The Best Things I Ate This Month: April Main Dish
Maple Bacon Donuts @ Great Maple | Duo of Beef @ Amaya | Italian lollipops @ Mangia Mangia
Maple Bacon Donuts @ Great Maple
A quick survey of my list this month reveals: Oh, yep, that’s where I got the extra five pounds. Johnny Rivera, the hyperactively creative brain behind Hash House A-Go-Go and Tractor Room, recently took over Brian’s American Eatery on the cusp of Hillcrest. He’s a local. This is an iconic spot. He didn’t want something lame going in there. So he inserted his Euro dinette called Great Maple. And while the focus is dinner, he’s serving these ridiculous donuts with shards of bacon spackled to the maple frosting. They’re dense, thick, and the bacon isn’t the overly smoky, Brawny Man type that usually ruins bacon-dessert hybrids. Served warm, with glee. Great Maple, 1451 Washington St., 619.255.2282. thegreatmaple.com.
Duo of Beef @ Amaya
It’s hard to get noticed when you’re at the restaurant at the Grand Del Mar that’s not named Addison. With the opening of the second Amaya in La Jolla, talented chef Camron Woods steps out from chef William Bradley’s shadow a bit. (He refuses to admit to either that he’s talented or that he’s glad to be unshadowed.) I hit the media lunch to unveil his new menu. Plenty of raves and not much of anything to complain about. The best was the duo of beef, with a grilled New York Strip laid over a braised short rib—both anchored in crushed crème fraiche potatoes. Amaya, 1205 Prospect St., 858.750.3695, amayalajolla.com.
Italian lollipops @ Mangia Mangia
I happen to love a woman who works in Riverside. It’s not her best quality. To ease commute stress, we’re stuck in the gourmet wasteland that is inland North County. The best food here happens every Thursday when the food trucks pull into a school parking lot. One of the trucks is Mangia Mangia, started by my favorite former server at good Italian restaurant, Bice. And these lollipops—meatballs deep-fried in tempura batter—are a frilly little invention. Luckily, they’re tasty, too. Like a really fancy hot dog on a stick where the herbs aren’t some anonymous dust vanished into the meat. The marinara sauce that accompanies ‘em is even better. And a good sauce is what makes any Italian joint worth anything. Mangia Mangia, 858.405.0070, mangiamangiamobile.com.