Happy National Moscow Mule Day!

Copper bottoms up, folks, because not only is today National Moscow Mule Day, it’s also Friday, and for some… PAY DAY!

Fun fact: it falls on the 3rd because there are three ingredients in this drink: vodka, ginger beer, lime juice, with a lime garnish. (cue light bulb)

Level 2 fun fact: turn the 3’s on their sides to say M-M. (cue bigger light bulb)

Level 3 fun fact: calling it a mule was a clever play on words for it’s technical term, a buck, or rather, any cocktail that involves ginger beer/ale and citrus juices. I’ve even read somewhere that if you add absinthe, it becomes a donkey. (Okay, that one is less exciting…)

Icy Cold Moscow Mules

This refreshing cocktail was invented in 1941, but as to where and by whom, there are two sides.

  1. John G. Martin of Heublein, Inc., who acquired the rights to Smirnoff Vodka in 1938, and John “Jack” Morgan of Cock ‘n’ Bull bar, and producer of a ginger beer of the same name, created the drink to sell more of their ailing products. There are stories that it started in Manhattan at the Chatham Hotel, but many stick to the bar in Santa Monica, CA.
  2. The bar’s head bartender, Wes Prince, said the cocktail was his invention borne out of some spring cleaning: “I just wanted to clean out the basement. I was trying to get rid of a lot of dead stock.” He first served it to actor Broderick Crawford and “it caught on like wildfire.”

A deeper read will give you more context and insight on how copper mugs came into the picture, but for those itching for the 5 o’clock somewhere, here are some recipes for you to try at home, starting with my own. If you don’t want to do the work, hit up Koi Bar & Lounge and I’ll make you one myself. They’re doing a $6 special all month for their Mule Madness. =)

Kentucky Mule

If you’re like me and want a spirit that bites back, substitute the clear for a brown of your choice, add some bitters, and there you have it. I promise you won’t regret it.

1.5 oz. bourbon

0.5 oz. lime

2 dashes of Angostura bitters ()

Fill with ginger beer (I like Goslings and Fever Tree)

  1. The Garden Mule (featured in Huffington Post)
  2. Apple Cider Moscow Mule (good for the winter)
  3. Mexican Mule (bites you back harder than bourbon)
  4. Moscow Mule Jello Shots (if you’re feeling college-y AND classy)
  5. Strawberry Moscow Mule (great for the summer)
  6. Gin Buck (my favorite spirit)
  7. Jamaican Mule (basically a Dark ‘n’ Stormy with lime juice)

Little Sheep in Mira Mesa

Little Sheep Mira Mesa Rendering 2

Baa Ram Ewe, sheep be true! As in, it’s true that Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is coming to Mira Mesa!

From the ashes of where Play It Again Sports once stood, Little Sheep’s second location will rise, giving Mira Mesa more hip eating options.

hot pot

Luckily for me, I went to school with one of the owners, Michael Wu, so he was happy to catch up and share some details about this new endeavor. “We looked at North County, but Mira Mesa was a location I always wanted to be in. This location, I looked at a long time ago, but it wasn’t available; now it is.” Not coincidentally, our high school is just down the street from there.

Construction began in August with the intent of opening before Christmas, but if there are any delays, January at the latest. Between the two locations, they’ll have a similar color scheme, family-friendly feel, and approximate size; however, Mira Mesa’s  will have a more refreshed dining environment with decor that is more comfy and modern. After the dust settles for the second location, they’ll give the Clairemont location a face lift.

Little Sheep Mira Mesa Rendering 1

Little Sheep Mira Mesa Rendering 2

A notable and exciting difference will be the offering of local craft beer. They may not be available in time for the grand opening, but should be within the first three months.

You might be wondering if there’ll be any crazy specials for the opening. Down the road, maybe, but their main goal is to ensure they have consistent quality in customer service and food. They should be ready for a special sneak peak for friends and family, and the media.

I’ll keep you posted on the exact dates once they’re confirmed, but get your appetites ready, folks!

Voter Freebies: Election Day 2016

7-Eleven Election Day 2016

Every four years, the “I Voted” sticker gets passed around like… like… like an “I Voted” sticker that can garner freebies. As always, YMMV, and call ahead if you can help it.

&pizza

This East Coast chain is giving away free craft soda (Ginger Berry Lemonade, Dark Cherry Cola, Mango + Passion Fruit, Pear + Fig Elixir, Cherry Bomb, Burdock + Anise Root Beer) just for voting!

7-Eleven

Get a free coffee of any size by using their mobile app.

7-Eleven Election Day 2016

Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt

For just $0.45, get an election-themed smoothie. Get it? For the 45th POTUS?

Bertucci’s

Purchase an entree and get a free cannoli.

Bob Evans

Dine here after 2 PM and get 30% off your meal using this coupon.

Bob Evans Election Day 2016

BurgerFi

Get their Conflicted Burger for $5 just for showing your sticker.

BurgerFi Election Day 2016

California Tortilla Election Day 2016California Tortilla

The food speakeasy–say, “I’m with queso,” “Make queso great again,” or, “I vote for  queso,” and get some free chips and queso with a purchase. How fun.

 

Chuck E. Cheese's Election Day 2016

Chuck E Cheese

Give them a coupon code #5253 and get yourself a free personal pepperoni pizza with any pizza purchase.

Duffy’s Sports Grill

Free red velvet doughnuts just for showing your sticker.

East Coast Wings & Grill

You don’t have to do anything really. Just order an entree and you’ll automatically get a free order of five honey barbecue chicken wings.

Firehouse Subs

Free medium drink by showing your sticker.

Gold’s Gym

Get free access to Gold’s today just for showing your sticker. Working on your freedom and free weights all in one day!

Great American Cookie Company

Free regular cookie with a sticker.

Harper Collins

I usually focus on food, but I love a good book as well. Get 30% off and free shipping on select titles with promo code VOTE2016.

Hot Dog on a Stick

Head to Facebook and answer their poll, “What turkey are you voting for?” and get a coupon for a free turkey dog.

Krispey Kreme Election Day 2016Krispy Kreme

Free donuts just for showing your sticker.

 

Lyft LogoLyft

They’re offering a limited number of rides for 45% off (or up to $10) while polls are open (7 AM-8 PM), the discount reflecting the pending election of our 45th president. If you’re new to their service, get $5 off your next 10 rides by using the promo code NOVEMBER8TH.

Macy’s

Love to shop? Get an extra 20, 15, or 10 percent off select items during their online Election Day sale by using the promo code VOTE!

Marco’s Pizza

Cast your vote on their website and get a coupon for a free medium one-topping pizza.

Maven

Did you know GM has a ride-sharing program? Well,they do and you can get $5 off all rides on election day.

Nando’s Peri-Peri

I love a good play on words, and Nando’s said, “It’s time to pick a side,” of food of course! Come in with “any lame sticker” and choose a free side with a purchase of an entree.

Nestlé Toll House Café

Show your sticker for a free chocolate chip cookie.

Noodles and Company

Visit their website to vote for your favorite mac and cheese to receive a “Buy One, Get One Free” coupon for your next purchase.

New York Times LogoNew York Times

Normally, the NYT limits non-subscribers access to content, but around election time, you’ll have unlimited access from Monday, November 7, through 11:59 PM on Wednesday, November 9.

Orlando Sentinel

Get unlimited access all dayOrlando Sentinel Logo

 

 

PF Changs

Get 20% off your take-out order with promo code VOTE20.

Regal Theaters

Tickets are only $5 for a showing of Harrison Ford in “Air Force One” at 7 PM PLUS get popcorn for 50% off!

Schlotzksy’s

There’s a BOGO for their mac and cheese today just for using the code #4207.

SSling TV Logoling TV

A paid service, Sling is offering free election coverage to the public from 6 AM PT on Tuesday, November 8, through 4 AM on Wednesday, November 9. New customers just need to sign up for a new account, no credit card required, and stream a couple dozen channels.

Taco Truck

This New Jersey chain will give you a free Tradicional Taco just for showing your sticker.

Tijuana Flats

Just for showing your sticker, get a free small side.

Toppers Pizza

Get a large two-topping pizza or a Triple Original Topperstix for $5.99 with any carry-out order.

UberUber and Google

No discounts from these guys, but if you’re a new member, use promo code VOTETODAY for $20 off your first ride. Some cool news is that they’ve teamed up with Google to help you find your polling place and get you there.

Washington Post

Get unlimited access all day.

Washington Post Logo

White Castle

Use promo code “USA” when ordering a Crave Case online and get a free gallon of iced tea. They’ll provide you with a coupon for in-store purchase as well.

World of Beer

Your first beer here is only $1.

World of Beer Election Day 2016

YMCA

Cant get a sitter so you can go out to vote? The Y will provide free childcare so you can take care of your democratic duties!

#DriveTheVoteZipcar

Zipcar offered half-off vehicles during the last election, but this year, they’re one-upping themselves: 7,000 free cars between 6-10 PM (tax and other fees not included) to help get more folks to the polls. #DriveTheVote

 

 

 

 

 

Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego Opens

Hollywood Casino Jamul San Diego

After much contention and controversy, Hollywood Casino Jamul had its grand opening on Monday, October 10, 2016. To the dismay of many local residents, but the joy of the Jamul Indian Village, the 20-year, $400 million project has finally come to fruition. This 200,000 square-foot establishment features over 1,700 slot machines, 40 live table games, seven restaurants, and even some nightlife options (Jive Lounge and Loft 94).

Hollywood Casino Jamul San Diego

Most casinos follow a de facto formula in their dining options: a steakhouse, a buffet, a sports bar and/or pub, a Chinese restaurant, and a family-friendly option, hopefully with one of those being a late-night stop. Well, HCJ didn’t stray from this standard at all, and for good measure, they threw in a Mexican food joint; they know San Diego. Let’s dive in!

Emerald’s

Arguably the best dim sum place in San Diego, Emerald Chinese Cuisine has lent its name and recipes to the new casino, and hopefully the chefs there do their dishes justice. While it won’t be the same dining experience and full menu that you’ll get at the original Convoy location, you’ll see the favorites like cha siu, roasted duck, braised pork belly, and more.

Final Cut Steak & Seafood

finalcutfood-header

With 15 casinos across the nation and at least one Final Cut in nearly all of them, I can’t say it’ll be a truly unique experience. However, with each one scoring at least 3 of 5 stars (one location even has 4.5 stars), it’s a safe bet that this one will be good, if not great.

Loft 94

loft94-187x114Presumably named after the freeway upon which it sits, this is a trendy eatery by day and a lounge/night spot after dark. Cheryl Cruz is the Sous Chef or, according to her, the HBIC, and rightfully so. She was one of only four contestants in the Culinary Fight Club to gain entry into the World Food Championships. She placed 2nd, but that’s not bad in my book.

She’s serving up what looks to be a fun and trendy menu: items like sliders, corn dogs, yakitori, and poke as well as an impressive 48-tap beer bar. Smart move showcasing the frothy flair of our local breweries:

They’ve got love for out-of-towner favorites too:

A rotating tap, no doubt, but they’re off to a good start, and as a hop head, this will definitely be a stop of mine for my first visit here.

Pizza Port

logo

No casino is complete without pizza and wings and whaddayaknow, Pizza Port has delicious options for both. They’re a huge local favorite with baked wings and great pizza dough, it definitely makes sense that they’re representing San Diego here. Even their veggie options are great. Serving their top suds in addition to Loft 94’s selection, I can see beer being the drink of choice at the new casino.

Ruby’s Dinette

rubys-new-dinette-concept

A fast-casual version of the popular ’40s-style Ruby’s Diner, you’ll find a family-friendly space that serves hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, fries and onion rings, as well as their well-known milkshakes, morning, noon, and night.

Tony Gwynn’s Sports Pub

Before he passed, we named a street after baseball legend, Tony Gwynn as well as a beer, San Diego Pale Ale .394. Naturally, the next step would be his own sports pub. Not only will they have standard bar fare, they’ll also feature some of his favorite eats like chicken and waffles, pulled pork sandwiches, and lobster mac and cheese. Also, until his museum opens within the year, you can enjoy some of his memorabilia here. May he rest in piece knowing he’s still making people happy.

TRES Taqueria

o

A San Diego favorite, TRES Hermanos garnered popularity since its 2009 debut, enough to eventually expanded to become TRES Taqueria Mariscos Cantina in El Cajon in 2015. The majority will agree that their street tacos are key, but they’ll also mention their to-die-for nacho cheese sauce that can go on everything. It’s no surprise they were the choice for a Mexican food spot inside the casino.

I like to gamble as much as the person next to me at blackjack, so you might want to know that they’ve got an underground parking garage that’ll fit over 1,800 cars. Residents may be upset, but it’s a moot point by now, so look on the bright side:

  • Over 1,000 jobs have been created
  • The tribe will benefit from a much needed economic growth
  • Nearly $100 million in funds will go toward fire and public safety, and $23 million to nearby road and transportation improvements

Cars stretched for miles in all directions all day for the grand opening. I’m pretty sure the majority of the traffic caused on Monday, and undoubtedly for at least another week or two, was not due to folks excited about the food and drink, but they should be.

The Next Liquid Nitro-generation

N you just have to wonder how she comes up with these. =) There better be seven chemists out there who can back me up on this joke. Bueller?

I first saw ice cream being made as part of a science experiment: put all the ingredients together in a bag and shake so vigorously that the only thing that can cool you down is that creamy concoction in the Ziploc. Now, it’s evolved into, well, another science experiment, a la liquid nitrogen that instantly freezes the mixture into ice cream.

No longer is it the stuff Terminator dream are made of, but how we satisfy our sweet-tooth on a hot summer day. A trend that began in Korea has now reached our coasts and San Diego has two new places where we can play with our food and eat it, too.

Today, we’ll be comparing Creamistry and Bing Haus.

Creamistry

This California chain has grown to 30 locations in Arizona, Texas, and even India, with 12 more on the horizon, including one in Saudi Arabia. Pst, San Diego peeps, San Marcos and Carmel Valley will be getting their own soon enough.

I love the sterile, lab-like look and although the options are overwhelming, the instructions are simple: 1) pick a size and base 2) choose a flavor, 3) select toppings and upgrades, and 4) the staff instantly blasts everything with liquid nitrogen. I love how exact they try to be with their scales as I’m a fan of consistency.

They offer non-dairy, vegan, and gluten-free options for those who are conscious, with 31 flavors to boot (Coincidence? Probably…).

The Clairemont Mesa grand opening was on Thursday, July 28, 2016, so Cleveland, JP, and I thought we were being clever going in the middle of the day. Incorrect. The whole process from waiting in line to receiving your order took about 20 minutes, and although it was a little sweet, the creaminess and flavors were still on point.

Cleveland got the pistachio while JP got the Elemint, and I had the Cap’n Crunch on a waffle cone, which was proudly dubbed Game of Cones, and got a ton of hits on Instagram. =)

On another visit, a hat tip to Chavez for suggesting the green tea Kit Kat combo that very closely resembles the Japanese candy bar. He got the affogato which wasn’t bad and Ajay’s Fruity Pebbles was decent, but more nostalgic than delicious.

Overall, I’d recommend it, and have gone back several times, BUT take heed of the following tips:

  • Try all the bases with the same flavor so you can know the subtle differences.
  • The Creatiions are huge, so share if you know what’s good for you.
  • There IS a difference between mixing in the toppings and adding them after. Mixing slightly freezes them, so I don’t recommend that for the harder ones like nuts.
  • If you’ve come from dinner, a single is good enough to share, honestly, but if it’s a mid-day snack, eat what you want.
  • Yelp gives you 10% off your order once, but after that, every receipt is good for the same deal within a week of purchase.

Bing Haus

Their soft opening menu is quite tiny: four ice cream flavors, seven coffee options, and six tea ones. We’ll have to see how they expand for the grand opening day. With their fun designs and sayings on the ground, you can catch folks taking photos of their food on the ground. Yes, it is so spiffy, you can practically eat off it.

JP and I went after a whole day of celebrating his birthday, and although we were full, we each got one, green tea (mochi and strawberries on top) and he got the strawberry (cheesecake, circus animal cookies, and whipped cream on top), with the clear winner being the latter. We’re both picky when it comes to green tea-flavored foodstuffs. The ice cream was also too frozen to eat right away, which was bothersome, but waiting a bit was all it took.

img_20160916_215259

This is my only visit, but it was subpar as it was a 45-minute wait, partly due to the trendiness and newness on a Friday night, but really, because they only have two ice cream stations where you pour their mixture onto an extra-cold surface. Luckily, we ran into some of my college friends, so we passed the waiting time playing cards.

The Verdict

To be fair, I’ll need to try Bing Haus again, but I think I already know my answer. Bing  Haus may have better, more interactive decor with a lot more seating, but those are only distractions for their inefficiency. Creamistry with its streamlined process, many flavors, and great taste, it’s clear the winner of this competition.

 

356 Korean BBQ & Bar Opens In San Diego

Everyone, please meat 356 Korean BBQ & Bar! Their soft opening was Monday, August 15, 2016 and their Grand Opening will happen in about two weeks (a little birdie told me September 1).

Cleveland and I arrived early and didn’t hesitate when they offered us a seat at the bar while waiting. Our sweet bartender with a less-than-innocent name, Sapphire, offered up the bar menu which contain items only available there, except for the spicy pork ribs.

356 Bar Menu

Olive and Shades arrive shortly after and we didn’t wait long to get started. Olive wanted me to have the best photos for the first blog post about this place, so she brought a DSLR and snapped away. Isn’t she cute? Another reason why I love her.

Olive the Photographer

I don’t know how I feel about the seating, but it definitely caught my attention. They use denism and jean bottoms to pad them. Do they make me look skinny by sitting on skinny jeans?

IMG_20160817_121021
Our server, DK, like Donkey Kong, but instead of throwing barrels, will cook for you. We asked him for the largest combo (10 cuts), all the sides, and the minute our banchan arrived, we never looked back. Below you’ll see the soft opening menu, but I’m not sure how much of it will change after the grand opening.

Already, I love the place because they brought out 12… TWELVE… banchan dishes. Yes, that IS dukbokki you see below! Below that, you can see our whole spread. Notable banchan: sausage and egg patties, gobo (burdock root), and did I say dukbokki?

356 Banchan

356 Table Spread with Banchan

The first to arrive were the Spicy Pork Ribs (4 pcs.), which are the only items that come already cooked. I thought they were good, but nothing exceptional; however, I do love the added touch of almond slivers with the crunch making a nice and subtle difference.

356 Spicy Pork Ribs

Then, what we were all waiting for… the meats! From top to bottom: jumalook, beef belly, brisket, pork jowl, pork shoulder, pork belly, finger meat, and ribeye.

356 Prime Combo 4

DK saw the hunger in our eyes and tossed on the brisket, which, by the way, is only available in this combo and a la carte. Smart.

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I had several favorite parts of the meal, one being how they scored the thick cut pork belly, a nice touch, indeed!

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Second favorite? The sauce dish, especially the dry herbs (garlic, salt, pepper, and…?). It went well with EVERYTHING, and just a few crystals will provide all the flavor; otherwise, it would be too overpowering and salty. Dip gingerly and at your own risk.

IMG_20160817_122314.jpg

My third favorite part of the meal was the cheese fondue. YES! They give you a ramekin of cheese to melt down atop the grill while your meats are cooking away. It goes best with beef and it’s glorious making me wonder where it’s been all my life. The second photo is of a cheesy ribeye, worth it!

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Halfway through the meal, they switch to a different kind of grill, which I’ve only seen at Gyu-kaku for their s’mores dish, and at the very end, they put the bulgogi, already on its own mesh grill, atop the new grill. Nice presentation.

IMG_20160817_122711.jpg

Here are photos of the rest of our meal for those interested.

Any other tips and tricks for the lay of the land?

Yes! Straight from Olive herself (and some from me):

  • They won’t typically cook for you, especially when they’re slammed, but if you look clueless, they’ll lend a hand. *hint hint*
  • Order the fondue first so it can start melting before your meat comes.
  • The fondue goes best with beef, not pork.
  • The egg custard refers to the steamed egg. Don’t make my mistake and look forward to dessert.
  • They DO have sesame oil and soy bean paste, but DO NOT have rice paper, mookeunji, or radish paper. Instead of radish paper, they have julienne radish.
  • For your first time, go with five and have a drink. You’ll thank us later.
  • The 356 refers to the perfect temperature (°F) for cooking meat.
  • Prime Combo 4 is perfect for a group of four; we were pretty full, but not uncomfortable. If you order more sides and/or drinks, a party of five can still eat to their content.
  • For those who heard this was affiliated with Quarters in LA, what really happened was that they had a name similar, but were asked specifically to change it and now we have 356.

Tl:dr: It’s a spacious venue, trendy, perfect for its corner mall location, catering, visually, to American palates (nothing exotic was on the menu like intestines, etc.), the flavor is very much Korean. Service was great, but it was slow, so we’ll see when they get slammed. I would definitely come back, so check it out!

Aww, Shucks! National Oyster Day 2016

Calling all bivalve lovers, Friday, August 5 is National Oyster Day and I’m here to shell out some pearls of wisdom on how you can celebrate. Enjoy and happy shucking!

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine (Gaslamp): $1 oysters during happy hour (5-6 PM)

C Level/Island Prime (Harbor Island): $2.75 oysters, or $17 for a Rockefeller

Ironside Fish & Oyster (Little Italy): $1 oysters between 3-6 PM

Herringbone (various locations): $1 oysters all day

JRDN Restaurant at Tower23 Hotel (Pacific Beach): $1 oysters (and $6 glasses of rose) starting at 4 PM

Rockin’ Baja Lobster (various locations): $2 oysters all day; one of my favorites as it’s a tamarind-rimmed shot glass gives you the perfect kick

Sea180 Coastal Tavern (Imperial Beach): $15.95 for Rockefellers

Solace & the Moonlight Lounge (Encinitas): $1 oysters until 6 PM

  • Their regular special is $1 oysters every day of the week between 3-6 PM.

Stake Chophouse & Bar (Coronado): $1 oysters

Want more even after the day is done? Here are some places that have oyster specials year-round. Check them out!

[Insert Area] Fish Shop

Face it… there are TONS of fish shops all around San Diego (some owned by the same folks), and many of them are actually good. They’ll all have oysters-of-the-day on the menu, so take a chance and head on in, or call ahead to find out their selection. Notable ones I’ve tried and recommend:

If you’re feeling zesty:

  • Sirena Cocina Latina, Little Italy (say that three times fast)
    • It’s not listed on their online menu, but supposedly they have a crafty raw bar and two of their oyster specialties are the Angelmo Oysters (salmon caviar, chimichurri, smoked paprika air, and iceplants) and the Latin Oysters (lemon curd, tabasco, house seasoning, and greens).

If you’re feeling boozy:

  • The Sandbar, Mission Beach
    • They do $1 oyster shooters and for just a little more, they’ll top them off with vodka for an ultimate Sunday Funday

For the outdoorsy:

  • Pacific Beach Alehouse, Pacific Beach
    • Enjoy San Diego for what it has to offer, so dine out on the new upstairs deck and watch the waves come rolling in while you throw a few beers and oysters back.
  • Pacific Beach Shore Club, Pacific Beach
    • In addition to a classic oyster on a half shell, you can try their pepper vodka oyster shooter.