San Diego’s Las Cuatro Milpas is good and cheap

When my friend said “hey, I want you to try Las Cuatro Milpas” but then couldn’t really explain to me what the restaurant was all about, it worried me. All I was told was “it’s Mexican and it’s good”. Ummmm okay!

I peeked inside the restaurant and it was a dump but there were a couple of women in the back making tortillas so that’s a good sign. The menu had only a handful of things on it and it looked like someone’s house converted into a make-shift restaurant. I would’ve insisted on leaving had there not been a line out the door and down the street with more people joining the line every few minutes.

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It took us about 25 minutes to get to the front (yes I timed it) and even with the small menu, I had no idea what to order, so we ordered everything!! The Rolled Tacos ($5/5pcs) were what everyone was ordering so we got those. These are flautas stuffed with shredded beef or chicken, topped with crema and a handful of sliced iceberg lettuce.

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There were crispy Tacos ($1.75) as well and we also got some of those. They were stuffed with the same ingredients as the flautas.

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I was intrigued by the Chorizo con huevos ($3.75/$5/$9) when I saw a bowl of something on the tray of the man in front of me. I asked and he said it was good. This wasn’t chorizo with eggs as you are accustomed to. It is that with beans and rice all together in a bowl. Strange, but weirdly tasty.

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They gave us some soft tortillas as well. I had a bite and wished I had more room for more, but I didn’t.

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The Tamales ($1.75) were not bad, but not fantastic. I liked how the masa was not dry but the meat stuffing needed a little more flavor. They have this stunning chile sauce which has a seriously good heat and consisted of a rich smoky taste of chipotle. That was fantastic over everything.

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The meal is cheap, fast (even with the wait) and really good for what it was. There is no table service. It’s cafeteria style and they make no apologies for it. I would definitely come back again when I want some greasy, reasonable and good Mexican food!

Las Cuatro Milpas
1875 Logan Avenue
San Diego, CA 92113
Tel: 619-234-4460

Las Cuatro Milpas on Urbanspoon

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Fish Camp

I had seen Fish Camp off PCH many times while driving and often wondered if it was any good. Recently, I shared a meal with some friends and managed to try a slew of things off the menu. For a fast casual seafood joint, the menu was extensive without being overwhelming and there is definitely something for everyone.

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I started with a Cajun Bloody Mary ($5.95) which I could’ve kept drinking had I not driven myself and my son. It was delicious with the right amount of kick. I later found out there was a good amount of horseradish in it!!

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We got some soup to try and New England Clam Chowder was surprisingly good. My son hogged the bowl after we had a taste. The flavors were good, but without being goopy and overly thick.

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Spicy Red Seafood Chowder was just okay. The broth was nice, but I wasn’t fond of the salmon which was overcooked and tough. The soups are $2.95/cup, $5.25/bowl, or the sourdough bread bowl for $7.75.

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We were all fans of Fried Calamari and the one here is quite delicious. You can enjoy half a pound for $7.95 or a whole pound for $13.75 which was great for the four of us to share. They were not greasy and served with a nice aioli.

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Ahi Poke ($8.75) was very fresh although a tad underseasoned. I added a little soy sauce to it and it was great after that. There are peanuts in here for a slight crunch — not traditionally used in Hawaii by any means — so if you have an allergy, be aware of this.

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We all loved the Steamed Manila Clams ($7.55) which were beautifully flavored. They serve it with a little extra broth for you to dip either the clams or the garlic bread in.

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Wild Parmesan Crusted Sand Dabs ($12.95) were tender and had a nice lemon caper sauce drizzled over it. I could totally eat an entire order of this on my own. The parmesan crust was a great addition to the mild sand dabs.

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My son’s Eastern Sea Scallops ($16.75) plate was quite good. They’re not as large as diver scallops, but prepared well and surprisingly, retained its moisture even though they were grilled which is often hard to control. Entrees come with a choice of two sides.

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Beer Battered Fish & Chips ($12.75/3pcs) were a bit greasy but the fish was flaky and tasted great. Some malt vinegar helps cut the grease some.

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What I loved about this place was how they have some healthy but also, delicious sides to choose from such as sauteed spinach, grilled zucchini and stir fried vegetables. The cheesy grits are a must as it is creamy, rich and so decadent!

My friends also had fresh oysters and thought the accompanying mignonette sauce very respectable!

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If you’re not full after all the food, you can try the desserts. The Key Lime Pie ($4.45) was quite mouth-puckering, even for me and I love tart.

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The Banana Pudding ($4.45) was surprisingly good and I ended up eating quite a few spoonfuls of this. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough banana slices in it. Six spoonfuls and I got one banana slice.

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I would totally eat at Fish Camp again! This location is a little far for me, but if they open one nearby, I would definitely visit more often!

Fish Camp
16600 Pacific Coast Hwy
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
Tel: 562-592-2267

Fish Camp on Urbanspoon

OC Restaurant Week celebrates its 5th year!

Every year, during Orange County Restaurant Week, I visit at least one restaurant I’ve never been to before. Last year, I tried the newly opened The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim and was blown away by its incredible restaurant week menu! You can read about my experience here.

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This year, there are a myriad of participants, and although there is no way you’ll be able to partake in every one of them, here are some I know and love!

For some raw vegan food, check out 118 Degrees, or for the best cocktails and comfort food around, 370 Common will take care of that for you.

if you’re in the Brea area, Bruno’s Trattoria has some very respectable Italian, and if you’re in Irvine, Italian can be found at Cucina Enoteca.

Another great spot in Irvine is LUCCA in Quail Hill. I love all the delicious meals Chef Cathy creates especially during dinner time. Plus, her Sunday Suppers are just incredible!!!

Whatever you do, make sure you check out at least one of these wonderful restaurants. Restaurant Week starts on Sunday February 24th and ends Saturday March 3rd.

a heavenly spot of tea at Seventh Tea Bar

I’m not a coffee drinker, but tea is definitely up my alley. There are a lot of coffee spots around but an establishment completely dedicated to tea service is a new concept, one which I’m very happy about. Since Seventh Tea Bar opened, I’ve been there so many times I’ve lost count.

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It started with just a glass of iced tea. Then, it was another and then another and there are SO many to choose from. The coolest thing they have is iced tea on tap ($3) and it is literally ON TAP!! They dispense it like draft beer!

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Lemon Ginger, White Pekoe, Moroccan Mint, Young Hyson, Magnolia Scented, Risheehat Estate, the latter being my favorite at the moment. Of course the lemon ginger is the most popular and I love that one as well when I want something non-caffeinated.

Besides the tea itself, Seventh Tea Bar also offers a non-traditional English Tea Service which you can share with your friends.  For two, there is the Bantam ($25), or there is the Grand ($35) which serves up to four.

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Included are some sweets, but what I love most are the Tea Sandwiches, which you can also get on their own if you don’t want a full tea service. Prices for individual sandwiches are listed for your reference.

The Salty Sweet ($7) is a stunning roll smeared with fresh ricotta, dried apricots, pistachio pesto, cracked black pepper and wild flower honey. It is truly a salty sweet experience! **photo courtesy of Anne Watson Photography**

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One of my favorites is the Gravlax Glory ($9), a sandwich with house cured citrus salmon, shallot caper relish, dill creme fraiche and sliced heirlooms on a brioche roll.

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The Mediterranean ($7) is beautifully salty consisting of feta cheese, marinated artichoke and sundried tomato spread, roasted bell peppers and arugula.

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There are also a variety of delicious spreads made in-house by Chef Katherine Louis. You can choose two spreads to go with freshly baked demi baguette for a mere $6. I love all of them: strawberry black pepper preserves, Za’atar spiced goat cheese dip, Kalamata and green olive tapenade, orange rosemary marmalade.

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Sweets on offer include a variety of pastries such as chocolate croissants or regular buttery croissants.

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There are also salted caramel peanut tarts, tiramisu, chocolate tarts and much much more.

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This is a perfect spot to hang on your own or get together with friends. It is comfortable and the super cute decor is such a pleasure to be in.

This week, Seventh Tea Bar is graciously offering one of my readers a chance to win the Bantam tea service for two to win. Leave me a message and let me know why you would love to win this opportunity and who you would bring. Entries end on Thursday. Winner will be announced Friday. Good Luck!

Seventh Tea Bar
3313 Hyland Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Tel: 949-284-0596

Seventh Tea Bar on Urbanspoon

enjoying great burgers at Burger Lounge

For someone who doesn’t eat a lot of burgers, I’ve been having plenty lately and am posting back to back burger posts with Smashburger last week and now, Burger Lounge. I’ve seen it often whenever I’m down in San Diego and my friends would say “let’s go try it” and I always say “next time”. Well, that “next time” has come.

There are several locations and the one we went to is located in the Kensington area. I love the orange hues (one of my favorite colors) and the upscale diner look of the cozy restaurant was very chic and modern.

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The menu is simple but caters to everyone’s tastes. I love how they use 100% grass fed beef on the burgers, but also offers turkey and vegetarian options.

The classic is The Lounge Burger ($7.95) with your choice of organic white cheddar or American topped with fresh or grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and a house-made 1000 Island dressing.

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Smaller appetites can opt for the Baby Lounge Burger ($5.95) in beef, turkey or vegetarian. They’re smaller, but enough for me if I were to eat it on its own. We tried the Free Range Turkey ($7.95) in the baby size and I thought it was really juicy and flavorful, not at all what turkey burgers usually taste like.

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The vegetarian Quinoa Burger ($7.95) suffices in taste but I’d much rather eat a meaty burger so this isn’t for me, but, a respectable vegetarian option.

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Right now they are serving the Smokey Wild Boar ($9.95) burger which should not be missed. The pattie is so flavorful and oozing with great flavors we gobbled it all down even though we were so full. The onion rings added a wonderful crunch and the touch of barbecue sauce did not overpower at all.

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I’m a sucker for fried sides, especially Onion Rings ($3.99/$4.99), which weren’t too greasy and not overladen with batter.

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French Fries ($2.99/$3.99) are my favorite potato item, as I’m not a fan of potatoes, and these were lovely and crispy and I couldn’t stop eating them.

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If you’re a fan of floats, do not miss out on the Lounge Float ($4.95) with either Mexican Coke, ginger beer, Fanta Orange or Maine Root Soda. We chose the latter and it was quite delectable and not overly sweet.

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The restaurant just added some gluten free menu and gluten free bun is 95 cents extra in either Lounge Burger or Baby Lounge sizes. The quinoa salad is a good gluten free addition to the menu.

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I wish there was a Burger Lounge in Orange County. Right now they are only in San Diego and Los Angeles and I’m waiting for the day they open one near me!

Burger Lounge
4116 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92116
Tel: 619-584-2929

Burger Lounge on Urbanspoon

Smashburger: a very pleasant surprise

I’ll have to admit, I’m not a big burger kinda gal. I never crave them, but my son does and when Austin and I dine out together, he likes to order burgers whenever he sees them on the menu

When I first heard about Smashburger, I was rather skeptical since there have been a bunch of burger places popping up recently and I’ve not enjoyed most of them. It took me a little while to visit, but after seeing friends post on Facebook of their visits, it was time for me to go try them out myself.

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The first thing I noticed was the decor. Colors were warm and the restaurant itself, very inviting for a fast casual establishment. I was told each restaurant possesses something local, and unique to the area the restaurant is in, and this was reflective of the menu items on the board.

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The OC ($5.99/$6.99) burger was the perfect example of something local. Baby portabella, aged Swiss cheese, baby arugula, grilled onions and truffle mayo on an egg bun made for a to-die-for mouthful. This is the perfect combo for me — flavorful, rich, juicy — seriously good! I was impressed.

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The LA ($5.99/$6.99) had a bit of Asian flair to it. Topped with a runny fried egg, cilantro, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, Japanese steak house ginger dressing and a crispy wonton wrapper seasoned with togarashi on a black and white sesame seed bun was good, but not my thing. The runny egg was awesome though. I didn’t care for the wonton wrapper.

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What I really loved was the fact that I could choose a chicken burger instead of a beef one. The Crispy Buffalo Chicken ($6.99) was my absolute favorite. I mean who doesn’t love fried chicken right? Well, if you’re looking for a healthier kick you can opt for the grilled chicken, but for me, it was fried chicken all the way!

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A crispy fried chicken breast with Frank’s Redhot Buffalo sauce, crumbled blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo is sandwiched between an egg bun. It was just fantastic. I’m salivating just writing this up! Juicy, moist chicken with a light crispy coating, it was absolutely delicious!

I also tried a little of the Fresh Mex Black Bean ($5.99) — a black been pattie made in-house is topped with fresh avocado, cilantro, pepper jack, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, chipotle mayo on a telera roll. A wedge of lime is served alongside ad I highly recommend squeezing it over the pattie. I’m no vegetarian but this was rather tasty!

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We also tried some of the sides. Smashfries ($1.99) with rosemary and garlic is a must for French fry lovers and remained crisp until the very end.

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Sweet Potato Fries ($2.29) were my personal choice between the two fries. Beautifully browned and were textured well throughout — not soggy at all.

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For those looking for a veggie kick, Veggie Frites ($2.99) were quite delicious. We had green beans and carrots — and I’m not even a fan of carrots.

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My favorite were the Fried Pickles ($2.29), a really mouth-puckering salty-tart interior surrounded by a crispy exterior. I wish there was more room in my stomach for this but unfortunately, it’s something you have to share with friends.

This week, I have a $25 giftcard courtesy of Smashburger for one of my readers to win. Leave me a message and tell me why you would love to try this delicious establishment. Make sure you leave your FULL name! Entries close on Sunday, 3rd. Winner announced Monday 4th. Good luck!

Smashburger
26541 Aliso Creek Road
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Tel: 949-716-3855

Smashburger on Urbanspoon