Category Archives: Travel

Gas Station Gourmet: Tabe BBQ

For the record, I never thought I was one to head to a gas station or a roach coach to pick up dinner.  However, it is fair to say that I am one of those people now.

Tabe BBQ's Only Physical Location: In a Gas Station Mini-Mart

My friend and food journalist extraordinaire Caron Golden of San Diego Food Stuff told me a few months back about an excellent PR pitch she got from the folks at Tabe (pronounced Tah-Bey) BBQ.  And then she went on to tell how it was different than most other food reviews she does because this “restaurant” was mobile in a truck.

Since then I’ve been watching the locals buzz about Tabe BBQ all over the internet and on San Diego morning news shows.  It is fair to say that I was intrigued.   

With geography on my side and a few spare minutes on my watch, last night I hit up Tabe’s only physical restaurant location (which happens to be at a gas station).

Tabe literally means “to eat” in Japanese.  The Tabe BBQ principles are Asian-inspired dishes with a classic Mexican flair … think TJ street tacos filled with teriyaki ginger chicken. 

Gas station schmas station, the food speaks for itself.  I ordered two chicken tacos and less than 24 hours later I am considering going back for two more.

Nothing Fancy; the Food Speaks for Itself.

The food is like something you’d get at a five-star, linen-table-cloth-lined, maitre’d-manned establishment.  I paid $6 (including tax) for my tacos, but anywhere else that meal could have easily gone for $30. 

I didn’t know what this Asian-Mexican fusion would be like, but it is what you’d image and then some. The ingredients were fresh, the flavors were complex and it is fair to say that the addictive side of my personality has been triggered. The menu is simple, but there is something for every taste.

Tabe BBQ’s physical location is in Kearny Mesa, but they send trucks daily all around the county to La Jolla, Hillcrest, Downtown, North Park, the College Area, Sorrento Valley and more. To find out exactly when they will be in your part of town, bookmark this site.

Believe you me, you’re gonna wanna check this out.  It is a gourmet food revolution on a poor man’s (or woman’s) dime.


Filed under Cooking, Eats, Restaurants, Travel

Linz Turns 30 in Vegas

L to R: Me and Linz

She actually turned 30 about three weeks ago, but her birthday celebration was this weekend in Vegas.  Lindsay is one of my favorite people in the world.  I met her my freshman year at San Diego State in the dorms.  It turns out we grew up in neighboring home towns.  We quickly became friends and stayed friends ever since.

In college we took many memorable road trips to Vegas, and some of my favorite memories in that city have Lindsay in them.

Lindsay is the kind of friend you can always count on.  She is supportive, caring, generous and fun. I was lucky to have her as a bridesmaid in my wedding and even though she lives in LA now, she came down to almost every single one of my fund raising events when I was walking the Breast Cancer 3 Day.

When she invited me to her birthday weekend in Las Vegas, it was a no-brainer!  I got to Vegas on Saturday morning around 11 a.m. and left Sunday at 3:30.  It was a short trip, but it was big on fun! We spent much of the day at the pool and then rallied at night to go to Studio 54 at the MGM Grand, where we used to go in every time we went to Vegas in college (Linz has VIP hook-ups there).

As long as I have a say, Lindsay will always be my friend.  It was so great to see her and have fun in one of our favorite cities in America – VEGAS!


Filed under Activities, Family, Sights, Tradition, Travel


This was a cool picture I took from the foot bridge that connects the MGM Grand and the New York New York hotels. I’ll write more about the little adventure later.


Filed under Activities, Entertainment, Sights, Travel

The Pig

Another Merced hot spot that has always caught my eye is The Pig.  It is actually called “The BBQ Pit” but the restaurant’s main icon is the giant pig statue that greets guests and lures them in from G street, hence the reason my family calls it “The Pig.”

Today we went there for breakfast.  The Pig serves food all day and is known for their excellent BBQ, particularly the ribs. Regardless, breakfast was no disappointment.  The Pig is decorated in red and white, with Coca Cola pictures on the wall and a jute box in the corner.  It looks like a diner you’d see in the 50’s with a stainless steel-trimmed soda fountain up front.

Dave and Pam

I ordered the Spanish omelette with home fries and fruit.  Dave ordered eggs and bacon that came with a side of pancakes and strawberries.  The pancakes looked amazing.  Scott and Pam had eggs, hash browns and sausage with a side of biscuits with gravy.  I am pretty sure that the biscuits and gravy are the money-makers for The Pig during breakfast.  They looked so good.

Our waitress, Katie, was friendly and prompt.  None of our meals were more than $7 each.  If you’re ever driving up the 99 freeway through Merced, do yourself a favor and stop off at The Pig for a bite to eat.

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Filed under Community, Eats, Family, Restaurants, Travel

Applegate Zoo

For years I’ve been coming to Merced and driving past the Applegate Zoo.  For years  Scott has been telling me how the Applegate Zoo is terrible and showcases nothing more than a Lhasa Apso in its natural environment (i.e. a couch).  I’ve never met a zoo I didn’t like, and I like to go to zoos every where I go – I’ve even been to the zoo in Barcelona.

Last time I saw my in-laws I mentioned to them how I’ve been dying to go to the Applegate Zoo for seven years.  They echoed Scott’s sentiments about the lack of exotic animals at the zoo, but agreed to take me regardless.  Today we visited the zoo.  It was fantastic … even the resident Mercedians thought so.  Granted, it was a small zoo, but it was well-kept and a pure delight. As with most of my animal postings, this story is best told in pictures.  Enjoy.

Applegate Zoo Entry

Very affordable entry

Pacing cougar

Curious raccoon

Hard to see, but a peacock with fully fanned-out tail feathers

This swan loved the shower

Sleepy bear

Lunch time for the monkeys


Filed under Activities, Animals, Community, Entertainment, Family, Sights, Travel

Bike to Work, San Diego

For those of us looking to reduce our carbon footprint, the San Diego community is giving us a great opportunity tomorrow – Bike to Work Day.

This could be you!

It is exactly what it sounds like … on this day you walk out the door without your car keys and hop on your bike to get to work.  In addition to getting a new perspective on your commute, you also have the chance to get a T-shirt and win great prizes.

Details below:

Use some pedal power and join thousands of San Diegans on Friday, May 21, 2010, for Bike to Work Day!  A nationally recognized event, Bike to Work Day supports bicycling as a viable, environmentally-friendly commute choice. The event occurs annually on the third Friday of May, which is National Bike Month. Register now!

In 2009, 5,000 San Diego region participants navigated their commute on two wheels. If you are interested in trying a commute that can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint, then check out iCommute to get the resources you need – how to get started, bike maps, and information on taking your bike on transit. It’s all right here!

Not sure if there is a good route for bikes from your home to workplace? Check out the San Diego Regional Bikeway Map. To help you along your ride, Bike to Work Day offers pit stops –  places where riders can pick up free water, a snack, and lots of encouragement! In 2009, there were a record 56 pit stop locations throughout the region. Find the best location along your route using the list of pit stops and Google maps. Watch this Today Show segment to see biking win in a Commuter Challenge!

Ready to ride? Registration is open! By registering in advance, you will receive a coupon for an official BTWD t-shirt*, and you will be entered into a drawing for valuable prizes! Prizes include spa gift certificates, a bicycle commuter pack, and an electric bicycle!

For the full details, click here.

Source: iCommuteSD


Filed under Activities, Business, Fitness, General, Health, Resources, Sports, Tradition, Travel

Fess Parker Winery

As we were chatting with the man at the front desk of our hotel, he offered to give us a coupon for two free wine tastings at Fess Parker Winery.  Not people to turn down “free,” we decided to make a pit stop on our way out. 

The Fess Parker Winery is owned by the late Fess Parker, who played Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone in the Disney movies of the 1950’s and ’60’s, and his family.  The virtues that made these characters lives, and probably Fess Parker’s as well, are amazingly apparent when you enter the winery.

First, there are coon-skin hats everywhere … and not just for people, but for wine bottles too.  That was a first for me to see a fur on a wine bottle.  The winery is vast and very out-door driven.  The wine-tasting building is surrounding by a giant grassy area where families share picnic food, play games and even romp with their dogs. 

As you drive into the winery it is impossible to miss the beautiful rose-bush-lined fences leading to the gate and building entrance.  Inside the winery, you get a woodsy, log cabin feel that is punctuated by the enormous stone fireplace in the back.

The tasting room offers 6 varietals per tasting, all of which were unique and good in their own way. 

This concludes my week of posting on the Santa Ynez Valley.  I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as we did.


Filed under Activities, Drinks, Entertainment, Restaurants, Sights, Travel