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Dec 18, 2006 11:04 PM

Gaslamp Mediocrity--San Diego

I live downtown and started making an effort to get in my car to avoid the majority of Gaslamp/downtown restaurants, which I can consider mediocre, more expensive than they should be, and less than spectacular service . Once every 6 months I need to go back to one of these mediocre restaurants to remind myself not to be lazy and continue to get in the car and drive 10-20 minutes for a wider and better selection.

Had a less than memorable dinner at La Strada on Friday. Nothing special on the menu caught my attention (though they do have a wide selection--maybe they should concentrate on fewer items and do these real well). Had a pasta dish--lots of pasta, but nothing special from a flavor standpoint. The meat and specials that night were not exactly cheap. They do have a good wine list and the service was very good. If you are from a major metropolitan area that specializes in good Italian food (i.e. NY, Chicago, SF), as I am, it is hard to make this a regular place you would want to visit--if you're the once a year or once in your lifetime tourist/conventioneer, then that's a different story.

Also went back to McCormich & Schmicks at the Omni. Part of a chain, so it's hard to maintain consistency from one location to the next. Less than enamored with the offerings (heavy salt emphasis) and will choose other favorites in other areas of San Diego.

Thank goodness I recently discovered 3rd Corner, The Vine, Come On In, Bernini's Bistro, Baci, etc.

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  1. El Chevere- You don't need to drive that far...Hillcrest, No Park and So Park all have worthy spots to add to your rotation. A few faves are Apertivo, The Linkery, Cafe Eleven. Higher up the budget are Vagabond, Parallel 33 & Modus. And in your neck of the woods, we love Cafe Chloe. Leave the Gaslamp for conventioneers!

    1. I think the Gaslamp is hard because it's so heavily promoted to tourists and there are far too many restaurants in too small an area. Everyone from out of town goes there and everyone coming in to town wants a recommendation for there. There is too much to choose from and too few - as you so aptly have pointed out - doing anything very well. More San Diegans probably visit the Gaslamp than San Franciscans do Fisherman's Wharf, but teh Gaslamp appears to be headed in that direction.

      It *is* hard eating what passes for Italian here after 10 years in the Bay Area <sigh>. What was your impression of Baci. I've driven by it numerous times but have never gone in.

      With exception of Vagabound, I agree with Mimosa's list and would add Terra and California Cuisine in Hillcrest.

      1. Baci is very good and I rank it as my favorite Italian restaurant in San Diego (not quite sure I would put it on par with my faves in the Bay Area or NYC, but it's not bad). I do also happen to like Salvatores (downtown). I will hit some of the Hillcrest restaurants mentioned on occasion, with a date.

        2 Replies
        1. re: El Chevere

          I enjoyed Baci quite a bit on my visit.

          Has anyone tried Old Trieste?

          1. re: Josh

            Oh baby! Old Trieste, in my opinion, was fantastic. I went to college in upstate New York, and lived in Rhode Island back when Buddy Cianci was mayor of wife and I saw him at the Pastafest. We used to travel to the North End and Federal Hill on eating trips. Anyway, we like what I call "East Coast Italian". We ate at La Strada for my wife's birthday and were totally disappointed...never again. We hit Old Trieste for my birthday, and I thought I was back in New England. Absolutely fabulous "East Coast Italian". If you want foo-foo presentation, go elsewhere, but Old Trieste would've been at home on Federal Hill. GO!!

        2. What part of SD is Old Trieste located in? they have a web site?

          6 Replies
            1. re: Josh

              I had heard that old trieste was rather formal. Do you know if they are still jacket required or preferred?

              1. re: JRSD

                Jacket required. I haven't yet gone myself, but plan to soon.

                1. re: Josh

                  That's what I thought, and it has held us back for a while, but I guess I will have to suck it up since it looks like what we have been looking for.

                1. re: mimosa

                  You're right. North of Baci it is. Thanks for the correction.