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Where to stay in San Diego to be near good food?

We're planning a family trip with our 6 yr old chow pup to San Diego. We find it most convenient if dinner is reasonably near by so that we can eat at a semi-reasonable hour and still have our son in bed at bedtime. We're thinking about either the Embassy Suites Downtown, so across the street from Seaport Village, walking distance to the Gaslamp District, Pacific Fish Company in the hotel or Embassy Suites La Jolla. I assume everything in Seaport Village is utterly mediocre. How are the restaurants in the

Where are we most likely to be fairly close to plenty of decent restaurants? I'm not expecting NYC or SF quality food, but we're not looking for super fine, formal dining anyway. Definitely not chain restaurants. Casual and family friendly is great, but my son also eats in "grown-up" restaurants all the time, knows how to behave and doesn't need crayons or a children's menu.

I'll get around to asking about specific restaurants later. Right now I'm just trying to figure out where to make a hotel reservation.

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  1. Moast everything in the Gaslamp and Seaport Village is mediocre(especially Seaport Village) but places can be found. I would head to La Jolla. The hotel where Clays is.. I cant remember the name.. La Jolla????..
    You could dine ion La Jolla then ..la Jolla Shores or Del Mar...I am assuming you will have a car..or stay downtown and we can suggest places in Hillcrest..by Balboa Park..
    some downtown..there are some great restaurants in the Normal Heights/North Park area these days..Urban Soalce seems to be a hit..

    2 Replies
    1. re: butterbutt

      "Most everything in the Gaslamp and Seaport Village is mediocre(especially Seaport Village) but places can be found."

      I don't want to sound like I'm being critical, but I find the "Gaslamp is touristy and mediocre" comments to be a little old and tired. Yes, a lot of places are, but I've seen close to two dozen Gaslamp restaurants get recommendations in this board in recent months, so let's not mislead people by writing off the entire neighborhood.

      Staying somewhere like La Jolla might increase the percentage decent restaurants within walking distance of your hotel, but you could stay an entire week near the Gaslamp and not even come close to running through the list of places that get a strong majority of thumbs up from SD Chowhounders. Sure, there aren't many *destination* restaurants in the Gaslamp, but there aren't that many in all of San Diego - and when you have a 6-year old along, you aren't exactly going to be going to Tapenade anyhow.

      1. re: RB Hound

        They could do a lot worse than to stay in the Hillcrest area. That puts them in proxcimity to the Zoo, Balboa Park, Old Town, Sea World, not to mention downtown and the Harbor and lots of decent to good restaurants, many of which would be suitable for dining with a 6 year old.

    2. I think whether or not you have a car will be key. If you're not planning on renting a car, then I'd stay downtown or in Hillcrest, where public transportation is somewhat of an option. Not a fantastic option, but still an option. Plus, as DiningDiva mentioned, Hillcrest is close to Balboa Park, the zoo, etc.

      If you have a car, then I think you can stay anywhere and be within a 15-30 minute drive of most of the recs you'll see on CH. If you're in La Jolla, I really like Barbarella. It's a great restaurant with a homey ambiance. The menu had a mixture of Italian, French, and American dishes. There's also Roppongi, which is Asian fusion. If you stay in Hillcrest/downtown, you'll find a lot of recs for places on various CH threads, from Super Cocina to Chive to The Linkery.

      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Might I suggest just a slightly different approach? I think for a place like San Diego that still can be spotty in terms of concentrations of foodie-worthy haunts, a nice approach might be to single out perhaps a single well-run independent restaurant that is run by a passionate operator. Make it you "home base" restaurant where you can have the luxury of sampling various parts of their menu and get to know the staff and owner, establishing a bit of home away from home. To supplement perhaps alternate between that and perhaps one backup. I think that will result in a much more memorable experience rather than going to different places for every meal, which will tend to dramatically reduce the odds, especially if it needs to be within walking distance.

        In this way you can also experience San Diego's nascent urban movement, particularly in the downtown, Little Italy, or Hillcrest areas of town, and you would only need to find just a single gem or two plus a breakfast place to make your days memorable.

        For this approach downtown may actually be a pretty good bet; for breakfast/brunch Cafe 222 comes to mind, and for your other meals Cafe Chloe would fit the bill. It'll keep you close to the harbor and transportation options to other parts of the city (esp. the trolley which will bring Little Italy into striking distance as well), and within walking distance there will be many galleries, boutiques, and clubs depending on your fancy to keep you busy. Throw in one other independently operated restaurant, frequent them during your stay, and you will soon be treated like a local!

        1. stay in or near Del Mar; the Embassy Suites in LJ is fairly close. the "best" restaurants (and I have no intent of denigrating downtown restaurants) are in LJ and the Del Mar area. Your daytime plans could very easily determine the best location for you though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ibstatguy

            Hmmmm... What we need is a trolley that serves coastal North County; that'll open up to the traveller the restaurants of La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas...

          2. I'll put my two cents in for La Jolla.

            I stayed at the Grand Colonial in May and there were so many good restaurants withing walking distance........Roppongi, 9-10, the Cottage for breakfast, Georges (yum)... my 3 yr old nephew (who lives in San Diego) was with us for a few days.... he loved walking everywhere, especially down to see the seals on the beach!