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Help me to choose the resturants in San Diego

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San Diego is the first destination of my family's west coast trip (will go next Tuesday for two days and go to San Francisco for three days via LA <half-day>). I am from Chicago.

Here is my list of the dishes and the best restuarants I found so far.

1. Fish Taco: South Beach Bar & Grill, Marisco's German (truck 3...different?)
2. Carne Burrito <skirt steak burrito>: Lolita's Taco Shop
3. Seafoods: Point Loma Seafoods, El Pescador Fish Market
4. Breakfast (nearby Omni hotel, not upsacale/fancy, best value, mexican influenced menu?): The misson (which location?): ??
5. Lunch at or near San Diego Zoo (not sure if there's decent lunch spot at or nearby the Zoo

For reference, I will try some others in other cities (Japanese Don-Katz & Udon/Ramen: LA, Clam chowder: Splash Cafe at Pismo beach, Dim Sum, Chinese, Seafood <seafood>, maybe Asian/italian: San Francisco).

As you immediately know, my research is way too basic. Please let me know your comments and other restaurants to suit my needs (just want to try the best restaurants in each category). Also, if there's any other dishes/categories I must try at SD, feel free to let me know.

Thanks for your kindly help in advance.

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  1. Good job searching! I'd try Cafe 222 for breakfast rather than the Mission, and there's a good restaurant in the Zoo called Albert's. http://www.sandiegozoo.org/zoo/albert...

    Enjoy your trip west!

    1. "Lunch at or near San Diego Zoo"

      Little Italy is down the hill from the zoo.

      Mona Lisa Deli side is great for lunch.

      1. Fish tacos..Mariscos German, Brigantine (happy hour everyday $3 fish tacos), Tin Fish..just because you are right next store at the Omni..
        Mexican...Las Cuatro Milpas (great for breakfast), Super Cocina
        Seafood..Point Loma Seafoods..Oceanaire for happy hour, Fish Market Downtown Oyster Bar..Mariscos German, El Pescador for a sea bass sandwich in La Jolla.
        Lobster burrito at Bahia in La Jolla..
        SD Zoo..Prado is next door and good for lunch
        Omni/McCormicks & Schmicks has a great happy hour with fish tacos and cheeseburgers for under $5.
        Cafe Chloe in Downtown SD is excellent!

        1. Breakfast, lunch and dinner--Cafe Chloe, close to the Omni

          lunch near the Zoo (and better than the Prado, IMO) but a short drive away--Mama Testa's for tacos (excellent mashed potato tacos)

          lunch closer to the Zoo and in Balboa Park--Waters' cafe near the Museum of Art

          Seafood--Oceanaire for nice dinner

          If you want to try homestyle Japanese cooking, Okan on Convoy is excellent! You'll find dishes that you won't see in other typical Japanese places. Not the usual udon, tempura, teriyaki, sushi place.

          Izakaya style Japanese--Izakaya Sakura on Convoy
          Japanese BBQ--Tsuruhashi Japanese BBQ on Convoy, same complex as Izakaya Sakura

          1 Reply
          1. re: daantaat

            Ditto on the seafood - Oceanaire is a very good choice, and I'd recommend it over the others. Just to be clear we're talking about a completely different cuisine than that served at Point Loma Seafoods and El Pescador Fish Market. The latter are your typical casual fish house-style eatery, while Oceanaire is more fine dining.

            Carne Asada - the very best I've found is at Rudy's (Eden Gardens in Solana Beach and La Costa in Carlsbad), especially as a plate or as a torta where they use an arranchera cut. http://www.flickr.com/photos/akatayam...

            I'd highly recommend Kaito Sushi in Encinitas if you can fit it in. It's the best in San Diego and can compete against the big city sushi bars in quality. Check out the many threads on Chowhound or their 5 star rating on Yelp with 40 reviews. http://www.yelp.com/biz/kaito-sushi-e...

            Also agree with daantaat's other Japanese suggestions - all excellent for their respective specialties!

          2. 1. Skip South Beach. Much better fish tacos can be had at Blue Water Grill.
            2. Don't think Lolita's uses skirt steak for carne asada.
            3. El Pescador is good, but tiny. Blue Water Grill was opened by a former El Pescador employee and is every bit as good, but larger and with a more varied and extensive fish selection.
            5. Cafe Chloe would be my pick for this, it's down the hill from the Zoo.

            As far as must-trys in San Diego, our craft beer is exemplary. Downtown Johnny Brown's is a short walk from your hotel, and they have a pretty good selection of beer. Neighborhood is also in walking distance, and has a great beer selection and some interesting food.

            You didn't say if you'll have a car. That's pretty key to making recs.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Josh

              Thanks for all of your comments and suggestions so far.
              Yes. I have a car (not bounded by the walking distance/public transportation range). Here are some additional questions.

              1. I want to know how you would compare between Blue Water Grill and Point Loma Seafoods in terms of food quality (fish, shellfish, etc.) and menu variety (I have two boys...they are not the fans of seafood).

              2. As for fish tacos and Carne burrito, I intend to taste them at San Diego, where there are some better Mexican foods than other cities. I am not looking for 'pure authentic', which needs an acquired taste. I'd rather prefer to find the place to serve more attractive dishes (i.e., freshest fish and best quality tender beef/steak, plus delicious taco/burrito & sauces). It would be the best if one place serve both dishes quite well. If not, please let me know what places would be right for me.

              1. re: kthan

                1. I like Point Loma Seafoods more than Blue Water. And I live right near Blue Water.

                If this is the case: "menu variety (I have two boys...they are not the fans of seafood)."

                Then I would suggest not going to either. Both places I am 99% certain are only seafood. For example, neither serve a burger.

                I think Blue water has a salad.

            2. I second the rec of Cafe Chloe for breakfast and/or lunch. I've always had great meals there, reasonable for what they do, and good service. Their fries can't be beat, and they always serve egg dishes piping hot, which is a good indicator.