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Dinner Recommendations in SD

Hi all,

I am planning to take a few of my closest friends out for a great dinner (its a celebratory thing) here in San Diego. I'm not looking for the restaurant with the best ambiance or view (although that's a plus), but am looking for a place with awesome food.

I've seen the boards, and a few restaurants seem to be mentioned quite frequently, including: 1500 Ocean, Addison, AR Valentien, Cavaillon, Market, and Tapenade. I'm leaning towards 1500 Ocean due to a couple of postings here, but have no sense of whether its still a good place to go.

Bottom line, I guess I'm curious to know - where would you go, if: (1) its a very special occasion, (2) you want great (not good, great) food, and (3) money isn't an option.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

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  1. 1500 Ocean is very good, but they had a poor health inspection about a month ago that drew some concern. I'm not sure if they've solved whatever problems they had or not. I suspect they have and it's safe again.

    I would go to Market for the best food in San Diego, but I haven't been to AR Valentien on your list yet.

    1. My personal favorite on your list is Tapenade. Market is uneven, and I haven't been back to 1500 Ocean since the chef change, though I have heard it is still good. I have reviewed all of these. The thing I like about Tapenade is their consistency. In my many visits they have never had an off night. Jean Michelle Diot runs the kitchen like a swiss watch.

      http://sandiegorestaurants.typepad.com

      1. Highly recommend The Better Half, best restaurant by far currently in San Diego. The chef has worked for Keller, Danko, Trotter and you can clearly see it by the quality of the food. In addition the restaurant has the best service in San Diego. There are several posts on the board

        5 Replies
        1. re: honkman

          The Better Half is very good, but it's certainly not the best restaurant in San Diego (nor, I think, is it posturing in such a way); I keep going back for what it is: solid food without the formality usually associated with fine-dining. I wouldn't go there for a speical occasion though.

          Market is good, and I would have strongly recommended Jack's, but in addition to serving the best meal I've had in San Diego, it also served one of the worst meals I've had in San Diego.

          I've heard great things about Addison, but I haven't been back to San Diego in a while and haven't tried it yet. El Bizcocho was fantastic, too, but I haven't been (or heard anything about it) since Gavin Kaysen left for Cafe Boulud.

          1. re: bagwhat

            I am just curious which restaurant you think delivers better food and service in San Diego than Better Half in the moment.

            1. re: honkman

              I'll answer the food part because I usually don't notice service unless it's extraordinarily bad or extraordinarily good. They're nice, affable people at the better half, but I can't honestly say it's any better or worse than most other places I've been to.

              As for food, it's all pretty good, but I have to question certain choices made in the kitchen. Topping the enormous (I find portion sizes here too big, but I doubt that's a real complaint for most people) and delicious pork belly with a salad only served to make the greens warm and soggy, rather than the crisp, sharp complement I assume they were meant to be. And the first time I ordered the fish special, it was served skin side down, soaking in the juices and (admittedly delicious) risotto, sogging it up. I normally wouldn't complain because at those prices, food this good is a steal, but I certainly wouldn't call it the best.

              1. re: bagwhat

                Um, did you read my question ? I was asking which restaurant delivers better food and service than Better Half in San Diego ?

                BTW, I personally think that the warm salad on top of the pork belly makes it especially good and I wouldn't add a crispy salad which wouldn't fit to the prok belly.

              2. re: honkman

                Oh and I haven't figured out yet why almost everything on the menu is either served with rice or beans. They are certainly very good rice/bean sides, but it's a little weird.

          2. El Bizcocho had great food and service. I haven’t been since Gavin Kaysen left, but I curious to see if or how it has changed (the last time I went it was three weeks before he left). A great restaurant that has a view you would enjoy is Bertrand at Mister A’s.

            1. All great choices..
              I would add either George's Modern in La Jolla to the mix and if Bernard is there, Marine Room...It's been awhile but I used to really enjoy going to Mille Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe.
              I can't wait to go to Addison at the Grand Del Mar Resort.
              I really like Oceanaire in the Gaslamp..
              The article in the SD Union on 1500 Ocean was not a flattering piece..