cafe 21 / downtown – san diego, ca

Cafe 21 is a cute little restaurant with two locations in San Diego – one in University Heights off Adams Ave and one Downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter. My cohort, Liz, came along with me to try out the stellar offerings at the Downtown Cafe 21.

After I finally arrived, Liz and I went inside and were seated quite promptly to begin our meal.

[purse stand]

One of the first things our host did was to bring us this little stand. It looked like a mini (very short) coat rack. He explained to us that it was for our purses and I might have let out a small giggle of delight.

How awesome is this?! It’s at the perfect height so you’re able to reach your purse comfortably and it’s always within sight.

Sigh. Love!

[sangria flight in a little tasting basket]

First thing Liz and I both ordered?

Sangria flights. Awww yeah.

You get a little sampling of all of their sangrias – six in all. The flavors: fruit punch, pineapple strawberry, strawberry balsamic, apple cherry, traditional and rosemary lemon. Liz and I both really liked the pineapple strawberry and I liked the rosemary lemon just because it was a little something different. Liz ended up getting my dark red sangrias since I don’t really dig the red wines, but I loved the lighter colored ones. Fun flavors and a great way to try all of their sangrias! It’s a lot of sangria, too, and you could easily share this flight with another person.

[baklava crumble salad – apple, blue cheese, baklava crumbles, honey balsamic dressing]

This salad had me at “baklava”.

It’s a fun mix of leafy greens with apple, blue cheese, baklava crumbles and a sweet dressing drizzled all over the top. The fruit adds a nice natural sweetness and the blue cheese plays a part in giving another texture and flavor to the salad. The blue cheese is creamy but not too overpowering – a very nice compliment. The baklava was not quite what I was expecting – I was thinking of chopped up bits of the sweet, crunchy honey dessert, but the baklava here was much softer in texture – it was a nutty, sweet taste, sort of like having a candied nut sprinkled in with your salad. I really liked it anyway and got my “crunch” from the crisp apples instead.

[mushroom flatbread with organic mixed greens / cremini mushrooms, organic heirloom tomatoes, rosemary, romano and mozzarella cheese]

I love it when people let me do the ordering when we’re sharing dishes. For our other appetizer, I picked this mushroom flatbread for sharing. Though… you can’t really see the mushrooms, can you? It was more like a “heirloom tomato and mushroom flatbread”, a little more emphasis on the tomatoes. Not that I minded – they did make the dish very pretty! It also came with mixed greens so we had some nice leafy treats to start out with.

Continue reading “cafe 21 / downtown – san diego, ca”

hammurabi family restaurant / el cajon – san diego, ca

Welcome to another installment of “Adventures in Groupons” (dun dun dun).

This week, we’ll be visiting the Hammurabi Family Restaurant in El Cajon, CA. Hammurabi offers a number of Mediterranean foods. They have a pretty massive menu with a little bit of everything. On the back of the menu, they have a number of “Feast” meals depending on the number of people in your party.

Well, let me tell you – I think the numbers are off! You’ll see what I mean…

[Feast Menu]

Jake and T were with me for this outing, so we figured we’d just get the Feast for Three People to share between the three of us.


The hummus was the first thing to come out to us. Very smooth with a good creamy consistency with a daub of olive oil on top and (I think) a large sprinkle of paprika. It was a little bit bland. There wasn’t a lot of seasoning or other flavors added – just a plain hummus.

[Lavash Flat Bread]

We got a big basket of lavash bread to go with the hummus. Pita bread is what I’m used to getting at other restaurants but the lavash bread was okay. Just a basic bread.

[Side Salad]

Salad came out to us next looking very fresh and green. Lots of tomatoes and cucumbers mixed in with some leafy greens. The dressing on this salad was extremely tart though – way too much of the acidic element was put into the dressing. And since the whole salad was coated with the dressing, after a few bites we gave up eating it. Luckily the “Feast” was coming up next after a few disappointing starters.

Continue reading “hammurabi family restaurant / el cajon – san diego, ca”