3025 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park
Tiger! Tiger! Tavern
My favorite tavern. Lee Chase and Jeff Motch of Blind Lady Tavern started this up last year as part of their campaign “to have a meeting place like this every two or three blocks.” (Motch’s words.) Sure seems to be working in this woody, frontier-looking barn. Friday nights are ker-razy. Menu’s kind of honest, Gold Rush–era, sandwichy, German sausagey, Vietnamese fusion. And it’s coupled with a zillion interesting beers and baristas interested in pairing you with them. Foodwise, my fave is the oyster po’ boy sandwich. Tasty, creamy, and tangy with pickled chili and pickles. Those oysters squish through in every bite.
600 Palm Avenue, Suite 300, Imperial Beach
My favorite Japanese sushi joint: The (mostly Vietnamese) people who run it are a fun crowd. They keep things buzzing. They tell jokes. And (bottom line) they’re cheap. I’ve had sushi mix — five different kinds of fish flesh on rice, plus nine sushi rolls, for about nine bucks. Or six-buck specials, such as teriyaki chicken with fried gyoza, or shrimp and beef curry. That and a bottle of sake will get you out, belly full, for around $10. The formula works: This place always seems to have a cheery crowd of locals, and the shelves bulge with those masu boxes that regulars drink sake out of.
9945 Campo Road (at North Barcelona), Spring Valley
Fave breakfast joint. Ya gotta get out here in the early morning, say, 7:30. That’s when everything’s fresh and it feels country, and breakfast tastes good. ’Specially here in this little pink-and-green box with a deck. Ask for Jorge and order his amazing Sunrise Breakfast Special: a two-egg scramble, potatoes, three slices of ham, three sausages, three slices of bacon, plus pancakes, french toast, or biscuits and gravy, for $7.95. Or, egg muffin and OJ, just $3.50. They actually dropped prices because folks around here were hurting. If this is country values, I’m going country. ■
More Feast 2012: Eats for Freelancers | Spirit of Family Dinnertime | Accessible Gourmet | Lunchtime in Kearny Mesa | Fried Chicken | Try At Least Once