2008: The Year in Food

Of the affordable eats I have tried a few and definitely agree about 1) the 3rd Corner in O.B. and 2) Rancho's Mexican and Vegetarian eatery in N.Park. I have been to Costa Brava's in PB and don't particularly enjoy the food as it is highly seasoned and alot of the food is fried on the tapas menu. I prefer fresh, clean tastes and am not a meat eater, mostly vegetarian with a bit of fish here and there. The 3rd corner has a nice menu that pairs well with wine. The servers are always pleasant and have good suggestions for pairing. It's definitely affordable and they have nice appetizers and salads for a smaller price and appetite. I have had full dinners here with friends who all raved about the meat dishes while I enjoyed my fish immensely which is always perfectly cooked and tasty! Rancho's is a recent discovery. It is 2 blocks from my work. Although I don't eat lunch, if I do get hungry I love a bowl of soup or a salad. Rancho's has big, hot, steaming bowls of soup for something like 5 dollars and you get tortillas with your soup as well as chips and salsa. The price is unbeatable! I have tried the vegetarian tortilla soup, the lentil soup, and the vegetable soup! The vegetable soup has big chunks of veggies: squash, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots, etc in a mildly spicy tomato broth! This place also has many, many vegetarian options like tofu fajitas and soy-chorizo dishes! I am very, very particular about food and will say that I have zero tolerance for putting something that tastes sub standard onto my palate! I send plates back when they are not satisfactory! I am happy to recommend these two places to anyone who wants to eat well on a budget. Recently at 2 more pricey restaurants, I sent food back to the kitchen, C Level (downtown on the water) and Il Fornaio (on Coronado island). I went to C Level for a staff holiday party and the food that was offered on the fixed menu and the presentation was very disappointing. Out of 20+ people who attended the lunch, over 5 of us sent our dishes back to the kitchen. Over half of the table didn't even like the food and didn't care to bring the leftovers home to their dogs. Il Fornaio had nice wines and cocktails. The bartender that night was fantastic and chatty! We had a table overlooking the water for the holiday boat light show. The waitress recommended the calamari, which we ordered. No sooner had the plate hit the table we bit into rubbery and inedible calamari! Needless to say we sent it back. We also ordered the bruschetta for fun! It was bland, too cold, and boring. I also got a salad which was good. I ordered the butternut squash ravioli which were dry, under seasoned, and gummy. We ordered the dessert sampler which was nice and likely the hit of the night. The bread pudding that was decadent and enjoyable. I should have ordered that for dinner.
— January 1, 2009 8:21 a.m.