Work is pretty rough this time of year. We are currently in our post-Christmas dead period where all the New Year’s Resolutionists have finally given up on their goals of weight loss and reading more and have settled back into their respective couches with takeout and Netflix, not to return until next Black Friday. Due to this sudden lack of cash flow, payroll gets all kinds of tight and we basically just end up sending everyone home after they hit the required two hour mark. Last Tuesday was my turn: after coming in at 6 am, commute lit by a gorgeous crescent moon, I was off by 9. I had already been fully awakened by that point and had an entire day ahead of me; while I had a lot of Workaholics to catch up on, I figured I could save that for the last seven hours of the day, and agreed to meet Erica in Balboa Park to explore the free museums. It was the third Tuesday of the month so the Museum of Man and the art museum were among the ones free of charge; we decided to start with the SDMA, grab lunch and a drink at the newly opened Panama 66, and catch some mummies afterward.
The art museum was, you know, the San Diego Art Museum. We walked around. Laughed at the ugly stuff we could probably do ourselves, saw some paintings of Jesus depicted as a Man-Baby. The usual. Also, FYI, searching Google images for “Jesus as man baby” does not disappoint.
First there’s this little guy, apologizing to Mary for making everyone think she’s a ho.
Then there’s this little hipster baby Jesus, who was probably a Vegan and built his own tree house.
And finally this guy comes along and raises some important questions about race and the white-washing of our dear Emmanuel.
Just thought that needed to be shared.
Obviously we had worked up an appetite after the strange and intriguing museum visit and headed straight to Panama 66. It is owned and operated by the people who run Tiger! Tiger! and Blind Lady Alehouse, so I had some pretty high expectations. Though I’ve never dined at Tiger! Tiger!, I have a very special place in my heart for Blind Lady’s egg and bacon pizza. The egg is cracked in the center. It cooks just enough to leave the yolk runny. It’s topped with swiss chard and truffle oil…needless to say, I could eat this for breakfast everyday.
Panama 66 has a different feel to it, which is to be expected given its touristy location. It’s an open, outdoor area with a bar/counter where you order. Erica and I snagged a seat and pored over the menu. I was happy to find they had a decent selection of good beers for pretty cheap. I found this especially surprising in Balboa Park, where a soda can set you back $5. They also had many delicious-sounding sandwiches and I had been told by a friend I had to get the pork loin, but for whatever reason, I went against her guidance. I was interested in something light and the butternut squash sandwich caught my eye. So that’s what I got. And I never regretted a sandwich more:
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the densest, nuttiest, richest sandwich you will ever eat. Or, if you’re lucky, won’t ever eat. It sounded so refreshing in theory:
Roasted butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms, kale slaw, pepitas, miso vinaigrette on house-made focaccia.
You know, reading that over now, it doesn’t really sound refreshing at all. It actually sounds pretty heavy.
So maybe I didn’t really think about how that would all come together until it was too late, but whatever, I still don’t think it’s my fault. Basically the bread was good, but too heavy for that thinly-sliced squash. The squash itself needed some kind of flavor. The mushrooms and the pumpkin seeds really had no place on the sandwich and, combined with the miso, only brought that umami flavor to an almost unbearable level. And the kale? That’s not a slaw. That’s just kale, cut up. So basically, nothing on this sandwich worked. And I hate to say this, but I didn’t even finish it. Scratch that–I couldn’t even finish it. While I was yet again learning the hard lesson to never order vegan when pork is on the menu, Erica got one of the most gorgeous turkey sandwiches I ever seent. She even let me have a bite, probably because she’s a good friend and not because I was eyeing it with the same intensity with which a lioness stalks her prey.
This was hers, a combination of turkey, brie, butter lettuce, bacon, and a cranberry mayo which is, in my opinion, just delightful. This sandwich changed my mind on Panama 66. This sandwich offered them hope of redemption.
Plus, it’s hard to swear off a place with this view:
Price: Unlike the beer, the sandwiches run a little pricey–my abomination was about $9, and most of the meaty ones were $11ish.
Menu: It’s a little underdeveloped, but it is also a new spot. With time, they may beef it up a bit. The sandwiches they do have are unique, though in some cases, like, oh I dunno, a butternut squash/mushroom/pumpkin seed sandwich, uniqueness doesn’t pay off…
Ambiance: Outdoors in Balboa Park–gorgeous. Reference above glamour shot of the Museum of Man bell tower.
Sides: For an additional $4, you can grab some fries?
Second Trip Worthy? I’d like to give their pork loin a go, but I’m not going to go seek it out. If I am ever exploring museums in the future, I’ll swing by.
Overall rating: On the sandwich alone, 1 out of 10 sandwiches. I never thought I would hate a sandwich so much. I need to sit and think about my life.