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Apr 18, 2008 08:09 PM

Help me plan my meals in San Diego

I am coming to town for a convention and looking for some amazing dining options. WE are staying at Solamar, and would like to stay with short taxi (10-15 min max) or walking distance to our restaurants. We will travel one night only if needed.

1. Looking for one of the best restaurants in city- money not object. Taking out a few VIP clients. Open to most cuisines- must have excellent service.

2. Planning on doing a few nights of Mexican- since we are so close to border. What great options are there near our hotel- or short taxi away?

3. Dining with a vegan one night. Any restaurants you know of with some vegan options on menu?

4. Looking for other decent lunch and dinner spots near cc.

5. Would love to spend free time Sunday going to a beach or a nice area to walk around and shop, sightsee, whatever. Looking for a fabulous, and hopefully outdoor seating lunch. What towns and restaurants should be explored?

6. Any other dining musts???

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  1. If you haven't already, you really should do some searches - most of these questions, if not all of them - have been addressed repeatedly on the board, and the previous posts are a great source for lots of recommendations!

    1) That being said - for your VIP dinner, Oceanaire, Bertrand at Mr. A's and possibly 1500 Ocean at the Hotel Del would be good choices.

    2) Mexican - though close to the border, downtown SD is a little short on good Mexican options. You could take a cab to old town to Old Town Mexican Cafe (stick with the simple stuff and order top shelf margaritas) or Casa Guadalajara. Candelas downtown is a fine dining Mexican place. Alambres might also be a possibility. If you're willing to venture to the working class neighborhoods, Las Cuatros Milpas or El Por Venir in Barrio Logan or Super Cocina in City Heights are a short cab ride away - as is Mariscos German. If you're looking for fancy taco shop fare - Mama Testa and Lucha Libre taco shops are a little cut above the norm. Valentine's at 9th and Market, and La Posta are good traditional taco shops.

    3) Can't think of anyplace in particular that would satisfy a Vegan, unless it's Spread in North Park or Jyoti Bihanga in Normal Heights. Spread specializes in nut butter based dishes, and Jyoti Bihanga keeps odd hours - so call ahead.

    4. Definitely do a search. For starters downtown I'd recommend Cafe Chloe, the Cheese Shop, Tin Fish, Gourmet India, Sammy's Woodfired Pizza, Bread on Market or The Kebab Shop. A little further away but worth the trip - The Linkery in South Park, Urban Solace, Bite, Starlite, The Guild, Farmhouse Cafe, Mama Testa, Mama's Lebanese, Eclipse Chocolat, or you could venture over to Little Italy, to Mimmo's or Buon Appetito - or to Extraordinary Desserts, which does breakfast and light dinner. Pappalecco in Little Italy has good gelato.

    5. You'd probably enjoy walking around La Jolla - you could go to the Shores and have brunch at Piatti, or go to the village and have brunch at La Valencia or Brockton Villa - or lunch at George's Ocean Terrace or 910. JRDN at Tower 23 in Pacific Beach is right on the boardwalk and does a nice outdoor brunch and lunch as well. Do make a reservation wherever you decide to go - the nice outdoor places get crowded when the weather's nice.

    I also have a list with more local places I recommend on my blog -, it's on the right hand side if you scroll down. Most of them are relatively central since I work and live near downtown.


    1. 1.) You will get the best food in SD at The Better Half. (It will be a 15 minute drive with the cap to Hillcrest) It has also the best service I have ever seen in SD. I highly recommend this restaurant.

      2.) Alice covered most of the options for Mexican

      3) I highly recommend Spread. They also have vegan option. Their "claim to fame" are their nut butter spreads but nearly all of their vegetarian dishes (daily changing menue based on what they get at the market) do not include any of their spreads. We had a great dinner this week at Spread.

      4) Cafe Chloe

      5) As Alice mentioned La Jolla might be the best place to be. George's Ocean Terrace might be an option but their food is by far not as good as their upscale restaurant downstairs. 9-10, Piatti would be also a good options. Brockton Villa might have the best view but the food is just ok.

      6) The Linkery for local, sustainable, very good food with excellent (local) beer list.

      2 Replies
      1. re: honkman

        The Linkery usually has a few vegan options on the menu too.

        I 2nd a lot of what's already been said here. If they wanted to travel one night to the "best restaurant" I would go to Market, but I'm not sure how worth it that would be over The Better Half (or the 3 Alice suggested).

        1. re: DougOLis

          I just had yesterday dinner at Market (I will post later more details) and I have to say that I am quite disappointed by the food. It is a good restaurant but I think that it is also hyped way too much on this board and I would definitely not say that it is the best restaurant in San Diego.

      2. Since you're staying at the Solamar, you might try eating in the hotel restaurant JSix. It's good and the chef is trying to do as much sustainable food as he can. The Solamar is a Kimpton property and they usually have better than average restaurants in them.

        Also, highly second Honkman's recco for The Better Half.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DiningDiva

          I have been disappointed with everything I've had at JSix, except the housemade charcuterie - I think it's some of the best in town.

        2. The Ritual Tavern in North Park has a very tasty vegan portobello sandwich and a vegan shepherd's pie. They work hard to accomodate people with dietary restrictions- my mother is gluten-free and dairy-free and they took terrific care to make her comfortable.

          1. Vegan, go to either Linkery, Ritual Tavern, or Spread. The first two have great beer and wine options. I don't think Spread has a beer/wine license.

            Good lunch or dinner near CC, try Cafe Chloe in the East Village.

            Item 5 on your list, La Jolla would fit the bill nicely. Lots of good stuff to see, some very pretty scenery, and plenty of good food. One of my favorite lunch spots is the bar at George's California Modern (it's the middle of the three stories). Incredible view, and very good lunch fare. No, it's not as good as the main dining room, but this is lunch. The top-most terrace is good, but the sun is brutal and there's no shade.

            For Mexican options, I'd say try Super Cocina or Mariscos German. Both will be a short cab ride away, the latter being the shorter cab ride, and they have some of the best Mexican food in San Diego.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Josh

              I LOVE Ritual Tavern and eat there quite often, but truth be told, I'd think the vegan would be happier at the Linkery -- interesting food and more variety for non-vegans. Keep in mind alll 3 are five minutes from one another with Ritual and Spread 2 blocks apart.

              In between the two of them, and of note, is Rancho's Mexican Cocina -- which, for a vegan, would offer the largest selection -- just about anything on the menu can be made vegan and is quite good. We're not talking Mariscos German good -- but I still eat there often enough and enjoy it.

              Have fun!

              1. re: Josh

                Josh - not sure when you were there, but they have huge umbrellas up top at George's. At least half the seats are in the shade, if not more. I do like the patio in the bar though - it's a little quieter than the up top location, but very small.

                1. re: Josh

                  Spread is offering drinks with alcohol but only some margarita style drinks, no wine or beer.