Girls' Day Out Around San Diego
Hello SD 'hounds!
My friends and I are driving down from Los Angeles next week. We are open to what exact part of SD we end up in, but maybe around La Jolla? My friend goes to UCSD and says the area is a barren wasteland of megachains, so I'd love some help finding food that's local and tasty.
Our tastes run toward light and fresh. We need a nice lunch suggestion and maybe an afternoon snack and dinner choice.
We are open to all kinds of cuisine, but want somewhere to hang out in the sun. The food can be simple (salads, sandwiches, burgers, burritos, deep fried fish tacos, whatever is considered SD's BEST) but needs to be exquisite.
Bonus points for ocean view.
I have always enjoyed poking around La Jolla with the girls and then having a late lunch or glass of wine at George's Terrace. The food is good (not great) but a lot is forgiven with the view. Nine-Ten also would a nice spot for good food (but no view). I might suggest a little shopping, a spa treatment (maybe at Gaia?) and then the lunch. What fun. Another idea would be the spa at the Estancia which is near UCSD. I have not been there but looked at it and it looks nice. The Estancia has a very cute bar area that would be lovely for a drink. I do not know much about the restaurant (and you would need to eat there since it is really the only thing around). I live in Del Mar and can also suggest that it is a great destination for the day. Shopping, beach, food - the works. My favorite is the sushi place in the Plaza. Pacifica is always a good stand by but I find it a bit touristy (although Pacifc Breeze cafe just below is a great informal place to have a sandwhich with a great view). I have not been to Epizote since they changed it to a steakhouse but I was never too fond of it. Also have not been happy with Sibicca for dinner but lunches aren't bad. Jake's and Posidon are on the beach, but are pretty standard tourist fare in my opinion. Jake's being superior to Posidon in my eyes (I take my group to lunch there at Xmas time so I do go there!). Americana, for me, iS also just so so - but great for people watching. They do make a nice pizza though. The good news is that you can park in Del Mar and have access to all of these places and more - you could decide in the morning which one looked good to you. LOVE having a glass of wine with out of town guests at the Plaza.
Keep in mind that there are some very good restaurants that you could go to. Most of them, however, require a drive and don't actually have a lot to do around them. Once you get in the more touristy areas, it is hard to find a really good restaurant. They kind of have to cater to all palates so to me, it ends up making them a little boring. However, as I get older my standards have escalated so if I was in my 20's I may have thought they were fabulous - LOL!! It is all relative. Good luck. Try to enjoy the whole experience - hopefully good food will be part of it.
JRDN is a good call - not sure if I'd describe the food as "exquisite" but it is very good and the people watching on the boardwalk is fun. You can walk to the beach from there. The terrace wine bar at the Plaza Del Mar is also a nice place to hang out in the sun, and George's Ocean Terrace in LJ has spectacular views, but the food is pretty so so. I also think Poseidon is pretty good for lunch, and the tables are right next to the beach.
For something even more casual, you might consider picking up sandwiches from the Cheese Shop Deli in LJ Shores and taking them to the beach for a picnic. The beach at LJ Cove and Windansea are also nice.
For an afternoon snack/coffee break I'd recommend Cafe Zinc in Solana Beach, on S. Cedros. It's a nice little area of shops to walk around in - it could even be a lunch stop.
Cafe Chloe is another good sort of "girly" place - and the food is better than any of the rest of these places. It's downtown though - nowhere near the beach (or sun). Have fun, and let us know where you end up and how you liked it!
Your best bet is to get in the car and head north along the coast to the Solana Beach/Encinitas area. For a snack and location it is hard to beat sitting in the bar area at the Brigantine, nestled between the Del Mar Race track and the Beach the place is great for fish tacos and oyster shooters. Dinner, I think Calypso is a fun place with really good food, french carrib. (reservations recommended).
Lunch? hmm, exquisite.. how about Mille Fleur? in Rancho Santa Fe. Its on the pricy side (but more reasonable during the day) it is a great place to 'do' lunch
Not sure if I'd recommend Calypso Cafe for an out of towner for the food. Went there once and was sorely unimpressed. The coconut milk ceviche was too sweet and milky--not enough spices or other flavorings. Entrees were ok but nothing that was really that outstanding, even their whole grilled fish.
I always make the same suggestion to people in your shoes.
Firstly, your friend is right in a sense. The area around UCSD is mostly a barren wasteland of megachains.
What you guys need to do is get in the car and head to downtown La Jolla. Take Torrey Pines Rd. all the way until it ends at Girard, and turn right. Go 2.5 blocks and stop at Girard Gourmet. This is a Belgian-style deli owned by a family of Belgian expats.
They have excellent salads and sandwiches, on their own house-made bread. They make pretty much everything on the premises, with the exception of some of the meats. They also have great cookies and small fruit pastries. Since you specified light and fresh, I'd suggest one of their veggie sandwiches. They do their own roasted eggplant and red bell peppers, and have a nice selection of cheeses to pair with them.
Get this stuff to go, and head down the hill to La Jolla Cove park. If you luck out, you might even find one of the cliff side-mounted picnic tables unoccupied.
In the Del Mar Plaza is Pacifica Breeze Cafe. All outdoor seating with ocean views above the buildings and treese below. Good salads, wraps, sandwiches, etc. Beach is 1.5 blocks away. good for brunch and lunch.
Trattoria Aqua in La Jolla has some seats w/ water views. Mediterranean-Italian food.
Piatti's in La Jolla Shores doesn't have ocean view BUT their inside decor is very charming (Mediterranean style) and they have a nice outdoor patio. Good for lunch and dinner. Walking distance to the beach.
Afternoon snack--Michele Coulon's bakery in La Jolla, next to the Vons shopping center. Or Frutti Yogurt in UTC.
George's in La Jolla is right on the ocean and the views are spectacular with great food. Another great spot is Del Mar Plaza (15th/Camino del Mar) where Il Fornaio (chain, but a good one) has a cool wine bar and across the plaza, another fun spot Epazote (tho I think I read the name and format changed recently). Down in Pacific Beach, a really cool spot is JRDN, also right on the coast and serving up some nice edibles.