Monday, September 28, 2009

San Diego's Best Waterfront Restaurant

Update September 2015
Island Prime is still wonderful. Better yet, it is all fully renovated digs!

Perfect Food, Perfect Staff, Perfect View
(Oh, and Free Parking!)

I am a Zonie.

For those that need some translation a Zonie is the term used by San Diego residents to describe the zillions of Arizona desert rats that invade its beaches each summer to escape the heat.

Like all Zonie's if I ever win the lottery I will buy a home in San Diego. Till then (lets assume forever), I will just have to make my annual treks to lotus land and enjoy its perfect views and awesome weather.

Like all Zonies I return over and over to my favorite places. This trip we went to a great show at Humphrey's and took a stroll in Balboa Park. We ate Kalbi ribs at Dakines and had a big classic breakfast at Hob Nob Hill. Most trips we make at lest one pilgrimage to Point Loma Seafoods (bring cash - they still don't take plastic - they close early and there is always a wait).

But after many visits I've concluded my hands down favorite place to eat is Island Prime.

Views Just Don't Get Better Than This

Set on pilings at the tip of Harbor Island (I have actually walked here from the airport) this place has everything. At lunch they serve terrific food in the "C" Level Lounge. At dinner they ramp it up and feature an even more incredibly creative menu. The place while elegant, is not at all pretentious. They seem to cultivate friendly servers that genuinely enjoy serving you. At lunch you can enjoy lobster truffle mac and cheese, a blackened prime rib french dip, and some deep fried artichoke hearts on the side. The portions are perfect.

Lobster Truffle Mac and Cheese for Lunch

At dinner chef Deborah Scott delivers specialties like short ribs, crusted river scallops, and every possible cut of steak. All can be accompanied by Alaskan king crab if you feel really adventurous (and rich)!

The Main Dining Room

Put this restaurant on the "Definite" list for any special occasion you plan to spend in San Diego.

OK Lets sum it up.

No place has better food.

No place has nicer staff.

No place has a more spectacular view.

And did I mention it has free parking?

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Hometown Favorite

A Wine Bar and Cafe Infused With A Latin Beat

Update: 7-27-2012

Sadly Bomberos' Closed in 2011 The latin heartbeat is sorely missed. Still hoping to see Oscar re-emerge in a new venue.

In the meantime the little gem that was created by Bombero's has been further updated and is a new wine bar with a new wood fired oven. They are continuing the tradition of creating amazing exceptional food. It is called Timo's

Perfect place to go if you want to impress someone by introducing them to this almost hidden, yet very cool, little restaurant! Great Sunday brunch too. 

See you there!

For a road warrior like me it is important to make the effort to be home every weekend. Weekends allow me to recharge. I walk the mutts and wash old cars (my zen).

Weekends are my time to relax, read the paper, sip some yuppie coffee, and enjoy a light lunch or dinner.

Now, as my readers know, I hate formulaic chain restaurants. I seek out local coffee bars and routinely ping Trip Advisor or Zagat for restaurant recommendations in each new city.

Sorry Applebee's and Starbuck's but I'm sooooo sick of you I could just urp.

So when I'm home in Phoenix on the weekends I tend to return to my favorite places. Like most big cities, Phoenix is blessed with great local and ethnic restaurants. Be it Greek, Indian, Cuban, Asian, or Latin. We now have everything from hole-in-the-wall dives to lovely little gems.

Me, I go back over and over to El Bravo for Mexican, Mazies for brunch, and for the times before, after, or in-between, we go to Bombero's.

Bombero's Wine Bar and Cafe is Located at the top of Central Avenue in North Central Phoenix's eclectic Sunnyslope neighborhood. This is a spot worth a detour when you visit Phoenix.

A Big Latte in the Morning
(The Owner's Beloved Vespa still licensed in Montevideo is in the background!)

Bombero's is housed in an old fire station ("Bombero" is Spanish for fireman). The Owner is from Uruguay and loves to introduce guests to his favorite South American wines.

Seating for Individuals and Groups

Behind Bombero's is its beautiful little garden. The garden is pet friendly, has comfy seating, live music at night, and is a perfect place to come and just sit for hours.

The Gardens

Bubbling Fountains in Summer
Warm Firepits in Winter

Table Made of Found Objects

Bombero's is where you go with someone you really love to sit and talk with.

It is the perfect place to linger over coffee or sample some surprising and wonderful South American wines.

Roadboy's Travels © 2009

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pine Trees, Bikers, and Church Camp

A Labor Day Tradition

Every family establishes its own traditions. Some families have reunions each year at the lake or at the shore.

One of our family traditions is to spend Labor Day in Prescott Arizona at a Church retreat. It is our annual chance to hike Thumb Butte, sleep on narrow wooden bunks, star gaze, and swat a few insects. All the while enjoying the company of great friends in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable (the Episcopal Camp Chapel Rock).

Labor Day Weekend at Chapel Rock

There have been notable exceptions (like last year when a freak storm blew through Phoenix the day before we were supposed to leave, eliminating most of our back fence, messing with the roof, and removing our house from the unbelievably delicate power grid furnished periodically by our local joke of an electrical utility called Arizona Public Service (do I sound bitter?). My kids even joke that losing power at our house as an almost monthly event. But that is another story.

This year we again left Phoenix in a massive deluge of rain that followed us all the way to Prescott at times making it hard to see the road. It gave us a chance to wonder if we were in for a washout, but instead it passed on giving us clean air and clear blue skies.

An End of Summer Storm

For those who have been to Prescott you know it is a gem. Locals can be readily identified as they refer to it as "Press-kit", never "Press-kott".

Prescott enjoys a daily average high temperature of 88° F on even the hottest days of July making it heaven to any Phoenician.

Home to numerous golf courses, the oldest rodeo in the west, and views of Thumb Butte, it enjoys a picture perfect setting on Granite Creek. We love its pine trees and necklace of mountains. It is where we send our kids to camp.

Thumb Butte from Downtown

Unfortunately, the most common way to get to it requires a drive through its hideously ugly stepsister Prescott Valley (which is, in reality, merely an excuse for parking lots, big box development, and a couple of Indian casinos). Not sure who dreamed up the idea of calling this extended blight a "valley", but it is simply too many miles long now to ignore.

Hiking Up Thumb Butte

Prescott itself has quite a history. It served as the first capital of the Arizona Territory. And although the capital was later moved to Tucson, it later returned again to Prescott (before being permanently relocated to Phoenix).

Prescott's tree lined streets claim over 500 buildings on the national register of historic places.

The Historic Hassayampa Inn
(Like Every Other Old Hotel Around it is Supposed to be Haunted)

The most notable building is the stately Yavapai County Courthouse. Everything in Prescott seems to radiate from Courthouse Square (home to a great annual crafts fair over Labor Day weekend).

The Yavapai County Courthouse

The Courthouse is surrounded by larger-than-life cowboy sculptures by Solon Hannibal Borglum.

Cowboy at Rest

Detail of "The Cowboy"

Bucky O'Neill
A Monument to one of Roosevelt's "Rough Rider's"
Who Perished in the Spanish American War

Other great buildings include the Post Office, Carnegie Library, Hassayampa Inn, Hotel St. Michael, and the bars and shops along Prescott's infamous "Whiskey Row".

One of the Bars Along Whiskey Row

The Redlights are Now Gone on Whiskey Row
(It Boasts as Many Crafts Shops as Bars)

On Labor Day Prescott seems to house an eclectic mix of sad yuppie bikers, scary bikers, drunks, families, and old hippies.

Me, I am a big fan of places with old hippies. Lets face it old hippies equal good baked goods, organic pies, and perfect coffee.

The Express Expresso Bar at the St. Michael

Words to Live By

Arrive at 7:00 AM for
The Best Croissants and Scones in AZ

Prescott is the place to go to avoid the hype of Sedona and/or the snow and cold of Flagstaff. It is Arizona's perfect slice of American Pie.

Roadboy's Travels © 2009