Hi Hounds...I'm back home in Mexico and want to say thank you to everyone who helped make my San Diego visit a great success. All of the Chow picnickers get another two-thumbs-up for a fabulous afternoon of friendship and wonderful food. Phee, I printed your crunchy stuff recipe and will make it for a party for sure. And Buddha, the ribs (including the *ahem* doggy bag) were out of this world--and your organizational skills deserve a big gold star.
OK, so what else did I eat?
Two suppers at Super Cocina--the first time was stellar and the second time was a little disappointing. The first time I had pollo borracho and carne de puerco en salsa picante; the second time I had a different carne de puerco and a chile relleno, both times with rice and beans. The first time I had their usual tortillas, which were soggy and overly steamed or microwaved. The second time I got smart and requested tortillas heated on the comal, which they gladly provided. 100% better.
One lunch at Lee's Garden, where the things I usually ordered in the past (hot/sour soup, lemongrass chicken, seafood chow fun) were as good as they were in the past, although it's obvious that the physical plant has definitely seen better days. I probably won't go back there in the future.
One dinner at Celadon. The ambience is lovely, the service attentive, and the food quite good. It's not the best Thai food I've eaten in San Diego, but it was a wonderful evening with old friends. The food was actually secondary.
One dinner at Nicolosi's--still fantastic basic Italian, although I think it's overpriced. I had the lasagna, my companion had the linguine with white clam sauce. Both meals came with salad, bread, and a tiny antipasto. We only drank iced tea and had no dessert; the bill was nearly $50. I won't even talk about what the prices used to be like. *sigh*
One dinner at the Dumpling House on Convoy (at the request of friends). We shared potstickers, shrimp/scallion dumplings, honey glazed shrimp, seafood lo mein, and kung pao chicken. I wasn't thrilled with any of it; the potstickers lacked ginger, the shrimp was overly sweet (and so was the kung pao chicken; it seemed to be sauced with pure unadulterated hoisin sauce, which was odd). The seafood lo mein was so-so.
One double-double with grilled onions at In 'n' Out. Had to; there's nothing like it here.
One breakfast at Antique Row Cafe. We had eggs with a biscuit/gravy, spinach scramble, and something I can't remember. Very good.
One breakfast at Rudford's. Spinach omelet; a special that included two eggs, three enormous pancakes, and some sausage; and the ham hash/egg dish. Great, although the service was poor--but hey, it's Rudford's.
And the star restaurant meal? Pho Pasteur, at Linda Vista Road and Mesa College Drive. I've eaten there hundreds of times, although not for the last 6 years or more; it's consistently the best Vietnamese food in town--IMHO. We shared #57 (shrimp/pork rolls), #108 (rice in earthen pot), #124a (rice stick noodles with 5 spice chicken), and #176 (I think), curry shrimp. If you haven't been there, GO. The menu is so long you could eat there for months and not have the same thing twice. The food is fantastic. The day I was there three of the specials were spicy chopped frog, curried spicy goat, and alligator in coconut milk.
Another star: the wonderful lunch Gayla graciously prepared for me. Delicious fideos, a great salad, and watermelon--and the excellent company of new friends. Thank you.
The rest of the time we ate at home, where the food was superb. Lots of California sweet corn--a Moroccan beef stew that was just wildly good--a curried chicken salad, ditto--just lots of great food and wonderful company.
I had hoped to get to Island Spice on Market near 30th, but time ran out. Somebody go eat jerk chicken in my name. I also had hoped to get to Ba Ren, but my companions voted for Dumpling House instead.
It was a wonderful trip and I look forward to seeing you all again, either here or there. Un abrazo fuerte para todos--a big hug for everyone.