Searching for dinner during National Pizza Week.

This graphic in the window at Fifth Avenue New York Pizza looks pretty tasty. Perhaps I should dine here...
This graphic in the window at Fifth Avenue New York Pizza looks pretty tasty. Perhaps I should dine here…

It’s National Pizza Week! Hooray! Sounds like an excellent reason to celebrate!

This evening I was hungry for a couple of slices.

But where to go?

I'm not waiting for San Diego Restaurant Week. I want pizza now!
I’m not waiting for San Diego Restaurant Week. I want pizza now!
Shall I eat at Tony's Pizza?
Shall I eat dinner at Tony’s Pizza?
Shall I eat at Samurai Pie?
Shall I eat dinner at Samurai Pie?
Shall I eat at Giovanni's Trattoria?
Shall I eat dinner at Giovanni’s Trattoria?
Shall I eat at Brooklyn Pizzeria?
Shall I eat dinner at Brooklyn Pizzeria?
Shall I eat at City Pizzeria?
Shall I eat dinner at City Pizzeria?
I found some yummy pizza! Time to eat!
I found some yummy pizza! After all that walking around downtown trying to figure out where to eat, I’m starving!

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Pics inside Old Town San Diego’s restaurant museum.

A variety of dried food hangs from the ceiling. The kitchen of the Commercial Restaurant museum in Old Town is a place where visitors are transported back in time.
A variety of dried food hangs from the ceiling. The kitchen of the Commercial Restaurant museum in Old Town is a place where visitors are transported back in time.

There are dozens of cool things to see in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. I’ve barely scratched the surface so far with my blog.

For example, there’s a small free museum right next to the central Plaza de Las Armas called Commercial Restaurant. A rather dull name, but a very interesting place jam-packed with history!

The small recreated restaurant shows what life was like in the mid 1800s, back when San Diego was downright tiny. The Commercial Restaurant is comprised of two rooms: one contains the dining area, the other, the kitchen. Originally called the Casa de Machado y Silvas, the house was built by José Manuel Machado and given as a wedding gift to his daughter María Antonia, and her husband, José Antonio Nicasio Silvas. The simple adobe building was converted into a modest restaurant by its owners in the early 1850s. Today it stands as one of the five historic adobes in Old Town San Diego.

I’ve provided a bit more info in the photo captions!

Photo shows the Commercial Restaurant museum, which is free and open to the public in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Photo shows the Commercial Restaurant museum, which is free and open to the public in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
La Casa de Machado y Silvas in Old Town San Diego was turned into Commercial Restaurant, later renamed Antonia Restaurant.
La Casa de Machado y Silvas in Old Town San Diego was turned into Commercial Restaurant, then later renamed Antonia Restaurant.
Bienvenidos. Come inside. See the recreated Commercial Restaurant. Established in 1854 within the Casa de Machado y Silvas, a home built in 1843. Museum open 10-5.
Bienvenidos. Come inside. See the recreated Commercial Restaurant. Established in 1854 within the Casa de Machado y Silvas, a home built in 1843. Museum open 10-5.
The dining area of the Commercial Restaurant. This is was what it was like to eat in style in the mid 1800s. Many exhibits along the walls recall the history of old San Diego.
The dining area of the Commercial Restaurant. This is was what it was like to eat in style in the mid 1800s. Many exhibits along the walls recall the history of old San Diego.
Art on one wall depicts the grinding of corn. Other nearby maps and graphics show how food is related to our city's history.
Art on one wall depicts the grinding of corn. Other nearby maps and graphics show how food is related to our city’s history.

In the mid 1800’s, when New England travelers arrived by ship to Old Town, they sought out a dining establishment serving meals like they would find at home, including stews, soups, crackers, bread and cow’s milk. Over the years, exposure to native Kumeyaay cooking influenced the European diet and became integrated into the region’s cuisine.

As a captive labor force under the Mission system, the Kumeyaay performed their tasks using traditional tools and methods of preparation as a way to continue their cultural identity.
As a captive labor force under the Mission system, the Kumeyaay performed their tasks using traditional tools and methods of preparation as a way to continue their cultural identity.
Display case contains artifacts used in the daily life of San Diego residents almost two centuries ago.
Display case contains artifacts used in the daily life of San Diego residents almost two centuries ago.
Shelves in the Commercial Restaurant contain old jars, goblets, bowls, bottles, plates and more.
Shelves in the Commercial Restaurant contain old jars, goblets, bowls, bottles, plates and more.
It was 1948 when a secret hiding place was discovered in one of the adobe's window wells. Within the niche were two documents relating to life of an early Old Town San Diego resident.
It was 1948 when a secret hiding place was discovered in one of the adobe’s window wells. Within the niche were two documents relating to life of an early Old Town San Diego resident.

Historical documents discovered by archeologists hidden in the Casa de Machado y Silvas shed light on the life of San Diego resident Allen B. Light. He was also know as the “Black Steward”. Allen arrived in California during the 1830s, aboard the sailing ship Pilgrim, the same vessel that brought Richard Henry Dana Jr. who would later write Two Years Before the Mast.

One document was “a sailor’s protection”, which proclaimed Light was a “coloured man, a free man, and a citizen of the United States of America”. The second document was his commission from the Mexican Governor of Alta California to investigate illegal sea otter hunting along the coast.

A peek into the recreated kitchen next to the dining room. Cooking was rather primitive in early San Diego.
A peek into the recreated kitchen next to the dining room. Cooking was rather primitive in early San Diego.
A table full of peppers and vegetables. What life was like many generations ago, in the kitchen of Old Town's Commercial Restaurant museum.
A table full of peppers and vegetables. What life was like many generations ago, in the kitchen of Old Town’s Commercial Restaurant museum.

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Preparing for another delicious day in Little Italy.

Typical early morning deliveries in Little Italy include kegs of beer and boxes of spirits.
Typical early morning deliveries in Little Italy include kegs of beer and boxes of spirits.

Another early morning stroll. Today: through Little Italy. Trucks were lined up on India Street, delivering to many popular restaurants. You like Italian? You like a friendly neighborhood with history and character? This is the place to go.

Food delivery truck advertisement promotes San Diego Restaurant Week, September 20-27.
Food delivery truck advertisement promotes San Diego Restaurant Week, September 20-27.
Pulling the dolly up a ramp, getting ready to retrieve potatoes and other fresh ingredients for a tasty Italian meal.
Pulling the dolly up a ramp, getting ready to retrieve potatoes and other fresh ingredients for a tasty Italian meal.
Plaque in sidewalk on Date Street declares A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat. Old New York Proverb
Plaque in sidewalk on Date Street declares: A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat. Old New York Proverb
A second plaque further down the sidewalk proclaims Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso. Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick. Spanish Proverb
A second plaque further down the sidewalk proclaims: Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso. Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick. Spanish Proverb
Little Italy street banner shows actor Danny DeVito enjoying a drink.
Little Italy street banner shows actor Danny DeVito enjoying a drink.
An umbrella and chairs that will soon be arranged for casual alfresco dining.
An umbrella and chairs that will soon be arranged for casual alfresco dining.
Lady inside Little Italy eatery is busy preparing for another delicious day. Buon Appetito.
Lady inside Little Italy eatery is busy preparing for another delicious day. Buon Appetito.

Bay Cafe makes way for new observation platform.

The Bay Cafe is making way for an observation platform on San Diego Bay.
The Bay Cafe is making way for an observation platform on San Diego Bay.

The Bay Cafe is almost gone.

Many years ago, I loved to grab some food in the small waterfront cafe and bring it up onto the rooftop. From a table beneath an umbrella, I’d gaze out at the sparkling water.  I’d observe passing sailboats, people on the Broadway Pier, and cruise ships docked at the nearby terminal. When two or more huge cruise ships were in port, I’d watch with interest as the departing Coronado ferry and harbor tour boats navigated the narrow space between them. In those days, the Bay Cafe also served as an embarkation hub for San Diego Harbor Excursion, now called Flagship. A ramp from inside the deli plunged down to a floating dock, where a gift shop was housed in a special boat. On this small dock a harbor cruise photographer asked guests to pose by a life preserver.

Up on the roof, if I wanted a change of view, I’d grab another table where I could gaze back toward downtown and watch tourists flow along Harbor Drive. There were almost always several empty tables. Few people seemed to realize the rooftop was open.

The Bay Cafe’s roof was also used for many years by broadcasters covering parades down Harbor Drive. From up there you could see everything.

My walk this morning brought back those memories. And a bit of sadness. The Bay Cafe is being demolished as I type these very words. The structure will be removed, but the concrete pad and pilings will remain, as part of an observation platform jutting over the water. It’s just one small part of the Embarcadero’s recent renovation. I’m sure the change will be great. I believe there are supposed to be benches where folks can just sit and enjoy the views. If there are, I’ll surely enjoy them. But time and progress march on. The Bay Cafe is almost just a memory.

Demolition of the old waterfront cafe and harbor tour embarkation hub is underway.
Demolition of the old waterfront cafe and harbor tour embarkation hub is underway.
Many years ago dining could be enjoyed on the sunny roof, with views of the water, sailboats and downtown skyscrapers.
Many years ago dining could be enjoyed on the sunny roof, with views of the water, sailboats and downtown skyscrapers.
Improvements on the Embarcadero consign this wonderful place to memory.
Improvements on the Embarcadero consign this wonderful place to memory.

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Mexican cafes and cantinas in Old Town.

Just one of many colorful eateries along San Diego Avenue.
Just one of many colorful eateries along San Diego Avenue.

These pics offer a sample of the sort of Mexican-themed eateries one encounters in the commercial part of Old Town, which runs several blocks south of the State Park along San Diego Avenue. Lots of seating outdoors, an eyeful of festive colors and a cool, laid-back Southern California atmosphere.

Eating great Mexican food outdoors in San Diego's Old Town.
Eating great Mexican food outdoors in San Diego’s Old Town.
Fountain and splash of color in courtyard of an Old Town restaurant.
Fountain and splash of color in courtyard of an Old Town restaurant.
Keep Calm and Drink Tequila.
Keep Calm and Drink Tequila.
Old Town pedestrians can buy hot buttery tortillas.
Old Town pedestrians can buy hot buttery tortillas.
Ladies prepare fresh tortillas for people passing on the sidewalk.
Ladies prepare fresh tortillas for people passing on the sidewalk.
Bienvenidos a Old Town! Where great food and a festive atmosphere mingle with San Diego's rich, colorful history.
Bienvenidos a Old Town! Where great food and a festive atmosphere mingle with San Diego’s rich, colorful history.

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