Right after college, I had the pleasure of residing in the not-yet-trendy but just quaint area of Los Angeles called Echo Park.  Just past Los Feliz and Silverlake if driving down Sunset from the West.  I had a part-time non-profit job that allowed me to audition and work in production, and spent much time working on my choreography and going to the beach. But one of my favorite places to gab with gal-pals or catch a quick hot breakfast (while dodging annoying screenwriters camped out for the free Wi-Fi) was Cafe Tropical.  The coffee is ridiculously strong and delicious; the turkey, egg and cheese on a croissant is perfect with Tapatio hot sauce, and the pastries are…  well, you’ll see here that one of my dearest gal pals took it upon herself to bring me a guava con queso pie straight from the redeye.  Guava paste and cream cheese layered with perfectly flaky crusts…  The dear girl brought a tear to my eye.

Interior, Guava Con Queso Pie from Cafe Tropical

Interior, Guava Con Queso Pie from Cafe Tropical

If anyone knows where I can find one of these in New York City, I’ll be eternally indebted.  Meanwhile, I’ll just have to keep finding reasons to head out west and make a drive-by visit.

San Diego is a quaint, not-so-little place.  Forever in the shadow of its bigger and more glamorous neighbor, Los Angeles, it constantly seeks to prove itself as more fun, more laid back, and just as worthy of a settlement for young adults and families as ever.  And it largely succeeds.  For those Californians that are not internet or entertainment industry-obsessed, San Diego is the perfect place to have a military, bioscience or technology career in a diverse seaside surfing town with globally influenced food, superb weather, and an active nightlife.

My first stop in San Diego this trip was Santana’s, the fast-mexican drive through with the drool-worthy carne asada fries.  Any time of day or night back in NYC, I crave this monstrosity at the mere mention of nachos or fries.  As such, I made it a priority.  You’ll see why here:

Photo: Carne Asada Fries

A pile of deliciousness

I can never usually finish.  But I certainly tried!

After a disappointing stay at the Bristol Hotel last year, I decided to upgrade and stay at Se San Diego.  Although it’s definitely not New York service (hurried snob that I am), I had a pleasant stay in a well appointed room and was totally worth it for the easy access to chef Anthony Calamari’s wonderful creations!

At my one big dinner at Suite and Tender, I went for the olive tapennade and the caprese salad w/white balsamic vinaigrette…  and ended up choosing the short ribs w/pecorino chive red potatoes and the steak au poivre with bacon-honey brussel sprouts over the mustard brined roast chicken (next time!).

A good dinner is like a good tumble in the sack…  it’ll put you right to sleep!  Needless to say, I slept like a baby.

I had the great pleasure of visiting San Diego the week of St. Patrick’s day this year, and thoroughly enjoyed the Gaslamp District’s festive attack of the holiday.  They do the same thing during Mardi Gras each year: close off the restaurant/bar streets, get a massive DJ act, and let the college kids go nuts.  What I didn’t do, however, is take any photos.  Because you’ve seen Spring Break before.  I was just trying to cut through the crowd and get back to my hotel unsplattered by green-tinted beer or puke.  But I did escape to a gayborhood bar to enjoy a few green-tinted cocktails and the slider sampler at Lei Lounge before retiring.

I’m a bit sad that I couldn’t get down to La Jolla to visit Nine-Ten during this trip…  As the food there was absolutely delightful!  One more reason to return…

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