Had a nice time and great to get out of Boston's winter (and Seattle's rain). A friend picked me up at the airport on Mon. and showed me the area including a beach with a bunch of seals. We went to one of his favorites, Ortega in Ocean Beach where we split a beef tamale, ceviche, I had a fish taco and can't remember what he got. Didn't take advantage of happy hour, decent food for cheap. Later on we met friends at the Red Fox on El Camino, very cool old school space with old school music entertainment. We ended up eating there (3 of us wanted to go somewhere else) and had a nice but ditzy waitress. Dry fries, eh burger, dry pork chop. Ended up at Tower Bar. Next morning was breakfast at Mission Café where I had a great banana granola pancake then good iced coffee from Better Buzz a few doors down. After walking around Balboa Park and more seeing the sights, we went to Carnitas Snack Shack and timed it perfectly, parking space in front and no line at 4PM or so. So glad I made it here. The triple threat was amazing, one of the best things I've eaten and the carnitas torta was great too, both around $8. Hit Mr A's for a beverage w/ a nice view of the sunset. Later we met my friend arriving from LA for a drink at Tractor Room on 5th. I'd read about the Sage Germaine which was fine but not as good as on paper. They had a ton of interesting drinks ($10 range) and the patio was nice, very quiet on a Tues. nite. Grabbed some decent tacos at El Zarape, had never had a calamari one before. A stop at Lancers Bar (good internet jukebox) then Live Wire, another cool old school bar w/ a great jukebox.
Wed. we wandered around Gaslamp and stopped at Rolando's to split a plate of rolled tacos. Then we walked thru Hillcrest and North Park to hit Polite Provisions for their $5 drink happy hour. Very nice rum and gin cocktails (photo below) plus ordered some Brussels sprouts from next door, biggest sprouts I've seen. Back to Mission Beach to regroup, got a drink at Saskas Steakhouse then over to Urban Solace for a nice dinner. Everything sounded great on the menu. I went with bacon and leek stuffed trout while G. had duck with a yummy corn pudding. We started with sweatbreads in a mustard sauce w/ kale. Dessert was salted caramel pot de creme. Last stop was Toronado, who serve a million beers (and the same bartender from Lancer's). Thurs. morning I had a coupon for Mission Café and since it was so good, we went back (I never repeat restaurants) for an amazing breakfast of eggs w/ chicken sausage and some of the best home fries along with a single blackberry pancake. Really good food there. So a fairly good range of spots during my 3 days there, thanks for the suggestions.