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"self order" or "to go" food in san diego

I just posted asking for fast-food style recommendations in San Diego. I should clarify that I don't mean McDonald's, but rather places with great food that you stand in line at a counter and order for yourself. With the great fish tacos and mexican in town, it seems there are some "must eat" options in this category. THANKS for recommending your favorites.

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  1. Some places off the top of my head:

    Point Loma Seafoods
    Blue Water Grill
    Super Cocina
    Tacos El Gordo (worth the trip to Chula Vista)
    Mariscos German Taco Truck (35th+University)
    El Zarape

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikec

      I second the taco truck on 35th. We are in love with the smoked Marlin tacos. That place is awesome!

    2. I would add SAFRON on India Street to the list. They have great Thai Noodle dishes, as well as chicken.

      1. At Mama Testa's in Hillcrest, Richmond and University, you order at the counter and they bring it to your table. Not so wild about the fish tacos here, but the grilled chicken taco, pibil taco and hard shell mashed potato tacos are quite good. MT has an interesting salsa bar that usually has 8-10 different salsas daily.

        El Cuervo on the border of Hillcrest/Mission Hills, Washington and 1st, is similar. If carnitas are your thing, they're very good here. Tortas are enormous, enough for 2 people, or 2 meals.

        Vine Ripe Market in La Mesa does really good kebobs as well a falafal and schwarma wrap sandwiches

        1. Try Mama's Lebanese, Kebab Shop or Soltan Banoo for Middle Eastern - Mama's (best falafel ever!) and Soltan Banoo are in University Heights/North Park - the Kebab Shop is downtown.

          Hodad's burgers in OB makes great big sloppy burgers - not exactly takeout, but quick service and I'm sure they do "to go." In n' Out is great for fast food if you haven't been. Burger Lounge in Kensington and La Jolla is also pretty decent, though I find it varies. I like the basil turkey burger and the beef is grass fed.

          Mona Lisa, Filippis or Mimmo's Italian Deli are decent for Italian-deli style food - pizza, red sauce dishes, antipasto salad, meatball subs, etc.

          For fish - El Pescador in LJ, Point Loma Seafoods, Blue Water Grill on India Street and the Little Fish Market in Mission Valley are pretty decent options. El Pescador is famous for a fish torta sandwich they make with grilled fish.

          Saffron does good thai grilled chicken and I like their spicy drunken noodles and sate, but the other dishes can be a little bland. Gelato Vero next door has good gelato.

          Bread and Cie in Hillcrest, Bread on Market downtown, Con Pane in Point Loma, and Cheese Shop downtown and in La Jolla all make pretty good deli sandwiches - they're not really NY Deli sandwiche

          Enoteca Style in Little Italy and Saladstyle do good to go salads, and Enoteca Style does soups and sandwiches, they are working on a wine bar but so far I think they're only open during the day.

          I also really like K Sandwiches for bahn mi and Nijiya for ready-made sushi, in the Convoy Area.

          There are of course lots of takeout choices for Mexican - I can second most of the ones recommended here. I don't like very many of the standard Robertos style taco shops - but we liked Rolobertos on Adams when we lived in the neighborhood. La Posta in Hillcrest is also pretty good. Mama Testa, Lucha Libre and El Zarape are all a slight step above the normal "taco shop" fare.

          I also have a list of places I recommend on my blog on the righthand sidebar - www.aliceqfoodie.com - under "quick service" there might be something else I missed. Hope you enjoy your trip!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Alice Q

            fantastic list Alice Q

            I'd like to add:
            Beef 'n Bun/Fred's (La Mesa/Alpine) to the burger list
            Indian: Surati Farsan Mart

          2. If you haven't had them before, you need to try a banh mi - the best sub sandwiches ever invented (at least imho). Crunchy baguette, exotic meats or other fillings, pickled veggies, jalapeno, cilantro, toppings.

            While many folks have a favorite place, I can't recall having a banh mi in San Diego that I didn't enjoy even if it fell a little short of the best of the type. See the postings about banh mi at Kirk's incredible blog:


            Good eating!

            1. Con Pane in Point Loma. They bake fresh bread everyday (way better than bread and cie) and have a good selection of sandwiches.
              Marketplace Grill in La Jolla or soronto valley for some great Persian Kebabs grilled on mesquite wood.
              European Market and Deli has on weekends, one of the best lamb dishes in San Diego. Lamb shoulder that has been marinated overnight and slow cooked all night. They serve it with pita bread.
              On university Avenue there are some great Vietnamese sandwich shops. You can buy great Banh Mi sandwiches (Vietnamese sandwiches, my favorite is BBQ Pork) for only $2.5.
              Off course there are hundreds of Mexican fast foods since we are so close to the border. No need to name any since many of them are good.
              Believe it or not, I actually like Panera. They have some good sandwiches.

              1. In La Jolla, I love El Pescador for the best fish sandwiches..
                Cheese Shop in the Shores for a great deli sandwich.
                Come on Down, PorkyLand's and Market Place Grille..excellent in the little strip center near Vons in LJ.
                Cotija Taco Shops makes one of the best suprema quesadillas.
                Bahia Don Bravos for great fish tacos and other yummy stuff with an ocean view.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Beach Chick

                  I think you need to be careful with Cotija's, they are not all created equally. The one by me is uniformly terrible. Others are better.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    You're right DiningDiva..you would think they would be more uniform.
                    I go to the one in PB and LJ and they are excellent..

                  2. re: Beach Chick

                    another vote for el pescador.

                    there's also rimel's rotisserie.

                  3. I actually had an amazing toasted multigrain roasted turkey sandwich with and olive spread and lots of veggies for lunch at the whole foods today. Gave some of those banh mi a run for their money. blasphemy, i know...

                    1. Nessie's in Fallbrook fits the bill.

                      I had a meeting in Temecula cancel at just the right time the other day. Heading north on I-15, my next exit was the 76 where there's a great little roadside burger place . It's on rte 76, just west of I-15 adjacent to a big commuter/park-n-ride lot. If you go around lunch, be prepared to wait about 20 minutes between waiting in line to order, and having your number called. Not exactly fast, but fresh and definitely worth the wait IMO. I think the burgers are 1/2 lb - plenty big regardless, with lettuce, tomato, etc on a hearty bun. Tasty side of fries was enough for 3 people. With a can of soda, I think the tab was about $8.00.

                      4760 Highway 76
                      Fallbrook, CA

                      1. Mexican - El Cotixan ion Genesee near Balboa in Clairemont has tasty Chile Relleno Burrittos. The on Clrmt-Mesa is not as good

                        Sushi - Niban in Clairment & it's sister restaurant Ichiban in PB; order at the counter and take away or sit down. Cheap and good!

                        Phil's BBQ sports arena - order at the counter and sit down if you can find a seat

                        Gus's on Rosecrans in Pt Loma for sandwiches..

                        I second Pt Loma seafood

                        1. a lot of great suggestions here!

                          if you happen to be in cardiff up in north county, pipes is great for breakfast...and ki's does a good, healthy breakfast & lunch [dinner is table service].

                          there's also pacifica breeze cafe in del mar for breakfast.

                          1. As always the mufaltta sandwich at Mardi Gras Cafe on Midway. Or you could go for the alligator.

                            1. I'll add a pizza takeout suggestion - Lefty's at 39th & Myrtle in North Park. They do deep dish or thin crust and offer pizza by the slice. I usually hate deep dish because the crust tends to be too doughy for me but Lefty's is really good. My favorites are the spinach-mushroom and the veggie pizza. My friend swears by the plain ole pepperoni.

                              Warning: although they have seating, I've never been able to score a table. Plan to take it with you.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: monicabahr

                                If you are in the OB area, Poma's has great sandwiches and Olive Tree Market on Narragansett & Sunset has a killer pastrami/swiss and other good sandwiches plus excellent roasted chicken from their deli. You can get Bread & Cie baguettes, a fair selection of wines, thick corn chips from El Indio (one of the few things they do well) and all kinds of imported goodies. Great picnic making place.

                                1. re: monicabahr

                                  30th and Myrtle.

                                  I too swear by the spinach-mushroom veggie pizza. Never been able to find a seat there myself either. I can only do Lefty's twice a year however -- far too yummy and far too fattening for me.

                                  1. re: Ewilensky

                                    Sorry - typo. Definitely 30th & Myrtle.

                                2. Enzos BBQ in Oceanside is great and so quick, try the brisket, ribs and sweet poetatoe fries. Everything is good you can't go wrong. there is a quickie Italian place next to it called Pasta break the is good too try the Smoked Chicken Alfredo.

                                  1. You might also enjoy Phil's BBQ near the Sports Arena, they have tables and beer.

                                    I like the Ribless Chickless dinner, all the great tasts of BBQ, but off of the bone, no mess.