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First visit to San Diego! Where to eat?!

We're going to San Diego in August for our first visit to California! We're not spending any money for the next two months to save up for amazing dinners and drinks on vacation. What cant-miss restaurants should I look into?

Were from DC. I love spots with great views and upscale food. Were young, but not into anything too trendy or clubby, just light and classy with awesome food. Not too much into unfamiliar foreign or vegetarian places. If you know DC, we love Ray's the Steaks, Ceiba, DC Coast, the view at Indigo Landing and Px in Old Town for drinks.

Recommendations for well-known, can't-miss restaurants; and under-the-radar spots; and places with great cocktails would be awesome.

We'll be there for a week, so at least 4-5 nights will be reserved for expensive dinners. Also, open to cheap places with amazing food or locations.

I'm so excited, help us have some great dinners?!

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  1. AZUL in LaJolla has the best coastal view of the coast and Sunset!, and very nicely prepared food. It is always a treat, when I go there! Friends always love the view and the food, and want to go back.
    Good bar menu and prices.

    1. In general a lot of the better "foodie" places aren't the restaurants with the best views, but there are a few that meet both criteria. Bertrand At Mr. A's provides an excellent view from the top of an office building on the hill over the Airport and bay. If you can get a window seat it's fun to watch the planes come in at basically your eye level and it's especially beautiful at sunset. The food is pretty good too and I've been please with my visits. Marine Room in La Jolla has an awesome view of the ocean (particularly during high tide and sunset) and has better than average food. For a couple other places with great views and decent food you could try Island Prime (Harbor Island) or George's Ocean Terrace (La Jolla).

      For great food without a view, I would consider The Better Half, Cavaillon, Market, Blanca, Cafe Chloe, The Linkery, Farmhouse Cafe, Sushi Ota, Kaito Sushi, or Izakaya Sakura.

      Cheap and casual food:
      Super Cocina - excellent homestyle cafeteria Mexican food
      Mariscos German - Mexican seafood
      Aqui es Texcoco - lamb centric Mexican food
      K Sandwiches or Cafe Dore - Banh Mi
      Ba Ren - Szechuan style Chinese
      Blue Water Grill or El Pescador - fresh fish sandwiches (and other seafood dishes at Blue Water Grill)

      4 Replies
      1. re: DougOLis

        George's California Modern has great water and sunset views from their downstairs dining room. I'm happy to say that we had a great meal there last week. I'd put it above The Marine Room.

        DougOLis has a good list going...

        1. re: daantaat

          I'd skip Marine Room. Definitely check out George's in La Jolla.

        2. re: DougOLis

          You might like JRDN at Tower 23 in Pacific Beach. It's a bit trendy but it's right on the beach and is definitely more upscale than most other places in PB. I've only had food their once (appetizers I think) and thought it was good; it was awhile ago and I don't remember the details but it might fit the bill. One of the nice things about there as opposed to many other dining options in San Diego is that they have a full bar.

        3. For steaks, Donovan's in LaJolla is excellent but no views, also El Pescador for a fish taco or South Beach Grill in Ocean Beach. For a coffee break Brockton VIlla has an excellent view but, I wouldn't order any food there. In the harbor area for a great view there's Island Prime, again the food can be just so..so. The Fish Market by the convention center is also pretty good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cstr

            If you are in LJ and the ocean view is not mandatory (after all, a post-dinner 5 minute stroll to it is so invigoratingI highly advise Tapenade. Gorgeous and delicious food and so beautifully served (French). There is a happy hour menu too that is quite nice...or even the lunch menu. Another lovely LJ spot is Sante Ristorante. Also an easy post dinner beach stroll.

          2. this is embarassing, but i can't remember the name of the restaruant i went to but it is a diner, and it was featured on the food network show, dinner, drive-ins , and dives, and if you go on the website you will find it. I think it is called studio diner. yep that is it i jst remembered. well, yes that isi th place, amazing atmosphere and all the food is amazing, you can even watch clips of the restaurants on food network because they filmed there. the milkshakes are amazing and the mac & cheese, crab cakes, shrimp quesadillas, and all the hamburgers are awesome. plus, the experience is worth it for sure.

            2 Replies
              1. re: PGB

                yes, it is amazing. go to food network.com and look it up. i know i usually hate diners but this is great, plus the feel of the place is amazing and is a blast from the past. don't judge by a name.

            1. I would tell you to have one of your lunch dates on the balcony of La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Decent food, great service and incredible views of Scripps Park, the pacific and surrounding cliffs up the coast. Many people like the glass-enclosed patio at Trattoria Acqua in La Jolla, although we find it a little stifling, close and noisy. Very nice italian food (i really would stick with lunch though), but we like the couple of tables indoors with wide open windows that lets the ocean breeze blow through in the summer , looking towards Del Mar and beyond. Enjoy.