Angelo’s Burgers

Angelos sign

Review #28

“You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.”
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

I would like to dedicate this quote, to my hubby.  Actually, I would like to shove this quote down his throat with the chicken burger he ordered at Angelo’s last night.  He only saw what he expected to see.  But there was more.  Not a lot more, but a little more.

Angelo’s Burgers has been a part of the 101 in Encinitas since I was a wee lass.  Now that’s not to say we have ever actually set foot in this run-down drive-thru.  In fact, we have avoided it all cost.  Hubby tried to get out of going and our oldest said he refused to get what he called, guaranteed food poisoning.  What a bunch of whiners!  I tried to tell them not to judge a book by its cover.  Maybe this place is really great and we have been missing out!  Regardless, we needed to go with an open mind and a good attitude.  Hubby went, minus said good attitude, and Oldest stayed home.

Angelo's sign 2

The only way to describe the Angelo’s Burger’s building is…bizarre!  The restaurant is sort of sectioned off into four quadrants with the drive thru running through both the middle of it, and along the back side.  Not sure why they need two drive-thru lanes, does it really get that crowded?  You can eat in the area where you order food, or across the drive-thru in a separate building where the bathroom is.  Very strange set-up.

Angelo's drivein 1

It’s handy to have an indoor umbrella for back-up shade in case the ceiling stops working.  That’s just smart thinking.

Angelos inside

The menu is large.  They serve everything from breakfast food to burgers to Mexican to Greek.  Plus milkshakes and acai bowls.  They pretty much have everything covered.

Angelos menu

A woman eating dinner with her kids heard me mention my blog and came right over insisting I take pictures of her Greek salad with extra eggs.  She brings her kids here 2-3 nights a week and just loves this place.  She went on and on about how clean everything is.

Angelos saladGreek Salad with extra eggs

Then another woman, kind of assaulted me, telling me she has been coming here since 1978 and that I better write a good review.  I felt the “or else…”.  She proceeded to tell me how this is a family owned establishment and that the owners came to this country with just the shirts on their back and put every ounce of grit and sweat into this place to make it what it is.  It’s the American Dream, and don’t I like the American Dream?  She asked, not nicely.  Don’t I want to support the American Dream with a good review that can help not the owners, but now their kids who work here?  I politely thanked her and turned to the counter so we could order.  “WAIT!” she barked, not ready for me to turn away.  “They send out coupons!  All these coupons so everyone of all economic status can come to eat!  And if you don’t have enough money, they will still feed you!”  I was starting to get nervous.  There are some serious die-hard Angelo’s Burgers people here.  I felt very pressured to like this food.  Please let me like this food! And please let me order already!

Angelos coups

She wasn’t done.  “And you won’t find a cleaner kitchen or restaurant anywhere!” Now that’s two out of two strangers selling me on how clean this place is.  Did someone write a bad review on their cleanliness?  I guess I just expect food establishments to be clean, and wouldn’t really use that as a hard sell to someone coming for the first time.  I would say, ” you HAVE to try these burgers!”.  But now that “clean” has been brought up so much.  I looked deeper.  You can probably guess what’s coming next.  Not so clean!  I saw tons of dirty napkins on the floor in 3 out of the 4 quadrants we visited.  No, I didn’t get a tour of the kitchen (had they?) but I did see the girl wear a sanitation glove while handling our food which you might think is a good thing. Handling our food with two hands.  Wearing a sanitation glove.  One.  So close!

Our group ordered a variety of menu items and got back a variety of reviews.

Two boys ordered burgers.  Neither liked them much.  Christine ordered a double burger, Debbie a regular and both said they were good.  Tracy ordered a Monster Bacon Cheeseburger and liked it a lot.

Angelo burgerMonster Bacon Cheeseburger

Hubby, my lovable curmudgeon, was going to hate what he ordered no matter what, so in that sense, his chicken burger did not disappoint.

Angelos chickenChicken Burger on a wheat bun

Joyce liked her gyro with her only complaint being it had too much meat.  That’s a good problem to have!

Angelos gyroGyros

Upon recommendation, I ordered a club sandwich on wheat with a side salad instead of fries.

Angelos clubClub Sandwich on wheat

Angelos salad (2)Side Salad

The sandwich was huge, and pretty good.  The salad had a variety of vegetables, so above standard.  I did try the fries and found them to be bad.  Not hot or crunchy.

Bottom Line:

There’s a show on Food Network called Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.  Guy Fieri goes into local dumps and finds the most amazing food.  The front will look totally run down, but the woman cooking chili Rellenos in the back will be a freaking magician, using a 100 year old smoker on rare poblano chilies imported from the depths of her Mexico village.  Yah, not so much at Angelo’s.  What you see on the menu, is really what you are getting.  It’s not special, but it’s not bad either.  We came to Angelo’s Burgers with very low expectations.  Most of us left feeling that the food was better than expected.  One of us was going to hate his chicken burger no matter what, and he did.  The food is inexpensive and the staff is friendly. Don’t piss-off the regulars.  They have found something very special in this place that we must have missed.  We sure do love supporting a local mom-n-popper though.

We will be skipping a week of the blog.  We have holiday parties and will be shnockered most of the weekend!

Our next blog stop will be on Sunday, December 10th at 5:30 pm at

East Village Asian Diner
(760) 753-8700



Better Buzz Coffee Roasters

Better Buzz sign

Review #27

Marketing meeting in the summer of 2002….

Manager:  Team, we are ready to leave the coffee carts behind and open up our first store!  But we need a catchy name.  Something people will remember.

Subordinate 1: Got coffee?

Manager: No, too tired

Subordinate 2: Perky Perculators!

Manager: You’re fired

Subordinate 3: How about, Get Buzzed or Better Buzz?

Manager: Buzz. Buzzed.  Great words.  Hey, I like that!  It’s catchy, it’s clever.  But where will we use that?

Subordinate 3: We will use it everywhere!

Manager: Will we use it as decor inside our stores?

Subordinate 3: Yes we will!

Better Buzz decor

Manager.  Where else can we use this logo?  Just in the decor?

Subordinate 3: Well, I’ve seen other places use their name on shirts, we could totally do that!

Manager: Just shirts, or tank tops too?

Subordinate 3: We are in San Diego, so tank tops too!

Better buzz shirts

Manager: Since we roast our own organic coffee, we should sell it and put this logo on our coffee bags!

Subordinate 3: In really big letters!

Better Buzz coffee


Manager:  Hey maybe we can put it on some mugs and people can drink our coffee from home with this slogan.

Subordinate 3:  Yes, definitely on mugs!

Better Buzz mugs

Manager: What if someone wants a bigger mug…and OH!  What if someone is wearing SHOES while drinking our coffee?

Subordinate 3: Well then we shall have it on even bigger mugs and on socks! Yes, we need it on socks!

Better buzz cups and socks

Manager: But if they have socks on, they must be leaving the house.  They can’t take their coffee to go in these large mugs.

Subordinate 3: But they can take it go in our insulated mugs with our logo!

Better Buzz insulated

Manager: Here’s a tough one.  If someone wants iced coffee….what can they drink it out of?

Subordinate 3: We will put the logo all over reusable cups with a straw!

Better Buzz cups

Manager: If they are drinking iced coffee, it’s probably quite warm out.  I wouldn’t want any of our customers to get sunburned.  And how will they keep their drinks cold?

Subordinate 3:  Hats!  They will have hats! And insulators!

Better Buzz hats


Manager: Now where does one store our coffee if they don’t want it in the resealable bag it comes in?  I’m stumped.

Subdominant 3:  I know!  Let’s also put the slogan on some jars!

Better buzz jars

Better Buzzed has multiple locations throughout San Diego, and the location on the 101 is delightful.  The large bar facing the sidewalk is usually packed with millennials staring at their laptops, coffee drink placed next to their smart phones.  But on this early morning, they were still in bed.

The decor is filled with Better Buzz paraphernalia.  The space has a large open concept with communal seating, that makes for a very sociable and friendly environment, unless you are sitting at the bar facing out.

Better Buzz plantIntentional crack in the wall or making lemonade out of lemons?

The large open window at the bar gives the place an indoor-outdoor feel.  It also means that a few pigeons like to hang out inside. And not just regular pigeons. These are very buzzed pigeons.  Pigeons who walk around at a speed of mach 5. One second they are at one end of the place, and then wham, they have just River-danced their way to the other side, feet moving like crazy, upper body barely moving at all.  It’s freaky. But the manager is quick on her feet to escort them right back outside.  This happens many times a day.  She said she was the manager, but I think she meant she was the pigeon manager, it’s a dedicated position that pays surprisingly well.

The menu on the wall isn’t big, but it has really great things on it.  They just need to raise it up a few feet higher so the people sitting at the table where it hangs don’t have to keep moving and ducking out of the way. First I asked them to move so I could read it.  Then I asked them to move so Hubby could read it.  Then I asked them to move so I could take this photo.  Then they flipped me off.

Better Buzz food

The staff at Better Buzz were beyond happy and helpful, obviously severely buzzed. I was told by my girl Gabi on Facebook to order the Avocado Toast, so asked the server which one they recommend.  “Get the 3 Seed Avo, add bacon and poached eggs medium” she quickly told me in one breath.  Not asked.  Hubby ordered something similar.  The server also told me to get the  Best Drink Ever. I said ok, what is it?  She said, “The Best Drink Ever”.  After a few rounds of “Who’s on First” she just rolled her eyes and pointed at the wall.  “It’s called the Best Drink Ever because we make our own vanilla powder and it’s really really really good. You will love it, just get it.”  Slow it down sister, I am a mug or two behind you!

Better Buzz coffees

Our mouths watered at the display case but decided to skip trying the goodies today.

Better buzz pastries

Luckily, when we got to our seats, we found that Christine couldn’t say no!

Better buzzed pastries

The bear-claw and almond croissant were both very flaky and delicious.

My Best Drink Ever arrived, but after one sip, it was clearly not my best drink ever!  It was soooo super sweet!  Especially after nibbling on the treats.  Way too sweet for me!  I brought it back to the counter and they quickly produced another one for me with a fraction of the sickly sweet vanilla.  Man, these buzzed girls work fast!  This version was way better and quite delicious!

Debbie, acai bowl expert, said this bowl was excellent, though next time she will remember to add almond butter to it, which is an option.

Better Buzzed Acai bowl

My avocado toast arrived and was terrific!  I love the beautiful and healthy micro-greens on top.

Better Buzzed avo toast

Three of us ordered dishes with 2-poached eggs done medium.  Only half of us got perfectly cooked eggs, the others were over.  Here is Hubby’s perfect egg cooked to medium.

Better Buzzed perfect egg

We ordered our boys some Ham Brioche sandwiches to-go since they slept in.  Again.  They were stoked and I got like 5 Good Mom points which I needed because I was in the hole for an incident that recently happened at Swami’s.  Nuff said on that one.

Better Buzzed briocheHam Brioche sandwich, bacon added because pig on pig

The only thing to really complain about this place are the stools.  The large wooden tables are nice to eat at, but the metal bars across the stools are at a really awkward height. It’s not something one really notices unless it’s wrong.  The first bar is placed way too high up, so when you rest your heals on it, you are bending your knees at a sharp and uncomfortable angle. Luckily we were there early enough so Debbie could rest her feet on the stool next to her. I chose to stand during our meal.

Better Buzzed stools

Bottom Line:

Better Buzz Coffee Roasters is really great!  We loved the food, the drinks, the staff, and the ambiance.  Dogs and pigeons are comfortable here.  And kids?  Yah, they’ve got them covered too.

Better Buzz kids

Better Buzzed kid sweatshirt

Dining on the 101 won’t be here next week-end but invite you to attend Angelo’s Burgers with us on Sunday, November 26th at 6:00 pm.

Angelo’s Burgers





Q’ero Restaurant

Q'ero sign

Review #26

If you have ever taken one of Steve N.’s spin classes at the Encinitas YMCA, then you know how brutal his workouts are.  Today’s class was especially horrible. During the last 5 minutes this morning, I was dying.  I wanted to quit.  I spat death rays from my eyes in Steve’s direction, hating him every time he joyfully told us to add gear.   Only one thing kept me going…Tres Leches.  Only one thing made me get up and push with every molecule in my being to finish strong.  Tres Leches. With sweat flying off me in every direction, legs burning with a raging fire, I glanced over at Joyce after that last minute and whispered with the last ounce of breath left in me, “We did it”.  We did it, for Tres Leches!

That same evening…

Something happens the minute you walk into Q’ero.  I don’t know if it’s the small tables positioned cozily, but not crowded, together.  Maybe it’s the authentic bottles of Peruvian wine on the shelves surrounded by South American art on the walls.  It could be the colorful table coverings, or the exotic spices wafting from the kitchen.  I suppose it’s the combination of it all.  But when you walk in Q’ero, you are transported to a small, romantic village nestled within the mountains of Peru.  I felt like we have eaten our way through all of the CTS’s along the 101 to finally arrive at the golden gates of Q’ero (Insert bright light and choir singing “Ahhhh”)

Let’s be honest.  This ain’t my first rodeo people.  We have been coming to Q’ero for special occasions since before it was even called Q’ero.  It used to be called “Amici” and they only had this one location, not two.  From the first time we came, we were in love.  I enjoy cooking, and I cook a lot.  So when I go out to eat, I want something special.  I want to enjoy a meal where I can say at the end, “Now that is something I can not replicate myself.”  That is what I get when I come to Q’ero.

Although I know about their delicious wines intimately, tonight was a sangria night.  We ordered a pitcher.

Q'ero wine

Q'ero sangriaOne pitcher of sangria

The sangria was slightly sweet and refreshing.  The fruit pieces were cut very small and we were all fishing through drained wine glasses with our forks to get to them.  Some say tacky, I say resourceful.

The 5 of us decided to share everything family style.  We ordered some of our go-to appetizers to start.  The Calamari a la Diablada is our favorite thing on the menu.  I crave this dish.  I dream of this dish.  No other calamari comes close.  It’s a nice portion to share, though I wouldn’t have a problem with finishing my very own order.  It’s that good.

Q'ero calamariCalamari a la Diablada

We also had to order the empenadas, duh. I told you we have been here before.  Empenadas are a South American version of a Polish perogie or an Indian samosa.  It’s a pastry filled with yummy stuff.  We got one order filled with chicken.

Q'ero empenadasEmpenadas Saltena de Pollo

As delicious as these empenadas are, you have to eat them with their signature spicy Aji Panka sauce.  It has a citrus flavor and is very hot. This sauce exudes greatness.

Q'eroAji Panka sauce

We got another order of empenadas filled with lentils.  We also ordered one Pappa Relenna which is a mashed potato and ground beef filled pastry.  All of these pastries paired perfectly with the Aji sauce.

Q'ero empenada

The pastry on the vegetarian empenadas was a but crunchier and sweeter than the ones on the chicken version.  Almost like a cookie.  I preferred the chicken ones, but both were great.  The morsels of beef inside the Pappa Relenna were very flavorful, but those chicken empenadas still ruled.

We asked our handsome server to please recommend some more food for us to share.  He crouched down to our table and started speaking in what I can only call… music.  His thick, Latin accent (I later learned it is Italian, but I don’t appreciate ruining my fantasy with details of reality) melted all three of us women at our table. I don’t even know what he was recommending.  “Yes” I murmured.  “Oh yes.” “Yes, YES!!” I heard in unison from both Joyce and Debbie.  I had no clue what was coming next for dinner.  Who cares.

Q'ero Antonio and CarmenAntonio (please say it slow, using the accent while reading His name) and Mama Carmen

Waiting for our meal, after a bit of sangria,  I came to appreciate the art piece placed at our table.  Seems nice.

Q'ero picture

But at eye level is this:

Q'ero toe

Mama needs a pedi!

The first thing we apparently agreed to, arrived at our table.

Q'ero chickenAjí de Gallina

One of the things I love about Peruvian food is how flavorful but still healthy it is.  Many dishes are served with quinoa and dark leafy greens.

We also seemed to have agreed to the Sudado de Pescado.

Q'ero fishSudado de Pescado

I know there is fish and plantains in there, but no clue what other magic goes in.  I was about to pour the quinoa and greens into the broth (seemed like a logical way to thicken it up before trying to split 5 ways) when out of nowhere, a hand slapped my hand!  It was connected to Carmen, ruler of the kitchen.  “No, no, no!  You place a bit of quinoa on your plate first, and then gently invite the sauce to follow!”.  So my clumsy American-esque way of dumping and scooping wasn’t appreciated here. We did it her way, and it was great!

Although we were getting full, we also seemed to have agreed on a final entree to share.  Lomo Saltado, flank steak with tomatoes and onions.

Q'ero steakLomo Saltado

This was just as delicious as everything else we ordered.  We wanted another opportunity to use the Aji Panka sauce with the meal, but everything had so much flavor and spice, it didn’t need it.

There was only a piece of onion or two left on the plate when Carmen came back to collect it.  Hubby wanted every last morsel, and literally reached out and smacked her hand!  There was a lot of slapping going on at this meal.  So far we have my hand getting slapped by Carmen, then Carmen getting slapped by Steve.  It’s my turn to slap someone!

“Would you like to order some dessert?” massaged the words of Antonio into our ears.

Q'ero cake 1Tres Leches Cake

Hubby was the only one who didn’t partake in this amazing end to our meal.  He can’t get over the spongy, milky texture of Tres Leches to unleash the decadence of this dessert.  As you can see, one piece is plenty to share for the 4 of us.  And I would like to tell you that’s what we did.  But I would be lying.

Q'ero cake 2

Here is the second piece of Tres Leches cake we ordered.  It’s the most comforting, pure, milky vanilla dessert I have ever had.  Topped to perfection with whipped cream and berries.  Worth every calorie.  You saw all the greens in the quinoa we had with dinner…so all of the calories cancelled out anyway.

We women weren’t the only ones smitten with Antonio.  As we were leaving I noticed he and Hubby in a deep man-brace saying good-bye.

Bottom Line:

Do: Go to Q’ero for a special occasion.  Hire a sitter, and have that needed romantic dinner.

Don’t: Go with a large crowd.  This location is quite small and they don’t take reservations.

Do: Start with the Calamari a la Diablada and finish with the Tres Leches Cake.  Anything you order in between will be great.

Don’t: Expect to get away cheap.  You and I can’t make at home what they are offering, so if you want it, you gotta pay for it.

Do: Get two bottles of Aji Panka sauce to go.  One for you, and one for the sitter.  There is always a jar in my fridge for frittatas, baked potatoes and soups.

Do: Come here for the servers.  Hubba-hubba.


Tomorrow’s blog will be postponed until I’m not sick and can taste again.

Next week’s blog will be on Sunday, November 12th, at Better Buzz Coffee, 8:00 am.  Please join us for coffee, breakfast and friendship!

Better Buzz Coffee

The 101 Diner

Review #25101 diner sign

Hubby and I decided to walk the mile and a half for breakfast at the 101 Diner.  We wanted to get there early on Sunday since we knew it would get crowded.  Our boys both gave us the bird when we gently woke them up and asked if they wanted to join us. Very well, just the two of us then!  We were happily greeted there by four other early morning blog followers.

The 101 Diner is a place I have walked or driven past many times, but have never gone in.  There is always a line out the door for breakfast, so my expectations were high.  Even at 8:30 am we had to wait a bit, but our waitress was very nice and it wasn’t long.

The indoor motif was that of a typical 50’s diner.  Booth and bar stool seating are available, with a very small back patio and some tables out front as well.

101 diner motif

The specials on the board read, “blah, blah, blah , Cardiff Crack Eggs Benedict, blah, blah, blah”.  Let’s back up for a minute.  If you don’t know what Cardiff Crack is, then you are a capitol “L” LOSER!  Seriously, stop reading this right now.  Go to Seaside Market in Cardiff, and get yourself hooked up.   But don’t sound like a total crack virgin asking for the “burgundy Tri-Tip”.  Just walk up to the counter and say, “Dude, slap me a couple pounds of crack.” Now, back to breakfast.

The Cardiff Crack Eggs Benedict comes with your standard hollandaise sauce, always delicious, but you can switch that out for the cilantro- jalapeno hollandaise sauce which you must do!  Even Joyce who hates cilantro was completely surprised at how good this was.

Our group plan of attack was to order two savory dishes, and two sweet, and the six of us would share everything.  (Well, one of us actually ordered his own Cardiff Crack Eggs Benedict, hording the plate, sharp knife pointed aggressively outward, sharing with no one.) The portions worked out perfect for the five of us to share four meals.

101 diner bendictCardiff Crack Eggs Benedict with cilantro-jalapeno hollandaise sauce

These hash browns must not be glossed over.  I am glad they didn’t ask me which way I wanted my potatoes, because hash browns would have been my last choice, and that would have been tragic! I am sure these hash browns are made with equal parts potatoes and butter, yet they are somehow not greasy.  Finally a place that knows how to crisp us their hash browns properly!

Kelly asked our waitress if he could switch out the ham in the Denver omelet for crack.  Good call my man, good call!

101 diner omletDenver omelet with Cardiff Crack, hold the ham

The Tropical Fruit Crepes came recommended from a friend, so we ordered them.  It was a fruity work of art!

101 diner crepesTropical Fruit Crepes

Someone else told me we had to order an Apple Pancake.  When a menu item is etched in glass, you must order it!

101Diner pancake sign

101 Diner apple pancakeApple Pancake

It was delicious with caramelized apples on top, and an eggy-custardy-cakey center.  Although yummy, it is not the best apple pancake I have ever had.  I think the apple pancake at The Original Pancake house is world rocking.  It brings me back many (many) years ago when I was training for marathons.  My reward after a 21 mile run was an apple pancake.  Apparently now, it is my reward after a 1.5 mile walk.

Bottom Line:

Go to The 101 Diner!  Although everything tasted great, we agreed that the savory dishes were a bit better than the sweet ones.  The hash browns are the best I have ever had.  The prices are surprisingly reasonable.  Yes, Cap’n Keno’s may have been cheaper, but I think the 101 Diner wins best value for what you get.  I recommend swapping anything meat-related for the Cardiff Crack.  Actually, just swap out anything for the Cardiff Crack.  “Hold the whip on my milkshake, but add the Crack please”…maybe.

There won’t be a blog next week, but in two weeks we go to:

Q’ero Restaurant

(760) 753-9050
Check back for date and time!


Filiberto’s vs Raul’s Mexican Food and Moonlight Yogurt & Ice

Reviews #22, #23, #24


Raul's signFiliberto's sign

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Crap Taco Shops (CTS) are all alike.  Or are they? We have Roberto’s, Alberto’s, Alfonso’s, Aleberto’s, Robertito’s, Humberto’s, Rico’s, Nico’s, Filiberto’s and Raul’s, just to name a few San Diego classics.

I’ve always wondered why we have two CTS’s on the same corner here on the 101 in Encinitas, with Moonlight Yogurt & Ice sandwiched in the middle.  Why would one order a burrito from one place over the next?  We decided to do a taste test between the two to decide which one is better, or if I am right and they are exactly the same.

Upon first glance, both CTS’s have the same clientele- scantily clad teenagers coming from the beach either barefoot or on skateboards.  Filiberto’s has a much larger seating area inside, with no outside seating, while at Raul’s you order from the outside window.  Raul’s has a small inside area to choose from or two tables outside.

Filiberto’s offers a salsa bar that Raul’s lacks and is the only one with a drive-through option.

Filibertos salsa

The inside of Filiberto’s was hot and stinky.  The small, inside seating area at Raul’s was also hot and stinky but looked like a sad ending to a kid’s birthday party.

Rauls seating

We took our chance with one of the outdoor tables at Raul’s.  I say “took our chance” because you are literally sharing the parking lot with cars driving in and out right next to you.  “Look out!” I screamed while Tracy scooted in her chair just in time so a car could graze past her seat to park.  And remember, these are teenagers driving!  They are all teenagers!  These are texting, multitasking, self-absorbed things parking their vehicular-weapons right aside you and your burrito!  You are taking your chance here on a Saturday night, adding in the drinking factor.  But this was nothing if not a night of chances.

Payment at Raul’s can be confusing.

Raul's payment

To compare each place fairly, we decided to order the same menu items from both places:

  • California Burrito
  • Rolled Tacos
  • Breakfast Burrito
  • Bean and Cheese Burrito

The price came out the same for both, about $20 for all of this crap food.  At least CTS’s are cheap, that’s for sure!  Our smorgasbord looked like this:

taste test

Here are the results:

The California Burrito.  Why do Californian’s put french fries in their burritos?  That’s so gross!  California isn’t known for french fries.  We’re known for quinoa, beet greens, avocado ice cream…interesting stuff.  Not french fries.  Regardless of its stupidity, the unanimous winner was Filiberto’s on this one.  It had significantly more stuff inside and tasted a bit better.

The Rolled Tacos were presented slightly different.  Filiberto’s (shown on the right) with lots of cheese, and Raul’s (on the left) with more guacamole.  Both tasted like…rolled tacos.  OK, let’s split hairs.  Again, Filiberto’s came with more stuff on it, but because of this, Raul’s rolled tacos were crunchier.  But honestly, a rolled taco, is a rolled taco.  Great at 1:00 am when you are drunk.  Disappointing any other time of day, or sober.

The Breakfast Burrito.  Both use french fries for their potatoes.  Ewww!  So disappointing!  Neither burrito was good.  None of us liked them.  OK, ok, my youngest really liked his.  But no one over 12 years old liked them.  No one with a mature pallet such as moi!  Raul’s grills the outside of their burritos better, so if we had to pick, Raul’s wins for grill marks.

Bean and Cheese Burrito.  We put the bean and cheese burritos through our last test.  Neither came with a significant amount of cheese.  Actually, there was no cheese in my end pieces at all, but the middle pieces had some.  So equal low points for poor cheese distribution.  The beans in Filiberto’s tasted like canned mush.  But wait!  What was happening inside Raul’s burrito?  Could these be whole beans I see?  Not from a can?  I ran up to the window at Raul’s and ecstatically asked, “Tell me!  Is it true?  Are your beans made from scratch?” The lady at the window, not at all understanding my inappropriate amount of excitement, suspiciously answered, “Yes, my mom makes them fresh here everyday”.  Yippee!

Being a bit of a cynic, (not a snob, I didn’t say snob!), about CTS’s myself, I decided to take my questions to the street.  I needed to ask some real live locals their thoughts.

“Why did you choose Raul’s over Filiberto’s tonight?” I asked a couple of true burrito-eating-dudes in line.

Answer: “The quality is much better, and Raul’s is a local icon.” Fair enough.

I ran over to Filiberto’s and rudely interrupted a family’s dinner with the same question.

Answer: “It’s brighter in here.  And we like the hot chips” Well yes, considering the parking lot in front of Raul’s is in the dark, that was a good point.  Don’t know about the chips, but don’t you suppose that the chips are hot at both places if your timing is right? “And can you now leave us alone?”.  Um, yah, sure.

Bottom line:  I stand with my original opinion:  ALL CRAP TACO SHOPS ARE THE SAME.  But if I were alone in a dark alley with a heavily tattooed gang member high on crack, pressing a switch blade to my temple, the winner I would pick is… Raul’s.  All because of cute, little, bean-making, Mamá Emma. She’s the real deal.  I will now be partaking in another smorgasbord that includes Gas-X, Pepto Bismol and Tums, before hitting the hay.

Rauls Mama Emma

Moonlight Yogurt & IceMoonlight yogurt

Moonlight Yogurt & Ice…cream?  Iced drinks? Just ice?  I don’t get it.

Walking in, I was over the moon with the sign I saw:

Encinitas fro you org

FINALLY someone is selling organic frozen yogurt without all of the artificial stuff in it! I first tried the vanilla.  It was… meh.  Not great, not terrible.  The organic cocoa wasn’t good.  I’ve never seen Hubby turn down chocolate anything before, but he wouldn’t even finish his sample.  I did like the tart, but not enough to get any.  Darn it, I was hoping I would LOVE this yogurt!  Hubby said that every flavor he tried was the worst taste of that flavor he’s ever had, except the peanut butter.  He ordered a peanut butter.

Encinitas yo organic

The topping bar looked good, and you gotta love a great sign:

Encinitas yo nuts

Their juices, teas, coffees and acai bowls sounded great.  They use lots of health-trendy words like “gluten-free, vegan, organic and Oreo”.

Encinitas yo menu

Bottom Line: Although I didn’t love the yogurt, I am thrilled to take my non-discerning kids here for a healthier sweet, frozen treat.

Encinitas yo cups

Next week’s blog will be on Sunday, October 15th,  the 101 Diner at 552 S. Coast Hwy 101.  We will grab breakfast at 8:30 am, come and join us!

Ironsmith Coffee Roasters

Ironsmith sign

Review #21

I hate to say it but we have walked by Ironsmith Coffee Roasters a million times and never knew it was there.  In fact, we thought we were trying a brand new place and were excited to have the skinny on it.  They have been open for almost three years! Wait…what?!  When walking south on the 101, you could literally walk right by it without noticing it, so look for this mural, and you will know you found it.


Ironsmith generally carries Prager Brothers breads (local and organic), but on Sunday mornings, Wayfarer Bread sets up a pop-up bakery. Wayfarer Bread is just starting out, baking their product in a friend’s pizza kitchen in North Park, and bringing them here much to our delight.


If you get there early enough, here is what the display case will look like.


All I saw was “Sprouted Seeded Rye Loaf”.  Are you kidding me?  The hearty, seedy, healthiness of this bread was right up our alley and we wanted to order a loaf to go. “Half or whole loaf?” we were asked.  Come on, do we look like a half-loaf kind of couple? We will take the WHOLE loaf.


The Potato, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese tarts looked outstanding.


Although the Ethiopian and Colombian coffees sounded enticing, I was yearning for something different. I looked at their “Trademark” menu and found exactly what I wanted.  What I needed. What I craved for without even knowing it.  Turmeric Ginger Latte, hot please!  Trying to stay away from dairy, I asked for it made with coconut milk. I was told they don’t have that but can make it with either almond milk or oat milk.  (I’m sorry, what kind of coffee place here, in San Diego, doesn’t carry coconut milk?  Have you been hiding under a rock?  Coconut EVERYTHING is what we want!).  I was going with an adventurous drink already, so I decided to try something new and gave the oat milk a go.


We waited at our tiny outside table for the latte and slices of bread to be toasted.  When they arrived, it was perfection!


The Sprouted Seeded Rye Loaf was everything we had hoped for. It was dense, and earthy with a heavy rye flavor.  Hubby said it is the best bread he has ever had!  I’m sure he meant after my home made bread. The latte was unbelievable!  We all know how good turmeric is for us.  We all know we are supposed to be incorporating it into our daily diet, but frankly, it has a very strong flavor and doesn’t go with everything.  But it certainly goes into a warmed drink!  The fresh ginger and cracked pepper on top gives it a nice bite, but that oat milk makes it a creamy, dreamy cup of wonderfulness.  I only wish that there was a bit of coffee mixed in to get my morning buzz.  I’m sure I would have been a nicer companion to hang out with this early with a bit of caffeine.  But otherwise, this is my new favorite hot drink.  It is that good!  Oat milk, you just kicked coconut’s round, hairy arse!  If you are still on the fence, ask for a sample before you order, then you will be hooked!

We brought home a Ham & Cheese Croissant for our youngest who couldn’t be bothered to wake up and have a nice morning walk with us.


I forced him (yes, physically, you have a problem with that?) to share a bite with me.


Wow, was it good!  I especially love the Gruyere cheese choice, which gives a perfect creamy middle to the crunchy outside shell.  Forget that healthy seeded bread thingy I was talking about, I want more of this buttery, gluttonous croissant!  No chance.

Now we have a cute place on the 101 selling coffee and specialty drinks, with breads and pastries.  But there are soooo many of these types of places on the 101!  Why come here over Lofty, or Better Buzz, or any number of other coffee places like this? We met John and Bill, two coffee drinking locals, and asked them.  (Should I mention that these guys are hot?  Single ladies, you might want to start taking a morning trip to Ironsmith!)

“It’s the vibe here.  Sure, the location is great, but we don’t want the long line at Lofty (West) and really like the feel of this place”.  I took a deeper look around.  I noticed that most people coming in were greeted by first name by the baristas.  I appreciated the local artists’ work decorating the walls.  I noticed that many of the folks here already knew each other.  I was starting to get it.  Ironsmith has a very familiar, comfortable feel to it.


Bottom Line:

Ironsmith is a hidden gem.  They don’t really have a breakfast menu, but the pastries and breads they do have are delicious.  Although the Sprouted Seeded Rye Loaf was loved by us, it wasn’t exactly considered kid-friendly with our youngest. He preferred the Ham & Cheese Croissant, and with good reason- it rocked!  I heard all the coffee here is great, but if you need a healthy pick-me-up, or just want to try something new, order the Turmeric Ginger Latte with oat milk.  We were told the on-tap Kombucha are great, but we couldn’t do it all with one go.  We will just have to come back!

Next week’s blog is at Filiberto’s Mexican Food which happens to be next door to Raul’s Mexican Food.  We will be meeting there on Sunday, October 1st, at 6:00pm and will conduct a blind taste test between the two!  Meet us there, chip in $5 and join the fun!



The Sandwich Spot

Sandwhich Spot

Review #19

We tried going to the Sandwich Spot last weekend. The sign on the door as well as on their website says open Sundays until 5:00 pm.  But when we all arrived at 4:30 pm, we found out they closed at 3:00 pm!  Luckily we were all in the mood for pizza so we went back to Duffs.  It was just as good as last time, but add the vegan “Mother Earth” pizza as a winner!

Today we decided to get to the Sandwich Spot nice and early, with no chance of them being closed.  It was clean, cute and had ample indoor or outdoor seating.

Sandwhich Spot inside

Their huge menu is on the wall, and it will take you a while to read through all of  it. Here is just a sample.

Sandwhich Spot menu

You will need this key to decode the sauces.

Sandwhich Spot menu 1

We were told that the Dutch Crunch and sourdough breads are made in house, and we were steered in the direction of their Dutch Crunch which most of us ordered.  My son ordered The Hitman, a great sounding meatball sub.  After we all took our seats, they came to tell us that they were sorry but they just sold out of meatballs.  Did I mention that this was at 11:30 am?  And looking at the picture above, you can see there wasn’t much traffic to speak of.  Ran out you say? There must have been an entire football team arriving just before us at 11:00 am, all demanding meatballs.  After the look of horror dissipated off my boy’s face, he ordered a turkey sandwich with NOTHING ELSE ON IT.  The kind man felt so bad….or maybe he was just sucking it up for the blog….he offered us a very cool Sandwich Spot baseball cap.  Son said no thanks.  Hubby said hell yes.

Sandwhich SPot hat

Hubby ordered the Mulligan.  The Dutch Crunch bread looks like a giraffe.

Sandwhich Spot 14

Marilyn ordered The Heinsenberg on sourdough. Ooey, gooey, yummy!

Sandwhich Spot Heisenberg

Kelly & Joyce shared a #3, Cardiff Club. There is no shortage of meat on this one!

Sandwhich Spot joyce

And Tracy and I shared, the very apropos, Hot Mess.  If you know us, there isn’t much explaining needed!

Sandwhich Spot hot mess

Honestly, I don’t even know what was on there, we ordered it on name alone, but it was warm, chickeny and slathered in sauces.  Tracy chose to eat her half daintily with knife and fork while I went all in with hands, a stack of napkins assisting the job.  The giraffe bread was soft in the center, but had a nice crunch to it, hence it’s real name and not “giraffe bread”.  I prefer the name giraffe bread.

There are 42 different sandwiches at The Sandwich Spot to choose from.  And right next door, we have Handles, with 50 different flavors.  Here is what I propose:  Sandwich Spot, come up with just 8 more sandwiches and then have suggested pairings for every single sandwich with your next door neighbor!  Is this brilliant?  I think so!  For instance, a Hot Mess might meld perfectly with Banana Cream Pie.  Joyce & Kelly’s Cardiff Club might be paired with German Chocolate Cake.  Each sandwich will have the exact right ice cream to pair with!  And since this is my idea, it seems only fitting that I am the one to come up with the pairings.  It will take a L-O-T of tastings, but I am up for the challenge!  Sandwich Spot, call me, we will talk.

Bottom line: Forget the chains.  Come to The Sandwich Spot for some local, great tasting, up-scaled sandwiches. They are plenty big to share, which not only justifies the $10ish price, it leaves you with room to head next door to Handles when you are done. If you can’t find street parking, go to the underground, there is usually plenty.  Sure a few mistakes were made, wrong closing time… no meatballs…but it’s how those mistakes were Handled that counts in sandwiches and in life.  Today they were handled with friendliness and a free hat.   And you thought you were just getting sandwich advice!

Handles Ice Cream Part 2

Review #20

This is Handles at 11:00 am.

Handles no line

This is Handles from 11:15 am to closing.

Handles Line

For our second time through, ok, ok, maybe third time, who can be sure, we dabbled in some different flavors.



Handles 2

Mmmm Mmmm

Now, I could go on and on but I am going to stop here and simply tell you what you really want to know.  “Is it worth the line?” The answer is “YES”!  I urge you to take my advice from the review “Handles 18.5”, it really is the way to go.

Bottom Line:  Handles is unique because the ice cream is home made.  The flavors are packed with all the yummy goodies in it like candies, fudge and cookies.  The line is long, but can be bypassed if you are brave.  But there is just something cool about being outside, in your sweet Encinitas town, ocean breeze kissing your cheeks, standing in line with your community, waiting for something that makes everyone so happy.

Next week, Sunday, September 17th at 8:00 am Ironsmith Coffee Roasters.  We were told to get there nice and early for the freshly baked breads which go fast!