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Stories by Ed Bedford

Something fat and juicy from the El Rorro taco truck

"The shrimp are from the ocean, not farmed. And my wife and I made all the recipes.”

"My latest review?” says Justin, “I got — see here? — 71,816 views.” OMG. He’s right. I’m staring at his phone. It shows stats from Yelp. He’s a Yelper. Has reviewed about 200 places he’s ...

Jazzed on the mango sauce at Bourré Southern Bistro

Southern enough

“This is the downtown of your dreams. All of the music and food, none of the parking hell.”

Happy hamburgers

Eat for a fraction of what regular customers pay

Hey, all this talk about how the rich are shutting out the rest of us? How come in the past ten years happy hour has increased by, oh, 3 zillion percent? No self-respecting luxury eatery ...

Beloved Egg Nazi

Six-dollar bacon, eggs, and toast

“Now I have taken over this place. And that will soon be my mobile kebab business.”

Skip the steak; leave Garden Kitchen happy

"Our customers are big on vegetables."

Peppers as dinner? Never would’ve done this, except for one fact. It’s a Friday. Not a payday. Low on dough but high on peppers. I’ve just spent four bucks on “blistered red shishito peppers, in ...

Tear off and eat the blanket covering Bosnian street food

“If we could bring in young calves and lamb from Bosnia, we would.”

"Dobro vecé!” This is me, greeting Ismet Sahic beside his truck. It’s 8 p.m., and Quartyard, here at Park and Market, is Sunday-night mellow. A floodlit rack of people sits drinking and chatting at the ...

A week to finish a stack of Du Par's hot cakes

This could take awhile. Turns out I’m his first full-stack order since they opened.

Uh-oh. Last Chinese restaurant in Chinatown just bit the dust. Lucky Liu’s has closed. And before Unlucky Liu’s, Red Pearl came unstrung. Silver lining? Today, where Red Pearl used to be, I discover a brand-new ...

Israeli food is drenched in history at 2Brothers

Genuine Mediterranean

“Our pita bread? We import it from Israel. U.S. pita is made from different flour.”

Eat your torta

Overdoing it at Oscar's in Baja La Jolla

"Where are we?” I really want to know. Lord knows I’ve bounced by here often enough in the #30 bus. Mike and his lady Rachel and me and a dozen other people are sitting on ...

This human thing going on

Small, original restaurants with real people

Could there be classier places than the ones on this list? For sure. Cheaper? Yes. Cooler? Of course. But the places I find myself going back to have this human thing going on. They’re small, ...

At Jimmy's Famous, stuffed like an overnight bag

Zing to it

Just imagine: A shipload of starving, scurvy-ridden Spanish sailors struggling ashore through the tidal mud flats and seeing...this? A deck full of tourists and well-heeled Diegans scarfing away at ribs, burgers, and cervezas? They missed ...

Like the real chitlin

“They’re pasta, not actual pork rinds,” Amy warns. But, three bucks, so I get them anyway.

It’s Winona! Winona Ryder! You would swear. Straight out of The Age of Innocence. Those eyes, that quizzical smile. Okay, Winona turns out to be Amy. She’s helping run the bar of this terrazza in ...

Tender is the meat at Center Cut Steakhouse

“Chef Ramon ages each steak for two weeks and slow roasts it for six hours.”

At first, I’m thinking Tacos El Gordo, because it’s near Chula Vista’s H Street trolley. Then I go in. Wall-to-wall! Three lines stretching right to the doors. Fuggedaboutit. And, actually, a steak’s what I’ve got ...

Dumb and tender

“Maine lobster’s sweeter. West Coast lobster can be downright chewy.”

"Over here!” It’s the beautiful Carla. Fresh from her frou-frou session at Diane’s salon (“Diane is the only person in this world who understands my coiffure needs, darling”) here on the Emerald Isle of Coronado. ...

A shrimp taco at the Market Hall

Greed is good

This was where I learned to appreciate the humble carrot. It started simply enough. I was heading along Market past that cool newish condo tower Strata, when I came across this sign: “Café Now Open.” ...

Pupusa ceremony

“These foods we cook are ancient and more healthful than Mexican or American food.”

"You can sit over here if you like,” says this guy over in the booth. He’s noticed me craning my head to catch the Costa Rica game. Against mighty Colombia. Copa América. David and Goliath. ...

No mashed gristle

Tomato and lettuce are nice and crisp. Cheddar’s sharp, onions give it sweetness.

Hmm... Which whiskey? The Glenfiddich 40-year-old costs $1049 per shot. A jigger of Benchmark costs $1. I hesitate. “Gimme the Gl…Glenfid…d’uh, no. I guess I’ll take the Benchmark,” I say. The $1 Benchmark is part ...

Too much deliciosity

“You should come back any night during this Ramadan season. We have a special feast.”

I arrived too early. For Ramadan, that is. This was before last Sunday, when Ramadan began. I came because I was curious about what you eat if you are Muslim and fasting for the month. ...

Goat-bloated from Café Royale

Most coffee roasters throw away the shell, but it has the best flavors!”

It’s the kids. They’re all over the table. And into the spaghetti and goat. All except Anas and Khalid. The two older boys are plowing into their own plate of chicken drumsticks. Their dad has ...

Raise an unlimited joe to long-dead Yankee Jim

Real seducer

He thought they were joking. Even when they had him standing on a horse-drawn dray with a rope around his neck. All he’d done was go for a joyride in a rowboat. He called it ...

Burger phase continues in Carlsbad

Worth the Hamilton

“But whatever you do,” he says confidentially, “don’t eat crabs from Southern California.”

Hit Cabo Wabo #2, scarf a big burger

Yes! Dive bar

Fish tacos, 99 cents? With all the taco talk this week, how come I missed this place? I should have seen the taco deal on the signs outside. But I was busy trying to figure ...

Tacos where you least expect them

Looking beyond standard tacolandia

Here’s what I was thinking: ever since Glen Bell ran with the hard-shell taco idea and created Taco Bell back in the 1950s, tacos have become part of our landscape. Except now the real taco ...

Glass Door fails to grab my gut

Wham and so-so

You know the theory: restaurants with great views rest on their location laurels.

Carlsbad Aloha

Vacuuming up french toast, sausage, and fried rice at Al’s

"Drink this. It’s 9500 years old.” The lady’s thrusting a glass of what looks like water at me in front of this food truck, “California Braise.” Truck’s new around here. And they serve this Carlsbad ...

The best duck larb I can remember

Beautiful suffering

Took a gamble tonight. I spotted this sign: “Lucky Lady, Casino Restaurant & Bar.” Hmm... Casino restaurant? Looking through the windows, I see about a dozen gaming tables, all crowded. And this is a Monday ...

Lunging into a burger in the People’s Penthouse

Come on, li’l burger

I am the captain of my ship. I stride my bridge deck. I scan the scuddy blue seaway ahead of me. Tallships bob everywhere below. That’s how it feels anyway. Star of India, HMS Surprise, ...

Gaslamp prices, but Lazy Hippo is still a find

In deepest Stingaree for brekky

Mary Smith sat here. So did a lot of her ladies of the night. So did the mayor of San Diego. They say he was a client. But that was the Gilded Age. It was ...

Crisp Fish ’N’ Chips makes dreams come true

“I wipe down the tables, grandpa cooks the fish, and mom takes orders at the register.”

Oh, man. Ria wants nuts and twigs. I’m dreaming of fish and chips. Splots of malt vinegar. Cocktail sauce. Greasy, crispy chunks of cod. “Ho-kay,” says Ria. “Your funeral, buddy. Know how many calories and ...

There’s always the Hyatt

Market One Café is open around the clock

So it’s like two. In the morning. Everything is closing down, or they’re not happy to see you walk in. But you’ve gotta have a snack before you head home. Gaslamp may have a few ...

Cuckoo for cucarachas at Mariscos El Pulpo

“You’ve got to eat the whole thing: head, legs, shell, and all, except the tail.”

Cucarachas? Never thought I’d be eating them tonight. But, Barrio Logan is full of surprises. This new Baja bar-eatery, El Pulpo, has sprouted up in what’s becoming “downtown” Barrio Logan. Tonight, Friday, sunset’s glowering over ...

Squelch, tang, and crunch at Striders Clublounge

Eat, drink, wager

“Usually, you’ll hear the roar down here, guys yelling when a race is entering the last stretch.”

Future fast food

Clacking chops help save the world at Plant Power

“The methane that cattle produce warms the world 20 times faster than auto emissions.”

Order up: the most expensive thing at El Carrito Nuevo

Sabroso!

“No!” says Carmen. “Finish first. You will eat my camarones hot.”

Unhinge your jaw for some luscious Oh My! tacos

“People love us. We haven’t stopped since we got here.”

Out on Park. Just come from NewSchool of Architecture. Lecture by this guy who wants to “depave” the world and “rewild” the cities. Oh, man, if only we could. Of course, the talk and questions ...

Raiding Lucky Liu’s kitchen to say Happy New Year

Dim sum is a big deal in China. Right?

“Shin-nyen kwhy-ler,” says Dong Ha. “Happy New Year! Mandarin. What they’d say in Beijing.”

Misunderstanding at the Wow Café

Gurk!

“He wants some food,” says Marianna. “But he only eats raw fish.”

Dive into a Stars & Stripes hot tuna at Club Marina

Get some, bring it

Hmm... Keep thinking of that warm bar with the hugging hostess.

Avocado-smooshed toast and sweet, beety beauty

Halcyon and Stella bring the unusual

I was passing 15th and J the other evening. The pinnacle apartment tower was all lit up, advertising rental apartments from $2K to $10K per month. But where do all those gentrified renters go to ...

Tastebud invasion by a Tijuana torta

Chomp of a lifetime

Five minutes later she arrives with my steaming torta. All wrapped in its own papoose.

Wiggling fish wig

“No. Not alive. They’re just so thin, they wave around in the lightest breeze.”

Running into the god of fertility and foxes in the Gaslamp.

Out of the rain, into some turkey

God’s Extended Hand

It’s 6:30 at night. Dark already. The rain’s dropping in sudden downpours and then disappearing. Tents line the chain-link fence of the vacant block on J Street. And then, in the gloom, you realize those ...

An omelet as big as a pregnant armadillo

Too big!

“Our regulars?” she says when I ask what they eat. “Anything with gravy. Lakeside loves gravy.”

Naughty breakfast

A bulging, steaming egg breakfast at Anna’s

‘Do you know how to operate this projector?” asked H.R. Haldeman, President Nixon’s chief of staff. “Sure,” said Tony Vasquez. And from that day on, Tony, the guy sitting next to me at the counter, ...

Disgustingly good

A triumph of degustation at Vigilucci's

“Let’s stop right here, take it all home. Then fry it all up for breakfast tomorrow. Yes?”

While I.B. is still I.B.

Chewing the fat (and mussels and chicken) with Ken

“Name’s Ken,” says the guy on the right. “As in ‘Ken, still looking for Barbie.’"

Chicken climax

Lope into Harney for Late Night Social Hour

“It’s fresh, not processed, and have you ever seen a fat Japanese guy? Except for sumo wrestlers?”

IB Street Tacos

“You should try it. They’re the real thing. ’Specially the battered shrimp. Or the octopus.”

The sign looks new: IB Street Tacos. Now Open. It’s been slung up on a banner above the street frontage. Always suspicious when a place says it has “street tacos.” Means it’s actually middle class, ...

Man’s brekky here

Late breakfast and happy hour at Caffe Primo

Good to have nice, big eggs with floods of bright yellow yolk.

PhD in coffee and tea. Plus couscous.

The new Copa Vida keeps coffee complicated, food simple

My knowledge of coffee? It ranges from joe with milk to joe “au naturel.” So when I happened upon this new (couple of months, max) Place-With-No-Name (at least as far as outside signage) at J ...

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