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Good restaurants in San Diego with children

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  • ems Jun 1, 2008 01:42 PM
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We will be in San Diego this weeking for a birthday. Ages ranging from 2 years to 70. Looking for resturants for dinner with good food - maybe seafood or Mexican - that everyone can enjoy and will be approprirate for three young children.

We will be at the Hyatt at 1441 Quivira Road. Will have car but would like a restaurant within 15 minutes of the hotel.

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  1. Casa Guadalajara in Old Town, or the Fish Market near Seaport Village.

    5 Replies
    1. re: wanker

      I would not recommend the Fish Market downtown for any group over six (actually, I wouldn't recommend it at all, but ESPECIALLY for a large group). They only have two tables for larger groups. One time I went there with seven, and it was a three hour wait, combined with getting served by an extremely hostile server.

      1. re: mikec

        Hmmm,... I routinely (at least every couple of months) dine at the Fish Market with large groups during lunch and have had zero problems. However, as with any large group reservations always help. Sorry your experience wasn't better, for grilled fresh fish I've always enjoyed the Fish Market.

        1. re: wanker

          This was for dinner, and it was, without a doubt, one of my worst three service experiences ever. First quoted a "45 minute" wait that eventually turned into nearly three hours. We should have left after the first delay, but we kept getting "it'll just be another fifteen or twenty minutes". Then, when we finally got seated, our server was openly hostile, and no one in our party was being an *ss, even though we weren't happy about it taking three hours to get seated. After that, I decided I'd never return except to sack the smoking ruins. Previous experiences before that had also been poor. Lackadaisical/incompetent service. I've never had a problem at other Fish Market's (Del Mar, Mission Valley and Silicon Valley).

          But,. honestly, The Fish Market's food isn't so stellar that there aren't comparable places around anyway. King's, Bay Park Seafood, Blue Water Grille.

        2. re: mikec

          I routinely dine at the Fish Market for lunch with large groups and have had zero problems. Sorry your experience wasn't better.

          1. re: wanker

            Ugh, the dreaded double-post.

      2. Roys in UTC area is very good for everyone. For kids they start them with quesadilla strips. They then serve them apples and carrots. They offer real choices for kids, not just chix strips, but they do offer those as well. They then get a nice sundae.

        1. Eating Out with Your Kids and loving it!

          Although we have young children, we aspire to eat out with our kids on a regular basis. Indeed, our kids 3, are experienced restaurant goers—and not just to the typical family restaurants which feature special themes, loud music and mediocre food.

          Truth is, as much as these family friendly restaurants cater to kids, they don’t truly cater to adults. Our family dining goal is to enjoy ourselves, while eating good food—food that we like and the kids like.

          While it takes plenty of practice to prepare your child to dine out, below we have provided a list of places that we like to take our critters. We recommend you always bring a bag of tricks (crayons & other small toys) to keep them entertained while they are waiting for their food.

          Here’s a list of restaurants that we frequent with our kids that are not too far from our home in Normal Heights. Below you’ll find our list of tried and true favorites for family outings.

          A caution: Some restaurants offer a children’s menu with portions that nevertheless intimidate a young diner; the food often seems better suited to older kids. Other restaurants are glad to moderate portion sizes for you depending on the age of the child. We really despise restaurants that are unwilling to acknowledge that you are accompanied by a young diner—as this drives up the cost of our meal and makes eating out less affordable. We’ve also had unpleasant experiences at restaurants such as Sushi Kazumi in Hillcrest, in which the waiter insisted on bringing food to the adults first, without serving the kids at the same time, and refusing to modify an item for a child.

          Here’s the restaurants we frequent and enjoy with our kids, all of which are within 10 minutes of our home in Normal Heights. These are tried and true favorites for family outings which we highly recommend:

          Whole Foods Market – Hillcrest

          Aside from carrying great products, this store has a wonderful atmosphere, and we feel happy just being there. They offer a great selection at their deli, salad bar, meat counter and prepared food section. We are in Hillcrest almost every day because our kids go to pre-school there so Whole Foods has become a tradition for us. We tend to make for ourselves a salad at the bar, order a sandwich or get a Jamba Juice. Our hands-down favorite meal for the kids is the macaroni and cheese, which is usually on the salad bar or the hot food section of the deli. . Hannah and Jonah love it! It is made with all natural ingredients. The macaroni is pasta shells covered with several white cheeses--extremely rich and flavorful. Sometimes we get a little extra for us to eat, too. If you don’t find it warm at the deli or salad bar, they have it in the prepared food section and the deli workers will gladly warm it up for you.

          The salad bar also usually has chicken on it, and we like to include chicken pieces on the side with the macaroni so the kids get enough protein to fill them up. When the meal is over, we go to the bakery for a cookie or to the freezer section for an individual wrapped ice cream bar.

          Whole Foods has plenty of seating and is very comfortable. We go there so often that when one of the clerks sees us, he automatically starts to prepare the mac for us. In fact, one day our son saw the Whole Food truck driving down I-5 and screamed, “Mommy, look at the mac and cheese truck!”

          City Deli (Hillcrest, University and 6th)
          City Deli has delicious offerings for kids and parents alike. Your child can choose from a hot dog with curly fries, a corn dog, macaroni and cheese, or from a selection of breakfast items that are served all day long. They will boil the hot dog on request, although it is usually grilled. The meal there includes a small drink, milk or juice. The kids especially love get scrambled eggs for dinner. A great selection of kid friendly cookies are a great incentive for them to eat their meals. The folks at City Deli are kid savvy, offer chocolate milk, and bring the kids’ meals before the parents’. They also immediately bring crayons and activity pages to the table.

          The adult menu is huge, including deli sandwiches, burgers, salads, breakfast all day, and daily specials. We tend to order a corned beef on rye or a chopped liver sandwich. They have great stuffed cabbage, matzo ball soup and sandwiches. They also include Kosher dills on each table.

          We like this restaurant because it is good, quick, convenient and affordable Each booth has a jukebox that will keep you and the kids entertained during the meal.

          Jimmy Carters Mexican Restaurant (
          Jimmy Carters is one of our family’s very favorite haunts. The staff is extremely accommodating, which our family truly appreciates! They have really good Mexican food at truly affordable prices. They do not have a children’s menu, but will prepare an appropriate amount of food for your child as requested. We recommend that you order the polla asada taco without the tortilla and a small quesadilla. The chicken, or pollo, is mild, extremely tender, and flavorful. For this reason, Hannah and Jonah ask on many occasions if we can have dinner at Jimmy Carters. The bonus for parents is that the service is very fast.

          Recently, David’s dad, Harvey, took the kids to Jimmy Carters for dinner. The waiter listened as Harvey ordered for the kids, but then kindly let him know that the kids probably wouldn’t jive with his order and suggested that Harvey let him take care of the kids with some other choices. Harvey trusted the waiter’s sense of knowledge, and the kids were served their favorite meal.

          As for us, Dave and I enjoy just about everything on the menu. The food is very fresh and there are always interesting and tasty specials on the black board. Most recently we had the chicken tamale and the green pozole soup it was great.

          Ichiban Hillcrest
          Ichiban is similar to Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi” in one respect: they only accept credit cards during certain hours, and cash the rest of the day. This is not fine dining by any stretch of the imagination. Beware, they do not have a bathroom. We have found the chicken katsu to be a big hit. It is a piece of pounded chicken cutlet that it lightly fried with pancko bread crumbs; it comes with a small salad, on the side, and a bowl of rice. If you go before 7 P.M. (cash only) parents can enjoy a nice selection of half-price sushi. We would recommend getting there early. There tends to be a line out of the door after 6 P.M.

          DiMilles Italian Restaurant (Normal Heights, Adams Avenue)
          DiMilles really gets it!!! The service is fast, they offer plain spaghetti with sauce on the side, or with butter alone. We have one child that likes sauce, and one that only likes butter, so all of us leave DiMilles happy. There are always a lot of kids there. The wait staff brings the kids crayons and paper to occupy themselves while you wait, which is usually not long. Bread or crackers are also served prior to the meal—a life saver for grumbling tummies and moods. A tip: If your children like meat balls, you can order just one. Our family usually splits the chicken tenders and a bowl of spaghetti.

          We love the eggplant parmigiana, as well as their meatball sandwich with Fresh Mozzarella. As a starter we also love to order the Antipasto Salad, which is filled with fresh meats, cheeses and vegetables. They also have a quick and speedy take out or delivery service. The folks at DiMilles know how to cater to the needs of a family!!!

          Hob Nob Hill (Hillcrest, where is this?)
          If you ever want to practice for a finer dining experience without going to a fancy restaurant, you can always try the Hob Nob, one of San Diego’s oldest restaurants and one that offers an on-line coupon. The selection is varied and they, too, serve breakfast items for dinner. There are plenty of daily specials for adults and Hob Nob offers early bird specials before 6 P.M.. The dinner crowd is much more relaxed than the power breakfast and lunch crowd that they usually attract during the day. It is usually not too crowded on the weekends.

          We hope this list will give you the motivation to eat out with your kids, which can really can be fun. Let us assure you that it will take time for you and your kids to be comfortable dining out. It does take practice and consistency, but in no time at all you too will have great young diners.

          Until next time, eat out, eat well and enjoy!

          Whole Foods Market
          711 University Avenue (Hillcrest)
          619.294.2800
          http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com
          Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week.
          Ichiban
          1449 University Avenue (Hillcrest
          )619-299-7203
          Hours: Mon – Fri: 11:00a.m. - 9:30p.m.
          Sat: 12:00p.m. - 9:30p.m.
          Sunday: Noon - 9:00p.m.

          City Delicatessen
          535 University Avenue (Hillcrest
          )619-295-2747
          Hours: Sun-Thu: 7:00a.m. – midnight,
          Fri-Sat: 7:00a.m. - 2:00a.m.
          DiMilles Italian Restaurant
          3492 Adams Avenue (Normal Heights)
          619-283-3453
          http://dimilles.com
          Hours: Mon - Thurs: 11a.m - 9:30 p.m.
          Fri - Sat: 11a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Sundays: Noon to 9:30 p.m

          Jimmy Carter's Mexican Cafe
          Jimmy Carter's Cafe. 3172 Fifth Ave. San Diego, CA 92103. 619-295-2070.
          Hours: Mon – Fri: 11a.m. - 9 p.m. Sat – Sun: 9a.m. - 9 p.m.
          Hob Nob Hill
          2271 First Avenue (Middletown
          )(619) 239-8176
          http://www.hobnobhill.com

          Hours: Open 7 Days at Week
          7:00 a.m to 9:00p.m
          Close Christmas

          --

          1 Reply
          1. re: normalheightsfoodie

            "While it takes plenty of practice to prepare your child to dine out, below we have provided a list of places that we like to take our critters. We recommend you always bring a bag of tricks (crayons & other small toys) to keep them entertained while they are waiting for their food."

            "We hope this list will give you the motivation to eat out with your kids, which can really can be fun. Let us assure you that it will take time for you and your kids to be comfortable dining out. It does take practice and consistency, but in no time at all you too will have great young diners."

            I didn't see where they were asking for advice on how to eat out with children--just good places in SD for a weekend here. It also doesn't seem to make sense, since they're asking about dinner, to send them to Whole Foods store in Hllcrest. Or for that matter to send them to Hillcrest for City Deli (yuck).

            We go to Pat & Oscar's and King's Fish House. Yes, one is a small chain and the other a micro chain, but they work for us. It's a little hard to tell if these are what the OP is looking for because they said that one child is two they didn't specify the ages of the other two. Though I have never gone wrong with King's perhaps someone can recommend a fish place (not Pt. Loma Seafood) where they can go near the water. Unfortunately my rule that you get either good food or a good view but not usually both is rarely wrong. See The Chart House for Exhibit A.