Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Nuevo Grill & Cantina

One of my favorite things to order at Nuevo Girl is their excellent carne asada quesadilla! Although an appetizer, it’s big enough to make into a whole meal. Filled with green chiles too which is a nice touch. Anything on the menu here with their outstanding carne asada steak is a winner and highly recommended.

Buffalo Wild Wings

I’ve never been in a BWW so I thought I’d try the one in Santee on a recent visit. Anytime there’s deep fried cheese curds on the menu I have to order it. They’re very good here. I was surprised when the server recommended a side of caramel dipping sauce! I thought, sure, why not. Very interesting flavor combination. Not as off-putting as it sounds, although I didn’t finish it. The wings here are decent and they feature a dizzying array of sauce options. For my 10 piece order I did a half & half of Caribbean Jerk and Thai Curry. Both excellent choices.

Buona Forchetta – San Marcos

I’ve had Buona Forchetta on my list to try for a while now. Finally made it in with the fam on New Year’s Day. I made reservations on OpenTable and there was no issue. Buona Forchetta started back in 2011 in South Park and has since grown into a group of about six or so fine Italian restaurants throughout San Diego County. The location in San Marcos is interesting. Situated on the ground floor of a multi-story apartment building, all in a tree-lined town square type environment. It was a really nice setting. Parking was easy in the adjacent parking structure, it’s a very short walk. Service from everyone we encountered was excellent! The staff were all so friendly and genuine. We really felt welcomed. Some of the furnishings inside seemed rather avant-garde. 

The food here is intriguing. I was impressed with their menu full of highly customizable pasta dishes, a vast array of pizzas, etc. There’s even a daily special menu with a number of creative looking entrees. We started with an appetizer called “Pizza in a Glass”. I had such high hopes for this one. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it though, it was terrible. Messy, hard to eat, not easily shareable and served stone cold. The fried dough nodules were roughly the size of a pinto bean or large polyp. This one should be a hard pass. The bread servcie was tasty, although sliced too thin and also served cold. Not impressed. Fortunately our mains were all very good. I had Bucatini Carbonara and the pasta was exquisite; cooked al dente. The carbonara was authentic, although could have used a little more moisture overall. I had a few bites of my sons lamb ragu pappardelle and it was outstanding. Very robust flavors. 

I highly recommend checking out any of their locations. Although no full bar, they do have an impressive wine and beer list. Buona Forchetta is a fun and unique place to visit that is not like many other restaurant experiences in SoCal.

The Palace Restaurant and Saloon

Our last evening in Arizona, we stayed in beautiful, historic downtown Prescott adjacent to their famed “Whiskey Row”. Full of some of Prescott’s oldest history, the street is named Whiskey Row because of the large number of saloons in one place. The saloons were all rebuilt on this street after being destroyed by a fire in 1900. Anyway, we tried two establishments. Matt’s Saloon and The Palace. The latter being my favorite by far.

Essence Kitchen & Bar

Dear friends treated us to an excellent dinner at Essence Kitchen & Bar in beautiful Chino Valley, Arizona! The seasonal menu here offers classic favorites as well as innovative dishes made with the freshest, highest quality ingredients. This place clearly has a passion for food and dedication to hospitality and service. I ordered the “N’Awlins BBQ Shrimp”. Cajun dusted shrimp in a rich spicy tomato sauce with scallions and lemon, served over cilantro lime rice and seared greens. Such an outstanding dish! Plump, succulent, perfectly cooked shrimp. An absolute combustion of flavor. Essence features an exquisite wine list along with a great selection of craft beers and specialty cocktails. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the greater Prescott Valley area.

The Clinkscale

Excellent brunch at The Clinkscale! One of the newest restaurants in Jerome, AZ (opened December 2020), it occupies the lower level of the Clinkscale Building built in 1899 which includes a charming hotel and bar. The restaurant has a beautiful, historic atmosphere, an exquisite menu and friendly, professional staff. I ordered the “French Omelet”. Made with country ham and gruyere, blanketed with a silky herbed hollandaise. Served with a side of some of the best grits I’ve put in my mouth! This place gets rave reviews and deservedly so. Highly recommended if you ever visit this quirky little town. And any traveler of the American Southwest should have this town on your list of interesting places to visit.

Haunted Hamburger

Haunted Hamburger seems to be one of the more popular restaurants in Jerome, AZ. The views here are absolutely stunning, that I can tell you! I ordered the “Southwest Sourdough Burger”. Includes bacon, pepper jack, green chilies, grilled onions, & guacamole. The guac made it tricky to handle and a bit messy but it was delicious nonetheless. Crispy, buttery sourdough, which I love, and a perfectly grilled, hot, juicy beef patty. The onion rings were excellent. Beer-battered hot & crispy. Whenever I’m on a trip I always seek out the local brew fare where I happen to be. I had a very nice “Roadrash IPA” from THAT Brewery in Cottonwood, AZ.

Cracker Barrel

Tasty breakfast at the Yuma Cracker Barrel before making the drive up to Jerome. Hash brown casserole, biscuits & gravy, smoked sausage patties and two eggs with overcooked edges. Did not need lunch that day. Imagine my surprise and delight upon discovering that you can now order a mimosa at the Barrel! Good thing Lady Food Obs was driving.

El Charro Cafe

No trip to or through Yuma would be complete without visiting my new favorite restaurant there, El Charro Cafe! One of my favorite things to order at any Mexican restaurant is a wet burrito. El Charro makes probably the best one I’ve put in my mouth. This one is called the “Red Saddle”. Smothered with an excellent red chili con carne. They also make a green chili version called… (are you ready for this?)… the “Green Saddle”. This is one of the most stunning dishes I’ve been served in a Mexican restaurant. And for being a San Diego native, that says something. I felt like I had to lay down after eating only half of it.

D’Carlos

Outstanding “Reuben Grill” at D’Carlos in Ramona! Corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on grilled marbled rye with 1000 island. It wasn’t all stacked like a Jewish deli but it was tasty nonetheless. The fries however could have been cooked longer and maybe some seasoning added. Kind of flaccid and bland.

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