eddie.
Our final stop provided a portion of their house-made roasted jalapeno cheddar sausage on a bun and half a mug of automatic white bronco beer to finish off the night. The food also came with pickled items which Dennis liked (no pickles for me). This tour and their downtown tour have the most food. I was more or less full at the end but could have fit in one more stop. Eddie joked that I was the only girl he met who was still hungry at the end of the tour! Yay food, especially if you've seen our Taste of ... posts!
I'd have to say it was fun sampling at new places but I think what I enjoyed the most was learning and talking with the other guests on the tour. We had a cute couple from Kentucky visiting, parents of a local SD woman visiting, plus us and two other locals. Everyone mingled with everyone else, including the tour guide so plenty of stories and lessons went around! This tour is good for locals too, not just tourists but feel free to invite visiting friends and family! Tell me... how many facts do you know about your own city?!
The El Cajon Boulevard tour is one of the shortest distance tours (less than 1 mile from beginning to end) and runs most wednesdays until the end of June (an extension is possible). There are other Bite San Diego tours in various areas that you can check out that are between 1-2 miles. Afterwards, you do have to walk back to your cars so consider that when parking! Most tours are around $45/person, with this particular one priced at $65 but you can also keep your eye out for deals such as a recent groupon I saw for a party of 4 for about $90 (the party of 2 is sold out).
Disclaimer: we were provided tickets for this event but the opinions are strictly our own