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Does your resto database need updating (SD)?

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This morning I saw the title of a post that indicated someone was looking for a place to eat near San Diego's Symphony Towers. The first thing that popped into my mind was, "Oh, La Gran Tapa is right near there." The second thing that popped into my mind was, "Hmm. When did I last eat there? About ten years ago? Could it still be any good?" The third thing was, "Is that place even still in business?"

The point is that for most of us, unless we never eat at home, the restaurant scene in San Diego County has just got too big for one person to keep up with all of it. If you're like me, you like to sample the new places and there's always a new flavor of the month. That means that some old favorites can fall into disuse, and suddenly (as I did this morning) you realize that it's been literally years since you've eaten there.

It can get kind of embarrassing when you recommend a once-favorite restaurant you last visited in the 90s and find that it was sold five years ago to the Russian mafia who have since sacked the kitchen staff and hired dropouts from the Culinary Institute of Chernobyl. On the flip side of that coin, I've seen some venomous posts here aimed at excellent eateries, with comments that make it obvious the poster has never eaten there under the place's current management and/or chef.

So with that in mind, here are some of the San Diego area places I used to like, but that I haven't visited in so long I can no longer confidently either recommend are warn anyone about them. Some I really want to reconnect with; others not so much:
La Gran Tapa
Parallel 33
Laurel
Thee Bungalow (since Ed Moore sold it)
Third Corner
Terra
Hawthorn's
Rainwater's on Kettner
Cafe Pacifica (I don't consider it part of Old Town)
Dumpling Inn
Emerald
Jasmine
Ortega's
Agave
Old Town (the whole damn place)
Tutto Mare (is it still there?)
Wine Sellar and Brasserie
The Gathering (haven't been since it's been rebuilt)
Arterra
George's (haven't been since the remodel)
Old Trieste
Baci

Whew! That list is shamefully long. How about you? Do you have a list of old lovers that were once objects of your passion but from whom you just sort of "grew apart"?
. . . jim strain in san diego.

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  1. Hi Jim - La Gran Tapa and Tutto Mare have both recently closed - within the last couple of months. Tutto Mare was replaced by a place called Venice Ristorante and Wine Bar. I was actually just there this evening for a happy hour. Instead of the buffet that Tutto Mare used to have they serve tapas for $3.00 - the servings are small, but enough for a few people to have a taste. We had a good bruschetta and some calamari - and some good bread too. Wines are $5.00 a glass.

    La Gran Tapa is empty, but I would guess that it will become another restaurant.

    I also recently ate at 3rd Corner. The chicken liver mousse was wonderful, but I thought everything else was just sort of ok. I have also drifted away from a few on your list - Wine Sellar, Laurel and Parallel 33 among them - mostly because of new places (like Bite, Market and Jayne's). I also haven't been to Tapenade in a while, though I think it's some of the best food in San Diego.

    1. My last visit to Gran Tapa (2 years ago) was hugely disappointing. I'm not surprised to hear they've closed.

      Dumpling Inn continues to be good. Just ate there the other night.

      George's is just great. The change has been beneficial to both the atmosphere and the menu.

      1. I haven't been to Terra in quite a long time. We used to love everything about it (brunch, lunch, and dinner), but we've started having Sunday breakfasts at home and just don't seem to get down in that area for dinner anymore.

        Between Emerald and Jasmine (for dim sum, at least) we prefer Emerald, mainly because we get better service and we know what to look for and how to identify it.

        We go to Thee Bungalow more often now than before it got sold. It may be because the Cohn Group runs a lot of good specials there, but I've never been disappointed by anything I've eaten. Except the souffle. The roast duck is still really good and not a bad price and the salmon has always been moist and flavorful. I have to admit, though, unless we're there for a set wine dinner menu I can't bring myself to order anything but the duck.

        I just remember going out to eat a lot more often. I don't know if we've settled into a routine of just cooking at home more or gotten lazy with not wanting to drive once we get home. Like you, I used to be able to recommend places to eat to visiting friends all the time, but now we're just out of touch with the restaurant scene. We wait for SD Restaurant Week to go taste what's out there.

        http://threedogkitchen.com

        2 Replies
        1. re: leanneabe

          Emerald is pretty good and reliable, but I kind of like their sibling-restaurant Pearl better, even though its location in Rancho Bernardo makes it a little bit more of a shlep for me.

          1. re: mizducky

            That's funny, because Pearl is closer to us, but we prefer going to Emerald! The first time we were at Pearl, the same plate of shrimp har gow was going around because no one told us the chefs went home! Our second visit was much better, but I think I just like the atmosphere of Emerald. I don't know why. The food at both locations are good - we've gotten good at pointing and nodding.

            http://threedogkitchen.com

        2. I started making a list tonight of places (sort of a new years resolution) - and then I saw your list.
          My list mostly made up of places I've never been to - but I'm only here part time AND on a student budget. But I also have LAUREL on my list because - I went once for the "pre-show, pre-fixe" special and was disappointed - but so many people on here RAVE about it.
          haven't been to Dumpling Inn for about a year now - but planning to go tomorrow.
          We go to 3rd corner Regularly - and I think it's gotten better over the years, Funny though - we've never been to thee bungalow accross the street.
          Emerald is/was good - thats been a while for us too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SRosie

            So apparently, Dumpling Inn is not open on Mondays - so we went to Emerald for Dim Sum instead - not so impressed with their Dim Sum and deffinately the most EXPENSIVE dim sum lunch I've ever had!
            I'd rather go their for dinner off their regular menu.

          2. forgot to add my .02 on Terra... between the holidays and restaurant week last year we went to Terra several times, really enjoyed the crab cakes, and Lobster mac and cheese.
            we went in July or August when a friend was visiting from out of town and the whole experience was really dissapointing. We haven't been back - not sure if we will considering the size of my list of other places to try.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SRosie

              My 2¢ on Terra: Save your money for other places.