Draft Republic

Draft Republic, part of the Cohn Restaurant Group, recently opened in La Jolla Strip Club’s former location, in the Costa Verde plaza in UTC. It looked quite nice and swanky, and they were running a special for Super Bowl Sunday, so S and I went to catch the big game there!

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The Super Bowl special consisted of the Draft Republic burger with parmesan fries, a shot of Benchmark bourbon, and a Bud Light tall boy for $15 – quite a good deal!

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I ordered the special, and S and A ordered some a la carte menu items and we all shared everything. The restaurant actually ran out of the Benchmark bourbon and gave us another bourbon – I can’t quite remember what it was, but I gave most of it to A – I just wanted the Bud Light that day, haha. I know, I know.

Crispy Maple Bourbon Bacon Sticks [$5 (HH)]

Crispy Maple Bourbon Bacon Sticks [$5 (HH)]

Since we were there around 2pm, during Happy Hour, we decided to try the “bacon sticks” – I’ve seen these on Kirbie and CC’s blogs, and they looked so good. Instead of thinly-sliced bacon like you might imagine from the name, these were actually slabs of pork belly. They were tender, and I loved the maple bourbon glaze. The accompanying apple chips weren’t too special – they were quite tart, probably to offset the sweet glaze on the pork belly. But that pork belly itself is good enough that I’d order this every time.

Sausage Sampler [$15.95]

Sausage Sampler [$15.95]

We saw this being ordered by almost every table around us, so of course we also had to join in.

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I forgot to ask what sausages these were, unfortunately, but we enjoyed all three of them. I particularly liked the light-colored one served with potato salad. The sausages were flavorful, but not overly salty. The sides were quite light in flavor – almost too light, haha. My favorite of the sides was the potato salad.

Draft Republic Burger

Draft Republic Burger

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Lumberyard Tavern

We were recently invited to check out Lumberyard Tavern, a pub in Encinitas that boasts a great whiskey selection. S has been super into whiskey recently, so we were pretty excited about the visit!

Lumberyard Tavern 

S and I tried several whiskeys that night, including Blantons (bourbon), Mastersons 10 (rye whiskey), and Lagavulin 16 (Islay). I’m still a whiskey n00b, but I know that S really liked all of them. The Lagavulin was very smoky and had a strong peaty flavor. He liked the Mastersons a lot, since he’s generally a rye fan, and the Blantons too (I can’t remember what it tasted like, though). Bourbons tend to be too sweet for him, but I actually prefer bourbon (I’m a Southern gal at heart, right?). I should get S to write a guest whiskey post sometime to show off all his knowledge and research, hehe.

Lumberyard Tavern 

By the way, the bartender let us try sips of different whiskeys before we made our final decision – not every place does this, so it was really nice of them!

Grilled Artichoke [$10]

Grilled Artichoke [$10]

For the food, we started off with the grilled artichoke, which was something different than the standard fries or mac n cheese appetizers that you’d normally see at bars. The artichoke was grilled nicely, although there were many layers that were really tough so we basically ended up digging out the hearts. It was served with herb aioli and balsamic dipping sauces – I really enjoyed the aioli.

Salmon Skewers [$14]

Salmon Skewers [$14] 

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Eureka! revisit

Eureka, located in the UTC Westfield mall, is one of our go-to restaurants when we’re in the mood for American food or need some place to catch a sports game. There’s a great selection of draft beers as well as whiskeys and bourbons, and the burgers are pretty decent, too.

One of the reasons that I’m doing this revisit post is that I got to play with my friend M’s nice camera and lenses last time we ate there! I’ve been thinking about upgrading my photography kit for some time, and he let me use his camera to get a feel for what it would be like.

Four Roses bourbon

Four Roses bourbon

All of the alcohol at Eureka is American-made. I recently tasted the Four Roses single-barrel Kentucky bourbon and really enjoyed it, so I recommended it to S. This is probably one of the smoothest bourbons that we’ve had so far, and I was happy to see it offered at Eureka.

Cowboy Burger [$11.25]

Cowboy Burger: shoestring onion rings, bacon, cheddar, house-made beer-barbeque sauce, signature handcut fries [$11.25]

The Cowboy Burger is one of S’s favorites here – the beer-BBQ sauce is quite good, and I like the shoestring fries a lot.

Fried Chicken Sliders [$11.50]

Fried Chicken Sliders: fried chicken, tomato jam, house pickles, honey cinnamon sweet potato fries [$11.50]

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[Las Vegas] Gordon Ramsay BurGR

Another post today from my recent Vegas trip, which happens to be the last meal we had there – Gordon Ramsay BurGR, located in Planet Hollywood. You’ll probably see a huge line when you’re there, but that’s actually for parties of two, only. If you have a larger group than 2, you can go to the front and leave your phone number – when your table is ready, they will send you a text message! It was quite convenient since we could walk around the casino or the Planet Hollywood shops while we waited. Around lunchtime on Monday, the wait actually wasn’t so bad – around 20 minutes.

BurGR - Front of restaurant

Front of restaurant

BurGR - Bar area

Bar area

I was quite amused when I opened up my menu, to see this… haha.

But here’s the actual menu. You can also see it online.

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A couple of my friends decided to get drinks – one of them ordered a La Fin du Monde beer, while the other went the sweet route and ordered one of the milkshakes. 

BurGR - La Fin du Monde beer and Shake #4

La Fin du Monde and Shake #4 – crème brûlée pudding, Oreo shake, Oreo cookie [$9]

I didn’t try the beer, but the milkshake was amazing! I loved the pudding + Oreo combination. The crème brûlée pudding layer was really delicious, as it had a nice “eggy” flavor which I like. My friend wished that they two parts could have been mixed together more, though.

We decided to share an appetizer – the “Honey-Pig Bao Buns,” which is BurGR’s rendition of the Taiwanese snack, gua bao

BurGR - Honey-Pig Bao Buns

Honey-Pig Bao Buns: roasted pork belly, cucumber, radish, cilantro, honey-hoisin sauce [$13]

This tasted pretty different from the traditional Taiwanese version (according to my friend, at least; I’ve never had this in Taiwan), but I actually liked the flavors a lot. The pork was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the honey-hoisin sauce was a perfect balance between salty and sweet. The buns were actually steamed quite nicely, too; they weren’t too “gummy” or dry. So even though it wasn’t authentic, all of us really enjoyed it.

Hell's Kitchen Burger: asadero cheese, roasted jalapeño peppers, avocado, oven roasted tomato [$14]

Hell’s Kitchen Burger: asadero cheese, roasted jalapeño peppers, avocado, oven roasted tomato [$14]

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Common Theory Public House – revisit

A few weeks ago, I visited Common Theory Public House for their grand opening – I had a really great time there, but I did not get to experience the full menu since they had a limited special menu for the grand opening weekend. S and I went back for another visit recently with some of our friends to check out their other offerings!

I’ve already shared photos of the restaurant in my first post, so I skipped those and went straight for the food this time. 

Daily Special: Ahi & Scallop Poke [$13]

Daily Special: Ahi & Scallop Poke [$13]

The Ahi & Scallop Poke on the daily specials board attracted my friend’s attention immediately. She was pretty surprised when this dish came out, though – it was more of an appetizer than an entrée. She said that although it tasted pretty good – she especially liked the scallops – it wasn’t worth $13, and definitely wasn’t filling enough for her as a meal.

Pork Belly Katsu, served with a candied jalapeño and hoisin molasses sauce [$9.5]

Pork Belly Katsu, with candied jalapeño and hoisin molasses sauces [$9.5]

One of our friends has tried this before and decided to order it again.

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Common Theory Public House

Common Theory Public House is a newly-opened gastropub on Convoy St – I’ve been following news of its opening on Eater San Diego, and this past weekend was their grand opening. There would be a lot of specials, so I went to check it out with S and a couple of friends.

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The restaurant is located in the same plaza as Yes! Pingo and the also newly-opened Blush Desserts (which I’ve yet to check out). I can’t remember for the life of me what used to be here… maybe a Korean restaurant?

Anyway, the restaurant is pretty big – there is a bar with 30 taps, and two large open seating areas with private booths and communal tables.

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They had some interesting decor… haha. The bird cages were adorable!

Here’s the cask that was tapped for the grand opening, Ballast Point’s Reef Rye Brown Ale with rum oak chips:

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There was a “Keep the Pint” special for the cask, so S and our friends each got one. I had a Lambic Framboise instead (a raspberry low-percentage beer, yes I am a lightweight).

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Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwich: shredded veggie slaw, cotija cheese, cilantro aioli, brioche bun; side of fries [$9]

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Bao’s Awesome Burgers & Sandwiches revisit

Bao’s Awesome Burgers & Sandwiches, or BABS for short, is one of my favorite “hidden gems” in San Diego. S and I really enjoy their burgers, which are a little different from a standard burger as you’ll see later in this post. It had been a while since our last visit, and when I read about Kirbie’s recent visit on her blog, I had such a craving that S and I went there for dinner that day.

The place had undergone some renovations since my last visit. The place used to be quite dim, without much decor on the walls. The tables and chairs also used to be a little bit worn. This time, however, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the walls had been re-painted, the place was brightly lit, and there were new tables and chairs. Everything felt much brighter and more welcoming, and there seemed to be more customers there than our previous visits, too!

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I thought this plastic burger was really cute and had to take a photo, haha.

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The menu still looks largely the same. S had their Original Burger – he doesn’t like too many fancy things on his burgers.

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Original Burger [$4.99]

Remember what I said about the burger here being special? Well, as you can see, the patty is really thick – and that’s because it’s stuffed with melted cheddar cheese on the inside!

Patty stuffed with melted cheese

Patty stuffed with melted cheese

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Burger Lounge (SD Burger Week)

I had meant to put this post up before Burger Week ended, but didn’t have the time =( Fortunately, Burger Lounge’s special was a regular menu item. Instead, they were simply offering their “Little Lounge Burger” with bacon for $5 (normally $5.95 for the burger, plus $1.95 for bacon).

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Since my first visit to Burger Lounge, the restaurant has really expanded, now with 8 locations throughout San Diego county and several more in Los Angeles. While S and I weren’t particularly impressed with the place when we first tried it, it’s so popular that we decided to try it out again. Since one of our initial complaints had been that their pricing is a bit high for the portions, we thought the Burger Week special was a perfect chance to check it out.

As I mentioned above, the Burger Week special is a Little Lounge Burger with bacon. From their website, it seems that bacon is a recent addition to the menu, and of course, in line with their grass-fed organic philosophy, it’s nitrate/nitrite-free bacon… which would explain why it’d normally cost almost two dollars just to add bacon to your burger.

Little Lounge Burger with Bacon

Little Lounge Burger with Bacon

The burger features a 1/4-pound beef patty, served “Lounge-Style” meaning: butter-toasted bun, organic cheese (white or American), onions (fresh or grilled), lettuce, tomato, and house-made 1000 Island dressing.

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Carnitas’ Snack Shack (SD CityBeat Burger Week)

I learned from the blog Oh-So Yummy that this week (March 7-16) is San Diego Burger Week, where various restaurants are offering $5 burger specials! The list of participating restaurants is actually pretty long, and S and I had a hard time deciding whether we wanted to try something or revisit some old favorites. One place that I definitely wanted to hit was Carnitas’ Snack Shack – we’ve only been to this San Diego favorite once, but I had a really great impression of the food and have been wanting to return. FINALLY, two years since my first post, we made a revisit!

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The shack is still a shack, with the pork statue on top of the little ordering window. To avoid the crowd, we opted for a late dinner, arriving around 10PM. There was still a small line at that time!

Menu of the day (not sure if it changes daily or seasonally):

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The Burger Week special isn’t listed on the menu – you have to ask for it at the window.

Shack Pork Burger: house ground pork burger, candied bacon, gorgonzola, pretzel bun [$5]

Shack Pork Burger: house ground pork burger, candied bacon, gorgonzola, pretzel bun [$5]

S and I each ordered one, because I guess we weren’t feeling like sharing that day, haha.

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I’ve had burgers with pork patties, but this has been the best by far – it was really juicy and “porky,” instead of just imitating a beef burger. One thing I really enjoyed was how well the flavors played together – the candied bacon and gorgonzola cheese paired quite well, but neither (in my opinion) overpowered the patty too much. (S, who doesn’t like any strong cheeses, did not appreciate the gorgonzola. Haha. But he still enjoyed the burger!)

Pork Belly App: braised Duroc pork, sweet-spicy glaze, frisée salad: apples, radishes, lemon vinaigrette [$8]

Pork Belly App: braised Duroc pork, sweet-spicy glaze, frisée salad [$8]

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Eureka!

S and I have been wanting to check out Eureka!, a pub that opened in Westfield UTC about a year ago. I always lament that there aren’t many good food options in UTC, but this place looked quite promising. We actually tried to visit once previously, but the wait for a seat was too long, and we didn’t feel like waiting that time. But this time, we were able to get a seat around 6PM on Sunday evening – the place still seemed busy, but luckily it was Pro Bowl day so I’m guessing that’s the reason for some empty tables. Haha. That said, this is a sports-y bar with several TVs around the restaurant, so I was mentally making a note that we could watch games here in the future.

They have a good list of beers on tap, which seem to rotate. S and I weren’t in the mood for beer that night, but there were certainly some that piqued my interest… Next time, next time.

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 We were both in the mood for burgers, which seemed to be their most known-for item. The menu also includes salads, pastas, and other entrées (e.g. short ribs, salmon, etc.).

Jalapeno Egg Burger: fried egg with melted cheese, crispy bacon, spicy chipotle sauce, jalapeno peppers [$11.50]

Jalapeno Egg Burger: fried egg with melted cheese, crispy bacon, spicy chipotle sauce, jalapeno peppers [$11.50]

I chose the Jalapeno Egg Burger… surprise, haha. I can’t resist ordering a spicy burger, and this one had a fried egg on top. Yeah, my mind was made up as soon as I saw this. It tasted really good – very juicy patty, perfect amount of sauce (I don’t like it when there’s so much sauce that you can’t taste the patty anymore!). My complains would be that the bottom bun got kind of soggy despite being toasted; I think there was some sauce on the plate, which got soaked up by the bun. Sad. The other thing was that the bacon wasn’t really crispy, making it kind of hard to bite off with the rest of the burger… so I ended up taking the bacon slices out and eating those separately. Haha.

Each burger comes with a side of regular fries, or you could upgrade to sweet honey cinnamon potato fries, panko-crusted onion rings, coleslaw, or house salad for $1.25. I’d read good things about the sweet potato fries and decided to try those…

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