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Restaurant Reviews

Endangered species

By Frank Sabatini Jr. | Restaurant Review

We were seven strong, a modern family of two same-sex couples, two high-achieving college girls we collectively and proudly call our daughters, and their grandmother visiting from Missouri.

If this were 1971, when Bully’s East — which now has “Prime Bistro Sports Bar” tagging the name — we’d be paying only 15 cents for bottomless coffee and $4.50 for prime rib with side dishes. We would have also been brunching in an insufferably discriminating climate, no matter where. (I’ll take today’s prices any day with the bonuses of freedom and acceptance.)

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Sticky fingers

Posted: June 9th, 2017 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. Despite small price hikes over the past couple of years, Rose Donuts ranks among the cheapest places in San Diego to consume a hefty well-made sandwich plus a sugary treat and beverage of choice for as little as $5.45 — and at any time of the day or night.

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Vegan suppers inspired from the heartland

Posted: May 26th, 2017 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. The term “Midwest comfort food” conjures up images of gravy-smothered meats, cheesy casseroles and butter-loaded desserts. They’re precisely the kinds of dishes Roy Elam grew up eating outside of St. Louis until becoming a vegan 12 years ago. Since then, he’s headed the kitchens of two vegan restaurants in the Los Angeles area, helped open a vegan eatery in Bahrain, and sadly lost his mother to breast cancer, which led him […]

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Captivating cuisine from India’s tropics

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Forget the pakoras, naan bread and chicken tikka masala flaunted in most Indian restaurants. Those are standard provisions from the country’s northern regions far removed from the menu choices at Flavors of Mayura, which specializes in a rare lineup of dishes common to India’s tropical southwest province of Kerala. (Mayura is a Sanskrit word for peacock.)

Indeed, you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere things like ultra-thin dosa crepes made with a batter of rice and lentils and stuffed with turmeric-kissed potatoes. Dramatic in size, they sport the length and girth of a loosely rolled-up wall poster.

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Let them eat soup (at Nordstrom)

Posted: April 14th, 2017 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. It was one of those rare times that I took myself to lunch at a cost nearing what I’d pay for dinner in a moderately priced restaurant — $27 plus tip, to be exact. For at least two decades I’ve heard from shoppers with loose purse strings about Nordstrom’s lovely third-floor restaurant, Marketplace Cafe, and its renowned tomato-basil soup, in particular.

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Corned beef for the birthday boy

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

My spouse’s birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day and I’ll be damned if I take another chance cooking him corned beef for the occasion. For two years in a row, they’ve yielded gross amounts of incorrigible fat. This time around, he gets homemade lasagna with a green candle in the middle.

Though in the week leading up to the celebration, we sated our corned beef desires over brunch at McGregor’s Grill & Ale House, which opened a stone’s throw away from Qualcomm Stadium, 20 years ago.

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Curry cravings

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Thai restaurants tend to sneak onto the landscape without any hoopla and then take months to discover if you don’t have a friend who’s an addict to drunken noodles to tell you about them.

Such is the case with Veganic Thai Café, which opened quietly more than a year ago in the heart of Hillcrest, where House of Khan resided briefly, and Mama Testa before that. Given its understated signage and a general lack of buzz, it’s easy to overlook.

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San Diego’s big Persian buffet

Posted: February 17th, 2017 | Features, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

As with most commercial buffets, the food is mediocre, if not lousy, and I invariably get caught in line between a slowpoke in front of me and an aggressive raven breathing down my neck from behind.

In comparison, my recent experience at the all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Sufi Mediterranean Cuisine revealed some winning dishes, and without any jam-ups or arms reaching over mine as I thrice sailed down the tread.

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A tribute to Kensington’s ‘play caves’

Posted: January 20th, 2017 | Features, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

The story behind The Haven Pizzeria’s name is a strange one.

For those unfamiliar with the existence of a maze of caves residing some 70 feet beneath a nearby home, a visit to the restaurant’s gender-neutral restroom provides a couple photos of the tunnels that once attracted neighborhood kids and their elders with ping pong tables, a slide connecting one cave room to another, and a refrigerator stocked with sodas.

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Big bowls of richness

Posted: January 6th, 2017 | Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews, Top Story | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr.

Winter is for ramen. Particularly tonkotsu-style ramen, which translates to a strikingly unctuous broth laced warmly with the marrow, collagen and fat of pork bones.

The craze for this creamy Japanese soup is best enjoyed at any of five locations bearing the name Tajima, which sprung onto the scene 16 years ago in Kearny Mesa before noodling through Hillcrest, the East Village, a second Kearny Mesa outlet, and most recently, North Park.

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Indoor street food

Posted: December 23rd, 2016 | Featured, Food & Drink, Restaurant Reviews | No Comments

By Frank Sabatini Jr. I’ve never been to Thailand, but everyone I know who has traveled there raves about the street food, insisting it’s foolproof in terms of flavor and price. Enter J&T Thai Street Food in Linda Vista. A friend of mine feels the fast-casual eatery encapsulates the basic soul of dishes he buys often from vendors lining the roads of Bangkok — clean, tasty and affordable.

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