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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Normal Heights hosts the Ould Sod – a fine sports bar

Last year I started working as a Sports Bar Examiner.  Just what does that mean?  A simple answer is a contributor to  One who specializes in sports bars within my community.


As a Freelance Contributor I work my community, defined as neighborhoods in San Diegans.  When starting as a Sports Bar Examiner, I figured this job was a snap.   I have discovered clubs contain lots of subtle variations.  Sports Bars can be upscale or dive bars.  They may have themes, like Irish Pubs.


When looking for material to write about, I do preliminary research by looking at Google Earth and following along corridors on their grids which display symbols showing bars and taverns.


Next I’ll Google a place that readers might enjoy visiting.  If it has merit, I’ll plan my trip to take in that place.  I almost never go anywhere anymore without lining up at least 3-4 spots.


The day I bought tires for my van, I ran Google Earth to find this tire shop.  I was pleased to see the Incredible Cheesecake Co.  Bakery goodies 101 or the Incredible Cheesecake Co. was just two doors west of the tire shop and that was on a list of places to Examine.   Likewise I found a true sports bar just down the way, The Ould Sod.  Never a better Irish Pub will ya hope to belly up to the bar in.


Located at3373 Adams Ave, inNormalHeights, The Ould Sod awaits your arrival.  A true sports bar, a better than average dive bar where sports fans can gather and revel in the home team.   The bar began its current incarnation in 1989.  The owners Tommy Quinn, Ron Stout and Mick Ward have brought the luck of the Irish toSan Diegofor sure.


The Ould Sod is a great community oriented business, sponsoring:  Drama Groups;  Pub crawls;   Amnesty International concerts; St. Patrick’s Day parade functions; Bus trips to Petco park and Qualcom; Patron outings to local sporting events;  And they host the annual Marine Corps birthday party in November.


You’ll find no pub grub inside but they don’t mind you bringing in food from outside. They offer plasma flat screens for NFL and college football, baseball, hockey and basketball and any other major sporting events of the day.  You can’t help but admire people who work charitable causes and this bar does more than its fair share.


Bakery goodies 101 or the Incredible Cheesecake Company


What do you buy once inside the bakery?


Popular Bakery Products are: Biscuits /Cookies; Cakes; Bread/Buns/Burgers/Rusk; Wafer Biscuits; Pizza; Dough Nuts; Bagels; Waffles; Muffins; Cupcakes; Pies; Swiss rolls; Puff Pastries and thus the top 14 goodies as listed by Bakery Industry (a blog on and so I find this a good yard stick to measure the bakeries I’ll be working for the next few weeks.


When you are diabetic, like me, you’ll lean toward oatmeal cookies or wheat bread, if you dare enter a bakery at all.  When you are blessed with a high metabolism and good health likeNancy, you lean toward cheesecake.  Now here’s a question:


Is Cheesecake a Pie Or Cake?


Cheesecake is a dessert of a topping made of soft, fresh cheese on a base made from biscuit, pastry or sponge. It comes under the heading of pie, because cakes rise, cheesecake does not.  Then why do so many bakeries sell Cheesecake Pies?  The answer is simple, ‘Who cares.  Just eat and enjoy.’


The first bakery from my list of shops to review is The Incredible Cheesecake Co. at 3161 Adams San Diego;

(  It’s a small, unassuming shop waiting to thrill you cheesecake lovers.


I bought an oatmeal cookie, a slice of 18 Karat Cheesecake, a slice of Cookies & Cream, and one Deluxe Brownie… My total was about $10.00 and the slices were generous.  The manager was friendly and knowledgeable. I felt I’d made a great deal given Marie Calendar sells small cheesecakes for $30.00 per with a total weight about the same as the pleasures I’d just purchased from ICC.


When you go to ICC you’ll be in NormalHeights.  Not far from here, for you DayTrippers you’ll find a couple of very pleasant parks but if you’d like something more to do for the miles you spend getting here, I suggest you can try a nice, inexpensive play.  Not far away is a pleasant little playhouse on El Cajon Blvd. in North Park.  There you can see a play for around $15.00 per (!).   And when compared to most theatres charging about $50.00 per well such a deal! Read the rest of this entry

London’s West End ends at our beach in a beautiful way

On a typical gorgeousSan Diegoday there is no better spot than a place like the beach at the end ofTourmaline Street.  Even on a gray day like when I went hunting for the perfect dive bar, there is none better than the one atLondon’sWest End.


Talk about your dedication.  They are open 7 days per week from 6:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m.  This fact sets me to thinking, who goes there at 6:00 a.m. and why?  They serve no breakfast at theWest End.  They serve mainly bottled beer and well drinks that are strong and cheap.  Grab a pool stick and play a game or two on one of the two tables for half a buck or throw a game of darts… it’s all good at this dive bar extraordinaire.


Locals like to hang out here because it’s a great dive bar and they are a bit scarce in this part of town.  You can find surfer dudes here.  I met a doctor and an attorney (just hangin from the hood, they said) on the day I checked this place out.  They are young and they are old here.  The service is outstanding.  Very attentive and there is no attitude about your activity.  It’s a very mellow world inside.


I was told they have a guy who does hotdogs on the sidewalk in the evening but otherwise you’d better not come looking for any grub.  Pernicano’s is next door and down the road is a Tapas bar where you can get toast with Mediterranean toppings.  Head north a bit and you can find sushi.


If it’s a bad thing, and I find it a very bad thing because I only carry plastic, they don’t do plastic here.  The good thing about this is you probably won’t run up a $200.00 bar tab and regret it the next day.


This place will be really crowded for Superbowl Sunday.  They are doing $2.00 brews and well drinks for $2.50 all day!  So go there and get your football fever on, but get there early because the club isn’t that big.


London’sWest Endis located at5157 La Jolla Blvd.and they do like sports and party time.  I’d go back if it where my neighborhood for sure.

Some Asian places are good but this Star really shines!



Star Bakery1372 3rd Avenue,Chula Vista,CA…


‘Visit us for lunch today! We have Chicken Adobo, Menudo, Mechado, and Lumpias!’

What’s that?  That’s what you may find at Star Bakery inChula Vista.


‘Family owned and operated, Star Bakery serves delicious Filipino baked goods, desserts, snacks, food, and drinks. Stop in to have some wonderful hot Pan de Sal, tasty Turon, scrumptious Cheese Rolls, rich Pan de Ube, sweet Bicho Bicho, mouth-watering Leche Flan, or Pecan Tarts! In the mood for lunch or dinner to go? Create your own combo meal consisting of hot Lumpia, Pansit, Adobo, Menudo, and more! Halo-Halo can be had at Star! Having a party? Star Bakery also offers catering services to help make your celebration complete!’


Top of Form

Estrella & Armando Paguio are the proud owners of Star Bakery and they’re open from 6:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. seven days per week and to look at these hard working citizens you’d think they’re in love with the business.


Cheryl Burke, Tim Lincecum, Rob Schneider, and Cristeta Comerford are just a few of the folks with genetic ties to thePhilippines.  I’m sure some wonder who these people are.  Cheryl is the DWTS pro dancer; Tim is an MBL pitcher for the Giants; Rob is the SNL grad gone to the big screen and now the small one; and Cristeta?  Well she is the chef for The White House.  I know they’d all like to drop in on Estrella & Armando for Abodo or Halo-Halo on a hot summer day.


Star Bakery is the kind of place you can drop in on for some good food seven days per week and know you’ll receive the best in what they do.  The prices are right.  The atmosphere is right.  So even if you dwell in theNorthCounty, pack your bag and get to Star Bakery for some delicious ethnic food be it sweet or savory you’ll find it here.


I suppose it’s just the right thing to do here, to recommend one product as must try. Nancyloves flan so we did the Leche Flan and it is the best!  I also recommend their   Empanadas as just great comfort food.  I had a chicken empanada hot out of the oven and now I’m in love.


I’d give the place 4 thumbs ups on every front:

  • Price
  • Taste
  • Service
  • Availability of product



Excalibur, the name alone brings out the masculine beast

As a kid growing up inNational City, where my Grandmother, Grandfather, Father and Mother were all born before me, I tagged along with my father when he visited ‘old friends’ from his high school days.  One friend loved clocks and good cigars and an occasional pipe.  I loved the differences in that home with the ticking of clocks on the walls, and the pipe and cigar paraphernalia parked near Don’s easy chair.  Don would be smoking a cigar and though I may not have loved the experience of second hand smoke on my 7 year old lungs, I did enjoy the atmosphere in that old house.  The smell of cherry tobacco did appeal.


The only other contact I had with cigars was, after getting caught smoking cigarettes; my Father had a surprise for my brother and me that afternoon.  Home from work my Father decided to ‘teach us a lesson’.   He’d bought 3 big stogies.    I can’t remember the brand but they appear big and stinky in my memory.  After turning green and feeling ill for a few hours we’d learned the lesson, and I didn’t smoke again until a friend’s baby was born and they still gave up cigars as tokens of the event.


The Excalibur Cigar and Wine Lounge, located at 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd is in an ex-sport bar spot I reported on last year, The Bull Pen Bar & Grill.  I always fear that a business trying to make a go of it in the spot where the priors failed is likely to fail. However, Excalibur is so far removed from the Bull Pen that I’d guess they will succeed.


The lounge in the Excalibur has a similar flavor to my Father’s friend’s house with those same deep rich aromas lingering. They only offer beer and wine but if you are a cigar smoker, there is nowhere better than this place.


The bottom line here is if you’re a smoker of fine tobacco and enjoy a sports package the Excalibur won’t be beaten.  The staff and owners care about service, including offering advice on good tobaccos.    The interior of this place is masculine dream come true.  The games are on so go and enjoy the atmosphere and the game anytime. 

If you try one pie you’ve had them all – wrong

I have searched for a directory providing an inventory of both sumptuous baked pies and advice as to which ones are best but have come up short in my search.  I’ve found lists of the ‘top 10 pies’ but I’d like a complete list of great tasting bakeries doing our blood glucose no favors.


I will therefore create an inventory, knowing good shops are omitted, here is a list of shops claiming to be the best:


I have searched for a directory providing an inventory of both sumptuous baked pies and advice as to which ones are best but have come up short in my search.  I’ve found lists of the ‘top 10 pies’ but I’d like a complete list of great tasting bakeries doing our blood glucose no favors.


I will therefore create an inventory, knowing good shops are omitted, here is a list of shops claiming to be the best:


Julian Pie Co; Mom’s Pie House; V G Donut & Bakery; Edelweiss Bakery; City Delicatessen & Bakery; Michele Coulon Dessertier; Elizabethan Desserts; Carlsbad Danish Bakery; Crest Cafe; Du-Par’s

Those are the top 10 shops for sweet delights as judged by City Search.

To the City Search list I am adding 10 more shops to indulge in.

Dudley’s Bakery; Extraordinary Desserts; Hogetsu Bakery; Heaven Sent Desserts; Brothers Family Restaurant; Hans & Harry’s Bakery Corp; Peace Pies; Maye’s Desserts & Bistro; The Incredible Cheesecake Company; & Centifonti Restaurant will be number 10 on my list making for 20 locations I’ve uncovered for consideration.

These will keep me busy for a few weeks and if I indulge too much I can audition for next years Biggest Looser.  Look out Chaz Bono.  If you’d like me to add your favorite spot to my list, my address is

This article is in response to a tasting I had at Cocos Bakery Restaurant.  I tried the raspberry swirl cheese pie and found it worth high praise. Nancy bought it and after a small sampling, we left the whole pie with Carlos, our son-in-law.  After realizing the  mistake we decided to buy one pie for us and stopped at another Cocos to purchase another just for us.

The Raspberry Swirl Cheese Pie we purchased at1025 Fletcher Parkway inEl Cajon was pure pleasure.  The one we bought from1324 E. Main Street wasn’t as good.  Location, location, location… it does make a difference.  The bottom line is, the raspberry swirl from Cocos may be worth your attention.  I found it not so sweet as to kick me into hyper glucose frenzy and very good.  The second pie wasn’t as good.  The crust was Oreo cookie and so any char on it was under the radar but it tasted like a few too many minutes were had on the grill for this pie.


Hamburger Hamlet goes XP that’s a great burger on the cheap!

Go to 5005 Willows Alpine.  Find the center of the Viejas Outlet Mall, where the free night time shows with water jets are and you’ll find the newest in the battle of Great BOYGAS in this county are grilled to perfection.  There you’ll see Hamburger Hamlet XP.  I’m not talking about the Hamlet inside the Casino, but the one at the Outlet Mall, near KFC.


While the Hamlet inside boasts such delights as Meatloaf sandwiches, and Chicken sandwiches this XP is by design strictly burgers.  They do a Basic Combo Deal (Burger, Fries, and Drink) for $7.29 every day.  They also offerTurkeyor Veggie Burger combos too.  You may ‘trade up’ to double patties, recommended spiced fries (mesquite or garlic), or upgrade drinks from soda to shakes all upscale offerings are reasonably priced.  You may also buy a salad from three choices: Chicken Caesar Salad; Mediterranean Salad; or Rustic Field Greens all under $6.50.  Their LFO (Little Fried Onions) are very tasty at $2.88 so as you see the prices at the XP may put Fred’s (a boyga joint in downtown Alpine) out of business soon.


I’ve dined at the Hamburger Hamlet twice since they opened in November 2011 and I tell you the food has been: in the hunt for the best burger joint in San Diego County.  The seasonings on the burgers make for a party in your mouth that is memorable and that’s in a good way by design… but the point is, it’s the same supplier for both the Hamlet in the Casino and the XP in the Outlet Mall, so you’re getting upscale food at Fred’s prices.


The other added bonus of a day trip to Viejas Casino and Outlet Mall besides the food at the Hamlets is the pleasant environment of Viejas itself.  They have over 39 stores, over 10 eateries to choose from.  And the Viejas Meadow is a tranquil spot for a day trip unto itself.  Alpine offers historic buildings ( )  such as the County’s first female doctors’ home and office for your viewing pleasure.