just back from the video-techy siggragh conference in san diego. boy has the gaslamp area boomed with the new convention center, apt buildings and stadium. so we stayed at hotel la jolla by the shores and park manor suites in hillcrest. here is the rundown:
ROPPONGI: best happy hour deal in the usa? prob so, top notch cali-foodie-fusion tapas and drinks for half price. from best to last, we liked the seared ahi&crab napoleon w/ seven spice sesame sauce--very very good, the scallop over latkes w/ sundried tomato hollandaise sauce--i was dubious and i was wrong it was great, fois gras w/ japanese pear and mandarian oranges in tamarind sauce--pretty rich, and finally the lamb chops in cilantro hoisin sauce w/ crispy shredded potatos and basil brushetta--good but the sauce overpowers. with drinks the cost was under $50 for two-yeah, wow! reminded me of a better version of the old TAPASTRY in nyc.
ROBERTO'S by the big dipper roller coaster. decent fried fish taco, bad carnitas taco. greasy.
MIXX: the menu was just too rich and fussy for me so i ordered what was advertised as a burger and salad. both the salad and burger had cheese unannounced on the menu which is a big peeve of mine. worse, the meat was awful. however, the bun was grilled nicely and the greens, etc. were fine. spouse had roast chicken w/ a bread/mushroom base which was pretty good. we split a bottle of some reisling style from the all-cali wine menu which was eh.
SUSHI ITTO: i just wanted some sushi so i stopped in here for lunch from a bike ride. the rainbow maki roll was the winner. it has crab surimi, cucumber, seabass, shrimp, salmon, octopus, tuna and avocado so you can see it was nice. i also had torigai (clam) and mongo ika (giant squid) sushiwhich are a bit unusual for nyc, they were just ok.
TASTE OF THAI: green curry duck and thai iced tea. gringo-ized, but seemed real fresh so was pretty good.
finally got to try this after all the chowhound forum hype. the coffee w/ steamed milk was a bit astringent to me, but the creamy milk sure helped it hit the spot. great barista who cares seemed to be the thing here. however, i then had a double espresso and that was outstanding so PEETY won me over (that prices are half the price of the evil mermaid helped too).
EL ZARAPE: pretty darn good tacos you got here. i had the batter fried fish taco, the calamari burrito and a jamaica liquado fruit drink. i don't like crema on my tacos but i sure did on this one. the calamari was tender. salsa were just ok. what a great little hole in the wall for taco fans.
SOUTH BEACH BAR AND GRILL: this is holy ground for fish tacos of any stripe. i had a grilled shark taco and a wahoo taco, no cheese or cream. washed down with full sail ale. very non-surf decor and weak selection of local brew, too bad. hit the pier&waves afterward.
HODAD'S: awesome vanilla malted milkshake (major bonus points for being served in the metal mixer) and a well made veg unburger hit the spot after the beach. just an outstanding institution.
america's cup harbor:
the marinas on scott street saved me after an ass whipping lance armstrong-ish bike ride around point loma. not rec for the 40y.o. weekend warrior like me.
LA ESPECIAL STAND: outstanding carnitas taco. i 'especially' liked the standard salsa fresca, sliced carrots,whole green onion and whole red radish toppings. wow, that is great topping. the tourists all walk by, but it's right there under their noses. pretty funny.
EL GUERO: at the end of avenida revolucion on agua caliente. this is it, the holy grail, the mother of all taco stands. the finest damn stand in the world. and the coolest looking. perfect. i knew it would be good as i got closer because the street gets lined with dusty auto repair shops--a good omen (hmm, too bad this theory does not pan out back near my work in hunts point in the bronx). the repair guys were eating the carne asada and the rural vaquero guys were eating the offal stuff. i had a tripe taco and a cabeza taco. both stewed tender and tasty as could ever be. then i went for two carne asada tacos. for those i tried the finest selection of fresh salsa and mole sauces i have ever laid eyes on. greatness.
CHIKA JAI: venerable olde spanish place by the old jai lai fronton. i had to go because of the hemingway link which i'm a sucker for. very cool place, traditional spanish menu. i had a vino tinto and a plate of salchichas (boiled sliced sausages). muy macho.
EL SABROSO brand guacamole tortilla chips made in los angeles---from the 7/11. i ate two bags nuff said. limon flavored LAYS were good too. sorry to miss JIMMY CARTER'S diner looked correct.****wonder bread was disguised as bagels.****suprisingly very little local beer--wasn't good either.**** you cannot get food after 9:00pm-ish outside tourist-only cheesey gaslamp area. forget it they are closed (this means you HOTEL DEL CORONADO).****finally, the new sand-floored terrace W HOTEL bar was cool, the gaslamp THIN bar was queso.