Tag Archives: On Food Patrol

Jimano’s Pizzeria Celebrates Official Grand Opening

Jimano’s Pizzeria celebrated its official Grand Opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, October 23. Members of the Santee Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors were on hand to celebrate with owners Matt and Bernadette Miller, Manager Jason McCarty, and the entire Jimano’s team. Although the restaurant has only been open a few short months, the Millers have already stepped up as part of the community. Just two days before the grand opening, the restaurant hosted a fundraiser for Ryan O’Dell, a young Santee boy recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. That effort brought in around $2000 to help the family with medical costs and other expenses.

I had the chance to try out one of Jimano’s deep dish pizzas and definitely enjoyed it – great flavor and just enough spices to give it a nice kick. Several people there were raving about a beef sandwich that comes smothered in melting cheese and stuffed with jalepenos – definitely on the “to try” list.

Jimano’s Pizzeria is located on Mission Gorge Rd. in the center across from the Post Office. Check them out soon.

Matt and Bernadette Miller are joined by members of the Santee Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors


Filed under Chamber Activities, Community, On Food Patrol

2009, A Santee Review – Part 2

As I indicated yesterday, I’m using these last few days of the year to look back over 2009. In Part 1 I reviewed January through April, so today we begin with May.

May actually started off with a post on an event from the end of April. On April 30 Simply Spa held a Wellness Expo and Open House to provide an opportunity for people to learn about massage, chiropractics, acupuncture, and nutrition. The evening was quite successful, with a good deal of information being shared. The first few days of the month also included promotional posts for the final “Love and Forgiveness” series discussion at the Santee Library, the Post Office’s annual Stamp Out Hunger Day, and River Days. Later in the month I posted on an E-Waste Recycling event, new restrictions due to the ongoing drought, the Hollywood Tans third anniversary celebration, and the May Chamber Mixer.

The first big event of the month was the grand opening ceremony for Marketplace at Santee – also known as the Henry’s Center. This is the shopping center that was built on the site of the old roller rink on Mission Gorge Rd. The event included music from the West Hills High School Pep Band, the obligatory speeches, and dedication of the Santee Schools Arts Attack Tile Project – a series of decorative tiles created by local students. Each of the students involved in the project was honored and given a certificate and a gift bag.

Not as big, but important in other ways, was the Frubble After-Prom Party. This event was created to provide students with a safe, alcohol-free activity to go to after their prom (after all, who wants to go home right after the prom?). The party included $1 frubble drinks, snacks, and music provided by DJ ANOMIE and the Mayors of Sexy Town.

The real BIG EVENT of the month was the first Santee Street Fair. This was an amazing event on many levels. First of all, the planning for the Street Fair didn’t even start until January. In just a matter of a few months the Chamber of Commerce was able to pull together scores of interested participants, plow through red tape, promote the heck out of the event, and live through it all. The few thousand that the Chamber hoped would attend became tens of thousands, and all this with very few minor problems and no major ones.

June started off with a promotional post for the annual San Diego’s Best 2009 survey/competition from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Two Santee businesses, Domo Sushi and Santee Lakes Campground, were nominated and one, Santee Lakes, won its category. Now, I’m not saying that I had anything to do with their victory, but…

Early in June I posted a more detailed review of the Santee Street Fair, including more photos. Another event I covered was the seventh annual Legoland Teachers Are Heroes award ceremonies, during which teachers from Cajon Park School and Rio Seco School were among the dozen educators honored. During June I also wrote about the new off-leash dog parks, the Greater East County Chambers of Commerce Alliance (GECCA) Networking Trade Show, Frubble’s first Open Mic Night, and the monthly After-5 Mixer. June also saw two fund raising events, the Friendly Grounds Pancake Breakfast for Santee Santas and the 6th Annual Golf Classic to support the Santee Schools Foundation. Oh, yes, and I posted two Food Patrols on Frubble and Domo Sushi.

Above all, June marks the beginning of the annual Santee Summer Concert Series. Every year this musical extravaganza features popular local groups performing in the Trolley Square amphitheater. This year the June concerts featured 80z All Stars, Lindsay Spurlock, and the Cat-illacs.

As busy as May and June were, I’m going to end here and pick up with July in my next post.


Filed under Business, Chamber Activities, Community, Entertainment, Health, On Food Patrol

2009, A Santee Review – Part 1


Here at the end of the year, with little going on, I thought it would be a good time to look back over the past 12 months and see what has happened in Santee. In spite of the down economy and the poor housing market, there were a lot of positives. So, without further ado, a review of Santee 2009.

The year kicked off with the Santee Library hosting the first of a series of book discussions centered around the themes of “Love and Forgiveness.” The series was developed by the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute, and the Santee Library was one of 50 around the country chosen to take part. Dr. Martha Stoddard-Holmes, Associate Professor of Literature and Writing Studies at CSU San Marcos, was the host/moderator for the series, which ran through May. Also in January were the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Installation Dinner (which I was unable to attend) and monthly Sunrise Santee and After-5 Mixer. On the down side, I posted a request for help from the Sheriff’s Department after a high school student was attacked by one of a group of 8 young men, suffering severe injuries. I did not hear what followed on the incident.

My final post in January, on the new Edgemoor Hospital facilities, has, interestingly enough, become the top post on my blog. I wrote the post after going to an Open House held at the new location, and after reading a rather scathing opinion piece in the Union-Tribune. In contrast to the impression in the U-T article, I was very impressed with the facilities and the people I met there. The new hospital is now completely up and running and the old facilities are scheduled for the wrecking ball this week.

February started off on a decided down note with the coverage of the search for two suspects in a horrifying child molestation case. Aaron Zendejas had been arrested for providing children he had been hired to babysit to Jared Yaffe, who was wanted in multiple states on child pornography charges. Zendejas later pleaded guilty to charges and faces 15 years to life in prison; Yaffe was arrested in Brazil and will stand trial in April. Also on the crime scene, a postal employee was arrested for stealing gift cards from his route and possibly the post office as well.

On a more positive note, Cajon Park School held a dedication ceremony for its new classroom building and an Open House for the community to see all the work that had been done through the Proposition R programs. This included renovations on the existing buildings and the reconfiguration of their circular classroom building into a Library/Media Center. The new building has classrooms for 5th and 6th grade upstairs and 7th and 8th (junior high) downstairs. The upstairs section is connected to the main school buildings by a bridge.

In February I also wrote a new On Food Patrol about Mimi’s Cafe, a Meet Your Neighbor for the Santee Library’s speaker series, and previews for a Chamber Small Business Seminar, the Miss Santee Pageant, and the Christian Youth Theater production of Honk.

March was a busy month both in Santee and here on the blog. I did one more post on Honk and covered the PLAY (Performing Lakeside Acting Youth) production of Beauty and the Beast at Lakeside Middle School. I missed the Miss Santee Pageant, but I did post a short piece on the winners, Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke. These two young women have been very dedicated and involved representatives of the city. I also introduced the Santee Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, who were kicking off the Shop Santee and Save campaign focusing on Santee’s low sales tax rate. The month ended with a post on the preparation work that the U.S. Census was doing for the upcoming 2010 Census.

Every year March brings Santree Fest, a celebration of Earth Day and recognition of Santee as an official Tree City by the National Arbor Day Foundation. This year the event was held at Mast Park, located between Carlton Hills Blvd. and the Wal-Mart shopping center, along the San Diego River. The day included tree planting, trash and non-native vegetation removal, and information booths. There was also entertainment by the group Virtual Strangers, a tree climbing demonstration by West Coast Arborists, and plenty of food provided by local eateries. One of the sponsors of the event, the San Diego River Park Foundation, would be involved in other activities during the year.

April was as busy as March, if not more so. The big event in April, and very likely the year, was the grand opening of the first Sonic Drive In in San Diego County. Not only did it create huge lines all around the restaurant on Mission Gorge, it gave me my biggest single day of traffic, with nearly 600 hits. Because I write about Santee, and am part of the Chamber of Commerce, I was able to attend the special VIP event prior to the full opening on the Monday, April 6. Later on I posted some tips for cutting the hassle of waiting in line, and even a taste-off between Sonic and In-N-Out.

A second major event in April was the Spring Eggstravaganza at Santee Lakes, presented by the City of Santee and Padre Dam. The day included egg hunts, games, rides, and food. Primo DJ provided music and an army of volunteers kept everything running smoothly for the families that came to enjoy the fun. Another important event at Santee Lakes was the annual Relay for Life of Santee for the American Cancer Society. This would be the tenth year for the Relay, which raises money and awareness for the fight against cancer.

Also this month were a pair of grand openings, Frubble and SewCalCuties, the new Santee Farmers Market, the monthly After-5 Mixer, and several other small events. I covered the Omelette Factory for another Food Patrol, did some updates on Sonic traffic, took part in the RiverBlitz survey along the San Diego River, and previewed two health-related events and a new CYT production.

It’s pretty clear that 2009 was a busy year in Santee. Rather than trying to review it all in one post, I will continue my look back with two follow-up posts. Meanwhile, enjoy the end of the year and remember not to drink and drive on New Year’s Eve.


Filed under Business, Chamber Activities, Community, Crime Watch, Entertainment, On Food Patrol, Schools

On Food Patrol – Cool Summer Treats

What could be better on a hot summer day than a nice cold frozen yogurt?  Over the next couple weeks I’m going to be posting a series of reviews on the four yogurt shops here in Santee: Penguin Yogurt Factory, DIY, Golden Spoon, and Go Get Yogurt.  The series will be topped off (wink, wink) with a little comparison taste test on samples from the four shops, plus a chance for you, the reader, to vote on your own favorite shop.  I hope you’ll enjoy the series, and take some time and check out the four shops:

Penguin Yogurt Factory – 9621 Mission Gorge Rd. (in the Vons center)

DIY Yogurt – 9292 Carlton Hills Blvd. (corner of Carlton Hills Blvd. and Carlton Oaks Blvd.)

Golden Spoon Yogurt – 9640 Mission Gorge Rd. (in the Best Buy center)

Go Get Yogurt – 9802 N Magnolia Ave. (in the Albertson’s center)

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Café 67 VIP Party


Café 67, located at Highway 67 and Mapleview St. in Lakeside, bills itself as “East County’s Best Kept Secret.”  The café, which has recently opened a deli as well, serves breakfast and lunch from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm daily – for sit down dining and take-out as well.  Well, after attending a special VIP party last Monday, June 29, I doubt if it will remain a “secret” for long.  This was a rollicking party for special friends and supporters of this big little restaurant located just off the big intersection, and if the food they serve regularly is half as good as what they had that night, you should be seeing long lines waiting for a table.

The Café 67 Team: (L-R) Galin, Lavonne, Brenda, Robi

The Café 67 Team

The food included an wonderful prime rib that really did melt in your mouth.  I have had some very sub-standard prime rib at other restaurants and parties, but this blew them all away.  They also had a fantastic pulled-pork sandwich, delicious deviled eggs, sumptuous shrimp, and a glorious green bean and tomato offering.  There was also some apparently tasty cheesecake, but I was too late to get to try any of it.  I also missed out on ham and their signature potato salad, but I can tell you from previous experience that the salad alone is worth a drive out there.

The Fabulous Food Line

Fabulous Food Line

The entertainment was quite eclectic – in keeping with the overall feeling of this unique little café.  In addition to a DJ playing some classic Rock and Roll, they had invited Larry Cisewski, self-proclaimed “Worlds Greatest Knife Thrower” and arrow catcher.  Because of the limited space, Larry didn’t attempt any arrow catching, but he and assistant Ariana Cowen thrilled the audience with their act.  Rather than traditional knives, this evening they used something that looked like a little double-bladed hatchet.  Cisewski started out simply tossing his “knives” at balloons, but quickly upped the ante by bracketing his assistant with blades.  Then came the audience participation portion of their show, with Larry picking out people to hold balloons for him to break.  The “height” of this was breaking a balloon held between the legs of a very trusting male volunteer.  The climax of the show came with Larry tossing at Ariana as she stood behind a sheet of paper that completely covered her.

Larry Cisewski and Ariana Cowen – Thrilling Knife Show

Knife Thrower Montage

Brave Volunteers

Knife Volunteer Montage

The Hidden Target

The Hidden Assistant

Following the knife show, the floor was cleared for a decidedly different entertainment – belly dancer Leilainia.  This extremely talented woman, trained in modern and theatrical dance as well as traditional Middle Eastern styles, thrilled the audience in a much different way.  From dancing with a sword balanced on her head to performing with veils and streamers, this beautiful dancer had the watchers in the palms of her lovely hands.  Even some of the youngest guests tried their hands – well, hips – at dancing with her.  Several gentlemen were also “persuaded” to join Leilainia on the dance floor, as were a few of Café 67’s own.

Middle Eastern Dancing with Leilainia

Leilainia Montage

Leilainia and the Veil Dance


The Café 67 VIP party was a great success, and showed just how popular this restaurant is among its regulars.  It may not be located in Santee, but the short drive up Highway 67 is a small price to pay for a great time and great food.  Do yourself a favor and stop by for breakfast or lunch.

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Return to Domo – Sushi, That Is

 Domo Sushi

For Fathers Day this year my youngest daughter and I went to Domo Sushi for dinner.  I had been promising to take her there for several months, so this was a perfect time.  I wrote about Domo’s take out about a year ago, and had promised myself that I would come back to have the full experience – and it is a great experience.

Making Sushi Magic

Your experience begins as soon as you sit down.  We decided to sit at the sushi bar so we could watch the itamae make his magic. Our server brought us each a lovely little plate with a selection of thinly sliced ginger, lightly pickled cucumber slices, and a dollop of wasabi.  There was also a small bowl for soy sauce that my daughter liked so much she wanted to know where they got them (we forgot to ask once the food arrived).

Side Plate

The most difficult part of eating at Domo Sushi is deciding just what to try.  We finally decided to share a Sushi Sampler (with albacore, kani kama, mackerel, salmon, tamago, white fish, 4 pieces of California roll, and 4 pieces of spicy tuna roll) and a two-piece order of unagi.  It was great fun eating sushi with my daughter, because even at 11 years old she has become fairly well versed in many areas of world cuisine, including sushi.  (I can either thank or blame Food Network for this.)  She was able to explain several elements of our meal, and I noticed the itamae smiling in approval.

Sushi Itamae

First of all, if you have never tried unagi, do yourself a favor and have some next time you get the chance.  What is unagi, you ask?  It is freshwater eel that is traditionally grilled and eaten during the summer to provide extra stamina.  The unagi at Domo Sushi is served over rice with a delicious, slightly sweet sauce and tied on with seaweed.  The rolls were very good – the spicy tuna rolls had a nice kick to them and the California rolls were way above the usual.  We split the rest of the sushi so I didn’t get to taste all of them, but we both enjoyed them.  My favorite of the ones I tried was the salmon.

Sushi Sampler and Unagi

At the end of our meal the itamae presented us with a beautiful fruit plate that consisted of two slices of peach, two cherries, and an orange cut into a beach scene with a wave and umbrella.  It was a tasty and refreshing end to a great meal.

Fruit Plate

Domo Sushi is located at 9625 Mission Gorge Rd., Suite D – right next to the Vons.  They are open for lunch and dinner, with a short closed time in between.  If you like sushi, do yourself a favor and stop in – frequently.

Dinner at Domo Sushi


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On Food Patrol – Frubble

Frubble Open Mic Night

Yes, we’re back on Food Patrol, and this time we’re dropping in at Frubble, the new restaurant/community center in the Pathways Church center at Mast Blvd. and Carton Hills Blvd.  I’ve stopped in several times for their signature offering, the frubble, but recently I finally had a chance to try some of their food offerings as well.  There are a few items I still want to try, but what I have tried is definitely worth having again.

Strawberry Frubble

Strawberry Frubble

One of their specialties is a wrap, with a choice of turkey, ham, barbecue ham, beef, and vegetarian.  I had the turkey wrap and the barbecue ham wrap, and my favorite of the two is the ham.  The balsamic vinegar dressing they use really sets off the tang of the barbecue.  It also gives a nice kick to the turkey wrap.  The wrap comes with an order of freshly cooked, crispy potato chips – some of the best chips I’ve had in a long time.

Barbecue Ham Wrap and Chips

Barbecue Ham Wrap and Chips

Frubble is always trying new items to find just what its patrons like best.  The last time I was there I got to taste a new rice bowl they are working on.  As it was I did find it a bit heavy, but Vicki and I talked about some ways to pep it up, such as including some onion and/or bell pepper.  I talked to her a couple days later and she had tried it with the bell pepper and that worked.  I want to check it out again and see how it is coming.  Another tasty-sounding item they are working on is a teriyaki burger or chicken sandwich.

Check them out and see what they have cooking now.



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On Food Patrol – The Omelette Factory

The Omlette Factory

The Omelette Factory is one of those restaurants that knows what it does well and sticks with it.  Open for breakfast and lunch only, they focus on doing the best meals possible.  I’ve eaten here several times, and every time I had great food and lots of it.  I especially enjoy the omelettes – which makes perfect sense.The Omlette Factory - Exterior

The Omlette Factory - InteriorThe family-owned restaurant, which has been around since 1994, is located on Mission Gorge Rd., on the west side of Santee.  The interior is very much a family cafe style, with plenty of room for diners.  Although it was fairly empty the last time I was there, I have seen long lines and waits at busy times.

South Baja Omlette

This last time there I had the South Baja Omelette, which is simply loaded with jalepenos and cheese, with avocado and sour cream on top.  The hash browns were not as crisp as I like them, but few restaurants do them as crispy as I like.  And then there was the huge blueberry muffin, as good as I’ve had anywhere else.  My daughter was with me and she had the Californian, another tasty choice for avocado lovers.  I have not had their lunch yet, since I usually go there for breakfast/brunch, but I plan to try it some time – probably their Factory Burger, which sounds like a full meal on its own.  If you’re looking for good food and good value, this is a good choice to make.  Their meals are generous, and the most expensive meal is still under $10 (under $15 if you include a drink, taxes, and tip).  And babies love their muffins – just ask my granddaughter.

Babies Love Muffins

Check out The Omelette Factory website for full menu and weekly specials.


Filed under On Food Patrol

Sonic Update – Lines and Tips

Sonic Lines

The public has arrived, and they are hungry (and thirsty).  According to a news story, there were over 100 cars waiting for Sonic to open on Monday, some having started lining up as early as 6:00.  I stopped by this afternoon, andSonic Staging Area the wait was about 35 minutes to get in to order.  Not so bad, and after all, it is the only Sonic in San Diego County.

To avoid causing traffic problems on Mission Gorge Rd., Sonic has created a drive-in/drive-through “staging area” on Railroad Ave.  If you approach Sonic on Mission Gorge, you will be directed around to the staging area – and you’ll have to continue past the cars already in line, then do a 3-point turn (remember those from driver’s ed?) to get to your spot at the end.

Sonic Waiting Line

So much for the lines – now for the tip: If you are planning to go to Sonic, I would suggest you come in on Railroad Avenue from Buena Vista Avenue (you can get there from Cottonwood Avenue off Mission Gorge Road) – this way you avoid having toEnd of the Line drive down Railroad to the end of the line.

And, after waiting patiently, comes the moment you have been waiting for – when a smiling carhop rolls out to your car with your order.  In this case, two Route-44 limeades.

Sonic Carhop

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On Food Patrol – Mimi’s Cafe

Mimi's Cafe

The Food Patrol has been on hiatus for a while, but today it was time to get back into the swing of things.  This evening my family had a celebration dinner at Mimi’s Cafe, and after the experience we had I felt I really needed to write about it.

I have mentioned before that some of my family suffers from gluten intolerance – where foods like wheat, barley, rye, and anything containing them cause stomach and intestine problems.  Not that long ago eating out was a study in frustration for us, trying to find something that they could eat without major hassles.  It was even worse years ago when we first discovered a problem with wheat – there was almost nothing available that didn’t have wheat in it.  Today not only are there more choices around, restaurants are much more aware of gluten problems.  Which brings us to our dinner at Mimi’s.Mimi's Cafe - Back Area

Our server, Brenda, went above and beyond to make sure that we had good choices – even to the point of bringing over a senior server and a book from the kitchen that listed ingredients in the foods.  They also made suggestions for variations and substitutions on some of the selections.  The results were an enjoyable meal with good food for all.

I have to admit that Mimi’s has been a favorite of ours for some time now, both for the food and for the caring people who work there.  And the atmosphere is great as well.  I particularly like the large family room in the front, with its New Orleans decor.  The back area is great for quieter dining, but still spacious enough for larger groups.

I can certainly recommend Mimi’s Cafe for a simple meal or a large celebration.  The restaurant is located at 9812 Mission Gorge Road in the Santee Trolley Center.  Enjoy.

Mimi's Cafe - Family Dining Room

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