Bob’s such an awesome cook that we don’t eat out that often — and when we do, we’re pretty picky about our restaurant and menu choices. For us to return to a spot means the food is fresh, flavorable, and free of any restaurant aftereffects (you don’t want details on these, believe me). Once we find a place like this, we haunt it. We visit often enough that servers usually remember us. We’re loyal.
Unfortunately, too many restaurants seem to suffer some sort of quality collapse over time. We start to get cold food, the flavor profiles fall apart, service goes out the back door somewhere never to be seen again….
So we’re always trying new places, not only when we’re on the road (because we’re in new areas) but when we’re in the same spot over time or re-visiting an area.
Our latest discovery in the Temecula, California, area is Campini’s, located on Front Street not far from the Harley Davidson dealer. We stopped in to see if they had a pasta brand in their market but noticed how much business their deli was getting. We’d already eaten, but decided to try it another day.
Before long we were regulars. We started with the paninis, which we ended up sharing so we could devour their antipasto salads — their tortellini salad and their cucumber and feta salad are especially good.
Just before heading out of the area, we decided to try their pastas — Bob sampled their lasagna, and I couldn’t resist trying the arancini (rice ball)…
…which is ground beef with peas covered in rice, then (maybe? I’m no cook so I’m guessing from what I could tell) deep fried, covered with marinara meat sauce, and topped with cheese. We agreed this was hands-down better than the lasagna (which was the best we could remember having).
And for dessert? The cannolis took me back to the Italian sections of Boston and Cleveland where I first learned to love these crusty, chilly, creamy confections.
When we’re back in Temecula, Campini’s will be one of our first stops!
But wait… there’s more to the food story.
We attended a memorial service for a friend in Anza, California, which is a tiny town in the foothills where the “business district” is a gas station and a Dairy Queen, with the market and other businesses scattered along the roadside for a mile or two or more. It’s a laid back town that most people pass through without giving another thought.
After the service, we stopped at Diner 371 for lunch and were surprised by the huge menu and impressed with the terrific service we got. Fish tacos, french fries, and a chocolate milkshake seemed the right combination of comfort food after an emotional morning. They were so good, we went back a week later for more.
But the biggest fish tacos? With flavor? For that we had to go to Harbor Fish and Chips in Oceanside, California, where they served up fish tacos the size of your arm (well, almost). Add baked beans and cole slaw, and you’ve got more food that four people could eat. Of course, quantity doesn’t mean squat if the food doesn’t taste good. Right here on the harbor, the fish is fresh — which is everything.
The best part about eating at the Harbor Inn restaurant? The walk on the beach afterwards!