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.
mmm-yoso!!! is a blog, written interspersedly by Kirk, Ed(from Yuma) and Cathy. Today, it's Cathy's interspersion.
J-K's, tucked in the corner storefront on University Avenue, has been in this location for more than 20 years. You might miss it if you aren't keeping your eye out for the signage.
The little sign "Greek Style Whole Chicken $7.99" to the left of the door is take out only.
Above, the signage you'll see when driving on University.
When you step inside, you'll be greeted by someone working the grill behind the counter. If you say you are eating in, you can take a seat at one of the eight tables. There are also two tables out in front.
If you come in Monday-Saturday at lunch time, you will be handed the Specials as well as the regular menu.
We enjoy the Greek salad here; cold, crisp lettuce, tomato, cucumber and onion topped with a house made herby dressing and Feta.
On this day, I chose the chicken souvlaki sandwich lunch. Served on soft, warm pita, unrolled in the photo, the marinated grilled chicken is surrounded with lettuce, tomato and onion and served with a house made tzatziki (yogurt-cucumber sauce) on the side.
The Mister ordered the Grecian Burger lunch, which was an absolutely wonderful lamb-ground beef mix, cooked to a light medium. So flavorful and served on the toasted fresh sesame-seeded bun, with lettuce, tomato and more fresh tzatziki, it was large, juicy and tasty.
We also ordered a side of fried zucchini ($4.95) to share. Fresh, crispy and not greasy, the fry here is done right. There are some herbs in the batter, which makes dipping in the tzatzki sauce a complimentary flavor.
Above, the $7.99 Greek Style chicken to go. Marinated (lemon and oregano are the predominant flavors), rotisserie'd, not as large as a Costco chicken, but oh so good...the meat falls off the bones. The Mister picked this up one evening not too long ago.
The fresh tabouli ($4) goes well with the chicken. It's made with parsley, onion, tomato and bulghur-the dressing of olive oil and lemon is on the side when it's a "to go" order. I usually save some for the next day.
Fresh made (smoky tasting eggplant) baba ghanouge ($5.50, comes with pita) is a side I always enjoy.
J-K's has withstood the test of time and is still going strong.
J-K's Greek Cafe 7749University Avenue, La Mesa 91942 (619)464-1915 website
After having our (first) lunch at Mavrikos in Lindos, we backtracked and then took a side road. Our destination, the beautiful coast and the quiet village of Stegna.
Compared to Lindos and Rhodes Town, this was a peaceful, relaxing piece of paradise.
At the end of the road was a Taverna that Vassos, from the Saint Michel recommended to us named Antonis.
There's a ton of charm and the folks here are very friendly. However, we really found the food to be bland, and not prepared well. It was also our most expensive meal on Rhodes at over 70 Euros.
The Octopus was just grilled to death and rubbery.
The fish was not seasoned, not grilled very well......and cost us 50 Euros to boot.
It was really weird, like the grill wasn't hot enough, the skin of the fish like rubber...... such a beautiful fish....ruined.
We were finding that getting a nice meal on Rhodes was kind of tough......
Still, it was a nice, very relaxing change of pace.
Antonis Stegna, Rhodes, Greece
We drive back to Rhodes Town and returned our rental car. As evening got closer, the cruise ships left, and Rhodes Town again became quiet.
We took a walk up and down the back streets of Rhodes Town, away from the main tourist sites....where the residents of Old Town lived.
We'd had two lunches and decided on just chilling. We stopped by one of the little shops and bought a bottle of wine......Chris had given me a list of nice drinking wines to try. We also saw some stuff being stocked on the shelves of the little market and the Missus was thrilled. It was one of Her favorite things from our time in Crete......Cretan Rusk (twice baked bread). We also brought some cheese. Funny, we even brought back some rusk all the way from Rhodes....and it was still good.
We settled in on the patio of our room, which we called "the penthouse", since it was situated on the roof of the Saint Michel....we had the whole place to ourselves.
As the sun started to set, we could tell it was going to be a great one.....
One of the most beautiful I've ever seen....and I've seen my share.
Maybe we'd been a bit underwhelmed by the food on Rhodes, but man.......this was worth it all. A priceless sunset, which just set everything right.
We got to sleep early.......we had a boat to catch the next morning.