HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Best Dish In San Diego?

If you had to pick just one, what is the best singular dish you have had in San Diego? Could be an entree from a fine dining place or maybe a burrito from a robertos in a strip mall. List the dish, restaurant, and location. I think mine would be...a seared ahi tuna sandwich from blue water market and grill out on india st.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I just love the singular focus, the use of incredible culinary restraint, and the courage to let the best of a simple ingredient practically speak for itself in Oceanaire's incredible crabcake. (Gaslamp Quarter)

    1. To me, right now, it would be the fish tacos at Mariscos German. Four for $4. 36th and University.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Uncle Lefty

        Lefty, I just had my first fish taco from M.G. It was delicious! That was by far the best fish taco I've had in S.D.

      2. Right now I'm thinking Gobo Salad at Okan.

        1. Hmmm, this is a tough question. We all know this isn't a dining town but I have had some good meals. Lately, I'd say the green papaya salad at Sep E Lee on Ulrich St. Last year, the crab cake at Prado. 14 years ago, when I moved here, tacos al pastor at some taco joint on Kettner for making me re-think what I thought I knew about Mexican food. Sorry, that wasn't just one.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bobierto

            Thanks for the reply. Maybe I should have stated it in the original post, that although San Diego is not really a "dining town" but relative to San Diego's culinary scene, which dish is the best.

            Do you know if the tacos al pastor on kettner still open?

            1. re: paloucsd

              I think so but I would have to walk by to get you the name. It's a take-out window only, no seating, on the west side of the street around Ash St or so.

          2. Among many dishes, one of them would be a sausage sandwich from Pete's Meats on India.

            1 Reply
            1. re: deckape

              I can't believe it was an amuse bouche, but it was. At Market, a very thick potato chip with applewood bacon, creme fraiche, chives and it had some hint of citrus too. I could have eaten a whole plate of them.

            2. The California Burrito with Guac at Rudy's
              Duck Breast with Parsnip Purée, Cocoa/Clove Crumbs, Kumquat Confiture, Star Anise Jus at the Dining Room at Jack's (remember that place?)
              in january i'll decide on my favorite asian dish from the convoy area and post it

              1. Mysore Masala Dosa from Surati Farsan Mart

                1. Pork belly at Better Half. ( I like the current version with spinach even more).

                  1 Reply
                  1. The dish is "Crying Tiger", a nice sized, well seasoned, steak. Layed on top of a mixture of veggies, cooking on a fajita style skillet at your table. The restaraunt is "Amarin Thai Restaraunt" located in a strip-mall in Mira Mesa. It is tucked inside a food court next to a couple other Asian restaraunts, one Indian Tanduri and the other Filipino fast-food style restaraunt among a few others.

                    1. The Jidori chicken preparation at Starlight is pretty perfect- always beautifully cooked with interesting and appropriate seasonal accompaniments such as homemade wheat cavatelli or Crow's Pass squash, mustard greens, a flavored butter or a bacon jus to name a few that come to mind. Something about "ordering the chicken" on a menu usually indicates gastric surrender or pressing financial concerns or something and is usually rewarded by the chef in kind with watery and stringy boiled chicken breast or a near-vaporized greasy and bony half-hen, but something about ordering Starlight's chicken redefines this act for me. Crispy skin, boned with dark meat attached to a small wingbone for traction, never over or undercooked...really very good.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: SaltyRaisins

                        That is a delicious dish, for sure.

                        1. re: SaltyRaisins

                          Kare turned me on to Romesco's. What a place ... what a menu. Almost too much good stuff- not familiar enough with it all yet, but I too could see this place as having a favorite dish hiding somewhere in there. And the churros are great.

                          Somehow I keep spelling the name of one of my favorite places incorrectly. Starlite, not Starlight, folks. Sorry.

                          1. re: SaltyRaisins

                            If it's still on the menu, try the duck with fig risotto at Romesco's.

                        2. Having just come back from NYC and eaten two amazing meals there, I'm totally at a loss. Nothing I've had here comes close.

                          Ummm, maybe the buta kakuni at Sakura. It's gently stewed pork belly in broth. Incredibly rich and delicious.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Josh

                            Josh, have you tried the buta kakuni at Okan? I find their's to be better than Sakura's, though Sakura's version's no slouch either...

                            1. re: cgfan

                              Haven't been to Okan yet. I'm not really eating too much meat these days (pastured only), so I doubt I'll be trying that.

                            2. re: Josh

                              Do tell -- what was so great in NYC?

                            3. The Lengua en pipian at Romesco's. The tenderest tongue pieces come swimming in a smooth slightly spicy pumkinseed sauce in a iron pot with small tortillas to make small tacos out of it.

                              1. Anticuchos del corazon de res [beef heart skewers] at Latin chef- i must add. They have this pleasant chew and deep beef flavor and an incredibly tasty marinade. Add the spicy huacuatay mint sauce and some beef fat coated perfectly cooked halves of potato and bliss for me.

                                mmm-yoso kirk's picture of these hearts: http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com/.shared/i...

                                1. I can't pick just one!
                                  uni at Sushi Ota, Chicken and dumplings at Urban Solace, and tacos adobada at El Gordos. I do love that seared ahi at bluewater too!

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: sabotage

                                    My vote goes to Yakitori Yakyudori in Hillcrest and their perfectly grilled chicken wings.

                                    1. re: avagax

                                      Fresh Uni from Catalina Offshore Products, hands down.

                                      1. re: stevuchan

                                        I don't know if it qualifys as a dish, but the uni shooters that COP served at the Celebrate the Craft reception were really, really fresh and good.

                                        1. re: stevuchan

                                          If it's the best uni that you're after, I'm told that the best that's available to Sourthern California sushi bars is from a boutique uni processor called Matsushita. Unfortunately almost all of their output normally gets bought out by the best of the L.A. sushi bars, leaving none for San Diego.

                                          However Kaito Sushi was able to get a rare shipment from Matsushita, and I can tell you that it's incredible stuff.

                                          When I asked Morita-san why the stark difference in quality versus the other processors, he said something about the use of traditional processing tecniques that Matsushita uses for their uni.

                                          Whatever their secret, it was wonderful. Dense with flavor and incredibly creamy, it game me the impression that that was due to it being somehow more "concentrated" due to a lower moisture content.


                                          1. re: cgfan

                                            Is Kaito going to get it regularly now or was it more of a one time thing?

                                            1. re: DougOLis

                                              My understanding is that Kaito will be first in line after the L.A. sushi bars. Apparently due to the economy there was some Matsushita uni available for S.D. distribution, the balance of which Kaito was the only S.D. bar to receive.

                                              It did sound to me that it is not something that they can just simply order and expect to receive due to the limited supply. However with Kaito's strong reputation for having a clientelle that welcomes the most exotic ingredients and with Kaito's boutique L.A.-based supplier, they're in a good position to receive some more if it again becomes available

                                              Probably the best bet would be to track their "sushi blog" of ingredient arrivals when they do obtain a shipment: http://sushikaito.com/SushiBlog.aspx

                                              The drawback is that they only blog about twice a weekly, though they receive shipments daily.

                                              1. re: DougOLis

                                                I did find out a little bit more... Apparently the L.A. sushi bars who want to ensure a chance to get some Matsushita-processed uni must go to the fish market themselves and buy it directly.

                                                As to how much beyond what is bought at market reaches distribution I don't know, but with all of the competition for good ingredients out there one can imagine that some making it through distribution to San Diego is rare and a cause for celebration.

                                                1. re: cgfan

                                                  Hmmm, well thanks for looking into it more. Hopefully we start seeing more of it down here!

                                              2. re: cgfan

                                                At Celebrate the Craft, The Catalina Offshore guys were processing it so to speak right there.. They had live urchins, and were just breaking them open, and pulling out the roe, and a little rinse and away you go.So the question is, what does Matsushita do that is different from the other processors?

                                                1. re: littlestevie

                                                  I'd love to know the answer as well. Perhaps it's a good question to BT on the Ask Mr. Sushi thread...

                                                  I suspect that it's more than one of mere mechanics, but also one of degree; the relative degree of training, dedication, and quality control. I'll see if I can get more information on this. Kind of like the fromagier when it comes to keeping cheese. Any one can keep cheese around, but the fromagier is a specialist who knows not only how to preserve the cheese he sells, but to develop and improve upon it.

                                                  Regardless, I've never had uni as good as that one Matsushita uni, and I'd love to be able to repeat the experience.

                                        2. Orden de Barbacoa at La Barbacoa Authentica de Borrego.

                                          6 Replies
                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                              Kare, do you have any recs for best vegetarian food at a Mexican restaurant?

                                              1. re: ginael

                                                I think ordering the potato flautas with the nopales laced guacamole at Texcoco is my favorite vegatarian mexican meal in SD. Washed down with what I consider the best Horchata or Jamaica in SD...its off the hook.
                                                Special tortillas are sourced just for the flautas.

                                                Not far behind are the huevos oaxaquenos and chilaquiles verdes for breakfast at Super Cocina. This is my favorite breakfast in SD.

                                                There - the empanadas filled with Mexican ricotta- requeson and epazote, the pairing is a haunting flavor for me.

                                                You cannot go wrong with the Tlacoyos of frijoles, or habas at La Barbacoa either. They are quite litterally akin to eating pillows.

                                                Can you eat fish>?

                                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                                  The potato flautas sound amazing. Tortillas aren't made on site at Texcoco? I'm determined to try this dish. Thanks for the rec!

                                                  I live right by SC, and have only tried the beans, tortillas, and rice. I know, I know, am a disgrace to my Chicana race.

                                                  Yes, I eat fish, and am absolutely enthralled with the fish tacos at Mariscos German. Do you like the shrimp tacos better?


                                                  1. re: ginael

                                                    Yes, tortillas are not made on site at Texcoco - but its no matter when the lamb filling is leagues above the rest. They focus on one thing Lamb meat, rather then turning masa into tortillas.

                                                    The tortillas are special in that they are oval and very thin called raspadas - specifically for making flautas. They make even 2 salsas special only for this dish.

                                                    At MG I think I like the grilled octupus, marlin, camaron mojo ajo and clam the best.

                                                    You shouldnt be ashamed about being vegatarian - see my explanation in the comments of this reader super cocina review: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

                                                  2. re: kare_raisu

                                                    Funny you say that KR.... La Barbacoas Tlacoyos of frijoles and Texcocos potato flautus paired with nopal salad is exactly what I always recommend vegatarian friends.