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Birdrock area

I just moved to North PB, and when I recently drove through Birdrock a few places perked my interest.

I saw:

Bahia Don Bravo
A Thai place, not sure on name
JJ's Pizza
Su Casa, up near nautilus st.
and a chinese place, also up near nautilus st.

Can anyone give me some recs in the area, or let me know whether any of the places I mentioned above should be avoided

thanks in advance

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  1. I ate at Su Casa once awhile ago and it was ok Mexican food but nothing special. If you live in LJ it is worth a try.

    1. Bahia Don Bravo is a local taqueria chain. The two that I've eaten at were actually pretty good.

      Bully's is a sister restaurant to the flagship (for lack of a better term) resto in Mission Valley. The prime rib is hard to beat, and if you're over 35 (at least in MV that's the age) the Happy Hour is excellent. Bartenders do know how to mix a cocktail.

      1. Is that vegi Indian restaurant still in that area. I think I remember it being named Galoka? I had gone there one night a few years back and thay had really great food, live music and drinks.

        1. I don't know why it is, but Birdrock has always been a tough area for restaurants. At various times in the past, the area has been home to some really good eateries (Cindy Black's, El Chalan Peruvian, and the Birdrock Cafe come to mind, but there have been other good ones, too). None of them, though, have really lasted all that long. Two that have lasted, but have morphed into something else are Su Casa and Bully's.

          There was a time, about 30-some years ago, when Su Casa was thought by many to be the best Mexican restaurant in town -- at least among those with fine-dining aspirations. There was a dimly lit and nicely upholstered bar, and the food was certainly more ambitious than the "number 1 taco and enchilada combo" that was prevalent then. The specialty, as I recall, was a very good version of enchiladas suizas and their guacamole was almost as good as I make at home. Moreover, the place had its own parking lot. Times and tastes change, though, and the place fell out of fashion. They've stayed in business through all those years, but the last time I ate there (over five years ago), the food was as Honkman described it, "ok Mexican food but nothing special." They still have their parking lot, though.

          Also a lotta years ago, Bully's La Jolla was one of the places we went when we got a craving for some serious meat in nice surroundings. It wasn't uncommon to see among the patrons a number of faces you would recognize from the local news shows or from San Diego Magazine. Bully's East, out near the stadium is where you might run into half the Chargers defensive roster. Anyway, Bully's La Jolla got old. The last time we tried the La Jolla location (and I admit it was years ago), it was like walking into a beer joint. The bar was dominated by a pool table and the restaurant side just seemed kind of threadbare. Since it's still open, however, I'm assuming it must have been renovated since then.

          Both Su Casa and Bully's were once destination dining spots, but seem now to be reliable if unspectacular neighborhood places. Birdrock is such a tempting location, though, you can bet that it will continue to attract ambitious restaurateurs willing to try again.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Jim Strain

            Ahh, Cindy Black's...now THAT was a restaurant.

            And wasn't OceanFresh in Birdrock, long years ago?

            1. re: Jim Strain

              Has anyone tried Maitre'D? I always wondered about that place.

              1. re: stevuchan

                Maitre D has been around for twenty years. I am unsure if they are still open on a regular basis. The venue is great for private parties. The restaurant used to be run by Louis Zelejack and his partner. Louis was the Maitre'd at the El Bizcocho at Rancho Bernardo Inn and also at Arnauds in New Orleans. He was a great old school hospitality guy. I am unsure if he is still running the place, as he has to be in his late 70's by now. The food (this is going back 15 years) is old school continental.

                1. re: buzznutter

                  I recently saw people milling about out front, so I assume they are still open. There web site has the Menu and states they 1 seating nightly, reservations required. I've lived in the area for many years and have never stopped in. Thanks for the info.


                  1. re: stevuchan

                    I've been to Maitre'D. We went a few months ago. It was pretty good, and completely bizarre (in a good way).

                    The host is a little odd, as is the decor. The interior made me think of Miss Havesham's house from Great Expectations. It was decorated with a lot of jewel-encrusted whatnots and shiny things. It made me think of New Orleans Square at Disneyland.

                    A nearby table had these large glowing objects on plates set in front of them, which were so large it was hard to tell what their purpose was. Then when we were served the same, we found they were swan ice sculptures with that held a cup of palate-cleansing sorbet, with a light buried somewhere in the base of the sculpture.

                    At the end of the meal, since it was my birthday, the host brought us a bottle of fruit infused vodka encased in a flower-decorated ice cylinder and he poured me a snort.

                    The food was quite good. It's a pretty cool place, with a very unique character all its own. It is expensive, so keep that in mind. Also, their clientele dress up, so lots of dinner jackets and nice dresses.

                    1. re: Josh

                      One thousand thank you(s). I have added it to a schedule.

            2. Interesting Tamale at the Bahia Don Bravo in Bird rock, kind of open faced, I like it a lot. Sadly Galoka is long gone, as is Chuck's Cuvee (old Bird Rock Cafe). The installation of the roundabouts put a lot of place out of business, mostly due to parking issues. Redevelopment is underway. I was unimpressed with the Thai place not bad, not great. JJ's serves average pizza, better bet is Pernicono's (sp) on Turquoise right next to the world famous (or infamous) West End. Bully's went through a rough patch, change in meat provider, but they've been back for a while now and better than ever. Prime rib for two, is still under $30, salad still mostly iceberg, soft brow bread is nice. Lupi is solid Italian fare with a reasonable wine list, Gnocchi is top notch, with a gorgonzola cream (have to request it, on menu is with Quatro Fomange) recently had the rabbit special and it was fantastic, ask Ruffo, the friendly owner, for a wine recommendation he always has something good that's not on the list. Su Casa is solid mex-american fare, table side guacamole, combos, some interesting soups (a non traditional siete mares, which was really good) and a decent crab enchilada. Mandarin House is the Chinese place, and the only one that delivers up the hill, it was horrible (only had delivery once); I've heard good things about dining in, but it's hard to go back.

              For Thai a better bet is to drive up Mount Soledad and try Pattaya Thai, it one of the better Thai places in town. It's on Soledad Mountain road next to the Liquor store, it's kind of hidden, From N. PB head towards the monument and hang a right at the second light on top of the hill, keep an eye out on the left side of the road. It's worth finding.

              There are a lot of other choices French Gourmet is good, Lalani's on Cass does a good Hilo style Moco, Latitude 32 has the best hot dog at the beach (All Beef Vienna, Polish, Fire), and Willy is in the process of putting in a kitchen next door. Turquoise coffee is solid. The Turquoise Cafe and Bar Europa has a good meat and cheese plate, and a reasonable wine list. La Playita taco shop also on Turquoise is a good taco shop, best items are the Chile Verde burrito and the Shrimp Diabla burrito I rarely stray from those two, they also have excellent fresh chips for a dollar a bag (big bag), I never but chips at the grocery store, these are way better.

              Hope this helps and welcome to the neighborhood.


              2 Replies
              1. re: stevuchan

                Did you ever tried the Cajun place (forgot the name) on Turquoise close to French Gourmet(which has a great bakery with European style pastry) ?

                1. re: honkman

                  Yes, many times. It's Chateau Orleans. The popovers with honey butter keep me comming back. I'm a certified New Orleans junkie (is it May yet?), the food is OK, service is good. Buds is better in my opinion, but if I want to stay local it works. Wednessday is a good night half off all wine. Blue plate specials are also bargain. I pack my own Crystal hot sauce, as they a often out.


              2. "Los Dos" is a very popular Taco stand across from the grocery store.

                For all the dough in La Jolla, most of the restaurantrs in the Village are supported by visitors.

                Birdrock restaurants just aren't supported by locals. The old "Ocean Fresh" site (which burned down) was the site of at least five restaurants (BBQ, fish, japanese, california cuisine). In the end, none of the failed restaurants in Birdrock were any good, save for Cindy Black's.

                Pernicano's (aka the "Pizza Boat") is known for the gondola in the middle of the dining room that kids play in. The pizza is awful, but tolerable when you have a bunch of kids hungry after a soccer game.

                1. Artemis, which moved in after Cindy Black's closed, was short-lived, but very, very good.
                  . . . jim stain in san diego.

                  1. We used to love lupi when we lived down there. Su casa does great margeritas, average food. Bahia is good for a cheap dinner. The mandarin house is average chinese with american influence but it was at the end of our road so got a lot of business. Have fun hanging out at windansea, its a lovely beach!!

                    1. Here's a comment on several of the restaurants mentioned.

                      Pernicano - borderline

                      Lupi - very good but not inexpensive.

                      Su Casa - Average at best. They seem to have a constant 2-1 offer in the Reader

                      Bahia Don Bravo - Good fast food - better than most

                      Pattaya Thai - Was good but no longer there; now an Italian restaurant

                      Tourquoise Cafe - Very good but also an active bar with music. The cheese plate is excellent. Younger crowd.

                      French Gourmet - Once very good, now average.

                      French Pastry Cafe & Leana Bistro. Formerly named just "French Pastry Cafe" but now new owners. So far I've had only breakfast there and very good. They also do lunch and dinner Wed-Sat. Seem sincere about providing good food. Not inexpensive but worth trying.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: gustabus

                        Joining the re-comment omnibus . . .

                        Pernicano's: Agree with the consensus that the food takes a back seat to family-friendliness. That said, I haven't been in ages, so maybe that has changed.

                        Mandarin House: I now live downtown, so I find myself at the Banker's Hill location far more often. In my twenty years in San Diego I have not found better Chinese. The problem is that while both locations use the same recipes, the La Jolla location's execution has varied quite wildly, for me, as of late. I've had their Chef's Chicken or Crispy Beef at least a hundred times split between the two, and while they have never missed a beat downtown, "uptown" has disappointed me a couple of times. Please give them a shot, though. If you don't hit an "off" night, you will be richly rewarded.

                        Su Casa and Bully's: Excellent analysis with regards to their respective diminuendo. It is sad but true. But, yet again, neither Su Casa's guacamole nor Bully's prime rib (or french onion soup) will EVER disappoint.

                        Bahia: They have attempted to raise the level of their cuisine a bit higher lately, and I will say they have achieved it. But it's nothing extraordinary. The west-facing outdoor bar during a sunset, though, with pitcher of draft beer and burrito in hand, well . . . that IS extraordinary.

                        Los Dos Pedros (the eponymous "Los Dos") (do not confuse this venue with "Los Dos #2" on LJ Blvd. across from The Shack—that place bought the name from the owners of Los Dos Pedros and have done nothing but sully it with their mediocre stuff): King Burrito. Kind of like a fajita burrito. I get it without sour cream, letting the juices of the carne asada (and, well, the extra juices they ladel onto the frying onions and peppers) do all of the work. I salivate as I type.

                        French Gourmet: It fills a regional (PB/La Jolla) niche (fine French), but it won't jump out at you. I feel they excel at (a) the french toast at breakfast (with a strong assist from the fresh bread they purvey), (b) the wide assortment of delicious pastries, and (c) their catering.

                        The Fishery (around the corner from the French Gourmet): They took the money they saved by locating on Cass St. instead of a boulevard (Mission or La Jolla) and spent it on developing a solid repertoire.

                        Really, though, if Bully's or Mandarin House fail to engage you, do give their "main" locations a try before you write them off. They are earnest.

                        1. re: Beau

                          Last night I ate at a place that no one has mentioned. Delirio's right next to the Velo culture bike shop. We drove by and noticed that it looked as if it were closed. My girlfriend and I took a look inside and saw that it was open however no one was sitting. We sat down talked with the friendly French manager Jerome. He explained that it was fairly new and that they just obtained a new chef. The protege/ sous chef of Michael Stebner, Aaron La Monica. After the closing of Region he worked with Jeff Jackson at The Lodge @ Torrey Pines and is now making a change in the bird rock food scene. We ordered a bottle of wine and sampled the appetizer list. A wonderful braised short rib with mole and risotto. Harisa marinated wild pink Florida shrimp with an orange, fennel, and pickled ramp salad with a terrific cumin vinaigrette. For dessert we shared the house made churros with three dipping sauces. Chipotle Rasberry, Chocolate Baileys, and white chocolate. We enjoyed the baileys the most. Chef La Monica is still fine tuning things as far as the kitchen goes but I feel like this maybe a new little hot spot for the San Diego food scene.

                          1. re: robinson

                            Here is a recent post, I was awaiting the change until I returned. Glad to hear they kept the churros.



                            1. re: robinson

                              I sampled that short rib at a food event a couple of weeks ago and it was VERY good. I am excited to try them out. The manager and chef were there at the event - the manager was very professional and friendly, he handed out $15.00 gift cards, which was a nice touch!

                              1. re: Alice Q

                                I think we were at that same food event - Island Divine - and those short ribs were terrific. We will be using those gift cards soon just to sample a full portion.

                                1. re: Caroline

                                  That was it! We plan to as well, in fact, we almost went tonight but we're going to Jack's Ocean Room instead.