Thanks for once again stopping by to read mmm-yoso!!!, a blog about food. Kirk is dealing with some connectivity issues right now, Ed (from Yuma) is recovering from a short vacation (not in Yuma) and Cathy is connected and rested, so she is writing today.
It's an El Niño year out here in Southern California and a day can range from chilly-cold to rainy to windy to hot. It's kind of fun to never know what to expect when stepping out in the morning. A few weeks ago, The Mister and I stepped out and drove a short way to have breakfast.
Patty's opened on Lake Murray Boulevard in August 2012 in the Big Lots anchored mall, across the street from the Ross Dress for Less anchored mall, on the North side of La Mesa, about two doors down from Papa's Donuts.Neat and clean, the small restaurant offers a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, has whiteboard specials and opens at 7 a.m. every day. The Gyros Omelet, made with feta, tomato and onion and served with pita , sliced tomatoes and tzatziki sauce was a whiteboard special ($8) one weekday. (It is regularly $9.95) Thick and heavy, the flavors melded well and we had leftovers to bring home. Mariana's Special Sandwich ($9.95) is a sort of craving for me. A plain, toasted bagel with cream cheese, over easy egg, ham and bacon and served with home fries (or hash browns) seems to satisfy just about every early morning craving I have, all in one bite.
The gyros and chicken salad ($11.95) is very large and served with dressing and tzatziki sauce on the side, along with toasty warm pita bread. Both the gyros and chicken are flavorful and moist.
The 1/2 lb gyros burger ($8.95) is great and adding onion rings ($2.95) makes this a meal for two. A thick patty, lightly char grilled and topped with all the gyros made each bite enjoyable. The onion rings were thick and fried properly.
We'll be back for more meals at this great neighborhood Cafe.
Patty's Cafe 6155 Lake Murray Boulevard La Mesa, CA 91942 (619)462-1922 Website Open Mon-Sat 7-9, Sun 7-3
SuperNatural Sandwiches 7094 Miramar Rd San Diego, CA 92121
Another favorite that I hadn't been to in a while. They've now got a lunch special, a sandwich with fries and a drink.....don't quite remember the price as I was enjoying talking to the owner.
Crisp pork gyro.....just like Greece! Well seasoned, crisp, enrobed in a nice warm pita. The owner also gave me a little cup of a nice sauce which went well with the fries. I need to come here more often....it's cheaper than a flight to Athens.
Zgara Greek Grill 1730 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109
Best Donuts Bakery & Deli:
Heading to work early (530 am) with no time for lunch on my schedule. The solution? A stop at Best Donuts for the A la Mexicana.
Warm and fluffy bolillo, eggs, a smear of beans, gooey melted cheese, salsa, jalapenos (to wake me up), and tomato. What's not to like? I'm sure there are little shops like this everywhere....it's just a matter of finding them.
Best Donuts Bakery & Deli 4714 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
The nice folks here have put up their "Grand Opening" sign so I thought I'd drop by. There seems to have been a few changes to the menu from my previous visits, but the place looks like it's doing well. Nice change of pace for the area and heck, Faye seems to like the place. Not having much time, I took my El Cubano to go.
The sandwich seems to have a bit less meat than before, but in terms of proportion things went well together. The pork still has flavor and isn't "the other white meat", the Swiss cheese adds a nice milky flavor......and those pickles, well they add the acid and tartness to the sandwich. I do enjoy the plantain chips, which are sliced very thin, thus making it crisp. I need to head back to Embargo Grill for the Medianoche and compare.
Havana Grill 5450 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Cali Baguette Express - Convoy:
Banh Mi Trung is probably one of my favorite breakfast items....though perhaps I'd take a good noodle soup or natto gohan with egg ahead of it. Cali Express is an easy choice, they bake their own bread (though I think Paris makes a better baguette) and who can deny the wonderfulness of a fried egg sandwich with Maggi on it?
And don't forget about the sneaky jalapeno....now that'll wake you up, right? Again, it's about ratios and proportion to me......the pickled veggies, the fried egg, the light and airy bread, cilantro....you get the point, right?
Cali Baguette Express 4425 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
It's been a bust couple of weeks...running around means getting more than my share of sandwiches. This doesn't mean that you give up variety though as these three examples show.
Cali Baguette Express (Convoy):
It had been quite a while since I'd been to Cali Baguette Express. Instead of my usual Banh Mi Trung (egg banh mi), I ordered the Nem Nuong.
It was nice light, good proportion of ingredients. The best thing about the sandwich was the bread....it had just come out of the oven. Nothing like light, crisp, flaky, yeasty, warm, goodness....
Cali Baguette Express 4425 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
I recently had the chance to take a friend and colleague to lunch. She's from the Midwest so I always like to have her try something new. The last time it was Izakaya Sakura...this time, I thought SuperNatural Sandwiches would be a nice stop.....
And it was. We got my favorite, The Siren.
The place seems to have hit stride; the shrimp was plump and moist, it seems that they've ramped up the heat as this was quite spicy. The brioche, lobster style roll was nice; buttery, but not too greasy. The aioli had that nice hit of richness.
SuperNatural Sandwiches 7094 Miramar Rd San Diego, CA 92121
Like I mentioned before; I've been getting some nice recommendations recently. The same person who mentioned the Beef Salad at Pho Ha Noi and the Rikimaru Miso Tonkotsu Tsukemen at RakiRaki also mentioned a few other places. One of them was Zgara Grill which replaced Pop's Jersey Steaks. Was sorry to see Pop's go. Anyway, I've never really had any Greek Food, even a simple Gyro, which reminded me of the stuff in Greece. And based on the location I had my doubts.
Yes, even the simple gyro here in San Diego just isn't right....most of it is highly processed "mystery meat".....
So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is real meat. I was surprised the first time I visited Greece to find that most of the gyros there were pork. And so it is here; pork and chicken; sliced thinly, layered on the vertical spit, with a wonderful knob of fat topping this thing of beauty.
Everything is made to order; so if you order the souvlaki or kebob you'll have to wait for a few minutes. The owner, a rather serious looking gentleman is very nice. He told me everything except the pita is made from scratch.
So naturally, I had to have a Pork Gyro Sandwich ($6.48). He tilted the meat toward the heat....I could see it get brown and crisp. He brought out a saw thing-a-ma-giggy.....it buzzed and slice thin pieces of crisp pork falling into the pan. The final product looked like this.
Here this is a much better shot......
It's quite a sight. Eating it ASAP is recommended; the warm pita enrobing crisp bits of pork; somewhat smokey and not overly seasoned, delici-yoso, the tzatziki is creamy, but not too salty, the red onions add the pungency; this is one heck of a sandwich. That pork is quite delicious...those crispy bits are great.
I've been back at least once (sometimes twice) a week since then.
I've had the Kebob; a combination of beef and lamb.
Which was nice; though the ratio of ingredients seemed a bit for a sandwich.....
Same with the Souvlaki Pork; which had a nice delicate flavor and was ever so moist and fairly tender. I think both of these would probably do much better solo in a platter, which I intend to do soon.....as soon as I can get over the pork gyros.
The Loukanico, which I bought as an "appetizer" was nicely grilled.....rather mild in flavor.
What really blew me away was the wonderfully powerful Feta Spread....man, this was really good. The owner gave me some with the sausage saying that it went really well with the sausage.....or anything else for that matter.
Meanwhile, over the course of my visits I'd gotten to know the staff. The owner is from Rodos and it's a kick talking to him about places like Lindos, Stegna, and Symi. Travel always brings us a little bit closer to our food and this is no exception.
Of course the pork gyros.....well that makes me a regular customer of Zgara.
As much as we enjoyed Rhodes, we had been kind of underwhelmed at the food we'd had. It's the tourist trade that brings in the money, I get it. It wasn't until the end of our stay on Rhodes that we found a place, a humble taverna in the Old Town, just a block or so off the main tourist track, named Taverna Kostas.
You walk in and it looks like a simple little shop.
The first time we visited, we peeked in the front and had our doubts, but the older gentleman sitting at the table peeling garlic, stood up and warmly greeted us...."welcome, welcome....come in!" And we couldn't turn back. This was Kostas, whom we loved.......warm and friendly, with a gentle demeanor.
We were led to a much brighter and nicer dining area at the rear of the restaurant.
There were no other workers in the place.........everything was done by one man....and done with great joy.
When we mentioned how much we loved the olive oil he served, Kostas, smiled and said he got it from one of his relatives.....
Then proceeded to show on the standard issue Rhodes Taverna paper tablecloth, cum map where he got the olive oil from.
When a larger party came in, we noticed they set the table themselves, putting on the tablecloth and getting water.........as they conversed with Kostas, it became clear that they were regular visitors who came to Rhodes every year and ate here....they knew the drill.
The next night, after walking past several places, we decided to head back to Kostas. After walking in, we set our own table, which just delighted Kostas! "Good, good....thank you....you are now family!"
The item the Missus enjoyed the most were the Gigantes Plaki.
And while some of the other dishes were less memorable, none of them were bad at all.
Of all the meals we had on Rhodes, it was this humble taverna that we enjoyed the most. On another funny note, one of the restaurant owners of a place in Rhodes I posted on has sent me a couple of emails ordering me to delete my post or be slapped with a law suit....really? C'mon, get serious. Just kind of tells you about the folks who run that place.....
And then you have Taverna Kostas. A little place on a side street with well priced, unpretentious, honest food.... and one heck of a nice owner.
You really can't complain about the view of Pedi Harbor frrom our room.
There was something wonderfully chill and relaxing about the place; though I had a hard time falling asleep because it was so quiet.
And for some reason we were famished.....
And I do enjoy tomatoes and cucumbers with breakfast.
After breakfast we took a walk and sat in front of the general store watching folks going to church. As it got a bit hotter we headed back to the room, showered, checked out, and caught the bus back to Gialos. Somehow, time had passed quickly and we were getting a bit hungry. So we walked along the waterfront and alleyways looking for a place to eat.
Most looked like tourist traps and we weren't inspired by the looks of the food. We decided to head back to Taverna Trata, where we had a pretty good meal the day before. The gentleman running the front of house recognized us and was happy to see us back. No, we didn't order any Symi Shrimp this time, something I kind of regret, but we did have a decent meal anyway.
The Missus really enjoyed the garlicky eggplant salad the last time, so we started with that.
I decided to try some Taramasalata - Cod Roe Dip, looking quite pretty in pink. At least it didn't have too much food coloring.
This was a likable version. Not too fishy, slightly smokey flavor, more creamy that gritty, perhaps a bit on the salty side, but this was much better than many versions I've had.
This, while not the best, was still filling and tasty.
By this point we were joined by a local resident......
Like all of the tavernas in the area, Trata has a fish case, so we decided to get a grilled fish....
Nicely grilled, well seasoned, crisp skin.......
Taverna Trata Near the bottom of the Kali Strata steps Gialos, Greece
We still had a good amount of time before our ferry arrived, so we decided to head on over to the other side of the harbor, passing the clock tower which guards the harbor.
There's no denying just how picturesque Gialos Harbor is. Every shot is postcard material here.
Once past a couple of shops and bars, you start seeing a bit more of the residential side of the colorful harbor.
As we reached the other end of the harbor, the Missus noticed a church up on the hill. She decided to walk on up to check it out.
Me, well, I was feeling a bit hot and bothered so I decided to have a nice cup of coffee, check email, and I even got a post done.
And while the Missus got some pretty good photos from up on the hill.
I had a table at the waters edge, where the view wasn't too bad either......
Soon enough, the Missus returned, our boat arrived, and before you knew it, we were headed back to Rhodes. We enjoyed our time on Symi. It gave us just the short break we needed, a diversion, after which we were ready to continue on........
I think breaks like this during trips lasting multiple weeks are a must; at least for us.
It gets a bit hot in the afternoons on Symi. Folks fill their time by catching the water taxi, finding a beach, getting some sun, or taking a nice little nap like us.
Waking up to a view like this ain't too shabby.....
We especially needed a nap after the filling lunch we had earlier. After waking we just hung around the area, taking a seat in front of the tiny store on the waterfront, watching the locals return after work, socializing....... the pace is truly slow and laid back here.
So while the interior of the hotel seemed a but drab, with a certain amount of "geriatricness" to it, it was all balanced out by the rather sedate surroundings.
Earlier in the day, while taking our walk, we noticed this covered "pier". There were tables and chairs set-up making it look like a make-shift a fresco dining area.
We initially had thought of heading back to Gialos for dinner, but decided to walk on over to the pier, to find all the tables made up and a grill heated and ready to go. We thought this would make for a really nice dinner.
After all, there was no one else around except us, the staff, and most of all, the view.
There was a certain stillness, as if time stands still here on Pedi Beach, barely a whisper of a breeze.
The menu was full of Greek Isle standards, grilled seafood and kebabs. The cooked food, drinks, and other items came from the building across the street. The grilled food....from well, the grill of course.
We started with the eggplant, which was nicely seasoned, with a bit more umph than the usual.... the folks running the grill looked Turkish. I may be wrong, but considering the fact that Rhodes is about an hour ferry trip from Mamaris and Symi just a short ride from Rhodes.....
The one item I got excited about on the menu were the Symi Shrimp.
Even though I'd had almost two full plates to myself earlier in the day, I just wanted more. Simply seasoned with salt and pepper, these had the condensed shrimp flavor....think of the intense savoriness of dried shrimp, in a sweet, light, and crunchy form. These were so good.
The grilled octopus looked tough, but wasn't bad by any means.
We threw in the towel after this.....we'd had quite a meal for lunch and this filled us up.
Things were nicely finished by the complementary fruit plate.
By now, several of the tables were taken, which was our que to head back to the room.
The moon was rising over the mountains and we took our sweet time walking back to the room.
Earlier in the day I'd taken a photo of a sign on one of the buildings. Perhaps this used to be a bakery? I thought about the sign as we walked back to our room. Thinking about that little slogan on the drawing, I made up my own version of it; "life is my cake......you have to take a bite and savor the sweetness and richness of it."
Not bad for someone who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, huh?
For our trip to Istanbul and Rhodes, I really wasn't sure what to do. So I started reading through things and the words, "the most beautiful harbor in the Greek Islands" popped out at me. The harbor is named Gialos and the Island Symi. Once the home to master ship builders.....the "Argo" the ship used by Jason and the Argonauts was supposedly built on Symi.
Now we could have easily just done a day trip....but I decided why not stay on this island with a population of 2500....and not even in the main city, but on the other side of the island....in a little fishing village named Pedi Beach? Which is how we took the ferry and arrived on the island of Symi with a boat load of day-trippers.
When they say that Gialos Harbor is the most beautiful in the Greek Islands, they aren't kidding....
The vivid colored buildings lining the mountains contrasts with the blue waters in the harbor to create a dramatic and romantic backdrop. The clock tower, named Roloi guards the harbor.
After disembarking the boat, we wandered a bit looking for the "bus" to take us to Pedi beach, eventually finding it near the South side of the harbor. We were off to Pedi Beach.....
The bus actually drives on the side of the harbor, right along the deep blue Mediterranean,which is a bit disconcerting as it looks like you'll be treading water at any moment. It then maneuvered it's way up then down the winding roads of mountain, some that seemed scarcely wide enough to hold the bus. At the end of the line you end up at Pedi Beach and if you're staying there, the Pedi Beach Hotel.
The Missus took a look around; all the occupants seemed to be older couples, many of which were tanning on the lounges in front of the hotel or couples with kids......asking me, "so, this is where we're staying huh?"
And the actual "beach" seemed to be a tiny spit of something...which wasn't quite sand about 10 yards long in front of the hotel. "So, this is the beach, huh?"
And yet; there was something quite idyllic about this place..... in spite of all the people there was a kind of quiet.
I'd gotten us a superior room, which had a wonderful view of the harbor. You had no choice but to decompress looking out from the deck.
We'd definitely get in a quiet night here, but that would have to wait, as we unloaded and the Missus decided we'd head back to Gialos for lunch.
We caught the bus back and had them drop us at the top of mountain. We'd walk down taking in the view of Gialos Harbor all the way.
I'd say this might be the most beautiful harbor in the Greek Isles, what do you think?
We wandered about peeking into the tavernas that dotted the harbor. Most were rather uninspiring....mostly expensive tourist fare.
For some reason, it was this little taverna a bit away from the water's edge near all the jewelry shops, that caught our attention. Named Taverna Trata (Trawler), maybe it was the little rough around the edges look of the place, perhaps it was the two tables of what looked like locals eating here. But something drew us to the place.
It did have the look of many of the other tourist type tavernas, with plates of prepped ready-to-go-in-a-minute seafood dishes.
But the place was just a bit more quiet and relaxed, so we decided to have lunch here....
This is Greece, right? So of course we started things off with some of the house wine...it was pretty warm so we went with the house white, dutifully delivered in the standard tin cup.
We started off with the house version of Eggplant Salad. Not bad, lots of garlic flavor, better than we expected. This seemed to revive us in a way.
The Missus is a big fan of Horta, the boiled wild greens.
This was nice, not over done and mushy, still a bit firm, lightly seasoned, quite good with a squeeze of lemon.
I was interested in how Mediterranean Urchin would taste. These were small, a very bright, almost orange color. Doused in olive oil, the flavor was more briney than I was used too....not quite as sweet as well. The texture was much more mushy....
Then came something both the Missus and I had heard about, Symi Shrimp.
These tiny shrimp are a local delicacy in Symi and now I know why. The shells are thin, but firm and really crisps up nicely. The shrimp have an amazing, almost condensed shrimp flavor and sweetness. Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, man, these were so good, you just pop them in your mouth and crunch away to your hearts content.
The Eggplant Imam, stuffed eggplant had nice seasoning.
The tanginess from the tomato paste, nice black pepper, onions adding a bit of crunch and sweet-pungency. Though the skin was really tough, the flavors were nice.
And for dessert???? Are you kidding me? Another plate of Symi Shrimp of course!
The tall, husky, fellow running the front of the house was a man of few words, but very nice.....he laughed when we ordered more Symi Shrimp, "very good....very good, huh?"
Very good indeed!
Taverna Trata Near the bottom of the Kali Strata steps Gialos, Greece
Mission completed, we headed back to Pedi Beach. It was time for a nap!
I have a special place in my heart for those pseudo-diners I grew up eating in....places like Like Like Drive In...you know, no pretense, good unhealthy grub. A couple of months ago I was lamenting the lack of diners that served that type of grub in our area......sorry folks, Denny's, IHOP don't count and I tried Country Waffles a couple of times when we first moved to the area and had some terrible meals. When Troy's Family Restaurant came up in the conversation.....yikes, I'd totally forgotten about the place. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's the location in Clairemont Square next to the Von's we never shop at.....
So I headed over for lunch one day.
The place looked very old-school, in fact all the customers were at least a decade older than I was....the Servers seemed to know them all.
The style of service is also a blast form the past.....they ask if you want coffee the minute you sit down, you pay at the register, the waitresses....yes, here I'll call them waitresses call you "sweetie", "hon", and other terms of endearment. They move with little wasted motion....you'll get an old school handwritten paper check placed on your table when you're nearly done with your meal...you pay at the register. No muss, no fuss.....
Every once in a while I really like a Club Sandwich....or as my "local" friends back home call it....Da Clubhouse ($7.95).
Processed turkey, American cheese, perfect bacon......and I really liked it. This did take me back to "small kid time". Good amount of mayo, dinner fries, bottle of ketchup, bread (white of course) toasted adequately. There are no airs in this shop and the food shows that as well.
A couple of weeks later I returned. One of my guilty pleasures is a nice open faced turkey sandwich.
On the good side, the turkey wasn't that processed stuff they put in their sandwiches, on the bad side...it was dry as the Grand Erg Oriental, that would be the Sahara. That chicken gravy was bland and gluey, tasting just the way you'd think based on the photo. There's a reason this is just $6.45.
So here we were, two down, should I go for three? I asked for a recommendation and was given the Souvlaki ($7.45).
Man, this just didn't hit the spot. The pork was really tough and dry, the "garlic bread" dry and crumbly. The seasoning was really subpar.
I do get why people come here; service is relatively friendly, all my food came out quickly, the prices are very reasonable, the portions hearty. The term, "you get what you pay for" is very true here. I'm thinking breakfast here might be pretty good. Still, rather than feeling satisfied and nostalgic about the dishes, I felt the whole thing was dated. There is something to say about having "your" neighborhood place, where they know what you want, where you like to sit, how you take your coffee, that's great. This ain't "that place" for me.
Troy’s Family Restaurant & Coffee Shop 4827 Clairemont Dr San Diego, CA 92117
This restaurant used to be a Foster's Freeze stand-alone location for more than 20 years and the footprint of the store, including the front counter, drive through, ice cream machine, kitchen and dining area remain unchanged. A nice change is that there are people cleaning and bussing the tables; you don't have to clean up after yourself.
A recent order: the medium Greek chicken salad ($10.25)(accompanied by the fresh, warm pita and house made tzatziki), an order of fried zucchini ($2.75) (accompanied by a nice Ranch dressing)...
and a gyros sandwich ($6.45). This was a large, filling, tasty meal which ended up with leftovers we took home for a later snack.
As always, the chicken is marinated, juicy, tasty. It is grilled and served warm on top of a Greek style salad (lettuce, tomato, onion, Feta, herb dressing). The zucchini sticks are breaded with a fresh herb-breadcrumb mix and fried just right- crispy and not oily and served with a Ranch type dip. The pita bread and gyros is consistently fresh and tasty and served with the house made tzatziki.
Another local place that has been here more than a decade.