Grazing in the Gaslamp

Even though Rob and I don’t work for the same organization, we do the same type of work, so we had the happy opportunity this year of being able to attend the same professional conference, which happens to be in San Diego. While we were extremely excited to get out of frigid Boston for a few days, it turns out the west coast is experiencing atypical weather lately, and temps here are only in the high 50s to low 60s.

Nevertheless, we are enjoying the sunshine as much as we can, and even though we can’t walk outside in shorts and using the pool may not be an option on this trip, we are finding plenty to enjoy here, and that includes the food.

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We arrived early afternoon on Sunday, and considering we had been on a plane for almost seven hours, we were pretty hungry by the time we arrived, so we decided to head right down to our hotel’s casual outside dining option, the Tequila Bar and Grill (at the Marriott Marquis & Marina). This outdoor area near the pool has both a traditional bar area as well as comfortable pillowed chairs around fire pits, which is what we selected.

They had a number of tasty looking options on their menu, including “street style” tacos which came in sets of three. We ordered the Baja-style chicken tacos, and the grilled Albacore tuna tacos, both of which were served with a smoky guajillo salsa. We gave the chicken a higher mark than the tuna, but both really hit the spot and were delicious; the chicken was just a little more flavorful overall.

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Later on, we walked over to the Gaslamp Quarter, the historic section of San Diego that is quite walkable and has many options for dining and shopping. Having heard from several sources about Searsucker, we had no hesitation to stop in for a glass of wine and an appetizer. It seems nearly every restaurant in town offers some type of “happy hour” specials on food and drinks, and we ordered two “bites” from the happy hour menu: habanero pickles, and farm-bird lollipops. The pickles were quite spicy but were a nice crisp contrast to the “lollipops”, which were bite-sized portions of chicken, lightly breaded and fried, and coated in a spicy hot sauce, and sprinkled with blue cheese.

20140204-160258.jpgWe walked around the area a bit more, and then finally settled on our last place for the evening (with the time difference we were hitting a wall earlier than normal), the Hopping Pig. Unsurprisingly, just about everything on the menu seemed to include some type of pork product. A funky, rustic bar space inside, we found a cozy window seat for people-watching and shared an order of carnitas tacos, and the jalapeno mac & cheese, which normally comes with bacon, but we asked for it without and they were happy to accommodate the request.

20140204-160250.jpgThe tacos were good, but the star of the order was the mac and cheese, divinely creamy but still surprisingly light. The fresh minced jalapeno in it made it just spicy enough and gave it a great crunch. All in all, a great first day and start to our week in San Diego.

Yesterday, we attended the conference during the day, sneaking a few minutes between sessions to enjoy some of the California sunshine, despite the brisk wind which made 57 feel more like 50. At the end of the day, we decided to stroll along the Harbor Walk from our hotel up to Seaport Village.

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The timing was such that we were able to catch that golden hour as the sun was setting, and watched the scene of joggers, families playing, flying kites, friends shopping and having a cocktail on the various outside decks along the water. We just walked, and eventually we made our way back to our hotel and stopped in at Roy’s, a restaurant specializing in Hawaiian fusion cuisine. Although it’s a chain that originated in Hawaii but with several locations now in the US, the reviews on Yelp, TA and Google were universally positive, so we gave it a test run.

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We were not disappointed. We were there around 5, so the dining room was not at all crowded, but we headed for the bar for a glass of wine and beer, and a nibble. Having seen a review and picture on Yelp, we tried the lobster potstickers, served with a togarishi and brown butter sauce. Although I would describe them more as empanadas than potstickers, they were really delicious, and the brown butter sauce came through. Until we googled “togarishi” we didn’t know it was a type of Japanese chili pepper, but there wasn’t much spicy flavor to the dish. However, that didn’t detract from our overall enjoyment of it.

As we left we booked a reservation for Tuesday evening…more on that in the next post.

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The final meal of the night was back at our hotel, in the Marina Kitchen, where we shared an order of oysters casino, and a margherita pizza, both savory and filling.

Another slightly early night, but looking forward to more great food tomorrow, especially at Roy’s.

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One thought on “Grazing in the Gaslamp

  1. Pingback: Searsucker for lunch | eatdrinkculture

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