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Mar 22, 2007 12:03 AM

Recommendations on top 5 restauarants in SD/La Jolla for birthday dinner for husband ?

Am from LA and will be spending the weekend for husband's birthday in SD and will travel as far as La Jolla for a great meal. Am looking for recommendations on the top 5 restaurants in SD.
I heard about Addison, does anyone have any reviews? I also heard about a great wine bar in Hillcrest as well, but are there other restaurants that's recommended for seafood other than Top of the Cove? I used to go there when in college for good seafood but hope SD's got better seafood than that now.... Please help its for this weekend!

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  1. I would recommend Jack's, Tapenade, 910, Market, Blanca, Parallel 33, 1500 Ocean, Dobson's, or the Wine Sellar Brasserie. If you are looking for good seafood in the Downtown area, Oceanaire Seafood Room is pretty good. It would probably be a good place for a birthday dinner. I think Top of the Cove is closed for remodeling - it had gone downhill before that from what I heard.

    I have not tried Addison, but it has received mixed reviews. Here is a link to the Reader review - which was pretty negative.

    Enjoy your trip!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Alice Q

      I would also add California Cuisine in Hillcrest and J Taylor in Del Mar

      1. re: honkman

        In La Jolla Geoge's just remodeled and has a brand new menu that looks pretty good. Haven't heard too many reviews yet. But the view is always great.

        Also, the Marine Room does great seafood and has a nice selection "from the land" as they call it.

        1. re: jturtle

          I've been to the remodeled Georges, and, as always, I continue to be underwhelmed. The food was good, however, the conversation and my dining companion were far better and much more memorable.

          Maybe I just don't "get" George's but I have just never understood why people think this place is something special. I've never had more than just an "okay" experience there. Visually, the remodel is lovely, though.

          The octopus carpaccio was artfully presented and the little dots of chipotle aioli worked well with. The charcuterie plate made use of all American produced products. 2 of the 3 on the plate were very good; the salami I wasn't so taken with. The 28-day dry aged steak was cooked to the degree specified and was - well - beef. The smoked mashed potatoes the steak sat on were quite good. Potatoes? Smoke? Who knew? Dessert was completely forgettable. Based on the amount of press they got for the remodel and revamped menu, I was expecting something all levels.

          As I said, my dining companion and our conversation was F-A-R more interesting than the menu or the food. Let's just say I don't feel the need to hurry back.

    2. Which wine bar are you referring to in Hillcrest? If you want a party atmosphere, Wine Steals is fun, but if you want good wine in a slightly more serious atmosphere, head to Wine Encounter, which caters to the more discerning customer.

      1. Addison and Market both got good reviews in the LA Times about a month ago. Have yet to go to Addison. However, Market is EXCELLENT and will not disappoint. I think it's one of the best in SD right now.

        Blanca did not knock my socks off when I went (very uneven menu with my filet arriving cold). However that was when they opened, so maybe it was opening months issues. I'm hoping my next dinner there will be better.

        Jack's La Jolla Formal Dining Room is excellent-different style than Market. They use foam on their dishes and have more unusual combinations of flavors that might sound funky on the menu but come out brilliantly on the palate (ie: pickled short rib). The chef used to work at Jean-George's.

        Nine-Ten is also excellent with one of my all-time favorite chocolate desserts. Tapenade is also excellent--more of a French approach.

        I think Wine Sellar Brasserie's food is underseasoned. I thought it was a fluke the first time I went, but I've been a few times back and underwhelmed with my entrees. If you're really into wines, it is a good place to go.

        Please report back!

        5 Replies
        1. re: daantaat

          For the record, Jack Fisher, pastry chef extraordinaire, has moved in the past year from Nine-ten to Addison and now on to Jack's (thanks to the whatwedig blog and links therein for news of the last move). In the past few years I think he's gone from Nine-ten, Region, LA somewhere (Montage resort or something), Nine-ten, Addison, and now Jack's.

          So the great desserts at Nine-ten were Jack's (Fisher) and now Jack (Fisher) is at Jack's (La Jolla Fine Dining) - at least for now.

          Also for the record, we went to Nine-ten after his departure and the desserts are quite good, but lack that spark that makes you feel lucky. Can't speak to the chocolate dessert as I did not have it.

          Agree with Market. Nine-ten has great food but the service has really been struggling, and of course, Jack is no longer there.

          As for Tapenade, can somebody confirm it has maintained excellence in the past year+ (roughly)? As everybody knows the former exec. chef of Tapenade is now chef/owner of Cavaillon - where the food is indeed superb. I haven't been to Tapenade since he left - is it still great?

          Jack's, IMO, is still working out the kinks. Food is seriously good and creative, but I think with so many venues (what is there 6? 7?) and so much going on they haven't quite hit their full stride. In other words, very good and likely to get better.

          1. re: rotochicken

            I had lunch recently at Tapenade and it was one of the best lunch meals I ever had.

            1. re: rotochicken

              I ate at Nine-Ten a few months back and our service was outstanding, Jack's in La Jolla has the absolute utmost worst service in the world- 3 times there in the past year and not once have we had what I'd even consider acceptable service. Lunch should never ever take 2 hours unless you are doing 7 courses.

              Jack's bar scene on a weekend is maybe the most horific thing I've ever seen.

              1. re: jpschust

                That's funny, I've had exactly the opposite experince, fine service at Jack's, and terrible service at 910, on multiple occasions. We haven't been back - not because it was so bad, but we just aren't crazy enough about the food to put up with it.

                Jack's bar scene has nothing to do with this post as far as I can tell - if you're talking about the fact that it's crowded, that's not exactly their fault.

                1. re: Alice Q

                  Not that it's too crowded. The scene attracts do i put it..less than reputable crowd in my opinion.

                  I can't think of many restaurants in San Diego doing what Nine Ten is doing from a culinary perspective. My only negative comment about the place is that the waitress we had should never have been allowed to do wine pairings- she should have called over the sommolier.

          2. Another good place I forgot earlier--AR Valentein at the Torrey Pines Lodge. Really good food in a Craftsman style atmosphere. Stellar service, quiet atmosphere. Different approach to food and atmosphere than Market or Jack's Formal Dining Room.

            1. I'm not making any recs, as it's been many years since I lived in SD, but I always preferred Top of the Cove to Georges... Is Top still there? and is it now only a place for the view (which, I must say, ranked with the best I've seen anywhere in the world) -- or is the food still good? (Actually, it ued to be great!)

              2 Replies
              1. re: ChefJune

                It's currently closed for renovations - hopefully the guy who bought it, the owner of Stingaree - won't tear it down.

                1. re: Alice Q

                  He is planning to tear it down and build a three story building.