You may have seen our giveaway for Taste of Bankers Hill the other week. Congrats to all our winners and everyone who participated! We got a chance to attend the event ourselves which we’ve never been to before. There were many restaurants we’ve dined at in the past, but some of them we haven’t gotten a chance to try yet. That’s what we love about “Taste of” events. You can get samples from multiple restaurants in one eating session, and hopefully they do a good job representing the restaurant as a whole.
We were one of the first to arrive while they were setting everything up. Unlike other Taste of events where you walk to each restaurant, this one was held at The Abbey in Bankers Hill. The Abbey is an events venue on 5th avenue and there was plenty of space for each restaurant to set up a station with their selected items. It isn’t as large as most other Taste of events, which was nice for a change since we didn’t feel like we were going to miss out on anything. In total we sampled food from eight different vendors for the night.
Croces Park West served up a banh mi style ahi tuna slider. There was heat, sourness from the pickled vegetables, but unfortunately not as much tuna flavor as I would have liked. Still, I enjoyed the freshness of the vegetables and general light nature of the slider.
We’ve dined at Bertrand at Mister A’s and loved their food along with the beautiful views of San Diego they offer atop their roof. They featured toast with (sausage?) and a quail egg on top. This didn’t pop as much as I would have liked. I was expecting the meat component to give it a salty kick, but it didn’t quite come together for me.
Karl Strauss was selected as their featured beer vendor for the evening. They were serving a few types of beers and we scored one of their cute little beer cups. Pictured is the amber lager which was cool, crisp, and refreshing.
Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe was one of the restaurants we’ve never been to before. No this isn’t owned by former president Jimmy Carter. But the Jimmy Carter that owns this restaurant served up a variety of dishes for our tasting pleasure. Most of the restaurants didn’t have any signs indicating what each dish was so I’m having to do some extrapolation here. They had beans, chips and salsa, squid with their signature tlahquepaque sauce (creamy combination of roasted jalapenos and cilantro), a beef enchilada with red guajillo sauce, and a chicken enchilada or tamale with green sauce. This was one of the surprise favorites of the night. The food was relatively hot even though it was one of the last places we got to, and each dish had a distinct flavor, giving each bite a new element. The chicken and squid were standouts for me.
Unfortunately the ceviche with mangos was one of our least favorites for the night from Barrio Star. There was a ton of sweetness from the mango and a slight spiciness, but hardly any fish or lime came through. To top it off when I got to the front of the line, the man handing out the ceviche proceeded to serve several others before I practically had to serve myself. Maybe he thought I just wanted to take pictures of the food and not actually eat it?
Thank goodness Bankers Hill was there to help erase my memory. Our surefire winner for the night came in the form of a Bankers Hill taco. I believe it had pork filling with lettuce, tomato, guacamole, and a sweet bbq sauce finish. The shell almost tasted like a doritos taco shell, but thicker and crispier. All the components played off each other perfectly, and left you with savory, sweet, and smoky notes. Pizzicato served you guessed it, pizza. They had two varieties: pepperoni and margherita. We were talking about how it would be tough to serve certain items at an event like this. Ceviche seems like a safe choice because you don’t have to worry about it getting cold or sitting for too long. Pizza on the other hand would seem to be hard to pull off well. It turned out as you might expect. It wasn’t piping hot like you wish fresh pizza straight out of the oven to be, but it wasn’t cold either. Given all the challenges, they weren’t all that bad and I found the margherita to be slightly better. The tomatoes lended a bit of juice to the pizza, while basil is always welcome to join my pizza party. I do want to try Pizzicato on its own to see what a fresh slice tastes like.
Sanfilippo’s’ Mexican pizza had the same temperature issues Pizzicatos had. There was a lot going on here with the meat, jalapenos, tomato, etc. We got to this one too late and had one of the last pieces from that batch. 🙁 I’m sure it would have tasted far differently had we had a fresher slice.
One of the prettier presentations came from Hornblower Cruises. They served a scallop and persimmon ceviche. It had a delicate balance of sweet, spicy, sour, and finished like crystal clear ocean water.
There was some great food we sampled at Taste of Bankers Hill, while others didn’t quite tantalize our tongues. However, we’re glad we went and experienced it all. If you hate the large crowds and having to maneuver the streets for other Taste of events, perhaps this one is a good alternative. It was busy, but not overwhelming by any means. Most of the participating restaurants served items on their regular menus so you at least get a small glimpse into what they might serve if you dined there. Until next year Taste of Bankers Hill!
For more information on the group that organizes Taste of Bankers Hill, go to their Facebook page.