Night on EZ Street: Damn.good.meal

Yes, even the housemade hot sauce ring is delicious. Grassfed beef and avocado rolled in a tortilla

I had a meal that you will thank me if you try.  Seriously.  Let me tell you about it.  Actually, before I do, I should say that I do occasionally write reviews about bad food and drink experiences.  I don’t like to do it, but sometimes it’s necessary to help others avoid a mistake I made.  Or, more often, to just alert savvy business owners that something is off.  Actually, most often it’s just a fun release about a topic I treat like a second job–good food and craft beverages.  This brings me to today’s post.

This is really a story about more than a great meal.  It’s a useful tale for small restaurant owners on many fronts.  First tip, tweeting photos of your delicious meals right before dinner time is a FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC idea.  Words don’t–probably can’t–have the same impact.  If you are a business owner and you cater to anyone with disposable income, not being on twitter is a wasted opportunity.  It’s free to sign up, and what you lose in time, which I know is in short supply, you will make up for in low-cost sales.  The businesses that are good at twitter aren’t afraid to have an actual conversation now and again instead of just using it as a billboard, FYI.  If you want help, call my friend Mana at Monzavi Consulting, she is very good and can help you out at a fair price.  But I digress, back to the meal. Like any good twitter addict, while waiting for my wife to change I scrolled through my feed past the collection of politicos and journos talking about dishonest political ads, whether Proposition Z is a good idea or a bad one, etc. and honed in on the food people I follow.  Here’s what I saw

Roasted lamb tacos with anaheim chiles on corn tortillas, kicked in the pants with a little heat.

Yep, unless you are a vegetarian (or have my mother’s palate) your mouth is watering the same way mine was.  I put the idea to go to this restaurant out there as my wife finished getting ready and the deal was done.  Where, you ask, did I see these little delights on the menu?  Here.  To be fair, we’d decided to walk, which ruled out possible trips to Jayne’s Gastropub (also on 30th Street in Greater North Park) or to go try out 100 Wines (in Hillcrest, where a rebirth of sorts seems to be afoot).  And we also do not have children, so kid-friendliness was not an issue in our rotation.  But we could have chosen among at least two dozen eateries within walking distance.  And I’m very glad we chose this one.  Here’s why.

First off, you might have noticed that grassfed beef and avocado rollup photo at the top of page.  Well it tastes even better than it looks.  If I could find a classy way to swear I would be dropping all manner of f-bombs right now to accentuate how great those rollups are.  We’ve had that particular dish at least four times, so we knew it was good.  Points for consistency of the food in a restaurant matter.  If the food is bunk more than once I won’t go back absent a solid rec that either the chef has changed or some other major shift occurred.  Second, you see the lamb tacos?  Now, if you don’t like lamb you  probably need your head examined won’t be moved by this part of the story, but  I can tell you that lamb and I get along like peas in a pod.  And this was good. Plus, to get briefly on my soapbox, the owner is passionate (maybe a little bit of a zealot, in a good way) about getting food from local sources.  And making sure it’s not pumped with crap before you eat it.  And preparing it without processing it with a bunch of crap.  Yep, if Grover Norquist had a “no crap pledge” I think the owner–a pretty cool guy named Jay Porter–would sign it.  I like that he buys food from people who live and work in San Diego County when possible.  This should maximize the chance the dollars circulate.  I’ll count on my friend Erik Bruvold to help let me know if I’ve bought into some fallacy, but for now I’m sticking with it.

Third, we were able to get our other most favorite thing on the menu, The Governor.  I don’t think The Governor is a nod to Jerry Brown (though it wouldn’t surprise me), actually, I’m not really sure how it got its name.  But that anecdote is entirely secondary to what I’m about to show you…

This is a shrimp-driven taco that is just ridiculous

This is a dish you will be quite pleased to have let pass your lips.  I know, everything in a restaurant can’t be the best thing ever.  That would water down the meaning of best thing ever, I get it.  But this one’s a winner.  I don’t know if Chef Max bathes the shrimp in some addictive drug or only buys shrimp that had their own special little cozy homes and special massages or what, but this taco is worth the slight premium of $4 you pay for it.  So much so, in fact, that we had two.  I’m going out of order a little bit, because we actually started with a crab and avocado salad, which I won’t bother with the picture because, well, no, I will bother with the picture, have a look

Started our meal with this fresh crab and avocado salad

I don’t have anything over the moon to say about the salad.  It was good and fresh, but it didn’t hit me upside the head.  We did have two very cool drinks. One was called a Saint-Denis, which was made with Ballast Point aged rum, pear and maple (Ballast Point is an outstanding local brewery – I didn’t realize they made spirits).  The other drink I forgot the name of, but it was good.  The restaurant experiments with all these crazy mescal based creations, so if you like adventure when you drink this is a good spot.  (Random aside: While googling the owner for the link to his blog I came across this article he wrote called The World of Meat which is worth a read).  Back to the food, we rounded things out with a little shark.  Yes, we ate shark.  It was good.  I heard about the shark fin soup kerfuffle up in San Francisco and have no idea if this shark has any connection to that shark, but it was tasty and I’m sure it was caught using some kind of ethical, sustainable fishing practice.  Here’s a photo

Our shark taco

By the way, I’m not a tree-hugger (not that there’s anything wrong with getting your granola on).  I think growing, raising, catching, distributing and preparing things in a way that doesn’t screw our planet isn’t a particularly revolutionary thing to do.  And I’m probably proof that fiscally moderate people can like environmentally sound practices, too.  Some farmer told me this morning at San Diego Public Market that the price of grain has shot up by 38% in the last few months because of some drought-induced grain shortages. Apparently global warming is not just a conspiracy theory dreampt up by that guy who invented the Internets.  But I’ve drifted pretty far afield.  The point is that good food and good experiences can be hard to come by.  So hopefully my sharing how El Take it Easy put together some great food, pleasant and attentive service and a cool atmosphere will convince you to drop by next time you are in North Park.  There’s a massive parking garage two block away.  It’s well lit and usually has tons of parking.  Plus it’s max $5 all night. That way neighbors can keep their parking spaces on the surrounding residential surface streets.  Or you can ride your bike and park it at this cool thing, which is across from the parking garage, too. Our Councilmember had a big role in this one (thanks Todd).

Very cool bike corral at North Park Way and 30th Street in North Park…so you can ride to eat instead of driving

The whole meal set us back $94 including tip (with four drinks) and was well worth it.  I’m not sure how you make decisions on cost when you go out to eat, but that seemed a perfectly fair and reasonable price to pay for a nice night out without using our car. If you’ve eaten there and have some thoughts, please share.  Thanks for dropping by.

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