Best Things I Ate This Month: July 2018
Biscuits w/ miso maple butter at Crack Shack, creamy chorizo mussels at Jrdn, and vegan taquitos at El Tianguis
Biscuits w/ Miso Maple Butter @ Crack Shack
The Crack Shack is a runaway hit now. The fast-casual spawn of its fine-dining flagship, Juniper & Ivy, it takes the advanced culinary ideas of chefs Richard Blais and Jon Sloan and applies them to the humble fried chicken. And their outdoor eatery in Little Italy is always jammed as they start franchising all over the region. Imagine this is how the early years of Shake Shack felt for Danny Meyer. Anyway, almost everything is good here (the matzo ball posole, the riff on the Croque Monsieur, etc.), but these biscuits are a simple joy. The biscuits are brown, fluffy and textbook, but it’s that miso-maple butter that makes them magic. Slather that on and pretend you’re a southerner who’s on vacation in Japan.
2266 Kettner Boulevard., Little Italy
Creamy Chorizo Mussels @ Jrdn
For next month’s review in SD Mag, I return to the beach where I once lived in my wayward, shooter-fied youth. Pacific Beach. The party town has come a long way in the food department, no longer just mediocre bar food that pairs well with Jaegermeister and nice abs. And Jrdn was one of the original culinary game-changers when it arrived in 2006. Now they’ve done a big remodel, installed a glassed-in sushi bar, and brought back talented chef David Warner (ex-Bottega Americano). But the star of my two meals there was, by a long shot, these mussels. Maybe the best I’ve tasted in the city. Mussels are all about the broth, and this one is deadly good—chorizo, garlic, chardonnay, tomato fennel, cream, and herb butter. Eat these on the patio as you watch summer glide by on skates on the boardwalk five feet away.
723 Felspar Street, Pacific Beach
Vegan Taquitos @ El Tianguis
Taquitos have been much maligned as Mexican starter food for people who don’t like Mexican food. They’re not as sexy as posole or mole, or really, anything else from the culture’s kitchen. Plus, being the most freezable of foods, they’ve been cast as the defrost food across America. That’s why the fresh, from-scratch versions at this little joint in North Park are such a revelation. Instead of brick-like, too-crunchy, recently unfrozen versions we’re used to, the tortilla shells are light, flaky, almost like pastry dough. They sell meat versions, but the lentil-quinoa vegan ones are the star. Welcome back, taquitos.
2810 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park