Patio Dining at the Prado

The afternoon is beautiful (typical San Diego gorgeous!) and we relax on the patio at the Prado, enjoying the fresh air, the setting, and anticipating a scrumptious lunch which starts out with a variety of seasoned flatbreads and a small serving of hummus to appease the appetite while we peruse the menu.

We are focused on salad, and quickly decide on the  Chopped Salad (napa cabbage, radicchio, julienne carrots, mango, snow peas, & wontons tossed in a sesame-mustard vinaigrette, and substituting Prawns for the grilled chicken) and the Prado Pressed Salad (organic baby arugula, shaved asiago cheese, strawberries, candied walnuts & figs dressed in a sherry shallot vinaigrette).

I begin reminiscing about my childhood experiences in San Diego and finally my curiosity gets the better of me. I send my sister a phone picture (just love this new-age technology!) and dialogue with her via text messaging. She remembers that we dined at the Cafe del Rey Moro with our grandmother. Our charming and efficient waitress, Stephanie, confirms that the Prado evolved from the Cafe del Rey Moro — I am immensely relieved and thrilled by this piece of trivia!

Feeling very satisfied, and with no particular agenda for the rest of the afternoon, we linger, enjoying the serenity of the park and this peaceful patio; and still considering possible ‘extraordinary’ dessert options, we indulge!  This choice is much more difficult than our entrees were:  unique variations of traditional fare create light delicacies such as amaretto liqueur- infused Creme Brulee with “almond cookies and fresh raspberries” or a simple Sorbet Trio of “pear, forestberry & mango sorbet served in an almond-poppyseed florentine with a raspberry coulis”…maybe it is just the description that sounds so intriguing!

We order the Balsamic Plum & Apple Tart: a crisp butter tart shell with aged balsamic vinegar, roasted plum & apple filling served warm with praline ice cream and a caramel sauce drizzle.

Well….decide for yourself!

More Balboa Park…

It is an honor and privilege that Great Food Fun Places was mentioned in this Timeshare Information article about Balboa Park and vacationing in San Diego! Read it and learn about the wealth of activities and events you will find at Balboa Park while enjoying a timeshare vacation.  Have fun!

Re-Discovering Balboa Park while Searching for the Prado Restaurant

Another childhood memory of San Diego is brought to life with a visit to the city’s beautiful Balboa Park.

It has been years since I experienced more than just a quick nostalgic drive through the park.  This time, while staying at a lovely timeshare, we are enjoying a leisurely week-long visit, with time to explore San Diego.

On  the recommendation of a family friend, we are planning to have lunch at the Prado in the park.

We wind our way into the park and locate a parking lot.  With no idea of where this restaurant actually is, we just head out and wander around absorbing the peace and tranquility and history of this lovely park.

Having its beginnings back in 1868 when the parcel of land was first set aside, the park developed slowly over the years, eventually hosting a World’s Fair: The 1915-16  Panama-California Exposition commemorating the opening of the Panama Canal, a second World’s Fair: The 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition which was held to boost the economy during the depression, and Expo 2000, celebrating San Diego’s millennium.

Balboa Park is home to the world famous San Diego Zoo,  the internationally acclaimed Old Globe theater, the original 1910 Balboa Park Carousel, 15 major museums ranging from art and science, air and space, to natural history and anthropology, and the Spreckles Organ Pavilion which houses one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs.

My Grandparents held their 50th wedding anniversary reception in the House of Hospitality building which was built to be the centerpiece for the 1915 Panama-California  Exposition.

My grandmother also used to treat my sister and me to special outings, having lunch outside on a patio somewhere near the House of Hospitality.

I am filled with nostalgia as the old familiar park emerges through the changes that have occurred over time.

In the courtyard of the House of Hospitality, I am happy to discover the familiar blue-tiled fountain still there. Here also–we discover the Prado!

Food For Flight?


to arrive the required two hours early, checking your bags, getting through security, arriving at your gate, and THEN you begin to relax, breath normally again and you realize:  it is meal time?

Or it soon will be, and you should get something to eat since no meals are being served on your flight and you’ll be lucky if you even get peanuts!  And if you want to eat at one of the ‘nice’ restaurants, you haven’t arrived with quite enough time for that…can’t risk getting delayed with slow service. So, you give in and walk through the ‘grab it and go’ line for packaged sandwiches or salads that have been prepared who knows how long ago– that look it AND taste it! OR you give in and buy a cinnamon roll (that cinnamon smell is tantalizing but not very nutritious!) or even just a candy bar at the newsstand…YIKES!

Since we have become more focused on healthier nutritious meals, eating at airports is even more of a challenge for us. Some airports’ food service is offering fresh fruit and salads but they are rather pricey and not always fresh looking. To find something substantial to eat that is also quick and somewhat healthy has definitely been a challenge…UNTIL we found ourselves at the Portland Airport.

The food court is inviting and friendly and offers several intriguing options! And it is right there at the ‘front door’ where you walk in after checking your bags, before going through security, so you can even purchase your food and take it to your gate or have it to eat during your flight. Or even better yet – take it to the Atrium…a beautiful area just inside security with a full wall of windows overlooking the runway (for those of us who like to watch the planes landing and taking off) and letting in filtered sunlight (yes, the sun does shine in Portland!) creating a peaceful seating area where semi-private chairs with Internet connections (FREE Wi-Fi!) & outlets for recharging cell phones and computers are placed in a setting of trees and other greenery.   A grand piano sits ‘center stage’ where local musicians entertain for tips and sales of CDs. I didn’t want to leave, and Tommy had to rush me to our gate, arriving just in time to line up for boarding!

OH YES – the FOOD:  PIZZACATO PIZZA!  We had surveyed the establishments at the food court at the Portland  Airport, always looking for a light and fresh, healthy salad option. Not expecting it at a pizza place, Pizzicato Pizza actually offers several choices of delicious sounding salads and other temptations including a Hummus Plate and a Greek Antipasti (fresh tomatoes, cucumber, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, pepperoncini, & red onions with Balsamic Vinaigrette.) along with their equally delicious looking (and smelling) pizzas! We settled on the Spinach Salad with pine nuts, feta cheese, tomatoes, and a Balsamic Vinaigrette (omitting the red onions–I don’t do onions). We have enjoyed this delicious salad twice now while traveling through the Portland Airport (and still haven’t gotten a picture…sorry, I get so focused on eating, sometimes I forget to take pictures!). The first time we ate during our flight, and it was a delicious in-flight meal. The next time, we enjoyed that beautiful serene atrium, and I was so relaxed, we almost missed our flight (thank goodness for those moving walkways!)

We discovered that Pizzicato Pizza is a Portland establishment grown from a ‘tiny hole-in-the-wall to a dependable neighborhood pizzeria” with numerous locations, some are franchises, in and around Portland, even reaching out to Hood River, Lake Oswego, & Bend Oregon, Vancouver, WA, Petaluma CA, and as far away as San Diego and Encinitas CA. Hmmm…. San Diego? I will have to check it out! Meanwhile, for the best airport food yet, YOU should check out Pizzicato Pizza at the Portland Airport or visit any of their other handy locations!

Boaters, Bikers, Burgers, and Beautiful Weather …

A FUN place to be this weekend is Lake Havasu City, AZ.

Boating season kicks off with the Desert Storm Poker Run attracting some of the fastest high performance offshore powerboats as well as other boating enthusiasts for opportunities to show off their boats in the street show, channel parade, poker run, and racing.

With different classes exceeding 180mph and speeds expected to reach 200 mph!, the Big Boats compete for ‘King of Desert’ status as ‘fastest boat in the west’.  Spectators have great viewing from the shore or from the water in their ‘smaller’ boats for a little closer view.

A GREAT place to EAT while enjoying the weekend events is the SANDBAR GRILL now open for the season until October.  Located on the island with access from Thompson Bay for boaters and from State Beach if you are driving.

An upright surfboard just inside the door displays the menu of the day which usually includes the popular Island Burger (beef patty topped with grilled pineapple, bacon, swiss cheese, BBQ sauce, lettuce & tomato) as well as other burger and chicken options, fries, onion rings, and chili fries. Also available are hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, chicken strips, and a fresh salad!
These giant juicy burgers are worth the wait of being prepared to order!

Also in town this weekend are motorcyclists attending the ‘Laughlin Run’ about 50 miles up river.

This year, motorcyclists attending the ‘Laughlin Run’ are getting a bonus with the big boat extravaganza along with visiting the London Bridge as they travel either through or to Lake Havasu City from Laughlin, Nevada, about 50 miles up river.

Life is Uncertain…Life is Uncertain…

Following the saying “Life is uncertain, eat Dessert First!”, I have to tell you about my dessert experience in San Diego. This is one of THE best experiences we have had in a long time and well worth having as a first, last or ONLY course!

While enjoying a relaxing visit to San Diego, I began fantasizing about a rich, delicious, satisfying dessert, with my thoughts mainly on my all time favorite: Tiramisu, (and acutely aware of our ‘relatively’ close proximity to Newport Beach and where one of my favorite places to have Tiramisu is located).  I perused the local listings in the hotel room table-top book for San Diego eateries that might look promising for the kind of dessert I was fantasizing over.

There were a lot of intriguing restaurants but none mentioning desserts of the kind I was lusting for, until I read “Extraordinary Desserts”…Well now! That is definitely a possibility– two locations: the original in the Hillcrest area and a second in Little Italy which also offers small meals (sandwiches, salads, etc) — Looking promising, especially if I can justify a rich dessert with a salad for lunch! ..and an equally satisfying restaurant experience (the setting and experience need to equal the food for the best results!).

We hadn’t made it a destination yet but it was certainly on my mind as we were out and about San Diego. (Hillcrest was an option but I was justifying the dessert with a light lunch!)

This particular day, we had tentative plans to meet up with our son & his wife for the evening and wanted an early lunch and light fare, so a salad and sharing a dessert sounded perfect! Trouble was, I didn’t remember the name or address of the extraordinary dessert restaurant, only that it is in Little Italy, and we didn’t even know where “Little Italy” was.

We discovered the location of this little Italian ‘berg’ quite by accident while making our way from a fun shopping excursion at Cost Plus World Imports in the Gas Lamp district to explore “Old Town” San Diego before meeting our son.  There on the map I saw “Little Italy” and it was within a few blocks of where we were – such luck!

We found a parking place on a side street, fed the meter, and started walking, heading to India street (the ‘main’ street of Little Italy–at least this is where the “Little Italy” sign spans the street).

This is charming — small little restaurants with mouthwatering “Italian” aromas of garlic, oregano,- pizza-, etc. wafting onto the street. There are men sitting out in front of their stores having animated conversations in Italian, houses with brightly painted picket fences–all of it right out of the movies sets!

I’m thinking we should be able to recognize a dessert-focused restaurant easily but so far none of these are much more than pizza places.  I am focused on finding dessert and wondering now, how I will recognize this apparent cornucopia of desserts–and there are so many little places!

Tommy has been offering a few small conversational tidbits – something about a client he remembers being connected to Little Italy and India Street and wondering if we could locate him, when we realize that right there across from us on India Street in LIttle Italy is a sign for his client’s business!

The client is in, and pleased to see us, but just heading out of the office, so our visit is brief with a quick hello and explanation of our being in San Diego and, more specifically, of being in Little Italy at lunch time. He knows of the extraordinary dessert restaurant but suggests we go just across the street to Buon Appetito for (in his opinion) ‘great food and the BEST  Tiramisu’, and then ‘walk it off’ in search of the other restaurant which, it turns out, is a considerable distance – still in Little Italy but several blocks away.  We would NEVER have just come across it!.