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Mar 20, 2009 04:08 AM

Good takeout in San Diego

I have a new baby so instead of eating out, I'm doing take out. I'm in UTC and these are our winners so far:

Opera Cafe in Sorrento Valley - great crepes and lunch specials
Jasmine's Express - all the menu of Jasmine's dim sum but no wait, just take and go in a few minutes.

Sushi Ota - If you know what to order, this is a great sushi experience.
Piatti - Great Italian food, like their Mussels, Osso Bucco pasta, spinach side, bean side. Great tiramisu, as good as most places I've had in Italy
Outback - Same as the outback we know, though the 15 minute drive will let the steaks sit a bit. Even has a parking spot just for take-out
Whole Foods - Pricey but they have a couple of great stuff here. Perfect Rotisserie Chicken, chicken curry salad, salad bar, Beef Bourgogne soup, plenty of gems here.

Any suggestions on take-out friendly places? Looking for delicious and relatively healthy food at a decent value.

Places I'll be trying in the future:
Soup Plantation
Celadon Thai
Sammy's Wood Fried - any better pizza recommendations? Thin crust preferred

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  1. Not in UTC, but our go-to is Waters. You do have to choose carefully, though. I'm sure the $25/lb entrees are quite good, but out of our price range. But their chicken pot pies are excellent, the chicken is always great, and the desserts are very good.

    But not cheap.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Fake Name

      Sounds great! Price is not an issue since with the baby, we're using take-out to replace dining out. =) We cook 5 out of 7 days, so this is just a way to bring back some sanity and treat ourselves after a busy week.

      Looking at their website Waters is definitely a place I'd try. We go to Opera's often because it's close but time to try something new.

      Waters is just 20 minutes from UTC if you avoid traffic (i.e. after 4:30pm on weekdays), or take the 5 instead of 805 during rush hour (to avoid the entrance lanes).

      Thanks for the suggestion, this is definitely what we're looking for!

      1. re: Fake Name

        Thanks to your suggestion, we tried Waters (near Sea World) and it was awesome. It's like a mini-Whole Foods but much better. They said the steak salad was popular and offered a sample, and this was a winner. Expensive like you said, but to me cheaper than eating out. The food tastes much better than it looks, and as far as the steak salad goes the vegetables were top quality and steak perfectly seasoned, and their dressing was made for this salad. Photo included.

        Although the side dishes like steak salad or casserole can be expensive (in the case of steak salad, justifiably so), there are plenty of great deals here. I ordered a portobello sandwitch for $7 and a large soup for $5 and they turned out great. They had a perfect portabello and peppers and grilled onions, better than I expected. Soup was a chicken curry soup of the day, and they got that right too.

        Getting to the branch on W Morena can be a little tricky the first time, but I'll definitely be going again in the future. This is like a gourmet Whole Foods as far as to go is concerned:

        Since you can get samples of things like the steak salad, ask for one if you're not sure. It might be a lot better than you expected. =) If not, you've got a lot of very reasonably priced items to choose from.

        1. re: royaljester

          Glad you liked it! Sign up for their email blast- they send every day, and it's always good to know what they have that day.

          1. re: Fake Name

            I really would like to try this place. I subscribed to their email over a year ago and have gotten nada. Just went to their website and it is an unresponsive mess. Every time I drive by it looks closed (Morena location). Do you happen to know what their hours are? Sorry to be negative but I'm frustrated as I would really like to know what they are featuring before I spend time driving there. Thanks.

            1. re: foodiechick

              Try calling them at 619-276-0568..I went about 2pm yesterday. I notice the pdf links don't work on the site but try the "today's menu" link next to san diego and solana beach.

              Thanks for all your suggestions in the past!

              1. re: foodiechick

                Tsk-tsk. Always so negative! Such a hater! ; )

                I encourage you to give them another try. I'll forward the latest email to you and you can sign up from there, or email them directly to be sure you get on the list. It's our family default system. The Caesar salads are a staple, and the desserts rock. Set aside your pre-conceived and limited point of view, raise your empathy, and reach for the stars once again.

                Or, just give them a try.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  Humbly accepting my talking down. Thanks for the help. I'm now onboard. ;)

                  1. re: foodiechick

                    To answer your question, they seem to close at 7pm. The menu is different each day but available online, and to see it go to and click "To Go" and "Today's Menu".

        2. If you're in the UTC area, the Island Style Cafe (Hawaiian Plate Lunch/creperie) is a straight shot down the 52 to the Santo Road exit, and then right there.

          Their Loco Moco (with fried rice, served on a massive savory pancake, all slathered in gravy) travelled well to Sorrento Valley, as did their other items. Their regular salad (home-made dressings) and mac salad are better than most, too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Office Goat

            Thanks, looks like an easy stop after groceries in Convoy. =)

          2. Sab E Lee for Thai
            K Sandwiches for Banh Mi
            Ba Ren for Szechuan Chinese
            Surati Farsan Mart for Indian
            Punjabi Tandoor for Indian
            Croutons for salads/soups/sandwiches (much better than Soup Plantation IMO)
            Smokin' Joey's for BBQ

            2 Replies
            1. re: DougOLis

              Gotta second K Sandwitch, great subs (about $3-$4) and nice strong Vietnamese ice coffee, not far from Nijiya/Mitsuwa.

              Crouton's is also great and quick. There's one in La Jolla Village Square, as well as one next to Opera in Sorrento Valley.

              I've gone to Ba Ren once and had some good stuff, but don't know what to order yet. Any suggestions? I had these noodles in spicy sauce that were great.

              I've been meaning to try out Punjabi Tandoor, and your other suggestions sound great thanks!

              1. re: royaljester

                I'm a big fan of the stir fried dried beef, the hot pepper prawns, cold sichuan noodles, and twice cooked fish.

            2. Sammy's Woodfired Pizza is good. I haven't had a bad pizza there. They have these "gourmet" style pizzas where the crust is made from puff pastry (?)--stuff like smoked cheese and sliced pears on top.
              Z Pizza in UTC
              2nd Sab E Lee, Surati Farsan Mart and Punjabi Tandoori
              Sitar for Indian is not too bad, if you don't want to schlep to Punjabi Tandoori
              CPK, believe it or not, has decent take out
              Okan on Convoy does take out from their daily rotating side dishes. I suspect you can get the rest of the menu for take out
              Tofu House on Convoy (the one next to O'Brien's)
              Dumpling Inn
              Bud's Louisiana Cafe in Tierrasanta

              2 Replies
              1. re: daantaat

                Thanks, great recommendations as always. I'm a big fan of Okan, so I'll give takeout a shot next time I'm at Nijiya. They've have some great daily specials on their menu - favorite so far has been their gratin. I have to second Z Pizza as well, and my wife like Sammy's (I've never been, but my work orders their catering).

                Thanks again!

                1. re: royaljester

                  forgot to add Edo Sushi in the Renassaince Towne Center in UTC is pretty decent for Japanese, if you don't want to run down to Convoy or Sushi Ota.

                  Cafe Athena and that little Peruvian place that I cannot remember for the life of me in PB both have good takeout.

              2. Kirk K's blog just reviewed Convoy Sushi & Fish Market and their $5 takeout specials, looks pretty good and alot of food for the money:


                1 Reply
                1. re: Green_Turtle

                  I'm going to try this out, especially if they have good uni. I was actually going to drive much further south for the same thing. =)