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Knotty Barrel in the East Village

The Knotty Barrel at 844 Market St in San Diego, is one of the latest incarnates of the gastropubs popping up everywhere.  Pubgrub no more, or so they would have you believe, is a thing of the past.  There was a time when the pubs of jolly oldLondon didn’t serve food and so shell fish push carts would set up outside the pubs to provide the sustenance you need to get you home.



The Knotty Barrel lists their ( ) executive chef as Mark Couch and consulting chef as Ted Witte and try as I might, I couldn’t find either of them on the web.  I guess I may have a bad taste from their web site.  By definition a gastropub is the blending of pub style brews with really good food.  The Knotty Barrel has a descent array of brews but the food seems lacking.  Of course there’s always the chance it was an off night.


The food menu is a bit like the list of brews available… it’s not the longest list but they offer a good variety of food.  Some of it is priced with wallet pleasure in mind while others suffer wallet envy.  I just don’t want to pay $13.00 for a salmon sarnie (fish sandwich) for us uninformed.  But the Knotty Burger @ $11.00 seems about the way of the Knotty Barrel.  Trouble is it was ordered medium but came out extremely well done (badly).  Also as a gastropub, I wanted to taste some complex flavors in the burgers but got none.  It seemed as though there was no seasoning at all on the meat.


I love the pub style atmosphere for a good day of cheering on the home team but this place didn’t get it done for me.  Maybe they’ll practice up during the upcoming NBA off- season and then they could a been a contender.



Anthony’s Fish Grotto La Mesa

At9530 Murry Dr.inLa Mesa, you’ll find the Icon to which I want to pay homage.

Anthony’s Fish Grotto ( really makes it happen for me.  My family started attending this church’s services back about 1965 when Mama Ghio used the knowledge she’d acquired back inItaly, to preach the gospel of good eats from the sea.  They are using the same recipes today.


I’ll take any dish they prepare and most likely will be happy after eating.  I do usually get hand battered classics with a fully loaded baked potato and coleslaw.  My preference is to attend the services at1360 Harbor Dr. in San Diego, but with money becoming more and more scarce (or at least able to purchase less and less with each dollar) I tend to go to the La Mesa location simply because it’s closer to home.


Back in the day, Anthony’s was known for the best tasting fish and considered one of the least expensive restaurants in all of southern California.  Today the third generation of Ghios is running the place with only a few changes in the product that progenitor Mama Ghio launched back in 1946.


This place is a San Diego Institution embodying the flavor of aSan Diegogoing back to the early 1900s.  That was a simpler time when the water front was just beginning to thrive and the Chinese fishermen had been displaced by the Italian and Portuguese.  Catherine Ghio dreamt of owning a restaurant featuring the same seafood that everybody loved back in the old country.


I’ll go to Anthony’s in a NY minute, but I must check my wallet now because the good food is a bit pricier than it once was.  I’ve tried to find a replacement but the places putting out food as good typically costs lots more than Anthony’s.


They’ve remodeled the building inLa Mesaand its done well with a nice view of a spring fed pond full of ducks and I think fish and the fountain keeps your tension away as you sip your tea or Margareta.  The staff is efficient and friendly, quickly taking your order and making sure you are happy.


Typically Nancy and I get the classic hand battered shrimp but once in a while I’ll do the Louie Crab and Shrimp salad.  No matter which dish you select you’ll be happy if you like seafood.

Triple Crown Pub of City Heights flavor

3221 Adams Aveis a good target for a good sports bar.  At that location you’ll find Triple Crown Pub (  It must be something about pubs and sports.  Pubs stand better than a 50:50 shot they’ll be showing TV sports.


They won’t feed you lunch on any weekday because they don’t open until 3:00 p.m. and when they do open, don’t come looking for a large menu.  In fact the menu is limited to the following:

TijuanaHot Dog $4.00
wrapped in bacon with peppers and onions

Beer Bratwurst $4.75
Beer Brat smothered in Gorgonzola cheese with onion, relish and sauerkraut

Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich $6.00
Boneless Breast of Chicken with grilled pineapple, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatos and onion

Veggie Burger $6.00
Grilled Garden Burger with lettuce, tomato and onion

Cheese Burger $5.00
Grilled 1/4 pound lean patty with lettuce , tomato and onion

Daily Double Cheese Burger $6.00
2 Grilled 1/4 pound lean patties with lettuce , tomato and onion

optional toppings – Avocado $1.00, Bacon $1.00


I was pointed to a ‘new sports bar’ in P.B. for my viewing pleasure, called Ciro’s Pizzeria and Beer House.  I’ll need to work that one up for a simple pizza review because I saw no sports at all at their P.B. location so tune in on Friday for that report.  Triple Crown will show you sports.  They currently offer: MLB Extra Innings; MLB Network; ESPN Game Plan; NFL Sunday Ticket; NFL Network; Fox Sports Package; NHL Network; Tvg Race Network; Padres Channel 4; NBA Network on a large number of TV’s hung throughout the bar er pub.  They offer a fair selection of beers on tap and in bottles. As for wines and spirits, well I’ll just say they offer a large selection of beers on tap and in bottles because the wines are limited and spirits nearly nonexistent.


The service was outstanding for Nancy and I, and we enjoyed that there was never a moment we were left without an opportunity for a refill.  The burgers do the job, but they are plain old fashioned burgers.


This place is meant for locals.  If I were local I’d be back but there’s nothing beckoning me back at this time.  I would recommend it if you’re in the area and you’re looking for a party crowd for a good football game this Sunday.


Joe’s Crab Shack in San Diego on the waterfront

Next to the San DiegoConvention Center, sitting above the harbor is the old San Diego Rowing Club’s building built on pylons, now it’s been converted to a very nice restaurant ( known as Joe’s Crab Shack.


This is one of Joe’s Crab Shack Restaurants inSan Diego, but it’s the main one for me.  We’ve had many great parties there.  It’s not pretentious and it’s a very comfortable spot for being close to family and friends.  The food is nearly always as good as it gets.


‘Joe’s is the kind of place that welcomes you in warmly and feeds you delicious seafood. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s here that good food, good times and good memories are created every day. We’re a little quirky, but we’re proud of it. So strap on a bib, order your favorite bucket of crab and don’t be afraid to dance.’  This straight from their web site and I can tell you I’ve been inside this scenario many times.


The bar is a nice place where you can eat and watch TV if you aren’t at Petco to watch in person.  The dining room is beyond the bar with large tables for large groups to gather and break bread (or crab shells).  And the patio provides a spot for enjoying the outside air but they should replace their picnic tables with new tables because the wooden benches and tables are kind of sticky.  This is a place where you’re hands are going to be sticky from working with the crabs.


Typically the servers are the best.  They will serenade your party if you’re there for a birthday celebration with great vibrato and purpose.  They often do a dance or two as they serve…  It’s a fun kind of place for all to enjoy.


The menu is packed with plenty from the sea.  If you don’t like sea food you’ll be a bit limited here.  They do have salads plus a couple of steaks or a couple of chicken dishes.  I’ve never even seen those because I do the steampots when I go. They also do a few pasta dishes which appear to come fromItaly.


You can do pure buckets full of crab or lobster or you can do steampots which contain crab, potatoes, smoked sausage, shrimps and corn. Or you could get a pot featuring lobster and muscles.  It’s not cheap but it’s very good.




The Field sports pubs at their best in San Diego

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The Field at544 5th Ave,San Diego, is the kind of place to go to for a bawdy good sports night.  It’s in the heart ofSan Diego within a short walk from Petco.  If you don’t have tickets check it out, but really this place rocks after Padre games with post game merriment from true sports buffs who didn’t want the night to end.


The Field sounds like aChicagosort of place, but really it’s more likeDublin.  They say the wood used to make the benches was actually imported fromIreland.  You’ll feel a true foreign flavor where they all speak warmly with the English language spoken and you strain to hear that wee bit of a brogue.


I enjoy dining alfresco and their patio fits that suit well.  Tis a tiny bit of a spot just off the sidewalk, partitioned by a black wrought iron fence for separation from the pedestrians who are on their own mission.  This is a fairly intimate pub, not that big, so love the one you’re with.

The food is good, with old world themes, excellent fish and chips, Irish stew and such. Check out the web site which is packed full and says (, ‘On Saturday and Sunday we open our doors bright and early to bring youSan Diego’s best Irish Breakfast. The ultimate start to the day, our traditional breakfast consists of Irish style pork sausage, imported Irish Galtee rashers (bacon), black and white pudding, eggs, grilled tomato, fried potato, and your choice of toast or homemade Irish soda bread or wheaten bread. Wash it all down with a cup of Barry’s Irish Tea. If you don’t think you can handle the full Irish Breakfast try one of our fluffy omelettes or our delicious Breakfast Boxty dishes.’  The prices are from the past decade.  They have much offered well below $10.00 and very tasty.


If you go to their web site, check out the sports offerings.  They like rugby.  But they offer plenty of American sports for us locals.  I really like this place.  Servers are good, though I did talk to one patron who swears they had lousy service last time they were there.  Maybe that could be due to the fact that when you sit downwind of her, you wonder if that peculiar stench was a canning factory.  Is this Cannery Row or what?

Lake Murray Cafe

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If you head into Lake Murray Cafe, at 5465 Lake Murray Blvdin La Mesayou may feel like you’ve been there before.  Perhaps you’ve been to one of the other locations from the group of businesses known as San Diego Home Cooking as they are all part of the same ownership ( ) and they all have a similar flavor.  I did the Lakeside location and now La Mesa makes two of their five locations (  I’ll need to think about visiting the other three spots because while the food was okay and the servers were all friendly enough I just don’t know if I have time enough.  It took forever to get the order once it was placed.  It took too long to get a refill once they asked if I wanted more tea.  It took too long for all patrons I watched come and go so we weren’t the only ones with some trouble with the servers clocks.  And it even took forever to pay the bill.


The food was okay.  It was nothing to brag about.  Nancyhad the burger, Ray had a tuna salad sandwich on rye, and I had the French toast combo.  I am comparing the Lake Murray Cafe’s French toast to Janet’s Montana Cafe Janet’s Montana Cafe is far more than just a cafe.  Theirs (Janet’s) has become the standard by which I’ll continue to judge how good French toast or Belgian waffles can be when done right. Nancy’s burger was dried out by the cook who kept it on the fire too long.  Ray tells me his sandwich was okay.


The atmosphere at the Lake Murray Cafe is nice enough.  It is a large facility with well maintained appointments.  It’s clean and bright.  Overall I’d have to give this experience 2 out of 5 stars.  I’d guess that next time we plan a hike with a meal after, I’ll try to steer the group to another location.   I think there’s a Coco’s right down the street Does anyone do family style better than Coco’s.


The spot I’d head to in order to make a nice day trip out of this outing is Lake Murray  We did the 3.5 mile hike but there is much more you can do when you are there.

Now there's five

Alpine Tavern & Grill

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Locals may remember when this address 2502 Alpine Blvd hosted The Vine Wine Bar & Bistro.  Due largely to S.D.G. & E. cutting up the road in front of this establishment, The Vine no longer exists.  Today, we welcome The Alpine Tavern & Grill (, located next door to Janet’s Montana Cafe Janet’s Montana Cafe is far more than just a cafe.


Funky, quaint, picturesque, awesome, all these adjectives pop into mind when you first get to the Tavern and look around.  ‘Great food here!’ is what I heard when Nancy and I first walked in.  It’s like a great lodge inMontana, full of warmth and we were made to feel welcome by all who were there.  The staff was great!  It was all good.  Prices are 2012 prices, which suggest they will still be there in a year or two… but the food was great.


I ordered a Ruben, which came totally traditional on rye with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. There’s a choice of many sides and I got the onion rings becauseNancygot the fries so we could get those two typical choices out of the way.  Next time I want potato or macaroni salad on the side. Nancyordered the mushroom Swiss hamburger.  Some how the 1/3 pounder seemed way bigger than that, but there you go.  This will be the place I will go in the future when I get that ‘gotta have a burger now’ thing that pops up on me every 4 – 5 months.  For many reasons, this is a must return to place for me… I just hope the food tastes equally as good next time I go.


The day I ate there I did a little investigative work to the question just posed; will the food be consistently good?  All I can say is maybe.  That day the owner was our cook.  I didn’t know it but Janet sure can cook well.  Just get us, your patrons, a cook equal to you for every day you’re open and I’ll be back time and time again.


What sets this place apart from Janet’s Cafe is it’s a sports bar.  TVs are abundant throughout the entire place.  They’ve got the sports packages for the sports fans and though I wasn’t there on a big sporting day I’ll bet this will be overflowing with regulars in no time.