Tasty Items about the Uptown Food Scene
By Ron James
New Kids on the Block
It’s not easy to get a native San Diegan excited about a new Mexican dining spot. But I can’t wait to go back to Huapangos in Hillcrest. I knew I was in for a treat when the server placed a heaping basket of freshly cooked tortilla chips along with two sauces. One was a very tasty red salsa, and the other was a white jalapeno sauce I had never had — even in any of my travels throughout Mexico. It was so good I should have ordered a small bowl of it with a spoon.
I did order a bowl of albondigas soup and a carnitas taco. The albondigas was better than Nati’s in Ocean Beach, which sets the mark for this soup. It had four nice-sized and perfectly seasoned meatballs, and the rich chicken and vegetable broth was great. The carnitas was perfect, tender, flavorful and not at all fatty, served on a soft corn tortilla with all of the trimmings. Of course I used the white sauce on it. Huapangos will become a community culinary treasure.
I wasn’t the only one to be surprised to see Laurel restaurant close recently. But in these economic times, no one is safe from the vagaries of 401(k)s and fickle dining habits. It will be most interesting to see how Tracy Borkum’s bold move to replace the landmark dining spot with the just-opened Cucina Urbana plays out.
Jake’s on 6th Wine Bar
Joining the ranks of Uptown wine bars is Jake’s on 6th Avenue in the heart of Hillcrest. It’s a family affair with Jake with the whole family making everyone feel like a valued guest. And most important, they have a great selection of wines by the glass or bottle. You can browse hundreds of domestic and imported fine wines, and have them pop the cork with no corkage fees. The decor is wine country comfortable and spacious. They also serve exotic cheeses from around the world, specialty hand-crafted breads and there is a full menu of home-made dishes.
Uptown Super Deals and Happy Hours
Perhaps the coolest place to be this summer is Anthology. This world-class jazz club is now offering one of the tastiest and eclectic happy hour menus in town. I recently sat down and sampled several of the offerings from culinary star Chef Eric Bauer that made me very happy. They included “chicken lollipops” with Granny Smith apple slaw, spiced chili glaze and Pt. Reyes blue cheese dip for $6; yellowfin tuna crudo in a crispy menlo wrapper, jalapeno, California citrus and yuzu avocado emulsion for $7 ; hand-cut beef tartar crostinis with cornichon, capers, shallot, Dijon mustard, quail egg yolk and petite herbs for $7. They have many more wonderful small plates with most of them under five bucks. Happy hours are Tuesday through Friday from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Two Hillcrest French restaurants have fallen victim to our sour economy. The cute fine dining spot, The Better Half, bid us adieu before I had a chance to sample their fare. But not before our restaurant writer, Maria Desiderata Montana reviewed it. The review (obit) will be online at www.sduptownnews.com. And it’s au revoir to longtime French bistro La Vache, which suddenly closed its doors last week. Support your favorite restaurant so you don’t see them in my casualty column.