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Aug 2, 2006 06:07 AM

best restaurant in san diego

need to know what is the city's best restaurant price unimportant.
we are both restaurant people from philly and have eaten at the best
(le bec fin,striped bass,daniel)obviously french is our cuisine of preference. read about el bizcocho but not really impressed.

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  1. For French food, I recommend Cavaillon, Pamplemousse and Tapenade. Not necessarily in that order, but definitely in my recent order of preference. Cafe Chloe is another one we really like.

    Another consideration is Winesellar and Brasserie, although their menu is more California influenced than French IMO. I have also heard La Bastide is really good (former El Bizochco chef) though I've not been there yet.

    9 Replies
    1. re: mimosa

      The food and ambiance at Pamplemousse are on par with a restaurant you'd find in a Marriott or Sheraton (i.e. not impressive)

      1. re: ceegee

        wow, it's been about a year since we were at Pamplemousse-- did they remodel? I think this comment is a bit harsh regardless.

        As for the other 2, did they at least warrant Hilton status?

        1. re: mimosa

          I haven't been to the others, but I was at Pamplemousse last October...cheesy murals and biker dudes painted on bathroom doors do not appeal to me...especially when I'm spending $100+ per person for a mediocre meal. The service was excellent, otherwise I found it to be a HUGE disappointment.

          1. re: ceegee

            I agree 100% with this. I was very disappointed by Pamplemousse. I think the Zagat rating is way off on this place.

          2. re: mimosa

            Cavaillon is on the top of my list.

            They showed me what really well prepared tasty food should be. I look forward to making it a regular stop, especially for Monday's Prix Fixe -$32.00, which has to be the bargain of the year anywhere in San Diego!
            I have been looking for 8 years for good food, and it appears, that they have caught up with me. It is no longer a culinary wasteland around here.

            1. re: nutrition

              The problem is after being there several times over a few months the menu was essentially the same.

              1. re: PGB

                It appeared to me to be a 4 week rotation on the menu. But it may be a seasonal rotation also.
                But I had no problem finding choices on the menu, that I enjoyed ordering, again.

          3. I think it will be hard to find an agreement between all the people here writing their opinions but my votes are for Mille Fleur, Tapenade and Bertrand at Mister A's.

            3 Replies
            1. re: honkman

              I must admit the food at Mille Fleur is good but if you have a modest appetite you will need to stop on the way home to top off the tank as the portions are very small. It just seem like for the price you pay you should be comfortably full.

              1. re: honkman

                I concur with Honkman on Tapenade.

                1. re: Captain Jack

                  I too concur. MF portions are tiny, the prices are steep and there's an attitude of snobiness. MrA's is very good, but also very steep prices.

              2. You are clearly looking for the best fine dining experience, given the restaurants you mention. You're right to suspect El Bizocho--not bad, but not tops. Sadly, San Diego does not excel at French.

                I have found the best all-around restaurant in SD to be AR Valentien (in the Lodge at Torrey Pines). Elegant and complex, excellent service, beautiful setting.

                Tapenade is in the next rank of restaurants.

                Below that--excellent food, atmosphere, but not haute--are Cafe Cerise, Laurel, Cavaillon.

                Cafe Chloe get lots of attention, and is just fine, but is really a very casual bistro. Great for lunch or a glass of wine and cheese.

                Avoid Pamplemousse, Mister A's, the Winesellar. These are not terrible places, but each is off is some way or other (location, ambiance, etc.)

                1. Cheframbo, your best bet is to skip San Diego altogether, and drive an hour and a half into Baja California. There, in the Guadalupe Valley, is the best restaurant - Laja.

                  The chef at Laja worked for several years at Daniel, in fact.


                  They raise their own produce, and serve food all grown in the Guadalupe Valley, paired with wines from the valley as well. It's quite an experience, and sounds like it'd be right up your alley.

                  Keep in mind, the prices listed there are in pesos - it winds up being around $60 per person if you get wine pairings with each course.

                  Laja is an amazing experience that should not be missed.

                  1. I have to agree wtih Josh and DrK's comments. French isn't really a cuisine that is done well in San Diego. Why such a limiting criteria when there are an ever growing number of good choices in the county?

                    If you've got the time and the inclination, take Josh's suggestion and go to Laja,it's good and even worth the return trip border wait. DrK's suggestions for A.R. Valentein and Tapenade are also good. There have been some reported chinks in the A.R. Valentein armor of late, so go, experience it and tell us what you think. Last time I was at Tapenade there was some attitude from the waitstaff, but the food was really good.

                    It's August and there should be a Hide Tide breakfast and dinner menu for the Marine Room. Chef Bernard Guilles (I think I spelled that right) is tres French and is consistently named the "Best" - FWIW - chef in San Diego. The view is spectacular and the food usually superb. Sort of French, sort of tropical, sort of Asian, sort of....ummm.....really good, and very San Diego. If you don't want to do dinner, go for brunch, for $40 it's one of the best ones in San Diego.

                    Some of the most interesting and inventive food is being served up at Asia Vous in Escondido. Not French, not Asian, maybe, kinda fusion, but unique and very good. (As is 150 Grand if you're in the area)

                    But please keep one thing in mind, the West Coast is more informal than the East Coast and it is reflected in our restaurants as well. And I don't mean ambiance or service because there are plenty of places on the West Coast that do that exceptionally well. I'm talking about the approach and attitude towards food; there is, perhaps, a willingness to be a little less traditional and a little bit more freewheeling with the food and flavors. IOWs a little more willingness to color outside the lines :-).