Tag Archives: restaurant

Places to eat in Kansas City: Slice Deli & Bistro

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On a recent short trip to Kansas City, we decided to try some place different for breakfast. I read about Slice Deli on Urbanspoon: it was rated 95%, and reviewers raved about how great the sandwiches are, and about how they smoke and roast all the meat on site. And given the name, I was expecting something bistro-ish. So we went with high hopes.

Which was a mistake.

Now, given all the positive reviews, I’d be willing to try it again at lunch time. And if you go in with realistic expectations, it would be just fine. (Except for the coffee. More on that in a minute.)

First the atmosphere: The space is bright and clean, with toys and games available to play while you wait. But Slice is adjoined to a convenience store, with a large open doorway between the two, and there is no change in ambiance from one to the other. “Deli” is an appropriate description. “Bistro” is not.

My husband and I both ordered “The Beater:” two eggs any style; two slices of bacon, sausage or ham; hash browns and toast. I thought the sausage and eggs (which I ordered over medium) were perfect. The hubs considered the sausage overcooked. The toast came without butter — and without an offer of butter from the waitress — and there was none sitting out. The hash browns were perfectly adequate.

I’m not a big coffee drinker, but my husband is. Big coffee snob, really, if we’re going to be honest here. He grinds locally-roasted Sumatra beans every morning, and perks it in a French press. Get the picture? He described the coffee at Slice as “the worst coffee I’ve ever had anywhere.” Given that ringing endorsement, I didn’t try it, so I can’t give the alternate opinion. If coffee is coffee to you, you might think it’s perfectly fine. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, you might want to skip it.

So the bottom line is: go for lunch, go in with reasonable expectations, and if you’re picky, skip the coffee.

Slice Deli & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Places to eat in Wichita: Le Monde

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I’ve been to Le Monde three or four times — well, at this location, anyway. Years ago, there was a Le Monde downtown, but I don’t know if that was the same owners.

The West Street one looks like it was a fast food joint in a former life, but it’s been updated on the inside and out with a homier look.

The menu offers a mix of Americanized Euro-ish favorites: quesadillas, ravioli, chicken moutarde; and the Lebanese offerings which are (happily) commonplace in Wichita: hummus, fattoush, and schawarma. The entrees are dominated by pasta offerings: eight, to be exact.

Homemade biscuits are served free while you peruse the menu. Although delicious, they seem a little out of place with the Euro/Mid-Eastern slant of the menu: they taste just like my grandma’s shortbread (American farm food), and the ones we were served this time tasted like they’d just come out of the oven.

I usually get the fattoush salad with chicken, but today I was in the mood for something different, so I ordered a gyro. I’ve never had one before, so I have nothing to compare it to or to judge how authentic it was. But it was yummy! The seasoned ground beef (and/or lamb?), tasted sort of like breakfast sausage. A good thing, in my book. The tomato and tsaziki sauce was the perfect complement, adding a contrast without overwhelming. The pita bread was soft and puffy.  My daughter was scared off by the tsaziki (yogurt and cucumber sauce), but after she had a taste, she didn’t want to give it back to me. It’s served with a generous side salad of your choice — my choice: fattoush, of course!

When she ordered, she stuck to what she knew: chicken schawarma. (Or schwarma.) This dish is pretty common in Wichita. The base of it is hummus — which I can be fairly picky about, since I have a pretty rockin’ homemade version. Then that is topped with chicken schawarma and, usually, some grilled onions, pine nuts, olive oil and/or paprika. Le Monde tops theirs with pickles (housemade, I think), and fresh tomatoes. 

The chicken is tasty, but not remarkable. I give their hummus a thumbs up. And yes, I know I’ve already said that the pita bread was great, but it bears another mention! I wish they’d serve pita for the free appetizer, with some zahtaar seasoning and good olive oil. But then again, I’d probably just fill up on that! So maybe it’s a good thing (for my waistline) they don’t.

Le Monde Cafe & Deli (west) on Urbanspoon

Places to eat in Kansas City: Beer Kitchen

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The Beer Kitchen in Westport, Kansas City MO

The Beer Kitchen in Westport is another of our favorite spots in KC. In the past, we’ve enjoyed their lunch/dinner menu, including various salads, burgers, Mac & Cheese or Fish & Chips.

This time, we were visiting a little earlier in the day and looking for brunch.

Both the hubs and I are big fans of a classic Eggs Benedict, so we’re always on the search for good ones. We still miss the EB at Reverse Grill and Jack Gage, which are both now closed. ¬†ūüôĀ

But luckily, Beer Kitchen also has a brunch menu on the weekend, so my husband tried it. It comes with a side of “brunch potatoes” – chunky cubes of potatoes, crispy-brown on the exterior. The verdict: good hollandaise, potatoes nicely done, but the poached eggs were a little under done, with the whites being just a tad runny. But he wasn’t in a complaining mood, so he didn’t send them back.

I ordered a “Turkey Turkey” sandwich:¬†smoked turkey, turkey bacon, avocado, tomato, chipotle cheddar and chipotle aioli on grilled sourdough. Being the spice wimp I am, I was concerned about the chipotle component of this sandwich, but the waitress assured me it wasn’t spicy at all, so I ordered it as is. I should know better! It was just a little too spicy for me, but again, not bad enough to not finish.

Other than the spice factor (which wouldn’t be an issue for most people), the sandwich was delish. I especially liked the toasted sour dough: it was the absolutely perfect balance of crunchy outside and just-chewy-enough inside. Unfortunately, it didn’t photograph well, so no pic.

Even with these two small complaints, I would recommend Beer Kitchen without reservations. This was probably our fourth or fifth visit, and they have been consistently good.

They are open seven days a week: open at 11 am on weekdays and 9 am on the weekends. They close anywhere from midnight to 3 a.m.; check their website for details.

Beer Kitchen website

On Urbanspoon:
Beer Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Places to eat in KC: El Patron

Places to eat in Kansas City: El Patron

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How to spot El Patron.

El Patron Cocina and Bar is a locally-owned Mexican restaurant, but it’s not your¬†standard¬†mexi-gringo fare.¬†My sister is a local and she first clued us in to this gem; we’ve been back multiple times and are never disappointed.

It’s definitely off the beaten track, as far as restaurants go. It’s in a somewhat industrial area, and I would never have picked it out, just driving by. It’s even a little hard to find when you are looking for it. (The gray arrow in the photo at left points to the El Patron awning.) But it’s worth the hunt!

The interior is a refreshing break from the ubiquitous chunky-wood-painted-neon-colors you find in so many local cocinas. It feels more like a bistro, with exposed brick walls displaying original art.

My favorite — and what I almost always order — is the fish tacos. As you can see in the photo below, they have a much more generous serving of fish than Seasons 52. You can get them on corn or flour tortillas, topped with cabbage, avocado, and pico, and they come with a side of mango salsa. What I love about them is that the balance of all the flavors is just exactly right: you can taste the fish but it’s not overwhelming, and you get just a small hit of the pico, without it dominating the dish.

But on this visit, my husband wanted the fish tacos, so I decided to order something different, and went with the tacos al pastor: tender chunks of pork, marinated in a “secret recipe.” It’s a very, very red sauce — prepare to get messy! — and though it contains pineapple and orange, don’t expect anything like a teriyaki. It’s a slightly sweet sauce with cinnamon being the most dominant note. It was nicely flavored; if I were a fan of cinnamon with meat, these would be fantastic. But I’m not, so I wasn’t wild about them. Understand, though, that it is just this matter of personal taste that is my only complaint. They were still delicious!
My husband and son have also ordered steak and shrimp — Arrachera con Camarones. It’s a marinated skirt steak, served with sauteed shrimp and caramelized onions. Garnished with charred jalapeno, beans, rice and guacamole on the side, served with flour tortillas. They’ve both ordered it more than once, which tells you that it’s good! (This photo is from the El Patron website; I didn’t get a good shot of it.)
So if you’re willing to venture beyond the Plaza and Westport, check this place out!
Located at: 2905 Southwest Blvd. (which is not the same as Southwest Trafficway)
Hours: open for lunch and dinner, M – Sat.; dinner only on Sun.

El Patron website.

El Patron on Urbanspoon

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Places to eat in KC: Beer Kitchen

Places to eat in Kansas City: Seasons 52 on The Plaza

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Seasons 52 is a high-end restaurant chain that just opened a location in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza last year. As the company website says, they feature a “seasonally-inspired menu and award-winning international wine list.” As our server explained it, the whole menu changes seasonally, then there are a number of features which change week to week.

The decor feels sort of like a nice hotel lobby. Elegant, pleasant, but lacking soul.

Our server was perfect. Friendly and sincere; knowledgeable and helpful without being pushy.

My daughter and I split the Tiger Shrimp Penne Pasta with “market vegetables in a lemon-basil sauce with Parmesan cheese,” to quote the menu. The shrimp was nicely done and the vegetables were perfect, but I couldn’t taste lemon or basil in the sauce. In a cheaper restaurant, the dish would be perfectly acceptable, but given the location, the ambience and the prices, I expected to be wowed. I wasn’t.

My husband ordered the Blackened Fish Tacos. They were beautifully presented, but as you can see, none too generous with the fish. His take on the flavor was similar to mine regarding my pasta.

On to dessert! (I don’t know who first came up with the idea of serving tiny desserts in restaurants, but it is genius!) I ordered Lemon Pound Cake, and it was finally the calibre I was expecting: a perfect balance of sweet and sour. My daughter ordered Mango Cheesecake, which she said was good but lacking much mango flavor. My husband ordered the Pecan Pie with Vanilla Mousse, and it was so sweet he didn’t want to finish it.

I always hate to give bad reviews, probably due to that mantra driven into us all in childhood: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.” But unless someone else is picking up the ticket, I won’t be back. It’s not horrible; really, it’s not! It’s just not much above good.  ūüôĀ

Seasons 52 website
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

You might also like these places to eat in KC:
El Patron
Beer Kitchen in Westport

Restaurant review: Pacific Coast Pizza

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One of the foods I miss the most while living a balanced-carb lifestyle is pizza. Eating pizza with whole-wheat crust alleviates some of the guilt, but until Pacific Coast Pizza opened up a couple years ago, there was no place in Wichita that served it.Happily, that has been¬†remedied. In addition to a traditional white crust, they also offer a “rosemary wheat” crust. I haven’t asked for specific nutrition info, so I’m not sure it’s 100% whole wheat, but it looks and tastes like it, and that’s enough for my conscience, once in a while!

They offer a wide variety of pizzas, from classic to pesto-based to vegetarian to “Pacific Coast Style.” There’s also the “build your own” option. (Find the menu here.) My favorite is the San Andreas: rosemary wheat crust topped with red sauce, low-fat mozzarella, roasted chicken, red onion, mushroom, roasted red pepper and pineapple.

pacific coast pizza - San Andreas
Their strength is definitely their pizza. I haven’t tried any of the pasta, sandwiches or wraps, but pass up the salads. The “Caesar” is just a normal salad with what tastes like bottled Italian dressing, with some Parmesan sprinkled on top. Don’t expect much from the atmosphere: what little decor there is consists of beer brand signs. There is a patio, so on those precious few days when Kansas weather makes sitting outdoors comfortable, that’s a nice option.
It’s located in Sienna Plaza, on the northwest corner of 37th Street North and Rock Road, and parking is never a problem.

Pacific Coast Pizza on Urbanspoon

Good place to eat in San Diego: Prado Restaurant in Balboa Park

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A gorgeous dessert from Prado Restaurant in Balboa Park



The restaurant that earned two visits in a four-day vacation.

After a couple hours walking around in Balboa Park, enjoying the Japanese Garden very much, and (to a lesser extent) the Art Museum, I was flagging and in need of a little snack or caffeine. We had heard about Prado, the only restaurant on the grounds there. Since it was in a touristy spot, and without competition, we kinda figured it would be¬†A)¬†poor quality food,¬†B)¬†way overpriced, or C) both. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it was D) neither. It’s not cheap food, but for the quality and the¬†ambiance, I do not think it’s at all overpriced. (You can find the menus at the bottom of this page.)

The complementary appetizer is a crispy cracker/flatbread, that comes in poppyseed and parmesan, accompanied by a bit of bean dip that is rather like a thick hummus, but with herbs. Quite tasty, and a welcome departure from bread and butter.

We were originally going to split an appetizer, but then I spied a wedge salad on the menu, and had to have that. Eric hates bleu cheese, so he ended up ordering a three-skewer trio. One mini-kabob, each with a nicely-done piece of meat and three appropriate sauces:¬†steak with chipotle honey, chicken breast with cashew curry, and shrimp with mango ginger sauce. They were all tasty (I did take a tiny bite of each; Eric’s so nice to share!), and just the right size for a mid-afternoon snack. I loved my wedge salad! It was simple and classic, but done just exactly right. Instead of one behemoth wedge of lettuce, there were four petite ones, with ripe, red, diced tomatoes and crispy bacon in the center of the four, and bleu cheese dressing drizzled generously over all. (Forgive me; no pics. We were hungry!)

So we were originally planning on one appetizer; now we were up to two. But as soon as we saw a gorgeous dessert go by, we knew we couldn’t stop there! The dessert that seduced us was their flan, which is the photo at the top of this post. Confession: I shot this photo on someone else’s table, without their permission. Just pointed my camera over there and clicked once.

What a lucky shot, huh?! That tells you how gorgeous the dessert and the sunlight was! We were seated on their lovely outdoor terrace.

And the waitress was happy to take our picture.

Back to the flan… It’s speared with a shard of sugar glass, and accompanied by a nest of shredded phyllo and fresh berries.¬†Although we were enticed by the flan, the waitress¬†described it as more like a cheesecake in texture, and we’d already been there, done that. (See my review of El Callejon in this post.)¬†So instead we ordered the¬†tres leches¬†cake.

But it was not just cake. Below is the architectural marvel that is this dessert: a pistachio meringue base, filled with caramel bananas, topped with¬†tres leches cake, topped with vanilla bean ice cream —¬†and all that is¬†topped with a thin slice of crispy-fried plantain.

I hate to say this… As beautiful as the tres leches dessert was, it wasn’t my favorite. It’s not that the dish wasn’t well executed; it certainly was! It was just too sweet for me. If you eat a lot of sweets and/or you love tres leches, you might find this dish fantastic. But since I’m fairly accustomed to very little sugar, I’m more sensitive to the taste and actually prefer things that aren’t so sweet.

Still, we were so happy with our first experience there that we decided to go back for dinner a couple days later. ¬†That evening, we were seated indoors, so I tried to be very inconspicuous about my photo-taking. That coupled with the fact that it was very dim indoors, means that I don’t have any pictures of the indoors or our entrees. The decor was the very definition of eclectic — for example, the room was lit mostly by a hodge podge of mis-matched table lamps, and they had several lighting fixtures that consisted of vessels made of antlers, filled with multi-hued glass orbs. Yeah, it sounds a little weird, but it really worked with the whole of the decor.

Eric ordered… hmm, I’ll have to get back with you on that.¬†I don’t remember the exact dish.¬†It was something steak, I believe, and quite tender. I ordered the crabcakes; they are meant to be an appetizer, but I wasn’t terribly hungry, and plus, I was saving room for dessert, round two! (I appreciated the fact that the waiter didn’t try to upsell me; when I said I wasn’t that hungry, he graciously suggested the appetizer section.) I usually don’t order crabcakes, because it’s just so hard for any version to live up to the best I’ve ever had, at Cafe Sebastienne in the Kemper Museum in Kansas City. But these stood up on their own. They come with a spicy sauce, which I asked for on the side, but I did use a fair amount of it. It was not too overbearing for this spice wimp, and added a just-right punch to the delicate cakes.

So, on to dessert! I ordered the dessert that really caught my eye the first time I looked over the menu: pumpkin creme brulee! Although it was the least attractive of all the desserts we ordered (or spied), it was the tastiest,¬†in my opinion! The custard was perfect — silky smooth, hinting of pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves, and peppered with vanilla bean specks. The brulee was nicely crunchy. What I really think could be nixed on the dessert is the “cinnamon chips.” I can’t imagine how they’re made, but they look like bacon, and tasted like cinnamon-y burnt sugar. I have nothing against bacon! Just not so much on my pumpkin dessert. (Chef, if you wouldn’t be offended to take suggestions from an everyday cook, I would drizzle the serving dish with something caramel, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over that, then let the creme brulee stand on top of that in unadorned glory.)

Eric had the “Triple Chocolate Threat.” Although my photo didn’t come out so great, it was a beautiful presentation, and a delicious combo. The menu describes it as:¬†chocolate cookie crust, dark chocolate baked custard, dark chocolate ganache, and salted caramel ice cream.

So, as you can see, we thoroughly enjoyed our two visits to Prado in as many days, and would recommend it to anyone.

San Diego: lunch and dinner

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Okay, I’ve already talked breakfast in San Diego; here are a couple of taco joints, and a couple places for dinner. Most of them were too dark to take photos in, so I’m stuck with images from Google Streetview. The gorgeous sunset above is not,¬†unfortunately, the view from any of these restaurants. Just a lovely moment from our trip.

South Beach Bar & Grill 
Eric found this spot on Urbanspoon; we would have never happened on it otherwise. It’s a nondescript bar in the Ocean Beach area. (How’s that for a redundant name? I mean, what other kind of beach is there?) And with a 95% rating on Urbanspoon, expectations were high. We love fish tacos, this seems like the town for it, and reviewers raved about ’em here.

They offer a Mini Taco Platter appetizer that includes one four-bite taco for each of: mahi-mahi, wahoo, shrimp, calamari, and baha (pollack) tacos. We ordered that, and Eric followed it up with an additional lobster taco.

I thought the amount of food was a good deal for the price, and yeah, they tasted good, but they were all smothered — I mean completely covered and piled high — with your basic pico de gallo, and finished with a drizzle of… Ranch dressing? Okay, so it’s a bar, it’s not a five-star restaurant, but when people describe it as “the best fish tacos on the planet,” I would expect: A) a sauce or salsa suited for each type of fish, and B) to be able to¬†see¬†the fish, as well as taste it. We could do neither.

It’s tasty, it’s cheap, but it’s also loud. I said, IT’S ALSO LOUD! If I’m going to a bar for cheap tacos, this one would do fine. But if I’m looking for the best fish tacos on the planet, I’ll keep on looking.

Located at: 5059 Newport, just off Ocean Beach
Open for: Lunch and Dinner
South Beach Bar & Grill website
On Urbanspoon:
South Beach Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop 
This one was recommended by a local. And we had been forewarned, “It’s a dive.” So we were a little more prepared.

If you like funky and offbeat, this is your place! The not-so-subtle theme is¬†lucha libre, which is Mexican freestyle wrestling. (Think Jack Black in “Nacho Libre.”) Hot pink walls, disco balls on the ceiling, and lucha libre-inspired art in garish gold frames announce that this is not your typical sombrero-sporting joint. (Here’s¬†another reviewer who has lots of pictures.)

We were just looking for a smallish lunch, so we split an “Undefeated Seafood Taco” between the two of us. And a small guacamole. And an order of fries. Getting less smallish by the minute. The lunch, and us.

The taco was good, but honestly, I can’t give you too many details, because I wolfed my half down so fast I forgot to take even mental notes about the ingredients or taste! I do remember that I liked it, and that it was in a corn tortilla. (I prefer wheat, but I know that corn is more traditional/authentic.)

And the small guacamole? Emphasis on the word “small.” Here it is, next to a normal-sized chip. And nothing remarkable about the taste. But that’s not what you come here for.

There was also a salsa bar, featuring seven or eight different fruit- and/or tomato-based salsas. I didn’t try any of them, because as I’ve already mentioned, I ate in a bit of a hurry!

And being a¬†Vampire Weekend¬†fan (no, it has nothing to do with Twilight), I jumped at the chance to try¬†horchata, which the taco shop had on tap, alongside common American sodas. What is horchata? It’s carbonated, it looks like you mixed milk and soda water, and tastes like cinnamon-sugar. A weird experience. But hey, now I can sing, “I remember drinking horchata,” and mean it!

Located at: 1810 W Washington St. in the Mission Hills area
Open for:  Lunch and dinner
Lucha Libre website
On Urbanspoon:
Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop on Urbanspoon

El Callejon 
This was my first visit to San Diego, but my husband has been there before on business. One of the places he was eager to introduce me to was El Callejon. ¬†Much of the restaurant is completely open to the outdoors. Now, if you live on the west coast, this may be very “so what?” to you, but for those of us from the land of 20-degree winters and 100 degree summers, this is a very novel thing!

“El callejon” is Spanish for “the alley,” and the restaurant feels very much like a bar that spilled out into a wide alley with extra seating for diners. The open-air dining and the year-round party lights give the place the feel of a casual backyard summer party.

We started with the ubiquitous chips and salsa, but this was not the typical fare. The chips were thick and crunchy — in a good way — as well as fresh and hot. The salsa cruda was clearly made from fresh ingredients: not the perfect red you get from canned tomatoes, but a pale color that disguised surprising flavor. Perfect hit of onion and jalapeno, too.

Since we were on the coast, I decided to go with seafood. The menu includes a section for choosing which kind of fish you want and which kind of sauce. Being a spice wimp, I steered clear of anything on the menu that sounded spicy. I love lemon, so I ordered salmon cooked in butter, lemon, white wine and spices, topped with capers. The salmon was perfectly cooked — not too dry, as if often the case. But, as much as I love lemon — and I do! — the sauce really overwhelmed the flavor of the dish.

Eric ordered Medallones al Cilantro o Chipotle — beef medallions topped with melted cheese, served in a cilantro or chipotle sauce. I sneaked a taste, of course. We both loved the delicious, spice-laden flavor of the dish, but the meat was a tad — just a tad — overcooked. Still quite enjoyable.

For desert, we ordered the flan. My experience with ordering both flan and creme brulee is that you never know if you’re going to get creamy, smooth deliciousness, or overdone eggy stuff. This was neither. It was more of a cheesecake texture. The flavor was great, but the texture was just unexpected. Had I expected it, I think it would have been perfect.

Located at: 345 S. Coast Hwy 101, in Encinitas
Open for: Lunch and dinner
El Callejon website
On Urbanspoon:
El Callejon on Urbanspoon

Pomodoro 
Our last night in the fair city… what to eat? I was a little tired of Mexican, and thinking of a memorable dinner I had more than 20 years ago at an Italian cucina in Los Angelos, I had a craving for pasta with seafood and vodka sauce. (If you’ve never had vodka sauce, it might sound horrible, but it’s really a tomato and cream sauce, and although there is vodka involved in the making, you don’t taste it: it’s just a beautiful marriage of flavors that sing!) So doing a search for that dish in San Diego, I found Pomodoro.

I loved the atmosphere! There is nothing remotely pretentious or design-y about it. Sort of almost-kitchy but in a very authentic way. On the inside it looks like it was a small bungalow home that’s been converted into a restaurant. The floors are old hardwood; there is a bay window facing the street, partially covered by homemade curtains with a red tomato motif. The walls are adorned with dishes sporting tomatoes and other Italian themes. The very busy kitchen is only separated from the dining by a counter, and whether or not they are, the staff feels like an Italian family, serving you in their own home.

We started with caprese. The mozarella, I suspect, was housemade; perfect texture. The basil leaves were monstrous — well, by Kansas-in-February standards, anyway! They were a good 4 to 5″ long. (I must confess, I swooned a bit when I saw them.)

For the entree, I had Farfalle Salmone e Vodka; Eric ordered sea scallops in a light wine garlic sauce, served over spinach. Both dishes were fine — really, they were — but just not remarkable. There was very little salmon but lots of pasta, and the sauce was okay, but it just didn’t sing for me. Eric said the scallops were nicely cooked, but not seasoned at all. I think perhaps we just didn’t order the best possible options, because it has a 93% rating on Urbanspoon, and was jam-packed. Or perhaps it’s more just authenticity than I’m used to. I’d definitely give it at least one more try.

Located at: 2833 Avenida de Portugal, in Point Loma
Open for: Lunch and dinner
Pomodoro website
On Urbanspoon:
Pomodoro on Urbanspoon


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San Diego: Where to eat breakfast