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Weekend in San Diego - need suggestions....

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My husband is in San Diego for three weeks and my 6-year old son & I will be traveling from Orlando in a couple of weeks to spend the weekend. I've booked a whale watching trip on the Americas Cup sailing ship (as a surprise) and I expect we'll go to the Zoo, as well, but I need some help on the chow. I'd like to get a fantastic picnic lunch --- bread, cheese, olives, wine, etc. (and something for the little one) for the boat --- I did find Bread & Cie on-line but wondering if there are some other suggestions...since I'm out of town, I need to be able to get it all in one place...some place that would pack it would be great. Also looking for some great seafood, someplace to get a cold beer and easy lunch/early dinner and any place the locals go that should not be missed...thanks...BTW - if you have any suggestions for sushi or dim sum...just in case we have the time...

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  1. I don't think I can be much help with the picnic for the boat, but have some other ideas. Point Loma Seafoods would be a good spot for lunch or an early dinner. They close early, 7 pm, I think, and are often swamped with tourists, but the food is fresh and delicious, American style seafood. I believe they serve beer? Not sure, maybe someone else will know for certain? The best spots for dim sum are Emerald and Pearl, IMO. Emerald's sining room is older and Pearl has a more pleasant location, but either has great selection and pretty good food. I've only ever had a few misses there, after many meals. I wish they allowed dim sum to order along with the cart service, but it's not LA or SF, you know? As to sushi, I can unequivocally recommend Izakaya Sakura, a Japanese restaurant with an unmarked storefront at 3904 Convoy St. If you can use chopsticks and don't need California roll, this is your spot. The sushi is excellent and traditional. ETA, and I've seen kids in Sakura, too. Your son could probably get noodles or something else fairly simple if he's not a raw fish eater.

    1. What part of town are you going to be in? There are several places you can get a good picnic - if you are sailing out of Point Loma I would call Con Pane and order ahead, they are very slow with service if you walk in, but if you order it shouldn't be too bad. Bread and Cie is also good, and if you have the time, Whole Foods (also in Hillcrest) is a good place to shop for picnic supplies.

      I've heard people rave about Izakaya Sakura, but haven't tried it yet. Point Loma Seafoods should fit the bill for your seafood place. You'll get a lot of differing opinions about what should "not be missed." I have a list of links to my favorite local spots on my blog, www.aliceqfoodie.com. Another place that is raved about on here is Super Cocina for Mexican. I keep meaning to try it but just haven't had a chance. Good luck and enjoy the trip - the boat sounds like fun!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Alice Q

        Whole Foods is a just a few blocks from Bread & Cie, and it also has an excellent bakery selection, so it might be your best one stop place.

      2. Thanks for the great suggestions -- sounds like Point Loma fits the bill for seafood. It's great to hear that Whole Foods is in the area --- I'm already a WF customer and it will work out fantastic...thanks again...

        1. This is completely unrelated to sushi or dim sum, but there is a place in san diego around hillcrest I think (we are from Tucson and just visit every summer) but it is called The Linkery. They make ther own suasage and every imaginable flavor, like 150 or some crazy amount like that - The sausages were AWESOME, very much a local hang out, but f your a true beliver in great food you will check out this spot.

          2 Replies
          1. re: gchiker3

            I go there quite often and the food is wonderful! They have a great Thai link if you like spicy and the cheese plate always offers some original tastes. Try the grilled asparagus and the roo.

            1. re: gchiker3

              I've had a good meal at the Linkery, too, and recommend it. Nice atmosphere, a good balance of hip and comfortable, and the menu is pretty diverse for a small place. Great selections of beer, too.

            2. in addition to above, I'd add Mama Testa's in Hillcrest for all kinds of tacos (soft, crunchy, steamed, floating in broth, etc) and the best salsa bar in the county. Casual, cheap, good for kids too. Lunch and dinner.

              10 Replies
              1. re: daantaat

                Thanks...my husband and I love Mexican...I'm totally sold on the floating in broth taco...

                1. re: FLGTR

                  the beef taquitos floating in spicy beef broth is the perfect Mexican cure for "cold" weather! get it w/ the horchata to drink!

                  1. re: daantaat

                    For great Mexican you can also try two hidden treasures, Mario De La Mesa (in La Mesa) and Ponces (in Kensington, an old place that has been around for more than 40 years)

                    1. re: Lobstah

                      Would you reveal a little more about these locales?

                      1. re: kare_raisu

                        I resapectfully have to disagree about Mario ́s, ordinary gringo food at best. It ́s in La Mesa where La Mesa Blvd. and University Ave. kind of come together.

                        Mama Testa ́s is on University near Richmond (which is close to teh zoo) in Hillcrest

                        Ponce ́s is - I believe - in the Kensington area. I want to say it ́s on Adam ́s Ave., but I don ́t think that ́s right.

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          Ponces is indeed on Adams Avenue in Kensington - right of the 15.

                    2. re: daantaat

                      Do you know the name of this type of dish?

                    3. re: FLGTR

                      If you love Mexican, then you owe it to yourselves to make the trip to Super Cocina. Bona-fide homestyle Mexican cuisine like no other place in San Diego.


                      1. re: FLGTR

                        These are on the menu as Tacos Mojado de Res (beef) or Tacos Mojado de Pollo (chicken). They are one of the best things on the menu..........along with the crunchy mashed potato tacos.

                      2. re: daantaat

                        I second Mama Testa. Excellent for inexpensive mexican food in San Diego. Arrive before 7 PM most nights, and beers of the day are $2. I have a very filling plate of Doble Atasco (chorizo in very spicy red sauce) with two beers for less than $15. This dish is recommended for stimulating generation of endorphins!

                      3. You can pack a lunch at whole foods. They even prepare a lunch box for kids. Whole Foods has a large prepeared food section, Deli that will prepare stuff and the cheese counter will often cut the item to suit your need if you ask nicely.

                        Whole Foods is also good for dinner with kids. They have great MAc N Cheese.

                        With kids, I might recomend Jimmy Carters MEXICAN resteraunt on Washington Street. They will prepare things to th size of the child. My 5 and 7 year olds likes their chicken.

                        Dim Sum, you might want to try Emerald or JAsamine on Convoy, I would go earlier rather than later.

                        Point Loma Seafood offers some great to go items with a picnic area attached. They sell beer as well! They also offer Chicken tenders for the non fish eating kids.

                        Hob Nob Hill has great breakfasts for families.

                        Very rustic, but kid friendly is the Chicken Pie Shop. A total throw back to yesteryear. They serve complete chicken pot pie dinners for under $6

                        Good Luck.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                          Emerald has better dim sum than Jasmine. Jasmine is too big of a place to be able to get the dim sum as it is coming fresh out of the kitchen. Plus, their service can be obnoxious.

                        2. I hope you have a great time in San Diego. Here is an article that was in a local paper recently.

                          Although we have young children, we aspire to eat out with our kids on a regular basis. Indeed, our kids 3, are experienced restaurant goers—and not just to the typical family restaurants which feature special themes, loud music and mediocre food.

                          Truth is, as much as these family friendly restaurants cater to kids, they don’t truly cater to adults. Our family dining goal is to enjoy ourselves, while eating good food—food that we like and the kids like.

                          While it takes plenty of practice to prepare your child to dine out, below we have provided a list of places that we like to take our critters. We recommend you always bring a bag of tricks (crayons & other small toys) to keep them entertained while they are waiting for their food.

                          Here’s a list of restaurants that we frequent with our kids that are not too far from our home in Normal Heights. Below you’ll find our list of tried and true favorites for family outings.

                          A caution: Some restaurants offer a children’s menu with portions that nevertheless intimidate a young diner; the food often seems better suited to older kids. Other restaurants are glad to moderate portion sizes for you depending on the age of the child. We really despise restaurants that are unwilling to acknowledge that you are accompanied by a young diner—as this drives up the cost of our meal and makes eating out less affordable. We’ve also had unpleasant experiences at restaurants such as Sushi Kazumi in Hillcrest, in which the waiter insisted on bringing food to the adults first, without serving the kids at the same time, and refusing to modify an item for a child.

                          Here’s the restaurants we frequent and enjoy with our kids, all of which are within 10 minutes of our home in Normal Heights. These are tried and true favorites for family outings which we highly recommend:

                          Whole Foods Market – Hillcrest

                          Aside from carrying great products, this store has a wonderful atmosphere, and we feel happy just being there. They offer a great selection at their deli, salad bar, meat counter and prepared food section. We are in Hillcrest almost every day because our kids go to pre-school there so Whole Foods has become a tradition for us. We tend to make for ourselves a salad at the bar, order a sandwich or get a Jamba Juice. Our hands-down favorite meal for the kids is the macaroni and cheese, which is usually on the salad bar or the hot food section of the deli. . Hannah and Jonah love it! It is made with all natural ingredients. The macaroni is pasta shells covered with several white cheeses--extremely rich and flavorful. Sometimes we get a little extra for us to eat, too. If you don’t find it warm at the deli or salad bar, they have it in the prepared food section and the deli workers will gladly warm it up for you.

                          The salad bar also usually has chicken on it, and we like to include chicken pieces on the side with the macaroni so the kids get enough protein to fill them up. When the meal is over, we go to the bakery for a cookie or to the freezer section for an individual wrapped ice cream bar.

                          Whole Foods has plenty of seating and is very comfortable. We go there so often that when one of the clerks sees us, he automatically starts to prepare the mac for us. In fact, one day our son saw the Whole Food truck driving down I-5 and screamed, “Mommy, look at the mac and cheese truck!”

                          City Deli (Hillcrest, University and 6th)
                          City Deli has delicious offerings for kids and parents alike. Your child can choose from a hot dog with curly fries, a corn dog, macaroni and cheese, or from a selection of breakfast items that are served all day long. They will boil the hot dog on request, although it is usually grilled. The meal there includes a small drink, milk or juice. The kids especially love get scrambled eggs for dinner. A great selection of kid friendly cookies are a great incentive for them to eat their meals. The folks at City Deli are kid savvy, offer chocolate milk, and bring the kids’ meals before the parents’. They also immediately bring crayons and activity pages to the table.

                          The adult menu is huge, including deli sandwiches, burgers, salads, breakfast all day, and daily specials. We tend to order a corned beef on rye or a chopped liver sandwich. They have great stuffed cabbage, matzo ball soup and sandwiches. They also include Kosher dills on each table.

                          We like this restaurant because it is good, quick, convenient and affordable Each booth has a jukebox that will keep you and the kids entertained during the meal.

                          Jimmy Carters Mexican Restaurant (Mission Hills, Washington Street)
                          Jimmy Carters is one of our family’s very favorite haunts. The staff is extremely accommodating, which our family truly appreciates! They have really good Mexican food at truly affordable prices. They do not have a children’s menu, but will prepare an appropriate amount of food for your child as requested. We recommend that you order the polla asada taco without the tortilla and a small quesadilla. The chicken, or pollo, is mild, extremely tender, and flavorful. For this reason, Hannah and Jonah ask on many occasions if we can have dinner at Jimmy Carters. The bonus for parents is that the service is very fast.

                          Recently, David’s dad, Harvey, took the kids to Jimmy Carters for dinner. The waiter listened as Harvey ordered for the kids, but then kindly let him know that the kids probably wouldn’t jive with his order and suggested that Harvey let him take care of the kids with some other choices. Harvey trusted the waiter’s sense of knowledge, and the kids were served their favorite meal.

                          As for us, Dave and I enjoy just about everything on the menu. The food is very fresh and there are always interesting and tasty specials on the black board. Most recently we had the chicken tamale and the green pozole soup it was great.

                          Ichiban Hillcrest
                          Ichiban is similar to Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” in one respect: they only accept credit cards during certain hours, and cash the rest of the day. This is not fine dining by any stretch of the imagination. Beware, they do not have a bathroom. We have found the chicken katsu to be a big hit. It is a piece of pounded chicken cutlet that it lightly fried with pancko bread crumbs; it comes with a small salad, on the side, and a bowl of rice. If you go before 7 P.M. (cash only) parents can enjoy a nice selection of half-price sushi. We would recommend getting there early. There tends to be a line out of the door after 6 P.M.

                          DiMilles Italian Restaurant (Normal Heights, Adams Avenue)
                          DiMilles really gets it!!! The service is fast, they offer plain spaghetti with sauce on the side, or with butter alone. We have one child that likes sauce, and one that only likes butter, so all of us leave DiMilles happy. There are always a lot of kids there. The wait staff brings the kids crayons and paper to occupy themselves while you wait, which is usually not long. Bread or crackers are also served prior to the meal—a life saver for grumbling tummies and moods. A tip: If your children like meat balls, you can order just one. Our family usually splits the chicken tenders and a bowl of spaghetti.

                          We love the eggplant parmigiana, as well as their meatball sandwich with Fresh Mozzarella. As a starter we also love to order the Antipasto Salad, which is filled with fresh meats, cheeses and vegetables. They also have a quick and speedy take out or delivery service. The folks at DiMilles know how to cater to the needs of a family!!!

                          Hob Nob Hill (Hillcrest, where is this?)
                          If you ever want to practice for a finer dining experience without going to a fancy restaurant, you can always try the Hob Nob, one of San Diego’s oldest restaurants and one that offers an on-line coupon. The selection is varied and they, too, serve breakfast items for dinner. There are plenty of daily specials for adults and Hob Nob offers early bird specials before 6 P.M.. The dinner crowd is much more relaxed than the power breakfast and lunch crowd that they usually attract during the day. It is usually not too crowded on the weekends.

                          We hope this list will give you the motivation to eat out with your kids, which can really can be fun. Let us assure you that it will take time for you and your kids to be comfortable dining out. It does take practice and consistency, but in no time at all you too will have great young diners.

                          Until next time, eat out, eat well and enjoy!

                          Whole Foods Market
                          711 University Avenue (Hillcrest)
                          Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week.
                          1449 University Avenue (Hillcrest
                          Hours: Mon – Fri: 11:00a.m. - 9:30p.m.
                          Sat: 12:00p.m. - 9:30p.m.
                          Sunday: Noon - 9:00p.m.

                          City Delicatessen
                          535 University Avenue (Hillcrest)
                          Hours: Sun-Thu: 7:00a.m. – midnight,
                          Fri-Sat: 7:00a.m. - 2:00a.m.
                          DiMilles Italian Restaurant
                          3492 Adams Avenue (Normal Heights)
                          Hours: Mon - Thurs: 11a.m - 9:30 p.m.
                          Fri - Sat: 11a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Sundays: Noon to 9:30 p.m

                          Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe
                          807 W. Washington Street (Mission Hills
                          Hours: Mon – Fri: 11a.m. - 9 p.m. Sat – Sun: 9a.m. - 9 p.m.
                          Hob Nob Hill
                          2271 First Avenue (Middletown)
                          (619) 239-8176

                          Hours: Open 7 Days at Week
                          7:00 a.m to 9:00p.m
                          Close Christmas

                          1. Everyone has provided such great suggestions...thank you so much for your time...we are going to have a great time !!! I'm so excited !!!

                            1 Reply