San Diego Dinning
- CHEFBUCK Aug 27, 2007 03:27 PM
I will be visiting San Diego for a few nights and will be staying at The Sheraton on Harbour Island Dr. I will be staying for a few nights. Any suggestions on this regions restaurants. Nothing expensive. Like Rachel Ray's $40 a day kind of thing. I want to know San Diego's culinary world. I am from the other side of the states. So I do not know much from that region. Any natives that can give me a hand would be great. I love seafood.
Without a car your options are somewhat limited. Are you also up for public transportation? San Diego is sort of spread out so you may want to pick and choose some neighborhoods to focus your attention on. Close by (perhaps $15 or less taxi rides) are: Hillcrest, Ocean Beach, and Downtown. In each location there are some good and not so good restaurants.
I would for sure recommend in Ocean Beach: Hodads for amazing burgers and South Beach for excellent fish/calamari/oyster tacos.
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I recently reviewed a dozen places in San Diego at prices ranging from $3.50 to $50 a head: http://theeatingwell.blogspot.com/
Filippi's Pizza Grotto - we hit this one on the off chance when we saw a bunch of people going in. The restaurant has an Italian deli out front - you walk through to get to the dark restaurant where wine bottles hang from the ceiling. We split a pepperoni and sausage pizza - thick crust, lots of cheese, not too oily. We ate two slices each and took two home. Good stuff.
Dublin Square and Cafe Zucchero - we ate breakfast at each of these. Both served frankly awful food, though the coffee at Zucchero was good. An oily fry up at one, a breakfast burrito style dish literally swimming in liquid at the other. Enough said.
Cafe Chloe for breakfast. Savoury custard was basically quiche without the pastry - an idea so good I'm going to rip if off at home. Gravlax was served with in a light tower of crepe with separate layers of egg white and yolk. Brunch: tartiflette-reblochon, a brie, bacon, and potato tart followed by 'eggs piperade with procuitto and potatoes'. The tart was fun, like something you might knock up yourself for brunch. Very tasty and not trying too hard. The piperade was the classic onion, pepper and tomato base served with a fried egg on top. Impressive. I wish I'd had time to try lunch or dinner there.
I ordered a fish taco at The Tin Fish because that's what everyone else was doing. In fact I changed my order from an oyster po'boy to do so. "Shame," said the guy taking orders, "once you've had the fish taco, you'll be back for more, but you'll never taste that po'boy." He's probably right.
I have no idea who Karen Krasne might be but she's not lying when she promises Extraordinary Desserts. We hit the Union St outpost at a little after 4.00pm and found it all but empty, save for probably 10 waiflike waitresses who didn't look like they'd ever eaten cake in their lives. A mix of rasberry and white chocolate mouse ('White Chocolate Berry Coupe') was, and I use this phrase for the first time, "to die for."
Located in what might very possibly be The Most Boring Neighbourhood in America™, Bertrand at Mister A's is perched on top of a 12 story financial building that affords impressive views of San Diego. The food was a little less accomplished than the view but very good - I think if I'd chosen a little better then perhaps I might have gotten a better appreciation for Chef Stephane Voitzwinkler’s obvious skills.
Formerly the fine dining room at Georges at the Cove, an all-new "upscale contemporary restaurant" is declaring it's intentions with the name: Georges California Modern. I had Chorizo Crusted White Seabass with roasted peppers, shelling beans, cherry tomatoes, parsley puree for a main course. It looked odd - a huge bass with a few studs of chorizo on top. Big deal - it tasted fabulous.
At 1500 Ocean 'Snake River farms Kurobuta pork loin rib chop' was very impressive indeed - I scraped the bone to get every scrap. Service was top of the class.
At first I was unsure what we were going to get at Tapenade. At reception the noise was almost unbearable but overall this was probably the most impressive food of our trip to San Diego and straight on to my personal favourites. Just get seated away from the audio system!
We also had breakfast a couple of days at Cafe 222 - the corned beef hash was great there and the tamales good too.
In the spirit of Rachel Ray and her $40
Take a cab from your hotel to Little Italy, a very walkable 7 or 8 blocks of India St. It is chock-a-block with restaurants. Some of the ones that would fall into your category are
Mona Lisa (lunch, sandwiches)
Pete's Meats (cheap tasty sandwiches)
Filippi's Pizza Grotto
Sogno di Vino
Shakespeare Pub (or is it the Princess Pub)
Walk 1 block towards the Bay to Kettner and your options are
Bud's Olde Louisiana Shop (cajun/creole)
Walk 1 more block towards the Bay and hop on the Blue Line trolley going into downtown. Get off at American Plaza and you've got
St. Tropez Bakery
Grab & Go Sandwiches
Or switch to the Orange Line trolley going to the convention center, get off there and
Cafe 222 (best breakfast in town)
You can also walk up to the Gaslamp from this stop. Lots and lots of expensive retaurants that cater to a very young or very touristy or convention goer crowd. Enter at your own risk.
Back at your hotel, take a cab over to Shelter Island to Point Loma Seafood for lunch. Excellent fish and seafood sandwiches, most of them under $10. Or cab it back over to India St. but this time on the northern end where you can try Blue Water Grill, more fish, or the Saffron, or the pub. Neither of these cabs rides will break the bank.
Take a cab over to Ocean Beach. There are literally tons of restaurants on Newport Ave. that fall into the cheap eats category. For snack try the rolled tacos at Nicos. For more substantial Mexican try either Ortegas (Newport and Cable) or Don Bravo (Newport and Bacon) and South Beach Bar & Grill (end of Newport) for some really good fish tacos. Shades on Abbott across the street from the ocean has a great little patio and serves all day, so does Tower Too. The Vine is a beach casual wine bar at Bacon and Niagra that won't kill your $40/day budget but it'll take a bite out of it.
I would highly recommend Blue Water Grill (on India Street) which Dining Diva mentioned. They have phenomenal fresh and inexpensive seafood that they grill there for you (they are also a fishmonger so it is very fresh). They also have really good grilled fish tacos (my preference over the fried ones you get most places).
But I have to strongly disagree with Dining Diva on Point Loma Seafoods. Pretty much everything you can buy there is deep-fried, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of fresh fish I think. I really don't understand why PL Seafoods has line-ups all the time. It is nowhere near as good as Blue Water and more expensive. I wish that wasn't so - I live in Point Loma!
If you like deep-fried fish, the fish-n-chips at Shakespeare's Pub (a block away from Blue Water) is excellent. I have traveled in the UK and I think Shakespeare's is better than 90% of the stuff I have eaten there.
I also highly recommend Cafe Chloe for dinner (or breakfast). But my favorite breakfast places are the Mission in PB and Coffee Cup in La Jolla - they offer funky, mexican-influenced stuff you cannot find anywhere.
If you want to splurge one night, Tapenade is fantastic classic French. It's not ridiculously expensive but it won't fit into the $40/day plan!