san diego recs
I will be in SD the first week of December for several days, DH attending conference. I love the area and take every opportunity to come and hug a palm tree and wave at the whales. It has been several years since I was last there I am hoping to get updated recs from the board. I will have access to car and staying at Sheraton Hotel & Marina. We are open to just about any category, but would really like to try things not found in DC.
Where is a good place to pick up a picnic lunch for visit to Cabrillo Monument?
Mexican at all price levels. (DC has many central and south american places serving "mexican".)
Is Point Loma Seafood still around? Other places for seafood?
Places with a good wine list and food to match. Can be formal or laid back.
A wine shop with a large selection of California wines to bring back home. We were just up in Dry Creek and environs for honeymoon and stocked up, but always good to add to cellar.
We are going to try to catch the Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on Mission Bay, so any advice for viewing and dining would be welcomed.
Thank you for all suggestions!!!
As mimosa suggested, El Agave in old town (www.elagave.com) is a good upscale Mexican suggestion. I was in town earlier this week and my wife and I had 2 meals there. Go to their website and look at the menu. Note prices are not listed.
Try the assorted apps. ($20)
I love mole and had both the negro w/ chicken and the coloradito w/ pork, my wife had verde w/ chicken.
My wife also had the camarones guajillo which she found spicy, but I didn't.
Be forwarned, our first meal with apps., 2 margaritas and 2 entrees plus one $20 tequila ( you can spend up to $145 per shot!) figured, with tip, about $150.
My most expensive Mexican meal but also my best ( NC native), as I said, we went twice, and would go again.
I wanted to try Chilangos but didn't.
Chilango's at 1st and Universtiy in Hillcrest probably is the closest thing San Diego has to "real" Mexican food. They do a tremendous job serving well prepared food in the style of Mexico City. You will not find the ususal burritos, tacos, super nachos and uninspired tamales. Here's the link to their web page - http://www.chilangosgrill.com/ . Chilango's is casual in a trendy/hip Hillcrest kind of way and moderate in price.
Also along the same lines is Candelas - http://www.candelas-sd.com/ - in the Gaslamp district. Prices are higher and the atmosphere more formal than at Chilango's.
For comdia casera, or homestyle cooking, Super Cocina on University at Cherokee is probably your best bet. Do not let the steam table service put you off. Mexican cooking is filled with delicious dishes that benefit from and stand up to being held at temperature for long periods of time. You will find a vast array of daily specialties and if you can't decide which one(s) to have just ask for a taste. Plates at lunch come with your choice of 1 or 2 entrees plus sides, and the portions are generous to say the least.
Point Loma Seafood is still there and going strong, they now have valet parking. Blue Water Grill also a retail fish market doing cafe service. I've never purchased a bad piece of fish from Blue Water. Their menu includes sandwiches, salads and larger dinner style platters. This is a very casual place, order at the counter and then sit down and they'll bring your meal out to you when it's ready. They do have a beer and wine license. Blue Water Grill is on the one-way part of India Street about 2 blocks down from Washington Blvd.
You can pick up a decent sandwich en route to Cabrillo at Con Pane in Loma Portal. It's a bakery on Rosecrans at Canon (the road you turn onto to go up to Cabrillo)
Mexican - surprisingly not SD's best cuisine choice, despite our proximity to Mexico. A few decent options: El Agave in Old Town (if you like mole, this is a great option), Mama Testa in Hillcrest (interesting tacos, very casual), Carnitas Urupan in Lemon Grove (a bit of a drive, but top notch carnitas. Closed Monday/Tuesday). I don't think you can take a rental car into Mexico, but if you've got a way to get there, a trip to Puerto Nuevo for lobster is a lot of fun - and pretty affordable too. Last time we were down we spent less than $20 per person for more lobster, beans, rice and margaritas than we could consume.
Pt Loma seafood is still around. For your Cabrillo picnic, you could stop there and get a fish sandwich. Or just eat outside by the dock. The whales are starting their migration south so you might want to check to see if H&M or any of the charters by PL Seafood are offering trips yet. Generally last 3-4 hours and take you out on the ocean. Most guarantee spotting at least one whale or you can go again another day for free.
Wine bars are all the rage these days and SD has quite a few. Downtown there's the Cask Room, 57-degrees and Bacchus. Hillcrest has Wine Steals, Wine Vault & Bistro, Crush, Wine Lover, Wine Encounter and others. Ocean Beach has 3rd Corner (my fave) and The Vine. Most offer a range of appetizers and by the glass and bottle offerings on-site. Some (like Wine Steals, Wine Vault & 3rd Corner) have retail areas too. Although none focus exclusively on CA wines, they offer a decent selection of them. Downtown has a great wine shop called Wine Bank although a recent ownership change has spawned some critics who say prices are going up and selection is declining. Still, it's worth a visit. Vintage Wines near Miramar Airbase is a 15 minute drive north from downtown. It's probably our favorite wine shop in town. Nearby is another good one, San Diego Wine Company. And the chain BevMo often has a decent selection of CA wines, as does Costco (Mission Valley or Morena locations seem to have the best selection).
Enjoy your visit!