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5 Night SD Trip....Need.........

I'm going to stay at Rancho Valencia one night and Hotel Del four nights. We will have dinner at RV our only night there and two nights at Hotel Del.

Can you recommend two great fine dining restaurants in SD for the other two nights. What about Mille Fleurs.

I want to visit Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla. I need two fine restaurants for lunch.

$$$ is no problem. I might skip RSF if you say so and go go La Jolla. I'm a tourist from Mississippi but I care more about nice resorts and good food than sightseeing. I will probably visit Balboa Park and that's about it. My wife will be on the beach at The Del and in their spa.


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  1. Best fine dining in La Jolla can be found at Tapenade; I would go there over Mille Fleurs.


    1. Food at Rancho Valencia is average at best and very, very overpriced. I would skip it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: honkman

        Where would you go close by RV if you were tired after getting up at 5 AM and flying 6 hours. What about Market. Thanks.

      2. I was in San Diego a couple of months ago and had a non-memorable meal at Laurel. I did have very good meals at Taka and Sushi Ota, with Sushi Ota clearly being the best of the two. I also had two very good dim sum lunches in the area, one at Jasmine and the other at a place I didn't get the name.

        1. In La Jolla at lunch I strongly recommend Cafe 910.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Josh

            I think lunch at Cafe 910 is good but I found lunch at Tapenade to be better. I also found the service at 910 to be very unexperienced. Arterra (though not in LJ) has even much better (but also more expensive) lunch than 910 and Tapenade

          2. Given your interests, I would go to Market in Del Mar (call now for reservations), which is in Del Mar, but less than 10 minutes from RV. Market would be a much higher quality and more interesting dining experience than dinner at RV.

            In La Jolla, if you're going for the fine dining experience, I would go to George's and Marine Room, both of which have spectacular settings. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Tapenade, but maybe it's because I'm from NYC, and I've had my fill of fine French restaurants.

            Fair warning about Marine Room - I just had dinner there yesterday, and was let down (not the first time) by the food. It's one of those "has been" kind of experiences (it was considered special in the 80's and still stacks food on the plate, kind of "nouvelle cuisine" style), but the setting is spectacular with the waves crashing right in front of you, pelicans diving everywhere and even dolphins crusing through the surf. The food is pricey but service is great, and again, it's the setting that really matters there. If I were a tourist from out-of-town, I'd sit back, order a martini and/or a nice bottle of wine, soak in the view and probably feel like I was in heaven. Even as a non-tourist, it was a pretty nice way to spend an early evening on Mother's Day. (I would never admit to my wonderful hubby that there are dozens of other places, for far less money, that I would prefer...in his mind, and in so many others', the Marine Room is still the quintessential "special occasion" restaurant in the area).

            Enjoy your visit!

            5 Replies
            1. re: susan3733

              Thanks Susan 3733. I love NYC. It's my wife's favorite destination. We have been over 30 times in the past 25 years. Pretty good for an ole boy from Mississippi.

              I plan to take your advice and all the other kind help I have received and pass on RV for dinner. This is my wife's 57th birthday and she likes to celebrate her "birthday week" so each night is important. What about the atmosphere at Market. The room makes a lot of difference to me. I don't like small dark restaurants with no windows. We will go to George's or The Marine Room for lunch on Friday then shop some. I might come back one night before we leave for dinner there again. I know we will have 4 nights at The Del and eat there twice so I must find two spots outside The Del. One will be at La Jolla. Got another suggestion. Thanks.

              1. re: Littleman

                The Marine Room is now closed for lunch. I would urge you to visit it. It was an old classic back in the early 90's that was only good for the views before Bernard Guillas revived the food options. It is one of my all time favorite restaurants with excellent food, impeccable service, and the best view in the city. Sitting in a booth watching the sunset as the waves hit the glass is not to be missed. The food is both sophisticated and cutting edge. I would check out the menu and the website at marineroom.com.

                1. re: Littleman

                  That's great that you're celebrating your wife's birthday with such a wonderful trip. It sounds like you have some fine dining planned, and I agree with all the suggestions mentioned on this thread. A few more thoughts:
                  1) You can check out the interior of Market in Del Mar by going to their website at www.marketdelmar.com. If you click on the "about" link, it has a pretty good photo of the restaurant's interior. There is also a lounge area that is nice. It's definitely not dark, but is airy and light inside. It's a fantastic restaurant, and it has, in my opinion, some of the best food the area has to offer right now. The real reason I would suggest a place like Market over a place like Tapenade is that you'll be getting a more "California" experience at Market, with lots of fresh local ingredients and interesting preparation; whereas at a place like Tapenade, you'll have a fine French dining experience, albeit wonderful, but still something similar to what you may have already experienced at fine French restaurants in NYC or Mississippi. Just depends on what you're looking for.
                  2) I agree that if you're into great food (and, hence, great ingredients), a stop by Chino Farms would be fun. It's basically a roadside fruit/vegetable stand, but they have the most delicious strawberries right now. Cash only. Sorry to say I can't recall the name of the street they're on, even though I visit them weekly, but I'm sure the RV concierge will know. They are very close to RV.
                  3) As other posters have mentioned, Georges at the Cove is made up of several dining areas, and I happen to like the Ocean Terrace best, although the downstairs dining room is fancier, quieter and has a more upscale menu. On the terrace, you're on top of the building on a rooftop deck with the most spectacular view of the cove. I've found that even on a warm day, it can be chilly up there, so bring a jacket, (although they do have outside heaters). Personally, I love the food at either spot (dining room or terrace) so you can't miss either way. You can check it out at www.georgesatthecove.com. You'll need a reservation there, too, of course.
                  4) I agree that the Lodge at Torrey Pines and their wonderful restaurant, Valentin, is special and definitely worth a visit. Both the setting and the building itself is spectacular. It's a very elegant place for lunch or dinner, and the food is top-notch. Also, the spa is really "to die for"! I have spent several blissful hours there, courtesy of birthday gift certificates, and it is definitely my top pick for the best San Diego area spa. I think a wonderful day for your wife might be one where she has a spa treatment and then meets you outside on the terrace (or even inside, if it's a cool day) for lunch or drinks. If you play golf, you may also be able to get on the golf course at Torrey Pines, although I don't know how difficult it is to get on the course there. The website for the hotel and restaurant is www.lodgetorreypines.com and will give you a good idea of the location and interior as well as the spa and restaurant. By the way, they are not in downtown La Jolla but would be a good stop on your way from Rancho Valencia to La Jolla. They're right on the coast, off Rte 101, perched on the bluffs above the ocean, a little south of Del Mar.
                  You've got some wonderful options, and you're sure to have a fabulous trip no matter which you choose. Happy birthday to your wife!

                  1. re: susan3733

                    Thanks for your very kind advice Susan. I think we will try Market for dinner one night. It looks nice. And I love California cuisine. French food is great but I'm looking forward to some adventuresome California dining. We will be in NYC in December for 5 nights. I will get my share of French food there. They have some wonderful restaurants there. One of my favorites is Daniel. What about yourself. We have been to most of the great restaurants there but I'm sure there are many that we have missed. Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Cafe Boulud, Le Cirque, Gramercy Tavern, Babbo, 11 Madison Park, Union Square Cafe, Felidia, Per Se, Bouley, Balthazar, Gotham Bar and Grill, Aureole, Chanterelle, Il Mulino, Sparks, The River Cafe, Cafe De Artistes, Palm and Four Seasons are some of our favorites.

                    I don't think there is a single French restaurant in Mississippi that I know of but we have some great places to dine. Most are casual, country places but it's fun. It's fun to travel to and I'm looking forward to SD. I will check out the Lodge at TP. I don't play golf but I do walk 6 miles/day. I should have no problem doing that. I think we will shop in LJ and have lunch at George. Thanks for your very kind advice and that of others as well.

                  2. re: Littleman

                    you might want to consider "the prado" if you're going to balboa park.

                2. What's a fine restaurant in La Jolla over looking the ocean where you can sit outside for lunch. Thanks.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Littleman

                    George's Terrace. It is on top of the George's fine dining restaurant. I haven't been to the top since the remodel but it was always a "fancier" outside lunch with a great view at a very respected fine dining restaurant.

                    1. re: Littleman

                      George's at the cove in La Jolla .

                      1. re: Littleman

                        Third for George's. The Terrace has a nice view, but it's pretty rough going with the sun beating down. The Bar, just one floor below the terrace, has a similarly awesome view, but is much more comfortable IMHO.

                      2. thought we'd answered a few of these questions for you recently. While at RV, your best options would be Mille Fleurs and Market. Unless committed to it, I would not have dinner at RV as both MF and Market are FAR better.

                        1. There's a new restaurant in RSF that is really quite good. It's called the Pantry and is located on the main street downtown. They purchase all of their produce from Chino's and the cusine is a fresh Cali-Asian fusion. I definitely would recommend it over Rancho Valencia, which feels dated and stuffy, and it's close enough that you could pop over there for dinner and be back at RV without fighting too much traffic. SignonSanDiego.com describes it as follows: "Bistro-style, international food and pastries from scratch decorate the menu at the casual Pantry of Rancho Santa Fe".

                          I'm a fan of A.R. Valentine at the Lodge at Torrey Pines for a quiet and delicious lunch in La Jolla. It has lovely golf course and ocean views. http://www.lodgetorreypines.com/

                          However if you're not also having dinner in La Jolla, then I would go to George's for the unbeatable views and classic La Jolla experience.

                          1. Valentin at the Lodge Torrey Pines is worth a visit because the hotel is a Craftsman beauty. I have had great lunches there, a good dinner and a fabulous Christmas party. George's has the ocean view and I always enjoy the food.. I think it is a better lunch place. There is not much to visit in RSF but you should take your wife by the famous Chino farms and taste the strawberries and the sugar snap peas... it is close to RV. I am going to throw in Vivace at the Four Seasons in Carlsbad. The bar is gorgeous and I have had an amazing dinner there. The view from the top of the hill is amazing.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Ela0427

                              although seeing our local chefs at Chino's is an everyday occurence, we once saw Alice Waters there

                            2. My two cents would be to avoid AR Valentien and George's, unless you are doing a casual lunch on the Terrace. The dining room is average and pricey, and AR Valentien put out a very mediocre meal during restaurant week. They themselves told us it was not their typical fare, but I wouldn't return on that basis. Marine Room is also nice for atmosphere, but a little dated in terms of food and decor.

                              I really like the new 1500 Ocean at the Hotel Del, so make sure you try that! In La Jolla, I would recommend lunch at Jack's Grille - downstairs, or dinner in the Fine Dining Room (avoid the Ocean Room, it's overpriced), dinner at Tapenade, Roppongi or Delirio's, and lunch at George's Ocean Terrace, Rimel's Rotisserie (not fine dining, but good), or 910. I have also been hearing really good things about Fresh lately, so you might want to give that a shot.

                              Market is also good, but it can be a little uneven and the room isn't all that fantastic. I really like it for the food though. You might also consider Addison, a new fine dining restaurant in that same general vicinity. Good luck and have fun!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Alice Q

                                I would not take the advice about not visitng AR Valenien!! All other comments have been right on. I was so thrilled when restaurant week started,but I would not go again. We had the same experience at El Bizocho..Wonderful the first year..this year was not even worth the 40.oo..Ditto for the Marine Room last year which was awful. I thought we were being served on a cruise ship! I swear my staek had been sitting in a holding oven.
                                Anyway..please dont discount Georges or Ar Valenien..they are both lovely.

                                1. re: karenc

                                  yeap I agree... i always think restaurants are best on a non-holiday, non-event. George's terrace is really lovely.

                                  1. re: karenc

                                    It's just my two cents, as I said - but I really don't think a restaurant should be excused from putting out a good meal during Restaurant Week. We had a fantastic meal at 1500 Ocean for example, made up of dishes from their regular menu, but we also had a mediocre meal at the Marine Room the year before, and haven't been back since.

                                    If you're curious, you can read more about our visit to A.R. Valentien, with pictures, here: http://aliceqfoodie.blogspot.com/2007...