We live in San Diego, not Florida, right?
Who could tell this past summer, and now, well into fall, with these swampy 80s and 90s conditions that call for anything but the flavors of autumn, with the exception of pumpkin gelato.
Thankfully, there are plenty of restaurants dishing up refreshing, endless summer eats; without them, we’d be crying into our mashed potatoes and gravy.
Part of coping with the heat is eating whatever you want, which usually translates to something light, crisp and chilled. But not everyone’s down with a bunny diet 24-7, so I suggest a compromise where you can eat your veggies, protein and carbs too with a “sushirrito.” Translation: one burrito-sized roll, without the hot and greasy factor, that’s filling without all the guilt of the real thing.
The story would be a lot sweeter if the sushirrito was invented in San Diego, but some quick research proved otherwise. Still, Sushi Freak (1071 Sixth Ave., downtown. (619) 230-5165). appears to be the only place in town selling such a thing, and the menacing Fist Bump - heavy with rice, spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber and cream cheese - hit the spot on a recent “fall” day.
There’s nothing orthodox about a sushirrito. Naysayers will call it unsophisticated, or even sacrilegious. Maybe it is. Without a doubt, this fast casual, build-your-own roll concept isn’t in the top tier of where to eat the best sushi in town. But the sushirrito is tasty, so does that even matter? The next time you’re downtown give it a try, and maybe bring those beasts to the nearest park and trump your picnicking neighbors tenfold. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
North Park denizens eagerly awaited the arrival of Tostadas Fresh Fruit & Seafood Bar (3139 University Ave., North Park. tostadasnorthpark.com) over the summer - the mariscos-focused eatery under the same ownership as the wildly popular City Tacos. Located on the same street, this open, cool space is prime for beating the heat while you fuel up on inventive seafood combinations such as the mixta tostada - a refreshing blend of fish ceviche, octopus, shrimp and crab accented with a tangy ring of pineapple and drizzled with raspberry sauce, all on a crispy shell. For an extra kick, try it with some mango habanero sauce, which was recently introduced as a condiment at the restaurant.
Another strangely delicious combination comes in the Sandia, whose main components are slices of ahi tuna and watermelon. With the addition of jicama, apples, peanuts, cucumber and mango - all seasoned with lemon juice, soy sauce, and chipotle mayo - it’s a fruit and seafood salad emblematic of Asia’s influence on Baja cuisine, particularly in the port city of Ensenada.
At Tostadas, flavors aren’t as acidic and in-your-face as one might expect from ceviche. Instead, just-cured (i.e. mostly raw) seafood works to complement mild fruit flavors. It’s clean eating at its best, in my book, and sometimes, that’s just what you need to beat the heat without getting bored.
Besides the namesake attraction here, there are also fresh juices, smoothies and aguas frescas to cool off with. Expect more of the unexpected with the mojito agua fresca (lime, mint and chai), and the plantano (banana, milk, vanilla and cinnamon). Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Amy T. Granite is a dauntless eater who has written about food in San Diego since 2006. You can follow Granite and her tasty adventures on Twitter and Instagram @saysgranite. Send your mouth-watering ideas to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.