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Oscar’s Mexican Seafood – Pacific Beach / San Diego, CA – Memorial Day Weekend

On Saturday, Barb and I headed down to San Diego to visit our son Dustin…yep, that big handsome guy on our home page, and the Glass family representative of the food kingdom in San Diego.  We were thrilled to find out that he and his roommate John had made plans to drive us from Northpark to Pacific Beach to hit a little Mexican seafood taco stand known as Oscar’s.

For those of you who’ve been to this mecca, enjoy the memories.  For those of you that haven’t, simply drool on the photos and plan your trip – it’s well worth it.

Oscar’s is first and foremost a taco stand.  The only place to sit is out in front on a long bench with a bar/type table.

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The Fisherman’s Torta

Step up to the counter and order.  We had five people, so we ordered lots.  If you’re prepared to chow down on the finest seafood sandwich on the planet, then order the Fisherman’s Torta – filled with Spicy Shrimp, Scallops, Grilled & Smoked Fish, Cabbage, Onion, Tomato, Cilantro and Avocado.  Yes – it is as good as you are imagining it to be right now!

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The Octopus Taco!

As far as the tacos – order up a few.  Our table had a sampling of shrimp, fish, octopus and steak.  The fish taco was stuffed with sea bass and so fresh and delicious.  The shrimp was good as well.  But the octopus taco was really something unique – very tender, smoky, chewy – just perfect!  The tortillas were fresh, thick and filled with yellow corn.  They have several salsas to squeeze on – all of which are hot and good.

There are three (3) locations in all, although this PB location is sort of traditional.  Go, stand in line, bring cash (no CC accepted) and a big appetite.  This was a real treat and I will be back for another Torta soon!  Thanks John and Dustin for opening our eyes to something quite special.

EASTER EGG: if you walk back through a small storage hallway behind the soda machine, you’ll find a large picnic table behind the restaurant!  Dustin and John call it the VIP room!  It was a great place to sit and eat – and the chef even brought us some cups of fish stock/soup to drink before the meal, AND delivered us the food.  If you go, check out the VIP room!

Welcome to the new capital of craft beer - Northpark, San Diego, CA

Getting “Stoned”

What is the mark of a good beer? Is it hoppiness? A balance between flavors? The ability to fill the racks of a beer pong game guilt-free? These are all relevant, but seemingly frustrating questions. And yet, us serious beer drinkers continue to punish ourselves with the search for answers, because we are ALL in pursuit of the next great experience. I call it an ‘experience,’ because when you get down to brass tacks, that’s all this stuff is. Food. Libations. Snacks. Treats. They all trigger experiences. Sometimes, those experiences suck. Sometimes, they are sublime.

Several years ago, I was visiting my grandparents in Claremont. It was another exceptional visit. We discussed the goings-on of my studies and other simple, but entertaining things. My dad, Greg and brother, Dylan watched sports in the living room, while my sister Kasey texted her friends furiously. Later, the discussion of drink arose.

My grandfather would often playfully chastise my brother for enjoying beers with more “pedestrian” flavors. Or, as he might have said, “No flavors.” This night was no different. Dylan went on about Corona, or Stella, or some such brew. Grandpa Steve laughed, and brought up the superior flavor of Stone IPA. He claimed that Stone is an exemplar of REAL beer. Two questions I had that night: What the hell is Stone? What the hell is IPA? Those questions were answered swiftly after Grandpa returned from the refrigerator with a glass to taste Dylan on.

IPA_label_smallDylan took a sip and immediately puckered-up in disdain. Eventually, the glass circulated to me, a new college student with no understanding of beers. Back then I’m sure I was still trying to argue the merits of Boone’s Farm, or Mike’s Hard Lemonade. It tastes really good, bro. Seriously, it’s not just for girls. Seriously.

The first sip of Stone IPA hit hard. It tasted like a permanent marker-infused draft of tree bark tea. But then, after ruminating on the taste for a moment, the tree bark tea evolved into a strong, but delightful blend of earthy flavors. I mark that night as my metamorphosis from a Bud Light-soaked caterpillar, into a craft beer butterfly soaked in microbrew. There was just no going back after I discovered the amount of taste and power that lies inside a bottle of good India Pale Ale–particularly, a Stone IPA. Everything else became mediocre, dull even. Needless to say, my love for wine coolers was smote to the ground.

Now, even Grandpa Steve is what I would consider an “equal opportunity” beer drinker, enjoying a variety of lights and darks. To this day though, I have not heard him speak about a beer as frequently or hold in such high regard as Stone’s IPA. Therefore, because of his passion’s affect on me, and because of that fateful night, I’ve fallen into a pretentious habit of constantly comparing my beers–my IPAs especially–to Stone’s variation. Sometimes, this habit is reductive, but their bitter is just SO damn delightfully bitter! I can’t help it!

I’m hoping that this post will serve to orient you, to give you some background as to where, when, and why IPAs became so dear to me. So, if you were expecting a different sort of post, never fear! Consider this post an appetizer, a taste of things to come! After all, I live in North Park, San Diego–a town with at least two microbrews within walking distance!

As always, keep calm and drink on.