Cole and I had the opportunity to take a whole week off of work to enjoy Christmas time with our families. Lucky for me, Cole is a Cali boy (he would hate that I just said "Cali") and that means taking a trip down to the Inland Empire of Southern California. Riverside, CA to be more specific.
Our time in Riverside was spent with lots of family, lots of food and lots of chillaxing. I even had the chance to meet Cole's extended family for the first time ever! Turns out, two of his cousins live in beautiful San Diego and happened to recommend we take a day trip down to visit some of their recommended eating and drinking locations. There was absolutely no hesitation. The next day we set out on our jaunt to San Diego!
We ventured out early in the morning and enjoyed a nice two-hour drive south enjoying each other's company and listening to our favorite tunes. Not before long, we rolled on up to our first stop: Ballast Point Brewing Company in Little Italy, a small neighborhood right outside the downtown area of San Diego. This being technically being my second visit to San Diego (but not technically if you don't really count a trip to Seaworld when I was about 10. It was pre-Blackfish. Sorry, guys), I was already loving the beautiful weather in December; a perfect high 60 degrees with just a light breeze. Yeah, you can definitely tell I'm from Washington…
Ballast Point was the perfect first stop. We ordered two 3-beer tasting flights to start ($5 each – what a steal!) Hands down the favorite of the flights was their grapefruit sculpin IPA. Crisp, citrusy and perfect for a sunny day in San Diego. I just hope we can find it bottled in Seattle!
To soak up some of the beer, and to get our culinary adventure off to a good start, we ordered a small plate to share: Victory at Sea (their classic stout) Short Rib Sliders, with brie, balsamic cranberry sauce and arugula. Need I say anymore?
Because that really was just an appetizer, we were determined to find ourselves an authentic California burrito. What is a California burrito, you ask? If I didn't date my SoCal born and raised boyfriend, I would have never known either. It's essentially a burrito with tender carne asada, fries, salsa, sour cream, cheese and guacamole. It's the ultimate burrito if I've ever heard of such a thing. Thanks to our awesome Yelping skills, we stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall (literally, there was just a tiny window in the wall to place your order) joint called Mexican Fiesta. California burritos in hand we walked on down to the waterfront for some fresh sea air to enjoy with our burritos. Mmm mmm good.
We were most definitely in a food coma, but were excited to see more of beautiful San Diego. Though it's considered a tourist destination of San Diego, we just had to make a trip over to Coronado, a small island on the other side of San Diego that you have to drive to by bridge. We were techincally tourists after all, right? If you're also a Seattleite, think of the distance and same set-up of what West Seattle is to downtown Seattle. Coronado is also home to the Hotel Coronado, made famous for movie appearances like in Some Like it Hot.
By the time we were done drinking in San Diego, our stomaches had reached a point where we could squeeze in just a bit more food before we returned back to Riverside. We had to get our hands on some fresh, authentic fish tacos. Thanks to a stellar recommendation by Cole's cousin, we drove on up to my kind of place: the Pacific Beach Fish Shop.
If I lived in San Diego, this would be the place I would be a regular at. With cool yet understated decor, it seemed like a true locals spot to hang and eat. As soon as we stepped foot inside, I knew our experience was about to be delicious based off the display of gorgeous freshly caught fish in a case. Mahi mahi, salmon, red snapper, ahi tuna and so much more were just sitting there, looking as amazing as ever, ready to be served inside a taco or sandwich of your choosing. And that's exactly how it went. We got to choose our fish, marinade or rub of our choice and our method of preparation – sandwich or taco – to be grilled to order for your eating pleasure.
I chose a red snapper with blackened seasoning, Cole a mahi mahi with lemon butter. Both on a taco served with cabbage, white sauce, pico de gallo and cheddar cheese. The fish was as fresh as could be, cooked to perfection and perfectly paired with bold, zesty flavors on the taco. It was unbelievable. By far the best thing we ate all day.
With perfect flavors in our mouth and our cheeks sun-kissed, we set on back to Riverside blissfully happy from a much needed dosage of Vitamin D and our bellies extremely happy from the flavors of San Diego.