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San Diego Best/Worst Neighborhoods for Restaurants

What are peoples opinions?

These are some of mine:


Hillcrest (obvious choice)

North Park (quickly becoming the best neighborhood in San Diego in my opinion)

Little Italy (Food not spectacular, but all things considered, walking, history, Mona Lisa, etc a great spot)

Mission Hills


Gaslamp (all in all overpriced and mediocre, although some decent options)

UTC (Horrible and lacking soul and culture, we should move this place to Orange County)

Pacific Beach (a culinary black hole)

Del Mar/ Carmel Valley (Does the whole place shut down at 8:30pm?)

Seaport Village (Blown potential)

I am interested to hear others opinions.


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  1. "Pacific Beach (a culinary black hole)" - Come on Steve, although it does not compare to some of the best, there is good food to be had. There are many to mention but if you just include Latin Chef, Sushi Ota, and Costa Brava/Pata Negra, it should remove the "black hole" stigma. I would however agree with "Fine Dining Black Hole". BTW I have had some really decent food at The Turquoise lately.

    I think the best/worst depends on food catageory, Ethnic would go to CM/LV and City Heights, it also appears that good food is poping up in the south bay.

    5 Replies
    1. re: stevuchan

      Your right. That was a little harsh. (PB just asks for it sometimes though, doesn't it?)

      Your right, Sushi Ota is epic. Although for some reason I don't think of it when "PB" comes to mind. I always think of it by itself.

      And Costa Brava and Latin Chef are solid.

      Fishery is solid too.

      1. re: stevewag23

        I would also add Table 926 and JRDN at Tower 23 Hotel as consistently good. I also had an enjoyable meal at Enoteca Adriano.

      2. re: stevuchan

        Wow, had not idea the extent of the menu at Turquoise until I read your post. What is good there? What is the crowd like?

        1. re: foodiechick

          Duck Confit is is usually pretty solid, as is the lamb, have had a bunch of tapas off the menu, nothing mind blowing but a good neighborhood option. Crowd is mellow until about 9 or 10. Weekends live music.

          1. re: foodiechick

            Service is horrible at Turquoise Lounge.

            They also add 17.5% to every check ...fyi.

            Crowd is "sophisticated" Pacific Beach.

            So basically very unsophisticated.

            But a step up from Garnet (as if there could be a step down?)

        2. "UTC (Horrible and lacking soul and culture, we should move this place to Orange County)"


          1 Reply
          1. re: deckape

            As a resident of Orange County I think it's obvious you haven't traveled around Orange County much. There are plenty of areas in Orange County with 'soul' and 'culture'. Granted just not parts of southern Orange County. Santa Ana and Anaheim with their large Hispanic populations offers up a lot of great authentic Mexican food restaurants. While Garden Grove and Westminister with their large Asain population offers up a lot of great authentic Vietnamese restaurants. Fullerton diverse with it's Hispanic community and 'higher education campuses' offers the best of both of Mexican cuisine and trendy upscale fine dining restuarants. Beach communities are usually an eclectic mix of great breakfast and brunch spots with a wide mix of different culturally diverse foods. Back to Anaheim where there are a great many Mediteranean/Middle Eastern/Greek establishments to wow your tastebuds. You can relate UTC to places like South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island and such but don't lump all of Orange County into that 'scene' because it's far from a fair comparison.

          2. "UTC (Horrible and lacking soul and culture, we should move this place to Orange County)"

            Take it easy on UTC - it's the logical answer to the question "what do you get when you mix college students, bankers, and a major shopping mall?" And really, you do not want to move UTC, because if you did in its vacuum you'd have 10 Costa Verde Villages pop up.

            With that being said, there are a few people that would go out of their way to get to Donovan's Steakhouse or Japengo. Otherwise, destination dining it is not.

            1. For Asian restaurants, best are: Kearny Mesa & Linda Vista

              1. Hillcrest has a lot of overrated places, IMO. There are a lot of mediocre spots, and only a handful that rise above that. North Park has a few bright spots, but for my money the best in terms of consistently good places to eat is Convoy St. in Kearny Mesa.

                6 Replies
                  1. re: stevewag23

                    "UTC (Horrible and lacking soul and culture, we should move this place to Orange County)"

                    Should have gave you props, the wife refers to the area as "Nobel Hell".

                    1. re: stevewag23

                      Hilcrest is overrated. Please name restaurants in this part of town that are particularly stellar. Indigo Grill and Kemo Sabe are probably the best Hilcrest has to offer, and really, these two restaurants aren't particularly special.

                      What area can compete with North Park? Take a look at the options on 30th St.
                      Granted, places like Jaynes Gastropub and Cantina Mayahuel aren't technically No Park, this street has the best lineup in SD.

                      1. re: ginael

                        "Hilcrest is overrated. Please name restaurants in this part of town that are particularly stellar"

                        Check out Better Half.

                        "Indigo Grill and Kemo Sabe are probably the best Hilcrest has to offer"

                        Both horrible Cohen Group abominations.

                        Indigo Grill is not in Hillcrest. It is in little italy.

                        And Should be thrown in the ocean and fed to the sharks.

                        1. re: stevewag23

                          Haven't tried Better Half. Forgot about that, actually.

                          It occcured to me after I wrote my comment that Indigo is not in Hilcrest. Apologies.

                          I still stand by my assertion that Hilcrest is overrated.

                  2. Is there really a neighborhood in San Diego that doesn't have something good to eat? Granted, you may have to search or try something out of your ordinary. I have lived places that had apparently NOTHING decent to eat. Everything was fried, fried, or deep fried. But, after we lived there for a while, we managed to find some good hole-in-the-wall places. At least here we don't have to drive 30 miles to get it.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: beth1

                      The problem with the aforementioned UTC is that it really is not a neighborhood, and as such really does not have a hole in the wall. Even what you would call a "hole in the wall" ends up being sterile.

                      However, I do have to come back and correct myself (and somewhat dispute stevewag). Many of the restaurants in the Renaissance Town Square complex (Barola, Wired, Edo Sushi) have gotten pretty decent reviews overall. I've found that most of the people that blast UTC don't even know about that complex, or if reminded of it dismiss it with a wave (sort of like certain posters here do when they've not tried a dozens places recommended in a thread about pizza or burgers, yet state with authority that no place in San Diego is any good).

                        1. re: RB Hound

                          I know about that "complex" and was not impressed at all.

                          The fact that it is a "complex" makes me write it off from the start.

                          Call me old-school.

                          1. re: stevewag23

                            Wired has some good stuff. Writing them off because they're in a complex while simultaneously enjoying all the strip mall-located places on Convoy seems hypocritical.

                            1. re: Josh

                              Maybe Stevewag prefers gritty, rundown 1960s era strip malls to the swishy 1990s era strip malls - "Old school". :)

                              Seriously Steve, if you tried any of those places and had a so-so or bad experience, I'd appreciate seeing you expand. Or did you limit your experience to Rubio's and/or Quizno's?

                              1. re: Josh

                                The Chinese writiing on the strip malls on Convoy make it seem more legit.

                                I can fake myself out and imagine I am in a "real Chinatown".

                            2. re: RB Hound

                              overall, Edo Sushi does a good job. I just got spoiled by Kaito.... :-)

                            3. re: beth1

                              "Is there really a neighborhood in San Diego that doesn't have something good to eat?"

                              Yeah, tons.

                              UTC, Carlsbad etc.

                              1. re: stevewag23

                                UTC certainly has plenty of forgettable places to eat but there are definitely a few diamonds in the rough. International Market and Grill does very good takeout middle eastern/persian cuisine for a great price. Probably my favorite place to eat in UTC. Nozomi is also good (although a lot of their dishes are either really good or really bad) and on par with the Convoy location. St. Germain's deli is a great place to pick up a sandwich for lunch. Chicago on a bun is also pretty good although the prices are kind of high for what they serve.

                              2. re: beth1

                                "Is there really a neighborhood in San Diego that doesn't have something good to eat?"

                                Yes, many. Not really a great restaurant town.

                                1. re: beth1

                                  'At least here we don't have to drive 30 miles to get it."

                                  Compared to where?

                                  Zanesville, OH?

                                  1. re: stevewag23

                                    Steve, you've clearly never lived outside a large metropolitan area, or you wouldn't ask beth1 for clarification. There are about millions of people who live in places like Beth mentions, and I'm one of them. There isn't a decent restaurant in the small town outside Kansas City where I live. I don't have to drive quite thirty miles, but if I want to eat out, it's going to be at least forty minutes round trip. It's a pain. She has a point about the convenience of decent restaurant food in much of the San Diego metro area. I'm actually sort of glad to hear you're this jaded, but man, don't take decent restaurants for granted.

                                2. This is hard to answer, any 'hood can have some small excellent places and real dogs. IMO, older 'hoods usually have small ethinc family run places that offer some great home cooking primilarily due to lower rents. I enjoy the hunt and am not intimidated by the condition of the 'hood.

                                  1. For Mission Hills, you have to include the India Street strip, and some will argue that boundary. Without that strip, MH is not so good.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                      Yeah, for purposes of this I did include the India street strip, which some people (not many) call "Middletown".

                                    2. I disagree with you about Del Mar: Within a stone's throw from the Via de la Valle exit from the 5, you have perhaps the best restaurant for food in San Diego County, Market. You have Pamplemousse. You have Red Tracton's, which I prefer to the steakhouse chains. You have the new Kitchen 1540 at the L'Auberge and Blanca. And in the vicinity, you have wonderful casual Mexican at Juanita's, Karina's, Bety's, L'Especiale del Norte, and even Roberto's. And we haven't even mentioned V & G and some of the breakfast places.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nosh

                                        and don't forget about Veladora at the Rancho Valencia Hotel in RSF (technically, part of Del Mar)

                                      2. Interesting...... I didn't know Seaport village was a "neighborhood".
                                        Why would you compare UTC to Orange County, with Garden Grove and it's Korean Community and Westminster - "Little Saigon"?

                                        I guess if Seaport Village qualifies...than I'd add Hotel Circle. And perhaps Mission Valley should be moved to UTC????

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: KirkK

                                          "I didn't know Seaport village was a "neighborhood".

                                          Well it is a "village" or it wouldn't be called "Seaport village"

                                          Either way, it sucks. And is blown potential.

                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                            Remember Seaport came in Downtown very early on in the areas redevelopment. I am thinking it was even before Horton Plaza and the convention center. It was built for tourists, there really wasn't anything else downtown for the tourists to do. The Gaslamp was still bumsky land.That being said I guess you really should not expect fine dining.

                                            1. re: littlestevie

                                              To add to what you said, it really is not even a "village". It is a marketing term to enhance the perception of a commercial complex of single and multi-unit shops and eateries. There are no dwellings or homes that is fundamental to the term "village". A village is a community.

                                              1. re: foodiechick

                                                I think you got that I was joking.

                                                Either way, Seaport Village is a horrible "commercial complex of single and multi-unit shops and eateries".

                                                1. re: stevewag23

                                                  If you think of Seaport Village of being San Diego's attempt at Coney Island, it might make it easier for you to accept.

                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                    Actually, *Belmont Park* was San Diego's attempt at Coney Island...and then it was demolished and turned into another Seaport Village...and now it appears they are trying to turn it back into an amusement park.

                                                    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

                                                  2. re: stevewag23

                                                    Where else can you go to get a miniature "Steve" California license plate?

                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                        Well, there's always Seaport Village, where your miniature license plate will probably have a thick coating of dust that can be carbon dated back to 1980.

                                                        Seaport Village...when will someone raze that place and put something interesting and useful there? It is truly a waste of space.

                                                        1. re: nileg

                                                          Everybody needs to remember that seaport village is not and was not ever intended to be for natives. It is a cash cow for the city and for those restaurants, believe it or not. All the restaurants are owned as a group and I know that the harbor House has had the same GM since the 80's...the reason why? because that trap hasn't been in the red for 30 years.

                                            2. I'd have to say that I never venture into Poway. I live in the nearby and never seem to head toward Poway's direction. Other than occasional stop for a happy hour fish taco at the Brigantine (no need to commence with the pro and anti Brig fish taco debate), I rarely eat within Poway's city limits. Any req's there would be appreciated if you have any. I seem to recall a Kabob Shop that got some good reviews. I thought I remembered where it was, but couldn't find it on a recent drive by.

                                              19 Replies
                                              1. re: daimyo

                                                The kabob place in Poway was called Pamir Kabob and, unfortunately, they moved to Temecula. It was an excellent and unique restaurant.

                                                We live in Del Mar and are always complaining that we can't find any "go to" places that we crave for dinner on a frequent basis. We've basically just stopped going out to places in our immediate vicinity and instead head 15 mins north to Kaito or a few other places in Encinitas or 20 mins down to Kearney Mesa/Convoy St area, No. Park or, more recently, a little further to Linda Vista to go to Sab-e-Lee for Thai.

                                                I have to disagree with the other poster about some of the Del Mar restaurants mentioned as being good...we think Pamplemousse is waaaaay overrated (we call it pompous-mousse), we find Red Tracton's kind of cool in that old-school steakhouse way but we wish their bland food was worth the price they charge, and the only other two worth considering are Market and Kitchen 1540...both are pricey, special occasion places (Market more than 1540) and yet we still would much rather spend our money at Kaito and find it way more interesting and delicious.

                                                Obviously, those choices are a reflection of our particular taste...just my two cents.

                                                1. re: susan3733

                                                  hmm, we end up doing the same thing--heading south to Convoy or north into Encinitas. The Carmel Valley/Del Mar area seems like it's either a lot of chains, a la UTC style or high end, multi-course, special occasion places.

                                                  The last time we were at Pamplemousse, the cooking style felt "old" in a "need to get new inspiration" on cooking way.

                                                2. re: daimyo

                                                  You are right about Poway. Have lived here past 17 years and nothing good to report, at least nothing that would attract people from outside the area. Some chain places and the usual mom-and-pop restaurants that come and go without much notice.

                                                  1. re: ChrisG

                                                    Oh, we're considering Poway as part of SD?

                                                    *ducks, avoiding wrath of North County Chowers

                                                    1. re: globocity

                                                      Ask the Mods for a separate forum.

                                                      1. re: globocity

                                                        Look at a map. Poway is NOT "North County".

                                                        If anything, go by area code if you want to divide up this 4200 square mile County.

                                                        I remember when all of it was 714.

                                                          1. re: globocity

                                                            "Take it easy."

                                                            Globicity, that was discussed in the Closed Restaurants thread.

                                                          2. re: Cathy

                                                            well, I think most people in the City of SD would consider Poway situationally "north county" based on the strip malls, high percentage of restaurants being TGIF derivatives, tract housing, and general suburbia layout. I think it is a fair assumption.

                                                            1. re: MrKrispy

                                                              Poway is considered North County Inland. .

                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                  We like to call it the 'little Rancho Santa Fe' without the covenant and of course, Church of Chinos.


                                                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                                                      I'm trying to figure out why Krispy revived this rather ho hum argument from 6 weeks back. Yes, I know nutrition bumped the thread, but it shouldn't mean everything within is fair game.

                                                                      Fakey - interesting name. You may be amused to know that Firestone Walker (one of those companies in on the craft beer "fetish") is about to release a limited amount of bottles of their revived (at least in name) "Velvet Merkin" stout.

                                                                      1. re: RB Hound

                                                                        Shoulda called Stout Velvet Merkin.

                                                                        Maybe in the "report this post" area they could have a button for "ho-hum" in addition to spam, off-topic and vulgar.

                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                          I thought that your "Inland Empire" response was the most accurate answer to Poway's classification, FWIW.

                                                                          1. re: RB Hound

                                                                            North of 8, east of 15 = IE. Includes San Marcos, Riverside, Barstow, Baker, San Berdoo Redlands, Temecula, Hemet, ETC all the way east to Nevada.

                                                              1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                OP listed Del Mar, a City within the County of San Diego. Assumed the County was part of the topic; not the City.

                                                                Rancho Bernardo and La Jolla are communities within the City of San Diego. Poway is a City within the County of San Diego.

                                                            2. re: globocity

                                                              Another point is that many people use "San Diego" to refer to "San Diego County". In that context, Poway is part of San Diego. So in Rainbow and San Onofre.

                                                        1. For Vietnamese Mira Mesa does pretty well with a lot of different choices all right on the Mira Mesa Blvd.

                                                          1. How about Kensington/Normal Heights? We may be small but we have a few notable places:
                                                            Bleu Boheme
                                                            Kensington Grill
                                                            Blind Lady Ale House (for very casual pizza and beer)

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: sdpanda80

                                                              Agreed - Kensington / Normal Heights has a wide variety of solid restaurant choices, whether along Adams Avenue (Bleu Boheme, Kensington Grill, Ponce's, Blind Lady Alehouse, Cantina Mayahuel, Farm House Cafe) or south along 30th Street (Jayne's Gastropub, et al.). Super Cocina is also a stone's throw.

                                                              From Kensington or Normal Heights, one can reach all of these within a five minute drive, or a nice walk. I can't think of many neighborhoods with such proximity to good restaurant options.

                                                              1. re: Caroline

                                                                There's a new Thai restaurant that opened in the same block as Ye Olde Sod (took over the bad BBQ place location), Pinto Thai Cuisine, IIRC. If their signage is any indication, it might be good.

                                                                El Zarape is opening a sit-down restaurant at 32nd and Adams (taking over the old Prince and Pauper bookstore).

                                                                There's a new seafood taco truck somewhat related to Mariscos German at 35th and University, in the convenience store parking lot.

                                                            2. "UTC (Horrible and lacking soul and culture, we should move this place to Orange County)"

                                                              Hmmm...I was raised in SD and don't need to defend OC, but I have to say that OC's first impression appears to lack "soul and culture", but for CHs worth their salt and who know how to sniff out a great chowish place, it's rich with ethnic enclaves--like Little Saigon, the many Korean spots that line Garden Grove & Buena Park, and Gaza Strip in Anaheim. Though OC is further away from the border, not many Mexican restaurants will serve the California burrito ubiquitous in San Diego. We border Artesia with its many, many Indian restaurants and a half dozen great Japanese izakayas throughout the county.

                                                              I love this website for being helpful to those seeking great food; I'm hoping the disparaging remark about OC was done half in jest, half in a moment of gross hyperbole.

                                                              1. You guys are all pikers.

                                                                I can name you one neighborhood area where there is truly NOTHING decent to speak of...namely the Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, San Carlos area.

                                                                If you're really interested in finding bleaking dining venture East of the 805. Good options dwindle rapidly. Name me 5 places with good to great foo/dining in the East County that aren't hole-in-the-wall types of places and I'll buy you dinner.

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                  I was all ready to take that challenge, DD, until you said "aren't hole-in-the-wall types of places." My 5 East County places are all in strip malls!

                                                                  1. re: phee

                                                                    LOL -- when I saw you had responded to this thread my first thought was that I was going to owe you dinner. I can come up with 2 maybe 3 good to decent places in the East County, but the options for fine dining are practically non-existent and the options for the casual, bistro type of dining that's taking root along 30th St. are slim to none as well.

                                                                    Cheaps Eatz and hole-in-the-wall the East County can do

                                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                      For the record, they would be Antica Trattoria, La Trattoria, Oishii, Pho Superbowl, and Michael's. Provided we're in agreement that they all don't qualify as 'great', and strip mall locations can't always be classified as 'hole-in-the-wall' (e.g. Antica Trattoria), you can still buy me dinner. ;-)

                                                                      1. re: phee

                                                                        Well, you got 4 of the ones I'd have classified as being worth the dining bucks :-), and in just about the same I'd rank them too. Haven't been to Pho Superbowl yet (tho' I've driven by numerous times).

                                                                        Let's have dinner at Antica Trattoria, I haven't been there in a while.

                                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                          I live in Hillcrest and there are plenty of good places around but I think one of the better areas for unique and good food is in City Heights. There are tons of great ethnic places. You just have to look for them and do some exploring.

                                                                          In Hillcrest, I like Tractor Room, Better Half, Amarin Thai, Kous Kous, Bite and Chilangos, just to name a few. I agree that a lot of people associate Hillcrest with great restaurants, even though there are plenty of good ones spread throughout the city.

                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                            I would also be game for a get-together at Antica.

                                                                            In UTC area, Truluck's happy hour is fantastic.

                                                                            In the Seaport Village area, give Lion's Share a shot. Tried it a couple of weeks ago, and liked it a lot.

                                                                            1. re: 4wino

                                                                              Went a few times for business dinners to Truluck and was completely underwhelmed by their food - appetizers, meat and fish.

                                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                                Never had dinner there. I only go for the HH in the bar area. Cocktails and light appetizers, all half priced.

                                                                          2. re: phee

                                                                            Add Riviera Supper Club & Turqoise Room to the list.

                                                                            I'd consider Pho Superbowl to be cheap eats though. Tamarind Thai isn't bad; not quite as good as Sab-E-Lee but quite a bit better than other Thai places I've been to around San Diego.

                                                                            Has anyone been to GIO in downtown La Mesa yet? It looked slightly more modern when driving by but I have no idea what type of food they have or if it's any good.

                                                                            1. re: DougOLis

                                                                              I went to Gio and had a nice dinner there. We shared a few of the small plates and were not blown away by anything, but did not dislike anything either. We keep meaning to give it another chance.

                                                                              1. re: DougOLis

                                                                                As JRSD says, Gio is good but not particularly outstanding. I was there for breakfast and enjoyed it. The place has lots of potential.

                                                                            2. re: phee

                                                                              Sorry this is off topic, but Phee, did you ever have any luck getting the recipe for Garlic Chile Chicken? We are craving it like mad! Thanks! Dawn

                                                                          3. To have a competition amongst neighborhoods is merely a competion among the people who live there. Since 75% of restaurants fail in the first year and all good restaurateurs know their base clientele comes from within 5 miles...The food should generally reflect the neighborhood its in. And as gentrification pushes east from downtown, the next "new" food hotspot is gonna have cheap rent and a burgeoning "it" scene. That is until the new neighborhood comes to town. What's next Barrio Logan? In a nutshell, I appreciate neighborhoods with a longstanding reputation of getting people from outside the area to make the drive, wether or not it has a few new "hotspots" So, I'll take la jolla over most places and kearny mesa over posh North park

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: missthemis

                                                                              Let me get this straight, you prefer La Jolla over most places, but North Park is too 'posh' for you?

                                                                              1. re: juantanamera

                                                                                i was being sarcastic, referring to the hipsters status and cult personality of north park...way too cool for school

                                                                            2. I'm reviving this old thread. Any new answers?

                                                                              12 Replies
                                                                              1. re: globocity

                                                                                Stevewag23. . .I wonder what happened to him. He (or possibly he's a she) hasn't posted in quite a while

                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                  I was wondering the same! He was posting on the Miami board earlier this year.

                                                                                  As for Best and Worst foodie 'hoods: I think most SD neighborhoods offer at least one gem. With the exceptions of UTC and Allied Gardens. Both being mentioned above. I find Normal Heights to be my pick for the year.

                                                                                  1. re: globocity

                                                                                    I would argue that UTC is no longer an absolute black hole because it now has 2 worthy restaurants:
                                                                                    1) Trulucks - sure it's a chain but it's good, especially for happy hours
                                                                                    2) Eureka Burger - The burgers here are fantastic, but the real awesome part is the whisky flights

                                                                                    1. re: karaethon

                                                                                      Fair enough. I guess what draws me to a neighborhood, in addition to its food scene, is walkability, aesthetics, and a lively vibe. UTC seems like a giant parking lot. I lived there for 3 years and never once found anything enjoyable about the food and culture there. City Heights, though.....

                                                                                      1. re: globocity

                                                                                        City Heights...basically my hood and love eating in and around the area. So many great places to explore and try.

                                                                                        1. re: jbol

                                                                                          jbol, Have you tried "Nate's Garden Grill" in CH?

                                                                                          1. re: globocity

                                                                                            I have once but only for a beer and a small bite but will definitely go again to try the menu. It definitely has potential. It's nice having an "american" restaurant in the hood too. I mean, there is only so much ethnic food one can take! ;)

                                                                                2. re: globocity

                                                                                  I'd love to hear any new names in the Mira Mesa area. I'm in the area often and keep going back to Pho Cow Cali and the fairly new Kabob Shop.

                                                                                  1. re: TeeBeeinSD

                                                                                    The only "new" place in Mira Mesa I've seen is:


                                                                                    ^^Haven't been yet, so I can't say if it's the next best thing to Blind Lady or the next best thing to Shakey's.

                                                                                    1. re: The Office Goat

                                                                                      Meh. I've decided to move close to BLAH. And other restos in walking distance. No, not kidding.

                                                                                    2. re: TeeBeeinSD

                                                                                      8 elements perfect indian cuisine is new and in the same plaza as Pho Cow Cali. It's pretty good. Some things I like a lot and other things not so much. I went right when it opened and the service was a little slow if that matters. I would go again

                                                                                      1. re: koreansoup

                                                                                        Thanks! PCC is one of my favourite places for pho so I admit I rarely go past it. I keep going to Punjabi Tandoor for MM Indian but I need some new places to try...

                                                                                  2. Encinitas/Leucadia is emerging as foodie destination.

                                                                                    1. I think Del Mar will have some potential soon with the remodeling of the Flower Hill complex.

                                                                                      Sea and Smoke is going to be awesome, but once you add cucina enoteca, the whole foods cafe (tell me somewhere else you can get a craft beer and burger for $10), and burger lounge with the already existing Market, I think it has some potential.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: karaethon

                                                                                        Yup. Now we just have to wait for Fair/Racetrack traffic to die down to go visit...

                                                                                      2. Do you mean all restaurants in general? From the hole-in-the-wall to the white tablecloth house? If so:


                                                                                        East Village
                                                                                        Golden Hill
                                                                                        Little Italy
                                                                                        City Heights/30th corridor


                                                                                        Anything east of the 125 freeway.
                                                                                        though, El Cajon is quickly becoming a bastion of wonderful Mediterranean food.


                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Dagney

                                                                                          Ranas in Casa de Oro has some of the better Mexican food in the county. They're east of the 125 but not in El Cajon. Not worth trekking out to if you're in the beach areas, North or South County, but very good for the area.

                                                                                          Valley Market at Bancroft and Campo Rd., also east of the 125 but not in El Cajon offers a very good meat market at very reasonable prices.

                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                            There is a Valley Market on Main just north of the 2nd/Jamacha split. I'll check it out. We are on the grilling kick lately.

                                                                                            1. re: Dagney

                                                                                              I don't know if they're the same or not. Worth checking out tho'

                                                                                              1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                That's Valley Foods. http://www.valleyfoodsmed.com/ Sells Halal meats, basturma, very limited seafood (whole carp and tilapia already cut for masgoof) good prices on produce, fresh sammoon and tandori breads constantly, has a very nice, tasty steam tray area with schawarma, kabobs and other Middle Eastern foods. Not too large.

                                                                                                DiningDiva is talking about Valley Farms Market. http://www.valleyfarmmarkets.com/ more 'American' with good prices on meats, pollo/carne asada, BBQ made daily, large sustainable seafood area, beer, wine etc.

                                                                                                People do live in the "East" (it's not very much East if you look at a map of this 4200 square mile County) and eat very well there also; it's just not a 'destination'.

                                                                                                1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                  I know. I wish it was more of a destination, because we live in Alpine.....sigh

                                                                                                  1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                    Alpine is quite the destination for beer swillers these days.

                                                                                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                      True! The Alpine Pub is quite good.

                                                                                                    2. re: Dagney

                                                                                                      You have a Starbucks. With a fireplace!


                                                                                                      I liked Coffee, Bagels & Crepes and Greek VIllage Grill for breakfasts earlier this year and want to go back to try Mediterraneo. Also stopped at Tapatio's and it's a good taco shop.

                                                                                                      1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                        Well, it's a space heater...:)

                                                                                                        Tapatio's is pretty good. Greek Village will do in a pinch. Mediterraneo is AWFUL though, not worth the trip. The pub, however, is worth the trip.

                                                                                                      2. re: Dagney

                                                                                                        RIP Bread Basket cinnamon rolls

                                                                                                2. re: Dagney

                                                                                                  Concur with Golden Hill, Little Italy, and City Heights/30th/Adams, but would add the bizzare but amazing "Convoy District", as well as LV, as Green Turtle also mentioned. East Village is still "emerging", IMO.

                                                                                                3. People should not overlook National City.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                    I've been wanting to go down there for some time to get pozole roja at Menudaira Don Vicentes, per DD's rec, but it's a long drive...

                                                                                                  2. Three throwbacks to more ancient San Diego days, that need to be rescued by Restaurants Impossible for makeovers are:
                                                                                                    Old Trieste, Baci and The Godfather!
                                                                                                    Was taken to them against my better judgment, since Italian food/starches are no longer higj on my list of choice places.
                                                                                                    But some seniors keep them open with weekend business.
                                                                                                    So dark and under lit, that I could not read the extensive menus. Too many selections to review. I have learned no place can keep a kitchen up to date with that many fresh foods. Would really like to inspect their kitchens and freezers!

                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: nutrition

                                                                                                      Old Trieste spooks me out, and I've never been.

                                                                                                      Baci is a pretty darn good Italian restaurant.

                                                                                                      Godfather is respectable too.

                                                                                                      Not all Italian food is starch.

                                                                                                      Seniors avoid restaurants on weekends.

                                                                                                      You wouldn't have liked Mr. A's.

                                                                                                      1. re: nutrition

                                                                                                        Old Trieste is actually kept open by weekday lunch. Walk in any Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and it is usually completely full of old business types, more specifically old advertising and media types. Their specialty is a delicious fresh sea bass.

                                                                                                        1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                          Those olde advertising types give me the creeps.

                                                                                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                            But they have excellent taste in women.

                                                                                                          2. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                            "full of old business types"

                                                                                                            All wearing tuxes and black bowties.

                                                                                                            1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                              Ha! Pretty close, but it is summer so seersucker for the gentlemen. ;)

                                                                                                              1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                Jacket only.

                                                                                                                The Bright Yellow Slacks go along for the ride.

                                                                                                                1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                  But you haven't yet seen the electric blue pants!

                                                                                                          3. Rancho Peñasquitos - way down low near the worst
                                                                                                            There is a Sab E Lee

                                                                                                            Pho Saigon & Grill?
                                                                                                            Sushi Hana?
                                                                                                            Orient Valley Filipino Cuisine?

                                                                                                            Anyone been? They don't look anything special.

                                                                                                            1. Disclaimer: I'm 18 years old but have lived in San Diego my whole life, I usually eat out with my girlfriend and we can't afford to dine at Nine Ten, Cafe Chloe, Mille Fleurs, Tapenade, or Addison (that being said before I leave for college in two weeks I am set on trying the first two), so I can't weigh in on those. For affordable eating I absolutely love Kearny Mesa. Super Sergio's, Dumpling Inn, Ice Blast Shave Ice, China Max, Pho T Cali, Yakitori, probably a lot of Korean food, Crab Hut, and on the more expensive side: The Godfather and Butcher Shop. I know the Butcher Shop gets no love on here whatsoever, but I still absolutely adore their steaks, I've eaten at a michelin star restaurant in Prauge (Alcron), various high end establishments in Paris and Le Havre, Donovans, and more, and I can still comfortably say that Butcher Shop's Filet Mignon is the best steak I've had (outside of the central coast of course). I realize that statement was very bold, so you may feel free to take it with a grain of salt, but many of the aforementioned restaurants are some of the best at their style in San Diego (in my opinion Super Sergio's, Dumpling Inn and Yakitori). Neighboring Clairemont also contains some suitable eateries that aren't fantastic, but are worth my money such as Di Chan Thai, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot, El Cotixan (flame me all you want, Cali no Pico from El Co is my childhood), Mister Falafel, K Sandwiches, Rockie's Frozen Yogurt (best in San Diego), Rose Donuts (second to only VG Donuts).

                                                                                                              Also, as a University City native (wrongly dubbed UTC--University Towne Center, the name of the Westfield Shopping Mall located in North University City, despite the dichotomous nature of the communities north and south of the train tracks it is still technically one neighborhood), I feel like I can make some recommendations if you're unfortunate enough to find yourself stranded in the place I call home. Lorna's is actually really good Italian food I think, sure not like the kind I had in Asisi or Rome or Florence, but it's some of the better Italian food I've had in the states, Star Anise Thai is okay Thai food priced decently at lunch, Pho UTC La Jolla is one of my favorite pho places in the city, I don't think it's one of the best but I've become a weekly regular due to its proximity, Nozomi has good sushi I think? I'm not really sure how I feel about sushi I mostly only like salmon nigiri but their bento boxes are nice, Hong Kong Chef is a hole in the wall Chinese place that I think actually has some pretty good lunch specials, I honestly like their hot and sour soup more than any of the fantastic aforementioned Chinese places, Regents Pizza has some pretty good Hot Soppressata New York style pizza, but I don't particularly like the Chicago Style (they also usually have some craft beer on tap), Tender Greens and Eureka (both at the mall) are apparently pretty good but I've never been to either. I will update this list if I realize I forgot anything, sorry in advance for my incoherent sentence structure/passive voice/other problems with my writing.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: nopico

                                                                                                                Skip 9-10 and go to Georges (downstairs)

                                                                                                                1. re: nopico

                                                                                                                  Welcome, nopico. I think for 18, you've got a pretty good assortment of places to go, and a decent palate. I've only had a steak once at The Butcher Shop, and it was good. Lorna's - I've been there once and was mildly surprised by the quality of the food.

                                                                                                                  If you search this board, you'll find several people touting some of the dining establishments you mention in your post. And you've mentioned a few I'd now like to try.

                                                                                                                  People don't really get flamed here, based on places mentioned, but you may get disagreement. No worries. The board is, however, a wonderful place to find out about new places and dishes offered. Food is largely based on YOUR tastes. Eat what you like!