This year, Ginet and I decided to do a joint birthday celebration since we were both reaching milestone ages — 25 for me and 30 for her! We planned it for last Friday (11/22) because she and Justin would be leaving for the SF Bay Area over the weekend. Originally, we researched a bunch of restaurants who had a lot of prix-fixe menu options for larger groups, but ultimately decided they were too expensive for what you get. Instead, we told everyone to meet us at Carnitas Snack Shack, a place where Ginet and I both love the food, and where it was inexpensive, casual, and close enough to the bars in North Park to go drinking afterward.
Unfortunately, there was rain in the forecast and at the last minute, we both tried to find something else to do since Carnitas’ seating was all on an outdoor patio and we didn’t want to risk it. On Thursday afternoon, my coworker mentioned to me Ballast Points’ new tasting room, larger than their original in Scripps, complete with a kitchen and delicious sounding menu! I got excited, called them and unfortunately they don’t take reservations, but they do have a fair amount of tables that one could reserve if you came early because it’s pretty much just first-come-first-serve, open seating. So after running it by Ginet, we were back on track and were able to focus more on the details of the party.
Ginet wanted to do mason jar party favors because of something she saw on Pinterest. She knew she wanted to include these delicious Chuao chocolates, but was stumped on what else to fill it with. I immediately thought about Tic-Tac’s (the mint and also my nickname) but since I didn’t know what we could include for Ginet’s name, I didn’t suggest it. What Ginet came up with by herself however was super cute and clever. Inside the mason jars were the Chuao chocolates, Tic-Tac’s, mini Gin(et!) bottles, and a short and sweet thank you message. I was in charge of the cake and went to Champagne Bakery in Del Mar to pick up my favorite, their Princess Cake. It was kind of an annoying ordeal service-wise, and from now on, I’ll only be visiting their Carmel Mountain location, but the cake was still just as delicious as any other I’ve had.
Ginet, Justin, and I drove to Ballast Point early (and ran into our friends Rob & Nancy who came early too!) to try to reserve tables. The place at 6:30 p.m. was already PACKED! We ended up having to slowly take over tables one-by-one, which was a little embarrassing at times because other people were waiting for a seat, but it was made easier because more of our party was trickling in earlier than the set dinner time (thanks guys!). Anyway, we satisfied ourselves with 3 tables and figured anyone not eating could just stand around the table with their beers.
The layout of the brewery really works out well for large parties because there’s a large bar area for their plentiful beers on tap (my favorite of the night ended up being “Victory at Sea”) and a separate counter where you could order your food whenever you want and they will bring it out to wherever you’re sitting. This lets you skip the hassle of separate checks and splitting the bill and whatnot, and leaves you free to mingle since you’re not confined to your chair throughout dinner. I had a lot of fun and would definitely come back to try more of their beers and food.
After Ballast Point closed at 11:00 p.m., we said goodbye to whomever was going home and the rest of us walked over to El Camino only two blocks away. It was $5 cover that night (mehhh) but we sucked it up since we didn’t want the night to end so early. We didn’t spend too long there, but I do want to say that I really like that bar because they usually play music that I like and their Mules and Micheladas are pretty darn delicious. I also love how their bartender girls dress — simple, tight black dresses but with the cutest frilly aprons in either pink or metallic gold to top it off. My favorite thing and probably what makes this bar the most unique is that if you’re out on the back patio, you get a pretty good scare from the planes coming from nowhere and flying so close overhead.
Overall, I had a really fun birthday celebration with Ginet and our friends, and I wanted to thank everyone for coming out to celebrate with us!