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San Diego restaurants are bad

Hi everyone,

Simple question: can anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in culinary epicentres such as New Orleans, NYC, San Francisco, Italy, France, etc. tell me if there's even one EXCELLENT restaurant (price and ambiance aside -- I'm just interested in the food) in San Diego? I've lived here for quite some time and basically consider the restaurants a joke. I grew up in Northern California (great restaurants, IMHO) and have also lived in Italy (where every restaurant in every town is better than all but a couple restaurants in San Diego) and Toronto (varied but average food).

I can name exactly two restaurants that knock my socks off: The Wine Sellar and Brasserie (in Mira Mesa, ironically) and Sushi Ota (in Pacific Beach, ironically). And in my opinion Sushi Ota is only "excellent" if you make a reservation at the sushi bar.

Sorry if this has offended anyone, I just think SD restaurants suck.

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      1. I do agree that I haven't really had meals in San Diego of the same calibre as Manhattan when it comes to fine dining.

        One option you should consider is Laja, in Baja California's wine country. It's about an hour-and-a-half from San Diego, but is the closest I've had to the food I experienced in NYC - which makes sense considering the owner's pedigree includes a stint at Daniel.

        http://www.lajamexico.com

        Once you move away from fine dining, though, I think San Diego has a lot of good places to eat. San Diego is home to numerous excellent ethnic restaurants.

        Try Izakaya Sakura, Buga, and Tajima in Kearny Mesa. Super Cocina and Mama Testa have great Mexican fare. The Linkery and Cafe Cerise offer creative dishes using local produce and quality meat and fish.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Josh

          Folks, please confine the discussion to food that can be found north of the border. Feel free to start a new discussion of south of the border food on the Mexico board.

          Please also note, mangiatore is not opening a debate about how poor the restaurants are in San Diego, s/he is asking for your help in dispelling this perception and seeking out deliciousness, so please, chime in with specific recommendations of deliciousness in the San Diego area, from hole-in-the-wall to high end.

          1. re: The Chowhound Team

            I understand the desire to keep posts about restaurants to the right geographical region, but folks in San Diego consider Tijuana and upper baja as part our region and many of us go there for dinner only to return the same night. It is that close. So I would hope we can at least talk about some of the places in Tijuana on this board even though they are technically in Mexico.

            Thanks!

            1. re: whatwedig

              I would like to second whatwedig's comments and add that Manzilla restaurant in Ensenada is the second best restaurant I've tried in the San Diego area, after Wine Sellar.

              1. re: whatwedig

                I agree, a lot of us are reluctant to venture across the border these days but even this shall pass ... (the drug violence I mean) ... and SD and TJ ARE one urban area. Sometimes when you are looking for the "best" of a certain thing in San Diego, the answer is that it's in Tijuana! (or Tecate or Ensenada). Getting back to the main point, if the poster doesn't like SD eating now, he's lucky he didn't move here in 1994 when I did ... it was a culinary desert. Now there are some really good spots but I haven't read the whole thread so won't start recommending yet.

                1. re: Bobierto

                  This thread is two years old, and was resurrected by accident a few days ago by someone new to the board - it's really outdated now though, and should never have been reactivated (question - if CH does not bring up search results going back more than one year, why don't they close threads to new input after a certain point??) If you have something new to say - please start a new thread!

                  1. re: Alice Q

                    so SD Restaurants are no longer bad, woohoo!

            2. Cool. That post is more than a year old, though. Most of my Mexican food eating now happens at places like Mariscos German, El Comal, Aqui Es Texcoco, and Super Cocina. I've heard from more than one aficionado of Mexican cooking that Las Cuatros Milpas is average at best.

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