taste of hillcrest 2015 recap

A few weekends ago I was invited to attend Taste of Hillcrest again and I happily obliged. This year I did not have a partner in crime though since Jake was coaching Little League. I asked a few friends to go but they couldn’t make it either and I ended up having to go alone. But that’s okay, I was able power through part of it and I ended up meeting with Lynn of oh-so yummy and Faye of Faye’s Fork

taste-of-hillcrest-2015

I gave up trying to find cheaper parking and ended up just heading into the dumb parking garage at the movie theater. Not the best idea, but oh well. Since I was right across the street from D Bar, I started my Taste of Hillcrest adventure there. I didn’t want to start at the official beginning. I wanted to try and avoid the crowds for as long as possible. The only lame thing was I didn’t have a printed out map and ended up using the one online.

mini torta | d bar | taste of hillcrest | this tasty life

[mini torta | d bar]

First stop: D Bar. Can I just say I was disappointed there wasn’t a sweet sample this year? I was hoping for a little bit of something desserty and delicious. Instead they had little tiny mini tortas which were adorable and somewhat tasty. Not mind blowing. Also not dessert. Sigh.

2-indian-buffet-bombay

[indian buffet samples | bombay]

Jake and I skipped this one last year so I wanted to check it out. Indian food isn’t my favorite of favorites but I figured I’d try it anyway. They had their whole buffet open and available for sampling. 

indian buffet at bombay | taste of hillcrest | this tasty life

I had to pace myself so I just got a vegetable samosa and a mixed vegetable pakora. Don’t remember what the saucy stuff is and there wasn’t a sign for whatever’s in the cup. The stuff in the cup though was sweet tasting, so maybe some kind of dessert thing? It was all tasty! 

chicken croquette | buffalo-public-house | taste of hillcrest | this tasty life

[chicken croquette | buffalo public house]

The chicken croquettes just look like balls of fried something-something until you look inside and see the mixture. There was a spicy sauce and this garlicy one. The sauce paired nicely with the little sample. Wasn’t wow worthy either, but decent. 

mediterranean chicken salad | luna grill | taste of hillcrest | this tasty life

[mediterranean chicken salad | luna grill]

Luna Grill had a generous portion to give out of their Mediterranean Chicken Salad. The chicken was added separately so you could easily get this veggie-style. The cous-cous was cold and the crisp cucumber was so light and refreshing, especially on that hot Saturday. I really liked this one, even if it was the same sample as last year.

bread & cie bakery | taste of hillcrest | this tasty life

[peanut butter bar or almond croissant | bread & cie]

Bread & Cie had two things to choose from – peanut butter bars and almond croissants. I was certain the peanut butter bar would melt and opted to get the croissant. I didn’t eat it, I just tucked it into a plastic baggie for later (I was employing the tupperware/plastic baggie system with a large tote bag I was wearing to carry it all). 

food this way

urban mo's chicken wing | taste of hillcrest | this tasty life

[buffalo chicken wing + pink lemonade | urban mo’s]

Urban Mo’s has you snake through the entire place to line up for their samples. They give you a little path to follow which made me chuckle. They were one of the first stops that offered beverages and I was so glad since I was running low on water. 

They had these mangled looking buffalo wings. Seriously, it looked like the chicken wing went through a shredder first and there was no coating on them, just a bit of hot sauce. It was dry and the sauce was not tasty. Two bites and I ditched it. 

fiesta cantina

[santa monica rolls + margarita | fiesta cantina]

Fiesta Cantina had pretty much the exact same thing as last year, except the sample was more “spring roll” size than “burrito size”. This was a much easier size to handle and snack on and I liked the crispy exterior with the flavorful filling. Margarita wasn’t bad, either. 

8-empirehouse-tacos

[pork tacos | empirehouse]

I just about gave up on Empirehouse because their line was SO LONG. But I battled through to get some tacos. They were heating up tortillas on the spot and assembling tacos as people came up which made the process very, very slow. I decided to employ both tickets at this spot since I had them both to save a taco for later. They were okay. Not as impressive as the wings from last year. This was where I saw Lynn & Faye for the first time!

9-jackfruit-tacos-bearito-republic

[jackfruit tacos | bearito republic]

I knew the event was in full swing now because every place started to have a line. This one wasn’t too awful though. Bearito Republic took over the spot where Sloppy’s Burrito was. It looked the same inside, except there were bears painted everywhere.

The BBQ’d jackfruit kind of looked like pork. It also had pineapple, corn, and serrano salsa. The lady working there said jackfruit takes on any flavor you pair it with. All I could taste really was the spicy salsa, so I suppose she was right. Too spicy for me!

10-juice-crafters-smoothie

[smoothie | juice crafters]

Another short-ish line got me a small sample of a smoothie from Juice Crafters. It was like doing a shot of smoothie. Pretty light and tasty.

11-east-coast-pizza-meatball-n-cookie

[meatball & a chocolate chip cookie | east coast pizza]

I was surprised the pizza place was doing meatballs and chocolate chip cookies, but man, both were really damn good. The meatball was very flavorful and juicy and the chocolate chips in the cookie were all melty and gooey. Yum! I only took a bite of each to pace myself further.

12-tandoori-hut

[tandoori hut]

What’s on this plate? I have zero idea. Two different kinds of saucy things with naan bread and a crap ton of rice. Naan bread I definitely like. The saucy stuff wasn’t too bad. It was a very generous portion. 

13-cinnamon-sugar-bagel-bite-einsteins

[cinnamon sugar bagel bite | einstein bros bagels]

They had a few bagel bite flavors available with a smear of cream cheese. Since I didn’t intend to eat it on the spot, I got it without the cheese and bagged it. 

14-au-revoir

[boeuf bourguignon + apple tart | au revoir french bistro]

The beef bourguignon was super intense and flavorful. The apple tart was gobbled in one bite. Nice thinly sliced apples.

15-tortellini-salad-crest-cafe

[tortellini salad | crest cafe]

Cold pasta was also welcome on this hot day. I think they also had soup but I wasn’t into having that. There were torn pieces of basil with this making it nice and flavorful. The tortellini were filled with cheese.

16-baby-brownies-babycakes

[baby brownies | babycakes]

I was lucky enough to get in here right before a big crowd came in and started a long line. Woohoo! I thought these were truffles at first. Very chocolaty and intense. Also a one-biter for me.

17-tajima-ramen-bar

[tonkotsu ramen, gyoza, karaage and takoyaki | tajima ramen bar]

I was starting to get pretty full at this point and when I got this sample I was like… holy cow, batman! They were SO GENEROUS with their sample and I was so sad I couldn’t fit more of it into my belly. The Tonkotsu was really flavorful and tasted so good to me even on a full belly. I didn’t try the appetizers, I just… I couldn’t. But I saved them, thanks to my tupperware.  

I ended up having to abandon the soup but the lady sitting next to me pulled out a ziploc baggie and put her soup right in that and then put into her purse! Amazeballs, man. The lady across from her (who she didn’t know) said, “Hope you don’t like that purse very much…” hahah. 

18-lotus-thai-samples

[massaman curry | lotus thai]

I was ready to bail at this point but that’s when I ran into Lynn and Faye again and I jumped in line to chat with Lynn (Faye was on a water run). I figured, “Eh, might as well get this.” It was too runny to save the curry (which had a lovely coconutty flavor) and I really liked the corn fritter thing they had as well. It must say something if their food still seemed tasty after how much I sampled already.

I told them of my intentions to quit and go home but Lynn was our cheerleader and really encouraged us to keep going. Faye and I kind of gave each other, “Oh god, oh god, oh god” looks but decided to keep going as a team. A foodie blogger team! 

I followed them over to the ramen place and got a little break while they ate their samples and took photos. That little break and the walk helped me out.

19-whole-foods-jalapeno-grilled-cheese

[jalapeno grilled cheese with tomato dipping sauce | 7th ave pub at whole foods]

Next we went to the 7th Ave Pub at Whole Foods. Not much of a line here. The sandwiches were part way cooked and the cheese wasn’t melted anymore. It was too spicy for me and I didn’t like the “dipping” sauce at all. 

20-crispy-cauliflower-100-wines-kitchen

[crispy cauliflower and watermelon gazpacho shooter | 100 wines kitchen]

This is where we began the journey to “the other side”. It seems like it’s miles and miles away since you have to cross the 163 but it’s not really that bad. I started getting more tired at this point but we persevered! It was a few blocks past the Whole Foods when we came upon the next stop. 

The crispy cauliflower was pretty good, I must say. It was fresh and had a really nice flavor. The watermelon gazpacho fell short for me. Didn’t taste like watermelon and wasn’t cold enough. 

21-lava-sushi-egg-roll-tuna-roll

[spring roll and tuna roll | lava sushi]

More lines at this point. It was after 3PM and nearing the end of the event. This place had a big jug of cold water which made me more excited than anything else. I had a small bite of the spring roll. It was really mushy/wet inside and I didn’t like that. I gave Faye the tuna roll. I don’t eat tuna. 

22-wine-steals-margarita-pizza

[margarita pizza | wine steals]

Pizza! I honestly didn’t even have a bite. Went right into the tupperware. 

22-veggie-water

[veggie water | wine steals]

The water was again the more exciting part. Veggie water! Fancy.

23-house-of-khan-rice-thing

[rice thingy | house of khan]

Faye and I stood in line for Baja Betty’s while Lynn flitted around and tried to visit more places. She is so hardcore! She popped into House of Khan and discovered this sample. We didn’t even realize it was on the list since it seemed like no one was in there. Not sure what it was and I didn’t try it, either. It’s here for documentation purposes only.

Lynn powered ahead to see what other places were left and found out a few were out of food already. Faye and I noticed the line for Baja Betty’s was not moving at all and we decided to ditch it.

24-oscar-wildes-irish-pub-mac-n-cheese

[macaroni and cheese | oscar wilde’s irish pub]

Faye and I walked across the street to catch up with Lynn who decided to go into Hillcrest Brewing Company. We decided we didn’t want to stand in that line and popped over to our official last stop: Oscar Wilde’s Irish Pub. They had little samples of macaroni and cheese. It didn’t seem like there was very much cheese sauce on it. It looked more like pasta salad. 

25-hillcrest-brewing-company-chicken-wings

[chicken wings | hillcrest brewing company]

Faye and I hung out and waited for Lynn, who showed up with one last thing: chicken wings from Hillcrest Brewing Company. They look so saucy! Sorry, I don’t remember what kind of sauces they were. 

I was pretty spent at this point and was not looking forward to the walk back to my car. I was stuffed, it was hot, and I was tired. The three of us walked back and stopped at Whole Foods for drinks. I got a bottle of Moroccan mint iced tea and then parted ways with the gals. This is always a fun even to attend and try out the new spots that pop up in the event. Next year I need to bring more tupperware to separate stuff out better. Everything ended up getting kind of squished in the end. I gave it all to T to eat. At least teenagers don’t care about that kind of thing.

Check out Faye’s recap of the event here. I’ll add Lynn’s here when she posts it!

Disclaimer: I received complimentary tickets to the Taste of Hillcrest. I was not further paid nor compensated and all opinions stated here are my own.

Author: Mary

Mary is a San Diego native and has been a food blogger for 11+ years. She is an avid reader, a lover of puppies, and loves trying new food. Foods she loves: sweets, peanut butter, pasta, Triscuit crackers with cream cheese, and extra nuts on top of her sundaes. Food she dislikes: pickles, really spicy food, runny eggs, olives, and too much arugula.

6 Replies to “taste of hillcrest 2015 recap

  1. Yay! Glad to have kept you company through part of the journey! I always feel like I should be able to FINISH Taste of Hillcrest but no luck yet! Maybe we’ll have to strategize a little more next year haha! I’m definitely seeing longer lines compared to previous years so it’s only gonna get harder! Dennis is such a trooper when we go to these events! 🙂

    1. Hi Lynn – out of everyone I think you could possibly finish Taste of Hillcrest one day, haha! If all the places just had their stuff ready to go, it’s be a lot faster, but you can’t control that. It was fun hanging out with you and Faye for part of the journey, hooray!

  2. I love all our different perspectives of this event! I am so jealous Bread & Cie had the peanut butter bar when you were there. I must say this event was cool because it opened my eyes to restaurants that I never really would have tried otherwise. I think the ziplock trick for the ramen is pretty epic. I think we should try to do that next time just for the shock factor. I think the three of us chicks did quite well as a team that afternoon for this Tasting 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s nice to see everyone’s perspective on the same event and the differences in our photos! I wish I had just gotten the peanut butter bar. Perhaps I need to bring those ice packs things with me next time, too. Hmmm! Haha… I’ll definitely bring a crappy tote bag if we’re going to put bags of ramen in there! We did do pretty good!

  3. What a daunting task this was, to try everything. I would have called it quits if I got full. Kudos to you and the gals for giving this event a go! Looked like fun! At least there was some good stuff that you tried.

    1. Hi CC – It’s definitely better having the tupperware so I could “skip” some things. Luckily Lynn managed to convince us to keep going, I would have totally quit otherwise!

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