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Sep 24, 2007 06:57 AM

San Diego - place to go

I would love to have some suggestions on "must do's " in San Diego. We will be there in October but will have no car. We would definitely take public transporation. Many thanks.

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  1. San Diego is a tough city to get around without a car. Where are you staying? That will greatly impact your options.

    12 Replies
      1. re: bmgjrg

        No car? Wow, good luck with that one. Public Transportation is horrible in this city.

        There are actually lots of interesting things to see in Old Town, although I don't particularly like any of the restaurnats. Its primarily a tourist destination and it seems that the food is fairly bland for my tastes.

        Get on the bus/trolley and head downtown. Take the ferry to Coronado and spend the day in Coronado shopping and eating. The beach at Coronado is fantastic, and the Hotel Del Coronado is an interesting way to spend an hour or two.

        1. re: naven

          San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has a website, where you can enter your itinerary (address or landmark) and it will tell you how to get there through the transit system. The routes can be a little convoluted, though.

        2. re: bmgjrg

          For going downtown, I recommend the trolley over the bus. You could make a stop in Little Italy, too. The zoo isn't too far from Old Town. I'm sure you could get there by bus. The problem is that it is notoriously difficult to get from Point A to Point B using our city's public transit system. Sometimes you need to make illogical transfers that take you miles out of your way to get where you want to go. I don't mean to be discouraging, but I don't think you'd find anyone that disagrees with me either. I second the recommendation that you spend a day in Coronado. The Point Loma Lighthouse is also very nice.

          Don't know about restaurants in Old Town. The only ones I've been to are Bandini's and Guadalajara Grill, which are both run of the mill Tex-Mex.

          1. re: mercyteapot

            Casa De Bandini has been closed for over a year. Guadalajara is still there.

            Neither of them ever served Tex-Mex.

            1. re: Josh

              We will have to agree to disagree here, because I find the menu at GG to be very Americanized. As always, your opinion may vary. I'm sure the OP is clever enough to have picked up on my disclaimer that "I don't know much about the restaurants in Old Town" and will consider input from other posters on that topic.

              1. re: mercyteapot

                Yeah, Guadalajara is Americanized, it's just not Tex-Mex. Tex-Mex is a pretty specific subset of fake Mexican food, and Guadlajara doesn't serve it.

                They have lots of seafood dishes, for example, which are not a part of Tex-Mex cuisine, and they don't serve queso, which is a staple of Tex-Mex eateries.

                1. re: Josh

                  "Agree to disagree"...'nuff said.

                  1. re: mercyteapot

                    So you believe any Americanized Mexican food to be Tex-Mex?

                    How does that work?

                    Do you think that fish prepared Veracruz style is something that's served in Texas?

                    1. re: Josh

                      Actually this person isn't too far off:

                      And anyway, why not just let it go?

                      1. re: Alice Q

                        I tried to let it go, but it wouldn't let me blank out my post after making it.

                        I have a thing about accuracy. I lived with a Texan for a long time, and her biggest complaint about San Diego was the lack of Tex-Mex. The only Tex-Mex item you see out here with any frequency is fajitas.

                        I thought that a lot of places here should have been close enough, but once I ate at some places in Texas (like Chuey's, f'r'instance) I saw how different Tex-Mex is from SoCal Mexican.

                        I think that part of what makes people drawn to obsessively discuss food the way that they do on Chowhound is because they notice these kinds of distinctions and care about them.

          2. re: bmgjrg

            There are a few restaurants in the Old Town that get fairly decent recs here, if you like the spicier, not so "Tex Mex" (as somebody said :) ) type of cuisine. If you search this board for "El Agave", "Spicy Mexican Grille", or "Berta's", you find plenty of material on them. I'd hesitate to call these a "must do", but they are in your neighborhood.

            The good news is that Old Town is a major transportation hub. The bad news is that unless you are going to be going somewhere near another Trolley (our light rail system) stop, you likely are running into prohibitively long trips if using public transportation only. Unless there is a reason why you cannot drive, I suggest renting a car for at least part of the trip, if the trip is going to be longer than a few days. And yes, yes - I realize this isn't about chow, meaning one of my fans will complain and this post will disappear. But without email address to send people offline comments, what do you do?

            Anyhow, are any restaurants in the San Diego in the "must do" category? It's hard to say, but I'd say "probably not". I think like most people, unless we are familiar with your tastes in cuisine, and/or know which sights you plan to see (e.g. the Zoo, Sea World, La Jolla), it is pretty difficult to throw out restaurant names without the list being forty or fifty places.

        3. Easily a taxi *one way* to La Jolla or Convoy street will cost $30. Downtown and Little Italy is best option. Technically can walk to both, but it will be uphill coming back...Public transport is not good here.

          The Boards have many Little Italy reccomendations. I like Pete's Meats for a quick sandwich and Solunto Bakery for breakfast, or a slice of pizza or calzone. Yes, walk inside the bakery. Deli section.

          Downtown- During the day on 4th at Market, on Market Street Ciro's. Inside Horton Plaza, Napa Valley Grille is good, but so is Nordstrom's Cafe.

          In Old Town Casa Guadalajara is good. Old Town Mexican Cafe has tourists and many on this Board don't like it. I only order the carnitas and am happy.

          None of these are 'must do's though.

          If you like Izakaya style Japanese and have a bit of money (because of the additional cab fare) then Sakura on Convoy street would be a "must" in my book. We only got 7 dishes last night and hot tea to drink and bill was $48.

          1. You can take a short cab ride to Point Loma and try Point Loma Seafoods. Great lunch spot right on the water. My parents go each and every time they are in San Diego.

            1. The Old Towne trolley is the best deal going for hitting all the tourist spots. Buy an all day pass and relax. The touristy things can be fun!


              1. Old Town has a couple of good places to go. Casa Guadalajara is pretty decent gringo-friendly Mexican food. Berta's Latin American is a good choice, too, with dishes from all over South America on their menu. I've read good things on here about a new place called Spicy Mexican Grill, but haven't been.

                Rockin Baja Lobster, Old Town Mexican Cafe, and the restaurants inside the park itself should be avoided.

                If you take the trolley to downtown, then you'll have more options.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Josh

                  Oh Berta's! I've always had a good meal there and I do like the ambiance....not as touristy as the rest of Old Town. I agree that Casa Guadalajara is better than Old Town Mexican Cafe. Also, I like Jack & Guilio's for Italian food there. If I'm in the area, that is.