Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Mar 7, 2008 12:31 PM

OK San Diego, I think I've done my homework....

I have to go to San Diego next week on business, though unfortunately I am stuck in the Gaslamp since whenever I go to a professional gathering I get stuck in tourist town. (I'll be at the Westin @ 400 W broadway). After reading the boards, I'm thinking that I can hightail it out of there for dinners up at Super Cocina/Mariscos German, at least on the day i skip out of my thing early and head for the zoo. I do have a question or two, though: how late is Mariscos German open? It sounds like a truck operation, so I'm having trouble finding hours....Super Cocina looks like it's open 'til 8:30. if I go from the zoo or the hotel, it looks like maybe the 7 bus? Please let me know if that's the best route, and if there happens to be anything else chow-worthy up that way that I shouldn't miss while I'm in the neighborhood. I'm also toying with the idea of a cab to Asia Cafe, since Laotian food is not too common 'round this way. (Don't worry, I'm fully informed as to *what* to eat at these places already thanks to you all). I'm still not sure what might be my best option for Japanese food near my hotel though...would love to eat some fresh uni, but I think Izakaya Sakura (apparently the choice spot) is a little far. Any more tips on that score?

In the apparently dreaded Gaslamp, after searching many threads I think my seemingly best lunch options are Pete's Quality Meats, Sadaf and Athens Market Taverna. If there's a gem I'm missing, please hip me to it Lunch doesn't have to be anything fancy, just solid and relatively close to the hotel. I'd take any advice on potential breakfast spots nearby with the same distinction, I have scoured so many "avoid the gaslamp at all costs" threads that I'm a little flummoxed on that one--though in travelling I generally find that meal the easiest to find something reasonably OK, so it's not that big a deal.

Anyway, I've still got a couple days so I'll keep reading and trying to find other good spots and don't miss local specialties from the posters from S.D. who post such valuable info here, so please don't mistake this inquiry for yet another "staying in the gaslamp" shot in the dark...I'm just trying to refine my picks a little, I've only got three and a half days and my dance card is already filling up thanks to you. Just please let me know if I'm overlooking anything real close to what I've mentioned above, especially of Mexican flavor. Regardless, thanks in advance to what I've found here already, chowhound is *such* a great resource.l

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I wish all visitors were like you. :-)

    Mariscos German's location closest to downtown, on Ocean View Blvd, is a sit-down restaurant, and is open until 7pm. Super Cocina is open until 8:30, though I must forewarn you that the best time to go for dinner is earlier, from 6-7. After that, there's less fresh stuff being put out.

    Pete's Meats is good, though is not actually in the Gaslamp. It's in Little Italy, which is a couple miles north of downown. Cafe Chloe is a gem, and is in the East Village (easternmost edge of the Gaslamp), and is probably a place you should go if you enjoy bistro-type cuisine.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      I do realize Pete's is a little further out, I mapped it and driving it's about 6/10 of a mile from my hotel, it looked like. I'm thinking that if I get an hour and a half for lunch i can hoof it up there in time or maybe just cab it if I can find another hound or two at my conference to share the ride. I had totally missed that there was a sit-down outpost of mariscos German, though, thanks for the tip. I'll def. try to get there for one dinner.

      1. re: passing thru

        You can totally walk from the Westin (old Emerald Plaza) to Pete's but you will have to hustle. There is a place that cabs wait outside the Westin on Columbia and that might be the best for a one-way trip.

        If you are feeling adventurous and want a real San Diego style burrito experience at lunch walk east on "C" street and there is a little taco shop hole in the wall next door to a bail bondsman about 2-3 blocks from the Westin that is actually okay--not mind blowing but will give you a taste of our greasy taco shops. Their carne asada burritos are pretty decent.

        I really suggest that you try Cafe Chloe or Oceanaire downtown--they are two of my favorite San Diego restaurants and they are located in the "dreaded" gaslamp.

        And I am not sure where you are coming from but our public transportation leaves a bit to be desired and if you are planning on Super Cocina you might want to spend your $$ on a cab as the meals there are fairly inexpensive.

        ps--thanks for doing your "homework" that is always helpful!!

        1. re: jturtle

          I disagree on the cab, unless you are pressed for time. The 7 bus route comes every 10 to 15 minutes from Broadway up to that neighborhood. If you can spare an extra 20 minutes, the ride will give you an experience of the other San Diego.

          It's worth noting that the Trolley is a nice ride, and it can take you to a couple great places to eat, if you have the time. Mexico is only 45 minutes via trolley (and 15 minutes to walk across the border to the good food), but plan for some time to get through the border on the way back; try to avoid commute times. Closer to home, you can get to places like Tacos El Gordo in Chula Vista, or the Imperial Avenue "Farmer's Market" (with Mexican food stalls) via a short walk from different trolley routes. Even Asia Cafe is a mere 5 minute walk (1/2 mile) from the 47th street Orange Line station! (Go before 6:00 pm)

          Actually, we should do a thread on places near the trolley. It would be a great reference for convention/conference attendees.

          1. re: jturtle

            Google maps will show you how to use public transit in San Diego:
            Directions to Asia Cafe via Orange line trolley:
            Directions to Tacos El Gordo via Blue line trolley:
            Directions to Imperial Fish Market via Orange (or Blue) line trolley:
            Mariscos German:
            Super Cocina via the 7 (you don't need to transfer):

            The first four trips take about 25 minutes, including walking time; Super Cocina is about 35 minutes. You can even get to the vietnamese restaurants (like Pho Ca Dao) on El Cajon Blvd in 40 minutes total, due to the express service on the 15 bus ("every 15 minutes") - that's 5.6 miles from your hotel!
            Google Maps is cool, but it is best to confirm the trip with the official transit trip planner:

            (Edit: sorry for the long links! Note that you can change the departure/arrival date and time, if necessary, to get the right trip. I'm just impressed that you can link to those search results at all. And I just realized that some other folks mentioned these directions)

        2. re: Josh

          at the ocean view blvd location of mariscos german, there's a truck in the parking lot that's open from 7-9 after the restaurant closes.

        3. I wish the same as Josh! It helps when visiting 'Hounds know what they're interested in eating instead of the broad "Help!" requests.

          For Mexican, I asked the same question about the Marisco's German truck:

          Theroman_empire believes it's there until 8pm. You might be better off going to the sit-down location. Also, I remember reading that Asia Cafe closes early due to the neighborhood, so you might want to call them before you go.

          The Cheese Shop has had some positive mentions here on CH. That would make for a good lunch.

          For breakfast downtown, there's The Mission, which has 3 locations in SD.


          It's ok. Personally, I think it's passable for breakfast, but my favorite breakfast joints are a bit out of your reach (Perry's Cafe in Old Town and The Original Pancake House in Clairemont Mesa). OPH is in the same strip mall as Izakaya Sakura and you'd mentioned it was out of your reach. Perry's is reachable via trolley, but it's a bit of a dive, so don't expect anything fancy there.

          For Japanese, maybe you could spend a dinner at Yakitori Yakyudori in Hillcrest (3739 6th Ave.). Public transportation will take you easily up to Hillcrest from downtown, as there are several routes that travel north via 4th or 5th Ave. (there's a trip planner on ).

          Have fun!

          8 Replies
          1. re: geekyfoodie

            Cheese Shop also does breakfast. (on Fourth at Market)

            If you just want a good taco shop, Valentine's (on Market at Ninth) is excellent.

            A different kind of lunch -one with a view-and quite decent food- is at Nordstrom Cafe inside the Nordstrom Store at Horton Plaza. Top floor. Table cloths and real silverware. It would be different if you don't have any old fashioned fancy stores with restaurants in your town.

            1. re: geekyfoodie

              The Mariscos German truck wasn't there at 7:30 on Friday night two weeks ago. I wouldn't count on it being there at 8PM.

              1. re: mikec

                Ah, that's too bad. Nevermind, then.

              2. re: geekyfoodie

                yeah, i think up to convoy st is a little too far w/o wheels unless I can scare up another hound or two. The place in Hillcrest is probably a better option if I have to solo, though consensus does seem to favor Sakura 'round here....

                1. re: passing thru

                  Of past posts, San Diego CH cgfan is the biggest proponent of YY. Now, I haven't met cgfan, but from what I've seen in posts and in conversations, s/he knows their Japanese food. Check out cgfan's comment in this thread (OP is about another yakitori joint on Convoy):


                  Sakura is definitely worth a visit if you can make it up to Convoy, but if you're stuck close to downtown, YY is your best bet for Japanese. You'd miss out on the uni, though.

                  1. re: geekyfoodie

                    thanks, that sounds v. promising and will likely be another dinner spot. i sort of wish i could stop reading threads with great suggestions from kare raisu that are out of my reach, though! ;) *sigh* uni donburi at mitsuwa....

                    1. re: passing thru

                      All the more reason to consider a rental car next time. Unfortunately, downtown is a bit of a drag, chow-wise.

                      Of the Gaslamp restaurants, I enjoy Chive. Their lobster slider is something I'd write home about. If you're stuck in the Gaslamp for dinner, Chive has fun frou-frou martinis, decent happy hour prices, and their small plates are pretty good.


                      1. re: passing thru

                        Passing thru--thank you AGAIN for doing your research first--wish other posters would do the same.

                        If you're really dying for uni donburi, then why not get a taxi and head up to Izakaya Sakura? They do a really good chirashi donburi, among other things. It will be a bit of a hike north by taxi but not "that" far.

                        Definitely don't miss Cafe Chloe downtown. Bandar is another good place for Persian downtown.

                2. If you go to Super Cocina from the zoo, you'll need to take the northbound 7 to University Ave., then switch to the eastbound 10. Both should have a higher frequency, but I've never had luck with the 7, so be prepared for a wait.

                  1. The easiest way to get around downtown is on the trolley. Both the blue and orange lines run pretty often in both directions. Both trolley's run on "C" street, which is not far from your hotel. Little Italy is easily reached on the blue line trolley. You can get a downtown pass for $1 which, IIRC, allows you unlimited trolley access all day.

                    If you do get down to Little Italy walk up Cedar to Union to PapaLecco's. It's the best gelato in town. They do meal sized bruschetta which are pretty good. They've also got a salad with parmesan, cheese walnut and pears (canned) soaked in Proseco. Trust me the Proseco kind of makes you forget you're eating a canned pear ;-). The coffee is good and if Andrea is there he'll flirt with you or anyone with you. The Fruta di Bosque gelato is outstanding.

           this is the link for the San Diego Reader. They have tons of restaurant listings by area. Gaslamp/Downtown/Little Italy is one. The reason I mention this is that Ed Bedford whose reviews are known as "Tin Fork" often reviews hole in the wall places in the downtown area. You might want to check out some of his old reviews and for that area and see if anything strikes your fancy. He's a pretty easy read.

                    1. The only big, glaring miss from the Gaslamp that Josh pointed out is Cafe Chloe. That's one place I would definitely try and check out along with either Mariscos German or Super Cocina. If you can make it up to Hillcrest, I might substitute Cafe Chloe for The Better Half.

                      I don't think the Gaslamp is a giant wasteland; it's not great by any means, but there are some good places even if they are overpriced. If you want a cheap or quick meal, you could try The Kebab Shop. It has some of the best and most similar kebabs as to what you would get in Europe; it can definitely hit the spot at times. Otherwise, the big 2 for me downtown are Cafe Chloe and Oceanaire.