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cheap weekday lunch in UTC area San Diego

I happen to work in the UTC area. It's on the edge right next to the 805 off of Gov dr. Does anyone know of any great cheap but good dives in the area? I'm willing to venture 5-10 minutes away.


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    1. There are a few good places in the Renaissance shopping center, between UTC and 805 - Wired is a nice French cafe (someone told me that the chef used to be the chef at Maitre'D in La Jolla, anyone know if that's true?) There's also a Thai place, Edo Sushi and a bbq place in there, as well as a Rubios.

      In the Costa Verde center, the Bristol Farms cafe is ok, though I think it's a little overpriced. There's also a La Salsa and a Sammy's, which aren't too bad for a quick lunch. There is a Roberto's on Miramar Drive that isn't too far away, and you are also pretty close to Clairemont Mesa Drive and Balboa, where you can find several popular Asian places like Pho T Cali. Sipz is a vegetarian cafe that is on Balboa I believe. K Sandwiches has great cheap bahn mi and coffee drinks and is just off 163 at Mesa College Drive.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Alice Q

        I hate to sound like a know-it-all, but...

        I think the place Alice Q is calling "bbq" is actually "Chicago on a Bun", which specializes in Chicago style dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, etc. They probably are a bit too pricey to be considered "cheap", but there you go.

        I also think she meant "Miramar Road", not "Miramar Drive". It sounds picky, but people can get confused. Besides, that thing has WAY too much traffic to be a "Drive". :)

        If you go further down Miramar Road to the Black Mountain Road intersection, you run into a lot of Indian restaurants that have pretty reasonable prices. That might be a bit outside your 10-minute range, but not too much.

        1. re: RB Hound

          You're right about the Miramar Road thing (silly me!) and I forgot about Chicago on a Bun - but the bbq place is where Daily's used to be, in the same shopping center.

            1. re: Alice Q

              "but the bbq place is where Daily's used to be, in the same shopping center"

              "It's called Grillions"

              Sounds like I have a place to try. Thanks for the info.
              [I guess I simply didn't notice it when I was in that strip mall last month.]

            2. re: RB Hound

              Speaking of that Little India area that RB Hound mentioned, I'd suggest a Masala Mysore Dosa with Dal ($3.50) at: http://www.sdsc.edu/~moreland/food/Su...

              Surati Farsan
              9494 Black Mountain Road
              San Diego, CA 92126. Phone: (858) 549-7280

              1. re: RB Hound

                I just stumbled upon this chow blog and I’ve been checking out some of your posts. You seem to be well versed in the area of good cuisine. My husband and I will be moving to La Jolla at the end of July and I’m not familiar with any of the eateries there. What would you recommend to get us started? Coffee? a quick sandwich? A yummy bakery? Or any type of restaurant worth trying. Thanks SK

                1. re: BakeAholic

                  if you do a search for "La Jolla," you will turn up many recent posts about bakeries and restaurants.

                  1. re: BakeAholic

                    This thead is about the University Town Center area of La Jolla. WIll you be living in that area or "downtown?" There are a lot of other threads about La Jolla.

                2. re: Alice Q

                  The Thai place, Sawdaddy, is gross. I wouldn't recommend it. Worse than Taste of Thai or Spices Thai.

                  Edo Sushi and Wired have better food. Wired also has pastries, smoothies and coffee drinks in addition to sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads. Edo has good sushi and Japanese food. They do get very crowded at lunch, especially if you try to get in after 12 pm.

                  Whole Foods has good takeout, pizzas and prepared foods.

                  California Pizza Kitchen and Chipotle are in the Trader Joe's/Ralphs' complex (same place as Z Pizza and Fins). BJ's Pizzeria across the street in the Whole Foods complex has good pizzas and salads. They also do take-out orders. There is a grilled meat and rice bowl place in the same plaza across from Rubio's, the name is escaping me. Something "Broiler," I think. They're pretty good for what they do. I would skip Elijah's Deli--bad deli food.

                3. If you venture West on Nobel to the Ralphs/TJs mall there is a Fins and a Z Pizza, both of which are fairly good (I like Fins much, much more than Rubio's and Z Pizza more than Sammy's and BJ's) and fairly cheap. They are neighbors on the 'backside' of Ralphs. There is also a Chipotle between Ralph's and TJs, which, I have to say is much improved and not bad at all.

                  However, I think the best option in the area is Nozomi. It is located in the Starbucks mini-mall just off the corner of La Jolla Village and Regents (just North of LJV and just East of Regents. It is tucked behind Starbucks and is NOT visible from Regents (or LJV). It is Japanese (with a Korean influence for some things). It isn't dirt cheap (few places mentioned so far are) but it is an excellent value. Parking is a pain sometimes, but, surprisingly, it isn't overcrowded at lunch. Food is very solid and portions are very large. The chirashi salad is good as are the green noodles, unagi donburi, and the sushi and rolls are pretty good. The bentos and curry are ordinary, though I must say satisfying and large (curries better than bentos). If something seems expensive for what it is it pretty much means the portion size is large. Two people could easily have the chirashi salad for lunch (and maybe a small additional item or two if you are big eaters or hungry).

                  I also work (and live) in the area and basically only go to Nozomi these days due to crowds, expense, and/or medicrity at other places.

                  To be sure the best place quality-wise is Edo, but it is too pricey (good value though) for me for lunch. My second and third choices are Z Pizza and Fins.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rotochicken

                    is Nozomi where L & L Hawaiian BBQ used to be?

                    1. re: daantaat

                      L&L is still there. Nozomi is next to it-on the side opposite (back to back) of the Einstein's. Other side of the paying parking lot...

                  2. You might also look on Miramar Rd which has a few reasonable lunch place:

                    - Viva Chicago: Chicago-style sandwiches
                    - Miramar Cafe: suprisingly good gyros plate
                    - Pico Rico: haven't tried it yet, but got good reviews on CH - Mexican
                    - Knockout Pizza: decent pizza

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: honkman

                      A word of warning about Pico Rico, it's changed ownership again, the ladies who took it over in January sold out about a month ago. They did leave all their recipes and the new owner has said he was going to keep the format. I haven't been there since the changeover.

                      I second Viva Chicago (a slightly less expensive alternative to Chicago on a Bun).

                      Also, Bongiorno's which is in the same minimall as Viva Chicago does a very acceptable New York style pizza (the owner worked at Bronx Pizza for several years).

                      1. re: mikec

                        Have you tried the Lebanese place in the same mall as Viva Chicago ?

                        1. re: honkman

                          Yes, I really wanted it to be good. I have given it a shot 3 times and each time it fell short. Kebabs were dry, Gyro meat had a grainy consistancy (like there were very small rocks in it, not good for the teeth) and the salad greens were limp and brown.

                          1. re: honkman

                            Not personally, but several non-foodie co-workers have said: don't bother.

                          2. re: mikec

                            Hmm, interesting to note that Pico Rico has new owners. I've been there about 4 times now and the quality seems to be rather hit or miss. The first time I went there the Carnitas was very good -- moist and flavorful. However, the last time I went it was dry and bland. Perhaps it had been sitting in the steam table too long or something.

                        2. red robin in the mall is decent and i believe they have curbside delivery if you're in a hurry. regents pizza got ripped on here awhile back, but i think they're fine for lunch with some quick pizza or sandwiches.

                          1. You know, there is a a great little Vietnamese Pho spot in the food court at UTC.
                            They really do a good job, not my favorite in town but top five soup spot for me.

                            They serve a fish cake product that is the best I have ever tasted.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Wino

                              I was going to suggest this place, too (Saigon Noodle). They do have more than pho, but I've never ordered anything else. Their vegetarian pho is a standby for me. Don't expect bargain prices, though. The bowl of veggie pho is $7+, expensive by pho standards. And their drink prices are too high, too. Their chicken noodle is very popular (never tried it), and their spicy rare beef pho brings the heat.

                            2. Lorna's at Genessee and Governor hasn't been mentioned, it's a step above a standard pizza/red sauce place and not overpriced (about $10 for things like Chicken Parm and Cacciatori).

                              1. Viet Cali on Mira Mesa Blvd has great Pho.

                                Whole Foods for the salad bar.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                  my suggestion is nozomi as well, it's fast, service is good and although it's not top-notch, the quality is good and the portions are generous. i am a big fan of their chirashi salad.

                                  mikec mentioned lorna's, i usually steer clear of italian but i've been pleasantly surprised by this place. they have nice salads if you're looking for something a bit lighter.

                                  1. re: mermaidsd

                                    The problem with Nozomi seems to be that their dishes are very hit or miss. The only things I really like there are the Green Noodle soup and the Spicy Cilantro Roll. I know a lot of people really like the Chirashi salad but I personally don't care for it too much. Other things on the menu that I've tried were all pretty bad -- the ramen curry, katsu don (twice when I ordered arrived cold with the katsu soggy and overcooked), and yakisoba. Is there anything else worth ordering on the menu that I've missed?

                                2. Courtesy Liquor and Deli: 3963 Governor Drive, right next to the Karate place. The deli is fantastic, ran by a little old Korean lady and her husband, perhaps? Love the San Franciscan (Chicken Salad) and the French Connection (Turkey, Bacon, Swiss).

                                  Tell 'em "Teem" (Tim) sent ya.