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What's On Your Rotation? (San Diego)

A while back, Kirk started a thread with a list of places to eat on his "rotation". They were the places he liked best and would return to regularly, at least back then.

We don't eat out often enough to have a complete list, but I'll throw down what I have after a little over a year in town.

What are your favorites?

Places I like:

Vietnamese (cheap) - K Sandwiches (best bread), Pho CA Dao
Sushi (cheap) - Ichiban (cheap, OK rolls and specials)
Indian - Punjabi Tandoor
Middle Eastern - Mama's Bakery
Italian - Apertivo (tapas-style)
Pizza - Bronx Pizza
Mexican (cheap) - El Zarape ($1 fish tacos), Super Cocina (moles), Tamale cart (35th & El Cajon)
Salvadorean - El Salvador Pupuseria
American - The Linkery, In-N-Out
Breakfast - Crepes de Paris (but ownership has changed)
Dessert - Mariposa Ice Cream, Just Fabulous
Coffee - Caffe Calabria (best), Lestat's (24 hr)
Drinks - Baja Betty 's, The Linkery, Liar's Club

Places I want to try:

Thai - Saffron. Any other ideas? All have been just OK so far (Celadon, Katima, Amari, Bai Yook)
Vietnamese - Lucky Seafood
Sushi - Sammy Sushi, Sushi Ota
Japanese - Izakaya Sakura, Tajima, Teriyaki Cowboy, Hogetsu Bakery
Korean - Buga, Boo Cho, Ko Hayang Jip
Filipino - Tita's Kitchenette
Laotian - Asia Cafe
Chinese - Ba Ren, China Max, Dumpling Inn, Pearl?/Emerald?
Plate Lunch - Da' Kitchen
Middle Eastern - Soltan Banoo, Bandar
Indian – Bombay? India Princess?
Italian - Baci? I could use some help here.
Spanish - Cafe Sevilla (tapas)
Russian - Pomegranate
Mexican - Chilango's, Mama Testa, Maritza’s, Carnitas Urupan, Por Venir, Ponce's, Porkyland, El Cuervo
Seafood - Blue Water Grill, Bay Park Seafood Co
Breakfast - The Mission, Hash House, Cantina Panaderia, Original Pancake House, Cafe on Park
American - Turf Club, Chicken Pie Shop
Special Occasion - Parallel 33, Tapenade, AR Valentine, George's, Cafe Cerise, Fresh, Roppongi's, Cafe Chloe

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  1. I don't eat out very frequently these days, so my rotation is pretty short:

    The Linkery
    Trattoria Firenze
    Super Cocina
    Dumpling Inn
    Zensei Sushi
    Cafe Cerise
    Blue Water
    Harry's Coffee Shop
    The Wit's End
    O'Brien's Pub
    Buga Korean BBQ
    Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria

    As for your list, it looks pretty good to me so far, though Saffron isn't really a good Thai place. Not sure what to recommend for Thai. When I used to work in Kearny Mesa, we'd sometimes go to this little hole-in-the-wall Thai place called Chilies Thai Gourmet. It's in the same shopping center as Original Pancake House. I remember the food being good, maybe it's worth a shot?

    1. all i can say is -- Vive comida casera y super cocina!

      (their mole and birria are my last meal on death row dishes)

      1 Reply
      1. re: kare_raisu

        I'm partial to the puerco enchilado, myself.

      2. Mexican - Delia's kitchen (cheap)
        Thai - Thai House
        Vietnamese/French - Le Bamboo in Del Mar

        1. I used to live in Pacific Beach, but alas, I am now just a visitor to San Diego. Nonetheless, I have a rotation, and my problem is that I always have limited time in the city and it is hard to find time to try new spots. My favorites not necessarily in order:

          1. Izakaya Sakura (Sakura 1 in the phone book and my #1).
          2. Asia Cafe (Amazing Laotian)
          3. The Fishery (Seafood House)
          4. China Max (stylish Hong-Kong style cuisine and dim sum)
          5. Liar's Club (ales, beers, great pub food)
          6. Sammy's Sushi (neighborhood sushi bar)
          7. Emerald or Pearl (dim sum)
          8. Jasmine Express (roast duck to go)
          9. Buga, Boo Cho for Korean (and Seoul BBQ just for Hwoe Dup Bap lunch special)
          10. Tons of Vietnamese places: I sometimes think this is the cuisine best represented in SD - Thien Thanh (and great banh mi in the back of the same strip mall at Nong Huong(?)), Saigon, Pho Ca Dao, Convoy Noodle House, Phuong Trang, and Kim Chan sandwich shop.
          11. Mexican I usually eat back home in Yuma.

          As others have mentioned, Thai does not seem to be San Diego's forte.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Phoo D

            How could I forget Ba Ren. My bad. It's good!


          2. Having lived in PB for 25+ years, I tend to get around. I have quite a rotation...just need more money!

            Thai – Tiny place next to La Vache on Robinson Ave.
            Japanese - Tajima
            Sushi – Sushi Ota
            Korean - Buga
            Pizza – Marino’s and Bronx
            Chinese – China Max
            Chinese – Hot – Ba Ren
            Dim Sum - Emerald
            Mexican Fast Food - Alberto's
            Mexican Slow Food – Super Cocina
            Mexican Slower Food - Chilango's
            Salvadorean - El Salvador Pupuseria
            Seafood - The Fishery
            Burgers - Hodads
            Italian - Marino’s
            Ribs - Phil's BBQ
            Bar food – Liar’s Club and Cass Street
            Spanish - Costa Brava
            American – Crest Café and Cheesecake Factory
            Breakfast - Original Pancake House
            Brunch (Sat) – Baja Betty’s
            Brunch (Sun) – Hanalei
            Special Occasion – Donovan’s
            Dessert - Cheesecake Factory

            3 Replies
            1. re: pbhomey

              Thai on the 400 block of Robinson Ave? I haven't seen a place there, nor has Google Maps. Any hints on the name?

              1. re: Joseph

                La Vache is on the corner...the Thai place is closest to the alley. The name change recently...but it is the same owner. There are two ot three tables outside, and not much more inside. The drunken noodles out outstanding. This place is truely a great find.

                1. re: Joseph

                  Joseph - Don't know about a name change, but the place is the Thai Grill:

                  The Thai Grill
                  420 Robinson Ave. Suite E
                  San Diego, CA 92103

              2. Opps, forgot one of my favorites:

                Bud's Louisiana Food Shoppe

                1. I'm new, but here's my list after 11 years in SD:

                  Thai – Lotus on 6th Ave. (best Pad See You ever - their spelling)
                  Sushi – Niban or Ichiban PB for cheap, Cafe Japengo for expensive
                  Pizza – for Naples style Arrivederci Pizzaria on 4th & Robinson, Bronx for NY style
                  Chinese & Dim Sum – Emerald Seafood
                  Mexican - El Zarape, the best grilled shrimp tacos on the planet
                  Seafood - Oceanaire in the Gaslamp (pricey, but so worth it)
                  Burgers - Crest Cafe
                  Italian - Arrivederci on 4th between University & Robinson
                  BBQ - Phil's BBQ
                  American – Crest Café
                  Breakfast - Cafe on Park (much better than Hash House, although HH is fun w/visitors)
                  Persian - Bandar in the gaslamp, great eggplant stew, chicken kabobs, grilled tomatoes
                  Dive - Longhorn Cafe in Vons shopping center at Friars & Mission Gorge
                  Brunch - Parkhouse Eatery
                  European - Café Chloe
                  Salads - La Vache
                  Bakery/Sandwiches/Bread - Bread & Cie
                  Cookies - Uncle Biffs
                  Pancakes - Harry's Coffee Shop in La Jolla

                  1. Tacos El Gordo-TJ
                    Phil's BBQ
                    Casa de Mole-TJ
                    Los Arcos-TJ
                    Las Quatro Milpas-Barrio Logan
                    Croom's BBQ-Chula Vista
                    Lucky Bamboo (Chinese)-Chula Vista
                    Hodad's Burgers-Ocean Beach
                    Da Kine's Hawaiian Plate Lunch-Pacific Beach
                    El Pescador-La Jolla

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: burntend

                      I am amazed you have been to Casa de Mole in Colonia Libertad. That place is fabulous and is cheap as spit!
                      Captain Jack

                    2. I haven't been in San Diego as long as others (2 years) but coming from Chicago, we had to find good food quickly. These are places we visit often.

                      Chinese Dinner - Pearl and China Max and Ba Ren
                      Dim Sum – Pearl and China Max
                      Cheap Chinese – Imperial Mandarin and Golden State
                      Pizza –Lefty’s
                      Mexican - Super Cocina and Chilangos
                      French – La Bastide Bistro
                      Dessert – Gelateria Frizante
                      Vietnamese Sandwiches - K's Sandwiches
                      Vietnamese Pho - Pho Hoa Hiep
                      Sushi (cheap) – Niban
                      Japanese – Teriyaki Cowboy and Tajima
                      Indian – Indian Princess
                      Middle Eastern - Mama's Bakery
                      Seafood – Blue Water
                      Filipino - Tita's Kitchenette
                      Thai – Flavor Thai, Still looking for better though
                      Plate Lunch - Da' Kitchen

                      Places I want to try:
                      Sushi - Sammy Sushi, Izakaya Sakura,
                      Korean - Buga, Boo Cho, Buga
                      Laotian - Asia Café

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rolandyung

                        How does Lefty's compare to the real deal in Chicago?

                      2. My husband and I opened a cheese shop a little over a year ago and since then, our rotation has been severly muted. But, we still have some old favorites and occasionally manage to find some new ones..

                        Burgers: Rocky's, hands down (used to live walking distance to Hodads, but still preferred the drive to PB)

                        Sushi: Ota, and many, many also rans. Frankly, a drive to Nobu in either LA or Vegas is our preference.

                        Mexican: We like the neighborhood feel of Ponce's in Kensington. After dinner, go check out a flick at The Ken, one of SD's few remaining non-mega-plex theatres

                        Chinese: Spicy City. Also like Jasmine for dim sum, but sorely miss Yank Sing in San Francisco-- nothing down here holds a candle to it.

                        Vietnamese: Our new fave is an old place- Saigon in City Heights. After driving past it for years without trying it, we finally got take-out a month ago and have now eaten there 3 more times. It's a massive menu and will take some time before we're thru everything. So far, nothing has sucked.

                        Pizza: We're longtime Bronx fans, but after we moved from Mission Hills to SDSU area, someone recommended Luigi's...we've never once been back to Bronx.

                        Bistro French: Cafe Chloe (is there anyplace else?). Steak au Poive, pomme frites and good wine are accompanied by an authentic bistro buzz. East Village is still on the cusp, but Chloe is one of the reasons you should avoid the Gaslamp and head east a few blocks.

                        More French: Cavaillon in Santa Luz...worth the trek
                        Still more French: Tapenade...anyone been since the chef left for Cavaillon?

                        French-ish: Winesellar and Brasserie. Great, great food (makes me miss Laurel!) with one of the friendliest corkage policies in town

                        Good food at great prices: Apertivo. It's Italian Tapas (I know, why didn't we think of that?) with generous portions of tasty (if not gourmet) food. No frills, just good grub. The most expensive thing on the menu is $8 and the wine list is well selected too. A bit noisy, but if that's the worst complaint...

                        BBQ- Huffman's. Old-school, in the hood, like yo' mamma used to make. Call ahead-- it's not exactly slow food, but it's cooked up fresh when ordered.

                        Southern: Magnolia's. If you ever went to Bessie's above Sushi on the Rock in La Jolla, you know Magnolia's. Different neighborhood, same down home, rib-sticking stuff. Yu-um!

                        Oysters: Kings Fish House. It's in the parking-lot equivalent of Orlando, but if you have to go there, this would be a good cause. Alternatively, fly to San Francisco and check out Hog Island in the Ferry Building. Saturday's they've got a spot outside in the Farmer's Market...something about sucking down oysters on a dock that really works for me

                        On the Want-to-Try list:
                        La Bastide
                        Reports anyone?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: mimosa

                          A friend had dinner at Modus this week. Liked the interior, felt like the patio was unfinished and not as polished as the inside which resulted in something of a schizophrenic ambiance. Food was good, but not great, service lacking. (My friend is a former fine dining waiter.) Still said it would be worth going back to in a couple of months. Loved that there was a parking lot right across the street.

                          1. re: mimosa

                            Hog Island Oysters in SF rules for oysters!! I wish we had something like it down here (more wishful thinking).

                            Buga Korean BBQ is the best in SD at this time. The beef they use is Coleman beef, which means juicier, tastier kalbi and bulgogi. They get packed at peak times, service is generally helpful. The only thing I haven't liked there are the nyung mung noodles (I've misspelled this, I know), the buckwheat noodles in the ice cold broth w/ Asian pear, slices of beef and cucumbers. The other versions are buckwheat noodles in sweet/spicy chili sauce. For some reason, the noodles were crunchy, not soft and chewy. The other thing to keep is mind is, the more people you get to go for BBQ, the more fun it is b/c you can get more dishes.

                            Modus is on our list of "need to try."

                            1. re: mimosa

                              Went to Modus last Saturday.

                              It's a very bar-type ambience, rather than a restaraunt, but I quite like it. We were inside, as it was a bit busy outside. Got there around 7.30, told we could get a table but needed to be gone by 9 or so - no huge problem.

                              Starters - I had the Beglian endive salad, which was a miss - the dressing was a bit too much like watery salad cream, though there was nice blue cheese on it (I think they get their cheese from Venissimo). The much better choice was the spinach and proscuitto salad - very good idea.

                              Mains - I had the pork loin, which was very tasty, but a little dry. Preferable to water-injected and soggy. The apple on the dish was just on the borderline of being too sweet, but pretty nicely balanced. The other main was the braised short ribs, which seem to be having an indentity crisis and was on the check as beef bourginon. Regardless, it was extremely tasty, good flavour, cooked to falling apart, which I think is appropriate for a braised (in the UK sense - slowcooked) dish

                              Deserts - I got the Belge Lion chocolate cake, which was OK at best - not terribly exciting. The other one was the s'mores thing, which is a graham cracker crust and melted chocolate and marshmallows - not exactly fine dining, but a bit of a guilty pleasure. Very rich, however.

                              Wine list by the glass is pretty extensive, and doesn't play too safe - their is the obligatory oaked to death Cali chardonnay and Napa Cab Sav, but a lot of better, more unusal wines by the glass - including a rather good Portuguese red, Cotes du Rhone, etc. Prices are $5-$9 per glass.

                              Service - little slow on the wine side, fine on the rest. Wait staff is young and maybe a little inexperienced, but at least they're friendly, even the devastatingly cute young blonde girl! Distressingly, the staff are more attractive than the customers (except for my fiancee, of course)

                              The bad bit - the hostess, who I believe is one of the co-owners, is off hand and downright rude. I thought she was a bit off when seating us, but when we walked out, she was in between myself and my fiance on the way outside - not a word from her! Didn't ask if we had a nice meal, or thank us for coming, or anything like that. Bit of a disaster in a new place really. She was obviously antsy about the big party that was supposed to show up hadn't, but we pay the bills too. If you're the face of the restaraunt, you should at least look like you're enjoying yourself, she didn't.

                              Oh, and the waiter (Michael) managed to chase us down as I left my sunglasses on the table.

                              So... maybe we'll go back, but only for the wine.

                              OK to good, I'd guess is the overall impression.

                            2. Wow what a great thread!

                              I'm a student at UCSD (starting sophomore year in the fall), and here is my rotation:

                              Indian: Punjabi Tandoor: Amazing food, great owners, great prices for hungry and cheap students. The chicken Mahkni is amazing.

                              Pizza: Bronx: Every once in a while, I go back to Bronx, and realize how great it is. I wish it had more sauce, but the pizza is still damn good. Usually get a pesto, and have recently been ordering the spinch. Very good. Also, Ciero's in Gaslamp is really good (maybe better than Bronx?), but it's hard to get down there for me.

                              Mexican: El Zarape: I like the shrimp chimichunga. Honestly, my friends and I are disappointed with SD mexican food. We're from LA and we miss the taqerias, burritos with rice and beans ALONG with the meat, and other great dishes. Anyone got any suggestions?

                              Vietnamese: Just added Nhu Y Restaurant. Went here because of Kirk. My first vietnamese experience. LOVED IT!!!

                              That's basically it. If anyone has any really good restaurants that are student friendly price wise and preferably closer to the La Jolla/UCSD area, I'd love to hear about them. Thanks.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: young_chower

                                Bronx will put on extra sauce if you ask for it. If Smitty is working the counter like he usually is, he will warn you "that's gonna be a wet pie."

                              2. Modus was OK...nice ambience, food was good, prices were what you would find in the overpriced Gaslamp. I had the flatiron steak and fries for $30. Not bad, but the same meal at another trendy spot--Jordan at Tower 23--cost $10 less and was as good, if not better, with an ocean view.

                                1. I visit SD infrequently, but have always loved the restaurants there. Some that I will hopefully return to include

                                  Extraordinary Desserts
                                  George's at the Cove
                                  Hotel Del Mar's restaurant (sorry, forgot the name!)
                                  Il Forniao at Del Mar (oh, the view)
                                  Fish Market Restaurant

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: chica

                                    Next time you're in town, for W-A-Y better desserts with none of the attitude, try Just Fabulous in Kensington - on Adam's Ave, just East of the I-15. Desserts are pretty fabulous, chocolate especially. Savory food is also good, and the cheese plate is worth an order. This is one of the most underrated places in the city, but definitely worth the effort to find.

                                    The il Forniao in Coronado has an incredibly spectacular view too.

                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      Oh yes, I meant the Il Forniao at Coronado (I linked Hotel Del Mar to Del Mar in general, but I remember the difference). I've been to both, but have only eaten at night - with that bay view - at the Coronado location.

                                      Thanks for the heads up about Just Fabulous. I will definitely try it the next time I'm in town. =)

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        Give Heavenly Desserts a try in North Park, 30th and University. We've been very happy.

                                    2. My list goes something like this:

                                      Taste of Thai in Del Mar off villa de la valle (don't like the one in Hillcrest)
                                      Lanna Thai - a new place 4502 Mission Bay Drive shows some promise
                                      Have found that Bay Yok has lost quality in their food, Kat...something on University in Hillcrest had the worst Thai food I have tasted

                                      Bronx Pizza in Hillcrest and Lefty's Pizza in Golden Hills

                                      Eclairs and bread:
                                      Bread and Cie

                                      El Cuevo when I am in a hurry on Washington Street
                                      Jimmy Carter's Mexican on Washington St next to the Sausage King and Lamplighter bar. Dolce, the chef, makes the best spicy soups.

                                      Bay Park Seafood Co on Ashton off Morena

                                      Winesellar and Brasserie - small restaurant over the wine store. They owned Laurel's too until recently. Always excellent food and service. Wine tasting on Wednesday nights and on Saturday lunch.

                                      The Big Kitchen:
                                      Great for weekend breakfasts/lunch (no dinners) and free entertainment by the owner - Judy-The-Beauty. Real neighborhood place that draws customers from the whole county.

                                      Desserts: Just Fabulous Kensington and Gelato's on the corner of India and Washington for coffee and gelato (real San Diego spot)

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: maureen

                                        Yeah Jimmy Carters! Best jalepeno poppers ever-- had my hubby mopping his forehead.

                                        Karaoke at Lamplighter anyone?

                                        1. re: mimosa

                                          Stopped by Jimmy's tonight for dinner with my daughter. I agree, the jalepeno poppers were excellent. The other dishes were average at the best...as well as the service! Will never return.

                                      2. Breakfast - Just Fabulous Kensington, A La Francaise, The Mission, Cafe Chloe, Park House Eatery, Big Kitchen, Crest Cafe, Bread & Cie, Original Pancake House

                                        Lunch (weekends, mostly) - Aladdins (both Clairemont Mesa & Hillcrest locations), Bangkok West Thai Cafe, Extraordinary Desserts (tuna panini YUM), Phil's Quality Meats (Little Italy), Soltan Banoo, Madras Cafe, Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, the Prado, Aesop's Tables, Fidel's, Pho tu Do, Phuong Trang, K Sandwich

                                        Dinner - Kensington Grill, Buon Appetito, Ashoka the Great, Parallel 33, Roppongi (for happy hour), La Vache, Mama Testa's, Arrivederci, Region, Laurel, Chive, Khyber Pass, Bandar, Hash House, the Linkery (and more - these are the ones that come to mind)

                                        Take-out - Bronx Pizza, Mama's Lebanese Bakery, Punjabi Tandoor

                                        Want to try: Hawthorne, Aperitivo, Hodads, Cafe Cerise, Saigon, Pomegranate, Vagabond

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: mimilulu

                                          I haven't seen anyone else mention the Mission. I really like their food, I think it's interesting and more healthful than other breakfast places, without being too "healthy". Although I could do without the Mission Beach/PB crowd and attitude (that's the one I go to, Mission Beach). And there's never any parking.

                                          1. re: ekomega

                                            Cantina Panaderia in PB is a kissin' cousin to The Mission Cafes. Breakfast is excellent - wonderful coffee - and parking is not impossible, often available in the small lot in front. On Feldspar 2 buildings down towards the ocean from Cass.

                                        2. Great post, thanks everyone for sharing. There's a year's worth of happy exploration on this one page!

                                          Mine -

                                          Lunch near Carmel Valley -

                                          Mucho Gusto Taqueria - good pollo plates. In the Vons strip mall on Del Mar Heights
                                          Kim's Vietnamese in Encinitas - great vegetarian lunch plates.
                                          Beach Grass in Solana Beach
                                          Naked Cafe in Solana Beach
                                          Samauri in Solana Beach
                                          Station Sushi in Solana Beach


                                          Bread and Cie - A treasure. So many good things.
                                          Peets - they know how to pull a nice espresso. (usually)
                                          Carpe Diem on First in Banker's Hill
                                          St Tropez at the Trolley Station downtown
                                          Twiggs on Cortez Hill - great spot for a beer on a warm evening

                                          Casual Lunch / Dinner near Hillcrest

                                          The Linkery - Really dig what Jay's doing up there
                                          Mama Testa
                                          Wine Steals - Meat and cheese board + several flights of wine makes for a good meal. :)
                                          Blue Water
                                          Arrivaderci's Pizzeria - great staff, love the shrimp and white bean salad.
                                          Mediterranean Cafe on Washington
                                          Bronx Pizza
                                          Jimmy Carter's Mexican in Mission Hills
                                          Bombay Indian for their weekend buffet - great post-workout meal.
                                          Tapas Picasso, but only on weekends when the owner's wife is cooking.
                                          Cafe Chloe downtown.
                                          China Max Seafood on Convoy

                                          Spendy Dinners

                                          Region - A four block stumble from my place
                                          Parallel 33
                                          Indigo Grill
                                          Misu Sushi in Mission Beach - spendy because of how much fish we eat. :)

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: jonoropeza

                                            I've heard that Tapas Picasso was a really extreme hit or miss on food quality. Someone I know said that one day there was only one server all night, and the place was packed. I guess I know what the problem is.

                                            1. re: ekomega

                                              Tapas Picasso has a couple of dishes that I'd rank extremely high, others not so impressiive. If you love garlic, this is a winning meal--salad with cilantro dressing with fried calamari and the garlic lamb!

                                          2. (In no particular order)

                                            Pho Ca Dao

                                            The Linkery (LOVE the sangria!)

                                            Lefty's (esp. the french fries and hot dogs--not a big fan of the pizza)

                                            Paesano (I like their pizza best)

                                            Crest Cafe (Cubana sandwich is amazing)

                                            Dumpling Inn

                                            Tajima (the only okonomiyaki in San Diego)

                                            Ba Ren (twice-cooked fish!)

                                            The Fish Market (cioppino!)

                                            Cafe de Thai in Poway (about the only decent Thai place I've found)

                                            Just Fabulous (Eggs Adams Avenue for brunch)

                                            Caffe Forte on University in North Park (best coffee in town, and the scones are amazing IF they've just made them)

                                            Dao Son on El Cajon Bl. (fried tofu with eggplant and peanuts)

                                            Tapioca Heaven in Mira Mesa (nowhere close to me but I'll make a special trip for the milk tea w/boba)

                                            Tofu House (the one near Victor's bar)

                                            Adams Avenue Grill (awesome soups and really great vegetarian entrees--they have meat too but this is a great place to take veggie friends or family)

                                            Parkhouse Eatery (mashed potatoes for breakfast! dinner is great, too)

                                            Golden Phenix in North Park (super-cheap diner-style breakfast and hilarious people)

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Jenne

                                              Gotta second Caffe Forte. They roast their own. I love strong coffee and it is!

                                              Parkhouse Eatery is one of our favorites, especially now that they are on the Restaurant.com discount program. It's the appetizers that got us, especially their house made pate.

                                              The Linkery--we don't "get it". We live a couple of blocks away and would love to love it. Everytime we've had their sausages, they were dry and boring. The other food was good. Just a couple of doors down, we enjoy Zensei Sushi

                                              1. re: Ms Verde

                                                Have you tried the Linkery lately? They have changed quite a bit in the last six months or so, and there are lots of options other than the sausages. You might also want to check out their website for the latest news and menu updates - they change the menu just about every week.

                                                1. re: Ms Verde

                                                  I don't know what to tell you...every time I've had their sausages they've been great, although I often order other things. Maybe I just have lower sausage standards?

                                                  Occasionally they have a Reuben sandwich with homemade corned beef and it's ridiculously good.

                                                  I also like the pork chop with vanilla-apple...compote? I forget what they called it exactly.

                                                  Anyway, like AliceQ said, they change the menu every week so you can check out their website and see if anything appeals.
                                                  I live in walking distance too, so I especially like going there!

                                                  As for Zensei, I think it's uneven...the rice isn't very good and I had something with supposedly "fresh" crab that had no flavor at all--definitely frozen or canned!
                                                  However, I did have a roll with lemon slices on top (I forget the name) that was excellent, and their miso soup is very good.

                                                  1. re: Ms Verde

                                                    Same here. We went to The Linkery and just didn't get the hype, it's such a sweetheart on this board I really wanted to love it. Sigh...

                                                    1. re: YaYa

                                                      I agree about The Linkery being dissapointing. We went there a few months ago and decided that its just "ok." I am thinking about giving it another chance, but....

                                                      1. re: LaurenZ

                                                        Their food and service varies in quality, depending on the business of the night and how good that week's dishes turned out. It is worth a second try. I like to cut a place some slack when they are committed to a constantly-changing menu, fresh ingredients and relatively reasonable prices. If Jay (the owner) is tending the bar, ask him what has been getting the best feedback that week; that usually works.

                                                        1. re: LaurenZ

                                                          I've always been happy with my meals at Linkery, but my expectations when going there are different than they'd be going somplace like Marine Room. I've never had a boring meal at the Linkery, though I've had some things that I liked better than others.

                                                          I second the rave about their Reuben. Their house-made corned beef melts in your mouth.

                                                  2. This is a North County list:

                                                    El Bizcocho
                                                    Chiefs (great Burgers)
                                                    Tony's Jacal
                                                    Pizza Nova (better than Sammy's, same concept)
                                                    Trattoria Positano
                                                    China Max (worth the drive to Clairmont)
                                                    Bongiorno's Pizza
                                                    King's Seafood (superior to the Fish Market)
                                                    Taste of Thai

                                                    We are sorely lacking a decent deli and interesting Chinese food in the North County.

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: buzznutter

                                                      This is such a good thread that it needs a bump or two...
                                                      As for Chinese in North County, the Overseas Chinese in Carlsbad fixes some decent mu shu and a garlic fried eggplant that will give you a full dose of your daily recommended grease. Very tasty though.
                                                      Thai Garden on Oceanside Blvd a few miles uphill is probably the best Thai in the area. I have one or two more to try in this part of the county before I've exhausted all Thai possibilities.
                                                      Cafe Chloe downtown, Terra in Hillcrest, King's (like you said, although it's a chain of sorts), Vinaka in Carlsbad for their quiches, Beach Grass cafe (for breakfast), Pronto's Market (also in Carlsbad and next to the Overseas is a good deli!), Bety's Tacos in Encinitas for the chicken mole and cheese and epazote quesadilla, the beers at Pizza Port, the pizza at Knockout Pizza and even better at Pizzeria Luigi in Golden Hill. Oh, there are more, but memory fails me this late at night.

                                                      1. re: buzznutter

                                                        Hurray for remembering Tony's Jacal--the best guacamole and turkey tacos! An institution.

                                                        Savory is a joy. We haven't had anything close to it, since Piret's left the Lumberyard in Encinitas (I guess I'm dating myself).

                                                        1. re: Ms Verde

                                                          AAK! I so miss Pirets!! I wonder if a "bring back Pirets" thread would help?

                                                          I think Tony's Jacal was the first restaurant my parents took us to. I still love the place, approx 45 years later!!

                                                          1. re: sdnativa

                                                            I loved Pirets/Perfect Pan - the one on Goldfinch. Had a reservation there once or twice each month for lunch. To get a reservation one would have to show up on a specified date and time and wait your turn to pick out what date you wanted for lunch in the following 2-3 months. This is one of my fondest restaurant memories dining in this tiny restaurant with 4-5 tables. I still use their recipe for making a walnut oil dressing for my salads.

                                                            1. re: maureen

                                                              I never went when they were still in the Perfect Pan location, but ate at every other location many times (Goldfinch, Imperial Bank downtown, La Jolla Village Square, Grossmont Center, Encinitas and Costa Mesa).

                                                              Cane's just never had that same magic.

                                                              I've still never been able to find a comparable baugette or croissant.

                                                              A bowl of French Onion or Cream of Mushroom soup, a small salad verte with baugette and a glass of Pirets red wine. Dang. I miss that.

                                                              1. re: mikec

                                                                Mike, the baguettes Pirets used to serve are the semolina baguettes from Solunto on India. You can still get them.

                                                              2. re: maureen

                                                                I lived in Hillcrest in the early 80's. We used to walk over to Pirets every Friday night for dinner. It was so much fun, such a perfect neighborhood hangout. I even remember the music. I have the cookbook too and I still use it.

                                                        2. I miss Pirets too, though I was only a kid at that time. I remember going to lunch with my mom at the one in La Jolla Village Square, and driving by the main one over on Washington and Goldfinch. I have one of their cookbooks, autographed by the Mungers, and I treasure it as an artifact of San Diego history! :-) One of these days I am going to try their croissant recipe!

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Alice Q

                                                            That Piret's Cookbook is a treasure for sure. I love their French Onion soup and Chicken Salad recipes. One surviving element is the coffee they used--Pannikin's.
                                                            Has anyone found a charcuterie style place in the County?

                                                            1. re: Alice Q

                                                              Alice, Krista always tells me about the wonder of Piret's. Something about the chocolate mousse and the black and white floors. Sad I missed it. :-(


                                                              1. re: Alice Q

                                                                I know this is an old thread - but once upon a time Alice I had that same book, autographed by Piret and George (met them at a class at the Annex). Anyway - during a move - my copy disappeared. What I am looking for and hoping SOMEONE can help me - is the recipe for torte de chou. The pork and cabbage deep dish pie in puff pastry. If you can find the time - can you send it to me? Thank you so much for your time and consideration!

                                                                1. re: dancmom

                                                                  I have the book as well and found the recipe you are looking for. If you go to this SD Chowhound Group link and join, look under members and send me an email message. I will send you the recipe the same day!


                                                              2. Thank goodness someone else remembers Piret's. It's sad, and I'm a very bad person for thinking this, but when The Gathering had their fire, I secretly hoped Piret's might come back

                                                                ; )

                                                                They also had a great one downtown in the lobby of the big, black building.

                                                                Peas a la Russe...mmmm.


                                                                1. I have to agree with Mimosa, Rockys burgers are the best. why isnt anyone mentioning quatros milpas in Barrio Logan. now that is a taco

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: callmetomforshort

                                                                    Gotta disagree, Los Quatros really isn't very good. Why people line up is beyond me.

                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                      I agree that Los Quatros is not very good. While they don't have a wide range of food I like El Pourvenir (not sure of the spelling)around the corner. A tiny place with 2 booths

                                                                    2. re: callmetomforshort

                                                                      I also like Los Quatros Milpas - I guess to each his own. I've also heard good things about El Porvenir and Carnitas Uruapan, though have yet to try them.

                                                                      1. re: Alice Q

                                                                        I like Los Quatros Milpas as well. I think their beans with chorizo are great. They taste like the ones my best friend's abuela makes.

                                                                        1. re: YaYa

                                                                          Carnitas Urapan is excellent. Worth the trek.

                                                                    3. Does anyone know what happened to the Mungers? They opened a place in Uptown called Cane's when the complex first opened, but it wasn't the same and didn't survive the high rent.

                                                                      1. I'm going to add a new favorite here (although I'm happy having the place to myself for awhile) -- Jayne's Gastropub, on 30th, just south of Adams.

                                                                        Jayne's is a gem. Casual/elegant, inventive food. It feels a bit like Cafe Chloe, without the French accent, steep prices and tiny portions. I've eaten there three times this past week. This is what I've had: pulled roast chicken sandwich, orrechiette with sausage and broccoli rabe, and a totally sublime blackened salmon sandwich. Everything has been delicious and under $10.

                                                                        Right now, Jayne's is only open for lunch, Tuesday-Saturday. They are apparently waiting for their liquor license to start serving dinner (sometime in February). So many places open too early, and stumble along trying to figure out what they are doing, I'm glad to see this place easing into its rhythm.

                                                                        By the way, there is a new Phils BBQ opening in Point Loma. Does anyone have the scoop on when?

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Dr. K

                                                                          Yes, Phil's is opening a new location where he can smoke away to his hearts content and not offend his neighbors with BBQ aromas. He will be keeping the Mission Hills location as well.

                                                                        2. as a cook at one of the restraraunts mentioned by many of you (mimosa, snort,paladar, joseph to name a few) list, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart...

                                                                          as for me, I love Luigi's pizza, the service at trattoria La Strada, the view at Mr. A's and the food at Market (formerly Blackhorse Grill) in Del Mar...Tacos el Gordo and Tacos La Fachada on 25th (especially the cart out front)...Sushi Ono in Hillcrest is wonderful...And if you want a bite late nite, try Modus in Banker's Hill...Hope this helps someone...

                                                                          1. To All-

                                                                            First I want to say hello to everyone on this board. I just found this website last night.

                                                                            I read about Izakaya Sakura last night on ths website and I RAN out my front door to eat there. Hands down, one of the best sushi meals I have ever eaten. The service was unobtrusive and friendly, the atmosphere was calm, and the food....my heavens the FOOD. I had the Monkfish liver, squid, eel with cucumber, and the mixed sushi. (I do not want to butcher the proper Japanese words for these items). A basic choice for a first time visit, but the quality of the fish was absolutely top notch. I finished with a bowl of Curry Udon, which blew me away. I am not well versed in Sake, but the wonderful server made an excellent choice for me. Sushi Ota is my usual haunt, but thanks to all of you I have a new place to dump my checking account.

                                                                            My rotation. I think the "Dining Experience" is a woefully underrated and dying art in our microwaved fast society. A great meal can be had at a little shack in an urban area, or a white tablecloth room. So here is my list.

                                                                            Izakaya Sakura (fresh in my mind!)...Sushi Ota...Bronx Pizza...Parallel 33...California Cuisine...A Chau...Pho Ca Dao...Ba Le...Pho Hoa Cali....Tacos El Panson...Etna Pizza...The Mission...Convoy Tofu House...Pamplemousse Grille...Tapenade...J Six...Mister Peabody's....The Omelette Factory...Park House Eatery...DZ Akins...Hob Nob Hill...Vagabond...Al's Cafe....Titanic Mariscos...Canada Steakburger...Western Steakburger...Extraordinary Desserts...Cafe 222...Saffron...The Little Dumpling....Sala Thai....Janet's Cafe...KemoSabe.....

                                                                            Okay I'm out of breath.


                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Dagney

                                                                              Welcome! I noticed a few fresh names on your list. If you can, please write up a review the next time you visit one of your favorites. Everyone loves new tips.

                                                                            2. Me too! Are you an East County-ite by any chance? I recognize a lot of familiar names, but I've never heard anything about Tacos El Panson, Etna Pizza, Al's Cafe, Titanic Mariscos, Canada Steakburger, Western Steakburger or The Little Dumpling. I also see that Janet's Cafe is on your list - we live pretty close (La Mesa) but haven't tried it. Any tips on what to order?

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                Tacos El Panson is right next to Etna's Pizza. They have a a large Trompo (verticle spit) with Al Pastor in the window. You can't miss it. They are also open till really late during the weekends:

                                                                                Tacos El Panson
                                                                                4433 El Cajon Blvd
                                                                                San Diego, CA 92115
                                                                                OPEN DAILY
                                                                                Sun-Thurs 10am - 12am
                                                                                Fri - Sat 10am - 3am


                                                                                Western Steakburger in located in that area between Hillcrest and Northpark, and is a Greek-Grill Burger joint. There is also a Western Steakburger in Serra Mesa, but I haven't been to that one.

                                                                                Western Steakburger
                                                                                2730 University Ave
                                                                                San Diego, CA 92104


                                                                                Canada Steakburger is located on the corner of University and 36th. I've been there, it is literally a shack. I haven't had time to do a return trip and post.

                                                                                3604 University Ave
                                                                                San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                I think Dagney's thinking of Dumpling Inn.....

                                                                              2. Tacos El Panson is on El Cajon Boulevard at Highland Avenue in City Heights. Their shop is small, friendly, efficient, and delicious. Etna is directly next door, they have a wonderful thick crust pizza. Al's Cafe is a fun diner in Carlsbad; excellent service! Titanic Mariscos is on Fairmount Avenue, and I think...Dwight Street? Anyway it's around 3500 Fairmount Avenue. It's this weird little hole-in-the-wall place with outrageous Mexican seafood. Canada Steakburger is at 3600 University Avenue. Massive hamburgers. Western Steakburger is farther west on University Avenue, I have forgotten the address. They have a good Philly Cheesesteak. The Little Dumpling is north of Jasmine on Convoy, they are small and hard to find, but the food is insane. Janet's Cafe is in Alpine, and is a good country-esque diner with a basic menu but efficient service.


                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Dagney

                                                                                  Did Janet's open a third place in Alpine? I know they have two in El Cajon (on 2nd and one on Greenfield).

                                                                                  1. re: Dagney

                                                                                    Welcome to the boards. Nice to hear a new voice. I have friends who like Etna a lot - and I think they've had pasta there as well - but yours is the first mention I've seen on these boards.


                                                                                  2. What the heck, here we go:

                                                                                    South Park Bar & Grill, Saigon, The Liars Club, Modus, The Prado, San Diego Brewing Company (mostly for the beer), The Linkery, The Vine, Villa Del Mar, Zensei Sushi, Arrevaderci, Baja Betty's, O'briens Pub, Phuong Trang, Celadon, Kemo Sabe, Wahoo's Fish Tacos, Kensington Grill, Chicken Pie Shop, Just Fabulous, Ponces, Cafe on Park, Crest Cafe, & goood old L&L.

                                                                                    1. I've seen a lot of Pho Ca Dao on people's rotation. I'm curious if that would be on Mira Mesa Bl. Is there another one on El Cajon Bl? I think I'd heard of one over there...maybe the original one? I recently tried the Mira Mesa location and was disappointed.

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: daimyo

                                                                                        Pho Ca Dao on ECB is located at the corner of El Cajon Blvd, and (I think) 52nd. Right in front of World Foods Market:

                                                                                        Pho Ca Dao
                                                                                        5223 El Cajon Blvd
                                                                                        San Diego, CA 92115

                                                                                        1. re: KirkK

                                                                                          Many thanks...I'll definitely have to give that location a try having seen it on everyone's rotation. For pho:
                                                                                          Early Morning: Lucky Seafood
                                                                                          Convoy Area: Convoy Noodle House

                                                                                          Would you have any recomendations for pho places around Convoy that are open early around 8:00? Seems like many pho restaurants in this area (at least the ones I've tried and liked) aren't open until 10:00 or so. Most of the time we'll drive from our office around Convoy up to Lucky for an early morning bowl. Any help is appreciated!

                                                                                          1. re: daimyo

                                                                                            Far as I know, Bolsaa opens at 9am, but other than that it's the lunch crowd.
                                                                                            Down on Linda Vista Pho Hoa opens at I think 7am, and I know Pho Hoa Hiep opens early as well.

                                                                                            Lucky Pho' makes a good bowl, I also enjoy their Bo Kho(Beef Stew).

                                                                                            1. re: KirkK

                                                                                              Cool. Maybe I'll give Bolsaa a try. Truth be told, I really don't mind the drive up to Lucky from Kearny Mesa because their Pho is always satisfying. I have tried Pho Hoa and thought it was ok, but haven't tried Pho Hoa Hiep. I did notice another Pho Hoa Hiep near my home off of Mira Mesa Bl east of the 15 near Scripps Ranch Rd. I've been wanting to try there as well. But because Lucky's is so good its hard to try new places in the same general area.

                                                                                              Thanks for the tips! I'll have to give their Pho Kho a try if I can pull myself away from the Pho!

                                                                                              1. re: KirkK

                                                                                                found myself at lucky pho on sunday morning with the drizzle and took your advice and tried the banh mi bo kho. definitely different from anything i've tried but very good. the bread was hot and was great dipping in the stew. i must admit i'm not used to the fattiness of the beef, but that's just because i'm westernized. the lean parts, however, were extremely tender and tasty. i was a bit jealous watching my friend slurp up his pho, but i'm sure i'll be back there this week!

                                                                                        2. Great discussion. Most of ours are on here already, but here are a few of our regulars...

                                                                                          Cafe Chloe
                                                                                          Phil's (we are ready for January to be open)
                                                                                          Wine Vault & Bistro
                                                                                          La Taverna in La Jolla (excellent Italian - and cutest damn place)
                                                                                          Richard Walker's Pancake House
                                                                                          The Crepe guy at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market
                                                                                          Nipon Sushi (one of the only places in the Gaslamp we frequent)
                                                                                          Park House Eatery (can you say Anything But the Kitchen Sink Brownie?)
                                                                                          Zenbu & Rimel's (when we lived in La Jolla)
                                                                                          Blue Water Seafood Market
                                                                                          Salsa Brava (this is a great little taco stand near Talmadge on El Cajon and 49th - best Tacos Adobado I have had)
                                                                                          Mama's Bakery
                                                                                          Nine Ten
                                                                                          Just Fabulous (was weekly when we lived in Talmadge)
                                                                                          La Pizzeria Arrivederci
                                                                                          Chicken Pie Shop
                                                                                          Gelato Vera (Mocha Rum Crunch -- yummy)
                                                                                          And we miss Region terribly!

                                                                                          Well, that made me hungry!


                                                                                          1. I cried when region closed.....;[

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: Dagney

                                                                                              Us too. I miss it terribly.

                                                                                              Does anyone know what restaurant Michael Stebner is working at in Phoenix? I am going there in a few weeks.

                                                                                            2. Thanks to everyone for some great new places to try...Here's a few places I frequent:
                                                                                              Lucky Seafood-Early Morning Pho
                                                                                              Convoy Noodle House-Pho in the Convoy Area
                                                                                              Sushi Ota
                                                                                              Shien of Osaka
                                                                                              El Cuervo-love their shredded beef crispy tacos
                                                                                              La Cocina & Mi Ranchito-Ramona Mexican
                                                                                              Lolitas (Clairemont Mesa Bl)-Carnitas
                                                                                              Ba Ren
                                                                                              A&J Cafe-Irvine Chinese
                                                                                              Takhrai Thai
                                                                                              Dao San
                                                                                              Olympic Cafe-Greek
                                                                                              In N Out
                                                                                              Filippis-Pizza, Torpedo, & Meatball Sandwich
                                                                                              Domenics (Poway)-Love their Gnocchi
                                                                                              Mama's Fish House-Maui
                                                                                              Tasaka's Guri Guri-Maui
                                                                                              Azeka's-Maui teri sandwiches, but they're closed now
                                                                                              Da Kitchen
                                                                                              Philly's Best (Irvine)-Cheese steaks

                                                                                              1. Per Chow folks, I ate at Spread tonight. The owners are a husband-wife team that are committed to serving high quality food. They are accomodating and extremely gracious. The decor of the room is simple and quiet; they have made their food the number one priority. The menu changes daily and is written on a chalkboard.

                                                                                                They have created a line of "butters"; all organic and homemade. I don't even know where to start, everything from peanut butter-chocolate-cinnamon creations to more pesto-esque arrangements.


                                                                                                1. Sooooo many Pho lovers here. I found a new place. I think it may have been mentione but I'll throw it out here anyway. Pho Hoa on El Cajon Boulevard just west of Euclid Avenue. I stuck to my favorite basic, Tai, the rare beef soup. The broth was deliciuosly clear, NOT over salted, and the beef tasted sweet and rich.

                                                                                                  1. My rotation:
                                                                                                    (this doesn't include all my favorites, just the ones I like that I end up at most often)
                                                                                                    Mona Lisa Deli (the restaurant is awful) - sandwiches
                                                                                                    Ono Sushi
                                                                                                    Spices Thai (M.Mesa) - lunch
                                                                                                    Wine Sellar - best food I've tried in SD
                                                                                                    Golden Dragon - late night (open 'til 3:00a.m.)
                                                                                                    Wit's End - beer only (the owner is a great guy but has an odd approach to flavor combinations)
                                                                                                    Nunus - for cheap, tasty burgers followed by many cocktails
                                                                                                    South Beach - vodka oyster shooters, best fish/shrimp tacos in town, ridiculously cheap pitchers of beer
                                                                                                    Although I've only eaten there once, Sakura will soon be part of this list.

                                                                                                    Places I want to try:
                                                                                                    El Bizcocho
                                                                                                    The Linkery
                                                                                                    China Maxx
                                                                                                    Blue Water
                                                                                                    Tacos El Panson (now that I know they have the trompo)
                                                                                                    1500 Ocean (maybe)
                                                                                                    Pamplemousse (maybe)
                                                                                                    Super Cocina
                                                                                                    Asia Cafe

                                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                                                      You guys need to relax. Read what I said in the other post again. My issue is with places that charge way more than they're worth. In San Diego, restaurants that fit this description far outnumber the good ones. I'm not the only one who feels this way, and if you don't believe me, read through that thread again:

                                                                                                      After a while, I got tired of opening my wallet and letting the restaurant take as much as it wanted. I'm not going to apologize for that.

                                                                                                      Honkman, your comment about me not visiting "upscale" restaurants is exactly what I'm getting at! I shouldn't have to go to an upscale restaurant to get a decent meal! This is a city of 3 million people for god's sake! And mediocre restaurants are getting away with charging people out the wazoo! Part of the reason I haven't hit the restaurants on my list above is because I've become so discouraged by non-upscale restaurants that still charge plenty. I haven't exactly been enthusiastic to go throw down $150 for a dinner when I'm fairly convinced it will be worth $50! For this reason I decided a long time ago to just eat at home. Many of the restaurants I listed above have only been open a couple of years, if that. I only learned about them by reading your posts -- and I thank you for telling me about them.

                                                                                                      Frankly, enough people agreed with my sentiments on that thread to prove that I'm not the only one who recognizes the problem with restaurants in this city. I do respect your opinions and you have led me to some worthy restaurants.

                                                                                                      1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                        Show me a restaurant in San Diego where you pay $150 for a dinner but it is only worth $50. To be honest I think you tried a few random restaurants in SD without any research (which isn't too difficult in those times) and picked some crappy ones like they exists in every town, including NY or SF. So you made some comments without having any real evidence for what you said. And you still didn;t name in the other thread any of the restaurants where you have to pay so much money and you don't get anything for it. You don't really sound very credible if you only point always to other poster without backing up your claims with some names.

                                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                                          honkman, do you consider it responsible to rip into someone without even reading their posts? Because it appears that's what you're doing. I DID provide a list of the restaurants in the thread you were SO offended by. Here they are again:

                                                                                                          Here is a partial list of places that I consider a major ripoff or just plain bad:

                                                                                                          Parallel 33 - ripoff, overrated. All show, little substance
                                                                                                          Kensington Grille - overrated and overpriced
                                                                                                          La Vache - ripoff, bad food
                                                                                                          De Medici (long time ago) - ripoff
                                                                                                          Panevino - price doesn't match the quality
                                                                                                          La Strada - bad
                                                                                                          Old Venice - very bad
                                                                                                          Prado - nice setting, mediocre food
                                                                                                          India Princess - 1 great dish, 2 bland ones
                                                                                                          Brockton Villa - horrible food
                                                                                                          Taste of Thai - mediocre
                                                                                                          Trattoria Fantastica - pasta swimming in sauce
                                                                                                          World Curry - gimmicky place, bland food
                                                                                                          Saffron - tried it twice. Worst part was pieces of burnt ginger in my food.
                                                                                                          Donovan's - nice restaurant, quality of food does not match the price
                                                                                                          The Wine Vault - nice setting and really nice people who run it, but this place is basically only good if you're looking for cheap food and wine, and that's about it. Although I had fun, I would not go back.
                                                                                                          A couple more restaurants downtown whose names I can't remember.

                                                                                                          Here are some places I like because I don't feel like I'm getting ripped off:

                                                                                                          Wine Sellar - excellent all around
                                                                                                          Sushi Ota - excellent (if you sit at the sushi bar)
                                                                                                          Park House Diner - excellent breakfast
                                                                                                          Amarin Thai
                                                                                                          Morton's - I'm not a steak expert, but the Porterhouse was one of the best things I've tasted in SD.
                                                                                                          Golden Dragon - good for the price
                                                                                                          Spices Thai - good for the price, especially the lunch specials
                                                                                                          Izakaya Sakura - just tried it. Thanks for the recommendation everyone!
                                                                                                          Ba Ren - just tried it, liked the pork boiled in hot sauce more than the stir-fried dried beef and the hot prawns, but overall great value. Thanks for the recommendation everyone!
                                                                                                          South Beach - for fish/shrimp/lobster tacos and vodka oyster shooters
                                                                                                          Buon Appetito --- not bad. I didn't feel like I got ripped off.

                                                                                                          By the way, unlike you, I have not criticized even one person or their taste in restaurants in any of my threads.

                                                                                                          1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                            Wow, looks like you opened Pandora's Box....all food politics aside, I want to vouch for some of your rotation.

                                                                                                            Ba Ren (Thanks Kirk). I wasn't thrilled with the "hot pepper prawns" only because I can't ingest that many dried peppers. The execution was flawless, though, with good fried shrimp. Still an excellent meal.

                                                                                                            Izakaya Sukura-Only one lunch here, but I hear the sushi bar is a bit apartheid, in that you must be a regular to sit there.

                                                                                                            South Beach-Best Fish Tacos in the world. My Mom drives out from Riverside just to get her fix of Mahi-Mahi tacos. Just bummed they put Jose's Special Seafood Cocktail on the menu...used to be a special treat.

                                                                                                            Thanks for the postings!

                                                                                                            1. re: ac3197

                                                                                                              Hot Pepper Prawns? Very disturbing. I guess i owed you one since I went to Sakura without you. On the bright side I'm glad I wasn't there to split the $14.99 cost of the prawns. What else did you get?

                                                                                                              1. re: daimyo

                                                                                                                Speaking of Pandora's Box. Anyways, they were good, but there is so much else to try....We also got the split beans (lots of garlic) and the stir-fried pork with green chile (same as the first visit, but with more flavor)

                                                                                                              2. re: ac3197

                                                                                                                You do know that you're not supposed to eat the scalded chilies, right? It is just there for flavoring. You pick out the shrimp(or chicken) with your chopsticks and eat them.
                                                                                                                When done right this syle of cooking is a feast for the eyes(the contrast of colors), the texture is great(the crunchy exterior along with the soft shrimp), and the flavors are at the least interesting(both burning and numbing heat - the well known Chinese ma-la, along with a lsightly sweet finish).
                                                                                                                I've walked in a sat at the sushi bar when dining alone at Izakaya Sakura, and have never had a problem, unless all the seats are reserved, which happens on occasion.

                                                                                                                1. re: KirkK

                                                                                                                  KirkK, when I had them the prawns had a sort of "lemoney" finish to them. My mouth was burning so I couldn't tell if it was actually lemon or something else. Is that the ma-la or the slightly sweet finish you're talking about?

                                                                                                                  1. re: KirkK

                                                                                                                    NOW you tell me about the chiles!

                                                                                                                2. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                  I think I would agree with most of your list of complaints, but then again, I wouldn't have recommended a lot of them in the first place (and I don't agree with your pan of Saffron, we live right by it and it is a great cheap take out option). Did want to make one comment on Donovan's. Go there at about 4:20pm on a weekday. Sit at the bar and order a nice red wine by the glass. When the bar tenders come around with the little sandwiches (they do this between 4-6pm every night), grab like 2 or 3 of them. They are free and amazing. You can leave there -- if you do this a couple of rounds -- very happy for like the cost of a glass of wine (how expensive of one is up to you).

                                                                                                                  1. re: whatwedig

                                                                                                                    Thanks so much for the tip on Donovan's, whatwedig! I'm going to try that sometime this week, maybe even tonight. As for Saffron, I guess it's possible I had a couple bad experiences, but there are enough Thai joints around that I don't feel like testing my chances again...unless of course I find myself three sheets to the wind at Shakespeare's and need a place to stumble to...

                                                                                                              3. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                I like the sandwiches at Wit's End quite a bit. I would disagree that the flavor combinations are odd. His chicken salad and egg salad are both exemplary, and the pot roast sandwich with horseradish is one of the best sandwiches I've had anywhere.

                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                  I agree. That's a pretty decent sandwich. But for example, I think his pot roast quesadilla is a bad combo of ingredients. I do like some of the things they make, such as the beef stroganoff, and his creamy garlic salad dressing is to die for.

                                                                                                                2. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                  Tacos El Panson had the best El Pastor I have had in San Diego so far. However, it is still not as rich as what you will find across the border, especially not the best of the D.F. I believe it has to do with the low-fat, mass-market pork available here in the USA. But I certainly recommend you try out El Panson; we were quite happy.

                                                                                                                3. I'm a long time lurker who finally decided to start posting on occasion.

                                                                                                                  These are my rotation spots.

                                                                                                                  Seafood: Blue Water Grill
                                                                                                                  Japanese: Yoshino's, Sushi Ota
                                                                                                                  Mexican: Jimmy Carter's, great carnitas/pork/poppers/fruit drinks
                                                                                                                  Dinner w/ Wine (BYO): Molly's
                                                                                                                  Pizza: Bronx, CPK for pizza and salad
                                                                                                                  Italian Cheap Eats: Apertivo
                                                                                                                  Beer: O'Briens
                                                                                                                  Thai: Saffron's
                                                                                                                  Vietnamese: Phuong Trang
                                                                                                                  Burgers: Rocky's, The Gathering used to be, not sure anymore.
                                                                                                                  Tapas: Cafe Sevilla
                                                                                                                  Dim Sum: Emerald is good but pricey, used to like Mandarin Chinese on West Point Loma Blvd. Need a good inexpensive alternative to these.

                                                                                                                  A couple of others I get to once in awhile: Parallel 33, Arrivaderci's, Top of the Market, Bread & Cie, Best Bread, Extraordinary Desserts

                                                                                                                  1. Saigon
                                                                                                                    Kanpai-- sushi in Chula Vista
                                                                                                                    Lucky Bamboo--Chinese in CV
                                                                                                                    K's Sandwiches-- banh mi
                                                                                                                    Los Quatro Milpas (but getting busier and busier; long, long line)
                                                                                                                    La Torta-- amazing Mex sandwiches
                                                                                                                    Lefty's- Chi dogs and pizza
                                                                                                                    Karinna's-- mariscos in CV

                                                                                                                    1. Perrys for breakfast sit at the counter and watch the action, hodads for burgers

                                                                                                                      1. Hi folks! This looks like a fun game ... :-)

                                                                                                                        Here's my current rotation, some of which have been mentioned already, some not:
                                                                                                                        --Big Kitchen Cafe
                                                                                                                        --Thai Cafe (Clairemont Mesa)
                                                                                                                        --Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe
                                                                                                                        --The Linkery
                                                                                                                        --Ba Ren
                                                                                                                        --East Buffet (Miramar)
                                                                                                                        --Mien Trung (Linda Vista)
                                                                                                                        --Ca Dao
                                                                                                                        --Cafe India (near Sports Arena)
                                                                                                                        --Sipz Fusion Cafe
                                                                                                                        --Humphrey's Backstage Lounge (this is only in my rotation because of a friend's band that plays here frequently. But once here, the bar menu has a couple of great items, and they finally hired somebody who knows how to make a decent Manhattan.)

                                                                                                                        1. Hey I just thought of a funky little place. Has anyone here eaten at Tango's in Chula Vista? Tango's is a pretty authentic Argentinian grill. I have eaten there twice in the last four years. The menu is not flamboyent or super progressive, but the quality of the meat has always been tops.

                                                                                                                          A question for those who reside east, where is a good place for breakfast in La Mesa? I heard there is some Swedish pancake action going on somewhere...

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                                            You should post this as a new topic... actually, it ought to be two different new topics. That will help people find it; not everyone reads old threads.

                                                                                                                          2. Hey all- There is a new place on Park Bl called Cafe One Three. Has anyone been there? I just noticed it on my way to Parkhouse on Sunday.

                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                                              It replaced the purple low-carb, sugar-free bakery that was there before. It's only been open a couple of weeks. I've been wondering too if it was worth it.

                                                                                                                              The name is actually a "too-cute" play on words: Cafe One - Three. You can't forget that ever important hyphen. The owner must be a Gemini.......

                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                Sometimes I'm good at word play, but not this time. Explanation please for this astrologically unaware hound?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Leucadian

                                                                                                                                  Gemini, third sign of the zodiac and the first point of mental cognition and cogent communication. It is futile to try and out think a Gemini because their mind and thought processes work at the speed of light and they've generally "been there/done that, on to the next thing" before you get your idea or thought completed. Information acquisition is a favorite activity, not that they'll do much with the information, it's the process of information gathering that is the turn on. The discernment of information falls to Virgo and the deepening of ideas and thoughts to Gemini's opposite sign, Sagittarius. Because of the agility of the Gemini mind they are generally witty, urbane, articulate, clever and never at a loss for words. They can talk their way out of a paper bag if required. Words and communication are the Gemini aphrodisiac. Every good party needs at least 1 Gemini.

                                                                                                                                  Now, with regard to Cafe One-Three, read the hyphen as "to" and it will make sense. And, BTW, I had brunch there on Saturday. LOVED IT!!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                      Post a review, please, either here or on your blog if you have time to go in-depth. I've been wondering about that little place.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Joseph

                                                                                                                                        On Cafe One-Three? It's coming after we have dinner. I've got photos of brunch already.

                                                                                                                              2. Just a few...
                                                                                                                                Cafe Chloe, Modus, Oceanaire's happy hour, Blue Water, South Beach, The Waterfront (I love their burgers and no one ever mentions them), Tioli's Crazy Burger, Mona Lisa Sandwiches, Lorna's, El Zarape, and finally my favorite "clean" San Diego style taco shop--Taco Surf.

                                                                                                                                1. Vietnamese (cheap) - I make my own without the MSG
                                                                                                                                  Japanese - Sansei (Carlsbad outlet mall)
                                                                                                                                  Indian - Madras Cafe
                                                                                                                                  Greek - Cafe Athena
                                                                                                                                  Italian - Lorna's, Mimmo's
                                                                                                                                  Pizza - Make my own, Lorna's has good Pizza
                                                                                                                                  Mexican - Fidel's Solana Beach (Tostada Suprema with frijoles de Olla)
                                                                                                                                  Thai - Saffron is easily the best a level above the others.
                                                                                                                                  Spanish - Not in San Diego
                                                                                                                                  Seafood - Fish house veracruz in Carlsbad.
                                                                                                                                  Vegetarian - Roxy in Encinitas