Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Archive for the month “September, 2016”

2nd Annual Taste of Ramona

The 2nd Annual Taste of Ramona last weekend was a tremendous event.  If you didn’t make it, be sure to look out for it next year.  19 Ramona restaurants participated and I was able to make to about 10 of them.  After #3 I was feeling quite bloated.  All of the participating restaurants did a great job featuring samplings of some of their signature dishes.  Several places offered a more informal stand-up buffet style tasting while others went all out and featured full table service.
I worked my way from west to east, starting at Boll Weevil.  One of my favorite restaurants in town, The Weev had a comprehensive spread going on.  Porky Burger; Peanut Butter Bacon Burger with jelly ( strawberry or grape); milkshakes; onion rings and corn nuggets with their famous Boll Weevil Sauce; and the highlight for me – draft beer samples from BNS Brewing.   What a great way to start the event!
Pinto Thai put on a very classy experience.  Reserved tables with a full sit-down service sampling.  It included an excellent Thai iced tea that I’ve never tried before; a cheesy crab wonton; potsticker; pineapple fried rice chicken and a an outstanding pork curry dish.  The curry was a standout.  This was Massaman style and I’ve had Panang there in the past, both outstanding. Very flavorful and certainly epitomizes comfort food, Asian style.
D’Carlos was most impressive with a full page, three course menu.  Included a starter choice; entree; and dessert.  I had the salad with outstanding housemade blue cheese dressing; prime rib dip with a very good creamy horseradish; and I couldn’t resist their signature dessert, chocolate eclair.  I’ve lived up here for about 14 years and have always heard about the eclair, but never tried it.  So glad I did, will be going back soon just for this!
Mamma Rosa featured a tasty pesto chicken pizza and ravioli dish along with a tiramisu dessert.  This pizza would be perfect for someone that can’t eat red sauce.  I enjoyed it very much.  Mamma Rosa’s has always been known in town for serving some big league pizzas so I was glad it was featured in their sampling.
Pete’s BBQ & Burgers was a remarkable standout for me.  Last time I was in here the dining area was fairly depressing.  Gone are the ghetto, prison cafeteria style tables.  Now there is a whole section of tasteful, new, square 4-top tables with comfortable chairs.  All bordered by a classy railing.  Makes it feel very much like a bistro.  Pete’s offering was a BBQ pulled pork slider.  It was outstanding!  I could have just stayed here all day and eaten a bunch of these.
The Main Course had a comparatively more subdued and conservative offering.  Crostini topped with some sort of sliced beef and caramelized onion substance.  Tasted like it had been sitting out a while.  They had a small table set up right inside the main entrance where you put your crostini on a napkin and suddenly feel like you need to excuse yourself from the premises.  Didn’t seem like they were overly welcoming and expecting you to sit and stay a while.
Packards offered a sampling of their signature crepes with fresh cut strawberries.  I’ve heard about these great crepes for years but never tried any.  This sample was such a treat.  Thin, delicate and supple.  I can’t wait to go back for a full serving!  They also had an iced coffee that was exceptionally good.
One of my favorite taco shops in town, La Cocina had a big chafing dish of their excellent flautas.  Both beef and chicken, with a side of chips, salsas, guacamole, etc.  These were big, fatty, meaty and very tasty.  Some of the best flautas I’ve had in Ramona, that I can tell you!
I stopped in at Marinade on Main and clearly my timing was not good.  The place was packed!  Standing room only.  I wound up leaving, but will be back soon to try some of their slow cooked beef short ribs and bacon wrapped meatloaf.  This should be a testament on how popular this great, new restaurant is!
My final stop was out in the San Diego Country Estates and the regal Oaks Gille restaurant.  They actually had their Taste of Ramona spread setup in The Par Lounge which is just fine with me. They offered a Jalapeño Hummus that made for a good picture but I didn’t try it.  Hummus does not touch these lips!  There was also a big dish of Green Bean Crispers that were very good.  Held up well in the culinary suspension of the hotel pan/chafing dish.  Crispy, hot and perfect with their savory dipping sauces.
When all was said and done I finished at The Par Lounge bar for a cold draft beer and to go online to shop for maternity pants.  Seriously, I was horribly abdominally distended after this 2nd Annual Taste of Ramona!  But it was worth it.  I would have loved to have made it to all 19 participating restaurants, but I did not have my stomach pump with me.  I’m definitely looking forward to a 3rd Annual Taste of Ramona next year.  If you have’t been, do yourself a favor and come out next year.  You won’t be disappointed and might even find a new favorite restaurant here in town!

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Homemade Spaghetti 

One of my favorite home cooked meals is my outstanding spaghetti and meat sauce.  So simple, yet often far better than I can get in any restaurant.  One of the reasons is perfectly cooked pasta.  Always al dente at home when I make it.  Eating out, pasta can be a gamble.  

Ramona Family Naturals 

Ramona Family Naturals is dedicated to providing healthy food choices and to educate consumers on the importance of what they eat.  RFN is a family owned and operated natural food market located in the heart of San Diego county.  They specialize in local organic produce, raw milk, grass-fed organic meats, vitamins & supplements, as well as many specialty foods.  They also have an outstanding selection of grab & go salads, sides, soups, sandwiches, etc.  All made fresh at their store using quality ingredients.  

Located at 642 Main Street in Ramona, CA.  Call them toll free at 800-778-3515.  Or visit them online at

Love Boat Sushi

Outstanding teriyaki beef bento box lunch special!  

Miguel’s Cocina 

Outstanding Mexico City style quesadilla at Miguel’s Cocina.  This place is definitely a top shelf SoCal Mexican restaurant chain. 


Starbucks “Evenings” has finally come to Ramona! Recently they had their inaugural evening that features a thoughtful selection of wine and craft beer alongside a menu of “small plate” specialties.  Starbucks has been slowly rolling out this concept over the last 5 years at select stores. Come in after 4pm for beer & wine so you can go completely full circle with your stimulants/depressants at the same place.  

I tried the Truffle Mac & Cheese for $5.95. Macaroni pasta in a creamy truffle fondue with herbed parmesan breadcrumbs. Came out better than expected. I would definitely get this again. Portion was just right if you happened to have had a big, late lunch.  

Also tried the Chicken Skewers for $4.95. Marinated chicken breast coated with parmesan and panko breadcrumbs, served with a mustard dipping sauce. Fairly tasty but quite a bit more institutional tasting than the mac. 

It was kind of a trip walking into Starbucks tonight and being offered a wine tasting.

Panda Express 

Outstanding two item combination plates at Panda!  This place has some of the best orange chicken in Chinese fast food.  Also had the Beijing beef which was excellent.  My favorite at Panda Express is always their amazing chow mein.  Perfect noodle size, not all thick and gummy.  

Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Company 

Outstanding lunch specials at a San Diego sports bar institution!  Individual pizza with a cold, fresh, crisp salad is an amazing combination.  Here at Oggi’s you have an impressive array of creative pizzas to choose from.  I chose what they call “The Heavyweight”.  Made with Canadian bacon, ground beef, Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami and all natural ham.  Looked and tasted excellent!  Caesar salad accompaniment was equally tasty.  

Taco Bell

These new Quesalupa things are amazing!  One of the best specialty items TB has come up with for some time.  

The Oaks Grille 

Outstanding takeout order of boneless BBQ wings from The Oaks Grille.  

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