Carnitas Snack Shack

Carnitas Snack Shack is, as the name hints, an inconspicuous little shack in North Park on University Av. that serves a delightfully pork-centric menu. You order at the window on the front and then walk towards the back where you’ll be surprised to find a nice spacious shady patio with an herb garden and another shack towards the back that pours cool draft beer. How handy.

Rib Eye Sandwich

Snack Shack Steak Sandwich

The food is inexpensive and portions are generous. Yet they use high quality all local ingredients and have inventive if sometimes over the top dishes. Not that that’s a bad thing. Its a casual but pleasant atmosphere and despite the uncharacteristically high temperatures and humidity that has been plaguing San Diego lately it was a nice spot to linger at with friends – especially in the evening when it cooled down a little.

Carnitas Snack Shack

Carnitas Snack Shack

Anyways onto the food. Some of their dishes change daily and they’re really good about updating their menu on their website but we ordered dishes that were all staples. You can order their Carnitas in either taco or torta form. The taco form is topped with guacamole and tomatoes on a tortilla and the torta form has guacamole, tomatoes, lettuce and mayo on a roll. I chose taco. Seeing as you only got 2 tacos I was concerned I would still be hungry. This was a completely unnecessary concern because they PILE ON the meat and I could barely finish my plate.

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas Tacos

Carnitas Tacos

The carnitas are pretty good but not as amaaazing as I expected. Still really good though. I was hoping for more crispy bits but then again that might be a personal preference. There was a lot of meat and not a lot of just bits of fat which is nice because it sucks when you realize that half your carnitas portion is just blubber. And as always the combination of carnitas + guacamole + tomatoes + greasy tortillas (from the carnitas of course) is always a winner.

The entrees all comes with the corn salad you see in the picture. Its corn tossed in a spiced mayo with some herbs. Its cool and creamy and really tasty and goes well with the fatty meats that seem to populate most of their dishes. Yum.

Another popular item is their Snack Shack Steak Sandwich. This is reminiscent of Board & Brew’s Baja Beef which we boldly declared the best sandwich in SD here. Its sliced rib eye steak, pepper jack cheese, pickled serranos, chipotle mayo and tomatoes on jalapeno bread. And its glorious. Its steak-y and creamy and spicy and super messy but really satisfying. If you’re not super into pork and come here this is the way to go.

Snack Shack Steak Sandwich

Snack Shack Steak Sandwich

Lastly we also ordered the Triple Threat Pork Sand which is a pork loin schnitzel + pulled pork + bacon + pepperoncini-pickle relish + shack aioli sandwich. Pretty much pork every which way. Now sadly I did not get to try this but it was decided that this was superior to the Snack Shack Steak Sandwich which surprised me because that had been my favorite.

Triple Threat Pork Sand

Triple Threat Pork Sand

Dammit I should have tried it.

Oh and we got the fries too. They have bacon salt on them and come with a salsa like condiment that might be an attempt at homemade ketchup. These were pretty tasty and perfectly fried, reminiscent of McDonald’s fries – which is a very high compliment for any attempt at fries by the way. And for only $2.50 well worth it.

Fries

Fries

They have a very decent beer selection too. I went with the Cherry Cider which was crisp tart and not too sweet. Very nice.

Cherry Cider

Cherry Cider

For dessert I got the Banana Split Truffles. You get 2 super chocolate-y ganache truffles covered in dark chocolate and then drizzled with white chocolate, salty peanuts and banana chips. Really tasty. Sadly no pictures because they disappeared too fast. I wished there were more salty peanuts and banana chips to balance out the richness of the ganache but can’t complain too much.

Anyways. Great atmosphere and great food. The only mild annoyance is that on hot days you have flies around because they’re trying to hang out with you on the shade. They light candles that are supposed to keep them away but I would recommend sitting underneath the fans so they stay away definitively. Can’t wait to be back here and try the Triple Threat Pork Sandwich!

CHECK:
Snack Shack Steak Sandwich $9
Triple Threat Pork Sandwich $9
Carnitas $7
Fries $2.50
TOTAL: $29.70 (w/ tax)

P.S. Can’t remember how much the Cherry Cider was so left that off. Sorry kiddos.

Carnitas Snack Shack

2632 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 294-7675

http://carnitassnackshack.com

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Greece – The Cyclades

So far we’ve only reviewed SD restaurants but after a vacation in Greece I thought it’d be great to share some pictures of the local food. And the beaches. The beaches are pretty nice too.

Koufonissia - Pori Beach

Koufonissia – Pori Beach

So some of the dishes we tried were at the beach above. Koufonissia is a small island, part of the Little Cyclades. You can get to Pori Beach by boat or by taking a ferry to Koufonissia then taking a bus to Pori. There are exactly two restaurants on the beach and besides that you’d be hard pressed to find any other buildings around. The restaurant closer to the beach had way more people in it so that is where we went.

Restaurant in Pori

Restaurant in Pori

The first dish we tried was Taramasalata. Our waitress simply described it as a dip that came with bread and that it was very good, so we were game. Only after it came and we were already halfway through eating it that we discovered there was fish roe in it. This was totally fine by us but I guess if you are vegetarian or have allergies I would tread carefully as in a lot of restaurants their English may not be super extensive.

DSC00709 Taramasalata

The basic ingredients in taramasalata are carp roe, olive oil, bread crumbs, vinegar, lemon and salt. It has a very nice salty, creamy flavor and is nor overtly fishy, I thought it had more of a umami flavor than an obvious fish flavor. Really good with the pita chips that came although I wish some soft bread would have come too.

The next dish we tried was a favorite of the trip, Cretan Husk. Cretan husk is very simple but its the one dish I can’t wait to make at home. They use husk bread which is a stale ish whole wheat country bread and then top it with a very simply, barely cooked tomato sauce, capers and a fresh cheese. We saw feta used as the cheese often but in some islands they also used a mild local goat cheese. I think I’m gonna try chevre or really good feta in olive oil when I attempt to make it at home.

Cretan Husk

Cretan Husk

It’s deceptively simple but soooo tasty. We must have ordered it at almost every restaurant we went to after we discovered it. The bread sops up the fresh tomato sauce and you have the creamy cheese and a hint of sharpness from the capers. If you like panzanella this is right up your alley.

After our appetizers I ordered the Naxos Sausage with Lentils. The sausage I think was goat and it had nice char marks and a slightly gamey flavor. A lot of food for one plate. One positive side of Greece is that its quite inexpensive compared to the Western European countries. Things are a little pricier in Mykonos or Santorini but even then you can easily find yummy, large meals for very affordable prices. Like this one.

Naxos Sausage with Lentils

Naxos Sausage with Lentils

The lentils were smaller than I’m used too but excellent. They were mixed with very thinly dressed onions, tomatoes and a light dressing which contrasted nicely with the fatty, smoky sausage. The whole thing was pretty delicious. The only thing I disliked was that the sausage was studded with pieces of fat which are not my favorite but its pretty normal for sausages and no one else was complaining 🙂

The other entree we got was the Baby Goat with Eggplant Puree. The meat was super tender and a little gamey with a mild tomato sauce and a puree of smoky grilled eggplant. The braised meat with the slightly sweet tomato sauce and the silky, smoky puree was amazing.

Baby Goat with Eggplant Puree

Baby Goat with Eggplant Puree

Everything we had was tasty and the ingredients and preparation were of great quality. For dessert I had a banana, milk, honey, cinnamon and sesame smoothie I didn’t take any pictures of. We were pretty happy with this meal. They also turn into a bar with live music later at night, that night they had Brazilian bossa nova. It went really well with the great food and the great view. Highly recommended.

Sunset in Pori

Sunset in Pori

So the next meal we have pictures of was slightly less successful. This meal was in Paros island right by the private marina. Also can’t remember the name of this restaurant but it was at the end of the first row of restaurants.

Paros

Paros

For appetizers we got a Cretan Salad. This was described as tomatoes, olives, onions, cucumbers, potatoes, and Cretan bread. Weirdly instead of potatoes we got cubes of Swiss cheese in the salad.

Cretan Salad

Cretan Salad

This came with no dressing so we mixed red wine vinegar and olive oil and poured it over top. Almost every restaurant will have olive oil and red wine vinegar at the table which is nice because they normally give you bread but no butter or anything to put on the bread.

For an entree I got the Stuffed Calamari. It said it was stuffed with feta, peppers and sundried tomatoes and came with rice and fries. I asked for roasted potatoes instead and although the waiter agreed to it I got fries anyways.

Stuffed Calamari

Stuffed Calamari

The squid was definitely overcooked and but the tomatoes were fresh instead of sundried and the bell peppers were too raw for my liking. The fries are softer in style than normal American french fries but we saw that a lot. The tartar sauce was ok. Overall it was unremarkable and I gave the rest of my squid to one of the many stray kitties that seem to be everywhere in the islands…

The other entree we got was Cretan Casserole. This was also cooked goat but what we got was not very casserole-y. It came with fries and rice but the waiter forgot the rice.

Cretan Casserole

Cretan Casserole

Although it doesn’t look super appetizing the meat was actually pretty good. Sadly there wasn’t a lot of it and there was a lot of bone, fat, and assorted tissues. Nothing like the baby goat we had in Koufonissia!

Paros

Paros

Overall we ate a lot of good food in Greece. Our number one tip would be to not eat at the restaurants that are right on the water/boardwalk especially if they’re close to the port or where the ferry arrives. These restaurants are mostly there for the cheap drinks and the food is definitely secondary. If you meander in a little into the towns you’ll find cheaper and much better food. Naturally it always pays to ask a local as well or to do some internet sleuthing beforehand.

Our favorite restaurant was in Naxos island. It was only a row behind the boardwalk restaurants advertising 4 euro drinks but it was nice and friendly with only one older lady manning the entire place. She didn’t speak a lick on English and as soon as we sat she handed us the Greek-English menus and after we sat an older Greek lady with a scarf neatly tied around her head came and sat in the table next to us. Always a good sign. Her food was simple but so good. Everything tasted fresh and she did all the cooking.

Sadly we can’t remember the name something like “Family Tavern”, if you get to Naxos by ferry go straight to the boardwalk with all the restaurants and go behind them and walk to the right until you see a white and light teal building. If you find yourself seated in the patio below you are golden.

Our Favorite Restaurant in Naxos

Our Favorite Restaurant in Naxos

The roasted potatoes with oregano and lemon are out of this world and the lady always gave us free dessert whether it was a slice of homemade orange cake or perfectly ripe figs. If we go back we will definitely be stopping by here again.

Sunset over Mykonos

Sunset over Mykonos

Bleu Bohème

For Restaurant Week Bleu Bohème used to have a dish called Tournedos Rossini which is filet mignon tournedos in a Madeira demi-glace on top of a crouton topped with foie gras and truffles. These are basically all my favorite things so I bookmarked this place but unfortunately never made it to Restaurant Week. We did however make it to happy hour and managed to sample quite a few dishes.

Bleu Boheme Patio

Bleu Boheme Patio

Their happy hour is quite short but worth it if you can make it to Kensington between 5 and 6 pm! Their martinis, champagne drinks, wine by the glass and craft beer selection (which is awesome btw) is all 50% off. They have a selection of appetizers and of mussels + fries that are all 50% off as well.

Basil Martini

Basil Martini

Red Ale

Red Ale

We started with the basil martini with citrus and a red ale. The basil martini was refreshing and not to sweet, it has tiny pieces of the basil in the drink which gave it a strong basil-y flavor. They also serve you crusty bread with butter right away. We liked the bread but it was extremely crusty so much so that we ended up just eating the insides.

Bread

Bread

APPETIZERS: We ordered quite a few of these. Our favorite was the Nouille au Fromage, a.k.a. the mac n’ cheese. Flat wide pasta with creamy gruyere cheese sauce, peas, duck confit and bacon all baked so the cheese is browned on top and piping hot inside. We did not see much of the duck confit but there was a good amount of bacon and this dish is a fairly large portion.

Nouille et Fromage

Nouille au Fromage

Next with so many options for mussels and fries, we chose the Moules et Frites au Champignon which has a creamy garlic sauce, white wine, bacon and wild mushrooms. This was also delicious and it came with PLENTY of mushroom and bacon (see picture below). The sauce was very flavorful and we definitely were mopping up the extra sauce with the crusty bread we did not eat (problem solved). The fries were very thinly cut and perfectly fried, we just wished they were a tad saltier. Overall would definitely order this again!

Moules et Frites au Champignons

Moules et Frites au Champignons

Next came the Galette du Crabe or crab cakes. These were 3 small crab cakes with an aioli on top and served with jicama remoulade and tomato-rocket salad. These were good but nothing too remarkable, I prefer when crab cakes have big lumps of crab as opposed to the finer shred meat, nonetheless it was not the type of crab cake that is predominantly bread and it was very well seasoned. Although it doesn’t sound very traditionally French, we loved the jicama roulade which was cool and crunchy and a nice contrast to the fried crab cakes.

Galettes du Crabe

Galettes du Crabe

Perhaps the dish I had the highest expectations for was the Crèpe de Homard, a lobster crepe with marscapone, asparagus and white truffle-carrot sauce. However the crepe was quite small and had finely shredded lobster that did not have a strong lobster flavor. The thick orange sauce had carrot and truffle but I did not care for it too much and thought it overwhelmed any lobster flavor in the crepe. Don’t think we would order this one again.

Crepe au Honard

Crèpe de Homard

Lastly another dish we quite liked was the Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé which was rum cured-house smoked salmon, crème frâiche raifort, baby arugula salad with shaved fennel, lemon zest, Champagne vinaigrette and capers. This is the only semi-healthy dish on the happy hour menu if you care for that sort of thing, but it is so flavorful we were all fighting for the last pieces of the salmon. Although we could not taste the rum-curing (not even sure if this would impart flavor though?) the combination of all the elements was very good. You had the salty smoked salmon with Champagne dressed greens, the crunch of the anise-y fennel, tangy capers and lastly the crème frâiche raifort to balance it all out.

Carpaccio

Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé

You thought that was it didn’t you? Well after all this can you imagine we still ordered dessert? We can.

DESSERT: There were many good dessert options and we had heard good things about the crème brulee crèpe however we ultimately decided on the Brioche aux Cerises. With brioche bread pudding, dried cherries, white chocolate, toasted almonds and Amaretto with crème fraîche this sounded like quite the combo. The bread pudding was not dense and was very light in texture but still custard-y in the middle. The white chocolate flavor was not very prominent but the dried cherries added sweet, chewy bites to the pillow-y soft bread. We really, really wished this had come with ice cream because that would have taken it to the next level.

Brioche aux Cerises

Brioche aux Cerises

CHECK:
Red Ale $3.50
Basil Martini $5.50
Galette du Crabe $7.48
Carpaccio de Saumon Fumé $7.98
Crèpe de Homard $8.98
Nouille au Fromage $6.75
Moules et Frites au Champignon $6.98
Brioche aux Cerises $9.95
TOTAL: $61.69 (w/ tax)

Patio View

Patio View

Overall we thought happy hour was a great deal. There are quite a few options for food and drink which was nice. The dishes that really blew us away were the Nouille au Fromage and the Moules et Frites. Everything else was good except for the Crèpe de Homard which I thought was a little underwhelming. Definitely want to make it back here for the Tournedos (*crossing my fingers it will be in the next SDRW menu*).

Bleu Bohème
4090 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
www.bleuboheme.com

Brooklyn Girl Eatery

Brooklyn Girl is a great spot in Mission Hills doing fresh and inventive food and one of our favorite go-to neighborhood spots. The restaurant has a nice look to it and definitely lives up to its “Brooklyn” title. It’s housed in a warehouse style building but has a cool vibe with modern art on the walls, big crystal chandeliers in bird cages and trees wrapped in lights inside. They have a restaurant seated dining area, a bar area, communal tables and a “pantry” section that sells food items.

Menu

Menu

We have been here a couple times and not only do we love the food but the service seems to be on point here. Also the bar and communal dining tables are great when you want to stop by but do not have a reservation.

The bar area

The bar area

BREAD: In fact you do not get bread, they instead serve you popcorn which has been spiced differently every time we’ve been. Last time it was Thyme and Butter Popcorn (shown below) and the previous time it was a spicier version.

Thyme & Butter Popcorn

Thyme & Butter Popcorn

APPETIZER: Ok. You must try the Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs. With a name like that how can you even pass it up? Between the flavorful pork, the crisp salty bacon and the sweet-spicy glaze this hits all the right spots. The slaw on top doesn’t hurt either.

Ginger Glazed Bacon Wrapped Pork Meatballs

Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs

Vietnamese Meatball

Vietnamese Meatball

ENTREE: This is one of the few restaurants where the chicken can compete with steak and seafood. Normally we always go for steak/seafood when eating out but here the roasted chicken is amazing. Another fantastic standby is their Williams Burger. You pick between cheddar and blue cheese and can add cherry wood smoked bacon, a fried egg, or fried oysters for extra. We definitely suggest adding the bacon. This burger comes with the classic sides (lettuce, tomatoes, pickle) and the Kobe/Angus beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare. No crazy aioli’s or unusual ingredients, just a classic done right (including the crispy thin fries!). Sometimes you can really tell the caliber of a restaurant when even their salads sound/are delicious. We ordered the Duck and Date salad and if you are a fan of duck this is the dish for you. The duck is falling off the bone tender and comes accompanied by frisee lettuce, spinach, Marcona almonds, chopped up dates and banyals vinaigrette. The richness of the duck pairs well with the sweet chewy dates and the fresh greens, a great cold weather salad (it’s been chilly lately in San Diego!).

Duck and Date Salad

Duck and Date Salad

Williams Burger

Williams Burger

SIDES: One of the must order sides is their Cornbread and Honey: freshly baked cornbread (made to order) with a molten white cheddar core is topped with honeycomb and brought to your table. It’s sweet and salty and we actually prefer it as an appetizer than a side. Another notable side is the Brussels and Bacon. If you normally think of brussel sprouts as limp, yellow-y, boiled bitter little bundles you are in for a treat. They are deep fried until they are shattering-ly crispy on the outside then served with bacon and caramelized pecans. Definitely a fantastic thing to add to your order and we always end up fighting for the last few pecans.

Brussels & Bacon

Brussels & Bacon

Brooklyn Girl has simple but inventive takes on dishes and we like that it makes good food thats relatively affordable. This coupled with the good service and nice ambiance ensures that we will keep returning here, at least until we can find out how to copy those Vietnamese meatballs…

CHECK:
Bacon Wrapped Vietnamese Meatballs $11
Williams Burger $14
Duck and Date $12
Brussels and Bacon $8
TOTAL: $48.60 (w/ tax)

Brooklyn Girl Eatery
4033 Goldfinch St
San Diego, California 92103
brooklyngirleatery.com