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High end and innovative in SD?

In San Diego for two nights from NYC. Are there any high end, innovative restos that reflect the region's resources and cuisine? (Yes, they're delish, but no Mex dives this trip, thanks). Looking for quality.

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  1. High end and innovative in SD? Well, that's an oxymoron is I ever heard one. I would have sent you to Asia Vous but they closed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DiningDiva

      Yeah, I was scratching my head over this one. Especially for someone coming from NYC.

    2. We can tell you expensive places to eat...there is a current thread on that subject. Is that what "high end" means?

      Some of the dives and holes in the wall have great food.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cathy

        Will you have a car? I really can't think of much in the downtown area. I don't know if it would qualify as 'high end', but Market in Del Mar is based on farm-to-table - the produce comes from the famed Chino farms which is right by. So while maybe not 'San Diego Regional' (which is, um, what, california burritos, fish tacos, and great beer?), it's definately local food! And really good to boot.

        I really can't think of what would qualify as "high end regional' around here.

        1. re: Jeters

          I guess we could throw out the usual suspects (Market came to mind for me as well, and I'd throw George's "California Modern" in as a backup), but when you say you are from NYC, we are going to be embarrassed to give too strong of a recommendation to anything - it will be a disappointment in comparison. :)

      2. Like RB Hound and others have pointed out, San Diego's strength isn't high end dining, at least not by NYC standards. If you like ethnic foods, then I think you'll find more enjoyment out of our plethora of Asian dining spots.

        1. Spread! If "high end" means that money is no object, because you are receiving the freshest and most unusual ingredients, prepared in a unique manner, then Spread is definitely high end. Yes, it's casual, and yes it isn't really *that* expensive. But it definitely has no peer for the novelty of its vision and, so they say, the quality of its ingredients.

          1. In addition to Market, I think there are four other places that fit 'innovative and high end'. To be sure, these are not innovative like, say, wd-50, but they do offer creativity.

            Nine-ten in the Grand Colonial hotel in La Jolla can be tremendous.


            Jack's Fine Dining Room in La Jolla is probably the most innovative and can also sparkle. The chef (Tony DiSalvo) worked at Grammercy Tavern and Jean-Georges. His food reminds me of some of the dishes in Jean-Georges' cookbooks. If you go be sure to book the 'Dining Room' - Jack's has about 7 venues the Dining Room is the high-end good one.


            Arterra in Del Mar is also relatively innovative.


            Addison in the Grand Del Mar is relatively new. I have not been there, but the menu looks great. I have heard good things and it is the next high-end place I try for sure. It is probably the most expensive.


            Again, if you are bored by the New York innovators you are out of luck, but these places can turn out wonderful food that isn't strictly steak frites or pork chops and apples.

            Good luck and let us know how it goes, we always enjoy hearing an 'outsiders' take on our town.

            1. I don't know where you're staying.

              Downtown - Oceanaire has been highly touted for their seafood (you may have seen Brian Malarkey, the chef as a contestant on Top Chef and he just won Chef of the Year by the San Diego Restaurant Assn)

              Del Mar - Pacifica Del Mar (not necessarily upper high-end but excellent view and seafood combination)

              Rancho Bernardo - El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn (Chef Gavin Kaysen is making his mark internationally)

              6 Replies
              1. re: LisaSD

                How abouut Chive? Very creative small-plates. Maybe not high-end in terms of fancy decor, but excellent food and a cool space. I'm from NYC, and was there in August. If nothing else, check the menu.

                1. re: LisaSD

                  Gavin Kaysen is gone now. He's the new chef at Café Boulud.

                  I second Jack's, by the way. I had the most incredible meal there.

                  1. re: bagwhat

                    Damn - I guess I should have gone while I had the chance. Good for him though! I just saw him on the Iron Chef show - I had no idea he was so good looking! :-)


                    1. re: bagwhat

                      Gavin is still at El Biz for a couple of more weeks. Better go while you can.

                      I expect that the folks who run the hotel to come up with someone who can perform at a high level (likely without Gavin's personality). They have been hiring great culinarians since the mid seventies

                      1. re: buzznutter

                        Man, and it just so happens I'm going to NY this weekend. I think we'll have to high tail it over there when I get back!

                        1. re: Alice Q

                          I have this theory that him moving to new york means he won. I know it's ridiculous and baseless, but what else is there to go on?

                  2. I think I would try to find something really good and with a local feel. rather than us trying to come up with something in line with NYC..an ocean view..Georges/Pacifica/Epazote....really fresh ..Market.... Addison, where you might see hot air balloons right in front of the window... Jacks for fine,Ocean bar.. or grille....all of these are good and an experience in a different way...

                    1. I think Linkery is hit or miss but I certainly consider it innovative for San Diego. There are places that make their own sausage or use grass-fed this or that, but Linkery has all of it in one place. I also don't know of any other SD places doing the gratuity -included thing.

                      1. Innovative might be tough compared to NYC, but for high end cuisine exemplary of what the region has to offer - you could try Market, Addison, Blanca, the Guild, or Jack's Fine Dining (not the Grill or the Ocean Room). If you were going to be in town longer, I might recommend Laja or Manzanilla - both of which serve innovative regional cuisine - but they're about two hours south of the border.

                        1. I would have to say Bite. Most innovation I've had recently and I've been to most of the places listed. Most of them are fine places, but nothing unusual. Bite impressed me.


                          1. i would recommend Market and Mr. A's. Both serve produce that comes from Chino Farms. Both are high end.

                            Mr. A's has excellent service and very high end. It is the sister resteraun to Mille Fleur.

                            Iwould also give KUDO"S to market. They serve a salad with Berrata and heirloom tomatoes that is fantastic. They are located a mile from Chino Farms.

                            Market Restaurant & Bar
                            3702 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014

                            Bertrand at Mister a's
                            2550 Fifth Avenue, Ste 406, San Diego, CA 92103

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                              I think both of these are fine places, among SD's best- I've enjoyed meals at both of them, and will (if I'm lucky) return. But neither are places I'd pick for innovation.


                              1. re: Fake Name

                                I think sfeatme was asking for sugestions, and your certainly offered that with BITE, why critiscize the choice of others.

                                I think MARKET was extremely innovative.

                                1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                  Only my opinion, I apologize if I offended. I meant nothing derogatory about others or their choice.



                            2. Has anyone tried P-33 since the new chef took over? New husband and I had an excellent meal there one month ago.


                              1. El Bizcocho was awesome, great atmosphere and fabulous food. we went in last month for a friend's bday and we had a great time. we tried 4 apps, 4 dinners and 4 desserts and everything was great except for my just OK steak. My hubby had the veal chop sous-vide with giant morels and it was spectacular. hubby did not recognize the very large morels...he is used to the smaller dried ones that I cooked with and he was making a pile of them on the side of the plate...afraid to try what they were. I took the first bite and yelled at him that he was wasting a fortune in mushrooms...he did not let me have any more and ate them all.

                                I am still in mourning for Asia vous closing.... a little bummed because I wrote to them about what to do with a $75 gift cert that I got our friends. They did not write back.