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Relativity and Restaurants
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 There is obviously a harmonic convergence thing going on. Here's how I know:

1. Family from both sides of the Tam / Varmint Clans have visited in the last week, coming from beautiful Mt. Shasta and Santa Barbara in California, and from as far away as Victoria, Brazil.

2. We attended two separate mass gatherings of friends - in one day.

3. We've had multiple reconnection phone calls and emails with old pals - even run-ins in odd places with familiar faces.

4. Good things have been coming to us in the form of timely appointments, nailed deadlines, lucky finds and smooth outcomes.McGsChillonSofa.jpg

5. And, uncharacteristically for San Diego in September, the weather has cooled to Tam-approved temperatures.

The best thing, of course, is getting to see family. Partly because we don't get to see everyone enough, but also, let's face it, because we always eat like kings when our kin comes to town.

San Diego's a mecca for good food - and 99% of our family visits revolve around eating. During the first visit, The Varmint's Aunt Cathy and her mountain man, Jim Morrison (yes, that's his real name - and for the record, he had it first) came to town - and we chose to go Mediterranean for the big family gathering.

These are two of my favorite people to hang out with: Jim tells amazing stories, Cathy provides great laughs. It's always a good time - guaranteed. We were joined, naturally, by Mama Pat and Varmint Sr. (aka Monte), and later by brother Justin, Miss. T and nephew Trajan. (See the big group pic where everyone's forced to the walls to make room for my hugeness?)

After hanging out, we piled into our cars and trekked east for a fantastic meal at at Aladdin's.

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Aladdin's is a tiny little no-reservations-accepted mediterranean restaurant (specializing in Lebanese and Egyptian cuisine) where the the chicken schwarma is to die for and you can count on the food to be mouth-wateringly delicious. To look at Aladdin from the outside (it's located in a little strip mall), and considering the East Clairemont location, you may not think much of it. (I just found out that there's another one in Hillcrest.)

Inside, however, it's a different story. Personally, I like places like that. Where you go in and a nice-but-modest interior doesn't have you expecting much - and then you come out with your mind blown and tastebuds dancing. 

If you're getting an appetizer, go for the delicious and nutty tabouli, and definitely for the chicken schwarma. The schwarma's a healthy portion, includes hummus and pita, and is amazing. Kebabs oJohnandLiviaatSamba.jpgf every sort are roasted to juicy perfection. The baba ghanoush is above and beyond the usual, and the pitas are cooked from scratch, on site.

There is also a wine list (nothing too fancy, but palatable) and the prices are more than decent for the level of cuisine.

Everyone chomped down their respective dishes with fanfare, groaning at the end of the night, and cursing their stomachs for not stretching to accomodate more of the delicious food. Don't miss it! 

SAMBA GRILL

With my side of the family, we ate at a Brazilian steakhouse called Samba. In attendance were brother John, his wife Rachel, her brother Ronaldo (visiting from Brazil), kids Livia and Kaio, Momzers and a couple of my sister-in-law's Brazilian friends and their kid, what's-his-name. (Otherwise known as: You know. The one with the broken arm...) 

Anyway. Dining Brazilian-style is interesting. Servers bring big rotisseries of fresh-grilled slabs of meat - filet mignon, bacon-wrapped turkey, lamb, etc. - to your table and you eat and eat unSamba_RachRonaldoLivia.jpgtil you can't anymore. A long-distance pace is recommended.

Multitudes of side dishes and big fresh salads are also served buffet-style. (Baby fingers are not included - see pic, below and left.) Brazilian-style lime and vodka cocktails are expertly crushed and mixed at your table for an additional fee. There is usually live music and the atmosphere's pretty feisty. 

While fun, if you want to try a Brazilian steakhouse in San Diego, the Brazilians recommend Rei do Gado over Samba.

It'sSamba_Babyfingers.jpg more similar to the real traditional-style Brazilian dining, is much more reasonably priced, and both the food and atmosphere are reputed to be significantly better.

So there you have it. Them's my SD Local Foodie Tips o' the Day. Now get out there and figure what you're eating for lunch - and make it something good.

God knows I'm starving right now after writing this. *sigh*

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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >