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Restaurant Reviews

Wheels of goodness

Posted: October 20th, 2017 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

We came for the sandwiches made with Montreal-style bagels and ended up shoveling down four crazy-good doughnuts first. It wasn’t supposed to go that way, but when queuing up to place your order at the new location of Nomad Donuts, the colorful and imaginative array of sweets takes first dibs on your appetite.

At least 20 different types of doughnuts fill the display case on any given day, most of which you’ll never see in the leading chains: dragonfruit-acai, green apple sage, strawberry-lavender, and a host of others conceived by Nomad’s partner and executive chef, Kristianna Zabala.

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Super size me

Posted: October 6th, 2017 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

The menu is as dizzying as the voluminous food portions at Hash House a Go Go in Hillcrest, where customers over the past 18 years have consistently exclaimed, “Oh, my God!” when their meals are served.

As a less-is-better kind of guy, I’m an infrequent patron of the place. Although I love bringing out-of-town guests here, if only to see their eyeballs obtrude over what co-founder Johnny Rivera describes as “twisted farm food” deployed on jumbo plateware and garnished with tall-standing sprigs of fresh rosemary.

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A bright spot for superior tacos and creative cocktails

Posted: September 22nd, 2017 | Feature, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

If you haven’t been to La Vecindad in the heart of Hillcrest, you’re missing exceptional preparations of pork and pozole from a Mexico City family, not to mention cheerful cocktails that taste as pretty as they look.

As for the tacos constructed with house-made corn tortillas, which practically melt in your mouth, they’ll likely send you into a cartwheel as well.

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Multi-national dining in Mission Hills

Posted: September 8th, 2017 | Feature, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Don’t assume the song “Fools and Kings” by reggae rockers Fighting Gravity was the inspiration for the namesake restaurant that opened two months ago in Mission Hills. The new globally-inspired kitchen borrows instead from a line in the 1948 tune recorded by Nat King Cole called “Nature Boy.”

The poetic lyrics are posted at the restaurant’s iron-gated entrance as an inspirational prelude to the welcoming and diverse meal experience you’ll discover inside. Be sure to read them before settling in.

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Fine-tuned vegan fare

Posted: August 25th, 2017 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Another vegan restaurant that raises the bar on vegan food has sprouted in Uptown, joining a list of others such as Donna Jean, Kindred and the long-established Plumeria a quarter-mile away.

Grains, which launched five months ago, is still in its soft-opening as the kitchen develops new small plates to further complement 20 taps of craft beer.

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Mouths aflame

Posted: August 11th, 2017 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Incorporate the name of a chili pepper into the name of a restaurant, and I’m there.

Countywide, we have places like Habaneros Mexican Food, Tacos El Poblano, Jalapeno Grill & Cantina, and Thai Pepper Cuisine. Their menus promise tongue-burning dishes while invariably interspersed by choices tailored for touchy palates.   

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Where ketchup and pineapple are sacrilege

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

I’m not from Chicago, but in repeat visits to the Windy City I’ve packed my gut plenty of times with its iconic deep-dish pizza, mustard-y Vienna Beef hot dogs and juicy Italian beef sandwiches. They’re the “big three” dishes (plus others) that Chi-town transplants Brendan and Lauren Hodson have been slinging with precision at Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria for the past 13 years.

Locally, nothing else really compares.

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Destroying stereotypes

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

There is much to absorb at Kindred, a bustling plant-based restaurant and cocktail bar that pays exceptional detail to food, mixology and design.

Whatever your dietary preference, if you haven’t dropped in for at least a shrewdly crafted intoxicant to wash down a bowl of popcorn seasoned brilliantly with dill, chives and garlic-chili “cologne,” you’re about three years late — just as I was.

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Beyond coffee and muffins

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Few cafes in San Diego are entrenched in the residential sections of the neighborhoods they call home. Mama’s Bakery & Deli on Alabama Street and El Comal on Illinois Street come to mind, although both sit a stone’s throw away from commercial thoroughfares.

Mystic Mocha takes you deeper into an area lined with houses, trees and sidewalks. It’s a colorful little place with a Bohemian feel famous for its crafty, homemade muffins and assorted coffee drinks using beans from Café Moto.

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The power of garlic

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Two graduates of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) just took over the kitchen at Garlic Shack, a peculiar but alluring little eatery that makes no apologies for messing with your breath.

Garlic in one form or another finds its way into about 75 percent of the dishes across an American-Asian menu from which you’ll discover steamed burgers, the item that mainly led me here because of its obscurity — at least within San Diego.

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