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San Diego - Favorite spots?

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I'll be in San Diego next month and want to go out for an excellent meal (who doesn't?). I am looking for a place that has a fantastic wine list, entrees and apps to write home about. I'm thinking French, American, or maybe even Italian (although I live in Boston and the Italian is delish) but I am open to most anything.
It will be around the new year, but not ON new year's eve. I figured I'd start my research early.

I'm interested in hearing where San Diegans go when they want a killer meal. Think of it as where you'd go for a date or an anniversary. It doesn't have to be super expensive or haughty, just wicked GOOD and worth the effort!

Thanks!

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  1. Tapenade

    1. Modus
      Marine Room

      1. All of the above, plus:
        George's at the Cove
        Mille Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe

        On a not-so-recent trip to Boston, we came away with a memorable quote from a Russian-born cab driver who managed to get lost:
        "I hate North End." We loved it, though. Hope your San Diego trip is half as memorable.
        . . . jim strain in san diego.

        1. Nine-ten (in La Jolla as are Tapenade, George's, and Marine Room) is now our go-to for a great meal.

          By the way, all of the places listed so far are indeed very good and priced at roughly $25+ per entree, but well worth it.

          1. In the high-end category, I would also add the Wine Sellar Brasserie and Jack's La Jolla. I also really like Cafe Chloe - which is more of a casual bistro, but has very good food and a decent wine list. Other favorites are Chive, Parallel 33, Roppongi, Red Pearl Kitchen (stylized Chinese) and Japengo (but not the atmosphere).

            I also want to try Market in Del Mar, Blanca in Solana Beach, and the new place at the Hotel Del - 1500 Ocean. Have heard very good things but have not been to those yet.

            1. I would also add J. Taylor at the L'Auberge Del Mar. It is definitely not your average hotel restaurant but one that is on the same level as many of the restaurants mentioned before.

              http://www.laubergedelmar.com/dining.htm

              Two other often overlooked restaurants are the restaurant at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe and California Cuisine in Hillcrest

              http://www.theinnatrsf.com/dining.html
              http://www.californiacuisine.cc/

              1. Forgot Cafe Cerise. Definitely worth a visit.

                1. In no particular order...

                  Modus
                  Parallel 33
                  AR Valentein
                  Cafe Chloe (casual bistro)
                  Cavaillon
                  Jack's La Jolla
                  George's on the Cove (downstairs formal dining only)
                  Nine-Ten
                  Cafe Cerise
                  Sushi Ota (excellent sushi)
                  Tapenade
                  El Bizcocho

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: daantaat

                    I'd have to agree with most of these, but I'd add Addison. And probably to the top of my list. But you might want to consider Mexican- one of my faves for high(er) level mex is the Tequlia place in Old Town who's name escapes me now.

                    fn

                    1. re: Fake Name

                      I believe you're thinking of El Agave

                      1. re: mimosa

                        Ah!

                        Thanks.

                        fn

                  2. Winsellar Brasserie. A fantastic restaurant with it's own wine store and a fabulous wine list. Truly the best place for a celebration if you like wine and a fabulous meal.

                    1. These are all fantastic suggestions, especially since I'll be staying in La Jolla. I'll have to send my CA chow moles out on a mission. Thanks!

                      1. A Boston Chowhound visiting Southern California....
                        ...one might think Mexican would be worth investigating!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                          Well...I'm originally from AZ. I make Mexican at home regularly.(because I like to and becuase there is no other choice here!)

                        2. Jakes in Del Mar, late afternoon you can watch the sun go down and the ocean roll in. Food is good, too!

                          1. crabcatcher if you love seafood.

                            i personally didn't like jack's that much, their salmon is extra salty we had them change it and it was still pretty salty.

                            smaller portions than nine-ten (already small as it is), georges, and the rest

                            1. I've eaten at Roy's in La Jolla 3 times in the last 5 years, and the food has been amazing every time. They have a $35 prix fixe menu - appetizer, entree, dessert (get the chocolate souflee.)Our last visit was for an anniversary dinner - when we were making the reservation, they asked if it was for a special occasion, and at the end of the meal, after splitting the chocolate souflee, our server surprised us with a free bonus dessert! The have a good wine selection, and the service has always been excellent.

                              Spread is an amazing place in North Park, on University Ave. It's all vegetarian, organic, picked that morning (the menu changes daily) but in a more gourmet setting - not your typical "health food" restaurant. It has a fun, funky, space-agey atmosphere.

                              Off the beaten path, in Lemon Grove, there's a little family-owned Italian place called Lido's. The menu doesn't sound like anything out of the ordinary, but the food is great, and prices are reasonable (dinner for 2 without wine, about $20, and you'll have plenty of leftovers.) They have great pizza, but the eggplant parmigiana is far and away the best I've had anywhere. The food critic for the San Diego Jewish Times drives all the way from her house in Del Mar, just for that eggplant (that's a pretty long drive.)

                              There are a couple of good French places in Ocean Beach, and Pizza Nova has multiple locations. My favorite is the one in Point Loma - the upstairs deck sits right over the harbor.

                              La Vache in Hillcrest is a nice little French bistro.

                              1. Extraordinary Desserts for after dinner

                                1. I would put Nine ten on top of my list. Marine Room for great view and great food. Arterra is always nice too. Savory in Encinitas is also very nice.

                                  1. We also just went to JRDN this weekend, (with a party of six on a very busy night) and had a great meal. I had rabbit and someone else in our group had lamb and both were excellent. Everyone else had steaks and fish which were fine. The onion rings were fantastic for some reason. We also liked the baked humboldt fog goat cheese and the arugula, beet and goat cheese salad.