San Diego for a month
I am in town from the East Coast for six weeks (a month to go) on a project, but here's the catch: it's mostly work -- from early in the morning to fairly late at night -- and after being here for two and a half weeks, I haven't eaten out one time. Yikes! I'm usually a total foodie, and scoping out the good restaurants is typically my first order of business.
So here's how you could help. I would love to have a handful of restaurants to try on the odd weeknight when I might have the energy to go out after work. They don't have to be the absolute best in town, but what would be great would be worthwhile restaurants with a good/friendly bar area where I would feel comfortable eating alone (I'm a 40yo woman). I tend toward upscale (but not overly trendy or too much of a scene) or really good neighborhood places. I am working in the UTC area (near the Hyatt) and I am living roughly between Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe. Realistically, I don't see myself being too adventurous during the week, so suggestions convenient to those neighborhoods would be great.
I am hoping to have a little bit more time to explore during the weekends. Would love to explore Hillcrest, La Jolla and perhaps some of the seaside? Suggestions? Again, I will mostly be alone and although I am okay with that, I would like places where I don't feel too out of place if you know what I mean.
Thanks for your suggestions. I feel like I am going to kick myself when this is all over and I've barely experienced the town at all. Hopefully it's not too late to salvage this!
I'd definitely suggest Cavaillon for a weeknight dinner. It's pretty close to where you're staying, low key during the week, and has good food. A couple other slightly more upscale options in that area are Market and Blanca.
You're working close to La Jolla so you could do some dinners at any number of restaurants there:
George's (California Modern or the Ocean Terrace for less fancy)
Try and make it to El Pescador in La Jolla for lunch sometime too. Fantastic fish sandwiches and salads. You could do dinner too there I guess but they close pretty early.
Exploring further South on the weekends:
The Better Half
Anywhere Kare_Raisu suggests
I can't comment on Scalini's as I've never been there, but here are a couple more suggestions (I live in Del Mar and have ventured out alone from time to time) -
1) if you like sushi, go west on Via de la Valle until it hits Coast Highway/101, take a right turn, and head less than a mile north. You will find Masuo's on the west side of 101 before it intersects with Lomas Santa Fe, and you can enjoy a nice meal at the sushi bar, where you can order good sushi, various rolls, tempura and/or teryaki. The staff is very friendly and it's a good place to eat alone. Our absolute favorite place for sushi is Kaito, further north in Encinitas, which is mentioned here frequently, but Masuo's is great if you're looking for something closer on a weeknight. 2) Obviously it's a chain, but I've always found Calif. Pizza Kitchen (near Masuo's on the west side of 101) to be good and the bar is a decent place to enjoy a glass of wine, watch the guys cook pizzas and have a nice salad or pizza. Very casual and decent food. 3) The Fish Market in Del Mar (at the corner of Stevens Ave and Via de la Valle, opposite the racetrack) would be a good place to eat alone. It's nothing stellar but they do have fresh fish prepared in basic ways.
If you're looking to avoid a "scene", then stay away from the Del Mar plaza on most nights except for very early times, since this can be a magnet for a busy singles scene. If you do go to Del Mar plaza and can arrive pretty early, then Pacifica has a nice bar with some good menu options. If you want to enjoy a good sunset, you can order a glass of wine around the corner from Pacifica at a little wine bar and sit outside by yourself...just bring a sweater, it can get chilly when the sun goes down (I'm from the east coast, too, and I'm always surprised at how chilly it gets here at night!)
The bar at the Brigantine (just south of the intersection of 101 and Via de la Valle) would be a great place for you to sit at the bar and enjoy a fish taco, which are some of the best around but, fair warning, their happy hour can also become somewhat of a scene.
I agree with other posters that you should definitely try Market, although I don't know how friendly and welcoming they are to single diners...anyone else have thoughts on that? I've found them to have a bit of attitude but the food is wonderful but extremely upscale, unlike the other suggestions I've provided.
Hope these responses encourage you to take the plunge and get out there to enjoy some of the local offerings. Have fun.
A big 2nd for Cavaillon. Very good food indeed. Scalini's is expensive, above average Italian, in an attractive, formal setting. You could do worse, but I doubt you would write home about it. They do have a cold antipasti bar that is reminiscent of the many osterias in Italy. Market has its supporters, but I for one, find it to be uneven.
I haven't seen anyone mention a couple of my favorites. For "old school" steakhouse, you can't do better than Donovan's Steak and Chop House. It's about a block from the Hyatt. For authentic Mexican on a weekend, try La Especial Norte in Encinitas. It's on the Coast Highway just south of Leucadia Blvd. They are known locally and regionally for their soups. My wife and I go there every chance we get on the weekends for "brunch".
When the mood strikes for a dining experience, cost is no object (like when the project is done and you want to celebrate) definitely Mille Fleur in the Rancho Santa Fe Village.
Savory in Encinitas has a great menu, but it's small and sometimes a table is difficult to get unless you call for an early table.
Chowhounds -- thanks for so many great suggestions! Was too busy yesterday to see what had been written, so this is a great list to wake up to. Will get busy this weekend! And btw, I did manage to have a decent steak and a great zin at Fleming's last night with a co-worker, so at least I've broken the streak. I look forward to exploring your lovely city a bit more.