Monday, April 30, 2012

SP Survives a Boat & Gets His Mexican Food

Friday morning my parents headed back to Las Vegas. My plan was to take a 2 hour harbor cruise. SP was not thrilled - he does not like being on the water and has informed me that we will never take a cruise for a vacation. Since he loves me and likes to make me happy, he agreed to the harbor cruise.
Tip: talk to your hotel concierge! We received a discount voucher for the zoo and we received a discount voucher for the cruise, saving $4 a ticket on the cruise ($23 instead of $27). There are two harbor cruise companies right next to each other, Flagship and Hornblower. My parents have taken the Hornblower cruise and said it was really good. Simply because of the discounted tickets, we chose Flagship. Also, for the price, you may as well choose the 2 hour cruise instead of 1 hour. It's only $5 more. But if you really only want to do the one hour, choose the north harbor cruise. Along with my parents, we liked the north harbor cruise better.
The tours are narrated, so you learn a lot. Our cruise did the north harbor portion first. It was neat to see the planes coming into the airport fly right over the boats.
The restaurant at which we dined for our anniversary, Island Prime, seen from our harbor cruise.

Sea lions!

Military ships
The north cruise includes the North Island Naval Air Station, Harbor and Shelter Islands, the Naval Sub Base, and the Cabrillo National Monument. The south cruise includes the Star of India, the U.S. Navy surface fleet, Coronado Bay Bridge, and busy shipyards.
Going under Coronado Bridge
The north part was sunny and beautiful. By the time we were into the second hour and the south harbor, the fog/mist was rolling in, it was breezy, chilly, and not quite as lovely! Coronado Bridge is on the south cruise.

One note: after the first hour, the boat will return to the dock to let off one hour cruise people and load more people, then it sets off again. So our harbor excursion lasted from 12:30 pm until 2:45 pm. That's a helpful tip for parking, since there's metered parking and a parking lot for the area, but the lot that we used for the USS Midway and for the harbor cruise asks you to pay based on time you'll be parking when you enter, not when you depart. We went with 4 hour parking.

I really enjoyed our harbor excursion, and so did SP. Since you stay in the bay and do not venture out to the ocean, there's not a lot of motion. I didn't feel queasy at all, and in the past on some cruises, I've turned green!

After a brief return to the hotel, we drove across the Coronado Bridge to Coronado. Coronado is an affluent resort city. I think the main attraction, aside form the beaches, is the Hotel del Coronado, a resort built in 1888 and considered one of the world's top resorts.

We drove around for a while. Part of the island is home to the navy, so that area if off limits. We finally parked (parking is tough on Coronado!) and walked to the Hotel del Coronado. We walked along the path between the resort and beach. Sadly, it was very breezy and chilly, and the sun was long gone and the fog/mist had rolled in even though it was only around 5-6 pm.
Barely visible ship 

There are some benches long the path, so we sat and gazed at the beach and ocean for a while. I wondered just how crazy the people in the water were - I was freezing and there were people in swimsuits in the water!!!
Before we walked around Hotel del Coronado and along the beach, we went to eat since we hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. I already had a place picked out. I knew we'd be on Coronado at dinner time, so I used my Yelp app to search restaurants on Coronado. One of the 4 star ones to pop up early in the list was a Mexican place, and SP had not yet gotten his Mexican food fix on vacation. So we went there.
Miguel's Cocina. I didn't research this place at all other than seeing it had 4 of 5 stars on Yelp.It turns out it is a chain in the San Diego area. We were seated right away. Our server brought some chips and a salsa and cheese sauce.
The chips were tasty. Better than what we get around here at restaurants, if you even receive chips for free anymore. There was a mild, not at all spicy, but cilantro flavored salsa and a white cheese-jalapeno dip that was not very hot/jalapeno-y.
A Happy Hour peach and a HH mango margarita. The margaritas on the menu looked pretty darn pricey, $10-$12 for most and one that cost nearly $17. Fortunately we were there during HH so ours were only around $5. Tasty, but not very tequila filled.
SP ordered Ceviche: shrimp, scallops, and white fish cured in citrus juices with diced tomato, onion and cilantro, served with crispy tortilla chips. He didn't eat the chips, just the seafood, and he really liked it.
We also ordered a HH appetizer, Chicken Taquitos. These were OK. I didn't eat my taquito smothered with the onions, cilantro, or guacamole, just a bit of sour cream. They would probably be tastier with everything piled on, but since I dislike raw onions, cilantro, and guacamole, I ate mine plain.
For his entree, SP chose Calamari Relleno: tender calamari steak-wrapped chile relleno, fried and topped with jalapeƱo white sauce. It was enormous. He couldn't finish the calamari steak and barely touched the rice and beans! He really, really liked it, though.
I chose Quesadilla Suprema - a large flour tortilla filled with cheese and carne asada, pollo asado or carnitas; served with guacamole, sour cream and salsa fresca. I chose the carnitas.
The carnitas was so moist and tender. However, much to my surprise, it didn't have much flavor. I didn't taste any spice or heat or anything, just tasty, moist meat. On the one hand, for me, given my food preferences, this was good, and I ate all the meat and most of the huge tortilla. On the other hand, most people would probably be disappointed with the mild meat. But I really liked it!
I couldn't pass up Crispy Cinnamon Churros for dessert. Fried Mexican pastries rolled in cinnamon and sugar. I did pass on the option to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. To my surprise, I thought these were just OK. We each ate only one and took the others back to the hotel, but we never got around to eating them and they eventually were tossed.

Final thoughts: I liked the patio/courtyard with lots of plants atmosphere. Our server was friendly but at times she seemed impossible to find. Everything was good, but not great. My thoughts could be influenced by the fact that we live in Pittsburgh and, with the exception of my recent tacos at Smoke experience, I've never had any especially tasty Mexican food here. I thought this was miles better than any Mexican I've had here. SP liked his food a lot. But my food did lack a lot of what I think of as Mexican heat and flavor.

Sadly, we didn't get to Super Cocina, which supposedly is an amazing Mexican food restaurant, nor did we make it to any of the taco trucks (Mariscos German Taco Truck in particular) or shops (El Indio, Lucha Libre). If we make it back to San Diego, now that we've crammed in most of the touristy activities, we would have more time to seek out these places and get a better idea of tasty Mexican food. But we both are happy with our trip to Miguel's.

We stopped at Chocolat Cremerie for evening tea and cookies before heading back to the hotel to wait for fireworks after the Padres baseball game. Sadly, we ended up not being able to see the fireworks from our room, and also sadly, right before the fireworks started, I had a sneezing fit and suddenly, I was sick with whatever disease had been mildly plaguing SP all week. Only I got it worse. Much worse.

Miguel's Cocina on Urbanspoon

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