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San Diego Trip Review

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My wife and I just spent a terrific week in San Diego. Thanks to chowhound.com and a few other very secondary sources, we ate very, very well. We stayed downtown at Market and Union, so we tended to favor downtown places, but did do a decent amount of driving.

Last Saturday evening we enjoyed a great meal at Region. I wondered about Region, given the mixed reviews. Glad we went. My wife had a great salad and chicken al mattone (a half chicken, mostly deboned and cooked under a brick.) She's not big on superlatives, but said she can't recall a tastier chicken dish. I had a bruschetta covered with a warm pork spread (I can't recall the name) and, truly, the best scallops I've ever eaten.

Sunday we enjoyed the Brickyard for coffee (fine, and a great setting), and had a fair dinner at Lou and Mickey's downtown. My wife's catfish was great, my burger was fine and the oysters tasted great, but one or more of them, I think, left me in a bad state for days (which didn't interfere with any meals, but surely was annoying and uncomfortable.)

Monday lunch was spent with clients at Dussini. Fine, but not spectacular. Monday night we wandered into Monsoon. They have a great Monday deal, with a buffet for $19.95. The food was fresh, excellent and nothing about the buffet semed like the many tired Indian buffets I've suffered.

Tuesday, we had lunch--wife's surprise--at Rancho Valencia in Rancho Santa Fe. It's a beautiful resort. The food was very nice, not cheap but not outrageously priced ($12 burger, salads in the $12-15 range), and the setting is spectacular. Very low key and very elegant.

Wednesday morning we had breakfast at Richard Walker's Pancake House on Front St. just west of Market. It's very new. Spectacular pancakes and omelettes with fresh, top quality ingredients.

Wednesday, late in the afternoon, we hit Roppongi for the half- prices tapas and sushi. Unbelievable. The crab tower was great, and really hit the spot after some warm air wandering. The scallops on potato pancakes with a bearnaise sauce looked like little eggs benedict, and were almost as good as the scallops at Region. A little rich, but very nice. The hit for me, though, was the Ahi Poke. Two disks of fried wonton skin were loaded with spicy ahi cubes. My wife doesn't eat raw fish, so I ate the whole thing and had to restrain myself re: ordering a second helping. Wow!

Thursday, we took the ferry to Coronado. Fun! We ate at Tent City on Orange Ave. Very nice patio. Great location. Decent food.

Thursday night we met friends at Po Pazzo. Great, great food. Not cheap, but really spectacular. I had ahi. The dish was great. Others enjoyed scampi, a sea bass special (served on risotto with green melon coulis and a cantaloupe topping) and lamb chops.

I managed to sample a martini every evening. Po Pazzo was tops! Icy cold and perfectly dry. Monsoon's was very dirty and not to my liking. At Roppongi I had String of Pearls (Pearl vodka, sake and pearl onions). Very different and very tasty.

Working out daily and avoiding, mostly, desserts, brought us home in the same condition--a little poorer but no fatter--than when we left.

We'll be back in early August for a few days and will return from time to time, as my mother owns a condominium downtown. Any suggestions for other places are appreciated.

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  1. For downtown, I would try Dobson's (north of Post Office at Horton Plaza) and Athen's Market--across the street from Horton Plaza on 1st Avenue and excellent Greek cuisine. I would also recommend Red Pearl Kitchen for Asian fusion.

    1. Thanks for the report on local dining. Next time you're in town, check out the Global Village Marketplace. It's on India between A and Ash, I think, as you walk North from the America Plaza trolley station on India. East side of the street. It's not so much a restaurant, tho they do make sandwiches, as it is a food shop with a lot of interesting imported food at pretty fair prices. They do have a well picked selection of imported cheese, heavy on the Spanish cheese, that are unique (especially in San Diego) and very good. The shop is kept chilled and they will give you samples of any cheese you want to try. There are a few premade salads, grilled marinated vegetables, a few meats, including a good imported proscuitto and about 8 types of olives. IOW, all the fixings to take a little picninc down to the waterfront.

      There is also a full range of Scharffenbergber chocolates, but more interesting, a variety of chocolates from small boutique chocolatiers. I picked up a bottle of peach vinegar that's dynamite and also found a jar of green olive tapenade for which I had been searching high and low.

      Definitely worth a stop if you're in the area.