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nyc chowhound in san diego for a weekend wedding in june

and searching cheap eats in del mar/la jolla area. looking for anything beachy or relaxed for a group of five or six people that will be arriving in san diego thursday evening; good cheap seafood or mexican for lunch on friday, also preferably near a beach; i think we're heading up to the fish house in carlsbad for dinner on friday; then a great, inexpensive brunch on saturday and sunday. sunday i'm looking for a stick-to-your-ribs kind of brunch that will last us until we land back in NYC late that night; saturday can be lighter fare. I've heard hash house is ok? opinions? thanks!

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  1. It isn't cheap but the Hotel Del Coronado has the best Sunday Bunch in town. For cheap eats try Ropponggi's happy hour while for cheap but good eats Bud's Louisiana Food Shoppe in Little Italy is nice and so is The Chicken Pie Shop in the college area though that last one isn't near the beach. For good cheap Mexican look for one of the local Taquerias where the signs are all in Spanish and most of the costumers are Mexican; that's how you'll know you're getting authentic food cheaply.

    I'm assuming that when you say cheap we're talking around $5-$8 though my idea of cheap might be different from yours. If your budget is larger then that then I can recommend several places in the under $25 range.

    1. Hash House a Go-Go isn't close to Del Mar or La Jolla, but it could be a detour on your way back to the airport. Portions are insanely huge and if you can put it all away, it should last you all the way back to NYC.

      1. why the Fish House in Carlsbad?? it is OK but the drive north on the 5 would be a killer on a Friday night just to go to dinner .There is a Fish Market in Del Mar..off Via de la Valle.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Ela0427

          a friend recommended fish house, they said it was only 15 minutes from del mar? i think something for the $25 and under range would be good for thursday night dinner ... thank you!!!

          1. re: awesomechoi

            Fish Market is a chain restaurant but still offers good food with restaurants in Seaport Village and Del Mar. Mille Fleur has some great seafood though it isn't strictly a seafood restaurant and the prices will be a bit higher then $25. For informal seafood dinning Point Loma sea foods has always been a great place and it offers a number of fresh locally caught fish in addition to the imported stuff. Pacifica Del Mar is a great place in a great location in the Del Mar area while The Oceanaire Seafood Room downtown is fairly good though a bit touristy. There are several great high end places in La Jolla I can recommend though they'll likely break the $25 budget.

            1. re: awesomechoi

              I have a feeling they are going to Fish House Veracruz not Fish Market. I assume they aren't eating at 6 so the drive shouldn't be that bad.

              For your Sunday Brunch Hash House is "okay" not great but "okay" and will for sure be enough food to get you back to NY.

              The thing about being near the beach is that really it is either going to be expensive or cheap. There aren't a ton of options in between for good/great food.

              For lunch on the more expensive side: The Lodge at Torrey Pines, 910, & The Shores Restaurant are nice & by the beach and mid-priced at lunch.

              On the cheaper side: Las Olas in Cardiff is okay not authentic mexican food but directly across the beach and not bad food like Charlies or the Beach House across the street. I also like pizza port--good local brews and not terrible pizza (California style, if there is such a thing.)

              For Breakfast (brunch doesn't happen so often on Saturdays here) cheap is Pipes in Encinitas is tasty and lots of locals go there. There will be a long line but generally the service is quick and you can see how all the surfers eat after they rip. I also like Pacifica Breeze cafe in Del Mar for a nice light breakfast with beautiful views.
              Have fun and if you poke around this board you should find some more options.

              1. re: jturtle

                If you're going to do a Brunch in San Diego then you might as well pony up the cash and go to the best. Go to the Hotel Del Coronado across the bay from downtown in Coronado. It's a great old Victorian hotel with a storied history, great beach front dinning, and is hands down the best brunch in town. The cost will be in the $50-$60 per person range but you'll be dinning in a historic setting which was the first building west of the Mississippi to have electric lights and they were put in by Thomas Edison himself because, at the time, he literally was the only person who knew how to do it. King Edward VII met Ms Simpson (the American divorcee who he later adbicated the British thrown to marry) while walking on the private beach at the Hotel Del Coronado and just about every King, President, or movie star who visits San Diego stays there. It's well worth a visit for both the food and the scenery.

          2. Fish House Vera cruz has multiple locations as well. Friday night traffic in JUne will be tricky esp. if the Fair is going on at that time. I do not think it is worth a long drive at all...there are better places in SD.

            1. On June 8 the San Diego County Fair opens in Del Mar (going until July 4) AND the US Open starts at Torrey Pines. That wole Delmar/La Jolla area of town is going to be jam packed with people. Traffic will be a nightmare, and in general, when events are not going on, "cheap" does not coincide with either Del mar or La Jolla...going further south, to Pacific Beach, though...then you can have water/beach and inexpensive.

              3 Replies
                1. re: deckape

                  I think he means the Torrey Pines Invitational though I don't follow golf so I am likely wrong. Either way I5 should be avoided at that time.

                  If I were them I'd just go to the Oceanaire or dig around in the OB & PB areas is the Oceanaire is to expensive.

                  1. re: oerdin

                    Considering the OP is from NYC I think that they can deal with traffic. And it is summer so all of the SD is going to be crowded and there is never going to be a good weekend.
                    Since they asked for Del Mar/LJ recs we should probably do our best to answer those questions.

              1. For "lighter" brunch in Del Mar, Americana and Pacifica Breeze Cafe are both pretty good. Pacifica Breeze has a distant view of the water since they are elevated off the street.

                In La Jolla, The Cottage has good breakfasts. Get there early or prepare to wait.

                In Pacific Beach, just south of La Jolla is Isabel's Cantina which has excellent, cheap breakfast/brunch. The food is Asian-Latino "inspired." They used to have a sister restaraunt in La Jolla, Mission Cup Cafe, but it's been closed d/t kitchen fire. Out of what I've listed above, my first pick would be Isabel's Cantina. It's walking distance from the beach too.

                Roppongi's (La Jolla) happy hour is one of the best deals around. All their apps are 50% off from 4-6 pm. Order a few and you've made a full meal. You also have to be seated in the patio area.

                great tacos from around Mexico are at Mama Testa's in Hillcrest. Cheap, good and excellent salsa bar. Not near the beach but worth the drive and food!

                1. For good cheap eats in LJ, I'd recommend the Cheese Shop Deli near LJ Shores or Girard Gourmet - good sandwiches. For cheap Mexican/Seafood there's El Pescador or Rimel's Rotisserie - there's also a Porkyland Mexican place in the same shopping area with Rimel's, they specialize in Carnitas and have good housemade salsas. George's Ocean Terrace is a nice place for lunch - the food is decent and the view and atmosphere is a knockout, and the Grill at Jack's has pretty good food. I also like the sandwiches and coffee drinks at the Pannikin.

                  The crowd at Hash House will likely be grotesque on a Sunday morning with at least an hour wait. If you're looking for a buffet, La Valencia in La Jolla has a nice one in a beautiful setting, kind of expensive though. Brockton Villa does a really nice brunch in a cute house overlooking the water. Cody's and the Cottage are also recommended in that area. Closer to downtown you could try Crest Cafe, Cafe on Park, Parkhouse Eatery or Perry's.

                  For beachy/relaxed you should head for the boardwalk in PB. The Mission Too is a little stand right on the beach where you can get breakfast burritos, etc. JRDN has a nice restaurant right on the beach as well. Up in Del Mar, Poseidon also has tables outside right near the water and the food is pretty good.

                  The traffic going to dinner in Carlsbad on Friday will be pretty bad - it starts at about 1 PM and continues until six, bumper to bumper all the way up the 5. You might want to consider taking public transportation or meeting somewhere in between.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Alice Q

                    Seriously I just giggled when you said grotesque about the Hash House--a better description has not been said. I will say this--if you do decide on HH and there is a wait (and a grostesque one at that) you can tell the hostess and if you drink, they will tell you to go to a bar down the street and call the bar when your food is ready.

                    I really really cannot recommend the food at Posideon, I think it is worse then the worst of the Cohens and Brocktin Villa combined. But its location is seriously amazing.

                  2. Whenever I have visitors, I make a point to take them to Poseidon. It's decent food, nothing terribly creative nor offensive, and for brunch fare it's perfect. And you can't get more beachy - the patio is right on the beach. It's in Del Mar, next to Jakes, another spot with a decent brunch.

                    Have fun!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mimosa

                      I wholeheartedly agree with the Poseidon recommendation for breakfast/brunch (but not for other meals). The location is what's so great - as mimosa mentions, it's one of the only local places where you're sitting right on an awesome beach (well, on a deck that's on the beach). However, if we're having a stretch of June gloom (my friends from NYC who visit in June are always so surprised when it's foggy and cold at the beach during that time), then either wear a sweatshirt and head to Poseidon, or try Americana, right up the street from the beach on the corner of 15th St and Camino del Mar.

                      For cheap Mexican, I like Raul's or Bety's, both of which are a little north of Del Mar in Encinitas. I love Bety's grilled fish tacos...super cheap, too. I think I spent $4.50 at lunch for two of them. I think they're the best I've had anywhere nearby. Delicious! Raul's is a little takeout window place in downtown Encinitas and Bety's is a sit-down restaurant (very casual) that serves beer, wine and margaritas (I've only been there at lunchtime and haven't had drinks so I can't vouch for the quality or selection). Next to Bety's is a great sushi spot, Kaito Restaurant. They are both on Encinitas Blvd in Encinitas. You can get there by taking I-5 north a few exits from Del Mar, but traffic will be a nightmare if you try to do this on a Fri. night, especially if the San Diego County Fair is running, as previously mentioned.

                      1. re: susan3733

                        Also for cheap Mexican along that same stretch, La Especial del Norte. It's the perfect cure for a June-gloomy day as they specialize in caldos - soups - and have an amazing selection. Part of the fun of this place is just taking the time to read the menu - it's pretty funny.

                        1. re: susan3733

                          Poseidon, "but not for other meals" about sums it up. We made the mistake of going for dinner, and were sorely disappointed. Beautiful location, miserable food. About the only thing we had which was edible was a goat cheese, hummus (or was it baba ganoush?) and olive appetizer. They didn't bother to warm the pita, but it was FAR better than anything else that night. Cold mashed potatoes, overcooked fish and poultry, WAY too much lemon pepper on every vegetable, apple pie that was straight out of a refrigerator, cold and hard crusted. Lukewarm coffee. Miserable.

                          1. re: amyzan

                            But did you catch the view? ;) Poseidon was never recommended as a fine dining destination. Food's not great, but it's not offensive either - at least I've never experienced anything really bad there. Even though food is clearly not what keeps folks coming back, I always take visitors there and have yet to have a complain because the food sucked. Something about sitting on that patio for a casual brunch/lunch, well that's a San Diego postcard in the making. Just add a mimosa and a pair of good sunglasses and it's darn near perfect (unless it's gloomy, in which case the firepit inside with the ocean view isn't too shabby either).

                      2. For the cheap eats in La Jolla try El Pescador (fish sandwiches to go; lunch or early dinner) or Porkyland (Mexican, great fish tacos; lunch or early dinner). Nothing extraordinary, but you can always get sandwiches at The Cheese Shop in La Jolla Shores and walk a block to the beach or pick up Mexican at the Robertos in Del Mar and eat it at Torrey Pines Beach. Slightly pricier options that are also good include Rimels and Tratorria Romantica. Save a little money and get dessert at Michele Coulon Dessertier. Not cheap, but you can get appetizers (that won't fill you up) and drinks at the bar at George's and get a great view and people watching. Also, get drinks and appetizers on the roof deck at the Del Mar Plaza and enjoy the sunset.

                        For a lighter breakfast in La Jolla, try Pannikin (coffee shop with decent food) or traditional diner food at Harry's Coffee Shop. (I'd avoid The Cottage and Brockton Villa (although the views at Brockton Villa almost make up for the food).) Just a couple miles south in Pacific Beach, there's a great breakfast at The Cantina (not the massive portions of Hash House or The Tractor Room, but should last a good chunk of your flight) and cheap and good lunch/dinner options at Cass Street Bar and Grill (salads/sandwiches/burgers)

                        1. Fidels in Solana Beach is great for lunch and either the Chile Relleno or the Chicken Burrito (all white meat) a la carte is one of the best or the lunch special includes a draft beer and beans & rice for around $7
                          Board & Brew for great sandwiches..Del Mar
                          Roberto's Taco Shop Solana Beach & Carmel Valley Rd/Del Mar
                          El Norte Especial Leucadia...great mex
                          Brigantine Del Mar...great seafood happy hour
                          Jake's Del Mar...brunch
                          Bully's Del Mar...excellent bully burger and I have had Sunday breakfast with a strong bloody..yum
                          I hear Pipes is excellent in Encinitas
                          Kraken...best dive bar in Cardiff..across from Chart House/Charlie's