San Diego vs. Los Angeles
This month's San Diego Magazine is their annual "Best" for restaurants in San Diego. Here's a link to one of the articles in which an L.A. food critic reviews the major players in SD and compares them (or not) to what's available in L.A.
Most of the restaurants mentioned in this article are the usual suspects here on Chowhound when someone asks for an upscale referral. In fact, most of these have been the topic of hot debate over on Cheframbo's thread asking about the "Best Restaurant in San Diego"
You all agree with the assessment in the linked article or not?
This article really just seemed like it was just trying to puff up San Diego's chest. There really isnt much criticism in the article and it had the feel of a little borther(SD) trying to prove how great he was by comparing himself to his big brother(LA).
Besides the writer's culinary views were pretty much laid bare by this statement: "Dinner chef Tim Kolanka sent out an appetite-whetting amuse bouche. We shared an appetizer of pork belly ($12)— delightful even though that porker from Niman Ranch could have benefited from some liposuction to save trimming off quite a bit of fat."
Umm you ordered pork belly. Pork belly is pretty much all fat. If this is one of the few negative things to say, then it really doesnt say much for her credibility.
I grew up in the LA area, but left when I was still in my 20s. I've been back to visit (and eat) frequently, however, and I can testify that there's a lot of good stuff to eat up there in the smog. The western San Gabriel Valley is practically a microcosm of Asia, with 100 variations of a two dozen different cuisines. Ave. Cesar Chavez (nee Brooklyn Avenue) and Whittier Blvd in East Los Angeles are like a culinary visit to Mexico (but with "A" cards in the front windows). On the west side and in Beverly Hills among the swells, the cuisine is as haute as the people are hot. There is where the superstar chefs, both ascending and established, ply their art for big bucks, and the parking valets make more than you do. A debate on the LA board about "best deli" includes scores of candidates, not just one or two. In short, Los Angeles is a great city with a huge population, and enough people with the discretionary income to support such a vast buffet.
San Diego isn't LA, but as the article in San Diego Magazine makes clear, the best of our best is worthy of sitting right alongside the best in LA. The service frequently isn't as polished, but "l'attitude" is much less frequently encountered. The other problem with dining in LA vs. San Diego is precisely that the megalopolis is so damn BIG. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, and you go out to eat in the San Gabriel, the drive can be long -- and depending on the traffic -- a grueling ordeal. There are also fairly large tracts of the basin that really *are* a culinary wasteland, where a dining experience means a ten-mile trek to the nearest Red Lobster.
I enjoyed the article, and it reinforced my belief that I made the right decision in coming down here to "little Dago" so many years ago. On the other hand, I still remember how to get to Santa Monica without resorting to Mapquest, and thanks to Southwest Airlines and BART, I can be at Chez Panisse faster than I can get to Spago in BH. Thanks "Dining Diva" for posting the link.
. . . jim strain in san diego.
re: Jim Strain
As a native of LA I have lived in all neighborhoods except the Valley. I have lived in SD for 8 years and have determined that It is difficult to find excellent local places. In LA it seemed that every neighborhood has at least one good Mexican, one Chinese and or Thai, One Italian and very likely a sushi place. I am talking good everyday places that are reliably delicious. LA is a tough market and if you don't meet the market needs you cease to exist.
Now SD? We accept mediocre much too often. As an example, what passes as good Mexican in SD ( Chuey's, Cuatro Milpas) would be considered barely passing, only-in-an-emergency kind of food in LA. Point is, a community gets the kind of food it expects/accepts!
Not sure by whose estimation Chuey's would pass for exemplary Mexican in San Diego.
What I'd consider good Mexican here are places like Super Cocina and Mama Testa.
San Diego does have reliably delicious restaurants - many, many of them. There are also places here that are mediocre, but if you know where (and how) to look, you can always find something good to eat.