The Range Kitchen & Cocktails

In Uncategorized on August 24, 2011 by sandiegodiningandrec

The Range Kitchen Cocktails

My friends and I tried Hillcrest’s latest new restaurant, The Range, this weekend and had mixed feelings.

The space is excellent. It is well designed, very hip and trendy, and has an air of fun.

The new owners opened up the second floor, I believe, which creates a nice balcony-like space overlooking the rest of the restaurant for diners who don’t want to be in the thick of the action on the ground floor which is more hustle and bustle.

The food and drink prices are reasonable, but we went on a busy night so the service was good, but not great. They forgot to give us silverware and a few other things.

My friends had burgers which they said were ok, but nothing to write home about.

I had one of their signature dishes, the beef brisket, which was dry as a bone. It was so dry that if it  had been near an open flame I think the whole thing would have gone up in smoke. However, the sweet potato fries were good though and the coleslaw was definitely homemade. But I suppose those are two dishes that would be fairly hard to mess up.

Overall, I would recommed going to The Range if you want a drink before having dinner elsewhere, or you just want to have a drink and snack on some fries.




Authentic Mexican Food at El Comal

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2011 by sandiegodiningandrec

Authentic Mexican Food at El Comal

 A friend of my recently purchased a GroupOn deal online which offered $30 worth of Mexican food for $15 at El Comal in North Park.

I’d never been before so my friend offered to treat me to dinner. Of course I agreed immediately. Delicious Mexican food for free? Let’s go!

El Comal is a cute little restaurant tucked in to a quiet residential neighborhood in North Park. If it wasn’t sign posted from the street you wouldn’t know it’s there.  

They have indoor and patio seating and the decor has very much a family restaurant atmosphere.

The food was delicious. We ordered five appetizers to sample all of their yummy offerings.

As you can see from the photo, the portions are much larger than we expected so go with a BIG APPETITE.

I recommend the Sopes and my friend particularly liked the Ensalada de Nopal, cactus salad.

And I would recommend washing it down with a delicous Mexican beer, Modelo.

If you are looking for some authentic, home-style Mexican food El Comal is the place to go!


Brunch at Origano – Hillcrest’s newest Italian restaurant

In Uncategorized on August 3, 2011 by sandiegodiningandrec

Brunch at Origano – Hillcrest’s newest Italian restaurant

I recently had  brunch at Hillcrest’s newest Italian restaurant, Origano, which is located on bustling 5th Avenue – considered ‘restaurant row’ in this trendy San Diego neighborhood.

My friend and I had initially decided to eat at the popular Tractor Room, but discovered the wait was nearly an hour just for brunch so we decided to change gears and try its sister restaurant Hash House A Go Go down the street, but the wait for a table was about an hour also.

So, we walked across the street to the new Italian restaurant, Origano, to see if they were serving lunch, and sure enough, they actually had a brunch menu – and most importantly – there was no wait!

We were seated on the patio immediately, and I had a menu and a delicous Mimosa within minutes. My guest opted for a blueberry mojito which looked delicious with crushed ice and blueberries garnished with sprigs of freshly picked mint.

My guest ordered the American breakfast platter which looked delicous. It consisted of two eggs any style, bacon or sausage, and toast, topped off with a generous serving of hash browned potatoes.

I opted for the eggs benedict and instead of ham, they agreed to substitute it with smoked salmon. And I skipped the potatoes in favor of fresh fruit. It was sublime.  The eggs were perfectly cooked, and the hollandaise was exquisite while the fruit was beautifully displayed on the plate.

We were so chuffed by our great ‘new find’ that my friend and I splurged and got a second drink. But mine was much cheaper. On Sunday’s their Mimosas are only $3 each.

I definitely recommend Origano, even if you can get into the other nearby restaurants. It’s worth a try.


Hiking Mount Woodson

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 by sandiegodiningandrec

Hiking Mount Woodson

A few months ago I climbed Mount Woodson for the third time.

I don’t often do the same hikes more than once or twice, but I particularly like this hike because it has the right mix of gradients and scenery.

Mount Woodson is part of the Poway Recreation Area and the trailhead is located near Lake Poway which is nestled in the foothills surrounding the eastern side of the City of Poway in San Diego’s North County.

A large grassy park surrounds the southwest shore of the lake. You will see families picnicking, children playing ball and recreational fishing boats on the lake itself as you climb up to reach the trailhead.

The trail meanders up the side of Mount Woodson. As you ascend you will pass boulders the size of small cars and seasonal vegetation as you breathe in the stunning views of Lake Poway and the surrounding countryside.

As you approach the summit, there is a remarkable, razor-sharp “boulder flake” on the left, about 0.2 mile from Woodson’s highest point. The boulder looks like a diving board made of stone as it juts out over what looks like a seriously deep drop.

I decided to be brave and venture out onto the nature-made diving board for a quick picture, and found  myself scrambling back to terra firma seconds after the camera “clicked.”  But it was well worth the effort as I made it my Facebook profile photo to impress my less vertically ambitious friends.

The hike is about 7 miles round trip from the trail head near the lake to the summit, and it took us about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

The hike is well worth the effort and the views from the top are stunning.

Remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen and maybe a light lunch to eat when you reach the summit.

For directions on how to get there:

From Interstate 15, exit Rancho Bernardo Road, travel east 4 miles to Lake Poway Road, turn left and follow to the park entrance gate.   The address is 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, California 92064.

There is a $5 charge to park in the Poway Recreation Area parking lot.


Craft Beers & Thin Coal-fired Pizza at Urbn

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 by sandiegodiningandrec

 Craft Beers & Coal-fired Pizza at Urbn

I ventured into the hip and trendy neighborhood of North Park last week to meet a friend for after work drinks and pub grub, and my friend suggested that we meet at a cool new bar/eatery called Urbn, not the ‘Urban” that I entered into my phone’s GPS.  (Vowels are soooo 2010.)

As I entered the establishment, I thought to myself, “what a cool use of space.”

The owners have created a light, airy and very spacious venue in what was a 5,000 sq. ft. warehouse.

The look is deconstructed minimalist with exposed brick walls, a waxed concrete floor, and tall country chic wooden tables – all of which are complemented by rustic dinnerware that includes growlers (old-fashioned jugs) of beer.

Urbn specializes in craft beers, most of which are local brews, and New Haven-style super thin crust pizzas that are cooked in a coal-fire furnace, made to order.

My friend and I made it in time for happy hour and got a super deal.

Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. you can buy a growler of beer for $18 which includes a large specialty pizza for free.

Little did we know that a growler contained just over four pints of beer, so it was fortunate that another friend belatedly decided to join us.

The beer was delicious. We had the North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner which was light and refreshing for a summer evening, yet still had a distinct taste and flavor often lacking in lighter beers.

We shared a white pizza topped with mozzarella, pepperoni, and fresh basil. The crust was cooked to perfection and the toppings were just the right combination of flavors. Simple and delicious.

Urbn’s sister bar/restaurant is Bar Basic which is located downtown and has been a longtime favorite of mine for pre and post Padre game food and drinks. The venue, food and drinks are more or less the same, but Urbn is a hop, skip and a jump from my house whereas Bar Basic is further afield and, alas, too far away for me to be a regular haunt.

I definitely recommend Urbn, especially during the happy hour special.

And because of my visit I got to add another word to my restaurant lexicon, growler.  It’s not a jug; it’s a growler.


New ‘Eats’ at EmpireHouse

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2011 by sandiegodiningandrec

New ‘Eats’ at Empire House

A new restaurant called Empirehouse  has arrived in Hillcrest near the corner of 4th Avenue and University.

I went with a friend to try it out over the weekend and found it reasonably priced, the service was very friendly and attentive, and the food was DELICIOUS!

The service is first rate and the staff went out of their way to ensure that we were comfortable and well looked after.

We were sitting outside on the patio in the evening, and as it grew colder (I was wearing shorts) the owner asked if we’d like the heat lamp which was on the other side of the restaurant.

We felt guilty asking them to move this monstrous lamp so far, but we were chilly and acquiesced.

Under the glowing warmth of the heat lamp, I had the three taco combo that included a tuna ahi taco, chicken taco and beef taco. The meat was cooked to perfection and the tacos married a wonderful array of flavors and fillings. One of the best taco combos I’ve had in years.

My guest had the sliders and raved about how yummy they were.

The beer list is extensive and the wine list is carefully selected. I had the Cabernet.

If you go, start your meal with a chilled glass of prosecco.

This place gets five stars in my book, and even better for me that they are around the corner!