Culinary Conflicts Resolved - A Recap of the Coast of PB Restaurant Walk and barleymash's Grand Opening Party

May 23, 2012

As a food reporter, one of the worst things to encounter (besides a hair on your plate) is a conflict between two events that you really want to cover, in this situation, yesterday's Coast of Pacific Beach Restaurant Walk and the barleymash official grand opening party.  Here at, we were determined to tackle both events, so, as any resourceful and motivated reporters would, we fasted all day and made magic happen.  We would hop on our bikes and cruise between the 25 restaurants in PB, then hop on the 5 south to downtown to imbibe at our newest favorite Gaslamp hotspot, barleymash.  And in tribute to Sacha Baron Cohen's latest film, it was "great success!"

While we do thoroughly enjoy all of San Diego's restaurant walks and greatly appreciate experiencing each unique neighborhood's restaurant scene, being that we are PB-ers for life/(so long as we can successfully drag out our youth), The Coast of Pacific Beach Restaurant Walk is a favorite local food tour.  While we usually view such events as an opportunity to explore those locales that we do not regularly frequent, we had a difficult time picking and choosing where to go in an attempt to squeeze in as many small plates as our demise.  After hitting up only about seven restaurants, we were forced to retire our stomachs - before our deadline to head downtown.

I'm not usually one to complain about being over-served, whether it be drink or food.  That said, the restaurants on this walk fed me too much!!! Next year, all I want is an amuse-bouche (for those of you who (intelligently and for practical purposes) opted to take Spanish in school, amuse-bouche is French for "mouth amuser," or more literally, a single, bite-sized hors d'ouevre).

I drank IPA, ate pizza, then more pizza dolloped with ricotta, artichokes and spinach, then beef sliders, BBQ chicken sliders, ribs, chicken skewers, buffalo chicken lettuce wraps, white bean chili with fixin's, pan-seared shrimp tacos, bacon wrapped hot dog, lobster mac and cheese, roast beef deli sandwich, chicken fingers, lamb meat balls, stuffed grape leaves, babaganoush, and grilled pita....and then I regretfully threw in the towel before we even made it back to our mainstays on Garnet.  And that's only after 10 restaurants!

Duck Dive's Sliders - BBQ Chicken and Dive Burger
Obviously I love my Ciro's pizza and am always happy to indulge in PB Ale House's rich lobster mac and cheese, but there were a few standouts.  Vanoos Grillette definitely gets kudos for their huge (and diverse) spread from deli sandwiches to babaganoush.  Duck Dive's sliders were simple and delicious (love those baby buns).  And I was pleasantly surprised by my delight in Bare Back Grill's white bean chili (who knew they served anything but delectable burgers and sandwiches?).  But I had a definitive favorite.

For whatever ignorantly pretentious reason (is it because it's a "fast-food" chain?), I am usually hesitant to jump on their bandwagon, but Rubio's salsa verde pan-seared shrimp taco was my highlight: sustainable pan-seared shrimp topped with a salsa verde sauce made with tomatillos, poblano chiles and fresh herbs, along with buttery Hass Avocado slices, a melted three-cheese blend, creamy chipotle sauce, a cilantro/onion mix and cabbage served on a warm flour tortilla and garnished with a slice of lime.  Rubio's - you're good you.  Rubio's consistently outshines at these food events, whether it be here in PB, Del Mar's Summer Solstice, or the Beer Garden event at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.  Okay, now I'm fulllllllllll!  

But, we had to muster on, as we had more eating and drinking to do at barleymash.  After attending the soft opening a couple weeks ago, we've been bragging about this place to all of our friends, and we actually went back three times last week -- that's WAY more downtownage than we are used to, but totally worth the drive, parking, exchanging flip-flops for grown up shoes, and a quick blow-dry (things I am usually happily able to avoid living in PB).

barleymash was packed and vibrant, flowing with cool San Diego breezes, strong IPAs, and tasting plates galore.  Who'd have thought I'd sample another slue of pizzas, cucumber ceviche bites, awesome seared tuna, and their deliciously diverse array of crispy wings (whiskey buffalo, mojito mango-chili, bourbon BBQ, whole grain honey-porter mustard or salty and naked).  Have we mentioned their amazing happy hour??  NVM - I don't want to give too much away.

After a long day of indulgence (and constantly readjusting my waistband), I yearned for my return to PB, and that I did.  All in a day's work.