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Monthly Archives: August 2011

Mike’s B.B.Q. from Escondido, CA

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Nancy and I ventured into the north county for a meet with Ray at Mike’s BBQ in Escondido.  Mike’s B.B.Q. is located at 1356 W. Valley Parkway, in Escondido.  Their website:  shows most of what’s important.


The location offers huge accommodations for owner Steve Olson’s big ambition.  Olson see’s his new venture as a place for worship of all things sports with great BBQ to feed the masses of working class Americans living in and aroundEscondido, who will stop in for the best tasting food east ofSan Marcosand for those looking to host large group meetings.


I found the self service approach nice for groups with lots of kids, and that’s okay… but it takes on a cavernous affect with lots of noise making for an intimate get-together with your best friend tough.  They are not a buffet, but you order in front and they beep you to pick up the fresh prepped meal when it’s ready.


The menu is fairly extensive as BBQ goes with offerings of appetizers; salads; bbq ribs of the beef or pork kind and chicken; grilled steaks, burgers, and pork for decent pulled pork sandwiches; plus the have a good dessert menu too.  You can order combo meals, which I did, or meals pure of choice,Nancyhad pulled pork, and Ray had the baby back plate…


I found my combo offered a good change to sample the fare for review purposes.  It’s probably good that I did because I found the chicken was very dry, the baby backs also seemed tired but man oh man the beef ribs were better than good! Nancyand Ray figure to take a pass next time on their meal.


We finished off the bulk of the meal and I did enjoy the Sienna Jane’s Coconut Cheesecake which could become addicting.


The staff was all friendly but their system may not quite be friction free.  Our meals came up as expected but the dessert had to be retrieved long after we finished the meal and if I’d not gone to the right spot I’m not sure I would have been given it.  No beep, beep for our cheesecake, but it was given to me and we ate from it and I found it very good whileNancythought it was okay and I belief Ray took a pass completely.

Great beef ribs



Chili’s does more than Tex-Mex

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Talk to Bobby Flay about burgers.  He’s operating a new line of restaurants featuring burgers from CT to DC with a total of 6 stores listed on his web site.  The trouble is they’re all east coast.  No problem, burger joints are a dime a dozen… well in today’s inflated currency you’d have to say a five dollar bill a dozen, but did you know that Chili’s started as a burger joint inDallas,TX?  Yes they did, back in 1975.


Sports bars aren’t a dime a dozen and never were, but Chili’s boasts a decent bar featuring a sports flavor, that is if you like the Mavericks and Stars, both Dallas franchises one of the NBA the other an NHL club.  They also like the Lakers but I don’t believe you could expect to drink the night away during September and October with yourSan Diegohockey buddies.


The atmosphere in theirSanteeoperation is traditional Chili’s recently remodeled and always clean and decorated with Tex-Mex flavors.  The staff is usually friendly, typically service oriented and good to go for your dining pleasure.  When Nancy and I do Chili’s we usually do the Santee store, at9804 Mission Gorge Santee.


I’ve done the burger route with Chili’s but they no longer offer my favorite (blue cheese), so I did the Cajun Pasta,  which consists of Penne pasta with creamy garlic Alfredo sauce and Cajun spices, topped with tomatoes and green onions $10.99 and very tasty. Nancydid a California Club Toasted Sandwich, with turkey, ham, bacon, avocado, Swiss, lettuce, onions, and at $8.79 it should be good, but it was a little dry. Nancywished she’d done a burger instead. Check out the menu for yourself.  You’ll find the prices are moderate, and the menu is fairly big.  I find myself typically satisfied with most of the food served by this store.  Overall I’d say go there and enjoy yourself.  If you want basketball on TV try the bar in October through April and you’re likely to see the Maverick’s and Lakers battling it out with some team. San Diego is not a basketball town… nor hockey.  Isn’t that like soccer on ice?

Just a good ol American Fav...

Nothing like a good cheese burger

Should Obama vote…

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If President Obama were voting for which sub shop is best, he’d probably vote for Cosi sandwiches, or Tastee Subs.  If pushed to eat out west, the three big shops serving up subs here are Subway, Quiznos, and Submarina.  Being a betting man, I’d guess Mr. President would say he’s going with Subway’s Veggie Delite because they have the sub with the least calories, however his vacation choice was a sub stacked high with multiple meats… so I say ‘whatever it takes to get elected, right?’


I’ve reviewed Subway Eating out can be healthy and tasty too and Submarina

Sub shops duke it out for customer satisfaction…… Now it’s time for Quiznos.  I ordered my turkey sub at the store located at 124 W. Main inEl Cajon.  I had the Ultimate Turkey Club.  Trust me, when you look at the photo they posted online

( you’re going to say, sure that looks very good.  My classic sub didn’t turn out quite like the one pictured.  It was a lot smaller than the photo.  In fact it may be the smallest of the three top sub shops… but it tasted good.  The staff was quiet and professional.  Prices run about the same in all three shops but portions vary with Submarina offering the largest, followed by Subway and Quiznos putting out a sandwich about the same size as Subway.


Which one tastes the best?  Well I say it’s a personal preference.  You know, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?’  The tastes do vary from shop to shop, but I do like Submarina best.  As to which shop is second best?  I’d say probably Subway for the tuna sub.  Theirs is the best for tuna.  Quiznos is okay for a fast food chain looking to service a need amongst the American Public.  My guess is though, if Obama were looking for a best tasting sub here in San Diego, he’d probably go to D.Z. Akins.  Talk about huge meat sandwiches D.Z. Akins… a great deli and bakery awaits your… .  

Sub shops do battle

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I’m the kind of guy who prefers life in the slow lane.  I’d rather give my dollars to Mom or Pop who live in my neighborhood and struggle daily to earn their living providing services to my neighbors.

There they are, number one, two, and three respectively.  Click on any of the top three subway shops in the land, and after lots of reading and thinking you’d realize Subway is having a few business snags, Quiznos is experiencing a little friction with their business partners, and Submarina could be construed as a hometown operation.  Submarina wants to become the best and with the products I’ve tasted, they may well make it.  More over, it turns out Submarina started here inSan Diego(Poway to be exact) with headquarters inSan Marcos,CA., so they are kind of my Mom and Pop sub shop.

Recently I reviewed Subway (Eating out can be healthy and tasty too) and I must report both Subway and Submarina would be classified in the same pigeon-hole, but I do like Submarina better.  My first trip to Subway, decades ago, met with awe at the value given to the customer.  Meat overflowed their fresh baked bread sandwiches, and veggies were fresh and it was all done for very little of my hard earned dollars.  Now, with the passage of time and the economy stuck in drive, with wheels spinning in the sand, going nowhere, the meats have shrunk at Subway, while they still overflow the bread at Submarina.

I love the ATC on a fresh baked wheat roll. Nancyprefers the fresh baked squaw bread, but she too goes for the avocado, turkey, and cheese with all the fixin’s.  I get the 9” sandwich and save half for my meal the next day, so it’s a good deal.  The bread at Submarina is wider than at Subway so that 4.5” amounts to a nice size for a meal.

My Submarina is in Alpine but I’ve shopped at several others and the service has been great no matter the location.  The prices aren’t bad, plus at Submarina you can get nice side dishes, and I’m talking the usual picnic sides (potato, and macaroni salads), which both taste great.  I’d have to give Subarina my node for best business to win my buck when it comes to subs and I’d recommend it to anyone.  Look out Quiznos, here I come.

Good and healthy

Vinny’s of Alpine

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I’ve been on a quest for the best pizza in San DiegoCountyfor some time now (Nicolosi’s still a San Diego champion for good… , Donato’s Italian Restaurant, Marechiaro’s a trip to Italy, Pizza blossoms in Blossom Valley, …) and wouldn’t you know some of my best rewards have been closest to home (Take your next Sunday drive to Pine Valley for pizza? ).  I’m giving you another taste ofSan Diego’sEastCounty where you’re welcome to take a very good taste ofNew York… theBronx to be more specific.


Located within the nearly completed construction zone of S.D.G. $ E.’s moneyed and controversial transmission lines (SDG&E outfits county with lines for renewable energy – San Diego )…, Vinny’s Brooklyn Pizza, at 2754 Alpine Blvd Alpine, CA is where you’ll find the best NY pizza I’ve ever had.  It’s the closest thing to the flavor of Brooklyn west of theBrooklynBridge.


According to Alpine locals, they are glad to have the husband/wife team cranking out pizzas for San Diegans no matter where they live.  Cambria and Danny both said, ‘Even if you live in Vista, Vinny’s of Alpine is worth the drive.  Come down and before Vinny’s go check out Lions, Tigers, and Bears (Lions, tigers and bears – San Diego Animal Advocacy |  Fill up with NY style pizza from Vinny and you’ll go home happy.’


Nancy and I had our usual ham, bell pepper, mushroom, and onion plus the cheese is the real deal.  The crust is thin and the sauce is perfectly portioned to compliment the toppings.  The crust is so flavorful you’d think it must be developed with NY tap water.  I asked Vinny if he bottled it and shipped it to himself from theBronx, he said no but it sure does taste good.


This pizza doesn’t disappoint and I always prefer doing business with good local business owners directly.  You go Vinny’s!

sometime pizza is the SPOT



Izzy’s of Bostonia

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Bostonia, CAis a CDP, which is to say a census-designated place in San DiegoCounty, according to Wikipedia,_California, and they host 15,379 folks living within.  One can safely assume the first resident of Bostonia was fromBostonMA.

Given Americans love acronyms, and FBisms, I’d love to throw out a few “new, English restaurant review terms” and symbols for your enjoyment:

  • $ = how much does it cost here? (I know this one’s nothing new, but it’s new from me)
    • I’ll give it a range of 1-5
      • 1 is very cheap and 5 means most of us shouldn’t go here
      • SR = server rating
        • 1 plate – 5 plates
          • 1 plate suggests server isn’t very competent while 5 means, gets the job done
          • TBR~ = taste bud reactions
            • 1 wow – 10 wows
              • 1 means probably shouldn’t go here and 10 wows equals a grand yummy!
              • RA = restaurant atmosphere
                • 1 – 5
                  • 1 means no neighborhood charm, 5 says you can go here for your anniversary and be a winner

Bostonia is host to Izzy’s Café which is located at 1252 Broadway El Cajon, CA.  They started doing business as a breakfast, lunch operation and still do a bang up job on that but since Izzy’s hubby started doing great BBQ, they’ve taken to serving dinners on Thurs, Fris and Sats.  I spoke to Robert at the table next to me who raves about the culinary brilliance of the brisket with a chocolate cake ending.

Nancy and I went, with me looking for great waffles, whileNancysearched for a good burger (we did the BR = brunch hour).  I found my waffle great andNancyenjoyed her burger very much.

For locals looking to host a large party, Izzy’s has expanded and now has added space for large groups.  You can do private parties or if you Rotary members need new digs, give Izzy’s a look.

As for our new TERMS & ACRONYMS:

Izzy’s is as follows

  • $
  • SR = 5 plates
  • TBR = 8 wows
  • RA = 3+ (see slides)

Subways are abundant in the whole county of San Diego

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How many amongst us know who the heck is Jared?  Like the San Diego Chicken, could Jared have imagined he’d become a star just by becoming a fan of a sub shop?


It’s not just Jared at the helm of this health craze.  Without Subway, there would be no Jared.  Overall Subways have done a pretty good job getting into the forefront of the healthy eating trend amongst fast food offerings.


Go into any Subway and you’re likely to find the menu will be the same regardless of the part of the county you’re in.  I love that they bake their bread fresh daily, and they offer a good variety of breads including my favorite wheat bread.  If you’re really looking to go healthy, get the veggie delight on wheat and you can give Jared a run for the money.  I’ve never been overly partial to veggie delights regardless of the venue but I’ve gone with others who do enjoy a veggie sandwich and Subway stacks up well against the competition.


I enjoy Subway’s tuna.  I’m sure they pack a little more mayo into the tuna than a registered dietitian would like, but you’ve just got to splurge once in a while.  If a tuna on wheat is too decadent then go for the veggie delight when you’re ordering.


I don’t know where it comes from but there is an aroma in most of the stores I’ve been in which I find a little objectionable.  Other patrons have noticed this peculiar aromatic joy, but we usually don’t eat in so I just hold my breath.  Plus if we do eat in, the nose tunes the malodor out in short order.  Eating in is a bit too much of a fast food experience for me, but if you don’t mind Formica tables and benches, it works well enough to dine in.  Many of the Subways do have nice dining al fresco, plus free wifi.


If I have a beef with Subway it’s this, I think deli when I consider a subway sandwich.  When I do a good deli, I expect to find a good side of potato salad, or macaroni salad.  You’ll have none of this from Subway.  So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  You can eat fast foods from a health conscious business morning, noon, and night here inSan Diego… and it’s called Subway.