Doods Foods

We’ve heard a lot of good things about Doods Foods, the place is a small independent owned counter slinging burgers out of a little stand in the Tin Can bar with stellar Yelp reviews as well as cheap, cheap prices.

Now we love Burger Lounge but sometimes you don’t really want to pay $15 dollars for a burger and fries no matter how great that grass-fed burger and crispy fries are. Sometimes its ok that your burger was fed things other than grass…

The Tin Can Bar

The Tin Can Bar

Perhaps the best part is that Doods Foods is super close to us, in Banker’s Hill on 5th. When you enter the Tin Can its the ideal dive bar. Small, dark, Christmas lights, a great beer selection, a small crowd, 70s game shows on the TV and quirky live music. You order the burgers from the Doods Foods counter where it’s just one guy doing all the work. Note that if they’re pretty busy it can be kind of slow because as mentioned its one guy. You can get burgers, grilled cheese variations, sandwiches + fries and/or a salad with your burger.

Tin Can Bar

I got the Doods Burger, a classic burger a.k.a. thin patty, American cheese, tomato, onions, lettuce and chipotle buttermilk on a bolillo bun. Ok. Everything in this was very well done. The bolillo bun is AMAZING. The perfect amount of soft and squishy yet still held up to the burger. The tomato/lettuce/onions are super fresh and they also slice the onion suuuuper thinly which is nice because I for one think super thick crunchy slices of onion can completely overwhelm if not entirely ruin a burger. Lastly, the chipotle buttermilk is a nice touch, creamy and flavorful it definitely added a little twist to the otherwise classic cheeseburger.

Doods Burger

Doods Burger

Now for the bad news. The meat. The meat they use is apparently sourced from a Mexican market and its more fatty than usual chuck and super finely ground. Its definitely a little more greasy which I didn’t mind but the fact that it was super finely ground and tightly packed made the patty seem a little too mushy and too dense. The outside bites where that extra fatty chuck crisped up were nice but once those crispy edges are gone everything just seems so mushy and sadly the same cheap meat that makes the burger so attractively affordable also tends to be not so flavorful.

Doods Burger Inside

Doods Burger Inside

I got a side salad and that was good but nothing crazy. Just simple lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots and an Italian vinaigrette. I appreciated the freshness of the vegetables but I wish it had come with the chipotle buttermilk instead of the forgettable Italian vinaigrette.

Doods Foods side salad

Doods Foods side salad

The other more daring burger they have is the Flying Cheeseburger. This baby is a double patty, double American cheese, double bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, chipotle buttermilk on bolillo bun MONSTER. Definitely a generous portion of everything but sadly the already kindof extra greasy pattys paired with all the bacon and extra cheese and whatnot makes this a super greasy mess. Tasty but hard to finish and afterwords you definitely feel a pang of regret for eating the whole damn thing. But then again maybe that’s how people like to feel after polishing off such a huge thing?

Flying Cheeseburger

Flying Cheeseburger

The fries are ok, a little too crispy/greasy for me.

Overall, I think Doods Foods is doing everything right except for the meat they use. Its definitely not a bad burger at all but it could be PHENOMENAL with a better meat selection. Then again that might be why the prices are relatively cheap compared to Burger Lounge.

Despite not entirely fulfilling our burger dreams I can’t help hoping that this place improves the meat and really nails it. Sitting in this hipster-ish little dive bar under the green glow of Christmas lights talking to the super friendly bartender, drinking good beer and listening to a girl sing about her crappy boyfriend from Riverside I can’t wait to be back and have a really great burger to top the whole experience off.

CHECK:
Doods Burger $4
Flying Cheeseburger $8
TOTAL w/ tax: $12.96

Doods Foods

1863 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 381-2756

https://www.facebook.com/doodsfoods

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Cafe Chloe

Cafe Chloe is an adorable French cafe in downtown San Diego. It serves simple but tasty French food and its a great place for brunch or dinner. They have classic French food like pâté, steak frites, and croque madames as well as some more modern (or California-fied if you will) interpretations of French food such as whole wheat pancakes with cherry syrup. Cafe Chloe uses mostly local and organic ingredients which is always nice as well. We decided to stop here for brunch on a Sunday morning and we were able to get seated right away.

Cafe Chloe

Cafe Chloe

On the weekends they have this amazing Sticky Bun. It’s flaky and cinnamon-y with a sticky, sweet glaze and pecans. I once got it later in the day and it was stale-ish and not as amazing so definitely try to get this when its fresh! I also took home the other half I didn’t finish and had it with ice cream. This was one of the best ideas I have had in recent memory…

Sticky Bun

Sticky Bun

For brunch they have the usual Bloody Mary/Mimosa offerings as well as a fresh pomegranate juice. If you have never had fresh Pomegranate Juice it tastes so much better than POM. It’s more complex; sweet and very tart with a hint of bitter at the end. Loved this.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate Juice

As far as actual brunch offerings we went with the Croque Madame and the Greek Yogurt with Apricot-Hazelnut Granola and Lavender Honey. The croque madame was pretty good. I wish it had more mornay sauce but French ham, gruyère, bread, and a sunny side up egg are really all the things I crave for brunch (namely meat + cheese + carbs + egg). The frisee salad on the side is also a nice side that adds some lightness to the whole thing.

Croque Madame

Croque Madame

If you prefer something a little on the sweeter or lighter side their granola was really good. The apricot and hazelnuts along with the lavender honey gave it a much more interesting taste than the plain granola + yogurt + honey + berries/bananas you get at most places. The apricot and lavender work really well together, sweet and chewy apricots + floral honey is a match made in heaven. As much as I love eggs and some kind of ham/meat for brunch I think the granola will be my go-to dish here from now on!

Greek Yogurt Granola

Greek Yogurt Granola

Overall this is a lovely little place to go to. It really does have the feel of a French cafe and both the inside and the patio are nicely decorated and welcoming. After a lovely meal at this classy little cafe I made a mental note to come here more often!…

CHECK:
Sticky Bun $3.50
Pomegranate Juice
Croque Madame $13.75
Greek Yogurt Granola $7.75

Cafe Chloe
721 Ninth Ave #1
San Diego CA, 92101
http://www.cafechloe.com/

Cucina Urbana

Cucina Urbana has been one of my favorite restaurants in SD for a while. Its somewhere I know serves consistently awesome seasonal food and has consistently awesome service. Whenever I have friends or family visiting I love bringing them to Cucina, especially if its Thursday and they have their half off pizzas deal (TRY THE MUSHROOM PIZZA!).

Cucina Urbana Mural

Cucina Urbana Mural

Ok disclaimer. The restaurant is kindof dark inside so I had to use flash to take most of the pictures hence everything is very contrast-y. Let’s pretend this is a review done chiaroscuro style yes?

Cucina is a modern Italian restaurant: their appetizers consist of salads, vasi (spreads that are served with bread), and other small plates like fried ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms. For mains you have many pizza options, pasta and regular meat-centric entrees. We decided to stick with appetizers this time; for some reason lately I’ve been really enjoying ordering two appetizers instead of one entree.

DRINKS: They have a great drink program here, including some non-alcoholic concoctions. They infuse some of their liquors at home and for Christmas they did a panettone-infused vodka, such a neat idea. This time I ordered their White Sangria. Its crisp and refreshing and comes with cubes of green apple and orange.

White Sangria

White Sangria

For the bread basket they usually give you white loaf bread and then a toasted brown bread. Even though I love brown bread this one is not my favorite. It also comes with plain butter. And yes I know that picture is super bright.

Overexposed Bread

Overexposed Bread

APPETIZERS: I love their Lacinato Kale + Hearts of Romaine Caeser here. They mix kale and romaine with a super savoury Caeser dressing. They then add shaved parmesan cheese, English mustard bread crumbs and fried “esca”. Esca is Italian for bait and these are super salty little fried fish. Not to everyones liking I imagine but I thought they were a good addition. The mustard bread crumbs also add a nice sharpness to the salad.

Kale Caeser

Kale Caeser

We also ordered one of the vasi, I hear the chicken liver one is great if you’re into that kind of thing but we decided to try the Burrata and Roasted Garlic Confit vasi. Burrata is like fresh mozzarella but instead of being made with milk its made with cream so its richer and creamier and oozier as opposed to a solid cheese. The burrata comes inside a jar and its perfectly seasoned with herbs. The roasted garlic comes on the side and its meltingly soft and ready to be squeezed out of the clove and smeared onto the bread. Since the burrata was seasoned it alone was delicious on bread but with the garlic this was fantastic. This came with a grilled bread, white loaf bread, and brown bread. My only complaint with this and is that our grilled bread tasted a little too charred but they happily brought us more non-grilled bread so this was not a problem.

Burrata and Roasted Garlic Vasi

Burrata and Roasted Garlic Vasi

Burrata

Burrata

Another great appetizer to share is their meat and cheese board, the Formaggi+Salumi. You can pick 3, 4, or 5 items and then choose how many meats and cheeses you want (if you picked 5 you could do all cheese or 3 cheese and 2 meats, etc.). We decided on 4 and did 3 cheeses and 1 meat. You have quite a few options for meats and cheeses and the servers are more than willing to help you if you are not sure what you would like. For cheeses we did a Parmesan-like cheese, a younger goat cheese and another mild cheese (we don’t like blue cheese!). For meat we ended up deciding on Coppa, a cured pork collar. They also had salami, prosciutto, and another meat I can’t remember.

meat and cheese board

Formaggi + Salumi

The board came with white loaf bread and the brown bread as well as various spreads + olives. In the picture you can see at the top left corner is what is left of our olives, these were a mix of black and green and they were in olive oil with herbs. To the right of that is a red pepper spread, next is grain mustard, regular mustard, strawberry jam and on the far right is honeycomb and fresh sliced apples. Basically this is one of my favorite meat and cheese boards because with all the spreads, olives, breads and fruit you can literally make every bite you take different. You can have a savoury bite with the coppa and cheese and red pepper spread then maybe have just coppa and mustard. Then switch to sweet and have some of the goat cheese with honeycomb and apple. I know the cheese portions look small but we couldn’t even finish this.

Cucina Urbana Pizza Oven

Cucina Urbana Pizza Oven

Lastly I had ordered a grilled octopus appetizer. The server came to check if I still wanted it given the cornucopia of food we had in front of us and I said yes. As soon as she walked into the kitchen I changed my mind. I could barely finish my salad and just could not eat another dish…unless it was dessert. So I called her and apologized and she was so nice about canceling it. This is another thing I love about this restaurant; they always go above and beyond with service. Last time we were here we wanted to order this baked squash goat cheese appetizer we had loved but unfortunately it was seasonal and it was gone, our waiter felt bad and gave us the ricotta-stuffed fried squash blossoms on the house saying maybe we’d like these instead (they were awesome). Another time we sat at the communal table and there was a father and daughter eating across from us. We had ordered at the same time but we got our entrees first and after waiting for theirs for a while the server came with free glasses of wine for them, apologizing profusely for the long wait. Seriously not only is everyone super pleasant here if there ever is a mistake they fix it immediately and make sure your experience is a positive one.

Cucina Urbana Interior

Cucina Urbana Interior

DESSERT: So yes I switched that octopus appetizer for dessert. Naturally. We went with the Pineapple Coconut Panna Cotta. This was a fairly decent sized cup of coconut panna cotta topped with cooked pineapple and crumbled sometypeof cookies. I loved the pineapple in this as it was sweet and tart and a good contrast to the creamy panna cotta. The panna cotta was not as good by itself as I thought it needed a little more sweetness and the texture was a little less creamy than I like my panna cotta. If you don’t like coconut too fear not because it was not overly coconut-y at all.

Pineapple Coconut Panna Cotta

Pineapple Coconut Panna Cotta

Overall it was a great experience and I can’t wait to come back on a Wednesday when they have their burger + beer special.

CHECK:
White Sangria (Happy Hour price) $5
Burrata + Roasted Garlic Confit $8
Lacinato Kale + Hearts of Romaine Caeser $9.50
Formaggi + Salumi (4 items) $15
Pineapple Coconut Panna Cotta $8
TOTAL: $49.14 (w/ tax)

Cucina Urbana
505 Laurel St.
San Diego, CA 92101
www.cucinaurbana.com

Bailiwick

After seeing pictures of Bailiwick here I decided that’s where I wanted to go for brunch on Saturday morning with a friend. It’s primarily a cocktail bar but they serve brunch on weekends.

Bailiwick – sdcitybeat.com

The restaurant itself has a whimsical decor; a lot of light blue and white with big chandeliers and vintage bird cages. Oh and a bathtub full of champagne by the front entrance:

Tub full of champagne at Bailiwick

Tub full of champagne at Bailiwick

The whole place is light, airy, and a nice option for brunch. Especially if you intended to go to Cafe 21 (which is right next door) but encountered a 2 hour plus wait. Instead of a bread basket you get Frozen Grapes Infused with Syrah to nibble on while you wait for your food.

DRINKS: They have the usual brunch suspects; mimosas and bloody marys. The mimosas come in different flavors besides just orange and you can opt for grapefruit, pineapple, and cranberry. I got the Pineapple Mimosa and it was nicely flavored and not overly sweet like I feared. My friend ordered the Belvedere Bloody Mary and it came with all the fixings, including pancetta. You could also go bottomless for $15.

APPETIZER: I got the Breakfast Cheese Plate which I thought was unique. I was afraid it would be too much cheese (and not enough bread!) as is common with cheese plates (disclaimer: I woke up ridiculously early that day and so had already had breakfast…) but it was perfectly portioned. You get two types of bread (raisin and marbled rye), ricotta and shavings of two strong cheeses. It also comes with cubed fruit (pear, apple, dragonfruit) and some honey yogurt that is lovely but awkward to eat out of a flat board. The dish is a starter and might be too small for someone with a healthier appetite but I was a fan.

Breakfast Cheese Plate

Breakfast Cheese Plate

ENTREE: My friend ordered the Continental Omelet which she added veggies too. It was served with slabs of (VERY) thick-cut bacon and home-style potatoes. This was served in a cast iron pan and the portion was fairly large. Bacon was crisp, potatoes were good, and the omelette was huge. Definitely a good option if you are hungrier.

CHECK:
Pineapple Mimosa $8
Bloody Mary $12
Breakfast Cheese Plate $9
Continental Omelet $9
TOTAL: $41.04 (w/ tax)

Overall this was a enjoyable and affordable brunch place that would perhaps cater to girls over guys given the decor and restrained portions. The menu was fairly small but had good options that covered both classics like the egg+meat+potatoes or french toast crowd but also something for those wanting something more original or lighter fare with the Breakfast Cheese Plate or the Brown Butter Grilled Oysters. Will be returning here. Perhaps not when ravenous/hungover.

Bailiwick
756 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
http://bailiwicksd.com/