You are about to start reading another post of mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog. Today. it's written by Cathy; the guys are busy.
Many of our days start out with some sort of appointment in various parts of the County, then taking random roads home and stopping either if seeing interesting signage or many parked cars at a storefront. That's how The Mister and I noticed Su Pan Panaderia, a Mexican bakery located next to a gas station, sharing a parking lot with both a Liquor and Auto Parts store, on El Cajon Boulevard, West of 54th. There are not many spaces in that parking lot and we've ended up parked across the street. Walking inside, the cash registers are directly in front of you. An ever changing menu board behind those shows breakfast and lunch choices, made to order in the kitchen. There are some items on the counter and pre-made sandwiches in the refrigerator. In addition to the refrigerated bakery items, the fresh shelves, to the left, are constantly being filled. These were some recent purchases: Different combinations of cake, crusts and cookies combined with chocolate, cream cheese, jelly, fruit, nuts, cream and/or butter based fillings. Everything here has an extract, essence, aroma, flavor!
For example, this large double cookie is layered with a buttercream and chopped peanuts- a sort of home made peanut butter filling ($1.59). That large, round 'pastry' on the second tray above is essentially two round vanilla flavored cupcake tops, slathered with a buttery buttercream (not sweet if you lick that in between portion)which is also frosted on the outside then rolled in sugar ($1.29). It's delightfully soft cake, sweet only because of the sugar crystals and so wonderfully perfect in its butter-vanilla simplicity.
Back to the menu board and cash register area.On the counter there's a tray of fresh and flaky empañadas ($2.49). The cream cheese with jalapeño is always a good choice (although the tuna empañada is really good, especially when warmed). The most expensive breakfast burrito choice is the 'Hash Brown burrito' ($5.49) which has everything in it- eggs, cheese, hash browns and sausage, bacon, ham and chorizo. Everything. Very good and very large.
On more than one occasion, a ham and egg bolillo (($4.99) is a breakfast choice. The fresh baked bolillo bread is cut in half and a thin layer of beans are spread. Cooked egg, pan fried ham chunks, rectangles of Cotija cheese avocado slices and canned jalapeño slices complete this large enough for two breakfast.
Su Pan Bakery 5006 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego 92115 (619)287-2078 open 5 am-10:30 pm daily Website
In December, when a cart of fresh baked good were being transferred to the cabinets, a deformed walnut cupcake one was spotted and the nice worker asked if we wanted it. Excellent flavor, crunchy walnut pieces and now a regular choice.
A few months back; Red Card Café replaced Kitchen 4140. I was intrigued at the concept, a Gastropub featuring various street food dishes.
I really like the space; casual, yet very nice...though I haven't set foot in the dining room, preferring the bar area or the outdoor seating.
The theme of the menu is....yep, global dishes from soccer countries. It's kind of out there, all over the place with everything from Cubanos, poutine....aracini to pierogies!
Over the last few months, I managed to visit four times. I like to check out a place a couple of times before doing a post whenever possible and the location of Red Card, in my 'hood made it easy to do multiple visits.
The owner; Caroline is a joy to chat with, and the folks here are pretty friendly.
The tap selection is small but decent, and they feature stuff from Bitter Brothers (right down the street) among others. So I started with a Golden Child.
One of the things I really developed a taste for during our trip to Tunisia was a nicely spiced merguez. Caroline hails from France and the chef is formerly from Sausage and Meat. So what more natural way to start things off than with a sausage, right? I did find out that the merguez was not made inhouse; bummer. I ordered it anyway. At $14, I thought a single sausage and some rather ordinary fries was not going to be a great value....unless that sausage delivered. The flavor of the merguez was a bit on the mild side; quite tame....based on the owner's background, I was expecting the thinner, rather snappy, slightly spicy, very flavorful meguez. I did like the house ketchup.
A few days later, the Missus joined me on a nice sunny evening.
Having just returned from Vancouver, where the Missus discovered an affection for Poutine and combined with Duck Confit, it just sounded like something we should try.
The Duck Poutine ($16) just had too much going on; too sweet, too heavy, you really couldn't taste the duck and the dish came across as being on the greasy side.
We also ordered the Cuban ($12) with Yam Chips ($3 when included with a sandwich).
The Yam Chips looked very dark and seemed a bit greasy, but was really crisp and had a nice salty-sweet potato flavor. The Missus really enjoyed this sorta-Cubano. The bread was nicely toasted; the mustard and pickles really lifted the flavor of the slightly citrusy and decently moist pork, and the slighty nutty-milky flavor went well with the sandwich.
This turned out to be a decent meal.
So I returned a few weeks later. This time I went with the Hot Dog which seemed a bit crazily priced at $12. It was however, quite good.
The hot dog tasted quite "porky", a bit different, loved the nice bacon bits, the wonderful house made mustard, and the sweetness of the caramelized onion. The potato bun went really well with all of this. And instead of being over-wrought and busy; I enjoyed this.
To balance things out; I went with the Kale Caesar ($7).
I enjoyed the fried kale which, along with the croutons added dimensions of crunch to the already crisp and fresh kale. The salad wasn't over-dressed and was very nice overall.
A few weeks later I returned; not being overly hungry, I went with the now rather ubiquitous Char Siu Steamed Buns ($14).
This was pretty mediocre, from the buns which seemed like something that was previously frozen, lacking the light fluffiness of fresh steamed buns. The meat was more like pulled pork than actual char siu. The sauce was a hoisin based glaze that was closer to a pseudo BBQ sauce than something truly Asian. It was also too sweet for my taste.
I finished the meal with a bottle of Three Philosophers for dessert.
Man, it had been a while since I'd had one of these.
In the end, I'm glad that we have Red Card in the neighborhood, heck, like I mentioned in Lynn's post of Red Card, this might be the best place on Morena now. And while I'm not the type to "just be happy to have it" and Red Card's menu, which is kind of all over the place seems to have its pitfalls, I'm glad to have another choice on the Boulevard.
Red Card Café 4140 Morena Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
mmm-yoso!!! is the name of the blog you are reading. Kirk has an even busier day than usual and Ed (from Yuma) is out and about (in Yuma) doing his things, so Cathy is writing today's post.
Caffe Bene has over 1600 locations in a dozen countries around the world. One of those locations is in San Diego, on Convoy Street (it shares the same parking lot with Prime Grill). Opening over a year ago, cc and Kirbie posted about it.Spacious with a simple decor, the 'Global Coffee House' offers a fairly quiet meeting space with free wifi...
coffees, teas, beverages as well as a variety of snack foods, treats and small sandwiches. The Signature drink here, 'multigrain power drink', Misugaru, can be served cold or hot and I like each version and have purchased one or the other on each visit here. It's tasty, not too sweet and quite filling. I think it may also be good for you.
There is a small selection of sandwiches on the menu. The above is a Spicy Chicken Sandwich ($8.95). Served hot on a fresh roll, the chicken breast, fresh spinach and melted cheese were quite fresh and tasty. The 'spicy' sauce was nicely hot, (not Sriracha sweet, just a good punch of heat). The side of potato salad was just enough to compliment the other flavors.
The ham and egg sandwich ($7.95) was not served hot, but was just as pleasant in flavor pairings. Hard boiled eggs, a good amount of ham, spinach, red onion and a mustard based sauce were all complimentary and made a nice little shared meal.
Caffe Bene is known for its Liege waffles and honey bread and we tried a simple order of a waffle with gelato ($5.50). Liege waffles are small, rich, stretchy/chewy and a bit crunchy from embedded pearl sugar in the batter; another variety of waffle. The gelato? Strawberry- a very densely flavored gelato, which would be good on its own but also went very well with pieces of the waffle.
Yes, it is a chain, but this is the only location around and it is quite nice.
Caffè Bene Website 4620 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111 (858) 278-2204 Open daily 9 a.m.-midnight Website
Sunday morning in Miraflores is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the night before. It is rather sedate, calm....there's not much going on streetwise.
At this point in our lives; the Missus and I are far removed from "the party". You know; Mom sued to say "nothing good happens after midnight. At a certain point in your life you figure out that "nothing good happens after 10 pm." That's kind of where we're at in life. Though when it comes to Madrid and Spain as a whole; the clock is thrown out the window.
Still, it wasn't that early for us as we left our hotel; 830 am is kind of a late start when we're travelling.
Still, the streets are pretty quiet on a Sunday morning.
We headed off to our breakfast destination. We had some great discussions with our wonderful driver, Benjamin during our trip to see the Nazca Lines. One of the questions I asked was about a typical breakfast in Lima.....I was told that we must get a Sanguche de Chicharron, a pork sandwich for Sunday breakfast, it's a Lima tradition. I'd heard about the iconic pork sandwich; I knew about La Lucha which is quite well known, but Benjamin told me that Dona Paulina is where he takes his family for Sanguches de Chicharron. Which we happened to see the previous evening when we had dinner at Punto Azul.
The place looks like a typical neighborhood Coffee Shop.....
One that sells pork and lomo saltado sandwiches......anyone want a tamal for breakfast?
In spite of the street being fairly empty; Dona Paulina was doing some good business on this morning.
The Missus got an espresso; I an Americano......
And we decided to split an Sanguches de Chicharron....JR....as in a smaller sized sandwich. I'm glad we did.
The sandwich is served using what they call a "French Roll" here. It is yeasty and relatively light. The sandwich is served with a nice salsa criolla which I sometimes make at home. The acid and pungency from the onions helps to cut all the richness of the pork.
There were three different slices of pork in the sandwich; one had a bit of skin and fat which added a nice richness; there's one rather meaty cut, looks like shoulder which, while adding bulk was on the dry side. The fat and moisture from the other slices and the salsa ciolla evened things out.
Of course the Missus loved the slices of camote; sweet potato in the sandwich.
Dona Paulina Calle Alcanfores 715 Lima, Peru
It was a good thing that we shared this sandwich as we planned to have an early lunch.
I set out on a bit of a mission the last couple of weeks. A couple of months ago, I was asked what I thought the best "Cubano type" sandwich in the area was. I quickly said Embargo Grill. Then then quickly thought that I'd hadn't been to other places in the area in quite a while. So I decided to head off in a quest of sorts and managed to hit up four places before I'd seen enough pork, ham, cheese, and pickles for a while.
And while Embargo Grill still came in on top; here's the places in order.....favorite to least.
I think the Medianoche at Embargo Grill has gotten better over time.
The pork here, sort of a "pulled pork", was nice and moist and wasn't too salty this time around. That porky flavor combined with the slightly milky cheese and just the right amount of pickles did it for me. The bread was nicely crisp, toasted well, and the bread was nice and light, not too chewy. The one component I really couldn't make out was the ham.
The Yuca Frita was nicely fried. When done the way I like it; the smaller pieces have a light, airiness to them, while the larger pieces, are denser. The mojo was better than on previous visits.
Embargo Grill 3960 W Point Loma Blvd San Diego, CA 92110
At first I thought this would be much too bready and not toasted enough, though it was done adequately. Here the flavor of the ham comes through quite well; teaming with the mustard and pickles. The plantain chips were cold this time around and not very crisp. The sandwich was a bit on the dry side but this is a very solid #2 pick for me.
Havana Grill 5450 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
My goodness; stepping in here is like talking a walk back in time. Plus, this was the only true "restaurant" of the places I visited.
The Cubano here was fairly mediocre.
The bread to filling ratio stood a bit too far on the "bread side" for my taste. The pork was rather dry and tasteless; though the nicely melted cheese shone through quite nicely, but it all came through as rather bland. Luckily, I ordered the Yuca Frita....I ended up pouring a good bit of the mojo on my sandwich. For some reason, like Tropical Star below; this was just too much for me to finish.
The Yuca Frita was decent; loved the smaller pieces which were crisp and creamy. The larger slices got cold pretty quickly and became quite hard. I do like the mojo here; while it could perhaps use more citrus; it is very garlicky and it looks like there's bacon or ham in it.
If you've ever walked to the back or the side banquet room at Andre's, you'll realize just how large the place is. The small façade belies that. This place is in my 'hood, I really should get here more often.
Andre's Cuban Restaurant 1235 Morena Blvd San Diego, CA 92110
I had noticed that over the last couple of years; TS had expanded, then retracted back to what it once was. A charming little Latin Grocery that served rather inexpensive Latin American food. I thought it right that I should have the Cubano here.
This was totally by the book; slice of pork, check, thin slices of ham...check....cheese on both sides, check...pickles, yes indeed. It was indeed pressed; though the bread had seen better days. Overall, quite filling....partially because of all the fries; nice and hot, but lacking salt...but I only finished half.
I don't recall seeing Diet Inka Cola before........even in Peru!
So not quite stellar, especially when compared to the others....but it was the most inexpensive. Plus, I like the older gentleman behind the counter. I always bus my own table and he seems to appreciate that.
A few months back I noticed that Corner Sandwich & Café was gone and being replaced by Bale. I then plumb forgot about it, until I recently passed the shopping center again and took a glance. It appears the place opens rather early so I dropped by for a Banh Mi.
The place looks somewhat cleaned-up, in a somewhat typical VN restaurant kind of way. Instead of hordes of men having coffees and smoking cigarettes in the place, there's now what looks like two outside tables and things seem a bit more quiet. Only 8-9 guys, wonder where the Vietnamese Coffee/Beer/Cards social club moved on to?
I simply ordered a Banh Mi Dac Biet to go ($4.50). It felt kind of hefty and it was......
I've been mostly going to those places that pretty much make their own banh mi these days, so the bread seemed a bit of a shock. It was fairly hard, mostly crust, and the bread hadn't held up well. At least it wasn't as mealy as I recalled the bread being at their other location in Mira Mesa. Man, those were some thick slices of meat! There was also a huge smear of pate on this; which pretty much dominated the entire sandwich. Also, the pickled carrots and daikon here are thicker cut, which I don't mind at all. This seemed really rustic and was quite filling.
A few weeks later, I was in the area at around 830am. I was a bit hungry, but instead of heading to one of my usual suspects, I drove a bit further up Mira Mesa Boulevard and ordered a Banh Mi Op La from Bale. Fewer guys hanging out in the front on this morning; probably because it was a Sunday.
This must be the most pickled vegetables I'd ever had in a banh mi! Good lord......also loved the jalapeno which was nice and spicy. The eggs were a bit past the point of what I prefer in my easy over egg banh mi, but it was still good. The sandwich was warm, almost hot to the touch when I was given it, so I thought the best move would be to have it here. The bread was nice; crusty/flakey exterior, the interior hadn't been turned to mush; it wasn't overly toasted, yet so nice and warm. This is comfort food.
Once the gentleman working the front saw that I was going to have my sandwich here; he brought me a glass of ice water; nice touch. The sandwiches here are a bit more filling than what I'm used to, but it's good to have another option in the area. There's a number of various items; like Banh Beo and various noodle dishes on the menu, so maybe I'll try one of those next time....or maybe I should just have the Banh Mi Op La.
Bale Sandwich & Deli 9005 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92126
The Missus loves waffle cut fries; I'm not such a big fan....so here She can get the "Stoner Fries with waffle cut fries"....basically waffle cut fries topped with cheesesteak fillings; beef, in this case provolone, peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
There's a reason they call it Stoner Fries...sheesh. She can never finish this, so we always tell them to drop off a box when they bring the food. The Missus will use the leftovers to make a hash the next day with eggs and some kale from the yard.
Of course I got the Blairsteak.....and got it with waffle cut fries for the Missus.
For years the Missus has told me how gross cheesesteaks were....but this one has made Her change Her tune. I think it's the combination of the soft Amoroso that has a bit of a gritty finish, combined with the milky provolone, the earthy mushrooms and the sautéed onions. I think She wouldn't even need any beef in this....but of course, I'd miss it. She now shares half the sandwich with me. This ain't cheap at about $16 with the upcharge for the waffle cut fries....but it's a nice treat every so often.
Nutty Chocolate flavors, mild sweetness, and a good smokiness that gets you at the end.
The Missus's favorite here is the Monkey Gose Bananas with Tart and Black Cherry.
We've come to enjoy Monkey Paw as a guilty pleasure. Love the divey feel, friendly staff, and the temperature of the beer is always good. The neighborhood might be kind of terminally "in transition", but it kind of helps with the vibe, which we prefer to Hamilton's which was just way too "hipster" and quite unfriendly the three times we've tried the place.
I decided to drop by and grab a bite. The shop is fairly small, with a few tables off to one side and stacks of pastry receptacles lining the path to the counter.
Even though most of the containers were empty, that these were for grabbing take-out items like spring rolls, croissants, and various salad dishes. There was also a decent selection of VN coffee, boba, and smoothies as well. There was a stack of banh mi and baguettes in a basket to the side.
I gotta say, the folks working here were really friendly, though the turnaround for orders were a bit slow. The great thing I found out was that they bake their own bread here! Nice! Competition for Cali Baguette Express?
I decided to try the Dac Biet, the "special".
Priced a bit more expensive than other Banh Mi shops at $4.49, I was immediately aware that the sandwich was a bit more "hefty". Returning to the office, I noticed that there was a bit more meat in this. First things first, the bread here is more crusty than flakey and is on the chewy side. It also doesn't keep very long, getting almost rubbery after a short time....I'd find out that for myself when I bought a baguette during another visit. Paris Bakery currently makes my favorite bread for Banh Mi and even to have with cheese in San Diego.
And while I've always said that it's about proportion rather than fillings when it comes to Banh Mi, I really liked how this was put together; the amount of pate was perfect and the meats' especially the cha lua, which can be rather rubbery when sliced too thick was excellent. I thought the carrots and daikon weren't pickled enough to cut the richness of the meat and pate, though the jalapeno was nice and sneakily spicy. Typical stringy cilantro.
Pretty good sandwich overall, so a couple of days later I decided to return. Calvin was interested and decided to join me.
I love eggs in my Banh Mi and the menu said they make Banh Mi Op La ($3.49), typically fried eggs, but here they told me it was easy over. And when I opened the sandwich, you could tell by the mess it was!
Egg yolk oozed all over my paperwork, but that's ok. Initially, I thought they hadn't sliced the sandwich, but then I noticed it had been sliced 2/3 way through. I realize a lot of people are freaked out over runny egg yolk, but this was pretty good, if a bit messy. As a bonus, there was a nice thin slice of ham and a good smear of pate as well. As I ate this rather quickly, the bread held up pretty well.
Calvin ordered the Xiu Mai, the meatball, which, after many bad versions, I'm leery of, but he told it was better than average.
Having to work on a recent Sunday and wondering if three time's a charm , I decided to head over and get the Banh Mi Cha Lua ($3.99).
Nicely set-up sandwich, though the bread was a bit chewy and perhaps because it was Sunday seemed to be a bit on the stale side. Pickles were still a bit too mild for me, but like how thin they slice the cha lua and the amount of pate on the sandwich. The cilantro (I know folks tell me I'm kind of weird about that) had more leaves than stems this time around.
Overall, my three visits were satisfying. It's good to have another decent banh mi option in the area that makes their own bread. While I prefer the bread at Cali Express, I prefer the egg banh mi here. Also to note; if you order egg on a banh mi as an extra, it'll be fried well done, but you can tell them you want the egg easy over they'll do it for you. Be forewarned, it'll be quite messy. I think I'll check out the beef jerky papaya salad and perhaps some of the other dishes in the near future.
Banh Mi Bakery & Cafe 9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Suite H1 San Diego, CA 92123
Back in February, I was just driving around and exploring one sunny weekend day when I noticed this place.
I'm pretty sure this place was fairly new......I recall it being pretty much a revolving door of eating places in the last couple of years. I am, of course, a garlic lover, so I just had to try the place out. I will say they really went with the "shack" theme here.
Nice and tight selection of craft beers and an even more interesting selection of craft sodas......looks lie Diet Coke is persona non grata here.
I was greeted by a bright smiling face when I entered; the folks here seemed very cheerful and helpful. The drill is order at the register; pay and have a seat. I really can't say the view was great, though there was a nice breeze blowing through the place and I counted two ambulances and one fire truck rushing through the neighborhood during my meal.
You know; this place IS named the Garlic Shack, so I had to try the Garlic Fires, right? It wasn't quite what I picture as garlic fries.
The fries were really nice and crisp, very hot....I really didn't care for the garlic seasoning which seemed like a bunch of granulated garlic dumped on the fries, which made the flavor somewhat bitter to my palate. That spicy ketchup was quite nice though....not super spicy, the tangy-sweet with a slight kick.
I ordered the "Spicy Porkaholic".
It was quite a hefty sandwich....which was appropriately wrapped in butcher paper. It should have had a "contents under pressure" label since it basically bursts at the seams. The bread didn't hold up for very long, the pork had a very strong paprika flavor and really didn't have a smoked flavor, at least to me. The bean sprouts were an interesting choice, which added some texture, along with the lettuce. The menu said grilled onion, but I didn't detect any of that.
There was no way that I could finish all of this....though it did seem more about portion over quality. I did enjoy the South Bay Seltzer; which wasn't overly carbonated and quite refreshing after all of this rich and hefty food.
And so things stood pat....but of course I really wouldn't have felt comfortable doing a post without another visit. Which I did a few months later.
Different folks, but the same very friendly and helpful service.
This time around I decided to stick with just a sandwich and went with the Korean Beefaholic. Which of course was quite hefty.
This was, as before, quite a messy sandwich as the bread didn't hold up for long. The generous portion of meat was kind of mushy in texture and a bit too sweet for me.....the milky flavor of the cheese just seemed to clash with the other flavors as well. The romaine lettuce saves the sandwich, but I think this needs a bit of pungency (onions) and acid (tomatoes) as this was pretty mundane in terms of flavor....but that's just me.
Perhaps if you weren't raised on teri beef sandwiches or W&M Burgers, this might seem really good. For me; not so much. Still, I enjoyed the variety of sodas, the folks who worked here are so very nice. You might want to give it a try yourself to see if it's a good fit.
Cathy has posted on Arely Bakery several times over the years; the most recent being about a year and a half ago. A few months back I noticed that the tiny shop had expanded, taking over the shop next door.....I'm trying to recall what it was....beauty supplies perhaps?
In need of an early lunch, I decided to drop by and grab a sandwich before a series of conference calls that would take up a good chunk of the day.
You can see the expanded dining room next door as you enter.
The baguette, baked on the premises, was decent, it could have been a bit more crusty and was, in typical San Diego style, a bit more chewy than I prefer. The Black Forest Ham was decent; but the real star of the sandwich was the brie, rind and all, which made this sandwich quite good, earthy tones, very mild pungency (nothing even close to real French Brie, which I believe is still illegal in the US), and very nice in this sandwich. In terms of proportion, I would have enjoyed a bit more tomato and less lettuce.
With the work scenario a couple of weeks later, I decided to call and pick-up the Prosciutto Panini ($8.60), which was wonderfully toasted.
Man, the toasting job on this baby was just about perfect. Didn't care for the prosciutto they used however, as it was extremely salty and paired with a very mild mozzarella it was the dominating flavor through out my eating experience as everything else; the basil and the tomato were just nullified. Too bad, because in terms of texture, this was really good.
Thinking that I had to try a panini again, I went with the Caprese Panini ($8.50).
Bad call on my part as went too far in the other direction with this one. While the tomatoes tasted quite good, the whole thing was a rather bland mess. The bread wasn't as well pressed this time; I'm thinking the cheese didn't hold up real well. In fact, when I separated the two halves there was a giant glob of melted mozzarella.
Last week I decided to drop by one more time. This time ordering the Le Lyonnais ($7.95).
And while I'd prefer lardon/bacon to salami on this, I really enjoyed the sandwich. Nice smear of fairly tasty egg salad, nice crisp greens, acid from the tomatoes and pickles. Very nice overall. I'm still of the same opinion of the bread and even think that a light toasting might make everything that much more enjoyable.
The two young ladies who have run the counter on the days I visited were very nice and friendly; especially with some of the rather "cranky" older customers. One of these days I'll stop by for breakfast, or even perhaps lunch. For now, it's nice to have another sandwich option fairly close by.
Arely French Bakery Cafe 4961 Clairemont Drive, Suite A San Diego, CA 92117