south bay food crawl
Very recently Jake, T and I went on a South Bay Food Crawl hosted by CC of Pink Candles at Ridgemont High. Jinxi of Jinxi Eats + S joined us on the crawl as well. We explored a few spots in the South Bay and had a great time trying out some new foods!
Stop #1: Birria de Res
Our first stop was at a place down near Imperial Beach called Fernandez Restaurant and Catering. The restaurant looks like it’s on the bottom floor of an apartment building. There’s tiny signage and a tiny parking lot. Though it didn’t look like much, you could tell something was going on here from the people lingering around outside, waiting for a table.
[birria de res / $9]
The specialty item at Fernandez Restaurant is Birria de Res. It is a hearty, flavorful soup made with beef (though also made with goat meat in some cases).
The Birria de Res is served with salsa, radishes, limes, cilantro, onions and freshly made tortillas.
You can see from the yellowish hue on the edges that the tortillas were dipped in the broth/beef juices, giving the tortillas an extra kick of flavor. We all made tacos from the fixings and happily savored each bite. The beef was shredded and incredibly tender. It soaked up a generous amount of flavor from the broth and the crisp radishes and pungent onion mixed in well with the bright cilantro to bring this taco together. The warm tortillas were tender and soft with a slight crispness to the edge. It was a very good start to the day.
The only thing that sucked was that we had to wait for a long ass time for a second batch of tortillas to come up. CC asked several times for the tortillas only for us to be stuck in a tortilla-less no man’s land, staring at our poor birria de res as it cooled down further and further. Eventually we got the second round so Jinxi and S (who came later) could finally eat their tacos. Luckily their birria is so darn good I didn’t feel too bad about the slow tortillas. See CC’s post about Fernandez Restaurant here.
Fernandez Restaurant and Catering
2265 Flower St.
San Diego, CA 92154
Stop #2: Seafood Taco Truck
Next we headed over to Mariscos Issac food truck which wasn’t too far from our first stop. They are a seafood truck that’s in a liquor store parking lot. There’s one table under a tent with only a few chairs so a few in our group had to stand to eat our tacos.
At Mariscos Issac, they have complimentary consomme for you while you wait for your tacos. You have to ask for it, though, and boy is it worth it. The consomme is served very hot. The broth is so flavorful with hints of different spices and vegetables that are cooked in.
[fish tacos / $0.99]
There were several orders of fish tacos. Jake figured a fish taco was about the only thing he’d want to eat from a seafood truck since he doesn’t like shrimp (gasp!). I thought the fish tacos were okay but not mind blowing.
[issac / $3.50]
This is CC’s Issac Taco. It’s basically the same as a Gobernador taco (which I got, below) but the shrimp is cooked in a chipotle sauce which gave the shrimp a smokier, spicier flavor.
[gobernador / $3.50]
I got the Gobernador which is this massive taco with melted cheese on the top and topped with SO MUCH SHRIMP. I mean, holy cow! I couldn’t even pick up the taco since it feel apart very easily. The tortilla wasn’t supporting the weight of this sucker so I just ate the shrimp. There were also incredibly large chunks of celery on the taco that I could not get into. I like celery… but just not in giant chunks.
[marlyn / $3.25]
Jinxi and S decided to try something different and ordered a marlin taco. The fish is smoked and I got to try a tiny bite of it but found I didn’t really care for the flavor of it. It tasted too salty and fishy for me.
Also see CC’s post about Mariscos Issac here.
(located at Bobar 2 Liquor store)
1777 Palm Ave (corner of Palm and 18th St.)
San Diego, CA 92154
Stop #3: More Mexican Food
Our third stop was about a block east of the taco truck to a new restaurant called La Palapa Nayarit.
Fun fact: they are a Mexican restaurant but they also serve sushi! Jake found out that the owner/cook used to work at Benihana and… I guess decided to put sushi on the menu? It seemed really odd to me but it made more sense after we found out that little fact.
Complimentary chips and salsa! We had to remember to NOT eat a ton of these. Lesson learned from the Cheese Crawl. Jake thought the salsa tasted like a bottled salsa due to the texture of it. I believe it is made in house but Jake thought it was weirdly thick and was a little too much like La Victoria salsa.
[sopes de carne / $5.95]
There was a special for two sopes with rice and beans and a drink. It comes with shredded beef and a mess of fixings on top including lettuce, tomatoes (probably salsa fresca), crema and cojita cheese. There’s some sauce or broth swimming around on the top of the plate. The sopes are these thick disks made with corn. They are kind of like a “deep dish” version of corn tortillas – very thick and there’s an indentation at the top where the toppings are placed. It was incredibly difficult to cut through the sope with a fork – you pretty much had to pick it up and just let the juices and toppings get all over you to really enjoy it. Which we did. The beef was tender and full of flavor and I loved the bit of salty cojita cheese paired with the other toppings. I wasn’t sure if the sope was supposed to be that firm, I think it would be better a tiny bit softer, but I still enjoyed it.
Also: I actually really liked those refried beans. They must put something magical in there to make me like them.
[red pozole / $7.95 (small)]
CC ordered a pozole for us to share. They have red and green and she asked for green only to find out they didn’t have it that day. Red pozole it was! I like pozole because I like the chunks of oversized weird corn that is in it. This was a fair version, maybe a few too many bones floating around in the broth but plenty of that crazy corn that I like.
La Palapa Nayarit
1873 Palm Ave.
San Diego, CA 92154
Stop #4: Beer
Coronado Brewing Company has opened up a new spot in Imperial Beach right by the pier. There’s a parking lot attached to it but the lot is tiny and was totally full when we stopped by. We ended up parking about a block away.
We came for beer!
We got little 4 oz tasters. Most tasters are $2.50 but the Idiot IPA is $2.75 for a taster. This is about the size of beer I’d only want to drink anyway so this was perfect. I choose two beers: “Berry the Hatchet” (left) and the “Orange Avenue Wit”. I already knew I liked the Orange Avenue Wit since I’ve had it before. It’s a witbier with orange zest, orange blossom honey, coriander. All I know is that it’s light, not super bitter, and I like it.
The Berry the Hatchet is a triple berry beer with blackberry, raspberry and boynesberry. You can taste the fruity berries mixed in quite well and again – not bitter at all – so that means I also liked that one.
Coronado Brewing Company
875 Seacoast Drive
Imperial Beach, CA 91932
Stop #4: We All Scream For Ice Cream
I’ve read/heard about Oasis Ice Cream from CC’s posts and other places but had never actually been.
It reminded me a lot of the Mexican ice cream shop we visited in Oceanside this summer. There were tubs of ice creams in various flavors (peanut butter, trail mix, cookies and cream, rocky road, coconut, walnut, cheese, pineapple, strawberry, blueberry…. you get the picture – A LOT). I also saw the rice ice cream here again and sampled it and also liked it.
CC and Jinxi both got paletas. CC got Strawberry and Jinxi got walnut. Yum!
I decided to go with Vanilla and Strawberry (single scoop $1.90). This has the milky cream based vanilla ice cream with the fruity fresh strawberry ice cream all swirled together in one. I loved the color of it and the bright red of the strawberry. It was very soft and creamy and the rich luxurious vanilla paired with the bright strawberry was a really good choice. You could still distinctly taste both flavors. It melted very quickly though so you had to act fast to keep it from melting all over your shirt. I loved this flavor!
Oasis Ice Cream Parlor
1832 Coronado Ave.
San Diego, CA 92154
Last Stop: Seafood City Market
I’ve been to Seafood City more times than I can count, considering I’ve been going there since I was a little girl. It is the go to grocery store for Filipinos and growing up we would always go to the one in National City. There are a few more now including one in Mira Mesa (my local store) and this newer one in Chula Vista. Inside there’s a big food court with Valerio’s Bakery (which is where this photo is from) plus Filipino Desserts, Jollibee, a grill place I don’t remember the name of, Chow King and a few other places.
Here you can see packages of Puto (a rice dessert) plus turon (which look like lumpia but are actually filled with bananas and have a sweet, sticky sauce coating the outside – they stay crunchy).
Valerio’s is a Filipino bakery that has all kinds of baked goods. They also have Pork Siopao (4 for $7.99) which is a steamed bun filled with meat, egg, and veggies. I picked up a siopao which was filled with pork and quail eggs that I ate for breakfast that week. Just steam them for about 10 minutes and you’re golden.
I got one Taro swirl bread (left) and one Munggo Basket (I think these were both $0.89 cents). The munggo has red bean filling swirled inside of it – similar to red bean filling found in mochi or other Asian desserts. The bread itself has a sweet flavor to it, almost like King’s Hawaiian bread.
I actually didn’t try the Taro bread, as my mom claimed it and ate it.
My other purchase was from the Filipino Desserts shop where they had these mini pecan tarts. They have various sizes and I got the smaller package of 10 tarts for $3.50. The shell is a crunchy pastry crust and filled with a buttery, slightly gooey filling with tons of pecans (and maybe other nuts) inside. These little things are addictive and it’s easy to pop a few of these into your mouth they’re so tasty.
Seafood City Supermarket
285 E. Orange Avenue
Chula Vista, CA 91911
Thanks to CC for organizing this incredibly fun South Bay food crawl! It was great trying out a few places and just eating lots of things. Makes me want to do a food crawl for a part of town as well, instead of the themed crawls I usually do. We shall see!