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San Diego Restaurants


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#211 Kouign Aman

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Posted 06 July 2010 - 04:46 PM

Went back to Costa Brava this weekend.
Again with the shrimp ala plancha, the patatas ali & oli, lamb skewers and a few other favorites.
The special, some kind of pepper stuffed with seafood, and sauced w red pepper puree, was very good.
We also tried the sampler of ham etc: serrano ham (oh my), pork loin, chorizo, and manchego cheese.
The munchkin made herself happy with a 'sandwich' of serrano ham wrapped around slices of loin and chorizo, alternating with the shrimp. If she keeps up these expensive tastes, I'm gonna have to get her a job.

We have vowed to try the paella next time. The table next to us had the black paella. The squid ink turned the rice a dark blue, which looked very thematic with the red pepper & other garnish (red, white and blue).
We're also on for the bacon-wrapped dates.

The small person hunted down every molecule of raspberry sauce from the 'helada para ninos'. She was tickled pink that her dish of icecream had a special name.
"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

#212 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 11:57 PM

We had dinner last night at Bali Hai to say goodbye to chef Chris Powell, who is unfortunately leaving for Orange Country.
We ordered a few of our favorites including the plank-smoked albacore with seabeans and pickled mustard seeds, the dynamite steak roll with pickled baby mushrooms, the char siu duck with lup cheong sausage, and this kobe beef carpaccio with a touch of truffle oil and layers of delicate flavors (courtesy of the chef). It was great as always. Hopefully the new chef will be able to fill his shoes!

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#213 nibor

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:05 AM

That looks delicious! It also looks like your loss will be our gain. Where is he moving to in Orange County?

nibor

#214 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:33 AM

He has joined TAPS Fish House & Brewery.

#215 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 03:16 PM

Here are a few restaurants that I have discovered recently. I've been only once so I cannot comment on consistency, but I will definitely be back based on my first experience.

The Lion's Share (downtown/Marina district)
Beautiful craft cocktails on par with Noble Experiment, great charcuterie board including house-made terrine, perfectly cooked quail stuffed with dates and served with Puy lentils, excellent tagliatelle buffalo Bolognese with marrow.

Here are the cocktails that we sampled at the Lion's Share.
Federal Buffalo Stamp (left): Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon, ginger root, maple syrup
Monks Gone Wild (right): Strawberry-infused Pimm's, green Chartreuse, lemon, ginger beer

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Cyn City: Plymouth gin, Cynar, lemon juice, egg white, lemon peel, sugar rim

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The Smoking Goat (North Park)
It’s a tiny restaurant but they are currently expanding. My favorite dishes were the roasted bone marrow, and the duck breast with aligot and braised red cabbage served with a huckleberry gastrique sauce.

Kensington Grill (North Park)
Cucina Urbana’s little sister. The menu seems a little more limited than Cucina Urbana, but they still offer a good selection and interesting cocktails. The “hog bar” is fun for a sampling of pork items. I would avoid the “local farm greens” salad; for $9 it was really nothing special.

Beaumont’s Eatery (Birdrock)
I was pleasantly surprised by this place. The “Korean” duck confit tacos were delicious, and so was the grilled salad with romaine and radicchio.

Phuong Trang (Convoy)
Excellent Vietnamese food. I really liked the fried salted shrimp and the rice-paper wraps with char-grilled pork.

Pho Convoy Noodle House (Convoy)
Really good pho. We have been going to Pho T Cali on Clairemont Mesa Blvd for years, but I thought this was better. I always get the pho with everything (rare steak, flank, fatty brisket, tendon and tripe). We noticed their extensive selection of smoothies (which includes soursop, jackfruit, and durian!) but we did not get a chance to try them.

#216 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:54 PM

We tried another place that seems very promising: Local Habit (Hillcrest). Their chef is a Louisiana native and they had a crawfish boil this weekend.

We ate two platters of this (1.5 lb each):

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We also had andouille sausage, which had already been devoured by the time the picture was taken, and good local beers.


Lastly we had a disappointing experience at Union Kitchen & Tap (Encinitas) for brunch last week. Mediocre food (thick breakfast "flatbread" with greasy toppings, very blend smoked pork sliders with no texture), "craft" cocktail menu full of commercial cocktail mixers... I took a look at other peoples plates when I was leaving the restaurant and they did not look much better than ours. We won't be back any time soon.

#217 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 12:33 PM

I am adding Blue Ribbon Pizza (Encinitas) to the list of good spots. I finally went there last night after hearing a lot of good things about it. It's a tiny place that gets really packed. We had a table by the wood burning oven which is operated by chef/owner Wade Hageman, formerly of Blanca. The pizza was flawless - my favorite was their signature pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, lemon zest, red onion, and fresh basil with a thin and very flavorful crust. I also had a great burrata salad with arugula, served with toasted rustic bread on the side. The butterscotch pudding with caramel sauce, which is the only dessert on the menu, was really good too and devoured in a few seconds.

Edited by FrogPrincesse, 07 May 2012 - 12:40 PM.


#218 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:05 PM

Prepkitchen (Little Italy)
Although I am a big fan of Whisknladle (same team), I tried Prepkitchen in La Jolla a few times in the past and did not care for its limited menu. The food is usually well prepared, but not particularly memorable. The setting is quite basic too.
A new Prepkitchen opened fairly recently in Little Italy and resembles more Whisknladle with a comfortable room and a more ambitious menu. The large windows overlook Date Street where the farmers market takes place every Saturday. We had brunch there this Saturday and had a great time.
The cocktail menu has a few classics and some new creations.

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I have a weakness for the London Burning that I discovered at Whisknladle but decided to order the Stick and Rudder which, while not completely balanced, had an unexpected caramelized rosemary flavor.
My husband opted for an Ommegang beer.

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We started with a flatbread. Very thin crispy crust, and a topping of heirloom tomatoes and zucchini. A great start to the meal.


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We continued our meal with a couple of pork items: the porchetta sandwich and the pork belly tacos.

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The porchetta sandwich had plenty of meat and was very savory. Not as refined as the porchetta sandwich we had at Ariccia last week maybe, but still delicious.

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The pork belly tacos don't look like much on the picture but they were terrific. The meat was perfectly caramelized, and the sliced radishes were a great touch.

#219 patrickamory

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 01:05 PM

I'm not from San Diego obviously but... 8 pages and nothing on Saffron? I'm a huge fan of Su-Mei Yu's Thai cookbook, Cracking The Coconut. How is her restaurant - assuming it's still there?

#220 Honkman

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 09:31 PM

I'm not from San Diego obviously but... 8 pages and nothing on Saffron? I'm a huge fan of Su-Mei Yu's Thai cookbook, Cracking The Coconut. How is her restaurant - assuming it's still there?


Not very good - if you want Thai food in SD uour best options are Sab-e-lee and Siam Nara, both are decent but not great but still much better than Saffron

#221 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 10:39 PM

Saffron is quite popular and the food is ok, but it's nothing remarkable.
It is noticeably better when Su-Mei Yu is in the kitchen.

#222 patrickamory

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 06:35 PM

Good to know, thanks guys.

#223 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 01:57 PM

I went to Saffron last week to see if I wasn't a little harsh with my comments.

The sate chicken was incredibly tough and dry. Avoid (and don't be tempted by the low price).

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The drunken noodles were ok but not exactly subtle. Quite spicy.

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The Vietnamese noodles - superbland. The noodles were under the soy sprouts. Everything was fresh but it was just too basic.

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On the plus side, it is quite cheap. But the place itself is in bad need of a makeover and a major cleaning.

#224 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 04:44 PM

Another visit to Prepkitchen (Little Italy) last month.
The flatbread was, again, wonderful. The toppings change based on what is available at the local farmers' market.
We had to get the excellent pork belly tacos again. We also tried the chilaquiles from the brunch menu. We had tried something similar at La Jolla's prepkitchen a while back and should have known better. They were a soggy & boring mess.
The cocktails were good: this time we had London's Burning (their gin/avocado/lime/cilantro cocktail which was spicier than usual - actually a little too spicy), Two Cents In (a very tasteful concoction with bourbon, St Germain and Dubonnet) and Death in the Afternoon (Hemingway's classic with champagne and absinthe).

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I like this place a lot but will stay away from the brunch-type items next time, because there are many more interesting options on the menu.

#225 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 05:10 PM

Speaking of brunch, I think that Craft & Commerce does an excellent job in that area. At first glance, their brunch menu seems fairly limited but everything we have tried so far has been great: the smoked salmon - a generous portion served with soft boiled duck eggs and an herb salad, the chicken & waffle (a big stack of juicy fried chicken), and the duck leg cassoulet which was served with foie gras (!) before the ban. Prices are very reasonable too (around $10 - $12). And the best part - their cocktails are truly outstanding. If you go with a bunch of friends it's fun to share a bowl of punch. Phil Ward's touch on the cocktail program is obvious, and the two punches that I have had a chance to try, Mother's Ruin (gin, sweet vermouth, spiced tea, lemon, grapefruit, champagne) and the Guerilla Monsoon Punch (which is kind of a Mai Tai in punch form with dark Jamaican rum, white rum, lime, orgeat curacao, champagne) are a great value at $42 for the bowl. The punches are served in a vintage milk-glass punch bowl.

Here are a couple of other cocktails that are also very brunch-appropriate: French 75 and the Early Riser (bourbon, lemon, honey maple syrup, bacon bitters).

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#226 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 02:44 PM

It was reported a few days ago by Troy Johnson and Keli Dailey that Arsalun Tafazoli and Nate Stanton, the team behind Noble Experiment and Craft & Commerce, were working on a new project. Polite Provisions will be a bar with an adjacent restaurant, Soda & Swine, located on 30th & Adams. Chef Jason McLeod (who trained under Raymond Bland and Marco Pierre White) will be the executive chef, while Erick Castro (ex Bourbon & Branch) will be working on the bar program.

#227 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 04:30 PM

Brooklyn Girl is a restaurant that opened earlier this year in Mission Hills. I had my first meal there about a month ago; I believe that their original chef had already left. This must be one of the most pleasant kitchens to work in because it has large windows that open into the street with lots of light. The dining space itself is a little reminiscent of Cuccina Urbana - large, loft-like space, noisy and animated, with the bar in the middle.

We started off with some cocktails. They arrived in large glasses and were mediocre across the board for a place that claims to serve "craft cocktails". The namesake cocktail was ok; it's their take on the Brooklyn cocktail with Averna substituted for the Picon (and it came with an unfortunate layer of foam indicating that it had been shaken instead of stirred). The cantaloupe Manhattan seemed watered down, the Southern Bell was a weird spicy concoction with bell pepper, and their take on the whiskey sour (I forgot the name but it was an homage to someone's grandmother) was a monstrosity. It was so sweet and candy-like that my friends convinced me to send it back (a first for me as I am very uncomfortable complaining in restaurants). In short, don't order the cocktails.

Now that this is out of the way, the food... After the complementary popcorn (which is fun with the cocktails), we had the clam pizza, short rib gnocchi, ribeye steak with bone marrow and chimichurri, and the clams "casino" - a misnomer because these are steamed clams in broth (which was clear from the description in the menu).
The clams pizza was slightly undercooked and the clams a little rubbery. Everything else was great though. My dish, the clams "casino", was meant to be an appetizer but was actually an extremely generous portion of juicy clams for $12 I believe - a great deal. The steak and the short ribs were substantial and succulent. We left quite happy with the food. So I am sure that we will be back, but we will make sure to order wine next time!

The ribeye steak with bone marrow and chimichurri

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Short rib gnocchi

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Clams "casino"

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#228 Kouign Aman

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 05:56 PM

Recently had hotpot at Mr Dumpling in Kearny Mesa.
Everyone gets to play with their food :smile: .

There's a Taiwanese place opened up in the 99 Ranch. Havent tried it yet.
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#229 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 03:56 PM

I went back to Brooklyn Girl this weekend. The cocktail menu had changed and I was relieved to see that the bizarre whiskey sour from my first visit was gone. In any case, we got wine. For starters, we shared a generous pot of mussels with a cream broth, fries and crusty bread (heaven), and oyster po'boys (pretty good). For the mains, the whole roasted duck with ginger and honey was crispy and tender (the vegetables that came with it were remarkably bland, so it's a good thing we ordered the terrific roasted corn as a side) and the lamb shank was very satisfying. Someone got the chicken which seemed well prepared. Dessert was a disappointing cold (and somewhat dry) chocolate blackout cake, and a nice warm brownie that would have been perfect without the overly-sweet caramel sauce that came with it. Our friends loved the place. I agree that they do a great job.

#230 Honkman

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 01:21 PM

I went back to Brooklyn Girl this weekend. The cocktail menu had changed and I was relieved to see that the bizarre whiskey sour from my first visit was gone. In any case, we got wine. For starters, we shared a generous pot of mussels with a cream broth, fries and crusty bread (heaven), and oyster po'boys (pretty good). For the mains, the whole roasted duck with ginger and honey was crispy and tender (the vegetables that came with it were remarkably bland, so it's a good thing we ordered the terrific roasted corn as a side) and the lamb shank was very satisfying. Someone got the chicken which seemed well prepared. Dessert was a disappointing cold (and somewhat dry) chocolate blackout cake, and a nice warm brownie that would have been perfect without the overly-sweet caramel sauce that came with it. Our friends loved the place. I agree that they do a great job.


Interesting - there is a long discussion on Chowhound about how much Brooklyn Girl has gone bad after the recent change of exec chef. Many which liked them before a lot seemed to stop going there.

#231 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:58 PM

Interesting - there is a long discussion on Chowhound about how much Brooklyn Girl has gone bad after the recent change of exec chef. Many which liked them before a lot seemed to stop going there.

I've seen that but I've been there twice since the change and have been happy. For my first visit the chef had changed already. Our friends who are quite "picky" (in a good way) were impressed.

Edited by FrogPrincesse, 31 October 2012 - 03:06 PM.


#232 dwg

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 04:57 PM

I am going to be in San Diego in December and would appreciate some suggestions for places to eat. My preference is for places that serve interesting and excellent food without trying to do the Michelin starred service thing.

#233 Honkman

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 06:19 PM

San Diego is very spread out, so will you have a car and where are you staying ?

#234 dwg

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 11:26 AM

I will be staying downtown at the Hotel Palomar but am more than happy to take a taxi to a good restaurant.

#235 kalypso

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 09:56 AM

Well, you'll certainly be safe from that "Michelin starred service" thing in San Diego. If anything, service tends to be a little to much on the casual side, much like San Diego itself. The usual suspects downtown are

Cafe Chloe - http://www.cafechloe.com/
Cowboy Star - http://thecowboystar.com/
JSix (in the Hotel Solamar, also a Kimpton property) - http://www.jsixrestaurant.com/

Saltbox in your hotel is fairly well regarded

Downtown, the Gaslamp and to some extent Little Italy all cater more to the tourist and convention trade than locals. There are hundreds of restaurants in the downtown/Gaslamp/Little Italy corridor, all with varying degrees of competency.

For a glass of Italian wine and tasty panini try Songo di Vino - http://www.sognodivi....com/index.html - in Little Italy
Bencotto - http://www.lovebencotto.com/ and Underbelly - http://www.godblessunderbelly.com/ - both also in Little Italy get a lot of love. Prep Kitchen tends to be a bit uneven and trends young. Little Italy is easily reachable via the Blue or Green line trolley from downtown. Depending upon where you pick up the trolley, LI is only 1- 4 stops away. Get off at the Little Italy stop an walk East 1 block to India St., which is pretty much 3-blocks of restaruants from which to have your pick. And if you're in town on a Saturday morning, check out the Little Italy farmers market, you can pretty much graze it for breakfast or lunch, from crepes to fresh local uni it's an easy market to eat your way through.

Best view of the bay is probably at the Bali Hai - http://www.balihairestaurant.com/ - which has been a SD landmark on Shelter Island for 50+ years. It went through a major renovation several years ago where the menu was seriously revamped in addition to the facility. The killer Mai Tais are legendary, tho' I, personally, find them too strong and somewhat distasteful. Last time I was there I had an excellent pork tenderloin dish. The Bali Hai is an easy cab ride from downtown.

Also with spectacular views of the bay are CLevel Lounge - http://www.cohnresta...s/island-prime/ - and Candelas - http://www.candelas-...com/index2.html - in Coronado. Be forewarned, C Level is part of a large and very successful local restaurant conglomerate which is pretty universally disliked on local SD food forums. CLevel is fine for drinks and apps, less successful for a full meal. Candelas does upscale Mexican and they do it pretty well. There is also a Candelas branch in downtown SD on 4th, but the Coronado location is doing a better job right now. You can take the water ferry across the bay, IIRC it leaves from the pier at the foot of Broadway, tho' your hotel should be able to provide you with the most accurate information. If you're from an area where the Mexican isn't too good, Candelas is a good introduction to the emerging upscale Mexican trend.

El Take it EZ - http://eltakeiteasy.com/ - is bringing a bit of Baja to San Diego and keeping it local and sustainable at the same time. Very interesting bar program with tequila and mezcal. The big sister restaurant, The Linkery - http://thelinkery.com/blog/ - wass one of the first, if not the first, local restaurants to really focus on, and do, the farm-to-table seriously and well. Everything may not always work at either restaurant all the time, but they both are always doing something interesting. Both are located within walking distance of each other in North Park, which is probably a $20 cab ride (if not more) in each direction. But if you make it that far, the 30th St. corridor in North Park is a vibrant casual dining part of town with a number of places devoted to the craft beer movement and bistro-style dining. If a cab were to drop you off in the heart of North Park, University & 30th, you could walk 4 blocks in any direction and find any number of pretty decent places to try, from vegetarian/vegan to fried bacon.

Enjoy your trip.

Edited by kalypso, 17 November 2012 - 10:06 AM.


#236 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 04:01 PM

I am going to be in San Diego in December and would appreciate some suggestions for places to eat. My preference is for places that serve interesting and excellent food without trying to do the Michelin starred service thing.


Lots of good suggestions from kalypso. Also if you take a chance to review this thread there are quite a few places that fit your description.
This other thread has more recommendations.

#237 Chris Hennes

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 01:44 PM

Any lunch recommendations within walking distance of Broadway and 6th (Downtown/Gaslamp)?

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#238 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 06 January 2013 - 08:46 PM

Chris,
I am afraid that there are not too many great options downtown - most are geared towards the convention crowds and tourists.
Within walking distance, there is Café Chloé. It's a cute little French-style bistro. Nothing earth-shattering there, but it's very pleasant for lunch.
I would also recommend the Lion's Share (good food & cocktails), but they don't open until 4 pm.

#239 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 01:25 PM

Lately I've been going a lot to Carnitas Snack Shack. It's a little food stand with a tiny kitchen that chef Hanis Cavin, formerly from Kensington Grill, opened about a year ago in North Park. There is always a line. They have just remodeled the back and there is now an expanded patio area with lots of greenery and a fun pig-themed mural.

The menu celebrates pork in many of its forms, but there is also a delicious beet terrine with goat cheese and spinach, and specials that changes on a daily basis. Recently they have been offering whiskey and bacon dark chocolate truffles that are terrific.

The beet terrine
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The pork belly appetizer, which is a nicely-sized portion served with a little frisee and shaved radish salad on the side
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I usually get the BLT and ask for pork belly instead of ham. It's served on thick toasted brioche bread.
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#240 kalypso

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:28 PM

Good call on Carnitas Snack Shack. Really like it.

Also good call for Chris on Lion Share. I also might send him to JSix for the farm to table thing, they also do a pretty decent burger at lunch.