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Mar 28, 2008 09:32 AM

"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 - - 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!