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Monthly Archives: December 2011

El Cajon does Texas BBQ like nobodies business Wrangler style

Texasstyle BBQ is what it is but at the Wrangler Family Barbecue, you can count on it being good always ( ) provided you like Texas BBQ.


After nearly 50 years in business at the same spot, I guess it figures that they’ve learned what people like, and that’s what they produce.  They are located at901 El Cajon Blvd.inEl Cajon.  They ‘specialize in beef, ham, and spareribs and have perfected the fine art of classic family barbecue.  We offer complete catering and take out services.’


The signs around suggest it’s a pit style BBQ, which by definition means low heat cooked over long periods of time, literally in a pit of some sort.  This would produce meat that falls off the bone.  It should be tender and juicy.


Barbeque sauces, in this country are belonging to one of four types:  The oldest known is from the south and is a vinegar and pepper concoction.  The next adds a mustard base, which is also southern in roots.  The third type is found with vinegar, pepper and tomato ketchup added.  The fourth type has a heavy tomato component.  It tends to be sweeter than the other three.


Vinegar, pepper and ketchup with tanginess is most often associated with Texas BBQ. Texascomes with 4 styles of BBQ.  East Texas style is essentially Southern barbecue and is also found in many urban areas; Central Texas which originated in the butcher shops of German and Czech immigrants to the region; West Texas involves direct cooking over mesquite and uses goat and mutton as well as beef; and South Texas where the head of a cow is cooked (originally underground).  Depending on which part ofTexasyou’re from, you’ll enjoy the meats cooked low and slow and in the case of Wrangler’s BBQ, we’re talking cooked without a sauce which is served on the side.


The bottom line to this piece is, The Wrangler does good BBQ.  I’ll eat there anytime and I’m nearly ready now.   


Joao’s Tin Fish Bar and Eatery is good enough to eat

The Tin Fish is to San Diegowhat Cannery Row is to Monterey.   In memory of Italian and Portuguese fishermen who encompassed San Diegowith distinct flavor and flare, resulting in a better place for us all… Joao’s Tin Fish Bar and Eatery, located at2750 Dewey Rd. in Liberty Station provides a fine spot for eating the best of Portuguese ocean distinctions.


Rubio’s is usually considered the father ofSan Diego’s ‘fish taco industry’ but the Tin Fish is award winning fish tacos at there best!  Given their proximity of the Downtown Tin Fish to Petco, it is little wonder a patron is welcomed inside the restaurant for sports fellowship.


The bar hosts several flat screens along the walls and gives rise to their Portuguese heritage with a large selection of wines from Portugal and of course they offer many other varieties, a full bar and a large enough collection of beers to keep me happy on game day (


Prices are hot for happy hour fare… that’s food and drink.  The time for getting happy runs from 3-6 Mon-Fri and 4 till closing on Sundays.  They do breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.  There is way ample parking.  They offer patio dinning with a perfect view of commercial jets overhead on their way to 30k feet.  It’s good they’ve gotten so quiet with their jet engines for us outdoor types.


I personally have had no trouble with service from Liberty Station, but there have been hints that servers can be a bit slow at this location.  I’ve also heard that it can be a hard place to find but again that’s a one time event so given it’s not that hard I say go for it at Joao’s Tin Fish Bar and Eatery.  They are just a stone throw from the Corvette Diner.


If I were to rate this spot for food, it would be four thumbs up and for atmosphere I’d go 4 out of 5 just because there’s always room for improvement on any given Sunday.

What to do with your upcoming weekend as the NFL winds down?

El Torito at5024 Baltimore DrinLa Mesahas been hot and cold for me through the years.  After this location burned down they changed the menu and that’s when it went hot/cold.  They are still a good choice for Mexican food.


Make it this weekend, because it’s the last for our Chargers, and you can watch our best rivalry; have a great priced brunch with endless champagne; for a great low brunch price tag.  The brunch has been consistently good forever.


I love the Hacienda look inside this place.  The staff has been pretty good to me and my family so I really have no complaints on any front.  I’ve talked to several people about poor service on ‘taco Tuesday’ but I can say nothing more about that because I’ve not munched a bunch of tacos there on any Tuesday.


I enter this review as a sports examiner because if you want a good spot for good priced food which is usually good and where you can watch the Chargers kick the Raiders about this Sunday then I can recommend El Toritos inLa Mesa.  Adults may enter the chow line for about $16.00 and kids (under 13) eat for just under $6.00.


If you’re lucky enough to have tickets to the game, then you can eat and run, park and ride from Grossmont on the trolley… enjoy the game and trolley back to Toritos’ for taco madness and a Mimosa or two with chips and salsa until you’re ready to call it a night and hopefully we can have a final satisfaction of sending the Raiders home for the post season. 

Ramon’s in Alpine does pretty good BBQ

Variations on the theme…  Ask 10 people what they think of anything, 5 will think it one way; 2 will think it the opposite; and 3 will probably be a bit wishy-washy without real development of the opinion of the facts.


When I go to a new spot for a culinary experience, one I’m not familiar with I’ll typically go in blind and just breath it all in on my own terms.  I’ll sample the ambience, the food, the beverages, and the service then once the bill arrives I’ll figure it out.  Tip 10% means something is bad; 15% to me means it was good to okay; 20% says yes!  Before I write up a review I will look at other reviewers to see their score on that place.  After a day, I’ll write it up.


When there is a 10% tip due, and I’ve found others agree with my tip, no problem.  When I drop a 15-20% tip and others agree, no problem.  When there is descent amongst reviews then I must calculate and go.  The factors are taste, service, ambience and mood of reviewer.  Typically if a review starts with how upset one is with the ticket they got getting to the restaurant and it deteriorates from there, I know it’s not the restaurant at issue, it’s the reviewer.


I’ve been going to Ramon’s Smokehouse BBQ in Alpine for years.  Their food is flavorful and consistent.  Service is first rate with a smile and good attention to detail.  Prices are low enough to be enticing… and I will return again in the near future.  The ambiance is questionable, even if you do like the animals on the walls.  I’m not sure I’d go too far for this fare in terms of miles spent getting there but since it’s pretty close to me, I go for the ham sandwich and one or two sides.


I sometimes compare Ramon’s with The BBQ Pit on Fletcher PkwyMemphis or Texas, if it’s El Cajon, I’ll do Texas at… for the overall affect.  They are similar in terms of aftereffects.  Ramon’s does it a little more KC with a tangy sauce.  The ham is my favorite but I’ve done the beef and ribs and chicken.  I’d go for the ham anytime and the beef is consistent but personal choice goes for pig.


You’ll find Ramon’s at 1730 Alpine Blvd in Alpine. 

Anyone can see Open Bar is an open book, show me the next…

In the recent past I’ve contemplated the essence of Sports Bars P.B. party capitol of the world right? Try The Tavern in general and in Pacific Beach in particular,  now I’ll take you into OPEN BAR… which is found onMission Blvd at 4302 for your approval.


Bottom line to Open Bar is it’s a neighborhood dive bar.  If you’re from the neighborhood and love to drink with friends, then this could become your hangout.


There’s no game because it’s Friday.  Nothing’s  on the tube yet here I am.  PacificBeachis always nice, but when looking for a sports bar the consumer wants a few criteria met if they are to exchange dollars for satisfaction.  As a stranger to this bar, I need to simply apply the rules of engagement, like if there’s a big bouncer at the door and they want a $5.00 cover charge, don’t go in.  If it takes 5 minutes to see anything upon entering, reconsider your choices.


I look for a pleasant place to spend time.  That means if I suck in a deep breath of air I hold it in before I exhale to allow the aroma time to imprint on my memory.  It is pleasing to me.  I listen and am happy with sounds beating on my ear drums.  Charmed when the staff greets me.  I’m ready for whatever comes when they invite me into their world and am ready to do business with this sports bar.


The beers aren’t free at the Open Bar and the Makers Marks are too pricey to pound them down like water in the desert.  I hate using the head when it stinks, as this one did.   I’m not for holding my breath for memory imprints here.


The staff is friendly enough.  They didn’t wrap me in warmth but they didn’t make me want to bail out either.  Maybe one beer and a burger?


Don’t come here looking for good pub grub… it’s never here.  There’s a hotdog dude selling dogs, but I’m not a hotdog kind of guy (unless we’re at Petco and my Pads are winning).  They also offer a good bowl of ‘free’ chili… and that was good enough, but not worth the miles I’d have to spend to get here.


So the best thing I’ll say about Open Bar is it’s close to other BARS just around the corner.


Bob’s Big Boy more than a blast from my past

937 Parkway Plz. in El Cajonis where you’ll find the Westfield Mall along with the big Wal-Mart anchor and Bob’s Big Boy.  I’m talking a blast from my past here, fromL.A. days,  The trouble is I don’t remember much of the food but I can remember the ICONIC Bob out in front.


Today, my favorite eating out meal is breakfast.  One may contest that it doesn’t matter where I eat because breakfast is easy to make.  Not so!  Pancakes can be less than flavorful and light.  Waffles can be undercooked and tasting doughy.  Eggs can be delivered with the whites still showing raw protein waiting to bring on the pain.  Not so at Bob’s Big Boy inEl Cajon.  I’ve eaten here many times and have never been disappointed for breakfast.


In addition to the food being well prepared each time I’ve been here, I must say the staff has never been less than professional, courteous, and friendly.  The restaurant itself has always been clean, bright and cheerful.  And if you’re shopping, I mean come on… the Mall is right there!


As long as I’m talking breakfast, they’ve got a huge menu.  I like the seniors menu as they offer nice sized portions.  If you’ve got a bigger appetite they’ll take care of that too.  They do it all, breakfast, lunch and dinner plus you could do just appetizers anytime… Christian, my grandson likes the chicken strips.


I ate here for lunch once, with Christian and had to try the classic double cheeseburger.  I think I didn’t like it then because I preferred Jack in the Box at the time.  Now that I’m older, well I guess it’s the commercials because I still enjoy Jack’s.  I later tried the Big Blue Cheese and was very pleased with my lunch at that time. I was also surprised by the Ruben sandwich which was very tasty.


The bottom line here is I’d go back to Bob’s Big Boy anytime when I’m inEl Cajonand hungry.  I prefer the breakfast to the lunch but that’s just me.  You won’t find better service than at this location.  And the price is fair market pricing.

P.B. party city or what check out The Tavern

‘Always a party at the Tavern.’  That’s what they advertise, check it out

(  I think P.B. is party capitol of the world.  I mean didn’t they single-handedly shut down their own street fair because they party too hardy?  Didn’t they manage to get ‘drinking on the beach’ outlawed in all ofSan Diego?


After all what’s a sports bar supposed to be all about?  It always seemed as though we’re talking Chargers vs. Raiders in the house when we’re talking sports bar.  Well maybe yes maybe no, but if that’s the right frame for your thinking, then The Tavern at the Beach is where it’s at!


Go to 1200 Garnet (P.B.) and just look around.  What you’ll see is lots of bars!  There’s Fred’s Mexican Cafe; Typhoon Saloon; Society Billiards; Ciro’s Pizzaria & Beerhouse; Plan B; Now back down the same street the 5 blocks back to The Tavern on the north side of the street and you’ll see Kono’s Cafe; Blind Melons;  Kafe Yen;  Moondoggies; Pacific Beach Bar & Grill;  Zanzibar Cafe;  Bub’s Dive Bar;  Cabo Cantina; Sinbad Cafe;  Plum Crazy Saloon; The Tiki House and that doesn’t include the 4-5 restaurants where you can put down cavernous amounts of suds with your food.


The point is if you want a sports bar that’s a place to party then The Tavern at the Beach is your place.  They’ve got:  ‘We offer:

  • Two Full-Service Bars
  • Two outdoor patios
  • Pool Tables
  • Video Gaming
  • Over 40 TVs
  • 37 HD Widescreen TVs
  • All Major Satellite Packages
  • Resident DJs (7 days a week)

Hours of Operation:

12 noon – 2 am
(Open early for all weekend sporting events)’

My trip there was on Charger come back Sunday and it was packed!  Too packed for my personal taste… but it proved a spot for a little food and an update on the score, Nancy and I knew we weren’t long for the party so we had salad and a score.  The Ceasar is good and with Chicken it was only $6.79 and filled me up.  Nancy had Brother Tom’s which is a very nice salad for $4.79 and comes with Romaine & spring lettuce, sliced carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, mozzarella, and croutons. 


The Chargers were on the road to the Superbowl, ‘Go Norv!’ and we went home to finish the game.  For a party bar, I’d say 3.879 of 5 thumbs ups.