The chowteens and I took a quick trip to San Diego this week, and although most of the time we were too busy basking in the warm ocean to worry about food, we managed to hit two of San Diego's best places for burgers: The Linkery and Phil's BBQ. Kathy and I had a more civilized, adult meal at the Linkery last year, with some amazing cask-conditioned ale. Of course the joys of their ales were lost on the kids, and possibly the grass-fed burger (left) with pastured egg, pineapple and house-cured bacon was a bit baroque for Sam as well, but I love their menu and my Mission Brewing Amber Alt was just right with the housemade chorizo sausage. We also hit Phil's BBQ which I gather draws some controversy from San Diego Chowhounds over whether it's "real" barbecue, as it's not wood-smoked, but rather grilled. Phil's huge new location, on nondescript Sports Arena Blvd. amid tons of chain restaurants, is rather daunting, with a long but fast-moving line, beepers to tell you when to pick up your 'cue and a fend-for-yourself table policy. But it's hard to complain -- prices are reasonable for huge amounts of good-quality food, the charred bits on the chicken and ribs are perfectly distributed, although the sauce is a bit sweet, it has a pleasant tang with a little bite, and the coleslaw was one of the best I've had. And although my ribs were were terrific, Sam said his BBQ cheeseburger (right) topped with an onion ring was even better. We were pretty stuffed from Phil's, but we stopped by Extraordinary Desserts anyway. I'm afraid I have to agree with some of the Chowhounds -- the desserts are extraordinary to look at, but for me, the flavors aren't strong or distinguished enough to make them worth the calories. But San Diegans are still lucky to have a pleasant nighttime patio place to get desserts, and Sophie said she would be glad to host her sweet 16 party there.
(apple pie with caramel sauce, left; chocolate Viking cake with caramel, right)