Birthday Freebie (Cucina Urbana)

I know Cucina Urbana has been open for a long time now, but I finally just made it out there to have a birthday dinner with the boyfriend.. This restaurant is located on Banker’s Hill, which can be a complete suck-fest for parking during busy dinnertime hours. Don’t even try walking in here without a reservation, they get booked FAST. We had reservations for a borderline early bird 5:45pm, so we scored a pretty sweet parking spot close by.

The minimalist wooden and steel furnishings are stylish, but let’s face it- I came here to eat, not to admire the surroundings. We started out with the ricotta gnudi ($10.50), and dear god, I could have eaten a million more of those little bits of heaven. So tender and flavorful, these little guys practically melted in my mouth. I only wished there were more than 6 pieces (sharing with the table is so overrated). 

For the main course, I chose the short rib pappardelle ($18.50) and the man (who I shall heretofore refer to as J) had the lasagna al forno ($15.50). I will say that even though his dish was tasty with the sausage and veal ragu, my pappardelle kicked his lasagna’s ass (if cheesy pasta entrĂ©es had asses). The cremini mushrooms and short rib married so well.. it was rich and they definitely do not skimp out on the meat to pasta ratio (J thought it a bit on the heavy side, but it was right up my alley). 

And because it was my birthday, we got a little dessert on the house. Tip- if you’re out celebrating a special occasion, be it a birthday or a promotion, let the server or front desk know! And here’s another tip from the resident cheapo: If you like a restaurant, join their mailing list. In most cases, you’ll get occasional discounts and heads up on promotions coming up. Unless of course, you’re California Pizza Kitchen, which in case, you will give NOTHING to your loyal customer. Yeah that’s right, I’m calling you out, CPK! I joined Cucina’s mailing list, and so we got $10 off our appetizer and one of the entrĂ©es. And who doesn’t like some extra money in their pocket?

505 Laurel Street 
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222

Meat for Cheap (Quality Social)

I am a procrastinator. And what do I like doing to procrastinate? Read blogs… so I figured, what the hell, seems like everyone in the world has one, I may as well start one, too.

I am attracted to all things food related, so it only seemed natural that I gravitated towards one that involved the glorious stuff. What I’m especially interested in is the food scene in San Diego, because if there’s good food to be had here, I want in. Assuming I can afford it, of course, which I usually can’t… so as a poor post-college grad in that funky ‘I need a real job, but it’s hard to dive headfirst into adulthood’ phase, I am totally into eating crap like Jack In The Box tacos, and McDonald’s chicken nuggets (have you seen what those things look like before they make it to your mouth? Scary.. and yet I still love them).

Point is, I’m going to lay out my random experiences with local restaurants and food outings and hope that somebody besides my poor, obliging boyfriend will read about them.

Here goes..

If you’re looking for something low key in the Gaslamp area, head to Quality Social. This place boasts in-house cured meats (charcuterie for the newbies) and their happy hour, which is from 5pm-8pm Monday through Friday (awesome time window, right?), all their charcuterie is half off (a collection of four different meats is usually $16, so $8 is pretty damn affordable!). The vibe is cool, especially if you’re a hipster who likes drinking PBR on tap (seriously, check out how many guys in flannel and handlebar mustaches are around on a busy night).

Went there one night to bring the boyfriend out to try the charcuterie because I liked it so much the first time I tried it, but I was slightly unimpressed the second time around. Notables from the first time were the potted rillette (delish), but the chorizo was the stand out. The flavor is reminiscent of la chang (slightly sweet Chinese sausage), and I loved it. 

All the charcuterie also comes with bread and a side of pickles. The second time we went for the Mac ‘N’ Cheese ($7.00), chicken liver pate, beef jerky, and 2 orders of the chorizo- because it’s THAT good. The mac and cheese was forgettable and I also found out that night that my palette (and my boyfriend’s palette for that matter) isn’t sophisticated enough to enjoy chicken liver. That was some funky stuff. And though the beef jerky had great flavor.. you better be ready to chew. And chew. And then chew some more.

What I really appreciated was their complimentary homemade sauces (the bbq and ketchup were my favorites). I love me some condiments. I’ll have to make it back sometime soon to see how I really feel about the place, third time’s a charm, right?

789 6th Avenue San Diego CA 92101
(619) 501-7675