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The Murals of North Park, San Diego

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Near my dad’s place in North Park, they had been having a lot of issues with tagging on buildings, so they decided to implement a program that’s been successful in other cities: murals. It’s intended to channel artistic impulses in positive ways, increase pride and ownership in the neighborhood, and decrease the sort of vandalism that makes an area appear run down and tends to encourage other crimes. So far, it’s been successful, and once a mural has been implemented, it’s rarely tagged over. And if it is, there’s a task force to remove it as soon as possible–there was one right next to my dad’s place that had been tagged overnight, and the next day, it was like it was never there. Plus, so much cool art for everyone to enjoy! Now if only I could get someone to remove the tags on my street…


Ironside Oyster in San Diego, CA

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When I go somewhere I’ve been before, I try to make certain I try new restaurants in addition to my old favorites, so I don’t spend the whole trip chasing nostalgic tastes. One I was really anxious to try was Ironside Fish & Oyster: with Michelin-starred chef Jason McLeod in the kitchen, an innovative cocktail menu, and all of their bread baked in-house, plus, you know, a wall of freaking piranha skulls, I had an inkling that it would be right up my alley. Oh, and it was.

I had my very first oyster here–I figured if I was in a place with “oyster” in the name, it would be remiss to continue to eschew them. It’s a little ridiculous that I flew to San Diego from Seattle to eat an oyster that was from Washington state, but I guess sometimes you have to step outside your bubble to see the wonder that’s in your own backyard. Or something. I’d been put off by the idea of oysters in the past as so many people have described them as “snotty” which doesn’t sound particularly appetizing. For the record, I would not give them that description. Briny, chewy, with a bright tang from the lemon, they were refreshing and surprisingly delicious (surprising due to the aforementioned expectation of snot).

For the main course, Jason and I decided to split the lobster roll as I’d seen raves about that baby online, in addition to an order of fish & chips and a side of chowder fries. It was kind of a miracle that I didn’t leave Ironside Fish & Oyster feeling incredibly ill due to the richness of everything we ordered. The lobster roll was SO GOOD, stuffed with a pound of lobster and tossed in a browned butter mayo, but a couple of bites were absolutely sufficient. Same deal with the chowder fries–life changing but insanely decadent, with a heaping portion of bacon-y clam chowder gravy ladled on top of their crisp housemade fries. I think I took one bite of the fish from the fish&chips and it was excellent, and a bite of my dad’s seafood paella which was also incredible and then I was DONE. I’d absolutely go again, and as long as I try something new, it’ll be within my self-imposed rules. Plus, I really need to figure out how to smuggle that tentacle lamp off the wall and home to my pirate bathroom.



The Crack Shack San Diego


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crack shack (5 of 6)I have never seen a bit of wordplay I enjoyed more than this barnyard joke.

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A while back on Facebook, I saw my dad check into someplace called “The Crack Shack”. At first I was glad that it wasn’t, you know, an actual shack for crack because no one wants to sit down and have the talk with their dad about substance abuse, but upon second glance, I knew I’d have to visit for myself, because their chicken sandwiches looked like something I’d potentially stab a guy to try. Thankfully, their sandwiches were plentiful on the date that I visited and I didn’t need to find out exactly how deep my anger and gluttony issues run.

I bought two sandwiches to try: the Señor Croque (crispy chicken, fried egg, cheddar, miso-maple butter on brioche) and the Coop Deville (crispy chicken, pickled fresno chilies, lime mayo, napa cabbage on brioche) and an array of their house made dipping sauces for little bits of chicken picked off of the sandwiches so as to better get the whole flavor picture. The Señor Croque was delicious (ALL THE UMAMI) but far too rich, the kind of sandwich you have to stop eating after a bite or two lest you feel ill for the rest of the day, the kind of sandwich that would be far better served as a slider. The Coop Deville, on the other hand, was sandwich perfection. A good sandwich has an interplay of flavors and textures, and this one had hot crunchy chicken (with a crackly fried crust that wasn’t grease-saturated), spicy-sweet slaw, the tang of the lime in the mayo, all rounded out with buttery soft brioche.


All that, and a “cluck off, I’m hangry” t-shirt. Eggsellent. Now if only they’d start dealing in my neighborhood.