Eating San Diego; part deux

The rare opportunity see a Tool/Primus combo led us back to Amerca’s Finest City (San Diego’s self appointed nickname) for the second time in a twelve month period. This being trip two, we arrived with a confident lay of the land and the opportunity to revisit some of trip one’s greatest hits. The rundown:

Tiger! Tiger!

A cozy tavern located in North Park, Tiger! Tiger! presents a well curated beer menu, elevated pub grub served morning, noon, and night, and a lovely picnic tabled back patio for dining al fresco on beautifully sunny San Diego days.


Our brunch spread; chewy house made potato chips, a bowl of decadently thick and meaty bacon, dense, cakey, coconut donuts, and one phenomenal pork belly banh mi

Tiger Chips

TIger Bacon

Tiger Cakes Randi

tiger banh mi

Pre show, we headed to Pacific Beach Fish Shop, a low-key, beach shack /fish market, serving ultra fresh, minimally prepared seafood

pb fish shop

PBFS’s menu is, for the most part, a three step process; choose a fish, choose a marinade, choose a preparation. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, they also offer a variety of seafood cocktails, chowders, stews, fried bites (calamari, lumpia,oysters) et. al. I went fish stew and salad, because, well, I just did.


No minds were blown in the progression of that meal, but sometimes, clean, simple, fare does the body right. Perhaps the best part of PBFS is the atmosphere and outdoor bar, a more than suitable place to spend an afternoon day drinking and grazing.

PB Bar

Post show, we reconvened with friends at Tin Roof in the Gaslamp, a place that by all indications, should have been a terrible time (plastic shot glasses, cover band) but in fact, turned out to be a blast (plastic shot glasses, cover band). By night’s end we had sang and danced our blessed little hearts out.

Tin Roof

The Gaslamp is a pretty horrifying place, full of warehouse sized tourist traps serving sweet drinks and previously frozen food, with hoards of insecure, hammered, college kids milling about (the majority of whom were indistinguishable from hookers. Truly). Unless you are in SD for baseball, there is no reason to stay in that godforsaken hunk of cheese.

However, should you find yourself in such a situation, Brian’s 24, a round the clock greasy spoon, is your best option for good eats. Late night, Brian’s is absolutely packed and wait listed, but our visit was an early morning recovery mission, when things were decidedly more quiet.

brians bar

On my agenda, “Brian’s big breakfast sandwich,” a behemoth stack of breakfast’s greatest hits: two fried eggs, four strips of bacon, two rosemary infused sausage patties, four slices of American cheese, and three slices of sourdough toast.

Brians 24

A full half of that decadent grease bomb righted my ship, the second half, tucked safely away for a future crisis of hunger.

We forayed into Mexico for the next twenty four hours, a subject deserving of its own post, forthcoming…

Upon return to the dreaded Gaslamp, post Mexico, we checked in, milled around looking for something/somewhere that was close by, open, and worthy of our vacation time/money, but alas, there really is no such place in the GL, so we embarked upon a short and pleasant two mile stroll to Little Italy for a return visit to Ironside Fish & Oyster.

Along the way, we spotted the familiar blue and yellow umbrella of a Sabrette stand

SD sabrett stand

serving New Yorks famed dirty water dog, ordered “all the way” (topped with savory tomato-onion relish and mustard).


It’s a lucky thing indeed, to have a Sabrette stand in your city.

Ironside Fish & Oyster gave us the comfort that comes with being returned to proper cocktails and thoughtful food, it had been about forty eight hours since we’d had either, and we were seriously ready. Libations poured, our snacks arrived. First, we dipped a toe into the fresh shellfish, with this adorbs platter

Ironside oysters

And then realized that we were fooling absolutely no one with our demur order and went whole hog with this beauty:
ironside platter

Also known as the “big” Ironside platter, intended to be shared by one or two people, a chilled event, loaded with ten Mexican white shrimp dusted with Old Bay, eight green lip mussels garnished with pico de gallo, and a dozen oysters (it’s sold with a half dozen, we added an extra six) with mignionette (cocktail upon request). Also available, the “bigger” and the “biggest,” both of which included lobster (half pound and full pound, respectively).

The rockfish ceviche, awash in coconut milk-habanero-citrus was my jam; a bright and meaty dish with a pleasant hint of spice and fresh cilantro garnish

ironside ceviche

The “Ironside bread” is worth a visit in and of itself;  a buttery, lemony loaf of absolute swoon, served with whipped butter.

ironside bread

That night, a trip to Cucina Urbana, in Bankers Hill

Little Italy Outdoor shot

a giant space with an interesting layout, arranged into four distinct seating areas; the main dining room, mamoth main bar, back dining room, and, open kitchen (not the main kitchen, mind you). Also in the restaurant, a wine shop.

The space is perhaps more impressive than the food, which was a bit hit and miss, with aggressively citrused starters

and perfectly satisfying, not particularly memorable pasta

Followed by this hazily photographed, giant meatball

Little Italy Meatball

In the morning, we bid SD adieu with a final visit to one of our faves, the Waterfront bar,  a cozy dive serving perfect fish tacos

waterfront fish tacos

and these seriously amazing sliders, smothered in caramelized onions and American cheese, served on a sweet, toasted Hawaiian roll (bacon optional)…we went four platters deep until we hit critical mass, and with that, we raised the white flag of surrender and schlepped our asses home.

waterfront slider platter



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