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Worst of San Diego and Most Over-rated

Sometimes knowing what people hate is as much fun as knowing the best. How about posting what places you think are completely talked about too much.

Perhaps I should start...
Kitima Thai in Hillcrest - bland and overpriced! We asked for extra extra hot and got a plate of warm coconut milk. apparently, this place used to be really good but fame pushed them to americanize or tame the flavors for some reason.

La Vache in Hillcrest - terrible service and food was drenched in thick sauces. Steak was two stages overcooked. I really don't understand why this place gets any repeat customers.

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  1. Las Cuatro Milpas in Barrio Logan.
    Region - wildly inconsistent on my visits

    2 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      I'll agree with you on Region. Mediocre, pretentious food with service so bad I actually called the management the next day to complain. They sent us a $50 gift certificate that you couldn't pay me to use.

      1. re: 1HotTomato

        Well, if you've scrolled the board you'll see that after October 20th Region will be no more. Not because they weren't successful, but because they're moving to AZ. According to Maria Hunt in Wednesday U/T Celadon is moving into the space.

    2. Well, in order to be overrated, we need to come up with baselines for who is doing the rating. As Chowhounds, I think we can steer very clear of any "ratings" (outside of the generally informative Maria Hunt articles) or polls, as you end up with such travesties as Olive Garden being the best Italian restaurant in the city.

      My benchmark for overrated is that it gets lauded by

      1. Most if not all of the critics that write for the local papers (e.g. Maria Hunt, Naomi Wise, etc.), or

      2. gets very good word of mouth from more than a handful of people.

      I'm going to shoot at the lower places, weary of yet another thread that is going to devolve into a "The Region is overrated! No, the Region is great!" shouting match. :)

      Though more people here would agree than disagree, I nominate "Fidels", a place I've visited twice and both times wondered why I didn't stop at Tony's Jacal instead.

      I also nominate "Old Town Mexican Cafe" as an honorary all-time winner. It doesn't get critical acclaim, and outside of a few people saying that some particular item was decent, never gets good press here, but nonetheless I want it on the list.

      5 Replies
      1. re: RB Hound

        Old Town Mexican Cafe certainly belongs on the list. I'd also say Casa De Bandini, even though it no longer exists. I heard so many raves about that place, but never thought it was anything other than average.

        I too agree with Region. It got raves in the UT and Reader, but my experiences there have been decidedly mixed.

        Finally, a special place should be reserved on the overrated list for the Cohen Group restaurants. Perhaps "Most Overrated Restaurants Owned by the Same People"?

        Oh, I'd also like to add Hash House a Go Go. I think it's just OK, but it gets mobbed constantly (I get dragged there by coworkers from time to time).

        1. re: Josh

          I second your nomitation of the Cohn group of restaurants. Coming from San Francisco they are all mediocre with ordinary food.

          1. re: Josh

            I agree with Hash house being over-rated. I think most people are impressed with the enormous serving size. Unfortunately, it is a large plate of mediocre food.

            1. re: Scottydog

              definately agree who cares about how big the serving is if it dont taste good

              1. re: Scottydog

                Exactly. I had one of the worst brunches I've ever had at HH. Not only did the plates have about 15 extraneous elements, they were beyond bland. Oh, and the service was totally indifferent and perfunctory - and it was Father's Day! I'd rather go to Hob Nob Hill.

          2. I'd agree on Region also, I have not been impressed with the meals I've had there, though I hear good things.
            George's Ocean Terrace - last time I ate there the view was the best thing about it (at least it's not terribly expensive).
            Hash House - though I have found a couple of things there that I like it's still not worth the wait (and the ginormous servings are outrageous for one person.)
            Roberto's - so many better taco shops around - though they are ok in a pinch.
            The Prado and most of the other Cohn Restaurants
            I also think Vagabond is overrated - I like the mussels, but most of the food I have had there has been very average. I still like the atmosphere and I hope the food improves as they make changes to the menu.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Alice Q

              i recently ate at georges and you are dead on with your description. its nothing great. only thing on the menu that is worthwhile is the ahi tuna sandwich.

              1. re: kare_raisu

                I'm going to have to also agree, but about the fancy George's (the fine dining). Although the food was good, and I liked the local/regional produce, it didn't wow me. It certainly didn't wow me for the price.

                For a better Filet Mignon, I would've gone to Ruth's Chris (which maybe also belongs on the list?). For the same price, I would've rather gone to the Marine Room.

                1. re: ekomega

                  Hi there... we have had a couple of terrible experiences at George's on the Cove... rushed us... all they were interested in was turning the table. Will never go back.

                  1. re: PaulGuess

                    I'm not defending George's or anything, but they now are "George's California Modern", with different people running the place (I'm not sure whether or not they are owned by the same entity).

                    1. re: RB Hound

                      You may be confusing George's at the Cove with Top of the Cove, they are next door to each other. George's and the reincarnated George's California Modern both have the same owner and same chef.

                      I do agree with the previous poster, tho', who didn't care for George's. I've eaten at both incarnations and was underwhelmed by both. I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out why people fawn over this restaurant. Different strokes for different folks I guess, but it sure is a mystery to me.

              2. re: Alice Q

                I live in the area of Vagabond and all the people that have been there agree that the mussels are the one item they get right.

              3. Glad to hear I’m not alone here:

                Region – only ate there once, lots of money, not the flavor I expected
                Hash House – tried this place 3 times, lots and lots of food, not much flavor
                La Vache – tried this place twice, nothing special
                Old Town Mexican Cafe – Cadillac margaritas are good, food...not so good

                I would add Brians – tried their two favorite dishes, not sure what was so special

                1. Can't believe I forgot this one...POKEZ

                  1. - Parallel 33 - The appetizers were just average and everything else went downhill and was just disappointing including service.

                    - Bread & Cie - How I miss a large variety of good bread in SD

                    - Brockton Villa - Without the view this place wouldn't survive. Went there three times and just average food.

                    - Gelato Vero - Average ice cream and some of the worst espresso in SD

                    - Punjabi Tandoor - The first three visits were good but since then all other visits were extremely disappointing.(some meals nearly inedible, naan bread completely burned, low quality lamb meat, very inconsistent) I am back to Indian Tandoor as my take out place for Indian food.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: honkman

                      And I forgot

                      - Michele Coulon Dessertier - Went there three times but cakes and other desserts are just average. ED is not perfect but much better than this place.

                      1. re: honkman

                        And how could I forget

                        - Tip Top Meat - Some of their sauages and meats are not bad but the next person who wants to tell me that their restaurant serves anything else than mediocre German "tourist" food will be forced to watch the movie "Beerfest" three times in a row.

                      2. re: honkman

                        Honkman - have you tried Con Pane in Point Loma? What do you think of their bread?

                        Also, have you tried the gelato at Cafe Zucchero? It's a bit different from GV. I personally prefer GV, but you might like theirs - to me it's less creamy and rich.

                        1. re: Alice Q

                          I haven't tried Con Pane yet. My problem with bread in SD is best described with two sentences from Wikipedia about bread in Germany: "Germany has the widest variety of bread available to its residents. About 6,000 types of breads and approximately 1200 different types of pastry and rolls are produced in about 17,000 bakeries and another 10,000 in-shop bakeries." (The rest at Wikipedia about bread in germany has nothing to do with reality and describes Germany 40 years ago).
                          I have a very high standard regarding bread, rolls, cakes etc. because at every coner in Germany you have a great bakery which wouldn't survive long if they wouldn't deliver great bread, cakes from all over the world. Shops like Bread & Cie wouldn't survive very long because they have only a very limited variety of mediocre breads. That doesn't mean that I can't find any good bread but most shops have perhaps one or two relative good breads. But I still look for some edible rolls in SD and haven't found a single one.

                      3. Any restaurant run by the Cohens. I still can't get over how people flock to their restaurants. I must say they are all pretty but the food is overrated. Jakes in Del Mar is also confusing. Nice view though.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Lynnester

                          jakes..........great Bloody May, tho............

                        2. like I've felt all along, George's is only worth going for the downstairs formal dining room. I didn't think the rooftop patio's food was that great.

                          I think George's rooftop patio and Brockton Villa survive b/c of their views.

                          for another overrated place, Jasmine has to be on the list. All the times I've been, it's left me wanting more in terms of service and quality of food.

                          Sbicca's is also overrated. Always found their food inconsistent, not that great and consistently overpriced. Still can't figure out why people rave about it.

                          1. Greystone: They pre-cook their steaks, they are mediocre and overpriced.

                            Indigo Grill--is this a Cohen restaurant...can't find anything on the menu I like.

                            1. Bronx Pizza-- canned tomatoes on a cracker. The worst NY pizza is better than this. Kids stuff.

                              Mama Testa's-- Many taco shops in the South Bay are better than this place.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: burntend

                                Definitely a big second on "burntend" Bronx Pizza comment. Way overrated. Go to Luigi's for an excellent slice. Not even close.

                              2. Phil's BBQ, if you have ever had REAL barbecue, you know Phil's is crap.

                                21 Replies
                                1. re: Captain Jack

                                  How is it crap?

                                  As far as I can tell, the only differences in BBQ are dry rub vs. sauce, and then the flavors of the rub or the sauce.

                                  Aren't those really up to the tastes of the taster? Some people like more umami, others more sweet, etc., and BBQ sauce is not ketchup (with the perfect balance of all 5 flavor types). It's all cooked the same.

                                  1. re: ekomega

                                    Let me explain something,
                                    Barbecue and grilling are two completely different concepts. Barbecue is all about hardwood smoke fires and the concept of cooking low and slow (around 225 degrees). Next time you have the ribs at Phil's look for a smoke ring. You won't find one because it is grilled meat. In true barbecue covering the finished product in gloppy sauce usually means there is somthing to hide. You can always take the sauce on the side.

                                    1. re: ekomega


                                      Captain Jack and Burntend are right in that Phil's is not traditional, "real", or "authentic" BBQ in comparison to other parts of the country with long established BBQ history. I think Phil's is kind of a "roast and finish" type of BBQ place. Low and slow at Phil's isn't going to be in a pit, or even over wood. It's going to be in stainless steel ovens. Next time you're there, take a peek in Phil's back kitchen where you'll see a bank of combi-style ovens used to roast the meat and then it finished up front.

                                      In all fairness, though, I think everyone needs to remember Phil's does it this way for a reason, that being his neighborhood. Phil was sued by his neighbors for excessive smoke production which they claimed with a nuisance and negatively impacted on the neighborhood. I think this was in litigation for several years, not an inexpensive proposition. I believe his present process is a compromise solution to keep his neighbors happy and him in business.

                                      Given the meteoric rise in housing prices in SD over the last 5+ years, I am sure many of the neighbors were thinking about how much $$$ they stood to loose in a sale because of the smoke, the odor, the traffic and the lines. And, to be honest, as much as I love food, even I don't think I'd really want to live close to a BBQ place pumping out the volume that Phil's does. But all may not be lost, I understand Phil has, or is close to, closing a deal on a property that would get him out of chi-chi Mission Hills and into an area where it won't matter how much smoke he produces.

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        I live 5-6 blocks from Phil's, and some days all you can smell is barbecue. It's almost as annoying as living next to a Rice King (i.e. the worst thing ever).

                                        I've never actually been to Phil's, I just thought I'd ask why people hate it. The only reason I've never been is the line. I don't think it's fair to call a very popular place "crap" without any justification (well, it's okay when you're talking about the Cheesecake Factory).

                                        Anyway, from dictionary.com,

                                        "bar‧be‧cue /ˈbɑrbɪˌkyu/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[bahr-bi-kyoo] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, verb, -cued, -cu‧ing.

                                        –noun 1. pieces of beef, fowl, fish, or the like, roasted over an open hearth, esp. when basted in a barbecue sauce.
                                        2. a framework, as a grill or a spit, or a fireplace for cooking meat or vegetables over an open fire.
                                        3. a dressed steer, lamb, or other animal, roasted whole.
                                        4. a meal, usually in the open air and often as a political or social gathering, at which meats are roasted over an open hearth or pit."

                                        So technically roasting on a grill, with charcoal and not wood (or even gas!) is barbecue by definition. Whether or not you agree with how barbecue "should be done", you can't argue against the definition of a word.

                                        It still seems to be personal preference to me. If you don't like how they do it, don't go there. But does that make it "crap"?

                                        1. re: ekomega

                                          There's a difference between the act of barbecuing, which can mean cooking food on a barbecue, and what is traditionally known as barbecue (a style of cooking). It's confusing because the act of barbecuing means cooking over open flame, while nobody who lives in an area where traditional 'cue is popular would ever agree with that loose of a definition.

                                          I know a cooking-school grad who told me with a straight face that barbecue doesn't require smoke.

                                          Well, by the dictionary definition he might be correct, but to take something like Phil's, or something made someplace where they don't employ extensive smoking, and put it up against bona-fide, long slow smoked meat is like comparing Panda Express to authentic Chinese food. It might be similar in some ways, but the difference in flavor is night and day.

                                          It may seem like personal preference to you, but you're wrong. It's personal preference among people who don't know any better - which is like saying people who live in Maine that think Taco Bell is good Mexican food must be right because it's simply personal preference. I'd bet money that if you take a Taco Bell fan from somewhere where that's the only Mexican food around, and feed them the real deal, they'd be the first to admit that Taco Bell is a piss-poor rendition of Mexican food.

                                          I've eaten at Phil's many times. As fake BBQ goes, it's not bad. However I've eaten several meals of stellar BBQ in Texas and there is simply no comparison. Anyone who's spent time in a state that takes their BBQ seriously (i.e. long slow smoking) knows that Phil's is just OK.

                                          That was kind of rambling, so to sum up my point: while what Phil's does certainly qualifies as the act of barbecuing according to the dictionary definition of the term, it does not taste like the barbecue produced by people who employ the traditional cooking method of smoking the meat for a long period of time at a low temperature.

                                          For what it is, Phil's is enjoyable. As real BBQ goes though, I have to agree that it's pretty overrated.

                                          1. re: ekomega

                                            Isn't all this Phil's talk besides the point? I've never, ever seen anybody claim that it is anything above being the "best BBQ in San Diego", so unless that particular point is debated, I'm not sure how it can be overrated. After all, look at the competition for that esteemed designation. As others have said, it is just a sorry comment on the overall state of affairs for that particular cuisine.

                                            As far as Josh's comments go, I find the Texas example sort of interesting, because I could find you thousands of people from the Carolinas that would claim what they do is "not BBQ". :)

                                            1. re: RB Hound

                                              You're right. California, and real BBQ, just aren't synonymous--sans a nice open flame Santa Maria Tri-tip. Phil's is good in/for San Diego.

                                              Alabama (Dreamland Pork Ribs in Tuscaloosa)
                                              Texas (Original Sonny Bryan's Brisket near Love Field)
                                              North/So. Carolina's / Kansas City / Memphis (several fine choices)

                                              Very different from most BBQ in CA. Good luck--go find some tasty Carnitas or fish tacos, and be happy. The South's got nuttin' on 'dat. . . . .humph! (that was supposed to be a joke. . )

                                            2. re: ekomega

                                              I think Abbie's on Miramar Rd. is a better example of BBQ than Phil's, at least in terms of the brisket. However I do agree that generally speaking, San Diego's BBQ scene is in a sorry state. And just because Phil's is some of the best among a bad lot doesn't mean it's not overrated. To go back to the Taco Bell analogy, even if it's the only "Mexican" food in your area it still sucks.

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                Barbeque is one of the few truly American styles of food. You can argue that it came from the Portugese Barbecoa or that's just cooking meat over a wood fire. Barbeque's history and many faces like the Carolina's vinegar style, S. Carolina's mustard style, Memphis style or Texas bbq all have the same thing in common and that is the smoke. A barbeque without good smoke is just an weak immitation. It's like saying that McDonald's makes great hamburgers. That's why Joey's Smoking and Famous Dave's are just immitations. BBQ is one of the only true American foods that we can trace our history back to. Everything else is either borrowed or stolen from someone or somewhere else.

                                                1. re: hairycover

                                                  If smoke is the defining characteristic of barbecue, how is that American? Was fire invented in America? What am I missing here?

                                                  1. re: juantanamera

                                                    From what I've read, the slow-smoked meat has its ancestry in the West Indies where it was called barbacoa.

                                                    1. re: juantanamera

                                                      Smoking meat to preserve it was found in many traditional cultures though cooking meat for 10-12 hours with low temperature indirect smoke for immediate consumption, this is true BBQ (to often people call grilling BBQ when it really is not) was something native-American tribes did. Honestly the amount of hard wood required to cook meat via low temperature indirect heat meant that most people in the old world couldn't afford to do it even if they wanted to because wood was so expensive. Traditionally wood was the major cooking fuel and so forests tended to decline quickly with population growth and so the higher population densities of the old world, due to higher agricultural output per acre, meant that there was much less wood per capita (especially slow growing hardwood) compared to the virgin forests of the new world. BBQ is basically a very expensive, but extremely tasty, way to cook meat which was only possible on a wide scale in places where huge quantities of hardwood was available cheaply. It's also a fairly labor intensive way to cook meat (the meat must be tended marinaded before hand and then tended all day to make just one meal) so it was most common in the south were house slaves were forced to do such work.

                                                      1. re: oerdin

                                                        It's also quite common in my backyard- I'll be smoking lots of ribs all day tomorrow and Sunday for a Sunday BBQ. But marinade? Ick.


                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                          Rub, marinade...BOTH! What wood are you using? And do you mop? (clean floors?)

                                                          Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

                                                          1. re: foodiechick

                                                            Marinade? Are you going to insult my mother as well?

                                                            I do not *marinate*, which is using acid to break down tough cuts or meat (traditional bbq cuts) into mush. I do not *mop*, which is for the floor of an automotive service bay, using powerful industrial chemicals.

                                                            Ugh. Good Nonspecifichigherpower, woman.

                                                            While not divulging too many FakeName secrets, I use a specific melange of hard and fruit woods, plus charcoal for heat stability.

                                                            Sauce? If my ribs needed sauce, I'd destroy my smoker and just eat oatmeal instead. Maybe a little on the pulled pork sandwich, with bonus points for Carolina mustard style.

                                                            But does fois gras need hollandaise? A fish need a bicycle? I suspect not.

                                                            Mop? Philistine!

                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                              Right On Fake Name!!, let the flavor of the meat stand on it's own. I don't understand why anyone would want to mask all of their hard work, choosing the right hard woods and the lengthy time it takes to smoke up some delicable meats by smoothering and hiding the real taste of Q with overly sweet goopy sauce. Also agree on the pulled pork, a thin, tangy vinegar&mustard based Carolina drizzle.

                                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                                Like THIS. No mop, no sauce, no marinade, no boiling. Just smoke.

                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                  Who boils? Yuck, never even heard of that heresy. Can you messenger some of those ribs up the 5 and down the hill? KThx.

                                                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                                                    LOTS of places boil prior to grilling. Mostly ribs. Many bake low and slow for several hours in a covered pan with a rack over seasoned water. Fall off the bone tender.

                                                    2. re: ekomega

                                                      We spent the night in Lockhart, TX on our drive home to San Diego from temporary digs in North Carolina. Had brisket, pork ribs, and sausage ring at Black's for dinner, then the same thing at Smitty's for breakfast this morning. No question that good meat well smoked is perfect without any adornment (a couple o' sides if ok). Hope your guests appreciate your bbq today, Fake Name. Pix of smoker at Black's and Smitty's attached. Now that would be some kinda backyard pit.

                                              2. Phil's is just grilled meat smothered in overly sweet sauce. It boggles the mind that this place has that kind of wait. It ok for what it is, something like picnic food. But it's definitely not bbq. For this to be the best so-called bbq that SD has to offer is a sad joke.

                                                1. Korea House. Everyone on these boards knows this place sucks, but the Reader keeps recycling a thumbnail review by Max Nash from around 10 years ago.


                                                  Dumpling Inn. Not a terrible place; I like the jellyfish salad, but every dumpling I've had there has been mediocre - The XLB (soup dumplings) were thick skinned and generally flavorless; fish dumplings not expecially good either. Maybe I order the wrong things, but when I'm looking for a dumpling, I just get dim sum at Emerald or China Max.

                                                  I agree that Jasmine isn't special though I sometimes wonder if it's better when you can speak Cantonese.

                                                  I guess I don't do enough fancy dining in SD to be really disappointed.


                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Phoo D

                                                    tried using the "speaking Cantonese" thing at Jasmine. didn't help the food or service any more than speaking English.

                                                    1. re: daantaat

                                                      The reason I had wondered is that my local Cantonese restaurant owner loves Jasmine, and once I actually picked up a bunch of stuff for her from them that she ordered over the phone. The roast duck she ordered for me was better than any that I've purchased from there since. But from what you say it was just luck.


                                                  2. I'm surprised the mention of Punjabi Tandoor - I really have had great food there and I consider myself well versed in various indian foods. Consistency perhaps varies - I've only been there a handful of times so far.

                                                    Phil's tastes pretty good and I like to eat there, but it doesn't give the smokey flavor of "traditional" southern BBQ. I do agree with those that get annoyed that people mistake it for the real deal because the real stuff can taste so much better. The definition of BBq is pretty irrelevant to this argument.

                                                    Bronx pizza is dissapointing as the "best in town" but its not a bad lunch. I've only had the dried out slices in the counter so I might be missing something in the made-to-order pies.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: afinkle

                                                      Four out of seven dinners at Punjabi Tandoor were very disappointing. Some inconsistency is ok but that is unexceptable. I had better food at Indian Tandoor over the last year than at Punjabi Tandoor.

                                                    2. Overrated:
                                                      - Bertram's at Mr A's
                                                      - Old Town Mexican Cafe (maybe this is just a bar that serves food also)
                                                      - George's upstairs terrace dining
                                                      - Extraordinary Desserts

                                                      I hate to add the last because they did my wedding cake. I remember I used to really love going to ED. But lately, for the past couple of years they have been hit or miss for me.

                                                      RE: George's - the downstairs dining room is on my list of favorites. But we ate at the upstairs terrace and my spinach steamed greens were so salty as to be inedible.

                                                      1. More mediocre selections: Beach House and Charlies in Cardiff. All they have is the great view. The new Paradise Grill in Del Mar: not sure what all the fuss is. Several visits by friends and myself at different times all say the food is mediocre and overpriced.

                                                        1. I agree with Bronx Pizza. I just moved here from NYC and was jonesing for pizza. I kept hearing great things about Bronx Pizza on this board. But the pizza is really just canned tomatoes on a cracker. No amount of toppings could change that. And the name is ridiculous. You start to appreciate how hard it is to make a good slice.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: burntend

                                                            Try Luigi's Pizzeria in Golden Hill....I'm from NY and critical, in general of the SD dining scene, but have found a few favorites, including this place for slice pizza.

                                                            1. re: El Chevere

                                                              Luigi's owner used to work for Bronx and a lot of people say that he uses the same recipe as Bronx. I would like to recommend Gotham City Pizza to El Chevere and burntend. It is a little hole in the wall located approx 3 blocks from Luigis at the corner of 28th & A. Gotham City's owner is from New Jersey and has been making NY thin crust pizza and Philly Cheesesteaks for over 20 years. He has had many customers tell him the pizza is better than Bronx and Luigis. If you are a critical pizza connoisseur, you should try Gotham City Pizza. http://www.gothamcitypizza.com

                                                            2. re: burntend

                                                              The dough is flavorless like a cracker - but all great pizza (including lombardis in NY) uses canned tomatoes. Its not a bad thing...

                                                            3. The Waterfront, not that anyone here would consider it anyway. Some co-workers of mine think the food is *Really Good* there and go as often as possible.

                                                              Go to drink, not to eat. Enough said.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: sdnativa

                                                                I don’t quite equate overrated with “worst”. And some on this list I like – but I’ve stayed clear of Old Town Mexican Café because of this board.

                                                              2. I think this thread would be more useful if people listed alternatives to the worst/overrated. For instance, we don't like Bronx either and would suggest Hoboken in PB. They moved from NJ a couple years ago and brought everything with them and it still tastes the same. Though we've only gotten whole pies; it's probably not fair to judge any pizza place by their hours-old slices.

                                                                As for barbecue, I've had it all over the country, and I'll take the inauthentic, ersatz, fakey Phil's over the real deal any day. I think most unbiased American eaters--not just in San Diego--would agree if you put the two side by side. It's just personal preference of course, and there is something noble and primal about smoking a big piece of meat for the better part of a day, but my restaurant judging is done by my tongue, not the part of my brain that stores dictionary definitions, and smoke just isn't that interesting a taste to me.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kimxchris

                                                                  Real BBQ isn't just smoke, but smoke is a crucial component of the flavor. Rather than needing to douse the meat with sweet sauce, real BBQ should be tasty enough to stand alone.

                                                                  In addition to smoke, some styles employ a dry spice rub (such as Memphis style), or a wet-mop approach (like Texas style).

                                                                  Most unbiased American eaters - not sure who that is. But if you think I'm going to take my cues (no pun intended) on what I eat from the people who keep Olive Garden in business, you're sadly mistaken.

                                                                2. do i dare say: El Indio...?

                                                                  & the sushi + food at Sushi Ota isn't that fantastic or worth the hubub either

                                                                  agree 100% with, and glad to see them here:

                                                                  parallel 33
                                                                  bronx pizza
                                                                  hash house a gogo

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. I've had barbecue in different parts of the country (even Texas) and I can honestly say that barbecue cooked for a short time, tastes as good as barbecue that has been smoked for 5 hours if done properly. Maybe my "palate" isn't sophiscated enough for barbecue.

                                                                    If I don't like smoke flavor, does that mean I can't appreciate "real" barbecue? It seems that eating delicious, succulent meat that falls right off the bone, covered in a delicious sauce, isn't worth anything unless the cook spent a whole day trying to make it.

                                                                    I find that ridiculous.

                                                                    I also find it ridiculous that people can get so defensive about a type of food when someone is asked to defend the following post:

                                                                    "Phil's BBQ, if you have ever had REAL barbecue, you know Phil's is crap."

                                                                    I don't think it's helpful to anyone to make statements like that without providing any information. Especially when everyone disagrees on what "REAL" barbecue is. I find that if everyone disagrees on something that tastes great, it's just personal preference. Maybe that's just me.

                                                                    I am a scientist, and I like quantifiable, objective criteria to define things by. If someone supposes that slow cooking in smoke all day is what makes barbecue, that's fine, but it's someone's personal opinion (maybe a large group of someones) and completely subjective. Especially given that the definition of barbecue is much looser than some people seem to accept.

                                                                    My point(s): The definition of "good" or "real" barbecue goes beyond the questions asked in this thread about overrated restaurants, and a personal opinion does not make a restaurant overrated. Don't get so defensive about someone asking you to explain blanket generalizations you make, and there's no need to insinuate that people don't know what they're talking about (i.e. the taco bell vs. mexican food accusation made at me) simply because they disagree with you.

                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ekomega

                                                                      Quick point of info on Phils they are not closing in Mission Hills but are opening a new place on Sports Arena

                                                                      1. re: ekomega

                                                                        I think the discussion of whether Phil's is "good BBQ" as many locals claim is right in line with my intention of the thread. People love the place in SD, but in other cities where there is a wide selection of BBQ places, Phil's would likely be left in the dust. I agree that the lack of smoke flavor is the problem. It is not low quality or poorly made, but smoke=flavor. It is interesting to hear that one reason for this deficiency is the complaint by nearby residents of the smell (which is understandable). My guess is that if they could, they would use pit smoking techniques, and chances are that since Phil probably likes BBQ enough to sell it, he probably realizes the problem.

                                                                        The general point in a lot of these posts is that some items that locals like are poor replicas in comparison to some other cities where they are plentiful. We could have tons of posts and have about things such as Pizza (its not NYC), Bagels (its not NYC), California Cuisine (not SF) and Mexican (not mexico). If a local wanted to get good BBQ, I'd take them to Phils. If someone from the South came and wanted BBQ, I'd be a bit embarassed to say that this is the same thing. Chances are that I'd fire up my Webber Bullet.

                                                                        Perhaps instead of focussing on those foods which people get territorial about, we should discuss the restaraunts that have way too many people out front for the price, quality, service, and taste. In that regard, I think the Corvette Diner is disgusting - I think that is a "Cohen Place"...

                                                                        1. re: ekomega

                                                                          It seems to me the only people getting defensive are the Phil's fans who are experiencing cognitive dissonance upon hearing that not everyone loves it.

                                                                          Tough cuts of meat (like brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder) contain a lot of connective tissue that require long cooking at low temperatures. You can't make quick BBQ. Phil's pre-cooks their meat (in ovens), and finishes it on the grill.

                                                                          You do raise an interesting point though - at what point does a traditional way of doing things become unimportant? Would sticky rice rolled up around Hershey bars and wrapped in seaweed still be sushi?

                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                            Hot da*n, chocolate sushi........works for me :-D But then I like spam sushi too, so I guess there's no accounting for taste is there ;-)

                                                                            And just for the record Josh; yeah, you're kinda beating this Phil's thing into road kill. BBQ is like hot dogs, pizza, PBJ and grilled cheese sandwiches, everyone has a passionate, culturally ingrained belief system built up around it. I think we're pretty much agreed to disagree and that some people love it, some like it and some think it's "crap". Really, based on where we live and San Diego's extensive 'cue history (not), I'd call this one a draw.

                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                              EXACTLY! Like watching someone from Chicago argue over pizza with someone from New York. Deep-dish vs. thin crust, slow-cooked & smoked vs. Phil's - it's all a matter of what you know and love AND what someone has told you is "real barbecue" all these years. Keep in mind, people do "real barbecue" differently all over the country.

                                                                              That being said, Old Town Mexican Cafe is my pick for extremely overrated.

                                                                              p.s. I find it amusing to see so many restaurants highly recommended by other 'hounds on this list. Talk about differences in taste and experiences!

                                                                              1. re: phee

                                                                                This is my last BBQ comment (I mean it this time, lest the horse's innards start spilling out on the page), but while real BBQ is done differently in different spots across the US (pork or beef? dry-rub or sauce?), the one aspect that's constant is the presence of smoke.

                                                                                1. re: phee

                                                                                  Well there is another argument out there to debate and it's if Santa Maria-style bbq is "real Q" or not. It's as smoked as Phil's is, well maybe more since it's "grilled" from start to finish in red oak.

                                                                                  You know, as phee said, this bbq topic is debated all across the country...

                                                                                  My picks?
                                                                                  I second Old Town Mexican Cafe, El Indio.
                                                                                  I really don't understand the crowds at Saffron Chicken or Pt. Loma Seafood, although I will eat at either occasionally.
                                                                                  Ono Sushi
                                                                                  I'm sure there are more, but they escape me now.

                                                                                2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                  "And just for the record Josh; yeah, you're kinda beating this Phil's thing into road kill."

                                                                                  Kind of? ;-)

                                                                                  I think Josh takes his BBQ much too seriously. In a separate thread of its own, the traffic might be warranted. But really, saying that he felt Phil's is overrated (and he isn't the only one that thinks so) was sufficient. My question about who was doing the "overrating" was more of a comment on not having seen Phil's lauded as of late, here or in other places.

                                                                                  I'm doing a nice lunch somewhere in the La Jolla (probably UTC) area tomorrow, and I hope I don't have anything to add to this thread!

                                                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                    Which place are you going for lunch in the UTC area ? I am just curious because there aren't many. So only one I would strongly recommend is Barolo.

                                                                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                      Honkman - sorry this is out of order, but for some odd reason I can't reply to your post directly - so I had to reply to mine.

                                                                                      Tutto Mare and Harry's Bar & Grille are in the UTC area, but the place we chose is more in the Torrey Pines "area", if you get my drift. :) If the meal there isn't up to expectations, it definitely would be in my "overrated" category (though I generally give a place a few chances before dooming them).

                                                                                  2. re: Josh

                                                                                    Sushi is a food made of vinegared rice combined with various toppings or fillings - so yes, chocolate rolled up in vinegared rice and nori can unfortunatley be called sushi.

                                                                                  3. re: ekomega

                                                                                    Quantifiable, objective criteria. If you do not use a hardwood fire, and you do not cook low and slow (around 225 degrees), it is not barbeque. It is just that simple. Everyone does not disagree on what REAL barbecue is. Just those who do not know any better.

                                                                                  4. I came in to say that in my opinion Old Town Mexican Cafe and El Indio are both terrible, but saw that they've already been mentioned. I've never had anything from El Indio that wowed me, and OTMC is just a tourist trap of mediocrity.

                                                                                    1. Hmm, I’ll say Pamplemousse. It’s at the tops of a lot of lists – ehh – but we were there for Restaurant Week so who knows. RW has provided quite good meals at other high end spots so I don’t think that is an excuse.

                                                                                      And then I’ll say Jake’s in Del Mar. View is great though. I guess that one isn’t just too high rated anyhow.

                                                                                      1. Chill-Out Grill and Pizza in Carlsbad. Even the two teenage boys pronounced the pizza inedible and asked if we could swap out for a Dominos. Walking in and smelling burned pie and then tasting mealy toppings were two telling signs.

                                                                                        Amenian Cafe. It may have been an off-night but we ended up leaving after placing our orders because it was just so weird.

                                                                                        1. It is comforting to know that there is a great audience out there who agree upon the issue of bad food in San Diego. My husband and I have been trying to bring quality food to this city since 1993, but everyone is looking for a "deal", instead of thinking about what the put into their mouths. As for food critics..... Take a kook at an interview with Danny Meyer, owner of The Union Square Cafe in NYC, NY Times, Sunday 9/10/06

                                                                                          1. Kemo Sabe. The concept is good but the execution always seems to miss. I have eaten there a few times. Each time I gave Chef Scott the benefit of the doubt, thinking that maybe they had an off night my last visit. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me thrice.....What an idiot I am!

                                                                                            1. Most over-rated? It's got to be El Zarape, easily. Maybe it's not so bad if you just don't think of it as Mexican food. It really isn't Mexican food al all. And I'm not into overstuffed wraps with sour cream and a salsa bar (which is the category where I would put El Zarape). I tried the mole -- bad. I tried the tacos -- bad. Good in an Americanized, lots of food for the money kind of way, but bad considering that we're right on the border and there lots of authentic and inexpensive Mexican places in town.

                                                                                              1. You go to El Zarape for one thing, $.99 fish tacos. That's it. Some people like the scallop, calamari and/or shrimp burritos because they are different, or because they like seafood.

                                                                                                There are really very, very few "authentic" Mexican restaurants in this town. In my travels around Mexico I have only seen rolled tacos once and that was in Morelia as an appetizer at an event where 75% of those in attendance were Americans. Carne asada burritos? Nary a one. Hard shell tacos (which is seems every chicken taco in San Diego comes as)? Nada, you rarely see chicken tacos as we know them.

                                                                                                And why does everyone seem to think that Mexican food has to be "inexpensive". Pound for pound, the best "authentic" Mexican restaurant in San Diego is Chilango's and it's moderate in price.

                                                                                                Sorry just an early morning Monday rant. Oh, BTW, don't know if it's true but I've heard that El Zarape is actually owned by Mororccans.

                                                                                                1. The food at the Cohen Group is definatly third rate, but you gotta give them kudos for decor and creative menu writing; it is some of the best sounding food in town. If only you could eat the menu...or maybe eating the menu is better than eating the food.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: hungrylawyer

                                                                                                    They have great marketing. They're like the Karl Strauss of the San Diego restaurant scene: big, crappy, and people think their stuff is good. As the English say, it does my head in.

                                                                                                  2. La Vache Restaurant on Hillcrest has the worst service I have ever experienced. People are extrimely rude and arrogant, don't really care about their guests.

                                                                                                    13 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: neca

                                                                                                      Sounds like an authentic French place to me.

                                                                                                      Seriously, is this a report of a recent experience? La Vache has changed hands a couple or three times over the years, and is nowhere near the place it was when Philippe Beltran first opened it back in the day. We haven't eaten there in well over a year, and while I would no longer include it among my favorites, we never had anything really bad, nor was the service any worse than (an admittedly low) average.
                                                                                                      . . . jim strain

                                                                                                      1. re: Jim Strain

                                                                                                        How ever did I miss such a wonderful thread? I'm with neca (and afinkle and pbhomey) on La Vache. Awful food, bad service. La Vache is for people who think they're having a sophisticated meal because the restaurant has a French name.

                                                                                                        But frankly, I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone rave about La Vache. I think the most overrated restaurants in SD are Market, which I thought was very hit-and-miss, and Parallel 33. Also, Mama Testa is growing on me a bit, but I still think it's overrated.

                                                                                                        1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                          so how many times were you at Market and what was hit or miss, food, service or both?

                                                                                                          1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                                                            Just once. But everyone I dined with agreed that at least half the dishes were mediocre and/or ill-conceived, including the person whose significant other works there. So far, this person has had one excellent meal and three hit-and-miss meals. I do not like restaurants like Market, Region, and The Linkery, which create recipes on the fly based on available ingredients -- I think very few chefs can consistently pull this off, and the result is that the patrons often get screwed, particularly considering the price point of the restaurants that typically employ this strategy. Some people like this concept and are willing to risk quality for the experience. I think a chef should master a recipe and THEN add it to the menu. Here's my writeup of the meal: http://www.chow.com/topics/391745

                                                                                                            1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                              It is of course always personal preferences but I think that restaurants are only outstanding if they are able to change the menu depending on what is available on that day. And that has nothing to do with risking quality for the experience but simply with the training of the chef. And I strongly disagree (but again that is personal experiences) that the chefs at Region (and Cafe Cerise) and The Linkery (I haven''t eaten at Market yet, but I am looking even more forward to eat at Asia Vouzs soon) are not capable to do this on a daily basis. I hadn't a bad meal at all these restaurants (of course not every meal is perfect but so it is at high end restaurants who don't change the menu daily).

                                                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                Even if you're someone who likes restaurants that change their menus often, it's definitely a stretch to say that restaurants can only qualify as outstanding if they are able to change the menu depending on what is available on that day. Tell that to the chef at Tapenade or, better yet, places like Le Bernardine in New York. We just disagree on this issue. But that's fine. As you said, personal preference...

                                                                                                                1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                  I think Le Bernadine is actually spelled Le Bernadin. :-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: daantaat

                                                                                                                    Actually, if spelling counts, it's Le Bernardin. ;-)

                                                                                                                    1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                                      thank you--I thought it was a letter off ! :-)

                                                                                                              2. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                Now, to be fair, Linkery is a lot cheaper than Region was and Region was significantly cheaper than Market is. Further, Market is much more ambitious in terms of complexity than the others. A typical entree at Region was 'flat iron and tomatoes' - and that is what you got - a piece of meat and some tomatoes. Also, and I don't want to make excuses for Market, but they are still essentially new. In other words, this is their first time through the seasons. I strongly suspect that they will improve in the Fall (if not before) as they will have a much better idea of what they can get from where and when and how they can best use it. While it is true these places vary the menu nightly, it is also true that the entire menu is not much different night to night and over the season (and years) they will settle on a broad range of favorites and variations thereof.

                                                                                                                I know we had a variant of this discussion in the post you cite, but I just wanted to add one last point. I think you should consider that your mediocre short rib at WS&B was similar to what it had been, but having had it a couple times before it just wasn't quite as good. In my experience eating at places that have, essentially, the same menu all the time is that the highs aren't as high as the highs at the Regions of the world. In a very real sense, having something on the menu all the time requires a constant supply. It is all but impossible to get the very, very best ingredients ALL the time (or rather, ingredients at their best ALL the time).

                                                                                                                The sacrifice you make to provide your customers a reliable menu with consistent food is often a notch of quality (this notch may be essentially nonexistent at say, Tapenade (of course they do change the menu, but you get the point), or extremely large at say, McDonalds). The sacrifice you make to go all-in seasonally and make some extraordinary food is that not everything every night will be extraordinary.

                                                                                                                Secondly, I find at 'traditional' places that I tend to order my favorite thing or two and after a few times it loses its appeal. I know exactly - EXACTLY - what to expect and what I get inevitably is compared to what it was last time and if it isn't as good it is disappointing - more disappointing than trying it at a place like Market for the first time and not being thrilled.

                                                                                                                On the other hand, Market is priced way up there and I would have to agree that it needs to improve or cut prices a bit to establish itself as truly outstanding.

                                                                                                                1. re: rotochicken

                                                                                                                  All fair points. With regard to the notch of quality that can be lost due to the varying quality of ingredients from day to day, the solution I would advocate is to offer daily specials that use whatever ingredients are most fresh (or high quality) that day.

                                                                                                                  1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                    I agree, and I think we have found the middle ground. Daily specials at quality places are often the way to go. Often. However, if we really think about this, daily specials are, essentially what places like Market offers as most of its menu. Another way to look at it is if a 'traditional' place offers a daily special to take advantage of that day's perfect ingredients it is basically 'winging it'. So, the conundrum remains. Do you go to the place with a menu chock full of daily specials? Or, do you go to the place with the really good (but not always fantastic) menu and a daily special that may or may not great? In other words, you can't expect a traditional place to perfectly execute a daily special at a higher rate than a market driven place executes an entree.

                                                                                                                    I can see it both ways. I certainly go both routes.

                                                                                                                    Is the daily special at a traditional place that takes advantage of the best ingredients of the day going to better than a menu full of daily specials at a place that creates, essentially, a menu full of daily specials every day?

                                                                                                                    In other words, ordering the daily special at a traditional place is essentially identical to ordering anything from a place like Market - with the caveat that Market exists for the very purpose of creating those specials, whereas the traditional place exists to create the perfect menu item and then also creates the daily special.

                                                                                                                    Again, I go both routes. On average, in my experience the highs are higher at the market driven places. However, I will admit that the average might be similar (if we include only the highest quality traditional places).

                                                                                                                    Yet another way to put it is - you've stated your clear preference for a place that perfects an item before offering it over a place that wings it. Daily specials primarily are winging it, but I agree that they can absolutely rock (even if they don't always) even if they don't always deliver.

                                                                                                                    Truth is daily specials always vary for the same reasons food at market driven places vary. On the other hand, daily specials often are fantastic, for the same reason food at market driven places often are fantastic.

                                                                                                                    1. re: rotochicken

                                                                                                                      Yeah, I agree -- daily specials will be just as hit and miss as the entire menu at Market. I still prefer the place with the daily specials over Market though, because it allows a guy like me to ignore them and order the perfected dishes (which admittedly could vary slightly in quality depending on the quality and freshness of ingredients on any given day).

                                                                                                      2. Bronx Pizza...it has to be one of the worst pizzas I have ever had..
                                                                                                        All my friends rave about this place and knowing good pizza pies in NYC, I thought it tasted like bad saltines with ketchup on top.
                                                                                                        I really wanted to like it.. :)
                                                                                                        Rockin Baja Lobster..so gross with cayenne pepper sprinkled over everything..couldn't even believe I ate there..
                                                                                                        Korea House..probably the most disgusting place I have ever been too!

                                                                                                        1. Top of the Market: No real difference in quality from the Fish Market downstairs, nothing inventive but very expensive.
                                                                                                          Extraordinary Desserts: Extraordinary presentation, Ordinary Flavors, Extraordinary Prices. Must admit, though, that there is no where in town doing it better. Heaven Sent seems to be missing the mark.
                                                                                                          Mama Testas: Good Mexican, Loved on this board, but very small portions and not a good value. Many, many, other mexican places do it better. For one, El Cuervo has equal food, if not better, larger portions and is more reasonably priced.

                                                                                                          20 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                            Interesting comments. Disagree pretty strongly with ED and MT assessments, but with ED it really does depend on what you get. I've had stuff there that was pretty ordinary, true, but then I've also had things that were pretty mind-blowing. As a rule, I've found their small items (cookies, tarts, etc.) not terribly exciting, but their ice creams can be amazingly good, especially the unusual flavors like mascarpone cheese or sour cream.

                                                                                                            MT, I've never come away unsatisfied from a meal there. I think the portions may look small, but I've never walked away hungry, that's for sure. I also would totally disagree that El Cuervo's food is the equal. For one thing, El Cuervo has nothing akin to La Tuya Tinga, for another MT makes their own chorizo. El Cuervo makes great carnitas, but I think the two places aren't even comparable, really. One is a standard San Diego taco shop, offering an Americanized take on Mexican food, and the other is reproducing flavors and taco styles from all over the country of Mexico that you don't ever see in the states.

                                                                                                            If you're up for giving MT another shot, try the Mividitas. I guarantee you won't leave hungry, and they are some great fish tacos.

                                                                                                            1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                              Also to echo Josh's comments that you simply cannot compare Mama Testa to El Cuervo price and foodwise is that the quality of ingredients at Mama Testa is on a whole different playing field. MT uses sustainable meats and other ingredients that cost decidedly more then the ingredients that El Cuervo is using. I like both but they are completely different restaurants doing different things. Just because they both are "mexican" doesn't mean that you lump them into the same category to make comparisons.

                                                                                                              1. re: jturtle

                                                                                                                Having seen MT recommended many, many times on this board, I knew I would get disagreements. Don't get me wrong, MT offers alot of variety and some things not seen on other menus. And, the salsa bar is impressive, but... I ordered three carnitas tacos with beans and rice. The tacos were maybe four inces in diameter and had very little meat in them. The beans and rice were each served in microscopic containers. It's been a couple of months since I went so I have forgotten some of the details but I believe one of them was served in a small tortilla cup and the other in a small bowl of some kind. There could not have been more than 2 or 3 ounces of each. Sustainable meats aside, beans are beans and rice is rice and both are very inexpensive. And, for each of the three items, El Cuervos versions tasted better. My friend had other tacos with similar portions and opinions. Being part Mexican and eating all types of Mexican food all of my life, I would strongly disagree with the comment that El Cuervo is Americanized. It is simple, but tasty street food. MT definately has a larger selection from different areas but nothing justified the price for the miniscule portions IMHO. I enjoyed everthing I ate there, I just didn't feel it was a value at the price point. I don't mind spending good money for good food, but here at MT there was a disconnect.

                                                                                                                With ED, I definately agree that generally, the stuff on the top of the counter as well as the cookies leave much to be desired. The scones are not bad but are really giant shortbread cookies and at somewhere near $4 definately not the bang worth the buck. I found the cookies to be just downright bad. I think I've tried most of them and have been extremely unimpressed. I once had a peacan sticky bun there that claimed to be made of brioche, but unlike the rich, light, etherial brioche I've had, this was more like lavash bread; flavorless, thin, crisp and dry and the caramel was a bit burnt. Too many other great stickly buns out there to bother with these. The cakes have been more of a hit and miss. Some have been really, really, good, and some didn't work. I've heard ED uses packaged puff pastry which shows in those items. At whatever price point a place is at, they have to consistently deliver whether its a hole in the wall deli or top notch fine dining. Neither MT or ED do, again IMHO.

                                                                                                                1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                  MT needs to give more food forthe price i agree.
                                                                                                                  But their grilled onions and peppers at the Salsa bar? man totally make up for it haha.

                                                                                                                  tossing my 2cents in to stir up the pot.
                                                                                                                  The linkery.
                                                                                                                  j/k not looking to start that shitstorm again

                                                                                                                  1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                    As you know, I agree. The Linkery is another overrated, hit-and-miss restaurant.

                                                                                                                  2. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                    BTNs, I tend to agree with you on a couple of things about MT. I don't think their carnitas are all that good, El Cuervo's are better. I also don't care for MT's al pastor and I'm not so wild about their fish or scallop tacos. But their cochinita pibil and chorizo are outstanding and I've been known to dream about their crunchy shell mashed potato tacos. With 26 different tacos on the menu, I think the odds are that they're going to do some of the them better than others.

                                                                                                                    Whether or not it's a good value for the price is up for debate I think. Most of the tacos I've ever eaten in Mexico are little things, only about 4" in diameter and are filled with probably no more than 2 oz. of filling, if that. Then again, they're also only about $.75, not $8 ;-). But those are usually street vendors whose restaurants are portable and have little to no overhead.

                                                                                                                    If you're looking at MT in terms of quantity and equating that to value, then no, I don't think you're going to be happy. If you're willing to add quality to the equation you increase the chances of being satisfied. My personal experience has been that the overall quality of products has been considerably better at Mama Testa than El Cuervo, but El Cuervo may be the better value for what you get in terms of quantity. I once had a carnitas torta there that was enough to feed 3 people. It was dirt cheap but way more food than I wanted or needed. I must admit, I am always a little taken aback when I see $9 tacos at Mama Testa, especially when I know I can get them cheaper elsewhere and cheaper still in Mexico. I also know, however, I'm paying for more than just the tacos on the plate and for me the trade off is worth it. It sounds like it isn't worth it for you.

                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                      I have to agree w/ DD. I regularly frequent El Cuervo and Mama Testa's and don't think you can necessarily compare them head to head. El Cuervo does very good street food and has large portions for the price. I can only finish 1/2 of their burritos because they're so large. Mama Testa's ingredients are of higher quality and their menu is a different focus than El Cuervo. In addition, their rice and beans seem to be less heavy on oil (or something to that effect) compared to El Cuervo. And I would love to get their salsa recipies!

                                                                                                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                        Well DD, that is the point of this tread isn't it? And that's the very definition of Over Rated! What ever you purchase; diamonds, cars or tacos, there's always more to the equation than quality and price. At whatever price point your buying, quantity is always a factor when discussing value. Take for example the best meal you've ever had. Remember that first bite? Remember the last bit? Remember thinking and talking about it afterwards? OK now imaginve that meal cut exactly in half but of the same quality, setting, service, AND PRICE. Is it the same value? Most likely not. I must not be the only one who feels this way, because this is an issue often mention on this board.

                                                                                                                        As I have said before, the food was fine at MT and I saw what they were trying to do but for me, the quality was not so drop dead fantastic that it overshadowed the minisul portions or justified the inflated prices. I would expect if the more expensive than El Cuervo because they are not operating at the same level but the pricing is a bit overboard. Paying for quality is one thing I do not mind doing, feeling a bit gouged is something I do mind.

                                                                                                                        1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                          Of course, context matters as well.

                                                                                                                          I go to MT one or two times per week right after my evening exercise. I used to go to El Zarape with similar frequency. But the fact is, I can be in and out of MT in less time than it takes El Zarape even to prepare my order. Moreover, MT has better food than El Zarape and better ambiance (such as it is). Frankly, if the portions were not large enough for me, I'd just order some more food. $5 difference . . . who cares?

                                                                                                                          1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                            As it happens, I had dinner at Mama Testa's last night. I ordered the Empapados which were $5.49. I received 3 tacos and a 3 oz. portion of beans. Since I recently had to go through a menu costing exercise I know that refrieds are running about $.03/oz. So at 3 oz. the beans on the plate cost $.09, throw in a penny for tortilla boat they came in and call it $.10 of extra on the plate. $5.39 for 3 tacos works out to about $1.90/taco. In my book that's not a bad value and really about average for SD. The portion was just fine for me, certainly not minisucle and I didn't leave hungry.

                                                                                                                            However, the reality is that those $1.90 tacos actually cost much less because I also got a big basket of chips that was replenished at no charge, as many trips to a fully stocked (and maintained) salsa bar.

                                                                                                                            I don't think MT is particularly overrated, I think it's actually rated about right. Nor do I think El Cuervo is underrated, it gets many positive comments and recommendations. But it's a lot like comparing mangos and papayas, they're both orange tropical fruits. But they don't look the same, nor do they taste the same. And so it is with MT and EC. One is catering to an uptown crowd and the other to a working class one.

                                                                                                                            I like EC but my preference is MT. I tend not to equate mass quantities of food with being a good value. Clearly mass quantities of food do matter to you or you wouldn't consider average portions minisucle and MT overrated.

                                                                                                                            I think it is a fair statement to say that not all the tacos on the menu at MT really work. I think it's a fair statement to say that not everything on the menu at EC is worth ordering.

                                                                                                                            Mama Testa
                                                                                                                            1417 University Ave Ste A, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                              I clearly did not make my point and therefore say "uncle". However, on another note, since I did not say such nor imply it in any way, and since you do not know me, your statement that mass quantities of food matter to me is both wrong, inappropriate, and frankly a bit condesending (and may have a just little to do with my calling you on your premature negative review of Nick in which you mentioned both price and quantity).

                                                                                                                              This board is about sharing opinions and insites, and just because someone disagrees with you or has a different opinion does not make them wrong. You don't think MT is overrated, good for you. I do, good for me. I'm sure we also don't have dress exactly the same, like the same type of music or movies. That's what makes the world interesting. But I hope we can agree on one thing, all opinoins are welcome on this board and it's what makes it interesting!

                                                                                                                              1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                                DD: A quote from your Nick's review:
                                                                                                                                "Both came with an amazingly minisucle - as in why bother to put it on the plate it's so small - side of Asian slaw" So does quantity matter or not?

                                                                                                                                1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                                  Well, I will apologize if you though I sounded condesending, that certainly was not my intent, nor were my comments fueled by any previous remarks on previous posts. Frankly, until you mentioned it, I didn't even remember you had commented on my post about Nick's. I may tend to be verbose and opinionated, but the one thing I am not is petty. Both e-mail and e-forums like this are flat mediums where the nuances of conversation, such as facial expressions, body language and tone of voice, are often lacking.

                                                                                                                                  For me, if an item is included in the written menu description as being part of the dish, then it should be more than literally 1 bite. And that is exactly what arrived on both plates at Nick's - 1 forkful of Asian slaw. Unforutnately, it was the best thing on the plate. 1 forkful is minisucle, I've never had anything at Mama Testa that was literally 1 bite. Good grief, even the corn cake El Torito puts on all it's plates is more than 1 bite, and it too, is often the only edible thing on the plate.

                                                                                                                                  IIRC, you had also eaten at Nicks, but had had a good meal. I kid you not when I say my lunch at Nick's is the single worst restaurant meal I've had in the last 6 years in San Diego...and that inlcudes most of the (board detested) Cohn Group restaurants, any number of chain outlets and several local college food courts. The crab cake was asbolutely vile and inedible and the wine my friend was served was undrinkable. And, as I believe I also posted, the biggest mistake we made was in not letting the manager know. Again IIRC, you had dinner at Nick's and I had lunch. It is entirely possible that the dinner crew is far more skilled than the lunch crew. But my friend and I each spent $20 for a glass of wine, an entree, tax and tip for a lunch that was pretty rank. That's not a good value. There was little to no quality in the meal and other than the 1 forkful of Asian slaw the portion size was fine. My lunch at Nick's was not a problem of quantity, the Asian slaw, or lack thereof, was not the problem. It was a problem of quality in that, for that meal, there simply was none. Now, as you can see, since you brought the issue of my comments about Nick's back up, 6 weeks later I still have very strong, and very opinionated memories about what was a very bad meal. The corn puree on the entree plate I had at Anthology last week was probably the single best thing in the whole meal. It was a minisucle portion, BUT, it was used as a plate garnish and was not included in the menu description as being part of the plate; the Asian slaw was listed in the menu as part of the dish, I expected more than 1 forkful of slaw.

                                                                                                                                  For $20 I could have walked around the corner to The Vine, had a glass of very drinkable wine (2 glasses if it was happy hour) and one of the (excellent, good quality) cheese boards and gotten change back, even after tax and tip. Edible food and drinkable wine will always be a good value for me. Inedible food and undrinkable wine will not, and the lunch my friend and I had at Nick's was not a good value for $40.

                                                                                                                                  For the record, I don't believe I am the only on on this thread that disagreed with your categorization of MT as being overrated.

                                                                                                                                2. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                                  Actually, I too was left with the impression that your main criticism of MT was related to portion size. Many Mexican restaurants serve extremely large portions, and I really don't think it's fair to criticize MT just because they don't do that. They have a whole other thing going on with their quality and their unique salsa bar, etc. that justifies a slightly higher price (to some people anyway.) I do have to say though that I was not crazy about the carnitas tacos - I think many other places do them much better!

                                                                                                                                  I also think you might be over-reacting re: DD. She speaks her mind, but I can't imagine that she would ever intentionally retaliate against someone for disagreeing with her!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                                    Now I say this with a smile on my face, "don't be too sensitive"!

                                                                                                                                    Everyone is just stating their opinions and that can be tough to understand when you can't see their body language!!

                                                                                                                                    FWIW, just reading through this thread, I found myself thinking, "how in the name of hell can MT's be over rated"!?!?!

                                                                                                                                    But, I had never heard of it until about a week or two ago, so it sure won't be over rated to me.

                                                                                                                                    Honestly, I don't even like threads like this because I would rather look for things that are good, than try to avoid things that are bad.

                                                                                                                                    Plus I find that people who have had bad personal experiences tend to have a clouded view of the facts. Slow service, rude waiter, car got a ticket while it was in the hands of the valet, etc., etc.

                                                                                                                                    Some people will hate MT's because it isn't as good as Candella's.

                                                                                                                                    I don't know, life is too short and I could care less what most people find objectionable, much of the time. When I see positive reviews, they attract me. I fought myself on even entering into this thread because it is based on a negative, rather than a positive.

                                                                                                                                    I like good food and good wine, there is much in the world that can be appreciated just using that basis.

                                                                                                                                    Anyhow, I'll back right back out of this thread.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                    "I think it is a fair statement to say that not all the tacos on the menu at MT really work. I think it's a fair statement to say that not everything on the menu at EC is worth ordering."

                                                                                                                                    This is exactly the experience I've had at these two places.

                                                                                                                              2. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                                Interesting about your comments on portion sizes at MT. My SO and I went there for the first time yesterday, and we could barely fold our tacos because they were so stuffed.

                                                                                                                                1. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                                  El Cuervo's carnitas are great. I wouldn't say there are many comparable places in San Diego for that item. I've had other things at MT that I liked.

                                                                                                                                  Totally agree with you about the ED cookies. Never had a good one. Now the Caribe...that's some good stuff.

                                                                                                                              3. re: bythenumbers

                                                                                                                                I agree with Josh about MT. El cuervo has your basic food - and doesn't even provide the chips with your order. The salsa bar at MT is creative and unique for san diego - perhaps not the best single salsa, but being able to try all the different types is fun. They make their own soft tortillas as well for some of the tacos they sell.

                                                                                                                                I also am doubtful of the earlier poster's claim that BRONX was the worst pizza ever. Even NYC has its crap holes. Bronx may not compare with a burnt crust 800 degree over pizza from Lombardi's but its decent for the small shack it is.

                                                                                                                                I guess my posting of this thread was just asking for snobbery... so its OK.

                                                                                                                              4. New and loving this thread!

                                                                                                                                My first nomination? It may be really obvious, but: Millefleur. At those prices, the food should be sublime. My filet mignon with Stilton was sublime, but the $15 salad? Mediocre. I'd rather roll the dice at Jack's Dining Room in La Jolla if I'm going to be spending beaucoup bucks.

                                                                                                                                As for Chilango, their food is wonderful, and I would never call them overrated, but. . . . I haven't been able to go there since they jacked up their prices a number of years ago--tripling the prices for the same food (which admittedly was fabulously priced). My alternative? Rana's in Spring Valley (worth the drive IMHO), with prices at Chilango's old prices. And their desserts are divine.

                                                                                                                                I completely concur with many of the listed restaurants. Hash House A Go Go (rosemary twigs, anyone?) is not only mediocre but just annoying. Although I will eat at La Vache in a pinch, it's definitely overrated. I used to love Kemo Sabe way back in the day, but the execution hasn't worked for years. The other Cohn family restaurants aren't even close to worth the money. And I couldn't have described Extraordinary Desserts better than did bythenumbers.

                                                                                                                                I happen to like Parallel 33, but I haven't been there in a while, so their quality could have slipped. As for Market, my first meal there was so good that I've forgiven them the hit-or-miss of the next couple of visits. But it's interesting to hear that the missing may be happening more than the hitting.

                                                                                                                                I really like Pamplemousse, but they definitely need to shake up their menu. I find some restaurants really shine during restaurant week (Jack's), while others really don't (Tapenade).

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: gracie92108

                                                                                                                                  Chilango is closed. You might visit Casa de Madera in Hillcrest which is one of the best mexican restaurants in SD in the moment.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the info on Chilango's. I hadn't been in that area for a bit.

                                                                                                                                    Good to know about Casa de Madera. Sometimes we don't feel like driving out to Spring Valley/Casa de Oro.

                                                                                                                                2. I found Extraordinary Desserts to be heartbreakingly disappointing. As much as I like the IDEA of it, it is not worth the wait in the ridiculouly long line, and most certainly not worth the obscenely inflated prices.

                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodstorm

                                                                                                                                      It really depends on what you order, and I would wonder which location you are talking about? I'm generally not crazy about big hunks of cake, so I often order their pavlovas, tarts or ice creams. The ricotta cakes are good (especially the passionfruit ricotta) and the framboise is nice. That being said, the breakfast pastries are terrible, the cookies are often dry, and sometimes the cakes get a little soggy.

                                                                                                                                      Whenever I've had something disappointing though, I've told them and they've replaced it. I also can't recommend their sandwiches for lunch. They sound good, but the kitchen just doesn't know the right proportion of ingredients to put on - I've had several and they've all been disappointing.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                                                        I think Bread and Cie is underrated for their desserts. I think their breakfast pastries, cookies, tarts, and pies run rings around equivalent items at ED, and for a lower price.

                                                                                                                                        The chocolate roule, chocolate pain latte, galette, chocolate macadamia tart, French apple pie, peach saffron pie, all are top notch items. I wonder though why I no longer see the panella del uva, I always enjoyed that.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                          I don't know how good Bread and Cie is for dessert but they are overrated for their bread.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                            I'm not an ED fan, either. I'm always disappointed because their desserts look better than they taste.

                                                                                                                                            Honkman, where do you prefer for bread? (I happen to adore Bread & Cie's olive bread--I haven't found a better version anywhere. But I don't love all their other breads as much.)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: gracie92108

                                                                                                                                              I am still looking for good bread in SD and haven't found a really good place. As I wrote before I compare everything to what I can get in an average German bakery (if there is something you can buy in great quality in Germany everywhere than it is bread, rolls etc. When I lived close to Alsace I know many French who went to German bakeries to buy their baguette.) Overall I haven't found a single place in SD which sells bread in reasonable quality and selection. And don't get me even started on rolls/buns.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                "Don't get me even started on rolls/buns."

                                                                                                                                                Now that is some funny Sh#@! On the surface, that sounds like a pretty silly thing to get bent out of shape about. But I actually agree with you. I think the U.S. in general suffers in the bread department, but it's getting better.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                                                  I would give a lot of money (or my left arm) for some great Broetchen (rolls) with Fleischsalat (diced meat(sausage) salad) or Nordsee-Krabbensalat (north-sea crab salad) for breakfast. If you tell me where I can find such a place I am even willing to agree in the future that all restaurants in SD are bad ;)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                    LOL, that's pretty funny. I will definitely let you know if I hear of a place that serves that stuff.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                                                      At least the Fleischsalat I can get at Sausage King but everything else...

                                                                                                                                                2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                  Haha I started a thread here looking for New York style rolls and bread and didn't get very many recommendations (B&C was one of them).
                                                                                                                                                  Anyone wanna start up a bakery?? :)

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                I like B&C too, especially for the pastries and the lemon cake. I do think their items are generally too big though, and the frosting on their cupcakes is waay too dense and heavy. Still, I think it's the best overall bakery around. I do want to try that Elizabethan desserts, but it's pretty far away for me to visit on any sort of a regular basis. I also do quite a bit of baking myself, so generally don't need to buy much of that stuff!

                                                                                                                                          2. i got one.
                                                                                                                                            winesteals (or is it wineseals?) next to MT in hillcrest.

                                                                                                                                            Horrible wine selection yet its always so crowded!? And they charge YOU corkage if you buy a bottle from them! wtf!

                                                                                                                                            19 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                              A rip off is a raw deal, which doesn't include good and real food. I've never felt ripped off OR left hungry from Mama Testa's or Linkery. Go for what you like or be adventurous, if you don't like it, don't go back. Has anyone tried the Muchos Machos tacos at MT? Unreal and certainly not miniscule. Ridiculously fine salsas that you can't get anywhere else and one of the few places whose potatoes I crave. I love both places, I'll pay for imagination, effort and REAL food. Can't comment on desserts because I don't eat them but bread in this town is a pitiful shame. I'd settle for a decent bagel or some good Jewish rye. Damn. Although the B&C fig and anise bread is yummy and makes great bread pudding. "Over rated" is a matter of taste, you can be hyped or make up your own mind. "Rip off" is definitely the Cohn group, most of the Gas Lamp and some of the better known Chinese places in town. I would not have considered Region a rip off even though it wasn't my favorite. Nicks? OMG! the most ostenatious rip off I've seen in years. I wouldn't even waste my time voicing any complaints, I'd just avoid it like the plague. It is nice to hear what others would avoid just to be aware. And I love people who voice their opinions, loud and clear. High on my rip off list: DZ Akins.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                "horrible" wine selection? I've only been twice and of course its wines are not on the par of many places but I don't think that its call or mission is to be the end all of wine bars or retailers. what they do seem to do well (as you point out they are always crowded) is to put people at ease about maybe trying something other than chardonnay and merlot and that doesn't seem to me to be a bad thing. As to the "horrible", I do recall having a pretty darn good chateauneuf du pape the 2d time I went in.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                                                                                                  Region mediocre? Not even near... it was a restaurant that standed for what it believed it....Let me tell you who is on my list.. .Mister A's, Mille Fleur, charding top $ for boring food that is not even classic french as their advertise themselves. Cohn Group.. any downtown restaurant ( Bella Luna, Max, PaneVino, Osetra.... ), all the chain restaurant that San Diegans seem to love, Kemo Sabe... These are rip off to me. As far as Wine steals, they do have a good selection of wine. I am a wine buyer in a restaurant here and I get so much heat because I do not have pinot grigio and white zin by the glass.. sorry, my wines by the glass are offered to complement the food. I offer riesling spatlese, gruner veltliner, a chardonnay that comes from the same vineyard used by Kistler, a biodynamic Merlot from Carneros... People seem to always complain about everything, price, food, wine yet when you offer them something different, brillant and dynamic, they still complain. Some of us offer you boutique wines at a low market, and yet we still get some heat because we do not have " rombauer chardonnay" on the list...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jaysurf12

                                                                                                                                                    Glad to hear there is a restaurant offering spatlese and veltliner. It always kills me how people are reluctant to try unfamiliar wines. Cafe Chloe often has interesting wines on their list. I think that may be the first place I saw albarino by the glass in SD.

                                                                                                                                                    I gotta disagree on Mister A's though. Went there for the first time the other night and had a really great meal. It wasn't super adventurous, true, but it was high quality and well executed. Sometimes that is enough, plenty of restaurants have trouble with just those two things.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                      I really like Cafe Chloe. They are a true cafe and I wish I lived closer..
                                                                                                                                                      I was looking at Babbo's website tonight and wish that at least 1 restaurant in SD would offer true italian cuisine...

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: jaysurf12

                                                                                                                                                      The discussion is actually about overrated places, not places everyone KNOWS suck. (Gaslamp, etc.) :-) Wine Steals is what it is - I don't think it's a ripoff certainly. You can go with a few friends and have something to eat and drink, and everyone gets out for about $10. apiece. I have had terrible service there though.

                                                                                                                                                      Also, it's just a guess, but maybe people are asking for a Pinot Gri or a White Zin is they want a $5-6 glass of wine, rather than a $9.00 glass. High wine by the glass prices seem to be rampant these days - not that they aren't justified, but that isn't always what you want.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                                                                        I have found that buying by the bottle can be a great deal at Wine Steals, whereas ordering by the glass is too pricey. For example, I believe the Seghesio Zin is $10/glass, but you can buy the bottle (about 4 glasses) for something like $24 including corkage. I mean, just do the math...

                                                                                                                                                        I've been to both locations (Hillcrest, Liberty Station) in the past couple weeks and had good luck buying by the bottle. At the Hillcrest location we got a Pinot Meunier (cousing to Pinot Noir) for $25 (including corkage) and it was a good value. We also had an excellent Chateauneuf du Pape for about $35 (incl.corkage).

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                                                          $10 for a glass of Seghesio zin but $24 for the bottle?? That doesn't really make sence... I wonder what is their logic behind it??
                                                                                                                                                          A Chateauneuf for $35... now that is a very good price....

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: jaysurf12

                                                                                                                                                            I'm pretty sure their logic is that a good percentage of their patrons are friggin clueless when it comes to wine. Wine Steals isn't a particularly sophisticated wine bar. It's more a place to have fun.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                                                              next time my friends want to go i'm bringing my own bottle of wine compared to the swill they try to pawn off to the un witting and unknowledge customers. I watch my friends consume more and more of their crap wine and it angers me that they charge so much for such crappy bottles of wine. And i thought W&B was expensive.

                                                                                                                                                              (i actually just get the beer there, stone you are so yummy!)

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                They also have alesmith IPA and some other good local beers.

                                                                                                                                                                So you think all their bottles are overpriced? Like I said before, their by-the-glass prices are outrageous, but we've had good luck buying middle of the road wines by the bottle. It's definitely not a serious wine drinker's place, but it's more fun than the serious places...so I guess that's the tradeoff.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mangiatore

                                                                                                                                                                  I think they are charging alot for crappy wine.. for 30$ i can get a decent pinot , much better than the swill they try to pawn off.

                                                                                                                                                                  and where they keep the wine is horrible, the place gets really warm with all the people there, the wines we drank were at such high temperature

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jaysurf12

                                                                                                                                                              there are plenty of CDP's out there for under 35$. My recent KLwines newsletter (and i think san diego wine co.) had some nice ones for under 25$.

                                                                                                                                                              But i dont even like CDP so it doesn't really matter =P i judge every plac eon their Pinot noir haah. I wish i remembered the peace of crap they offered for their "bartender's pick" of pinot noir so i can avoid it like a plague.

                                                                                                                                                              Also their storage for the wine? HORRIBLE. Its way too hot for them to just have it sitting around.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                Sadly, most people are ignorant of how much damage you can do to wine with heat.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                  Clayfu - Next time your friends drag you to wine steals, try this - they have (or had when I was there a few weeks ago) a case of Guy DuFouleur 2003 premier cru. It's just about the best Pinot I've ever had - cherries and cream and loam. Super yum. Yeah, it's $40 a bottle... but sometimes if you make friends they'll open up a bottle of the good stuff to serve by-the-glass for ya.

                                                                                                                                                                  Though I agree with both of you guys that their storage space gets too hot in the summer, and with this recent heat wave that amazing Pinot may all be on its way towards vinegar. :(

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jonoropeza

                                                                                                                                                                    i shall try the burgundy. I haven't really experienced 20-40$ burgundy that i love. Damn region is so expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                      Our pinots are headed that way price-wise... damn THAT MOVIE. :)

                                                                                                                                                                      I picked up an Oregon Pinot at the San Diego Wine Co the other day that I think you'd like - 2005 Sineann Wyeast Vineyard. Needs a little decanting but it's marvelous stuff. 35 bucks. SD Wine Co used to have a partnership with Cafe Cerise where if you bought a bottle, you could drink it at Cerise sans-corkage. We only did it once, should have done it way more often though. :( Now that Cerise is closed, I'm not sure if they've partnered with anyone else, but it might be worth checking out considering the price of nice Pinots on most wine lists.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: jaysurf12

                                                                                                                                                            uh jaysurf12, as you seem to have been replying to me, I didn't mention or refer to Region. with regard to Wine Steals, I was trying to offer them a bit of support in response to another post. sounds like your wine list is one that I might well enjoy. I can tell you that I really like how Guild offers 1/2 glasses; seems like a great way to encourage people to try new stuff.
                                                                                                                                                            As regards, Mister A's, haven't had dinner there in a while but I do have lunch there and frankly I think they do a pretty darn good job.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                          I agree about Wine Steals! The food is fine, but their wine list really is not very serious. I guess its more of a hang out spot than serious wine bar. When my BF and I had our first date there, we did the flights, and was appalled that they served little cordial glasses for the flight. What is THAT all about? Obviously you don't have to use cabernet goblets for a 1 oz pour, but a shot glass on a stem is not appropriate for any kind of wine in any kind of situation.

                                                                                                                                                        3. sushi ota: definitely overrated. the sushi & sashimi were both fine, nothing more. i really don't understand what all the hype is about.

                                                                                                                                                          george's oceanview terrace: food is barely passable, but in all honesty you're paying for the view, not a gourmet meal. however, the food in the formal dining room downstairs [now called 'george's california modern'] is actually very good.

                                                                                                                                                          RAINWATER'S ON KETTNER: i can't believe no one has mentioned it. this place wins my vote, hands-down, for the most overrated [and one of the worst] in s.d. i've regrettably eaten [wasted] 3 meals there. one was mediocre at best, and the other 2 were just plain bad.

                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                            Rainwater's.. definetely a ripoff.. bad service too.. I never had a good experience at George's oceanview and the service has always been rude and amateurish there. I yet have to try the dining room...
                                                                                                                                                            I actually enjoy sushi ota... I really like Zenbu as well....
                                                                                                                                                            There is a place in Leucadia that I really like for Japanese food.. Leucadia Sushi..

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                              Sushi Ota has the best sushi in San Diego, but in my experience you have to sit at the bar to get the best cuts, and it can be a royal pain in the arse trying to get a seat there. Call a few days in advance to make a reservation. I think the Nigiri is the standout at Ota. For fusion-style rolls I'd go somewhere else.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                For some excellent food, go next door to the AZUL.
                                                                                                                                                                Even the barpatio menu at reduced prices would be better from the sounds of the reviews here.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                                                  I totally agree on Rainwater's. When my husband and I first started dating about eight years ago, we went there several times, and it was very good--great steaks, yummy sourdough, and decent prices. We stopped going because we moved farther away. Then, we returned, and were horrified--although the quality had dropped, the prices had gone way up. Seems like they're angling for the conventioneer/expense account crowd.

                                                                                                                                                                2. the original pancake house
                                                                                                                                                                  antique row cafe
                                                                                                                                                                  and dare i say...
                                                                                                                                                                  IN-N-OUT. i still don't see what the draw of that place is, but i know i'm in the minority.

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DoctorQuality

                                                                                                                                                                    I think people expect too much from IN-N-OUT. It is still only a burger place but at least one where the meat is never frozen (and you can taste the difference in comparison too all other fastfood chains, one of the reasons why I never freeze meat at home) and the fries are made from fresh potatoes (and again you can taste the difference to other fastfood chains). You can definitely make better burgers at home but they are superior to other burger chains and in addition when you read "Fastfood Nation" you will find out that they treat their employees better than other places which is always a plus.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                      i think you just have to compare in n out with other fast food places.
                                                                                                                                                                      just like the greatness of chick fil a

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                        I wouldn't compare a sandwich place with a burger place. Both are fastfood places but both are hard to compare.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I've gone through many of the posts here. Wow. Absolutely brutal. I'm supposed to go to San Diego in the fall for a conference, and was looking foreword to some California cuisine. Do I just drive to LA for dinner??? Seems people love LA for food, but definitely not San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fjs08

                                                                                                                                                                      You will find similar discussions on the LA board. Does this mean you have to drive to SF for a dinner ?
                                                                                                                                                                      You will find in every city (including LA, SF, NY) restaurants which look good from the outside but don't deliver. The restaurant scene in SD is becoming better and better over the last few years and when you search the board a little bit more you will find many good restaurants in different parts of the town where you will get great meals.
                                                                                                                                                                      This discussion here is also focused on a few "bad" restaurants in SD which are often repeated and for some you won't even find an agreement if they are lousy or one of the best in SD (e.g. The Linkery, Region).

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, and many of the good restaurants you find will be the same ones that are blasted in this thread as "worst and overrated." It's not so much that we don't love the food in San Diego as we DO love to kvetch about it. Come and enjoy yourself. I guarantee you won't leave hungry.
                                                                                                                                                                        . . . jim strain in san diego.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jim Strain

                                                                                                                                                                          Any recommendations. We'll eat any type of food. My wife and I are pretty adventuresome when it comes to eating, so although we love the standards such as seafood and steaks, we enjoy it all. And I'm willing to drive. Used to live in Pacific Beach for a short time in the '70's, so I think I can still find my way around.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fjs08

                                                                                                                                                                            Which part of SD are you staying and will you have a car ? And how much are you willing to spend ?
                                                                                                                                                                            In PB you might look into Latin Chef (new peruvian restaurant, gets very good recommerndation on CH), Kafe Yen (Asian fusion), JRDN (more upscale restaurant), La Torta (Mexican tortas).

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                              The conference in downtown, I will have a car, and we'll do all price ranges.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fjs08

                                                                                                                                                                                Don't miss Super Cocina, on University near the 15.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: fjs08

                                                                                                                                                                              here's a recent thread that has lots of good recommendations - you shouldn't have any trouble finding something to eat - this is pretty much the "bitch session" thread - so take it all with a grain of salt!

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: fjs08

                                                                                                                                                                          You would do better making a separate post requesting suggestions. Let the board know where you are living, what sorts of things are of interest, any restrictions or dislikes etc.

                                                                                                                                                                          Most of us regular posters have many good places to recommend, but clearly they don't fit in this post.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ed Dibble

                                                                                                                                                                            Here is my North County list for overrated:

                                                                                                                                                                            Sbicca: (I just don't get it)
                                                                                                                                                                            Paradise Grille: No redeeming qualities
                                                                                                                                                                            Pamplemousse (the entrees are ok, but add a starter and dessert, it is way overpriced and I always feel a little queasy afterward).
                                                                                                                                                                            Fidel's (as bad as Old Town Mex). Don Chuy and Tony's are far superior.
                                                                                                                                                                            Papachino's (does anyone local ever go there?) How do they stay in business?
                                                                                                                                                                            Pacific Coast Grill (kind of like a Cohn restaurant concept)
                                                                                                                                                                            Parioli (going down hill for years)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: buzznutter

                                                                                                                                                                              First time I went to Parioli it was awesome. Second time, not as good. Last time, still worse. I won't be back for a fourth.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. - Extraordinary Desserts
                                                                                                                                                                          Banker's Hill location: flies on pastries/baked goods lying out in the open due to workers leaving door open. overpriced/overrated.
                                                                                                                                                                          Little Italy location: extremely pretentious, slow, rude servers. had to hail our waitress to get anything. overpriced/overrated here as well. Mediocre food.

                                                                                                                                                                          - Cafe Chole
                                                                                                                                                                          EXTREMELY slow service. Ordered a half glass of wine, was charged for full glass. When I notified my waitress about it, she basically responded with a "well what do you want me to do about it?!" Avoid this cafe like the plague.

                                                                                                                                                                          - Hash House
                                                                                                                                                                          Decent food imo, large portions. But definitely NOT worth the 1-2 hour wait on a Saturday/Sunday morning.

                                                                                                                                                                          21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ShadowWolf

                                                                                                                                                                            Cafe Chloe is one of the few restaurants in SD where you can eat without being rushed and your are not out of the door after 60-75 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                              I agree. Also, I'm just guessing - but it sounds like the person ordered a half glass, was delivered a full glass - drank it, then wanted an adjustment. They probably should have done it, but there might be some blame on both sides there.

                                                                                                                                                                              I've also never seen any flies at Extraordinary Desserts, and I've been there MANY times!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                                                                                                Listing a place among the worst and most overrated because the service was slow tells me more about the poster than the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                  uh no. it says the restaurant has slow service. Especially if the words ESPECIALLY were emphasized. It just sounds like they have an extremely slow serving staff. It might have been better if he said how long he waited, but EXTREMELY sounds pretty bad. If i had extremely slow and poor service at a restaurant everyone raved about, i'd say the restaurant is overrated as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                  And nowhere does it say that he drank the half glass before reporting it. Before you guys get all up in arms for the restaurants you guys love try not to put words in other people's mouths.
                                                                                                                                                                                  "Gee gosh i love this place, let's just blame the poster for the inadequacies and bad service at the restaurant, he must be expecting way too much and he's a lying horrible person for drinking the wine first (which i'm not even sure about but i'm going to accuse him anyways)!"

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                                    Completely disagree. Cafe Chloe is a french-style bistro and I don't know if you ever went to France to eat at one but you will be never rushed and a normal dinner (2-3 course) will take 2-3 hours. It is the wrong perception of the OP that Cafe Chloe has to have service in a style he/she prefers instead accepting it the restaurant wants. And yes, I don't think the customer has to be always right.
                                                                                                                                                                                    And I agree with Josh that people who list places as overrated just because the service was too slow for them tells more about the posters than the restaurant

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                      i'm just saying you guys are assuming alot of things.

                                                                                                                                                                                      You assume the OP has a particular preference. What if his qualm is with the fact the waitress took 20 minutes to bring him a refill on water? is that acceptable? no.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Is that bad service? yes.

                                                                                                                                                                                      We're talking about OUR PERSONAL overrated experiences, we're not asking for a majority opinion. Respect the man's opinion, if its bad service its bad service.

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you found an experience to be horrible, would you go again? no! that'd be silly to spend your money when you've had a bad experience. Saying someone can't have an opinion because they've only been there once is asking way too much. If i had a horrible experience at a restaurant (aka Donovans) i refuse to go again to even give them the chance. Especially if i'm paying $$$. (no idea how much cafe chloe costs). If you're paying 40+ $ a dish they shouldn't be making any mistakes to begin with.

                                                                                                                                                                                      So once again, instead of making a blanket statement "it says more about the psoter than the restaurant" why not stop assuming?

                                                                                                                                                                                      (btw josh is understanding what i'm saying about the service being slow having nothing related to the "french" experience.) Once again, everyone needs to stop getting up in arms and making assumptions to defend your favorite restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                                        You ask for us to respect the man (or woman's) opinion and then bash others for stating theirs. That doesn't seem to make sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Further, the poster only talks about Cafe Chloe having poor service and that is why it then belongs on the "worst/overrated" discussion. Cafe Chloe is not discussed on the boards as having the best service seen west of the Mississipi it is applauded for having great/good food at reasonable prices and for having a unique & interesting wine and beer list. Shadowwolf mentions neither of these things, merely a service flaw.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Also, sometimes restaurants & servers can have bad days, since this terrible service issue seems to be an aberration (I have been to Cafe Chloe at least 5 times in the past few months and have received competent and caring service and I am a former server/employee at fine dining places, I generally can sum up service issues fairly well) it probably should be seen as a rarity and should not merit Cafe Chloe winding up on this list.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                                          Just to flog this horse a couple more times, let's look at your first point about a 20 minute wait for water. I agree, bad service, no question. Now, does that make a restaurant over-rated? Does that merit labeling it one of the worst in the city?

                                                                                                                                                                                          That's my only qualm with ShadowWolf's post.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                                            Nobody said that the OP shouldn't have his/her own opinion but at the same time you should allow everybody else to express their own opinions. Your wrong assumption is that everybody has the same opinion what is good service and not and that you are setting the standard.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "You assume the OP has a particular preference. What if his qualm is with the fact the waitress took 20 minutes to bring him a refill on water? is that acceptable? no."

                                                                                                                                                                                            This is exactly your problem. Because for you it is not acceptable that doesn't mean everybody (or even the majority) has the same opinion. My own answer would be: yes

                                                                                                                                                                                            "Is that bad service? yes"

                                                                                                                                                                                            For me: No

                                                                                                                                                                                            "We're talking about OUR PERSONAL overrated experiences, we're not asking for a majority opinion. Respect the man's opinion, if its bad service its bad service."

                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree that it might be bad service for the OP but that doesn't mean anybody else has the same opinion. And you write it like that it is a general fact that these conditions described above are bad service and that is your problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "If you found an experience to be horrible, would you go again? no! that'd be silly to spend your money when you've had a bad experience. Saying someone can't have an opinion because they've only been there once is asking way too much. If i had a horrible experience at a restaurant (aka Donovans) i refuse to go again to even give them the chance. Especially if i'm paying $$$. (no idea how much cafe chloe costs). If you're paying 40+ $ a dish they shouldn't be making any mistakes to begin with. "

                                                                                                                                                                                            Again, all of these are your opinion which is fine but a lot of other people think different about it and you should accept it and not write like you know the ultimate truth like :"no! that'd be silly to spend your money when you've had a bad experience."

                                                                                                                                                                                            "So once again, instead of making a blanket statement "it says more about the psoter than the restaurant" why not stop assuming? "

                                                                                                                                                                                            Because that is apparently Josh and my opinion. You don't agree with that opinion ? Fine, but at least you have to accept it as an opinion. As you expect us to accept other opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "(btw josh is understanding what i'm saying about the service being slow having nothing related to the "french" experience.) Once again, everyone needs to stop getting up in arms and making assumptions to defend your favorite restaurants."

                                                                                                                                                                                            Once again, you shouldn't, like you did also in other discussions, start to become defensive if people express there opinions opposite to yours. You should not assume that everybody agrees with your assumptions and opinions. What you think is bad service, doesn't have to be bad service for me. And all of this has nothing to do with defending a favorite restaurant (I would have made the same posts about service even if I wouldn't like that restaurant) but an exchange of different opinions about what is good service and not. And bringing up the "european" experience has more to do to show you that there are more than one opinion about good or bad service in the world and that perhaps Cafe Chloe might have a different opinion about service than you have.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                              I used to love going to Belgian Lion. It was owned by a Belgian ex-pat, and dinners there could easily take 3-4 hours start-to-finish. It sounds long, but really was a great experience. Time to enjoy each course, time to rest in between and talk, very relaxing and sedate. I wonder if people would view the leisurely pace there as bad service? I'm sure there must be some who felt that way. I know I've dined with people who want everything immediately and seem to have no patience.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                <I used to love going to Belgian Lion. It was owned by a Belgian ex-pat, and dinners there could easily take 3-4 hours start-to-finish. It sounds long, but really was a great experience. Time to enjoy each course, time to rest in between and talk, very relaxing and sedate. I wonder if people would view the leisurely pace there as bad service? I'm sure there must be some who felt that way. I know I've dined with people who want everything immediately and seem to have no patience.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                I seem to recall that one of the big complaints about Region - a place generally acknowledged as being very good - was slow, very slow, service. There were lengthy pauses between courses and most meals could have been easily defined as leisurely. We have been so conditioned by the fast pace of our everyday lives to expect everything to happen quickly, including, unfortunately, meals. They don't call it fast food for nothing ;-). Region never wowed me in the way it did other people, but I always enjoyed the fact they let us dine and we never felt like we had to rush through the meal just to get it done so they could turn a table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's true that restaurants in Europe don't rush you, and this is an area where Europe definitely has us beat. I can't stand it when I go in and spend a bunch of money at a restaurant and they still rush me. This generally doesn't happen in Europe. It's a matter of respect. The average Euro doesn't go out to eat as often as we do; European restaurants recognize this and allow their patrons to enjoy the experience. But let's not mix that up with the abominable service European restaurants provide in the process. Service in Europe does, in fact, suck. I can't tell you how many times a server has acted irritated that I ask them to bring a few things to the table. I think the reason is that the servers aren't fortunate enough to benefit from the tipping system we have here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Truth be told, on my second visit to Cafe Chloe, we had a sort of hippy-trippy flakeball of a waitress who took forever to get us water. HOWEVER, we didn't get rushed, and the manager (owner?) spent a significant amount of time helping me pair my meal with one of his wines. And, the food is great, so in my mind they can get away with a little less than the American standard of service.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: clayfu

                                                                                                                                                                                            The poster does actually say that it was the charge that he brought to the server's attention. I'm making that assumption based on the fact that the bill comes at the end of the meal - presumably after the wine was consumed (or at least during the process.)

                                                                                                                                                                                            EXTREMELY just indicates hyperbole to me. I don't go to Cafe Chloe for a quick bite. I go when I want to linger with a friend, order multiple courses and not feel rushed. It's that kind of place. If you want something quick, there are different places for that. Frankly though, my response has little to do with the fact that Cafe Chloe is the restaurant being discussed. A comment that says "avoid this place like the plague" and says nothing about the food whatsoever probably won't get much attention from me, no matter what restaurant is being discussed - nothing personal against the poster, I just don't happen to agree with him.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Alice Q

                                                                                                                                                                                          I also found Mille Feuille in San Diego to be a huge, overpriced disappointment. $2.25 for EACH macaroon and they were dry and overly sweet. Totally overrated.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: northbayfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                            My gals and I were hugely unimpressed by Mille Feuille. I don't know about overrated, though, because what kind of accolades did this place even get? Isn't it new? I don't know anyone who has praised their desserts.

                                                                                                                                                                                            If this place makes it to summer, I'll be very nonplussed.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ginael

                                                                                                                                                                                              Um, it has been in Rancho Santa Fe since 1984. Hardly new.

                                                                                                                                                                                              However, getting very old. Quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                                I think they are talking about the dessert place in Hillcrest

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yep, I was talking about the Hilcrest dessert place. I am aware that the RSF Mille Fleur is not new, thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: ginael

                                                                                                                                                                                                  FWIW, both reviewers in The Reader had high praise for Mille Feuille. They even put it in writing. I thought the space was a little sterile and wasn't inspired to make a purchase. I did, however, go down the block to Babycakes and had a very nice glass of iced tea and cupcake instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ShadowWolf

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm with you on Extraordinary Desserts and Hash House (for once someone criticizes it honestly -- decent food but not worth the 1-2 hr. wait). But you're offf on Cafe Chloe, which has a nice European vibe, great food a great beer list.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. A little list of over-recommended/rated Mexican joints in SD:

                                                                                                                                                                                            Jose's Courtroom
                                                                                                                                                                                            Roberto's or any of the other "bertos"

                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: deckape

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm sorry; I was trying to avoid this thread, but there are some things I cannot ignore.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Who in the world overrates Ro berto's (or any *bert's - I guess my favorite name is "Abierto's, though I'm not sure that it there is a place called that in existance)? I guess some people might rave about it as decent bartime food in some circles, and maybe a few Chowhounds would say "that hit the spot", but overrated? One must be highly rated to be overrated.

                                                                                                                                                                                              A few people might claim that OTMC is decent, but they are much maligned on this board, and could hardly be considered "overrated".

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                                                                                                I actually agree with deckape about Robertos. Taco shops are pretty much their own cuisine, even the term Mexican Food is pretty hard to define. I get carnitas and pollo asado at some taco shops that completely blow away anything I have found in full service restaurants. It may not mean they are the best, just highly regarded for what they are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Everyone seems to have their personal taco shop fav, but I work with people that ALWAYS eat at Roberto's and think it is the best in San Diego. They won't even eat at other shops. I don't get it! It is kind of like Olive Garden or Karl Strauss winning "Best Italian" or "Best Beer in San Diego" in the UT awards I guess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                                                                                  aghh.. no one has mentined Lamont street Grill.. the worst!!! I have friends who love it.. Cannot figure that out.. I thought it was so mediocre....and bright..

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: karenc

                                                                                                                                                                                                    funny, I went to Lamont Street Grill in about 1995, for my anniversary, soon after I moved to SD, and had very fond memories of it ... but had never gone back. Just went this past year, in April - for my anniversary - and was sorely disappointed. Food and service were both distinctly mediocre. Quite overpriced for such a dull meal. Also the tuna steak was raw (as opposed to rare), we sent it back to the kitchen and it came back well done.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Not necessarily overrated (I've never seen it rated), but Just Plain Bad: Lou & Mickey's. Expensive, terrible service w/ a kitchen that can't get its act together, mediocre food. also, another vote for Hash House--big portions, very ordinary, bland food.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Are we talking about overrated food, service or both? Which begs the question, would you go back to a restaurant that had great food, but crappy service, or vice versa? I dined at Bertrand's at Mister A's; the service was fantastic, the view was fantastic, but my foie gras was cooked in a VAT of about 30 1/2 different sauces, thus ruining an otherwise lovely delicacy.


                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Worst Mexican: Baja Betty's, in Hillcrest. We were walking down University and stopped in for a meal, not knowing the restaurant's theme.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Horrible CalMex food with bad salsa, inconsiderate service, incredible noise, dirty. It will succeed, however, as San Diego's First GAY Mexican Restaurant. Those three letters guarantee a flood of business - it needs no other banner or review to make money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pennelli

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You should have kept walking and tried either Bite or Mama Testa's, both infinitely better choices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. El Zarape
                                                                                                                                                                                                    South Beach Bar and Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                    El Cotixan
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Burger Lounge
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Old Town Mexican Cafe

                                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SD Native

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Overrated: anything in Old Town
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Extraordinary Desserts
                                                                                                                                                                                                      South Beach Bar & Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Mission--all locations

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ginael

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I second Extraordinary Desserts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: keena

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Harney Sushi- this place is such a joke it annoys me to even think about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SDGourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Harney Sushi-has really gone down hill lately.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Service is in a nose dive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            What was your experience there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SDGourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Funny- I like Harney Sushi for the same reason I like the Cohn restaurants- they are honest to their core. Cohn's are a business, Harney is clearly into it for the love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'll eat at neither, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm simply not young nor cool enough to eat at Harney, and when I did, it was SO LOUD i had trouble hearing myself order. But it was NOT LOUD ENOUGH to drown out the poor quality of the food.


                                                                                                                                                                                                              Harney it true to it's type. It's the antithesis of the Cohns, which is a business run to high business standards. Harney is run as more of a performance art piece, and I respect that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                My main problem with Harney is that it's not about the food and when it stops being about that it stops being a restaurant. People are going there to hear the DJ or have some drinks not to experience the cuisine. In my mind that's a club not a restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SDGourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree. Same as Modus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But who am I to make that call? If people enjoy eating food to blaring hip-hop, I figure they're allowed, and I'll let them call it whatever they want. Maybe the back-beat enhances the mastication process?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Can never understand it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When Nathan was cooking there, I used to go to Modus early in the evening to avoid the loud music. The worst offender, of all places, is El Paisa taco truck. They have two radios playing tejano music at loud volume, tuned to different stations. Apart from Charles Ives, I don't know who would enjoy that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: ginael

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I wouldn't include Berta's in that Old Town claim.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Vagabond has to be right up near the top of the list. I stopped going a few months after it opened because the food was so mediocre I guarantee that anyone posting here could cook far better at home. Went back recently and found it was still disappointing. Completely overcooked/tough beef, ho-hum curry that you could get far better for half the price at Amarin or Bai Yook. The wine was actually hot. I mean, significantly warmer than room temperature, and completely ruined. I've lived in South Park for five years and really wanted to like this place, but I find myself mystified that people keep shelling out their money there.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kensington Grill is now on my list as it seems to have gone downhill quite a bit in the last few years.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Indigo Grill - some of their flavor combinations just plain do not work
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tapenade - am I missing something, or is this place not outrageously over-priced?
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pokez - really should be number one. Packed with people who are so busy congratulating themselves on how hip they are because they are there that they do not notice the just okay food and the worst service in San Diego County. Do you think I'm exaggerating that last point? Then go there, sober, and see for yourself. If you're still not convinced, read the article on City Beat about the time one of their servers berated an autistic child for not being able to order properly. They apparently refused to apologize or fire the server.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        58 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: southparkguy

                                                                                                                                                                                                          When was the last time you went to Kensington Grill? I agree there was a stretch in there that they seemed to be in the doldrums. But, about a year or maybe two ago, they got a new chef and I have been pleasantly surprised since then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've never understood how Deborah Scott got such a reputation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mikec

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I've never understood how Deborah Scott got such a reputation."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The San Diego Hype Machine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            San Diego loves hyping local people with no national reputation and attaching tons of phony accolades.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            So, to answer your question, Deborah Scott's, reputation is completely made up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know about this "San Diego Hype Machine" but if you look at Deborah Scott's restaurants, Kemo Sabe, Island Prime/C Level, and Indigo Grill, I'm sure would agree that they are not on the caliber of what are widely considered to be San Diego's best and most innovative restaurants such as Market and Cavaillon and yet because of the Cohn "Hype Machine" she is very well know in San Diego. Unfortunately, far too many people associate well known with the top of thier game. I think we can agree, the two do not always go hand in hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sdnosh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, I do agree that the restaurants Deborah Scott is associated with are not exactly the bastion of fine dining in San Diego. That said, I have had good to vry good meals at Kemo Sabe and Indigo Grill (though not recently).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My question to Stevewag23 was more about supporting the sweeping statements he made about the "SD hype machine". What is he basing his statements on? Inquiring minds want to know...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I guess "The San Diego Hype Machine" would be the media who often times tries to create San Diego "Star Chefs" out of nowhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Until very recently, it was extremely common practice. (As of late, we have actually had some legit chefs in town, who unfortunately have packed up and moved on, see Gavin Kaysen).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      An example of "The San Diego Hype Machine" is hyping a new chef and acting like he has a great world wide reputation when in fact he has cooked at local places that have gone under.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Where has Deborah Scott cooked at besides Cohn Group restaurants? Has she ever won any awards that weren't local restaurant association awards (no doubt fixed by the Cohn Group)? Anything even statewide? Let alone national or International?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      They act like she is Gods gift to cusine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just had to pull the curtain away from her and other phony media created "Star Chefs" in San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I am at it, the Easter Bunny isn't real either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Make sense?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This practice is rampant in other industries like nightclubs in San Diego. For example, Stingaree claiming they have celebrities going to the nightclub and its a world wide, international destination when in fact its F-list celebs like Kim Kardasian (misspelling?) who they paid $1250 to show up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The San Diego Hype Machine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Could you name a few new chefs which have been hyped in San Diego ? You tend to make some general claims without backing up anything. So far you only pulled the curtain away to show nothing put unfounded claims.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In addition, somebody might not like D. Scott's cooking style but her background isn't this bad with learning at the CIA and having a few jobs on the east and west coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Could you name a few new chefs which have been hyped in San Diego ?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This could include literally every chef in San Diego that has never won a national award, like the James Beard Foundation. It would be easier to find a few chefs that haven't been hyped in San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "In addition, somebody might not like D. Scott's cooking style but her background isn't this bad with learning at the CIA and having a few jobs on the east and west coast."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are doing a great job of proving my point. "Having a few jobs"???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dishwashing at Applebee's in New Jersey hardly qualifies someone as a great chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            By your definition chefs in every place who haven;t been awarded any national awards are only hyped. I couldn't disagree more. I couldn't care less about awards (which are any way often giving not becauseof accompishments but by having the better connections) but if the food is simply good. By your definition chefs like Jason Travi, Hiro Sone or Quinn Hatfield are just hyped nobodys because they didn't won any national awards whicb is complete BS.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And D. Scott was working at different restaurants as sous chef and executive sous chef at several good restaurants.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Again you bring up claims which you can't back up with any facts and the only curtain you pulled away showed your ignorance and envy of people who are successful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "I couldn't care less about awards"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your right. Only terrible restaurants win James Beard awards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "but if the food is simply good."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cohn group restaurants don't pull off this trick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "was working at different restaurants as sous chef and executive sous chef at several good restaurants. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Impressive. "several good restaurants". I am taken aback. Great way to prove your point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Again you bring up claims which you can't back up with any facts"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Did you really write that? Are you the same guy who said working at "several good restaurants" amounts to an excellent chef?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "which are any way often giving not becauseof accompishments but by having the better connections"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If that were the case, then the Cohn Group would dominate awards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They are a great "restaurant business" right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                argueman, you can't have both sides of an argument and still come off as halfway intelligent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pick one side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I understand your point, but hype is hardly limited to San Diego, it happens all over. It just depends upon who has a marketing budget and where they choose to allocate those. What curtain did you pull away? I can't see that you exposed anything, other than perhaps the fact you don't like her or her restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think Deborah Scott is over-hyped. In fact, other than a piece in the U/T a couple of months ago about her weight loss regime, I haven't seen much in the mainstream media extolling the virtues of her restaurants. I don't think she gets any extraordinary press. Where has the media machine been revved up and hyping her? Where are your examples of the hype machine in action?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I may not always like the Cohen Group restaurants, but I do have an enormous amount of respect for what the Cohen's have accomplished in this town. The restaurant business is notoriously fickle and the Cohen's have managed to create a chain of individual and unique restaurants that have been commercially successful. That's an achievement. That the food isn't always perfect is more a testament to what San Diegans will (or will not) eat and pay for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So...using your description of the local hype machine, I guess Brian Malarky of Oceanaire is way, far over hpyed too, no? He hadn't worked that many places before Oceanaire, certainly not in fancy places in fancy cities. Did Top Chef suddenly give him some cred?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As long as people and businesses have the financial resources to promote themselves or their businesses they will.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I understand your point, but hype is hardly limited to San Diego, it happens all over."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am sure it happens in Scranton PA as well, but being this is a San Diego board, I figured it would make sense to talk about San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            " I haven't seen much in the mainstream media extolling the virtues of her restaurants."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My point exactly. No reputable organization hypes her. Only local industry organizations that were calling here "The Best Chef in San Diego" a couple of years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Where are your examples of the hype machine in action?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A simple Google search: http://www.discoversd.com/mag/restaur...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "San Diego restaurants are home to some of the greatest chefs in the nation. From local favorites Chef Deborah Scott of the Cohn Restaurant Group's Kemo Sabe and Indigo Grill..." -

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Come on. The San Diego Hype Machine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I may not always like the Cohen Group restaurants, but I do have an enormous amount of respect for what the Cohen's have accomplished in this town."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Which is? Low Quality ingredients + High Prices + Plastic Atmosphere + Marketing like crazy to tourists = Hurting San Diego Dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If there was one person or group to point a finger at in San Diego as to the state of dining it would be the Cohn Group. (in a bad way


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I guess Brian Malarky of Oceanaire is way, far over hpyed too, no?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To some degree yes. Every Oceanaire has good food. Oceanaire's success is due more to quality of product than Malarky's genius. Otherwise someone would pay him more and he would leave town. Oceanaire, although good, is a chain for Christ's sake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Did Top Chef suddenly give him some cred?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes it did. However flimsy it is "Top Chef" actually has quality chefs on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To win, which Malarky did not, is a big accomplishment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "As long as people and businesses have the financial resources to promote themselves or their businesses they will."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the biz 101.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Whoa Dude, sounds like you've got a pretty big axe to grind with someone. Must be nice to have all the answers...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Don't call me Dude. Just playing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bottom line, I think we want the same thing: Better dining in San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I sometimes think people don't realize things that are holding San Diego back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hyping Chefs that are not exceptional is one thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If half the amount of Hype Deborah Scott gets was bestowed upon Gavin Kaysen (who is an exceptional chef) he might be still here in San Diego as more San Diegans would have tried his food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Cohn Group holds back San Diego dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Its amazing that Deborah Scott would be a more well known figure than Gavin Kaysen in San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yet Gavin Kaysen has an International reputation and Deborah Scott is an unknown outside of San Diego County.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's The San Diego Hype Machine for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that is the point where we have very different opinions:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The average person in San Diego who is not overly interested in food (and doesn't read CH, egullet, blogs etc.) (so we are talking about at least 99% of the population) has no clue who is Deborah Scott or Gavin Kaysen because they don't a shit who is making their food when they go into a restaurant. The remaining 1% of the population (if at all) who is interested in food and reads CH, egullet, blogs etc. gets a reasonable good amount of background information about both chefs and has a good understanding of the different styles/accomplishments and doesn't care if there would be any kind of hype about any of these two (or any) chefs. I think what you way overestimate is the influence any kind of hype around any chef would have and that is also the reason why there is hardly any hype around any particular chef in San Diego. What you instead see is that some restaurants in San Diego (or anywhere on this planet) are doing their part of the business by realizing that making good food is only one part of the equation but making people aware that they even exist is equally important. And doing advertisments, which is not hyping, shouldn't be so underestimated by many restaurants. The Cohn Group is not hyping Deborah Scott but they have realized very early on that running a restaurant is not doing some kind of fancy art where the quality of the product is the only defining factor of the success. I think many other restaurants could be much more successful in San Diego if they would also at least consider also this part of the business (and you don't have to run fancy, expensive TV commericals every day etc. but even with limited money resources it is possible to make people aware that a specific restaurant exists). Perhaps Gavin Kaysen would be still in San Diego if El Bizcochio would have spent some limited money to advertise and as a consequence be more successul. I think there are so many good restaurants in San Diego who could be more successful if people would know they exist. Just one random example - I often recommend Cavaillon for a very good restaurant but hardly any one who is not really interested in food has ever heard about it. (but often loves it after they went there the first time) (And apparently they have enough money to open a new restaurant, so why not spend a little bit of money on advertisment). Cavaillon is often quite empty and it could be changed by some advertisment emphasizing the accomplishments of the restaurant which again is not hyping. So overall the Cohn Group in no way holding back San Diego dining - they are much better in understanding in how to run a business (and a restaurant is nothing else).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I see your point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think there is a difference between true awards/ accolades and advertising/hyping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The point I am trying to make is that Deborah Scott gets no true accolades (ie http://www.jbfawards.com/nominees.htm...).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Only "industry" type hype that is paid for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cohn Group is the Pacific Law Center of the restaurant biz.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I won't argue that that don't know how to run a biz or make money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The best restaurant "buisness" is not of interest to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The best dining is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Cali Cartel in Colombia runs a great "buisness" and makes tons of money too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It doesn't mean it should be awarded or emulated though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't want to repeat what DougOLis wrote below but it pretty hits the nail. I don't see any hype of D. Scott and/or Cohn in the media. And you haven't still explained why they are holding up in any way the San Diego dining scene - it is more the other way around. They show how good restaurants (and Cohn restaurants are not outstanding but also not this bad compared to many restaurants ) can be successful by running a successful business and taking care about all issues not just the kitchen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And regarding the awards - I don't know why they are so important for you because they don't tell me much about the quality of the restaurant but how good the restaurants owner/chef is connected within the restaurant community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "I don't see any hype of D. Scott and/or Cohn in the media."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Do your research or name a chef that has gotten more attention and hype in the local media AKA The San Diego Hype Machine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "haven't still explained why they are holding up in any way the San Diego dining scene"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They stifle the restaurant scene with mediocre food. And Hype it as great San Diego food. I don't know how I can be more clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "And regarding the awards - I don't know why they are so important for you because they don't tell me much about the quality of the restaurant but how good the restaurants owner/chef is connected within the restaurant community."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Look at this list, argueman http://www.jbfawards.com/nominees.htm....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Every restaurant is 100 times better than any Cohn group spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you love Cohn group restaurants so much eat them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I won't because I know better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Um, that's completely nuts. Look, San Diego, collectively, has the memory of a goldfish. Ask ten people on the street tomorrow who Deborah Scott is, and at least eight of them will look at you as if you were nuts. Hell, if you asked ten people when the last the Padres were in the World Series, they'd give you the same look. Seriously, has anyone actually read San Diego Magazine?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In all honesty, I really don't think Gavin Kaysen would have stayed in San Diego at this point in his career, no matter how well known or popular he became. He is still a young chef, and when the opportunity arose to cook at a venue with international prestige and pedigree (not to mention the experience of working with Daniel Boulud) he made a wise career move and jumped at the chance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am late to this board but I wanted to put in my two cents:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        95% of restaurant patrons (including foodies) dine locally. With the .08 drunk driving laws and our busy freeways, there are considerable barriers for any restaurant to overcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tapenade, Cavaillon and El Bizcocho get almost all of their local patrons from their own backyard Advertising does not work for high end restaurants. Hiring a PR firm doesn't work like it did ten years ago. Having a great website (Like Jayne's Gastropub) helps to create a community of loyal patrons, but it is still local.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        By the way, don't dismiss the El Biz due to Stephen Rojas or Gavin Kaysen leaving. That restaurant has had a long history of hiring great culinarians. I had a great dinner out there last week. They have an executive chef who used to be at La Valencia, and he is holding the fort down nicely

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buzznutter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know how you define locally (San Diego county, 2 blocks ?) but do you have any data to back up your 95% ? From my own experience by talking to restaurant owners etc. I think this number is way too high. (And also hiring PR firm if you have the money definitly helps a restaurant even (or especially) in todays economy).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And I haven't tried El Biz but having a chef from La Valencia isn't a good sign since all my meals there were average at best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm really not sure how the Cohn Restaurant Group holds San Diego dining back. You think that if they didn't exist San Diego would suddenly become a dining mecca and each of their restaurants would be replaced by TFL/Joel Robuchon/Alinea/Le Bernardin? Or you think they hold San Diego back because they spend more on marketing than any other restaurant (besides chains)? If anything I'd consider them to be a gateway drug getting people of Chili's and into something better (and hopefully leading to more experimentation).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have no idea what you mean by "The San Diego Hype Machine;" like it's some mythical Illuminati organization that pushes what will be popular in San Diego and what will not. I really don't recall them getting an inordinate amount of attention from the media (newspapers, radio, tv) other than what they created for themselves via advertising and events. Hyping themselves is in their own best interest and the way a business should be run. If you want to attack them, attack their food and not a smart business practice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DougOLis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Google search: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There are Tons of articles Hyping her. Only local. "The San Diego Hype Machine"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          With titles like "San Diego's Top Chef" http://www.sandiego.com/option,com_sd...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is ludicrous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Try finding one mention of her ANYWHERE national or international.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh yeah, honkman said it best as Deborah Scott "having a few jobs on the east and west coast."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Impressive resume. Jean-Georges can't wait to woo her away from the Cohn Group.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Either way, the food speaks for itself. It sucks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I guess we have to agree to disagree about what is hype and what is not hype and if somebody has to be mentioned nationally or internationally to be a good chef etc. - just because one paper names her San Diego's Top Chef is not even close to hype for me. And let's be realistic based on how many people go to restaurants run by her (which still are independent restaurants and not part of a big chain) she is one of the top chef's. And just because you don't like the food doesn't mean that the food is indeed this bad - It is just your personal subjective opinion which you seem to think is general opinion. Even on this board a lot of people diagree with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fair enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I will be on the side with the James Beard house.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The vast population can be on the side of delusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Where it usually is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!" -Charles Mackay

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: DougOLis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am with Doug on this. If the Cohn's are not you cup o' tea so be it. They fill a niche and do well with it, and maybe people who like that food will try more cytting edge stuff in the future. PF Changs is very popular, pretty Americanized but it may give people confidence to try some different things, and maybe try one of the places down on Convoy. Remember we are a convention town, and the Cohn's cater to those people. P.S. I do think Corvette diner is fun, and the burgers are not bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: stevewag23


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Buxom rack-of-lamb? Some writers make me think that thesauruses should come with an instruction manual.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: DougOLis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think that the Cohen group holds San Diego dining back by getting the general dining public used to kitschy thematic restaurants with average food, so they just expect less in general. These places have OK food, but the atmoshphere and ambiance are the major part of 'the show'. Kind of like the old Farrells ice cream parlors--remember them? The food was OK, the ice cream was OK-but it was the 1890's atmoshphere that was fun and the real draw. Times are tough, people want bang for their buck, I give you Mr Tiki Mai Tai Lounge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steve I totally agree with you. The list of restaurants that the cohn group run is anything but fine dining yet the advertise them like they are. In that article they list deborah scott with Nobu, seriously? No one with any knowledge of good food would label these two together unless they were being forced too. It's sad to see wealthy businesses focusing more on marketing schemes than quality products and that's exactly what they are doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SDGourmand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think what Steve is calling "The San Diego Hype Machine" does exist, for sure. I've met some of these people at press events. In San Diego, there are essentially three kinds of food media: bloggers/web forum goers, food sections in news publications, and bogus PR puffery. It's the latter that does the most damage to San Diego's culinary scene because these are the "publications" that get distributed to every hotel and tourist destination, with glossy photography and PR marketing copy taking the place of bona-fide criticism. To get in these publications, you buy your placement, and whomever forks over the most dough gets written up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Locals into food know where they can get reasonably objective opinions about dining destinations. Non-locals more often get exposed to the places pushed by the local PR industry. Restaurants that can afford PR are probably smarter business-wise, but it seems that the places making genuinely great food are more focused on the food than the marketing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've always thought it was a crying shame that the glossy hotel-lobby food magazines for our city always seemed to promote the most banal of our food offerings. Unfortunately, money talks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A probably-crucial facet of the "Hype Machine" -- and yes, it is real, it does exist, not just here but everywhere -- is the annual set of awards given by the SD chapter of the California Restaurant Association -- awards covered in full and great length by "reviewer" (sic!) Wolfgang Verkaiik (restaurant ad manager) in the UT, with pages and pages of accompanying restaurant ads (many of them from the Cohn Group congratulating themselves.-- oops, I mean, thanking the CRA -- for the honors.) . And many UT readers take them seriously, thinking these are earnest awards by the local industry to its best representatives. (Just as many of them think Wolfie is a restaurant critic.) This impinges on the local view of Deborah Scott especially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Once you know the voting rules, you see the Hype Machine in action: It's not one member//one vote, but one restaurant/one vote. That means that David Cohn and Sammy Ladecki, e.g.,, have scads of extra votes compared to struggling singleton restaurants. Furthermore, vendors (like Sysco) get to vote too -- and of course they're inclined to vote the way their "big accounts" (i.e., multi-restaurant chains) are voting. On top of all that, Cohn was President of the local CRA chapter for many years until, what?, last year, maybe?, when the owner of Cafe Coyote became president (didn't she win this year's "Restaurateur of the Year" award?.) .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So year after year, one of the Deborah Scott-helmed restaurants would win the CRA-SD award for "Best Ethnic" (which just about set me screaming, because her cuisine is the opposite of ethnic -- it's the Cuisinart of ethnicities!. Note that no real ethnic restaurant has ever won in this category, at least not in the 9 years I've been here. And funny -- in the specific ethnic categories, always seems to be chains that win!) Scott often has won for "best chef" as well, since she's the flag in David Cohn's flagpole. Hence, when SD Mag has its annual reader restaurant poll, Scott has often won in several categories there, too. Wny? Because she is the ONE chef-name that "non-food-fanatic" readers know by heart. And that IS the work of the "hype machine."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Deb is very nice, by the way, and I respect her, and she doesn't have an overswelled head -- still a good down home gal. And I like Island Prime (since it's too classy for her to bury everyt plate there in multicolored corn chips, like at Kemo Sabe). (Dislike C-Level, though -- pure mediocrity-with-a-view, not much better than Jake's, although better than the 2 beachside places in Cardiff when I last ate there.) But indeed, I do think it's "SD Hype" that has won much of her fame.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On the other hand, if the Cohn restaurants have succeeded fabulously here, it's because they are exactly what conservative food-fearin' San Diegans and conventioneers want:: well-decorated, entertaining culinary theme parks with solid, pleasant, unscary C-plus to B-plus cuisine. It's not the Cohns that are holding us back, it's (dammit) our own neighbors and cash-spending visitors. And that's why chefs like Gavin Keysen and Riko Bartolomei (our best fusion chef ever!) Steven Rojas and now Wade Hageman (Michael Mina protege at Blanca) flee for their lives The Cohns can afford to own the hype, because the local community and the tourists happily finance the hype.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Other issues in these poists: As far as I know Pamplemousse is still in business. It gets less attention now that Eleanor Widmer (who loved it to death -- especially her good friend, its chef) retired and then passed from this mortal cafeteria. But for la vrai cuisine francaise, Tapenade and Cavaillon are the bees knees (ditto BernardO's, with another chef-protege of Jean-Michel), not overrated, and one bad meal at Tapenade doesn't change that assessment. La merde happens quelque'fois, non?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: naomiwise

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Very interesting and informative. Thank you for taking the time (in the wee hours of the morning) to write this post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: naomiwise

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow, this post is going to add gasoline to stevewag23's fire!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: naomiwise

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I love how this San Diego Hype Machine thread finally turned around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The truth always wins in the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Please, spare us the "last word" makes it right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Obviously, PR plays a role in any marketplace. But it won't make bad food good, nor will it elevate the taste and sensibility of those who don't have it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Restaurants are successful for different reasons- some for their service and accessibility- easy to like foods, "safe" menu choices. Others will succeed (or fail) by taking chances and leading the pack through innovation or skilled execution of classic recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But to suggest that there is a massive conspiracy afoot is, in my opinion, the stuff that inspires tinfoil hats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          “A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mark Twain

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Just because one calls it a "conspiracy" doesn't mean its not happening."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mark Chopper Read

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But, guys- this is not a secret agreement. Everybody knows restaurants are advertised and promoted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Does not mean it's a conspiracy nor a "hype machine". Just people doing business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Let's wallop this dead horse some more....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: naomiwise

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Blanca chef is gone? When did that happen? Where did he go? Who replaced him?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: naomiwise

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              RIP, Naomi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your honesty and the excellence of your writing will be sorely missed.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. re: mikec

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree, Kensington Grill has improved GREATLY in the past year or two and is in our regular rotation these days. Try them again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Vagabond -- I was never much a fan although there are some nights my wife and I walk over, sit at the bar, split a ceasar salad and another appetizer with a few glasses of wine and call it a night. Nice to have that option in the neighborhood. And besides, it's pretty hard to screw up a salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pokez -- I used to know some people who worked there, many years ago. I wouldn't let them into my house, let alone let them touch my food. Is it even "rated" enough to become "overrated"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. re: southparkguy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm hesitant to say you are missing something given the disparity in individual preferences and experiences but I think Tapenade was and is one of the best restaurants in town. Just my 2 cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've had a great meal at Tapenade by all measures, but it's also a bit formal and the clientele when I went were on the more mature side (me and my friend were the youngest guys there that day). I was impressed, just not for me. I'm a big fan of George's where it's semi-formal and just great food and good service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Tapenade is like Pampelmousse with much better food - I still won't go. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: royaljester

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't think Pimplemousse is still in business. I had their lobster special a few years ago. It was special okay - tennis ball texture!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: ibstatguy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tapenade is one of the worst restaurants at which I have eaten. My wife and I ate there a few years ago. We started with a drink at the bar, and they served us toast with tapenade that was wonderful. On the strength of that we went for the tasting menu with wine. The first dish was okay, nothing special. The next few dishes were loaded with salt. We took a bite or two of each and sent it back, saying it was far too salty. We finally told the waiter we wanted to just stop. They told us they would charge us for just the wine - $120 !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wrote to the chef/owner. He responded by sending us a $50 gift certificate, which I returned, telling him that dinner at his restaurant would cost considerably more, and I was not prepared to give him a second chance at my expense. In retrospect I should perhaps have kept the gift certificate and returned for just a couple of glasses of Champagne with tapenade on toast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                One of the best in the area is Mille Fleurs in Rancho Sante Fe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you're really a chef, then surely you realize that any restaurant can have an off night. I think it's kind of unprofessional to put a place on a list like this based on only one visit. To qualify for any worst or overrated list would suggest consistent, persistent problems.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am not a chef by any means; I am just a good cook. And I have nothing to do with Mille Fleurs; I do not even live in the US but get to California reasonably often. My comment on Mille Fleurs was based upon 2 visits. I did go to Mr. A's (I think it's called - the restaurant owned by the same person), and was not overly impressed. I did enjoy Vignola when the same chef was there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Any restaurant can have an off night" ? When you charge hundreds of dollars for a meal for two you cannot afford to have an off night. Also how do you explain 3 dishes with far too much salt? I did tell them after the very first oversalted dish that it was far too salty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I hear you, believe me. I even agree with you to a point about how allowable an off-night is for an expensive place. However, so many people whose opinions I respect have nothing but high praise for Tapenade, I find it a little hard to believe it could be as bad as you say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The key point here is in the name of the thread, Worst of San Diego and most over-rated. It makes no sence to place a restaurant the calibre of Tapenade on this list based off one visit (an incomplete visit at that).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have dined at Tapenade many, many times. Chef Jean Michelle Diot runs a well oiled culinary machine. It is ridiculous to suggest it should be on this list. If you really are a souschef please let me know where you work so I can avoid your restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Captain Jack

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My guess is Mille Fleurs because they definitely are not one of the best around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        to each their own I guess but I've never been disappointed with a meal at Tapenade. I concur with Josh that you're bashing of it, based upon one visit, seems more than a bit unfair. Moreover, the offer of a gift certificate seems like it was a reasonable response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I love Nine Ten. Best meal I've had all year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I am surprised La Vache is still in business. Friends and I have found the food to be lackluster. Whenever I drive or walk by, it doesn't seem very crowded. I did notice, however, a discounted menu advertised outside. Still didn't appeal to me, but maybe that's enough for people to eat there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ginael

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They did a nice steak frites and they had a lovely chateuneuf which wasnt too pricey, but the service was pretty bad and they often insisted on seating 3 of us on a tiny table for 2. We gave up on them in the end, they refused to acknowledge us as return customers and were pretty rude on the whole so we couldnt be bothered with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ginael

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          They closed down so you don't need to be surprised anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. The Linkery is so overrated -- bad food in minscule portions, very overpriced. A trifecta!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          El Indio -- not even fair taco shop food. I've never understood it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Las Quatros Milpas (aka: The Green Fly) -- a law enforcment, guvmnt service favorite. Talk about a brick in the gut.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Phil's BBQ -- not to get the whole BBQ thing rolling again, but Phil's ain't it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I've visited San Diego several times over the years, and have never had a great meal. I've had good meals, but that's the best I've been able to enjoy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a very strange city,hard to get around, with no strongly defined neighborhoods. I find it rather depressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: woodandfine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I live here and I feel much the same way, at least in terms of ease of getting places and the general lack of great meals on the level you find in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              That doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed good meals here, and I certainly don't find it depressing, but it seems to be a hard place for great restaurants to survive. Long lines to get in at Cheesecake Factory, Spaghetti Factory, and El Indio attest to that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have mixed feelings about the "hard to get around in" and the "no strongly defined neighborhoods".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wish the trolley went more places and the bus system was easier to use. But like much of Southern California (and Texas, BTW) things are pretty spread out. It's true that when a poster starts a thread about "I'm visiting and staying X what's good" or "I'll be visiting and staying X and would like to try Y" one of the first questions they get asked is "will you have a car" because where tourists usually stay and where the good food is are not always the same location. So from that standpoint I can understand the comment. But I've lived here so long I don't find getting around - whether by car or rapid transit - all that difficult. LA, the Bay Area and Houston are all far more difficult to get around in than SD.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As for the neighborhood thing, I think you really have to live her to understand what and where they are. It would not be readily apparent to a short-term visitor to the city. But they definitely exist and are getting stronger year by year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "where tourists usually stay and where the good food is are not always the same location"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Excellent point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think that is one of the big problems in San Diego, especially for tourists.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank goodness most people don't come to San Diego on a food trip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Otherwise we would be in trouble.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not sure how I feel that souschef feels the need "to weigh my words carefully here." I hope that these boards are open to all kinds of reasonable opinions...like this one:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  El Indio gets a overly bad rap. I for one have to credit their success to a decidedly less-than-mysterious, "inertia-based momentum," that is often proposed. In a way, they are a paragon of good restaurant management- the place is cleaned thoroughly every night (surprising how many restaurants don't do this), the staff is kind, efficient, and dedicated, and the out-the-door lines are often for masa preparada purchases, especially around the holidays. In my mind, they should never be placed in the same category as The Cheescake Factory or other such chains, because they are not a chain, and they begin everyday by grinding their own nixtamal. Their machaca is delicious, their breakfast is pretty good, their salsas are toothless but otherwise fine, and pretty much everything on the menu is homemade. Yes, on a larger scale than other places, but certainly homemade. I'm not a fan of their more 1950's Leave It To Beaver items (such as mordiditas), but their carne asada burrito is great- made Rudy's style with a whole steak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  High volume is a bonus for other businesses in the area and for San Diego in general- I wonder how many El Indio customers have discovered the Wine Vault because they're down there? For a locally owned and non-chain restaurant, El Indio could do much worse- just be careful when you order (avoid anything that June Cleaver would relish), or just be like me and buy their fresh tortillas, early in the morning. Let us save our disdain for those places that actually deserve it. And I won't mention names Sushi Deli. Lines out the door there, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    El Indio serves a food item which consists of chopped up taquitos drenched in yellow nacho cheese sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They may make fine tortillas and chips, but their food is pretty bad. They do chile relleno w/ canned chiles wrapped around a block of yellow cheese. It's touristy Mexican food for gringos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Like I said- avoid the "mordiditas" just as you would avoid the California Roll at plenty of otherwise very good sushi bars- Kaito excepted, though I'm guessing Morita would be happy to make a great one with real crab...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As far as yellow cheese- the thing about El Indio that truly does mystify is that they start with great ingredients and turn out plenty of Taco Bellish Mexican- that is annoying. They're using good cheddar to make their sauces- not my favorite ingredient to begin with, but then again I'm certainly not tempted to order food drenched in buckets of Velveeta. And I seem to recall plenty of recommendations of the South Beach fish taco topped with heaps of yaller cheeze on these boards by respected posters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And it's certainly not just for gringos- not a good word to use in any case, since that would apply to many of you who have a lot Mexican food cred on chowhound. I hear a lot of Spanish spoken at the counter of El Indio. Unless the gringos paid attention in their tenth-grade Español classes, your "touristy" claim doesn't seem at all based on the evidence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't recommend the South Beach fish taco, and the yellow cheese is part of the reason why.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am perfectly capable of enjoying faux Mexican food (e.g. Nati's) when it's done well. I've never had anything at El Indio that made me want to go back, especially given how many better choices exist in San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe that's because you keep ordering the mordiditas? Just kidding- I get your point. But in my opinion there are some redeeming qualities about El Indio that exclude it from the purgatory of the Cheesecake/chain category.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        "El Indio serves a food item which consists of chopped up taquitos drenched in yellow nacho cheese sauce."


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Come on Josh, tell me you wouldn't eat those if you drank 20 cocktails the night before?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And I bet you would put it on your mac n cheeeeez.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Did Brian Malarkey leave Oceanaire?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. re: woodandfine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think she's from the midwest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      San Diego "hard to get around"? Maybe if you're without a car. My experience is that it's NOT hard to get around when compared to other California cities/counties (I find OC/LA to be more difficult), and it DOES have strongly defined neighbourhoods. Certainly, there are voids (all major cities have their Escondidos and La Mesas), but Convoy St has its dim sum & Asian eats; La Jolla has its share of fine foods; Old Town has Mexican and how many cities do you know of that you can go to any strip mall and find solid b'fast or burrito/taco?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I think San Diego as a food city isn't like LA or SF, it has its gems; you just have to know where to look. Her comment about San Diego being "a very strange city" and "rather depressing" speaks more about her and her limited understanding and experiences of San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Escondido is a far superior neighborhood for Mexican food than Old Town. What passes for Mexican food in Old Town is pretty weak, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have to chuckle @ my own post. My point was Old Town is drenched in Mexican restaurants. As to the quality, it's touristy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, "hard to get around" might be partially correct. I had a heck of a time figuring out how to go from A to B with all of the gulleys, gorges, and ridges.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          San Diego depressing? It is my favourite vacation spot. It's wonderful flying in to San Diego in January from Eastern Canada, where I live (and where it gets c-c-cold). It's a favourite spot for conferences because of the great weather; I have been there many times and have yet to encounter bad weather. I get depressed thinking about leaving San Diego !

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hard to get around? I take it as a given that in California you have to drive, so I have no idea what public transport is like.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have had some great meals in San Diego, most notably at Vignola, Kitchen 1540, La Bonne Bouffe, and Mille Fleurs....okay, I'm stretching it a bit by counting Del Mar, Encinitas and Rancho Sante Fe as part of San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The first time I visited San Diego, in 1982, I had a wonderful meal at Anthony's Star of the Sea, and always remembered that fondly. A return visit a few years ago was not so great (I do realize that I have to weigh my words carefully here).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Hey all--new to this site, its great to hear all the opinions and judgements. I really dont eat out that often, but it seems when i do i am largely disappointed, and I share the same "overrated" opinions as everyone else who eats out all the time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            hash house--i really want to love this place, but gigantic plates full of bland tasteless food
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            extraordinary desserts-gorgeous presentation, blah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the original pancake house--please! this is just awful
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            phils bbq--why on earth is everyone waiting in line for this place? the only good part is the aroma in the parking lot
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            cafe 222-ok, pumpkin waffles--what else is going on there?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            el indio-another place i really want to love, but in numerous visits have had not one memorable bite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i have to stick up for old town mex--it aint fancy, but IMHO serves the best taco/enchilada plate in town, and yes i know there isnt MEXICO mexican food in old town, but i have never been disappointed there with that meal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            speaking of old town, what do you all think about the new casa bandini in carlsbad? i was there opening weekend, and it was....fair. hope they shape it up, although the original CDB was for me extremely overrated. ate there 50 times over the years, and never once was the cheese in the enchilada melted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            wine dinner at the wine vault the other nite--9 courses, all superb! great concept, great value (for what you get) and will definately return!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            honestly, single and on a slim budget, a chunk of moody blue cheese and a nice bottle of zin at home is never disappointing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: doughartyc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Funny to see I was not the only one at Bandini who got cold cheese. I was a fan of their verde sauce so I kept ordering them and telling them up front to make sure the cheese was melted. It usually worked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: doughartyc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "a chunk of moody blue cheese and a nice bottle of zin at home is never disappointing!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Funny, that's been my substitute for going out these days. For great cheese selection, I frequent Venissimo. They have an aged Cheddar--Hook's I think--that is quite addictive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I would have to say the Arby's restaurant in San Diego is very overrated. While they claim to use fine quality roast beef for their sandwiches, I believe it is less than extraordinary. While the Arbie's special sauce is quite flavorful, the horsey sauce is disappointing. I am still trying to find a truly exceptional place to get good quality bistro sandwiches in San Diego .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodbob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For Arby's to be overrated it would first have to be rated to begin with. Nice flamebait, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodbob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "the horsey sauce is disappointing"


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I thought that stuff was top tier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: stevewag23

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The multicolored sheen on the meat slices is my biggest beef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Arby's overrated? That's a bunch of bull.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: foodbob

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      On the extremely unlikely chance that your question is serious, have you tried Luc's Bistro in Poway?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mikec

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've always found my bistro sandwich needs met admirably by Quiznos. They toast the bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Word on the street is celebrity san diego star chef Brian malarkey got his start at Quiznos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And the idea to make fedoras his trademark.