Bars/Lounges · Beer · Cabos San Lucas · Cheap Eats · Pubs · Restaurants

Paddy’s Barbecue + Brewery

This winter weather is getting to me. Sensing my mood, L suggested we go out for dinner. I told him to pick a place. He drove past Marda Loop, Mission, Mount Royal and then pulled in front of to Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery in Manchester Industrial Park. For this post, let’s listen to I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) by The Proclaimers.

With the heavy snowfall and the start of The Big Taste, we didn’t expect the brewery to be packed. When we entered at 6:30 p.m., there was a large private party, families with kids and people on dates. There was a lone stool available. L stood while I sat.

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We shared a flight ($7) of beer: Alberta Smash, Stout, Azaccca Wheat, and Hopped Lager. The Cascadian was dark and bitter. I preferred the NE IPA, which was light and tasted like grapefruit. The Juniper Saison was an easy drinking floral beer. L finished the Black Lager because I found it bitter. I thought it was neat that the brew dates for each beer was shown on the black board.

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The food and drink are self-serve. You go up to the bar for the beer and the kitchen for food. There was a man working there who seem to be in charge of the brewery. He kept his eye out for a table and the second a group vacated, he brought us over to sit down.

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We ordered the Half Feast ($30), which included half a pound of brisket, half a pound of ribs, a quarter of a chicken and three sides. You can pick between: kale Caesar, fries, potato salad, slaw, baked beans and cheesy mac. The food was so good I stopped tasting our second flight of beers.

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Of the three meats, the chicken was my favourite. The meat was flavourful and juicy. The ribs were tender with a hint of smoke. The brisket was moist and a good platform for the sauces. Our neighbor raved about the Peach Mango Heat. I preferred the Caroline Style BBQ because of the mustard tang. L preferred the Memphis style BBQ and the one with a hint of curry that I forgot to write down.

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The mac and cheese was cheesy with some bite left in the noodle. The fries were the real type, not frozen, so it had that waxy, firm texture. Our neighbour’s potato salad and kale salad looked so appetizing, I want to order it next.

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Paddy’s Barbecue & Brewery has nailed the food down. This is the sort of place you have to visit the States to find. Just good, honest BBQ at a bargain price. I hope the restaurant plans to expand, because once word gets out, it’s going to be even busier.

Beer · Restaurants

Dandy Brewing Company

I wanted to check out a new Japanese grocery store called True World Foods in the NE. L was interested in going but I made sure to seal the deal by telling him there was a brewery right next door – Dandy Brewing Company. For this post, let’s listen to Broken Bells – October.

The taproom is tiny. I counted about 20 stools in the room. This would be a fun place to rent out for an event. I overheard the beerista say the company was moving into a larger location in Ramsey.

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We ordered two flights ($8) so we could try everything. One beer was out of stock, so we only received seven samples. The beerista suggested that if we were sharing, to get one flight at a time so the beer would stay fresh. Fabulous idea.

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The first was Une Vieille Maitresse (4%). We were informed it was made with French saison yeast. This was a very mild tasting beer.

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Next up was T2E IPA (7.5%). I found this one tropical and not too hoppy.

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The Cosmic Dancer (?%) was almost grassy in flavour. I found this beer refreshing. I thought I could taste grapefruit.

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Dandy in the Underworld Oyster Stout (5%) is their trademark beer. I see this beer quite often in Calgary restaurants. Next time I’m supping on oysters or seafood, I’ll order this beer to pair with my food. This stout was rich, sweet and a lot of yum.

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Deadly in the Underworld (6.5%) was a black IPA. I thought this was a gentle, polished beer similar to but not as rich as the Oyster stout.

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The Nuage Wit (?%) was my favourite. I found this beer bright, a touch sweet with a tiny bit of spice. Another good name for it would be Liquid Sunshine.

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We were told to try the Dandy Wild Sour Ale (7.3%) as a palate cleanser. This was our least favourite because it reminded me of sour candy.

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Near the end of our visit, a customer came in and asked the beerista questions about Dandy’s rotation of beers. He then lectured and provided advice on best practices for running an efficient business. Why thank you Mr. Expert. Personally, I love it when non-experts tell me what I how I should be doing things.

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The washroom provides customers with lemongrass liquid soap from Rocky Mountain. A nice touch and much appreciated by customers who enjoy quality toiletries. We took home two growlettes ($8 each) and plan to return again soon.

The Dandy Brewing Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Restaurants · Vancouver/Richmond

Richmond – Fuggles and Warlock

L and I landed back in my hometown. Before we met up with my parents, I thought it would be a good idea to visit Fuggles and Warlock. I was first introduced to Fuggles and Warlock’s delicious strawberry Wit  at our friend’s craft beer store in Calgary –  Domestic Bottle Shop.

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For this post, let’s listen to what you would likely hear at Fuggles and Warlock – Rise Against by Satellite.

We ordered two flights so we could try every beer on tap. We should have ordered one flight at a time because by the time we made our way to the second flight, the bubbles had fizzed.

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My all time favourite beer of the bunch is the Strawberry Wit. The strawberry taste doesn’t taste fake. It’s a light, fresh beer.

Cassis Sour

The Cassis Sour is aptly named. This beer reminded me of a hard candy I would eat as a kid – like a Jolly Rancher.

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The Mango beer reminded me of bananas. If you were born before 1990, you might remember having or knowing someone with a sticker collection. Ah, those were the days. We were so simple. This beer tasted a bit like how a banana sticker smells.

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I liked the Pixel Pils. I found this beer floral, mellow and easy to drink.

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We took a little break to eat something. I heard Fuggles and Warlock sold bento boxes but apparently that was a long time ago. Instead, charcuterie, pepperoni sticks, sandwiches,  cheeses, hot pies and samosas are offered. I wasn’t expecting much, as most breweries in Alberta don’t give food a second thought.

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I pleasantly surprised to learn the food here is very tasty. Our Steak and Onion Pie ($7) with Espresso Milk Stout arrived hot out of the oven. The pie was filled with chunks of tender steak. The gravy was rich and heavy. The crust, bottom, top and sides were thin and crunchy. I would order this again.

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We also ordered three samosas. If we were to go by the menu’s description as fact, “From Golden Samosa Bakery in Surrey, the samosas everyone’s talking about”, these samosas are the talk of town. Both the chicken and the beef used ground meat and spices. The potato version was hearty and lightly spiced. My favourite samosas in Calgary are from Nooren – these pockets of heaven should be featured in Avenue Magazine. The vegetarian samosas in particular deserve a special shout out, packed with fresh spices, vegetables and vibrant flavours. Oh well – no one ever listens to me so it probably won’t be featured anytime soon.

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On to the next set of beers. The Personas was the most hoppy and bitter beers we tried.

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I found the Destiny IPA more gentle with a mild hoppy’ness.

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The Valis was very good, I liked the creamy texture.

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The last one – Bean Me Up- was rich and smooth. This coffee porter would be a great one to sip at the end of a meal on a cold winter’s night.

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Fuggles and Warlock was busy throughout our visit with regulars. I saw lots of locals come by to fill up their growler with the Bean Me Up stout. I thought this brewery was a fun spot to try something different.

Fuggles and Warlock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Patio · Pubs · Sandwiches

Wild Rose Brewery – Birthday Bash

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My brother-in-law Dave turned 40! To celebrate his birthday, we went to the Wild Rose Brewery. With all the on-going construction in the area, it was a little confusing to find the brewery. Drive on the gravel path slowly and just follow the signs.

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Dave’s brother ordered the Nachos ($17.95), which came in a heaping pile. The tortilla chips were covered with tomatoes, green onions, banana peppers, jalapenos, and olives. There was an ample sheet of  cheddar and mozzarella layered on top of all the chips. It took six hungry people to polish off the plate.

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I shared the Pulled Alberta Brisket Sandwich ($16.95) with a side of bacon mashed potatoes and gravy with my husband. The server was kind enough to split the burger and potatoes onto two plates. I was interested in trying the Wild Vietnamese Sub, but for $16 bucks, my inner Chinese came out and I couldn’t do it. I can eat a delicious sub for $5.50 at Thi Thi or Trung Nguyen anytime I want on the weekdays.

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Service was awesome. We were allowed to bring in a birthday cake and we weren’t charged for using their plates and utensils. Bills were split up without even asking and our beers were always refilled.

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Wild Rose Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer

Banded Peak Brewery

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I’m a believer of Banded Peak Brewery. I first sampled Banded Peak’s delicious beers at Full Circle Pizza. I dig the beer so much, I’d pass on a glass of vino for a pint of the Chinook Saison. I saw on Yelp that Banded Peak has a brewery. So on a rainy Saturday afternoon, my husband and I stopped by to check it out. For this post, let’s listen to a song I overheard during my visit – Bill Haley and his Comets – Shake, Rattle and Roll.

Located in an industrial area in the SE, the brewery looks kinda like a garage-style venue. There’s free popcorn at the front and a set of tables and chairs underneath a storage area. I love the music playing, a mix of the Monkees, Bill Hayley , Simon and Garfunkel, George Harrison, and the Beattles. I would return just to enjoy the playlist.

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We arrived around 3:00 pm and the place was packed. There was only one person working (one of the three owners). I felt bad for him as the stream of customers never ended. I felt the urge to ask him if I could help pour pints. To make matters worse, a customer knocked over a glass when the owner was trying to fill up a large order and a bunch of people were waiting to pay for their beers.

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We sampled three beers, the Chinook Saison, Summit Seeker and the Plainsbreaker. The Plainsbreaker was L’s favourite beer. I also really enjoyed it, it’s a pleasant, easy drinking ale with a touch of what I thought tasted like citrus.

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My favourite beer was the Chinook Saison, a Belgium-style ale that was crisp and fresh. I could drink the Saison all day long. The Plainsbreaker is a great beer for those who don’t normally like IPAs. There was touch of sweetness to it which mellowed out the hoppy notes.

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Banded Peak has only been opened for four months. However, the cat is out of the bag thanks to Shelley Boettcher, who wrote about this new local brewery in the Calgary Herald. If you are a beer drinker, you need to check this place out. How good is this place? Banded Peak makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite places in Calgary. Note that other than popcorn, no food is served.

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Banded Peak Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Happy Hour · Japanese

Date Night – Trolley 5 & Red Ember

On Saturday I coaxed L out to try Trolley 5 Restaurant and Brewery. All along 17th Ave, even the most popular restaurants sat empty. However, when we walked up to Trolley 5, the patio was jumpin’. Have you ever heard Destiny’s Child’s song Jumpin’, Jumpin? That’s what the energy was like, though with Alberta adjustments.

Ladies leave yo man at home
Trolley 5 is full of hipsters and
They pockets groan (it’s recession time in Alberta)
And all you fellas leave yo girl
With her friends
Cause its happy hour and the brewery is
Jumpin, jumpin

The restaurant was well-staffed. The employees were young and appeared happy to be there. Service from the hostess, bussers, bartenders and our server Georgia C were all friendly and customer-oriented. The uniforms were anti-Earls/Joey/Cactus Club. Staffers wore comfortable shoes, black jeans and tee-shirts.

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Overhead, we witnessed a “trolley” of beer bottles track through the restaurant’s ceiling. I noticed the bottles were empty, so I’m not sure if the bottles are just for show or serve a purpose in their beer-making process. In any case, the marketing for this place is appealing.

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Since it was happy hour, house beers, wines and highballs cost only $4.00. L ordered a 12 ounce glass of First Crush White IPA  (6.2%), which was described on the menu as a white IPA with citrus and hops. 

I ordered the Zephyr Hefeweizen (5%). Too bad it’s only a seasonal beer, because it’s one of my all time favourite beers. A light wheat beer, it wasn’t sweet and it had a pleasant non pedestrian tang.

Though the food at Red Trolley looked tasty (especially the Korean lettuce wraps), both L and I were craving Red Ember. When we arrived, we saw that both Christina and Calvin were working. Though early on a Saturday night, the majority of the tables were reserved. The place seemed popular with parents with kids and couples on a date.

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Calvin made us a special amuse-bouche of raw salmon, creamy avocado, tobiko, underneath a sweet and spicy mango sauce. The bright red flying fish roe gave it a nice salty crunch.

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We ordered an appetizer of tempura ($4.99). The batter was light and crisp. The shrimp was large and sweet. I liked how the dipping sauce was served warm. If you like tempura, do try Red Ember’s version.

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Our chirashi ($16.99) was personalized based on past visits. I received the deep-fried shrimp head and amaebi (sweet raw shrimp) while L received a huge scallop. He traded his scallop for my raw shrimp. The scallop was silky smooth and without a trace of fishiness. L said the amaebi was stellar in terms of taste and freshness.

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All the seafood was served at an ideal temperature, which was cool on the tongue. The salmon, tuna, snapper, clam and octopus were perfect in texture and flavour. The hamachi belly stood out, as each piece had beautiful cuts with a rich, smokey taste. The rice was well-seasoned with vinegar. L and I ate every single grain of rice. With Wa’s no longer in the picture, Red Ember makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of favourite restaurants in Calgary.

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For the month of July, Red Ember is having a Stampede special. If you pay in cash, you get 10% off your entire bill! Yahoo! Now that’s incentive to dine at Red Ember. I plan to take my office family here for lunch.

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Trolley Five Restaurant and Brewery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Japanese · Mexican · Pizza · Pubs · San Diego · Sandwiches

San Diego – Unfiltered

L’s best friend S and his wife E wanted to go on a couples’ trip, without their children. Okay with us, as we are childless. We picked San Diego because we heard there’s a lot to do and flights were affordable. Throughout the whole trip, L and E made references to Three’s Company, as the show was supposedly based in San Diego.

Come and knock on our door. We’ve been waiting for you.
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his, three’s company too.

Come and dance on our floor. Take a step that is new.
We’ve a lovable space that needs your face, three’s company too.

You’ll see that life is a ball again and laughter is calling for you.
Down at our rendezvous, three is company, too.

The Airbnb condo I picked was right under a plane route, located minutes away from the airport. Planes would roar by every five minutes. After a couple of days, we adjusted to the noise.

The local grocery stores around sold a six-pack of Leffe beer for only $10.00! Holy smokes. Back home, Highlander sells it for $20.00. I told L I couldn’t believe it was cheap. There must be something wrong with it, like maybe it was non alcoholic. I was wrong. It tasted just like the $20.00 beer I drink at home.

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Based on Yelp reviews, I checked out Artisian Bento for a late lunch. When I walked up to the counter, I asked for poke but I mispronounced it, as in “I will poke you” rather than “po-kay”. The youngish Asian American female stood there and looked at me like I just spoke to her in foreign language. I really wanted the po-kay and the silence was getting longer and more awkward, so I pointed to the dish on the menu and said slowly, “I want that one”.

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The complimentary miso soup was flavourful and packed with seaweed, soft bits of potato and other goodies. One of the best miso soups I’ve tried. The po-kay was cut up in small little pieces, silky in a light sesame sauce. The mixed grain rice was perfectly cooked, parts of the rice was covered with a delectable savoury sauce. The bowl was filled with greens, beyond the generic carrot and romaine genre, and garnished with ripe avocado slices. The chef behind the counter was nice (and a great cook) and said bye when we left. We thanked the disgruntled woman at the counter, but she didn’t look up from her iPhone. She’s really not helping stereotypes.

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We walked around Balboa Park and then headed to Little Italy. We stopped by Bolt Brewery as it was busy and seemed like a good spot with the breeze flowing through the open windows. L found the freshly brewed beer flat. I ordered white wine by the tap, which was only $7.00 for a large pour. The pizza we ordered ($15) was freshly made, but bland. The chicken was dry and tasted like it was the pre-packaged sandwich meat. Still hungry, I ordered the baked wings. Some of the wings were meaty, some small, but all soggy. I heard you can’t find a bad restaurant in Little Italy. I wonder if they have tried the food at Bolt.

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When L’s friends finally arrived, I picked ALTITUDE Sky Lounge for the view of the city. I didn’t mind the crowd but S and L didn’t like it. There were people dressed like they were going to prom and pretty much everything in between. The age group varied from junior prom to middle-aged.

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I ordered a Redbull with Titos vodka and our bartender free poured. Truly a wondrous thing. M ordered a a Moscow Mule, which was off-the-wall good. M couldn’t finish her drink so I gulped it down. I would have stayed longer but L and S did not care for the scene.

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E were hungry at this point and want something to eat. We wandered over to Underbelly in Little Italy, based on our Uber driver’s recommendation. We all ordered bowls of ramen and bao sliders. I found the sliders bland. The meat in the baos weren’t particularly tasty either.

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The noodles in the ramen was a little soggy, but I found the pork tender and the broth flavourful. The ramen did it’s trick, our bellies were full and soaked up all that alcohol.

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The next morning we Ubered over to Pacific Beach and walked along the long stretch of beach. We checked out Mission Beach Coffee Break. I noticed all the customers were ordering acai bowls. I think acai is an “it” food in San Diego. We waited 15 minutes for our bacon, cheese and egg bagel. I found the egg omelette overcooked, but a couple of packets of hot sauce livened up the sandwich.

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We stopped by a local bar for beer and then headed back to Little Italy to another brewery, Ballast Point. At this point, I had a raging headache and I was so hungry I walked over to a 7/11 and bought Advil and a $2.00 chicken burger. I should have known better, the chicken burger was vile. The chicken and bun was mushy and tasted like soft foamy plastic. I took two bites, threw it away and headed back to the pub.

I really liked this Ballast Point. You walk up to the front and order from their large selection of beers. The place was packed the entire time.

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We ordered duck nachos, fries and pretzel bites. The food is delicious and incredibly fattening. The fries were triple cooked, the exterior battered and crunchy. The duck nachos were drenched in a cream sauce and blue cheese. I would have returned again, but S said he didn’t want to go to the same place twice.

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That night we went to Cornado Island. Our Uber driver was more like a tour guide, giving us the history of San Diego. The Americans really value their military. All along the streets, houses were decorated with their national flag. E told us in Dallas, people will get up and give their table away if a solider is waiting for a table. At functions, the MC will often announce the arrival of soldiers.

We waited over an hour to get into a Mexican restaurant our Uber driver recommended, Miguel’s Cocina. You would think that a long line-up would indicate the food at the restaurant is good. The food was what you expect from a buffet at a four star resort in Mexico. Our server was pretty bad. You could tell he did not want to be there. When S started alpha dogging our server, we knew it was time to go.

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The next day was the best. We Ubered over to the Hillcrest Farmers Market. It’s an open air market filled with craft stalls, produce, baked good and ready to eat food. I opted for uni ($10) from Poppas Fresh Fish Company. The uni was cracked open and washed right in front of me. The sea urchin was quite delicate, foam-like and tasted a bit like oysters. Other people kept coming up to ask me if I liked it. This also happens when I’m at a Chinese banquet with other non-Asians. Everyone asks me questions like I’m an expert, as the food is exotic to them. I like the attention and even if I don’t know, I’ll make up an answer. The one time people listen to me. I’ll take it, I’m not proud.

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One of the best things I ate on this trip was spicy tuna pokay from the San Diego Poke Company. The tuna tasted super fresh and the spicy creamy sauce made my hair tingle. It wasn’t a large portion, but it was filling. The seaweed, the seasoning and the rice was perfect.

We walked around the city, checking out Balboa Park and museums. We dropped into a cafe to drink a pitcher of $10 mimosa. I couldn’t believe it was so cheap, I figured it had to be non-alcoholic prosecco. I’m wrong again, it was real! I could feel my face turning pink.

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S picked the restaurant for our last night, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens-Liberty Station. We sat at our table for hours, drinking and eating the night away. Highlights include the duck tacos and that delicious, sweet corn salad.

The next day, we took Uber one last time to the airport. Surprisingly, I enjoyed my last meal at the airport. Hello Calgary, are you paying attention? Get your act together so I can stop bringing my own meals when I fly out of YYC.

I drank champagne from Bubbles Seafood and Wine Bar. The gentleman serving us was old-school cool. He paused dramatically and told us to “wait for it” as the cork popped high above our heads. Then we headed over to Phil’s BBQ. The BBQ Broham sandwich was delicious. The pulled pork was tender and had the most deletable sauce. Next time, I want to try the onion rings, which everyone else was ordering.

I like San Diego. The city is clean, safe and walkable. The only thing I’ll complain about is the exchange rate, but that’s not the city’s fault. I’m planning a trip to Seattle with my best friend Beep Beep this summer. Hopefully by then, the Canadian dollar will pick up. I don’t want to eat at McDonald’s the entire time.

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Burgers · Pubs

Craft Beer Market

L and I met our friends N and R for drinks. R picked Big Rock, which didn’t impress us much with its lackluster flatbread and mediocre wine. For the next venue, I chose Craft Beer Market, as the trainer at my gym raved about the food at the Calgary location.

We sat outside on the patio, overlooking the park which overlooked the water. N ordered the Harvest Graden Sandwich ($15) L ordered the Baja Fish Tacos ($16.00), and I ordered the Craft T.L.T. ($17).

I tried a bite of N’s vegetarian sandwich. The distinctive taste and texture of sprouts was evident. The sandwich was too large for N to finish and according to her, not good enough for her to take home.

I loved my tuna sandwich. The cool slices tuna was a generous size, which was proportional to the thick, still warm slices of toasted focaccia. I really appreciated the layers of fresh, chilled vegetables: pea shoots, avocado, tomato and cucumber. The spinach salad was nice as well, lightly dressed and speckled with walnuts, strawberries, and feta.

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L and R polished off their dishes and said it was tasty. I enjoyed Craft T.L.T. so much, I’m going to venture to the Calgary location when I return home. Hitting the Sauce doesn’t normally like chain restaurants, but Craft is the exception.

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