SanDiegoVille's Best Bites of 2013 | A Year in Review


January 10, 2013

We came, we saw, we ate everything in sight! The year 2013 is now a distant memory, but we remain compelled to honor the delicious offerings that made the year memorable.  From mollusks to misoyaki, 2013 was quite delicious for SanDiegoVille, so prepare to salivate. Here are our best bites of the year!

2012 was amazing, and 2013 even better.  We're only looking to improve in 2014, so keep following SanDiegoVille for all the delicious and fun happenings in America's Finest City.  In no particular order, and without further ado, here are our favorite foods from last year. Try them for yourself - if you can!

The Blind Burro served up their jicama 'tortilla' shrimp tacos with fresh cilantro, avocado and mango salsa at numerous events this year, and they're consistently awesome, even so great as to take second place at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival TKO Taco Challenge (by just a couple votes).  Innovative, healthier, and equally as delicious as regular corn or flour tortilla tacos, these are a fantastic alternative for those wishing to try gluten free, or just those wanting something lighter, different and delicious.

We had an out of town visitor who we wished to wow, so we brought him to Bertrand at Mister A's. Little did we know that the evening's appetizer special - escargot - would be one of our best bites of the year.  Served in an ceramic escargot dish and doused in garlic herb butter, we savored these little mollusks and sopped up all the remaining sauces with our bread. I still dream of this dish.

Plancha Baja Med's Chef Chad White's crispy lechon tostada with orange and pickled mustard jelly served at The New Children's Museum Feasting in Wonderland charity event was like sweet (and savory) meat candy.  The pork belly topped with pop rocks was devoured by the packed house. These meaty morsels were to die for, forcing our return for thirds and fourths.  Check out Chef Chad White at his upcoming La Justina Gastropub in Tijuana, Craft Pizza Co. at Westfield UTC, and his rumored-to-open East Village eatery hopefully coming soon.

Lady SanDiegoVille knows how to marinate a cheaper piece of meat and turn it into one of the most delicious bites ever experienced.  Marinated for 36 hours in a secret concoction of fresh ginger, honey, garlic, garden chilies, brown sugar, and Tamari, I could eat her flank steak every damn day* (*We are attempting 'at-home vegetarianism' in this new year. Sigh.). I may be a tad biased, but it may be worth befriending us to be so lucky to indulge in one of the best dishes in the city!
Roy's Misoyaki Butterfish is exquisite. It really is. This dish is served at every one of the 28 Roy's locations around the country. At first glance it may be a bit pricey, but it's worth every penny. Alaskan black cod, marinated and seared to perfection, sided by delicious vegetables and flavored rice - oh. so. buttery-delicious!
We are usually open to eating anything, but uni (sea urchin roe) has always been one of those acquired tastes even our adventurous palates couldn't acquire.  Chef Anthony Sinsay changed all that with his burnt garlic risotto topped with toasted uni, elderflower, sea beans and espresso toasted rice crispies, a menu staple during his short tenure at La Villa Restaurant and Bar in Little Italy. Hopefully he takes this mind blower with him.
Chef Lance Repp took our whole fish virginity during a dinner visit to the revived Tom Ham's Lighthouse. His whole roasted sea bass was glorious, incorporating Mediterranean and Italian flavors to make such a succulent dish.  We paid respect to every last morsel of the fish by ingesting every bite of flesh, and then some.

Chef Karl Prohaska of the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley cooked us up some delicious bites in 2013.  We could have included any number of offerings on this list - from the andouille stuffed mussels at the Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Festival, to his red dust pork belly chicharones at the San Diego Bacon Fest, to his duck consomm√© Bocuse at the Five Chef Societe II - Duck Tales dinner, but our true favorite out of all his delectable dishes was his spice rubbed, wild boar fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs at the New Kids on the Block II Beer Fest.  As word spread around the festival of their amazingness, they couldn't come out fast enough.  Fortunately for us, chef Karl put some aside, and how thankful we were that he did!
In honor of his big win as mentor on ABC's primetime cooking competition, The Taste, Chef Brian Malarkey held several dinners with The Taste winner Chef K at each of his San Diego restaurants.  We were fortunate to dine at the late-great Burlap where we were wowed by the lamb poutine triple cooked fries.  The cheesy meat was soo flavorful and delicious, but the fries, oh the fries, made this dish.  Probably the best fries we've ever eaten.
Beaumont's Eatery is certainly the most happening spot in Bird Rock, and will likely only increase in popularity in 2014 with the addition of Tommy Fraioli to cook along Executive Chef George Morris.  We experienced the reinvigorated scene in 2013 and fell in love with the Duckwich sandwich.  Pineapple barbecue duck is layered with sweet bruleed bananas, cilantro, red onion, and brie inside a toasted ciabatta roll, pressed panino style.  This combination of tropical flavors and savory duck made for one of the best sandwiches in San Diego.
This year, The Duck Dive in Pacific Beach began offering a Monday special of their house burger and any beer for $10.  Being quite the fan of value, we stopped in one evening to a special that has since made us regulars.  The Duck Dive Burger is one of our favorites in town - a half pound Angus beef patty, topped with pimento cheese, house made tomato relish, caramelized onions, butter lettuce, and garlic aioli on a fantastic toasted brioche bun, served with a heaping side of shoe string fries.  This bad boy is also available in an amazing panko crusted black bean patty, also made in house.  Pair it with a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA or Coronado Brewing Idiot IPA for one of the best deals in town!
The house bread at Monello in Little Italy is a labor of love.  It ferments for more than 4 days, and you can tell upon first bite that they have the recipe down pat! I know that having bread on this list may seem strange, but stop in and give it a try, pair it with a Caprese, and let us know what you think.
We covered the 2013 Baja California Food & Wine Festival, and were lucky to be assigned the Chef's Dinner at La Caza Club in Tijuana.  Although we loved the entire meal, the lightly roasted kale and fennel salad, which is allegedly their house salad, was unlike any we've ever experienced before or since.  Words won't do it justice, but the combination of distinct flavors came together harmoniously, for once a healthy party in my mouth.  Head south of the border and check it out!
Francis Ford Coppola Winery showcased its line of California wines for local media at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in downtown San Diego, where we were served a surf and turf dish worthy of mention.  A whole Maine lobster tail was paired with the most tender and delicious filet mignon, and was sided by long beans and potatoes au gratin, making for a luxurious main course.
Supernatural Sandwiches served up miniature servings of their Neptune Sandwich at this year's San Diego Reader FEAST! event, and the line remained long throughout.  This combination of scallops, tri chili aioli and avocado ponzu sauce was incredibly memorable and demonstrated the consistent deliciousness served up by Supernatural Sandwiches.

There were obviously innumerable other delectable delights which have left lasting marks in our hearts and bellies. If you feel like reminiscing, check out our SanDiegoVille's Restaurant Profiles section for more highlights, and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to track our experiences. And if there is something that we must absolutely try in 2014, please do steer us in the right direction. Cheers to eating well, living happy and enjoying life as it happens!