Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

Local Wally's Guide to San Diego

san diego

THINGS TO DO VALENTINES DAY IN SAN DIEGO 2016: The Headquarters in Seaport Village

Local WallyComment

San Diego Valentines Day Ideas

Are you that guy who wakes up in a panic on Valentines Day with the sudden realization that he has nothing planned?  Do you like sleeping on the couch?  Do you want to keep your wife or girlfriend?  Then listen to me and make plans now for an evening at The Headquarters in Seaport Village.  Check out some of their specials.

  • $2.14 off cakes at Gelato Paradiso – Gelato Paradiso is offering $2.14 off any cake or 12 pack of gelato pops until Valentine’s Day. Cakes are made fresh in-house daily featuring ingredients imported directly from Italy. From heart shaped creations with fresh raspberry sorbetto to double chocolate gelato on a moist chocolate sponge, one bite and you’ll be in love. Images (courtesy of Gelato Paradiso) can be downloaded here.
  • Free Roses at Puesto – Known for its refined flavors of Mexican street food and lively atmosphere, each couple who dines at Puesto on Valentine’s Day will receive a free rose to celebrate the holiday.
  • Chocolate and Bubbles class at Venissimo Cheese – Enjoy a pairing of the most romantic fromage, cocoas and champagne during an intimate and delicious evening with San Diego cheese experts! The class is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and costs $50 per person.

Additional date night dining options at the Headquarters include Eddie V’s, featuring fresh seafood and steak, and Season’s 52 featuring seasonal dishes and festive cocktails like Grapefruit Negroni with Ruby Red Grapefruit.

So no excuses, make those plans now and you will be thanking me later!

Wally

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEKEND IN SAN DIEGO: Del Mar Beer and Cider Fest Nov. 28, 2015

Local WallyComment

THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO:  DEL MAR BEER AND CIDER FEST

Get hoppy at Del Mar’s Fall Beer and Cider Fest that will be held at The Racetrack Saturday, November 28 starting at noon in the Seaside Concert area. This month, cheers to Bing Crosby Season by sampling a variety of 100 local and international craft brews including seasonal ales and ciders.

GET TICKETS NOW!  $22 GETS YOU ADMISSION AND 5 DELICIOUS 7 OZ TASTINGS!
 
San Diego brewers will set up camp and serve tastes of their signature craft brews – five seven-ounce frosty samples for $20. Come out, grab a beer or cider and catch some world-class Thoroughbred racing. The races begin at 12:30 p.m., gates open at 11:00 a.m. Entrance to Beer and Cider Fest area is free with admission.
 
Confirmed seasonal brews include:
 
-       Anderson Valley Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout
-       Tieton Cider Cherry Cider
-       Mission Brewing Hard Root Beer
-       Uinta Brewing Company Oak Jacked Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale
-       Delirium Noel
-       St. Bernardus Christmas Ale
-       101 Cider House So Cal Scrumpy
-       County Cider Company- Waupoos Cider
-       Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin
-       Ballast Point Pumpkin Down
-       Dogfish Head Punkin
-       Port Brewing Santas Little Helper
-       Alpine Duet IPA  
-       Nickel Beer Co. Pearfect Apple Pie Ale
-       Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
-       Magners Pear Cider
-       Washington Gold Hard Cider
 
Pair your beer or cider with gourmet food truck offerings. The event is free with racetrack admission of $6. Stay after the festival and races to catch a free concert by Sublime with Rome.


Good Eats San Diego: El Agave Mexican Restaurant & Tequileria in Old Town

restaurantsLocal WallyComment

El Agave in San Diego Old Town is possibly unlike any Mexican restaurant you have ever been to.

This is baffling to me.  I thought I knew Mexican food.  After all, I've lived in San Diego nearly my entire life and have eaten so many tacos and burritos that there should be a sign over my house  ("One Billion Eaten So Far").  I also know that San Diego's Old Town borders on tourist trap territory and have been known to cringe when out of town guests insist we dine there the way a San Franciscan must cringe when you force them to eat at Red Lobster or Joe's Crab Shack.  I mean, come on, San Diego Old Town is to Mexican food what Donny Osmond is to rock and roll.  

And then I went to El Agave Restaurant and Tequileria and got my mind blown.  

EL AGAVE RESTAURANT & TEQUILERIA (SAN DIEGO OLD TOWN)
2304 San Diego Ave, San Diego, 92110
(619) 220-0692
MAP

Inside El Agave in San Diego.  This is Old Town?

This is Old Town?

So let me put this out there for anyone, whether you are a local or tourist, looking for tacos and burritos and mariachi bands.  This is not the place.  In fact, though it is officially "in" Old Town it has nothing to do with the the festivities down the street.  It could be - and probably should be - in a different part of town, maybe even a different country, so that you could avoid comparisons to places like Fred's Mexican Cafe or Casa de Reyes, two of the most popular tourist spots known more for their atmosphere than their food.

But here at El Agave, food matters.  In fact, food is all that matters here.  So let's dive into the chips and salsa.  Yes, they still have chips and salsa.  This IS a Mexican restaurant, right?  

Super delicious chips and salsa (El Agave Old Town San Diego).

Chips and salsa tell you a lot about the food to come and these chips were light, crispy, without any hint of the heaviness that happens when their cooked in old, used oil.  The trio of salsas, which included a nice bean dip, were deep in flavors, rich and complex.  So they passed the first test.  Excellent chips and salsa.  But how about a margarita?  Down the street the margaritas are the size of a bird bath and filled with brightly colored frozen ice slushy concoctions.  

The El Agave house margarita - on the rocks with salt, of course.

I always like to try the house margarita.  A lot of restaurants in town use a margarita mix, a corn syrupy artificially flavored formula, but El Agave uses fresh ingredients.  Tourists beware, it can be a bit more sour than what you might be expecting but to me this margarita was perfect.  But wait, how does it compare to a perfect Cadillac margarita?  

For a few bucks more, upgrade the margarita to a perfect one!

Adding a bit of orange and Grand Marnier made the El Agave margarita even better!  Without crossing the line to sweetness, the Cadillac margarita might get my vote for best margarita in town, certainly the best in Old Town.  I mean, really the BEST in Old Town.  If you like margaritas, if you can taste the difference between a fresh margarita and one made with artificially enhanced green goo, then you need to try one of these.

So I never do this!  But after one of their margaritas this seemed reasonable, even logical and somewhat mandatory.

El Agave has a couple billion tequila bottles decorating the walls, a real tequila museum, and plenty of the good stuff to sample.  I admittedly know virtually nothing about tequila that Costco doesn't carry so I put my trust into their sampler of their own house tequila and it sure beats out the stuff I've been drinking.  Tequila is the type of drink that can lead to serious trouble so in a way I was glad when the food started to arrive because I was nearly ready do something really stupid and ask for another round.  Oh Waiter.....

Bring on the Food!

Is this the most beautiful Mexican food you have ever seen?  (El Agave, Old Town San Diego)

Is this the most beautiful Mexican food you have ever seen?  (El Agave, Old Town San Diego)

Some of you might not realize this but I am the first guy to take photos of his food starting way back in 1998 when I first launched Local Wally.  I tell you this because I have taken a lot of food pics in a lot of great restaurants but this calamari stuffed with shrimp and chorizo is possible one of the most beautiful dishes I have ever seen.  I just wanted to stare at it, marvel at the artistry of it, but then I could not resist and I - yes - I ate it! 

And wow, what a great starter, the calamari cooked perfectly tender, the filling so very flavorful, I felt a little guilty eating something so beautiful but like they say in the Doritos ad, don't worry, they'll make more.  And I will come back, just for this along.

El Agave's specialty, mole. 

I have a buddy from North Carolina who went to a Mexican restaurant and wanted to know what a mole tasted like.  A mole.  Like a blind rodent Mole.  Well El Agave specializes in mole (as in "mol-lay")  but it's not a creature but a sauce, and a very complex sauce at that.  I got mine with pork though you could also go with chicken. 

Look, don't trust me.  I don't know nothing about mole sauce.  But trust the people behind me, grown men making yummy sounds like Rachael Ray and saying things like how this is better than momma used to make and how they haven't had anything this authentic in years.  Of course they were also ordering shots of tequila so maybe trust me as the rookie who tells you that this trio of mole sauces was, well, yummo.  I'm going to hate myself later for saying that.

Another beautiful and flavorful dish, this time sea bass from El Agave.

Before I was asked one more time by my wife to put the camera away, here is a shot of her sea bass with a garlic chipotle chilli sauce.  Let me remind you that this is a Mexican restaurant, this is Old Town, so what the heck is this plate looking like it came from a high end foodie restaurant doing in front of me?  And once again, the flavors were spot on, fish deliciously cooked, just amazing.  

Dessert at El Agave in Old Town San Diego.

We ended with a bit of dessert, a creme brulee sort of thing with chocolate flavoring and it was decent, though not quite in the same caliber as the rest of the meal.  Next time I would skip the dessert and just walk down the street to get a churro.  Look, I like churros!  In fact, I'm going to get me one right now!

See, I wasn't kidding about the churro!

El Agave Mexican Restaurant and Tequileria surprised me.  It's not your typical Mexican restaurant, it really falls into the gourmet category, a foodie sort of experience that you don't expect to find in Old Town.  Tourists looking for carnitas tacos and carne asada burritos should probably dine elsewhere but if you're looking for a different take on Mexican food, or heck, if you just love food in general, then El Agave doesn't disappoint.  

Local Wally

What to Do in San Diego this Weekend: FOOD TRUCKS AT DEL MAR RACETRACK!

Local WallyComment

I have to be honest.  I love going to the Del Mar Racetrack but the only time I have ever won big was when I was looking at the wrong racing form and bet on the wrong horse!  But this weekend everyone wins because on AUG 15th the racetrack will host 50 food trucks in the 5th Annual Gourmet Food Truck Festival

WHAT IS IT:  50 food trucks at the Del Mar Racetrack, Seaside Concert Area

WHEN IS IT:  Aug 15th, Saturday, noon to 6 PM

WHAT IS THE COST:  FREE with admission to the racetrack

From Korean to burgers, lobster to sausages, just about every type of food truck will be there with most items in the $4 to $8 range.  This is a winner of an event, if you haven't been to the races this year then this is your weekend!  50 trucks!  It's another Best Thing to Do this Weekend in San Diego!  

Click for more info on Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

TOP 10 REASONS WHY I LOVE PARADISE POINT RESORT AND SPA

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PARADISE POINT RESORT

1404 Vacation Rd, San Diego, CA 92109

(858) 274-4630

San Diego is blessed with a lot of things, including a plethora of great hotels and resorts.  But for my vacation (or stay-cation) dollar, Paradise Point Report on Mission Bay stands out as my top pick.  Here are the Top 10 reasons why your next getaway should be the Paradise Point Resort.  It's my favorite as you will soon see.

10.  LOOKS MORE LIKE HAWAII THAN HAWAII

Paradise Point Resort and Spa has beautiful grounds.

No one can blame you if you start hollering "AAA-LO-HAAAA!" at the top of your lungs when you arrive.  If you didn't know better you might think you were in Maui with the mature tropical plantings and meandering walkways.  Palm trees swaying in the breeze, the serenity of the ponds, the sound of birds in the background, you instantly forget that this is on Mission Bay.  Lush and beautiful, it's  simply is one of San Diego's most beautiful resort settings.

9.  MORE ROMANTIC THAN A HONEYMOON NIGHT

Romantic walks on the beach around Paradise Point Resort.

Hey you - did you really buy your wife a new set of tires for your last anniversary?  I know, they were steel belted radials - but really??  A weekend at Paradise Point Resort is guaranteed to get you out of the doghouse though what happens after that is up to you.  Perfect for honeymooners, anniversaries, special occasions, or anyone just needing to get away, Paradise Point rates higher than a Barry White album on the romantic scale. Bring champagne!

8.  MAI-TAI'S AND TROPICAL DRINKS WILL MAKE YOU SING KOKOMO

Seriously, this place feels just like Hawaii, all the way down to the Mai Tai's! (Paradise Point Resort)

Nothing says vacation more than a tropical drink and you'll find them all over Paradise Point, from the popular Barefoot Bar to poolside.  The Mai Tai's pack the punch but if punch is what you are after then there's nothing better than an ice cold, rum filled frosty glass of Paradise Punch, a drink that so easy to sip that you might never leave.  Tasty, tasty, tasty!

7.  THE BAREFOOT BAR, A SAN DIEGO INSTITUTION

Vintage Barefoot Bar logo from Paradise Point Resort.

The story is that The Barefoot Bar was built on top of a bomb shelter back when the original Vacation Village opened in 1963 and the joke was that you could get bombed at the bar but not bombed from the sky.  Ahhh, humor back in the Cold War times, nothing better!  The original Barefoot Bar had sand on the floor but no longer, which is probably OK when you think about it.  Great food, live music, a view of the bay, this place screams VACATION!  Locals, stop in for lunch and take a "play-cation" this weekend and be a tourist in our hometown.  It's super fun and the food is great.  Speaking of which....

6.  LOCAL FOOD THAT LOCALS LOVE TO EAT

Super fresh seafood at the Barefoot Bar at Paradise Point Resort.

Just look at that bite - fresh ahi poke with some mango salsa and avocado on top of a crispy won ton wrapper.  CRUNCH!  Ahhhh!  If you could taste what I tasted you would know why I rave about The Barefoot Bar.  Open for both lunch and dinner the menu features plenty of fresh seafood options as well as steaks, chicken and burgers.  It's a creative menu and one that was so good the last time I went that I can't wait to go back and try more dishes.  Next time you're looking for a place to eat and you want something different from the usual suspects in San Diego set your sights on The Barefoot Bar.  It's good, really good!

5.  FIVE POOLS TO KEEP YOU VERY HAPPY

Great people watching at the pool - just don't get caught! (Paradise Point Resort and Spa)

A great resort needs a great pool and Paradise Point's main pool fits the bill.  Kids splashing in the pool and a cocktail waitress to help you ignore the kids splashing, it's the perfect set up for a perfect day.  But if the idea of pumped up music and Summer-sized energy isn't your idea of relaxation then head over to any of the other smaller, more private pools, some with age restrictions that keep the munchkins on the other side of the gate.  Nice!  I mean, nice that there are options.

4.  A ROOM WITH A VIEW

Watch the boats sail by from your private patio.

Watch the boats sail by from your private patio.

This is the view from my room.  I sat in that chair and watched the sailboats go by in the afternoon.  I watched the sun go down.  I watched the bonfires at night.  And in the morning I watched the day slowly unfold, the kayakers taking advantage of the calm, and the beginning of another day in Paradise.  Now imagine you sitting in that chair with your glass of wine and imagine that this is your vacation, not mine.  This is the Paradise Point lifestyle and it doesn't get much better than this.

3.  A ROOM TO MATCH THE VIEW

Beautiful and recently updated rooms at the Paradise Point Resort

I'm not sure which is prettier, the view from the room or the room itself.  Pick a room on the bayside and you'll be stepping outside to a patio that drops right into the sand and the rooms on the interior aren't slouches either, especially if you get one that lines one of the pools or tropical gardens.  What's cool about Paradise Point is that the rooms are bungalows.  No high rise hotel.  No boring corporate compound.  It feels like you are on vacation - hey, you are!  I've stayed at enough boring Marriott's throughout the year on dismal business trips.  When I go on vacation I want something that makes me forget about work and a bungalow on the beach sound just about right.  

2.  PLENTY OF FUN STUFF TO DO

Rent a sailboat for an afternoon of gentle sailing on the calm waters at Paradise Point.

Located right on the bay, Paradise Point offers plenty of opportunities to get out on the water.  If you've never been to San Diego then here's a quick lesson.  There are two bays in San Diego.  The big one near the airport, Seaport Village and the Convention Center, is called, well, San Diego Bay.  It's the one with the Coronado Bridge going over it and an aircraft carrier docked on it.  It's big, it's windy, and it's great for experienced sailors wanting to push their skills.  Mission Bay, on the other hand, is nice and calm.  That's where Paradise Point Marina is and this is where you can rent a little sailboat and try to remember what you learned back at Summer camp in Junior High.  You can also rent a kayak or jet ski or whatever you want.  Or forgetaboutit and just hop on the water taxi to take a short trip to SeaWorld where you can skip the long lines in front if you purchase your tickets at the resort. 

And if water isn't your thing then rent a bike and cruise around the bay.  I might suggest a little ride over to the Catamaran Hotel on the other side of the bay as a destination (tip:  cocktail bar) and a leisurely ride back then a jump in the pool.  There are so many options that there is no way you'll run out of things to do.

1.  BEST FAMILY OR ROMANTIC VACATION, EVER!

Create lasting memories doing nothing more than laying on the beach at Paradise Point.

Remember that favorite family vacation you took as a kid?  This is the place to create those happy memories with your family and friends.  A bungalow on the beach, the sand between your toes, the kids laughing while floating on a raft, you've done a good job picking Paradise Point as your vacation spot.  And locals, when the kids are getting restless forget about the long lines at Disneyland or the scorching hot temps of Palm Springs and just stay here. The kids get an adventure, you get a drink and some sunshine, everyone wins!

Get that balance back into your life with a stay at Paradise Point.

Whether this is your big family vacation, a honeymoon destination or just a weekend getaway the end result is the same - a Zen-like happiness that makes you feel great about your experience.  Paradise Point Resort is a hidden gem, a piece of Hawaii that somehow ended up on Mission Bay. There are a lot of places to say in San Diego but only one that is truly paradise!

Get More Info on Paradise Point including rates on their official site!

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