Monday, April 25, 2016

Bite San Diego - Coronado Walking Tour Review

cDowntown San Diego from Coronado Island

Looking to spend a little time on some of the most pristine beaches in the country?  Or how about dining in a restaurant in the heart of a quaint community with the feel of yesteryear?  Or perhaps you're looking to catch a glimpse of some of our country's elite military in training (SEAL BUD/S)?  What you are looking for is Coronado Island.

Situated just across the bay from downtown San Diego, Coronado Island can be reached by the award-winning and beautifully curved Coronado Bridge or by a 15 minute ride across the bay on the Coronado Ferry.  Known most notably for the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, this little island, peninsula actually, transports visitors to a charming town filled with numerous dining and shopping opportunities.  But to feel the quaintness of the town and to really appreciate the beauty of the many elegant gardens lining the streets one really need to get out and walk.

Coronado Island Ferry Landing
And that's exactly what we did last Saturday afternoon with a Bite San Diego Coronado Walking tour.  Started in 2010 by a San Diego native, Bite San Diego aims to show local and out of town visitors alike that San Diego restaurants bring more to the table than fish tacos and cheap sushi.  Fun and carefree tours guide guests through one of seven different itineraries bringing each little town to life through food combined with a little history and lore.

The Coronado tour takes you to both sides of the island, beginning on the more touristy side near the Coronado Ferry Landing.  Greeted with spectacular views of down ton San Diego, one can't help but marvel at the expansive bay and usually gorgeous weather that we here in San Diego many times take for granted.

  Our guide, Brittany, began with a brief overview of the tour then encouraged us all to introduce ourselves, which I admit I first scoffed at.  However after hearing everyone's home town and favorite travel destination, conversation between groups easily ensued as we made our way to the first destination, the aptly named waterfront Peohe's.

Meaning "A Gathering of Friends" in Hawaiian, Peohe's offers sweeping views of downtown San Diego and the Coronado Bridge while specializing in fresh tropical seafood dishes influenced by Pacific Rim flavors.  Eagerly accepting plates of Crispy Coconut Shrimp, my husband and a few others perused the crafty cocktail menu (note cocktails are not included in the Bite San Diego tour, but are available for purchase at a few of the stops).

Crispy Coconut Shrimp from Peohe's Coronado
Monarch margarita Peohe's Coronado

Making the perfect call, we both very much enjoyed a Monarch Margarita - 1800 Reposado Tequila, Solerno Blood Orange Liquor, Finest Call Blood Orange Sour, and freshly squeezed lime juice - which now ranks up there as one of the best I've had (and a side note here... I'm probably one of the pickiest margarita girls around).

Moving on to our next stop our group meandered back past the ferry landing and on to the delightful Tartine.  With a menu specializing in "what's selling now at the farmer's market", one knows whatever is being served will be fresh and probably local.  And that's exactly how I'd describe the light veggie filled gnocchi dish served the smiling staff.

Tartine Coronado

A few guests tried the featured rosé, but even more of us succumbed to the cases and glass domes filled with freshly made pastries.  From giant snickerdoodles (which I brought home to Liv and she has proclaimed better than my recipe... sigh...) to pretty pavlovas to slices of nutty banana tortes, Tartine treats are beyond sublime.

Heading out to Orange Avenue, our group strolled and chatted while enjoying the lovely gardens in front of many residences and hotels as we made our way to our next destination - Coronado Taste of Oils.

Coronado Taste of Oils

Family owned and operated since 2010, our bubbly host taught us that oil and vinegar aren't just for salad dressing.  Serving a sorbet topped with a lovely aged balsamic combined with some sort of wine (I unfortunately didn't get the recipe...) we learned health benefits as well as tips for oil and vinegar use.

Sorbet with Balsamic - Coronado Taste of Oils

Then the fun began as our group tasted incredibly fresh oils and vinegars from as far away as Tunisia, Australia and Italy in addition to specialties made right here in California.  Fig, blueberry, lemongrass and espresso balsamics made it into my tasting cup, but it was the Cilantro Roasted Onion Oil that made it into my bag and back to my kitchen (recipe for roasted olive oil chick peas coming soon!).  Note - a discount is given to Bite San Diego guests.

Back out on the road our group headed to another local favorite, Clayton's Mexican Takeout along with their new smoothie takeout window.  Brittany settled us in the outdoor seating and we enjoyed watching the endless line of locals grab and go with their favorite tacos or burritos in hand.

Tasting street tacos and a cup of their new acai smoothie we all felt like locals.

Satiated and enjoying the sun, Brittany moved us along with a promise of a sweet treat.  Just around the corner from Clayton's we found yet another local favorite, Nado Gelato.  With roots back to Italy, Nado's takes their gelato seriously and fills their recipes with fresh, quality ingredients. Be it deep, rich chocolate, bright lemon or creamy caramel, Nado's brought the perfect finale to our Coronado Walking Tour.

- A quick note here to let you know the tour does not end where it began, but a 20 minute or so walk will have you back at the ferry landing -

Taking Brittany's advice my husband and I bid our fellow guests farewell and headed off for a quick walk through the famed Hotel Del Coronado.  I've always loved the iconic red turrets, but hadn't known they were inspiration to L. Frank Baum for his Emerald City as he wrote the Wizerd of OzAnd this time we even spied the crown chandeliers said to have been designed by the author.

All in all a wonderful, leisurely day that introduced us to a little bit of vacation in our own backyard.  Our thanks to Bite San Diego for the inspiration to explore Coronado even more now that we've seen and learned a bit about the area.

But the biggest question remains... which tour should we do next??

Bite San Diego Walking Food Tours
Pacific Beach
La Jolla
North Park
Liberty Station
Downtown/Little Italy

Liv Life Note:  Bite San Diego provided Liv Life with two Coronado Walking Tour Tickets.  Writing this post was not a required part of the deal, but we had so much fun I want to share!    

pink roses corodado walking tour
Coronado Walking Tour - April 2016