Taste of Gaslamp: A San Diego Dining Adventure

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In the many years that I have been in San Diego, I can count in one hand the number of times I visited the Gaslamp Quarters downtown to have dinner.  It’s not that the food is bad, it is just bad timing on our part. So when the opportunity to experience in 4 hours the many culinary delights they have available, we immediately signed up.  From 1 pm to 4 pm last Saturday, we tried to visit as many as we can from the 32 restaurants participating at this years Taste of Gaslamp.  The event itself is held for two days.  Tickets, sold only online, were sold out early on.  People obviously knew something we have been missing all these years!

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We arrived downtown at 12:30 pm and easily parked at Park-it-on-Market, a parking garage a block away from the registration desk.  On registration we were given our “food band”, a map of participating restaurants, our ticket stub and a souvenir recipe book.  The first (and the closest) restaurant we visited was The Field, an Irish pub serving shepherds pie and one of the few serving booze.  There was a line so we decided to skip it since we were just starting. Later on, we would realize our mistake since after the 5th restaurant, we were so full we couldn’t even think of drinking anything! And we missed on the famous shepherd’s pie!

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We crossed the street over to the next restaurant on the list, the Marble Room. It was dark and the food setup was way at the back of the restaurant we couldn’t even see it.  We were handed a plate of chocolate-covered banana drizzled with rum caramel sauce. Hmmm..I was in heaven but my husband wasn’t. Not a good idea to start with dessert. Our next stop was Blue Point Coastal Cuisine. We thought we heard people who were just there say they were serving beef tartare. We excitedly entered, grabbed the appetizer only to find out it was BEET Tartare! LOL. Thank heavens we like beets!

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From then on, it was just one culinary adventure after another. At the Royal India Exquisite Cuisine, we had curry vegetables and basmati rice washed down with sweet and thick mango smoothie. Funky Garcia served beef tacos, and in my opinion, the best food we tasted! The corn taco shell was so soft and the shredded beef was spicy and sprinkled with just the right mix of coriander and lime. Yum! We had quesadillas at La Puerta, the famous Jambalaya at Rock Bottom Restaurant, spicy hummus with flat bread at Bandar Restaurant and  a chewy, tasty oatmeal cookie at The Cheese Shop.

 

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There was a line at Sushi Itto where they served California Rolls with spicy seafood dressing, miso soup and fried plantains with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Across the street, I wanted to skip the Yogotango Frozen Yogurt place but when I saw the waffle basket with frozen yogurt and fresh fruits as sides, we went in and sat.  This was the only place that offered choices. Unfortunately, there was only one server and too many people waiting for their turn.  It took 15 minutes to get our order but we weren’t complaining since we were stuffed from what we already ate. We welcomed the chance to rest and relax inside the airconditioned room.  On our way out, we heard people complaining loudly about the long wait.  I hope it was worth it for them. We certainly enjoyed the green tea yogurt and fresh fruit bowl.

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We have another hour to go and my husband was already ready to go home. I wanted to explore more (not necessarily to eat more) so we compromised and decided to cruise the ones closest to our parking garage. We chose our last three restaurants before we head home.

At the Gaslamp Tavern,  I tasted a piece of fried chicken nugget with spicy bbq sauce. My husband declined after learning it was white meat. Next door, Henry’s Pub offered tortellini in white sauce with garlicky salmon pieces and garlic bread. It was delicious!

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Finally, we walked inside the Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge.  Fun, casual beach atmosphere and we enjoyed coconut shrimp dipped in a dressing that tasted like mayonnaise, sriracha sauce and mandarin orange.

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It was a fun 4 hours and definitely a wide variety of dishes.  It was an excellent way to try what Gaslamp has to offer.  Now we know where to take our friends or which ones to avoid.  Of course we only had a chance to sample a handful of restaurants (13 out of 32) but we at least have an idea of what is available.  Next year, we are coming prepared and plan on trying at least half of the participating restaurants.

See you all next year!

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