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1HotTomato's Profile

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Tucson Suggestions? Looking Specifically For...

I went to U if A some 20 (gulp!) years ago and am returning with my 9 year old son to do a little sightseeing over his spring break.

Looking specifically for recommendations for places like El Arte De Rosita, Cafe Terra Cotta, Lucky Wishbone, Janos and Daniel's in the early 90s. (Any of those places still around?) I know that's all over the place, so allow me..

I'd like to visit an authentic Mexican joint. I live in San Diego, so we get great Mexican food, but Sonoran style is a different kind of good. I used to love El Arte De Rosita…and the place (I forget the name) with the big sizzling trays of chicken with bacon and great charro beans…looking for authentic versus fancy.

Cafe Terra Cotta was cutting edge back in the day. Great food. Janos, too, but fancier. I'd love to hear about something inventive going on that's uniquely Tucson. What's new on your food scene? (Foodie shop suggestions welcomed, too.)

Daniels was just…good. Upscale, but not overly. I love foie gras and can't get it in CA, so bonus points for helping me find a good goose fix.

Lucky Wishbone was a great local chain of fast food dives. Their fried shrimp were my college favorite. I'd love a "quick bite"/guilty pleasure option. We're on vacation. "Healthy" is not the most important criteria. In general, I don't do vegetarian/vegan restaurants.

So…yeah, looking for suggestions in any of the above categories. And also maybe a good outdoorsy place to eat. I think the Tohono Chul Park had a tea room back in the day, but would love to find something yummy with a walking area nearby. Anything near Desert Museum or Sabino Canyon?

Price - anything from "Rachel Ray cheap" to $35 per person without drinks. Will have a 9 year old with me. He's a pretty open-minded eater and well-mannered diner, but having something interesting like art or good people-watching would certainly be a plus.

Thanks in advance for suggestions…and feel free to mention any non-foodcentric "don't miss" things to do! :)

Mar 24, 2014
1HotTomato in Southwest

Quintessential San Diego Food...?

We're moving to Chicago - my favorite foodie haven - in a week, and looking for suggestions of food/places that we won't find outside of San Diego...or better outside of San Diego.

My mind is blank. I started perusing the 10 Best Things to Eat in San Diego list, but a lot of the suggestions are include foods that can be found anywhere...and perhaps better...?

Thanks in advance!

May 22, 2010
1HotTomato in San Diego

Carne Asada in SD for the grill?

Absolutely, positively the BEST carne you'll find is at Iowa Meat Farms. It's a bit of a drive, but worth it. They also sell their top-secret marinade to take home with you...

Aug 27, 2009
1HotTomato in San Diego

Suggestions for SF Dive Eats... and mid-range restaurants

Coming up from San Diego and likely to take the 101 all the way up...

May 05, 2009
1HotTomato in San Francisco Bay Area

Suggestions for SF Dive Eats... and mid-range restaurants

Thanks...any recommendations on which ones are good? I guess I should have clarified that "cheap" isn't our top criteria. Good is. Followed by casual, kid-tolerant and then reasonably priced.

May 05, 2009
1HotTomato in San Francisco Bay Area

Suggestions for SF Dive Eats... and mid-range restaurants

Thanks...I did a search for SF dives and got a lot of irrelevant links back.

May 05, 2009
1HotTomato in San Francisco Bay Area

Suggestions for SF Dive Eats... and mid-range restaurants

We're taking a road trip up to SF this weekend and it's been a while since I've been, so I'm hoping to get some suggestions for excellent "dives".

We have a car...and a child....and will also be trekking down towards Mountain View.

Fortunately our child is a pretty adventuresome eater, but we're not interested in blowing $100 on dinner for him. We're not on a serious budget, but with a kid, we'd rather eat at casual and moderately priced joints. (under $30 for lunch and under $80 for dinner - excluding drinks and tip).

I love dim sum (understanding that under $30 does not apply) and all sorts of Asian cuisine (although my husband is Thai averse), we all enjoy a great burger, but can skip the pizza, veggie/vegan joints and Mexican. Would be particularly interested in exceptional seafood joints, any type of California or Continental cuisine places, and any kind of "comfort food"/diner establishments. My husband is 35 going on 100 and LOVES chicken fried steak, sawmill gravy, and most blue plate specials.

Thanks for your help!

May 05, 2009
1HotTomato in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Pizza - San Diego

I make my living dealing with pizzerias and Luigi's is by FAR the best in town. No contest. Plus, the people are rad.

Filippi's...really? ALL of their food is mediocre at best. Don't waste the time or money.

I've had Grubby's while they were developing their recipe and it seemed promising. Have not had it since they opened. I will say that I am surprised to hear anyone classify their sauce as "marinara" because they were just using straight up tomatoes with very little seasoning.

I will say that Chicago pizza is only found in Chicago. And nobody can agree on what is truly New York pizza. San Diego is not the place to look for a great pie. Seafood, maybe. Mexican, definitely. Pizza - head East. Really.

Feb 04, 2009
1HotTomato in San Diego

OC - Ho Sum Bistro (looong) - Brunch on Sunday

I used to live down the street and this was one of my favorite haunts!

I prefer the Sesame Seed Chicken salad which is lighter than the other and made with romaine tossed with poached chicken breast, slivered almonds, sesame seeds and crunchies. The dressing is also a lighter, tart rice vinegar base with just enough sweetness to balance it. Served ice cold, it's a great summer treat.

They do have quenelles, but they are chicken, not fish.

I miss Ho Sum!

Aug 16, 2008
1HotTomato in Los Angeles Area

BEST RESTAURANTS IN PALM SPRINGS

Maybe I was at Matchbox on an off-night. Will give it another try.

But tonight, eating at Purple Palm. Menu looks fantastic, and the Colony Palms Hotel is adorable. Room is small, but feels like a mini vacation. There is a huge hammock tucked into a private corner outside my door, as well as a soothing fountain. Great lounge-y furniture by the pool. Looking forward to dinner.

Apr 16, 2008
1HotTomato in California

Best Upscale Italian San Diego

Gemelli's is RIDICULOUSLY over-priced. Their food is okay, but certainly not in line with what they charge. I remember ordering two "special-of-the-day salads" last time I was there...average sized plates of greens, fruit and a few nuts with a very small portion of mediocre steak...for $22! Each! At lunch!

I personally like Stingaree for upscale Italian. Yes, it's not "traditional" Italian, but the food is always great, beautifully presented, and inventive. Traditional Italian, by nature, is not upscale. Antica Trattoria, while wonderful, is hardly upscale. I don't have a problem showing up there in flip-flops. Same with Arrivederci. Stingaree always feels like a night out. It's one of the very few places I frequent downtown.

Apr 13, 2008
1HotTomato in California

BEST RESTAURANTS IN PALM SPRINGS

I've been having to go out to PS a bit lately, and am fortunate enough to be able to eat just about anywhere. I've had two lovely experiences at Johanne's. The atmosphere is mellow, the service excellent, and the food delicious. I went for drinks and desserts one night and the creme brulee and bread pudding (which I'm generally not a fan of) were spectacular.

Another night I had the escargot as a starter and the duck as a main course...both of which were fantastic - the snails tender not chewy and the duck rare but well-rendered.

I've been to Zin a few times and it's been more hit-or-miss. My first experience was great - fantastic server...chive butter so good I had to replicate it immediately...AMAZING super-creamy lobster bisque strewn with huge chunks of claw meat and decadently seasoned with sherry....rare hanger steak and crispy frittes that were perfect...amazing creme brulee. I had to have that same meal again, but was disappointed the second time around.

The next time, the soup was a cream of wild mushroom (which was good, but not sublime), a distracted waiter, hanger steak that was impossible to chew...frittes were underdone...and I skipped dessert. I couldn't leave fast enough.

Matchbox was (IMHO) god-awful Overrated. Sauce was flavorless and cheese gummy. Crust was okay...but not stellar. Why does this place get raves? Am I just ordering poorly?

Hotel Zoso's Eatz was just AWFUL. Stayed at the hotel, which is lovely...but the food was awful. I was served ice-cold, congealed food not once, but twice. Better to walk next door to Johanne's, which is what I began to do.

Kaiser Grille was very blah as well, but at least the servers were nice.

I'm looking forward to trying the Purple Palm this time around. Am staying at Colony Palms, and it looks great.

Apr 13, 2008
1HotTomato in California

Cheese stores in San Diego/Del Mar

(Not so recent) newcomer TASTE Cheese (on University Ave. in Hillcrest next to Wine Steals) is awesome. Proprietors George and Mary Palmer are uber-cheese geeks.

They have classes to introduce regional cheeses and drink pairings (even wine and beer classes!) and will offer you samples of just about anything in the store.

Jul 11, 2007
1HotTomato in California

Best Canned Tomatoes

Citric acid occurs naturally in tomatoes and helps preserve them. It is flavorless. If you DON'T see citric acid on the label, the can includes green tomatoes (that have been picked very prematurely) that contain high levels of citric acid to balance the product out. This gives a bitter flavor - not from the citric acid, but rather from the unripened tomatoes.

Jul 11, 2007
1HotTomato in General Topics

Best Canned Tomatoes

Yes...that is what I am saying. True "San Marzanos" don't exist anymore.

You're going to see some very interesting changes in labeling soon. The Italians have long allowed products from other countries to be erroneously labeled Italian, but new laws are starting to change that. Carmelina, who someone mentioned earlier on, are packed in Chinese paste. They are packaged and labeled in Italy...but not always grown there or packed in true juice/puree.

This is what I study for a living. I'm not just a blowhard geek...this is my specialty. My apologies if I come off as anything other than well-informed.

Jul 11, 2007
1HotTomato in General Topics

Best Canned Tomatoes

Redpack are the harvest rejects. Seriously. I work in the Pizza/Italian business and am familiar with the manufacturers and processes. Redpack are packed from what remains after Stanislaus, Escalon, and the other higher end packers take their pick.

Jul 11, 2007
1HotTomato in General Topics

Visiting NYC - Recs in vicinity of 32nd/Broadway

Yeah...after reading a review of Masa, I'm intrigued, but not enough to drop a grand for 2...especially when the other person is as far from a foodie as they come. If you remember the name of the Korean restaurant, please let me know.

And I've altered the query to a $10 ride...;)

Jun 06, 2007
1HotTomato in Manhattan

Breakfast in SD

Nice people, but food is mediocre at best. (IMHO)

Jun 06, 2007
1HotTomato in San Diego

Breakfast in SD

I second the Authentic Mexican Breakfast at Cass! Has nursed me through many, many a nasty hangover. Only downside is no hard liquor, so you have to settle for beer or mediocre mimosas.

I love the food at Cantina, but think they have an attitude problem. The Dragon Potatoes are fantastic. You can add steak for another $3...but if you want a second tortilla, it will cost you $2. For a f'ing tortilla. Reason enough to boycott the joint until they come back to earth.

I also like Hash house A GoGo in Hillcrest. Huge plates...but if you ask nicely, they will make you some of their sage fried chicken and lay it lovingly on a bacon waffle for you. YUM-MERS!

Jun 06, 2007
1HotTomato in San Diego

Visiting NYC - Recs in vicinity of 32nd/Broadway

Hi there!

Visiting NYC for what is essentially the first time. Coming from San Diego for the licensing show at Javis. Looking for great, reasonably priced restaurants within a $10 cab ride from my hotel, which is on 32nd between Broadway & 5th. Also, maybe a spendy place with amazing food (up to $250 pp). I'm 40, and married with a kid, so a scene isn't a selling point.

I love all foods Asian (Nobu in Vegas & LA are long time favorites), Peruvian, Spanish, Interesting. Love foie, steaks and burgers. Italian is a solid go-to, but has to be extraordinary. Same for sushi or Mexican. Atmosphere and decor not a priority.

Places with solid wine lists welcomed.

Jun 06, 2007
1HotTomato in Manhattan

Picnic or lunch on way to San Diego Zoo

I'm sorry...but World Market???

Yes, there is food at the zoo. It's edible, but not very good. And it's expensive, although the money you spend does help subsidize conservation efforts. They do allow you to bring food in...but no bottles or straws.

The Prado at Balboa park is great - good food (albeit a little pricey, but not painful), great drinks (their pisco sours are a nice change of pace) and a beautiful setting. I don't think they do "to go" well, though. And it's probably a little fancier than you're looking to do for a zoo day (or not). But it's walking distance.

A great, unique choice for a munchie lunch is TASTE cheese shop in Hillcrest. They are right on University - on the bus line - and have a wide variety of super-fresh artisan products. They carry salumi, olives, crackers, chocolate and best of all, a great selection of cheeses - freshly cut - not wrapped for weeks in plastic and sitting in an open cooler like the stuff at World Market.

Sorry, not to bag too hard on World, but if you're going to do the cheese and cracker thing - do it right!

Tip for the zoo (I'm there every weekend with my little guy) - get the bus pass and take the EXPRESS bus (not the tour bus). It lets you off and on at numerous stops around the zoo, so when you get tired of walking and just want another perspective, catch the bus and sit back. You'll still get the "tour", but with on/off priveleges all day, which is niiiiice. Bring your own water - it's like $3 for a small bottle there - and lots of sunscreen. Go early. It gets brutally hot and the animals like to nap mid-day.

May 22, 2007
1HotTomato in California

Best Hamburger in San Diego?

I'm sorry, but I'm absolutely enamored with the Tower 23 burger at JRDN. $10 buys you a generous patty of freshly ground meyer ranch chuck...nicely charred on the outside, pink and juicy in the middle. Topped with white cheddar and served on a soft, freshly baked roll with all the trimmings on the side and a MOUND of delicious, thin crispy herbed pomme frittes. Yes, it's pretty, but it's not pretentious.

This love affair will last and last. They also have a nice wine and cocktail list...and do other things well. I love this place...even though they tore down my favorite little boardwalk store to build it.

I really dig the carpaccio with fried capers, too.

May 04, 2007
1HotTomato in San Diego

You have $5 in San Diego

HOW CAN I FORGET???

A great new gem - Uncle Vito's Subs - brouht to you by the good folks who own Mimmo's. Del Mar Highlands area. AMAZING sandwiches on fresh baked bread, all made to order. You-call-it salads with not a leaf of iceberg in sight. Fresh soups. Parking sucks, but it's a winner. Look for a new location at the ballpark soon.

May 04, 2007
1HotTomato in California

You have $5 in San Diego

For $9.95 plus tax you can have a great ground-in-house cheeseburger on a fresh baked roll with all the fixins and a hearty helping of some amazing herbed pomme frittes at JRDN in PB. Sit on the patio and you get a show with your meal (interesting folk and tasty waves). One of my favorite mid-day escapes.

Down the street is surfer favorite Kono's. Food is good...not great, but delicious after a morning in the water. Good breakfast burritos and fries. Cheap. Line out the door.

Hodad's has great burgers as well. I know, I know...I used to dig Rocky's, but they pulled a major asshole move and I'm boycotting them. Plus, Hodad's has that thick chewy bacon that really slams that burger home. Their onion rings don't suck, either.

Point Loma Seafood does a ridiculous sandwich of deep-fried scallops on white bread for around $6.

Luigi's pizza. Cheap and yummy and run by very cool folks. Their chefs, Rita and Ramon, very much rock.

Masala and Bombay do lunch buffets for around $10 that are pretty tasty and the environment is gorgeous and relaxing.

I've had many a broke-ass guy treat me to 1/2 price Mondays at World Famous...and it was all good.

May 04, 2007
1HotTomato in California

Pizza in SD

That's interesting, since the founder of buongiorno's helped start bronx pizza....they share a lot of similarities in style and recipes. I also LOVE Luigi's...I think they add a secret ingerdient that makes you crave it fortnightly...

Newcomer Vinnie's in Alpine is doing good work. Amazing sauce. And I'm eagerly awaiting A Sicilian Thing, which is due to open in the next couple of weeks.

May 04, 2007
1HotTomato in San Diego

Recommendations at Prime (Bellagio)

Thanks for the recommendations!

Mar 18, 2007
1HotTomato in Southwest

Taste in Hillcrest

TASTE rocks! I manage to find some new vice every time I walk in. It doesn't hurt that the proprietors are foodies and wine geeks who always have great recommendations and serving ideas. Easily the best cheese shop in SD.

Mar 15, 2007
1HotTomato in San Diego

5 Nights, Different eats in San Diego, Under 15pp

You're absolutely right...how could I have forgotten about Pizza Port??? Trumps Leucadia by far...

Sorry!

Mar 15, 2007
1HotTomato in California

5 Nights, Different eats in San Diego, Under 15pp

"Young and on a budget"

Well...to me, young is in your 20s??? Get OUT of Chula Vista and head north west, my sister!

Hit Pacific Beach. Lots and lots of very cute guys, great little shops and beautiful ocean, too. Rent a surfboard to work up an appetite!

Fabulous new(er) place right on the beach is JRDN in Tower 23. For $10, you can get the best cheeseburger you've ever had and a mound of delicious, super-thin crispy fries seasoned with herbs. They grind their beef on-site, so it's super fresh and the bread the burger is served on is soft and yummy. It's right on the beach, so the people watching on their spacious patio is a nice plus. You can't beat this place for outdoor. They also do lobster BLT on brioche for $13 and have a full sushi bar. Cantina in PB does great Asian-Latino healthy fusion for $8-$15 a head at lunch...and Cass St. Bar & Grill is a fun dive for night-time. Food is very good for a dive bar. Asian Chicken Salad, Teriyaki Steak Sandwich and their Fish Burgers (not ground fish, but fresh-catch filets of the day) are all great. Cass St. is cash only.

Another fantastic burger joint is Hodad's in Ocean Beach. More of a dive (JRDN is more upscale, yet not pretentious), but the burgers are bomb and OB is a fun little beach town.

Roppongi in La Jolla has a fabulous Happy Hour at their bar where everything is 1/2 off between 4-6 weekdays. Another great, fun place with lots of beautiful people. Down the street, the restaurant (Guiseppe's) at the Museum has great lunch fare as well.

Point Loma Seafood was featured on $40 A Day. They have loads of amazing seafood, including a sandwich of fried scallops on white bread (around $7) which is mighty tasty.

I tend to think the Gaslamp (downtown) is trendy, expensive and overrated, but Cafe Sevilla does nice tapas in a wide range of prices. They also have great sangria and a fun bar downstairs with salsa dancing. For lunch, Masala restaurant Group does nice Indian lunch buffets at all of their restaurants - Masala, Bombay (in Hillcrest), Blue Ginger (Chinese) - for around $11.

Especial Norte on Highway 101 has amazing mexican soups...but it's still Mexican food...which I love, but tend to find heavy and unimaginative. And Chinese here...well, save it for the Bay Area. It's my favorite kind of food...and San Diego isn't the place to find stellar Asian chow. China City on Convoy is pretty good, but there are better choices for the money than our Asian fare.

San Diego is about Coastal living and beachy food. Have fun where you go...but go fun places!

For pizza, Bronx Pizza is terrific. I also love Leucadia Pizza on Highway 101 in Encinitas.

Welcome... ;)

Mar 14, 2007
1HotTomato in California

Vagabond V. The Guild in San Diego

Skip Vagabond. Nice decor, but food is mediocre at best and unimaginative. Owner is a pretentious jerk-off. Over-rated.

Thanks for the review of the Guild. Sounds fabulous!

Mar 14, 2007
1HotTomato in California