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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.   

True North just another comic or a fine sports bar?

3815 30th Street is where you’ll find ‘… a casual and laid back neighborhood bar offering a unique atmosphere and experience with something for everyone. Just offNorth Park’s bustlingUniversity Avenue, it’s the ideal place for social gatherings and special events, with even the sports connoisseur in mind.


Here you will find great drinks and great people surrounded by eye-catching visuals of music videos, the daily sports action and even a classic movie or two. At night, expect to find a packed house with DJs spinning funk, 80s, urban beats and billboard favorites. Drop in and experience our friendly, genuine and service-oriented staff.

We offer:

  • Two Full-Service Bars
  • Two outdoor patios
  • Pool Tables
  • 25 HD Widescreen TVs
  • All Major Satellite Packages
  • DJs & Live Music

Hours of Operation:

Hours of Operation:
M-Friday (noon – 2am); Sat-Sun (11am – 2am)’


That, right from the horse’s mouth and it’s all true.  True North Tavern

( ) is all that and more.  There is a deep rich texture to this place.  I feel the cut above most sports bars just by walking inside the front door.


I found the service in the place was extremely good.  I liked that a few patrons sported my grey hair color yet the young squirts pushing 40 weren’t flaunting their youth and were all very friendly, even the barley 20 some things that wore their pants right at sub-butt level completely in Vogue style, were inviting.  It’s an inviting spot and they are really promoting the mystery of WHO’S GOING TO THIS YEARS SUPERBOWL?


I won’t say this place has negatives but the food, may be suspect.  I ate a Juicy Lucy Burger but nearly didn’t.  It was toast.  Overdone to the max.  Locals swear by the tater tots and tell me they had a rookie line cook who just gets brain tied occasionally and suggested I try again Sunday.  They do have salads just to get away from a grill challenged cook but I’ll try one more time with a Burner Burger because I love the heat of peppers.


They do have a nice array of TVs for game time and they do seem to generate enthusiasm for sports so this may be my choice for the game come this weekend. Nice place to visit for sure, but I am told they develop big crowds for the big games so?

Alpine’s Viejas Casino does hamburgers ‘upscale’ at Hamburger Hamlet

Way back in 2011 I ate at Hamburger Hamlet, which went in at the Viejas Casino in Alpine Hamburger Hamlet may be your kind of burg soon.  I had one of their hamburgers with a side of seasoned fries and it was all good!  Here we are in 2012 and took up the task of breakfast at the Hamlet.


Without going to the link above to read the review on that experience back in 2011, I must say the interior of the restaurant is a bit upscale.  Overall the general layout is as it was when this same space was Daisy’s.   The finish is very well done with nice décor throughout.


They do breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Hamlet and Nancy and I went in for breakfast, which I’d expected to pay a little more for than were we to go to IHop for the same meal.  But no! Nancydid the French toast combo and I did the Belgian waffle combo.  The meals were served on nice platters and the amount of food on top of the platters filled each to capacity, yet the prices were less than most other local restaurants.


I found the eggs done to perfection.  I asked for one strip of bacon crispy and one sausage link but received two bacon slices done to perfection and with a great maple flavor.  The sausage link was also good.  The waffles were outstanding and I found that even the orange slice was very good.  Based on these facts I decided to even try the parsley.  It was eatable so I ate it too. Nancy’s platter came with eggs done just right, and a huge slab of ham which was quite good.  Her other breakfast components were outstanding as were mine.


Our server was as good as they come and our coffee was always full.  The coffee was an Italian blend and it was very good.  I can’t wait to try the dinner menu and I suspect I’ll post my experience here in the near future.


The bottom line here is, if you want to feel like a winner, go to the Hamburger Hamlet at Viejas Casino because this is a winning ticket for sure.  Check out their web site

( for the story.     

Shogun Kearny Mesa can light my fire anytime

Japanese is on my list of things to do.  This review takes us to 5451 Kearny Villa Rd.  Just off the 163, you’ll find Shogun Kobe Restaurant facing west, just waiting for the sun to set over the Pacific.  Check out their web site for a good look at the menu (


Monday – Friday:

11:30am – 9:30 pm

Saturday & Sunday:

12:00pm – 9:30pm

Business hours may vary due to special events and holidays.


‘Yes we have sports packaged TV and if there’s a game on this weekend you can watch it here.’ Straight from the mouth of my server.  This may in fact be the place to watch the Saints battle it out on the gridiron come this weekend.  Go Drew Brees!


The bottom line here is this does qualify as a sports bar, not a dive bar but a good spot to enjoy food and watch the game.  They have several TVs tuned to the sports package.  They serve very good food, and the service is more than adequate.


My Shogun combination was served with soup, salad, steamed rice and fresh fruit, following a two course meal of Chicken Katsu plus Vegetable Tempura.   The food was very good and the artist preparing the meal is still working on his skills as Entertainer but it was enjoyable.


As a typical San Diegan, I would have guessed Benihana’s was the originator of the staged (Teppanyaki using the iron griddle around which guests watch food artfully prepaired) food preparation which is so entertaining for diners.  I wonder if Odd Thomas ever considered this art form when he flips his fluffy flap-jacks.  Maybe I’ll suggest it to Dean Koontz for his next book.


The originator of the teppanyaki-style food prep is the Japanese restaurant chain Misono, which introduced the concept of cooking Western-influenced food on a teppan inJapan in 1945.  Trouble was Japanese weren’t impressed with the food or process so the entertainment aspect became the concept stressed and tourists flocked to watch and enjoy the cuisine.


I’m no expert in Japanese cuisine, but as I learn more and more I find I’m enjoying it way more than I would have expected.  Sushi anyone?


Try Shogun anytime.  It’s good.  I’m going back for the weekend football and Japanese food because it’s just plain fun and yummy.  I’d go 4 of 5 chopsticks here.

Hinotez Kitchen on Kearny Mesa does the job

Differences between Japanese and Chinese cuisine are subtle?  Chinese use longer chopsticks?  This seems like a joke, but it is true.  Chinese tend to serve communal bowls in the center of the table; therefore longer chopsticks will reach that best piece of meat from your seat.


Differences are more than the length of your chopsticks.  Japanese tend to offer everyone a bowl of rice.  Also sushi, miso soup and tempura plus rice, tofu and seafood are staples. The recipes are divided into two primary regional variations. Kanto uses strong flavoring and Kansai is mildly seasoned. Japanese soy sauces include wheat and are sweeter than those from China.  I wonder, do Japanese suffer chopstick envy?

Miso soup is a mixture of dashi and miso with tofu and vegetables added. All authentic Japanese soups have dashi as their base and may contain seafood, pork, tofu or seaweed. Look for rice or noodles with your meal. It may take the form of white rice, a mixture of white and brown rice and even barley and white rice. Authentic Japanese noodles like Soba, Udon and Somen are served cold with a dipping sauce.


A tip for readers who’ve fallen asleep here, I am doing a restaurant review but because my son just moved to Tierrasanta I know I’ll be eating on the mesa for the next year and they have the best Asian food around!  I am trying to educate myself as I try different Asian restaurants over the upcoming year.  I’ll try passing on the subtle differences to you.


Hinotez Kitchen is located at7947 Balboa Ave.  The interior of the restaurant feels Japanese.  Nancy and I were seated and offered drinks.  I want to absorb the flavor so I asked what they recommend.  I loved the Sencha tea.  With a delicate sweetness, gentle astringency and floral green aroma I find now I’m shopping teas at the stores trying to match the taste I so enjoyed at Hinotez Kitchen.


I had spicy miso soup.  It had just the right blend of spice to flavor the dark broth but not overpower it.  The noodles were perfect and my short chopsticks were perfect for the job. Nancyhad Chicken Teriyaki with service on a lunch tray.  Her salad was simple but the dressing was wonderful.  The chicken was delicate and not in the least greasy.


I would give Hinotez Kitchen a solid 4 out of 5 chopsticks.  Service was excellent and prices were very good.

One step forward two steps back and you’re at Bare Back Bar & Grill

I am working my way north on my hunt for great sports bars.  What I’ve decided to look for is a solid sports package with plenty of TVs for viewing the game, but more I want a place where it’s not such a dive bar.  I’ve been getting a bit woozy after looking for redeeming aspects of some neighborhood bars and finding only a spot for the neighborhood with a smelly head.


I want a place to go even if I live in theFar East. Even if you live in Descanso or Guatay it’s worth the miles getting to this ideal sports bar. I found such a spot at4640 Mission Blvd.inPacificBeach.  Bare Back Bar and Grill does it all.  I’m saying it is worth the long drive for the beach, the smell of salt air, the food, and the atmosphere of Bare Back is a place where you can spend the entire day and you’ll feel spiritually and physically satisfied.


The Bare Back Grill has some roots inNew Zealand, given the owners were there and really liked it.  They so enjoyed the taste that they packaged it in their minds and brought it home to us for our enjoyment.


The food borders on healthy not just because vegans love it, they don’t because it’s real meat but the meats are fed organic food keeping them on the side of the fence where the grass is greener at all times.  The food is prepared as the NZ originals were, with the actual recipes bought and paid for by the owners of Bare Back.  You may dine in and not feel like a stop off at the ER is in order.


Prices are more than fair.  You can live out of this place and not need to be a brain surgeon to afford it.  I did a BLT when I was there after consuming too many burgers around town for too many days in a row and at about $8.00, it was very good.  They do offer other options like Tilapia sandwiches and maybe I should have tried that because I saw one pass me by on the arms of a lovely server and it looked great!


Here’s the bottom line, I recommend this place for a nice day trip.  If you’re staying for the night game it could be the all day trip and I am sure you’ll love the experience.