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Recommendation for San Diego

I am coming to San Diego for a week in January. Does anyone have any recommendations for restaurants that should not be missed?

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    1. That really depends on what you want. Jewish Deli? Mexican, Afgan, Thi, Sushi, Irish, American??

      1. A place for dinner with a group of colleagues. If there is a Jewish Deli that can compete with the east coast delis, I definitely do not want to miss that.

        4 Replies
        1. re: hopeinmee

          There is nothing in San Diego that can compete with an East Coast Jewish deli.

          What's available to you will be dependent upon where you'll be and if you'll have a car.

          1. re: hopeinmee

            Diva is right. Jewish delis in San Diego are mediocre at best.

            If you'll be near La Jolla, Marine Room, Tapenade, George's At The Cove, and Nine-Ten are guaranteed to please.

            1. re: hopeinmee

              I third that there are NO delis that even come close to any E. Coast deli. Your closest bet is Brent's Deli all the way in Northridge in the San Fernando Valley (north of LA), a good 2-3 hr drive north without traffic or an accident on the freeway.

              what kind of price range, ambiance and location are you looking for?

              1. re: hopeinmee

                Nope. The east coast deli's are the best. DZ Akins just past SDSU on I-8 is well-known and liked and Milton's on Via De La Valle/Del Mar. There is nothing like the east cost Deli's and some LA deli's.

              2. It turns out my colleagues want to go to the Gaslamp District for dinner. Any recommendations that should not be missed?

                Another colleague of mine wants to go to lunch in Little Italy. Any recommendations for that area?

                4 Replies
                1. re: hopeinmee

                  The Gaslamp is mostly overrated tourist traps, unfortunately.

                  A lot of people recommend Cafe Chloe, but their dinner menu only has 3 entrees. It's good for what it is, but I don't fully understand why it gets so many raves.

                  Cafe Cerise is probably the best of what downtown has to offer. It's just outside of the Gaslamp, on 6th between B and C streets, and has never disappointed. The menu changes nightly, and highlights the best of local produce. They also offer an excellent wine selection.


                  1. re: hopeinmee

                    Okay, the Gaslamp isn't the vast culinary wasteland some here would lead you to believe. You can find a few good meals, but remember one thing, it's a tourist mecca so they will be expensive and in many cases over-priced for what you get.

                    JSix at 6th and "J" St. has a new chef and is starting to get some buzz again. I had several meals there about 18 months ago and it was pretty good at the time. Then it hit a pretty rough patch, the opening chef left and it took them a while to get back up to speed. The interior decoration is interesting and appealing, the food appears to be headed back in that direction.

                    Also benefiting from a new chef is Soliel@K in the Marriott across from Petco Park

                    Cafe Choloe
                    Cafe Cerise
                    Red Pearl Kitchen
                    Candelas (for upscale Mexican)
                    Athen's Market - Greek
                    Bandar - Persian
                    Chopahn - Afghan
                    Molly's in the Marina Marriott
                    Sally's in the Grand Hyatt
                    Napa Valley Grille in Horton Plaza
                    Top of the Market
                    The Field is an Irish pub with an array of on-tap beers

                    If you're of a certain age and remember the singer Jim Croce's you might try Croce's which is one of the oldest restaurants in the Gaslamp and is owned and operated by Ingrid Croce's, Jim's widow.

                    If you want steak, you can find just about all the major players, including:
                    The Palm
                    LG's Prime
                    Ruth Chris
                    and Lou & Mickey's a local entry into the crowded downtown steak house market

                    None of these are going to be breaking any new culinary ground and the meals will range from average to very good with an occasional dish being outstanding. It will be expensive even by San Diego standards.

                    Here's a link to the San Diego Reader where you can look at the other options as well. http://www.sdreader.com Click on the link to restaurants by area and then click on the link to "Downtown" that will give you the Gaslamp and Little Italy both.

                    1. re: hopeinmee

                      Gaslamp: Monsoon -indian, excellent food, beautiful restaurant (little pricy)

                      Little Italy -Mona Lisa (less upscale but has that old world feel with the sausages and cheeses hanging).

                      If you are willing to go outside those areas, try the Linkery in North Park- custom made sausages and many other great dishes.


                      1. re: hopeinmee

                        I have only been there once, but was impressed with Trattoria La Strada in the Gaslamp. It is pricey though.

                      2. Cafe Chloe just a few blocks east of the gaslamp area is very good and gets good reviews from others on this forum. It's a small place, just in case you have numerous colleagues.

                        1. If you find yourself north of San Diego near Del Mar, Pamplemousse is as good (and almost as expensive) as anything in downtown San Diego. Red Tracton's is a good old time steakhouse with excellent prime rib and sides of fries so gigantic as to be humorous. Savory, in a strip mall on El Camino Real in Encinitas just south of Carlsbad, is nicely modeled in a NYC sort of way and has good french-style bistro food -- pepper-crusted ribeye, chicken in a copper saucepan.

                          1. Isn't there a smoked fish place in North Park? Not an east coast Jewish deli menu certainly, but at least some of the items you might find in one. I haven't been, but have heard good reviews. Can't recall the name, though.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: amyzan

                              I think the one you mean has closed. It was on University near Herman, and it's now a Mexican cafe called El Titanic. I haven't been there, but it has a really cool sign.

                              1. re: Jenne

                                Yep, that was the location. Thanks, Jenne.

                                1. re: Jenne

                                  The "World Famous Smoked Fish Company" may still be in business. It's at 3131 University Avenue. If you go to that address, yes, you'll see "El Titanic" Mexican restaurant and no evidence of smoked fish, but if you go around back you'll find a little unmarked door where fish is being smoked and packaged! At least that's what I found a few months ago when I went there. It's not a restaurant or even really a shop, but apparently just a business that makes smoked fish and distributes it to stores or restaurants or something. But they will sell to retail customers if you can find them. Don't bother trying to phone them; they never answer the phone or return voicemail messages.

                              2. Up in the north county there is a nice little Thai restaurant Siamese Basil.Nice fresh,tasty food.Another good restaurant in North San Diego is Pino's.Lovingly prepared food and a very hospitable host.We also like to eat at China Max on Convoy Street.I agree,San Diego is not a deli friendly town.

                                1. If you're into Microbrew beer, don't miss Karl Straus Brewery's, they are located in Downtown on Columbia, La Jolla, Carlsbad, and Sorrento Valley.

                                  Each of them have a little different menu, I like the La Jolla one myself for the food, beer, and location it makes for a very nice evening.

                                  1. If you are into Microbrew, please skip Karl Straus and try some of our amazing local beers. Taste is a personal prefrence, but when people get the impression the KS is representative of our local beer culture, I get offended. This might not address the OPs original request, but a lot of people will be directed to this post in the future. If you are looking fo good local beer and food please check out The Liars Club or Obrian's, try an Alpine Brewery Pure Hoppieness, or a Green Flash West Coast IPA for a taste of what San Diego brewers have to offer.

                                    Cheers and enjoy your visit.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: stevuchan

                                      A strong second to what stevuchan just said!

                                      Karl Strauss makes boring, middle-of-the-road beer that's just a notch above macrobrew. If you want a taste of what's going on in San Diego microbrew that has made us stand out in the US, follow steve's suggestions by hitting up Liars' Club or O'Brien's.

                                      Other places where you can find local micros include The Local Eatery and Drinking Hole in downtown SD, The Wit's End in Hillcrest, The Linkery in North Park, Hamilton's in South Park, and Pizza Port in Carlsbad and Solana Beach.

                                      1. re: stevuchan

                                        Another local brewery is Ballast Point. They have two locations at which they make and sell beer and offer tastings: One near the Mission Valley malls, and another in Scripps Ranch northeast of town. The latter is open only on weekdays. See www.ballastpoint.com for information. Their beers are mostly very heavily hopped, in what seems to be the West Coast style, although their very dark beer (porter or stout?) is sweeter, less hoppy. I have been only to the Scripps Ranch location, which is not at all a restaurant -- just a teeny tasting room, although apparently it's a favorite gathering place for the local business-park clientele, and I'm told they have live music Thursday nights there.

                                        1. re: Food_the_Obscure

                                          Ballast Point is actually fairly mild with their hops compared to Stone. The only hoppy ones they make are Dorado Double IPA, and Big Eye IPA. The rest of their beers are very mild. On the other hand, Stone's beers are almost all hop monsters, with the only exceptions being Levitation and Smoked Porter.

                                      2. Pizza Port has shockingly great beer but Solana Beach is pretty far away from downtown. The Linkery has good beer AND food. Downtown - Chive is good. LG's has dry-aged beef which I prefer and is not commonly found downtown. My favorite is the "Jewel in the Crown" Porterhouse - just heavenly. I thought Oceanaire was terrific. J Six is definitely on the rebound. Candelas is usually good. With a few exceptions (I've never been happy with Acqua Al 2), you won't be too disappointed with anything on Fifth (main drag of the Gaslamp)and there are countless options, but most of it is pretty run of the mill. DZ Akins (Off I-8 near 70th Street)offers the closest to an east coast style deli restaurant. I am satisfied there although you may not be. It may be interesting for you just for comparisons sake. As far as not to be missed - hmmmm... Culinary speaking, San Diego has grown so much over the last decade or so that it's hard to single out a specific place that rates a must-go. You'll find quality in places as diverse as Ocean Beach to La Jolla with a range from comfy neighborhood to rigid formality. In addition to those mentioned above, Market Restaurant and Bar in Del Mar is outstanding. Region in Hillcrest (just north of downtown)is great. Plenty of other options in Hillcrest - I also like Arrverdercci but it by no means rises to the "can't be missed" category. In Little Italy (just northwest of downtown) - I like Indigo Grill but I haven't been there in quite some time. Like so many San Diego neighborhoods, solid "B" level options are plentiful. If I had to pick one.... I was truly "wowed" by Market Restaurant and Bar. Downtown I would go with Oceanaire.

                                        Welcome to San Diego and Bon Appetit!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: willinsd

                                          About Pizza Port -- it is a good distance from downtown S.D., true, but you can take a Coaster or Amtrak train there from either downtown or Old Town, and Pizza Port is right across the street from the Solana Beach train station. Good pizza, too!

                                        2. I agree with you on Oceanaire, particularly if you stick to the grilled entrees.

                                          Region has closed and the owners moved to AZ.

                                          1. Oh my, trying to keep up with the San Diego restaurant scene can be sooooo exhausting. I remember Stebner when he started 910. I get to AZ fairly often. Do you know if he reopened there?

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: willinsd

                                              Yes, I believe he was going to try and open something over there. Phoenix or Scottsdale area if I recall.

                                              1. re: willinsd

                                                We were at Region on their last night and Michael told us that he was going to work at The Greenhaus in Scottsdale. We have been so sad since Region closed. Is anyone as bereft as I am? It was a great neighborhood place.

                                                1. re: LaurenZ

                                                  Region was my favorite SD restaurant.

                                              2. I was at Indigo Grill last night. Fantastic as always.

                                                1. You should check the website for San Diego's Resteraunt week, you might be able to take advantage of some great resteraunts that are normally very pricey. www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                                    May have some trouble getting into the better restaurants at this point. I called several top end/new places over 2 wks ago and told they were either full all week or had to do 9 pm reservations.

                                                  2. I have a reservation for 4 at 8:30 on Sunday at Jack's Fine Dining in La Jolla - anyone want it? I have to cancel it (we are going to AR Valentien instead.) Just let me know and I will call and change it over.

                                                    You can also search for reservations for many of the restaurants here - http://www.opentable.com/promo.aspx?m... on Open Table.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Alice Q

                                                      we may be interested--can you hold it for us? is there a way to contact you off the board? thanks!

                                                      1. re: Alice Q

                                                        Alice Q--ignore my earlier posting. Unfortunately, Jack's won't work out for us. Thanks!

                                                        1. re: daantaat

                                                          Oh well - I will cancel it tomorrow evening if nobody has indicated any interested by 5 PM or so. If you want to get in touch with me off line, you can email me thru the link on my blog: www.aliceqfoodie.com. Wherever you do go, I hope it works out, I'm looking forward to reading the reports!

                                                      2. FYI:

                                                        I heard on the radio today that Oceanaire and Mr. A's have extended resteraunt week.

                                                        1. Filippi's in Little Italy for a meatball sandwich
                                                          Chicken Pie Shop for a Chicken Pot Pie

                                                          Can't go wrong with those two

                                                          San Diego Food Blog

                                                          1. Just returned from a week of eating out in San Diego (lived there for five years from 1998-2003). I live in the bay area, and I always look forward to exploring eating opportunities in San Diego. Here's what we found:
                                                            Linkery, this is in North Park on 30th, just north of Thorne (I think). Loved this place. THe name refers to their homemade sausages (which are great and can be taken to go as well), but they also have several great veg entries. We ate there two nights in a row and would have eaten more if we'd had the chance. Our favs were the soft tacos with a sausage of choice and light, fresh toppings, and the fresh green bean appetizer in a sesame dressing (I believe). The steak was good too. The salad was incredibly fresh but the dressing isn't very flavorful--which my husband liked because it did not shadow the greens. We also had some great wine. Check out their website for their philosophy which tends to the "eat local". Tips are included on the bill. They don't take reservations. They are small but well worth a visit. Great sparkling Syrah too!

                                                            The mission in mission beach--this is on Mission Blvd. Our favorite breakfast place. We've been eating here for over ten years and the menu has barely changed (don't go to the one in North Park--service is terrible and food isn't as good). We love the pappos' locos (crazy potatos with beans and jalapenos), pancakes with cornmeal or blueberries or even "naked", chicken apple sausage, roast beef hash (with real chunks of roast beef and great horseradish dressing) and the rancheros verde--eggs with tomatillo sauce. We ate here for 6 meals this past week!

                                                            910 (910 prospect, La Jolla)--much has been said about this restaurant already. But I must say we had a great time here. The service was great and we stayed until they closed and got some free wine as well (given the $500 tab for four (pre tip), we appreciated the wine).

                                                            Rappongi (just down the street from 910). Did not care for this.

                                                            JRDN's--on the edge of Pacific BEach and Mission Beach--can't think of the address but it is right overlooking the beach, just north of the pier. Great place for sunset drinks. THey'll set you back $10, but they have a great raspberry mojito and the views can't be beat. The food was okay, but with the view and contemporary atmosphere we didn't really care.

                                                            Shakespeare's pub--on India street at University. We always eat here with the kids. WE sit on the deck and the kids can be loud and obnoxious, and we drink good bear and eat fried fish and great french fries.

                                                            Cafe Zucchero in Little Italy. Place is busy and has a large gelato selection, but I would rate the traditional Italian food as mediocre.

                                                            I think that's it . . .

                                                            Hope you find some good restaurants.