Hello friends! How are you doing today? I have decided to compile a list of restaurants that I hold near and dear to my heart, but don’t quite fit on any specific list. I’m thinking places that are a little well known about, holes in the wall, or just unassuming in general. These are places that I have visited time and time again, and am never disappointed.
1. Cake de Partie
Cake de Partie is quite a mystery to me. Not much is known about their owners or chef, which is crazy because I consider their dessert chefs to be some of the most skilled chefs in San Diego. They pull off incredibly difficult desserts with finesse. This includes crepe cakes, lava cakes (it’s so hard to get the perfect gooey center!) and the infamous fluffy pancakes, aka soufflé pancakes. They were the only sellers of soufflé pancakes in San Diego for quite a few years before Morning Glory and Tan Cha opened up. Souffle pancakes are incredibly finicky and require a lot of precision and not to mention time (they can take up to half an hour to make!). Their soufflé pancake flavors include ube, tiramisu, crème brulee, and chocolate banana. When it comes to lava cakes, I’ve tried a few around SD and only CDP gets the center to actually flow like lava! They have green tea and chocolate. For the crepe cakes, as far as I know CDP is the only place to have them. They have flavors such as ube, Thai tea, coconut, chocolate, and other rotating flavors. Their crepe cakes are amazing- very soft and fluffy. Just as good as Lady M’s in my opinion (famous place in New York). When they are open for dine in another one of my favorite desserts to get here is the banana roti. It’s essentially thick crepes with banana put in a burning hot pan with syrup and ice cream. They bring it out steaming, and the roti and bananas caramelize in front of you, giving a sweet charred flavor. Be careful not to touch the pan as it is very hot!
Cake de Partie’s desserts are only half of why they’re on their list. Another reason why I love them so much is their unique savory items- their tom yum and tom kha pastas! That’s right, they serve Thai fusion noodles! And they NAIL them. The noodles taste exactly like the soups. If you’ve never tried Thai soups by the way, I would highly recommend them. Tom Yum is a Thai sweet and sour and Tom kha is a bit more coconutty and milky. They also somehow serve an amazing carbonara?
I definitely consider CDP a top quality hidden gem (they only have 500 review on Yelp!) with an interesting mish mash of food and desserts served. Stop by and you won’t be disappointed!
2. Village House Kalina
Where do I go when I’m craving authentic Ukranian food like my mom used to make me? Village House Kalina. There aren’t many places to get Slavic food in San Diego but fortunately there is Village House Kalina, which is a small hole in the wall restaurant out in La Mesa. Their interior transports you straight to a babushka’s house (you can even hear her yelling in the back!). If you’ve never tried Russian food I highly recommend it- I’d compare it to food from the Midwest, very hearty and full of potatoes and beef. It is never spicy either! Russian food can be kind of pricy but if you’re looking for a steal, come during a weekday lunch and get a combo of a soup, salad and entrée for only $12-14. For soups, you can choose between two options- borsht and shchi. Borsht is essentially the poster child for Russian food around the world. You can put many things into a borsht, what is universal is the beets put into it to give it the distinct red/pink color it has. I ate this soup every single day growing up. Still not tired of it! Shchi is a hearty soup with sauerkraut, cabbage, potato and oftentimes sausage. It’s heavier and more filling than borsht, which tends to have a clear broth. For the salad, you really can’t go wrong- my favorite choice is the Olivier, or Russian potato salad. Very different from American potato salad (dare I even say better?!) For the main course you get to choose between stroganoff, kotleti (cutlets), pelmeni or vareniki. Stroganoff is a creamy beef pasta that I actually didn’t end up trying until college! It was simply not something my Ukrainian family made. Cutlets however were a special treat my mom would make us once a while- they’re like a cross between a burger patty and a meatball. Pelmeni and vareniki are both dumplings, but vareniki are typically considered Ukrainian and have potato fillings while pelmeni are the Russian version and are filled with meat. Either are great choices! Oh, and of course everything you order will come with sour cream. We Ukrainians are OBSESSED with sour cream and put it in everything. Salads, soups, dumplings, and even desserts. Speaking of desserts, you would be crazy to not try a Russian cake. I absolutely love Slavic desserts- they tend to be denser and less sweet. Village House Kalina has an amazing honey cake, which is a layered cake flavored with sour cream and honey. It’s AMAZING. And theirs comes with ice cream to sweeten the deal even more! I could eat an entire slice of these.
There is the first part friends! Two of my favorite places in all of San Diego that I think deserve way more recognition and hype. Keep your eye out for more of my San Diego gems! Hope you have a wonderful rest of your day wherever you are.
My handle on insta is foodventurewithanna, where you can find more delicious bites. I am also on the Y-tube now! Worldventurewithanna if you’re into mukbangs or would like to see a little more of me and who I am!