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Dallas Chowhound's San Diego Extended Visit -- Recommendations Appreciated

A large group of us will be in San Diego for an extended period of time (January 21 to Mid-February or so). We are staying at the Westin downtown on Broadway Circle. Late nights, etc, will lead to predictably sub-par dinners brought in for the group by the hotel catering staff.

So, in order to save us all, I am looking for recommendations close by for those who want to walk for a quick bite and driving distance for when we actually have enough time in the schedule to go out for dinner.

We are pretty adventurous and like everything from the old standards to must try new things. The boss loves Mexican food (TexMex that is) but will try almost anything. I am particularly fond of good sushi.

I know that I am not giving the board a list of tastes and must-haves, but we really are a pretty diverse group, so the only criterion is good food. Pretty expensive is okay too, because excellent meals are what make extended hotel stays and late late worknights bearable.

So -- let me know. What do you love, What do you hate, What's a don't miss and What's a stay away. I would do the same for any of you that came to Dallas, so ping if you get down that way.

Thanks.

Jan 18, 2007
itsjustme in California

Packaged grits in Savannah or Charleston: Which brands? Where to buy them?

Anson Mills grits are wonderful. You can get them at Whole Foods in Mt. Pleasant (over the new bridge in Charleston) and Earth Fare in South Windermere Shopping Center (Folly Road). If you just want to order them online, Zingermans specialty foods sells them. Zingermans.com. Get the slow-cooked ones that take 45 mintes to an hour to cook, it's worth the wait.

Oct 14, 2006
itsjustme in Southeast

Dallas - Anyone tried Merkow's?

We went for dinner a week or so ago on a Thursday. We were one of 2 tables in the place (in contrast, Terrilli's was packed and seating peope outside despite the heat). We were not that impressed. The waiter said that they had been open two weeks or so and that the owner was in Las Vegas for the weekend in a poker game. I would not say he is really intent on owning a great, upscale restaurant.

We started with the conch fritters which were ok, but short on conch. The H had a deconstructed bleu cheese wedge which was more mayo than bleu cheese or lettuce. I had the fish special, which was nothing special and a bit dry. The dessert was really good --- ice cream in an almond lace cup. The service was the best part of the night. Waiter was personable and helpful, but he was handicapped by the kitchen. I may go give it another chance, but not for a while. I think things definitely need time to gel.

Aug 07, 2006
itsjustme in Texas

Late Night Dinner at Amuse on Lamar

We headed over to South Lamar after the movie last night for a late dinner at Amuse. As an aside, that area around Lamar is really coming along. We had not been over there since we considered living in the lofts catering to those who did not want to drive from Plano to work every day. Back in 2000, we decided the area was still a little edgy for us and ended up in a loft in Fair Park instead.

Back to the food. We showed up around 10 pm to a restaurant that was still busy and inviting. I started with the Endive with Dried Apple, Bleu Cheese, Walnut and Bacon Salad. My husband had the "Ham and Cheese" Sandwich (Prosciutto, Gruyere, Basil and Tomato) as an entree and I had the Gnocchi with Sun Dried Tomato and Baby Mushroom Cream. To drink, we had a few glasses of Tamas (I think) Pinot Grigio.

The Endive salad was almost perfect. The bleu cheese tang was nicely balanced by the walnut and dried apple which provided a little sweeter note than fresh apples. I thought it had a little too much dressing which weighed down the other greens that they tossed in with the endive. My husband was able to share the salad with me since the portion size was pretty large.

He really enjoyed the Ham and Cheese sandwich, although he commented that the tomato/basil spread was a little sweet. The steak fries that came with it were basically a whole potato cut into 8 wedges; crispy edges with just the right amount of chunky sea salt.

The gnocchi was good, but the sauce was heavenly. I used the crispy herbed flatbread to mop up the remainders instead of sticking with roasted tomato salsa that came with the bread.

The hostess service was a little spotty, but our waiter was very friendly and helpful. The pinot grigio he picked was very crisp and worked well with the salad.

Here's the link if you want to check it out. http://www.amusedallas.com/index.htm

Since we live downtown, I just like seeing quality restaurants coming down this way and chefs willing to give new areas like Southside a shot. We will definitely go again, although we may try Tryst down the street from Amuse just as a comparison.

Aug 05, 2006
itsjustme in Austin

Calling for Menu Suggestions

Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. I wish we had had the time and the room to try them all. I can tell you that I intend to bookmark the thread and come back to it the next time we smoke pig in the backyard. As promised, the final menu is below. Thanks again.

Menu for the Backyard Pig Fest

Pork (Boston Butt cut) smoked for about 12 hours with oak and some cherrywood
Homemade South Carolina Barbecue Sauce (mustard based)
Tangy Cucumber and Avocado Salad
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad with Penne
Creamy Lemon Coleslaw
Roasted German Potato Salad with a Vinaigrette
Homemade vanilla ice cream with brownies
Usual Condiments: Yeast Rolls, Pickles, Onions, etc.

As always, the pig and sauce were crowd pleasers. We had about 20 people drop by when all was said and done. There was much lamenting that the Annual Pig Smoking would have to take a hiatus while the new house is under construction. The Tangy Cucumber and Avocado salad was well received as well as the Creamy Lemon Coleslaw. The German Potato Salad was a little too vinegary, so I will have to play with that recipe. Unsurprisingly, there were no brownies or any ice cream left. Thanks again for the help. Have a great rest of the summer.

Aug 05, 2006
itsjustme in Home Cooking

Calling for Menu Suggestions

We have an annual bar b q party each year and I am geting a little tired of the sides that we normally do. The Bar B Q is always traditional South Carolina Smoked Pulled Pork with South Carolina mustard-based sauce. My husband is from Charleston and is on a crusade to bring pork bar b q to Texas.

We normally serve Flay's Grilled Potato, Watercress and Bleu Cheese Salad; Coleslaw; Green beans with a Vinaigrette and Ice Cream with Fresh Fruit for dessert. Traditional accompaniments: warm yeast buns for pork sanwiches, pickles, beer, etc.

My question to the board is: Anybody have any great new ideas or recipes on what to serve this year with The Pig?

I welcome all suggestions and I promise to post the final menu and how it was received.

Thanks.

Jul 21, 2006
itsjustme in Home Cooking

Good to great restaurants around Oakland City Center Marriot

Thanks so much for all the recommendations. Here is a report in case anyone was wondering which ones we chose.

Soizic -- Sunday night. Definitely a nice change from the hotel food. Service was spotty, but the food was good. I had the endive salad with blue cheese, pears and walnuts and for an entree - the spinach and ricotta pasta dish. Others had the penne with smoked chicken and broccoli which ended up coming without the chicken. Nice walk down Broadway before and after dinner. Sunshine is nice after 10 days of fluorescent lighting.

Verbena -- Monday night. early dinner, not too crowded although they ran out of the beurre blanc sauce for the fish special which seemed odd to me. I wouldn't have thought that beurre blanc was an involved sauce that takes too much time to whip up. The foccacia bread was good. I had crab ravioli. Good wine selection by the glass. Others had the fish special -- monkfish with a balsamic reduction instead of beurre blanc and the fettucine with rock shrimp. All in all a tasty dinner.

Caffe 817 -- Tuesday breakfast. Loved this place thanks so much for the recommendation. The sidewalk seating was perfect for an IM chat with my husband back home while I enjoyed a cafe mocha which the owner pronounced "beautiful" when she gave it to me. She was in an especially good mood as her team was up 2-0 in the World Cup game. I had the Croque Madam for breakfast and the egg was poached perfectly.

Lunch Tuesday at Binh Minh Quan. Wow, those are some stuffed chicken wings. I probably would have gotten just those if I had known how big they were. Also had the Shrimp and vermicelli. Great value and great food.

Dinner Tuesday at Tamarindo. The sangria was refreshing and just what was needed at the end of a long day. This was a great little restaurant. I don't know that any praise that I have would add much to the other post on the board solely about the restaurant. I do recommend it if you have a chance.

Dinner Thursday at Chaya Brasserie on Embarcadero. Thursday night the whole group went over to Chaya in SFO. Choices were limited since the chef was dealing with 25 people. I had the tuna tartare appetizer, the spinach, and mushroom salad and the duck breast as the entree. The other entree choices were salmon wrapped in potato or steak. One of the guys had the salmon and was not that impressed. My duck breast was good, but it was served with odd accompaniments. The dessert for the group was small bites of Chaya's dessert offerings: lemon tart, truffle and a small scoop of sorbet. It was good, but there are other restaurants I would go to if given the choice.

Friday afternoon -- Victory lunch at Siam City next door to Le Cheval which was full for lunch. This place was great. The crabcake special was quite delectable. The rolls (crisp and spring) were a big hit at the table. Everyone enjoyed their lunch. I had the bar b q honey pork with brown rice. The other entrees were pretty diverse at the table. Everybody raved about the food, but it could have just been overflow from the great mood we were all in.

Again thanks for the help. To add my own recommendation, I loved the Its A Grind coffee house on the corner near the Marriott -- about a block from the courthouse. Locally owned, great music, great staff and excellent coffee. At least one member of the team must have been over there 5 or 6 times a day for coffee and the like. They always remembered us, asked us how our case was going and remembered the more frequent buyers' preference even though we were only there 2 and a half weeks. If you are in the Oakland City Center area near the courthouse, give them a try. I liked the coffee much better than Starbucks, but then I don't really like Starbucks.

Happy Fourth, everyone. I am off to track down some fireworks.

Me

Jul 04, 2006
itsjustme in San Francisco Bay Area

Good to great restaurants around Oakland City Center Marriot

Dallas hound in town on business. Our two week stint at the Oakland City Center Marriot is reaching its halfway point and the hotel food being catered in has become a beat down. We can't take the BART into SF during the week (although did ride in for dinners at Ozuma and Michael Mina on Friday and Saturday. Very good.) with all the work going on, so any help on good restaurants around the hotel or a quick cab ride away will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Jun 25, 2006
itsjustme in San Francisco Bay Area