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Oct 21, 2008 08:02 PM

San Diego Gaslamp help for New Orleans Hound

I will be in the Gaslamp district Wed thru Sun, staying at the Marriott with no car. I am a New Orleans food junkie who loves both the funky, one of a kind, local joints and the nicest of white tablecloth haute cusine. Looking for a few great spots to dine. Price no object, and a great wine list is a plus. We'd like to either walk or take a quick cab ride to eat, so the wonderful but remote destinations won't be a fit for us on this trip. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!

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  1. Cafe Chloe, Oceanaire.

    Do a search on the board for "Gaslamp" and the usual suspects will appear. This is one of the most frequently posted posts.

    1. Jeff,

      I was born and raised in NO and have lived in SD for about 2 years now. Not to aggravate people on this board (because I have had some wonderful meals in SD and continue to explore new places here) but I don't think the food here compares to NO. Then again, I have yet to find too many places in the country or the world that live up to NO. That being said, there are some great spots to try in SD. However, you have to keep in minding staying in the Gaslamp is comparable to staying in the quarter--it caters more to tourists. There are tons of posts with Gaslamp recs on this board. A lot of people love Cafe Chloe. I have only been there once and enjoyed it but thought it wasn't as good as Crepe Nanou (in NO). I would suggest trying the Better Half in Hillcrest. It is on University and they have an interesting, often changing menu. They are currently running a special for 3 courses for $15 but if you are just in town for a few days I would encourage you to order off the regular menu. They also do a Sunday brunch with some NO influences that is nice. It is not a bad cab ride and they have a great wine list of all half bottles.

      There aren't a lot of hole in wall, funky places here, at least compared to NO. This is especially true in the Gaslamp. I would consider Confidential, which turns into a club late at night but has some great tapas style food during the day. Think of an upscale version of Vega Tapas. California Cusine (also in Hillcrest) is nice and you can sit in the patio.

      Another place for a great meal is Wine Vault and Bistro. It is also outside of the Gaslamp but worth the ride. They do a great 5 course menu for $25 on Saturdays. The menu always changes and you need a reservation.

      Bandar on 4th, across from Horton Plaza is a good place to go for upscale Persian food.

      A lot of people love Oceanaire but I have yet to go there. Chive is another tapas place on 4th.

      Unfortunately, SD is much more spread out than NO so you won't be able to get to a lot of places without a car.

      I have not eaten at the Quarter Kitchen in the Ivy but I was there for drinks recently and they have a great wine list and the menu sounds good.

      1. Dobson's is an old-line place with good food and ambiance. They are famous for their mussel bisque en croute...a very rich and delicious concoction. In fact, I'm going to order it this Friday night when I'm there!

        1. I'm a New Orleans foodie, recently transplanted to SD. I agree that it's not exactly a culinary destination, but I've found a couple places I like. We're going to oceanaire in and hour, so I can't comment just yet, but one place in Hillcrest we went to and quite liked was called Urban Solace. They've got a nice courtyard, New Orleans style architecture(strangely enough) and upscale comfort food.

          I'm happy to say I was not disappointed, even with my still high expectations.

          Urban Solace Restaurant
          3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

          2 Replies
          1. re: Mr. Gunn

            OK, been to Oceanaire, and can now comment. It's Ruth's Chris, but for fish. If that sounds appealing to you, you;ll love it. My take is that it's definitely more of an expense account kind of place, what with the $35 crabcakes and $11 sides. The dishes were fresh and flavorful, and had some creative flavor combinations such as pomegranate beurre blanc with pistachio-crusted fish, but unfortunately, there was about 1 tablespoon of the sauce, in a thin layer across the plate. I didn't expect New Orleans style-saucing, but there wasn't even enough to get the taste. The crab cakes were good, but they weren't $35 good. We skipped dessert, but we could have chosen creme brulee, chocolate mousse, ice cream-topped brownie, or a trio of sorbets. Yawn.

            If Oceanaire is the best SD has to offer in high-end cuisine, I'd recommend just grabbing a fish taco.

            1. re: Mr. Gunn

              "If Oceanaire is the best SD has to offer in high-end cuisine,"

              How do you get from a Gaslamp recommendation to "the best SD has to offer"? That's quite an extrapolation, isn't it?