Taste of Hillcrest 2015 in San Diego, California

At noon, Saturday, April 18, 2015, the Taste of Hillcrest walking tasting tour took us through the streets of the Hillcrest neighborhood in San Diego, CA. It was a heavy walking tour along University Avenue with 33 restaurants, pubs, and wine bars in participation. Shuttle service was also available for folks that couldn’t make the trek or just needed to rest their feet while still on the move.

Here are six stops:

7th Ave Pub, inside the Whole Foods Market, prepared Jalapeno Grilled Cheese (mixture of cheddar and cream cheese, bell peppers, and grilled jalapeno, and panini-pressed on sourdough) and Basil Tomato Soup. This combination would be great on a cold winter day. The grilled cheese was done to perfection with a crispy outside and great sourdough flavor. The jalapeno gave it a slight kick but was not overpowering. The bell peppers provided a little bit of sweetness. But if you needed more sweetness, the Basil Tomato Soup was sweet enough with a taste of fresh ripened tomatoes and herbaceous basil to make it more savory. Rating: 4/5

100 Wines Kitchen prepared Crispy Cauliflower (with peppered pancetta, shaved parmesan, balsamic port drizzle) with Honeydew Gazpacho Shooter. The crispy cauliflower was scrumptious! The mix of parmesan and pancetta made the cauliflower addictive. This would be a perfect tapas dish to go along with a glass of sauvignon blanc. The Honeydew Gazpacho was less exciting. It tasted more like honeydew aguas fresca. Rating: 4/5

Lava Sushi prepared Vegetable Egg Rolls and Mango Yellowtail (spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado topped with yellowtail, garnished with jalapeno infused mango puree, pico de gallo, cilantro oil, and micro cilantro). The egg roll was crispy on the outside with soft cooked vegetables on the inside. For me, it was an average egg roll, nothing spectacular. It’s probably a choice for the vegetarian palate, but would taste even better if there was ground pork inside. The Mango Yellowtail Roll was beautifully presented and totally worth the wait. The sweet yellowtail on top was fabulous. The contrasting spicy tuna and creamy avocado on the inside were a perfect pairing. The mango puree was a little too sour for the mix but added a beautiful splash of orange yellow color to the plate. Rating: 4/5

House of Khan prepared Chicken Biryani (spicy rice cooked with tomatoes, mint, cilantro, and chicken). The long grain rice was perfectly coated with the caramelized tomatoes and spices. It was a little spicy, just enough to excite the taste buds. The chicken flavor was evident, but there were no morsels of chicken evident in the serving received. Rating: 4.5/5

Oscar Wilde's Irish Gastropub prepared Mac and Cheese (Harp and Irish cheddar beer cheese topped with Irish Dubliner cheese). The mac and cheese dish wasn’t bad, but there was not a hint of the Harp beer flavor. The cheese base was creamy and cheesy. If ordered in the restaurant, crispy pork belly and duck confit would be great additions to the mac and cheese. Rating: 4.5/5

Hillcrest Brewing Company prepared Spicy Style Wings, BBQ Style Wings, and HBC Perle Necklace Pale Ale. The spicy wing was pretty good. It was tangy in flavor with a comfortable spice level. The bleu cheese dressing was broken and didn’t work well with the wing. A smoky quality enhanced the BBQ wing. The Perle Necklace Pale Ale was less than appetizing. Not sure what happened but the beer did not go down easily. Most of the sample cups left on the bar were still full. Rating: 2/5

As the 4pm hour creeped up, the Taste of Hillcrest closed yet the crowds were still milling around either relaxing at their last restaurant stop or continuing to shop along the way.

Plan on spending the full four hours at the Taste of Hillcrest. Two hours is just not enough.

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