Trip to San Diego from DC
I'm a DC hound who will be in San Diego for 5 nights in early May and was hoping to get your help for some recommendations for dinner. We like restaurants relying on fresh ingredients prepared in unique ways. One night we'll do a splurge restaurant - what is the best restaurant in the area keeping it to around $100 per person. (If anyone here is from DC, something Obelisk-style would be great). Other nights we'd like to keep it to $50 per person and under. We like all kinds of cuisine, especially innovative. An American, French, and Italian restaurant would be great. Also, places to get the best ethnic cuisine in the area - we're open to all kinds.
I've searched the boards, but I've had difficulty finding what I've been looking for so your help would be greatly appreciated!
We'll be staying 2245 K St so anywhere near there, public transportation accessible, or a relatively short (20 minutes or less) cab ride would be perfect. The gaslamp district is in walking distance so maybe some restaurants there?
Thanks so much for your help!
It's in an odd location, being close to the airport and on a decidedly UN-scenic street, but the Starlite Lounge on India (just N of Sassafras) highlights local ingredients and I've never ever been disappointed. True american cocktails with an upadated twist (best sazerac I've ever had), great food, semi-casual atmosphere until around 8:30 (when the pretty ppl come out to play). Cool upstairs outdoor patio area that's tens of decibels below the noise indoors.
Just down the street from the Starlite is Blue Water: fresh seafood prepared simply. Lots of local catch (but plenty of flown-in stuff too - they specify so you can make an informed choice!). A definite change from DC seafood and worth a look. Very informal - order at the counter and they'll bring it to your table.
Both of those are easy access from the Washington Street trolley stop, or a cab ride from downtown.
You are staying in a somewhat odd location. It is true you are "walking distance" to the Gaslamp (albeit a fairly long one, the first part of which I believe is a bit sketchy at night), but the problem is that the Gaslamp area is geared towards expense account conventioneers, and not towards serious foodies. Your problem is compounded by the fact you do not have a rental car, a fatal mistake when visiting SD. Public transportation is not our city's strong suit. That said:
Cafe Chloe (bistro French) is well recieved on this board and is in the general Gaslamp area.
The same is true for Cowboy Star (American) which is relatively new, and offers some interesting fare as well as all the red meat favorites (in house butcher shop).
Also, while Oceanair Seafood Room (seafood) is technically a chain, it is a high end one, and ours features talented head chef Brian Malarky who you may have seen as a finalist on Bravo's Top Chef.
Salvatore's Cucina Italiana (High End Italian) near Horton Plaza is pricey, but solid. Their Osso Buco is very good.
My favorite French restaurant in SD (and one of our best fine dining restaurants in general) is Jean Michelle Diot's Tapenade in La Jolla. Unfortunately whithout a car getting there will either be expensive (cab) or ridiculous (city bus).
re: Captain Jack
Thanks for the advice! We were thinking that we might need to rent a car... From what you said I think we probably will (since we were planning to rent a car to drive from San Francisco (where we are spending the first half of the trip) to San Diego we'll probably just ask to keep it for the next few days then.
We're definitely not looking for expense account places - local, innovative, fresh food is the best. If we do have a car, what would be your other recommendations?
Now you are talking dc, a car is the way to go!
I looked at your SF thread and you are getting great advice on all those wonderful high end restaurants up there. I know them well and love them all. Get those out of your system up there and don't waste your money on ours. We have lots of other things to offer.
Convoy St. in Kearny Mesa is home to many excellent Asian restaurants.
Vietnamese is so well represented in San Diego that I rarely eat it in other cities. Most of ours are casual, unlike Slanted Door in SF.
Okan on Convoy is wonderful japanese home cooking that is a rare find outside of Japan.
Don't miss Ba Ren in the Clairmont area for outstanding Szechhuan, the way it is prepared in China.
Sab e lee is a hole in the wall Northern (Issan) Thai joint that is on a par with the West Hollywood establishments and maybe even LOS in Vegas. Try their Koi Soi, it will melt your socks off.
San Diego has the best sea urchin in the world ( I kid you not) so pick a good sushi joint like Sushi Ota in Pacific Beach or Kaito in Encinitas and get your Uni fix on.
Super Cocina on El Cajon Blvd. is an authentic homestyle Mexican kitchen featuring homemade guisados. The food is outstanding, dont miss the birria de chivo!
Gotta go for now but this will get you started
It would be quite a long list, but my recent favorites which I would definitely return to are Obelisk, Restaurant Eve, Marcel's, Equinox, PS7s, Blue Duck Tavern, Vidalia, Citronelle, Central, Proof, Le Paradou (though its closing now), Bistro Bis, Brassiere Beck, Marvin, and Oya. I'm probably missing some though...