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Dining in Riverside

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Thanks, guys. I didn't make it to El Corral Mexican Grill, but I did get some co-workers to join me at The Salted Pig. They have an extensive beer list, with very knowledgeable staff to help you figure out what you want. I wanted something dark, and was given the options of Deschutes Black Butte Porter (5.20 ABV%) and Green Flash Double Stout (8.8 ABV%). I'd had the Deschutes recently and enjoyed it, so I tried the Green Flash and was very happy. It was smooth and full, but not super chocolatey, which was fine.

I'd had a big Mexican lunch at Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino earlier in the day (good cheese enchiladas, really good red chile pork tamale with thin flavorful masa, serviceable beans and rice, iceberg salad doused in a mayo-y dressing that left me cold, but that I ate in the interest of ingesting vegetables), so I didn't really want a big dinner. I coupled the Mac & Cheese (shallot, beer, cheddar) and the brussels sprouts (roasted, kimchi-spiced). Both were delicious; the mac and cheese had a lovely silky sauce, and the sprouts, while not tasting really of kimchi spices at all, came well roasted in a bath of something like Japanese dumpling-dipping sauce -- kind of a vinegary soy sauce. One of my colleagues shared a bite of her gnocchi (fresh ricotta, brown butter, oyster mushroom), which was light and delightful. My other colleauges had the M.S.G. burger (enoki mushroom, slab bacon, gouda) with salad -- no report, but no complaints.

I had breakfast one morning and lunch one day at Simple Simon's, a small bakery and bistro near the Mission Inn. My scrambled egg, bacon, cheddar, and tomato on sourdough was a perfect breakfast sandwich. Lunch was their homemade chicken apple sausage sandwich on focaccia with aged gouda, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato, Dijon, and grilled onions; fresh fruit of the day (orange, red grapes, strawberries) on the side; and a "day and night" cookie. I was less impressed with lunch overall; the sausage didn't shine through on the sammich, and the cookie, which looked for all the world like a black and white, was dry and painted half with white chocolate, half with unremarkable dark. The rest of their pastries looked amazing, though, and a co-worker who had the Susie Salad (romaine, red cabbage, carrots, roasted red peppers, toasted pecans, parmesan, gorgonzola, cucumber, tomato, and grilled chicken) raved about it.

The Presidential Lounge at the Mission Inn was the location to satisfy my hotel bar fetish (the "hotel bar" at the Hyatt Place is at the other end of the reservations desk, separated only by the Starbucks case). My bartender, who did not know where the Chesapeake Bay was (?), made a very good Bulleit rye Manhattan and served up a nice, crisp, super-full-of-cheese chicken quesadilla. The drink was much better than the food, and the pre-bar massage at Kelly's Spa in the Mission Inn was the best one I've ever had.

My last actual eating destination in Riverside was breakfast at Molinos Coffee, across Mission Inn Avenue from the Mission Inn. Good cappuccino, substandard bagel, friendly staff.

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