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Sep 17, 2007 09:40 AM

Lunch Spots in La Jolla


I am new to La Jolla and would love recommendations on great places to go for lunch and dinner with friends. I'm tired of chains and predictable menus. Can anyone help?


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  1. You in the Golden Triangle or Downtown?

    George's California Modern is a great spot, for both meals. They have essentially two menus, one that's served on the terrace and in the bar, and the one served in the restaurant downstairs. The latter is pricier and fancier, but the food throughout is damn near flawless. Can't go wrong with George's.

    Less fancy places I like for lunch:

    Girard Gourmet - house-baked breads for really good sandwiches, and simple, homey entrees like beef burgundy and duck a l'orange. Very reasonable. Don't miss the fruit danish.

    El Pescador - fresh fish, grilled and served on amazing rolls. They're on Pearl St. One of the best of the few La Jolla holes-in-the-wall.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      I'm down with the rest of what Josh says, but can't agree with his rec of George's downstairs. Ate there the the other nite and it was insipid Epcot fare -- thirteen flavors in each dish, strong sauces over overcooked vegetables. A "chef's choice" menu that is a joke -- random plates from the kitchen, nothing at all Omakase about it. Added up to an "exquisitely mediocre" meal, as my nephew put it. Eat upstairs on the terrace - the view and the food much better, and much cheaper.

      1. re: guide boy

        Huh, bizarre. My visits there have been really great, though I've ordered off the menu and not done the omakase thing. It could be that improvisation isn't their strong suit. My meals downstairs have been like the meals upstairs, only more so if you follow me.

    2. In addition to location in LJ, are you talking a student budget or no limit?

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. For lunch you might try Piatti, 9-10 and Tapenade. 9-10 and Tapenade are also a good spots for dinner.

          1. village/shores/bird rock:

            the cottage
            spice & rice thai
            trattoria acqua
            come on in

            cafe japengo
            blue coral
            and yes, i know both fleming's and roy's are chains, but they're also good

            7 Replies
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Daily's has been closed for long time. They were supposed to re-open someplace in Downtown LJ in the summer and I saw an article last week saying Oct 27, with no address listed.

              If in the UTC area, Wired French Bistro.

              1. re: Cathy

                oops! i moved away from s.d. months ago, so i guess i'm a little out of the loop.

                i hope they do reopen. good place, great intentions.

                1. re: Cathy

                  I like Wired a lot. For the longest time I assumed it was an internet cafe because of the name. Good food, and a nice selection of Unibroue beers.

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  I wouldn't recommend Blue Coral. Overpriced food that isn't done well. Salad was underdressed and underflavored. Side dish for the fish was an odd combination of poblano peppers and some other green (it looked bad on the plate) and creme brulee was too sweet and not enough carmelized sugar. The only good thing about the dinner is that it was on someone else's tab.

                  Donovan's in UTC has excellent steak and I think they're also open for weekday lunch.

                  Edo Sushi in UTC has pretty decent sushi and is less of a scene than Cafe Japengo.

                  Z Pizza in UTC for thin crust pizzas.

                  Mission Cup Cafe for breakfast, brunch and casual lunch on Wall St.

                  I have to agree w/ Josh's take on George's above. The downstairs dining room has a much better menu than the upstairs bar and patio. I remember wondering what all the fuss was about George's until I ate downstairs.

                  1. re: daantaat

                    thanks for the 'blue coral' review. i should have noted in my suggestions that i've never actually eaten there...i just thought their menu looked great.

                    i have to disagree with the donovan's rec. i was underwhelmed by that place. it's really stodgy/stuffy, and te food is good, but doesn't warrant the exorbitant prices. i think the food at fleming's is just as good, with a much better/younger social vibe & atmosphere, and it's more wallet-friendly.

                    definitely agree with the rec for mission coffee cup. excellent breakfast!

                    also agree with the take on george's. my meals upstairs were mediocre at best, but i had a fabulous dinner downstairs.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Funny, I like George's on any floor. The dining room is certainly more impressive, but the bar/terrace have some really enjoyable casual meals. Last time there, I had a grilled sea bass sandwich with this amazing dill tartar sauce. It was like the Platonic ideal of the grilled fish sandwich.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        somehow I think the space that Blue Coral is in is cursed. Every restaurant that occupies that space goes under every few years.

                        Fleming's and Donovan's are both good and have different styles towards being a "steakhouse." Fleming's is livelier, although the last time I was there we had to bend over the table to hear each other. Donovan's is a little quieter but I don't find it overly stuffy. Donovan's mushrooms and creamed spinach can't be beat!