I've been to San Diego for so many reasons, but never to explore as a tourist. As an average SoCal kid, your trips to San Diego were probably for the same reasons -- the zoo or Sea World. I also have driven down to visit family or to... eat or drink craft beer.
Lunch was on my mind so I suggested we take a look at the new Little Italy Food Hall. A small food hall with six vendors and one bar. The seating area was small extends to the front patio. There some elevated bar type tables without any seating for those that want to grab a bite and run.
I suggested we do a little food crawl in the food hall once I saw Ambrogia15, a Milan-style pizza food stand brought to San Diego by three Milan natives. My judge of a good pizza is always to go with the margherita and top it with the upgraded choice of mozzarella di bufala compana (from Italy). The paper-thin pizza was very simple, yet delicious and satisfied my brief pizza craving. All the flavors I was expecting with a different crust from the Neopolitan-style pizza.
My aunt loves lobsters so I suggested we get the 3 taco combo plate from Wicked Main Lobster, which also has a location at Liberty Public Market. Not quite satisfying of a bite I felt I tasted more cabbage than anything else.
At first, I walked by this Peruvian-ish donburi spot. I did a quick Google search and discovered the chef worked at Matsuhisa in Miami. I walked over and he recommended this Single Fin donburi bowl which puts a little bit of everything in it and some '"extra love" from chef Antonio Quindere, a chef who went to culinary school in Lima, Peru. From presentation to taste, I thought this bowl could easily cost more at a find dining restaurant. My favorite bite in the food hall.
Here are my tourists that asked me to be their tour guide and take them around San Diego -- my mom (left) and aunt.
I told them about this dessert establishment that seems to be the most popular in the area with thousands of Yelp reviews and they wanted to take a look. We could not leave without trying their most popular dessert.
Next up, we drove over to Seaport Village to take a look. We hired this young man from Massachusetts to take us around in his pedicab for $40.
My aunt also wanted to visit Old Town San Diego. I never knew about its existence until researching places to take my aunt and mom. It was extremely touristy and typical of the old towns I've visited in Sacramento and other cities. Nothing out of the ordinary for me.
On my hot list and must-eat list in San Diego is the newly opened El Jardin located just outside Liberty Public Market. El Jardin's chef is Top Chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins who previously was the chef at the defunct Bracero Cocina -- a restaurant I drove down to San Diego for my birthday a while back. The restaurant is located Liberty Pubic Market food hall which we walked through before dinner. If you're a craft beer connoisseur, I would definitely stop and have a drink inside Mess Hall.
Instead of mezcal, I opted for this shot of bacanora from Rancho Tepua. They also offered raicilla and sotol on my menu which I've had before. Bacanora was something new for me.
The disappointment for me was this bone marrow and octopus tacos. The tortilla disintegrated as placed the octopus topped with bone barrow in my mouth. Had this made this dish into a something that was not a taco, I might have enjoyed it more. The presentation of this dish wasn't really that appealing to me as well.
Baja Yellowtail Tostada | raw yellowtail tuna dressed in chilaco kosho, avocado, cucumber, sesame, and mayo. They brought this dish to me that I didn't order. I'm not sure if it was a mix-up with the server and the kitchen. Of the two dishes, this was my favorite. The shortrib taquitos my aunt ordered was underseasoned.
The service was very good and felt like an upscale restaurant. It was a satisfying meal with room for improvement with a couple of dishes we tried.
We finished off our day trip in La Jolla. My aunt has never been and wanted to see it. The weather wasn't so great, but I enjoyed watching people swim in our frigid Pacific coast. I originally didn't want to do this trip, but I managed to make the best of it and still enjoy San Diego doing some touristy things I never cared about doing before.
I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling to another country. I hope my adventures inspire you to eat well and travel often.