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Feb 19, 2009 03:47 PM

Great San Diego Restaraunts?? Need a recommendation

I'm going to San Diego in the next month. I figured the info on here is pretty old, so I was looking for newer suggestions. If you had one meal to have SD, where would you go? Any cuisine? Price is not important. Just looking for a knockout dining experience that says "San Diego."

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  1. Where in San Diego are you staying? Will you have a car? How far are you willing to drive?

    10 Replies
    1. re: Enorah

      I'm coming from the Dana Point area. I'll be in San Diego for one day. I will have a car. I don't know the area, so the distance I am willing to drive is a tough one. I'm pretty open, although I eventually need to head back to Dana Point.

      1. re: sweisman

        Are you coming down to eat or is there a destination you are going to? That would help.

        1. re: sweisman

          If you're in Dana Point, be sure to go to Michael Mina's Stonehill Tavern. Closer to San Diego, Arterra in Del Mar is an excellent choice, but it does have one major fault: the dining room can be very noisy the closer you are to the big, open bar. Both places serve stylish and delicious modern American fare (Mina emphasizes seafood but has outstanding meat dishes and desserts) and are capable of professional service. Except for the noise, don't be put off by the fact that Arterra is in a Marriott.

          Incidentally, both Stonehill Tavern and Arterra have excellent tasting menus, in case you're interested.

          1. re: sbritchky

            Arterra just got nailed for poor food and service last week on Valentine's Day. I would put Market, Blanca, Cavallion and Addison over Arterra at this point.

            1. re: daantaat

              Interestingly enough, Chowhound lurker Naomi Wise just gave Arterra 4 stars in a San Diego Reader review (done during Restaurant Week, I believe).

              1. re: RB Hound

                I saw that, and digested with some disbelief. Wonder if she was "made"?

              2. re: daantaat

                daantaat, have you also recently experienced "poor food and service" at Arterra? I couldn't find the review you mentioned -- where did you see it?

                I haven't been in a couple of months but do go regularly, and I've always had excellent service and outstanding food, except for the (usually, one) Southwestern-style dish on the seven-course tasting menu. The flavors just aren't harmonious, and I generally request a different course.

                Again, the noise is the only significant problem for me. People who want to try the place should ask for a table at the other end of the room from the bar.

                1. re: sbritchky

                  The bad reviews about Arterra were mostly about Valentines Day dinner. The thread started either on or very close to Feb. 14. Now, we all know the problems of crowds, high expectations, special menus, and all of the other problems that surround such an amateur night, but the general feedback was not just a bit negative, people were really upset.

                  1. re: nosh

                    Oh, it was a thread on chowhound. OK, I misunderstood -- thanks, nosh.

                    Yes, special occasions with high expectations can overtax the crew. I'll be there again soon and will report any normal service or food problems that I notice.

                  2. re: sbritchky

                    the review I was referring to was someone's post on Valentine's Day.

                    I was there last fall and although the food was good, I recall one of the items on my entree being heavy on the acid side and felt unbalanced, flavor-wise. And I tend to like a lot of acid in my food. If I was to compare it to dinners I had when Carl Shroeder (sp?) was there, it didn't quite measure up.

          2. Are you looking for an upscale restaurant, somewhere casual or a hole-in-the-wall? Any type of cuisine in particular?

            1. I am most familiar with the Del Mar/Encinitas/Carlsbad area, which you will go through on your way back up the coast. If you exit the 5 at Via De La Valle and head inland less than a mile, you will hit Market, perhaps the best dining experience in San Diego these days. Wonderful modern California cuisine. Just on the other side of the 5 towards the shore is Pamplemousse, for a more subdued French-inspired dinner. Next to them is Red Tracton's, for a classic steakhouse with booths, a busy bar in front, and gigantic slabs of prime rib and steaks. Just down the Coast Highway at the refurbished L'Auberge Hotel is Kitchen 1540, with a gorgeous outdoor patio with cabanas and a trendy bar. Note: If the reviews of Arterra's performance on Valentine's on this board are any indication, think twice.

              1. $$$$ +Suite and Tender Downtown in the Sai Hotel. $$$ the Better Half in Hillcrest.. $$ The Farm House in University Heights. I prefer the last 2.. small and cozy and full of passion.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ella6664

                  Thank you all for the great suggestions. I will do some homework on the suggestions and look forward to a great time in SD.

                  1. re: sweisman

                    Tapenade La Jolla
                    Market Del Mar