Steppin’ Out – A Quest in San Diego

Canada Steak Burger 1For over two weeks during the Christmas and New Years holiday season I was in San Diego, spending some precious time with my only brother, who passed away just before Christmas at the age of 80. That is why you have been reading more about early post offices than food.

On the brighter note, I did what my brother would have wanted me to do. I took advantage of the nice weather to put on shorts and a t-shirt to walk in the sunlight and even went swimming the Pacific Ocean, although the water was a cool 58 degrees (the air was 77).

He also liked to go find different food and new restaurants to try. However, not that different since when I ordered mussels and clams at a seafood restaurant he loudly announced, “Why would anyone eat fish bait?”

The last time I was in San Diego he was recovering from a fall, so I went by myself on a quest for the best hamburger. I found a restaurant on University Avenue called Canada Steak Burger, which had won the “Best Burger in San Diego” award several times. I had to try it.

After driving around for a few minutes, I finally found the restaurant. It was a very small place on a corner, across from a strip club and a check cashing store – not the best part of town I was later told, but okay.

The food was really great and the restaurant was very busy. Somehow out of a kitchen probably not as big as  yours at home, they produce great burgers, Greek food, Mexican food and more.

I think the restaurant seats around eight inside and another four outside. The parking lot is impossible unless you have a very small car and let your passengers out before you park.

With that former success in mind, this time I told my nephew that I wanted to find the best hot dog in San Diego and started searching on the computer. Right on the top of the list was a place on a better part of University Avenue called Daddy’s Dogs.

Yelp gave it 4.5 our of 5 stars and Urbanspoon gave it a 100% rating. On top of that, hundreds of people had written pages and pages about how good the hot dogs were and how interesting the owner was. Neither my nephew nor I had ever been there so we decided to try it the next day.

After again driving around a bit, we found the restaurant in a storefront of some older buildings near Richmond Avenue in the Hillcrest area of San Diego, across the street from a new group of retail stores and restaurants.

Daddy's Hot DogsOn their webpage www.daddyshotdogs.com they not only list their menu, but give a bit of information about the place like it opens at 11 a.m., but maybe 10:30 or rarely 11:30. It was about five minutes to 11 when we got there and, no, it wasn’t open yet.

A few minutes after 11 the owner came out and informed two vagabonds, who had spent the night against the building next door, that smoking within 25 feet of his doorway was illegal and that they were supposed to be packed up and walking by 6 a.m. Apparently that is a local law which we, and they, noticed the police were enforcing across the street.

Finally the owner brought out two small, but tall, tables which he placed on the sidewalk, then went back inside and opened up a window to the street, where he takes orders and passes out food. There are no chairs, inside or out, just the two tables.

After asking a few questions about the food, like the difference between the hot dogs, beef dogs and special beef dogs on his menu, questions which he “sort of” answered, I ordered the “O,” a grilled special beef dog with bacon, grilled onions, jalapeno relish, Russian dressing and tomatoes. I don’t recall what my nephew ordered, but it had cole slaw and chili on it. However, when he ordered it the owner said, “got you covered,” and gave him something entirely different. I think the chili wasn’t hot yet.

Why anybody thinks those are the best hot dogs in San Diego amazes me. They were a regular skinless hot dog, sliced lengthwise and put on a flattop grill with a weight on top so it would get a bit of char. The buns were not steamed, but simply placed on the back of the grill to warm them.

The house made Russian dressing and jalapeno relish were nice, but nothing about the hot dogs made either of us think they were worth more than two or three stars. Fortunately, the hot dogs were only $4 each since it was $1 off Tuesday.

After a few moments spent looking at each other and deciding what to do, I drove my nephew to Canada Steak Burgers for lunch, where he had never been before. The burgers and the fries got at least four stars from both of us.

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