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Jun 30, 2009 02:19 PM

Hole in the wall Joints- San Diego

I've lived in SD a number of years and have my favorite hole in the wall places, but am always interested in hearing about others. I like a wide variety, but I am looking for anything outside the norm (not your standard chain) and preferably cheap (i'd like to walk out with a great meal for less than $20 a person, but not 100% necessary). Any idea's?

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  1. Great topic.

    They don't qualify as Hole in the walls but Point Loma seafoods and Con Pane Rustic Breads & Cafe you can eat great food for 2 for $20.

    Anyone know how La Scala Italian Restaurant in Point Loma is?


    13 Replies
    1. re: stevewag23

      Hate to say it, but I had the worst pasta dish at La Scala. Server told us that owner is from Italy and makes all her own pasta. Unfortunately found it very thick, gummy and inedible.

      1. re: foodiechick

        It seemed like a place that would either be really good, or really bad.

        Since I have never heard of anyone going I was betting on the latter.

        How about for a drink?

      2. re: stevewag23

        It's been quite awhile since I have eaten at La Scala..when I lived in La Playa, we would always hang there and Old Venice and the food was pretty good..
        I'm usually at the Brig in Shelter Island for the happy hour..
        Dumpling Inn is one of my fav's and considered a hole in the wall..
        I'm more a hole in the wall dive bar kind of chicka.. ; )
        Agree with the other posters on their excellent choices!!

        1. re: Beach Chick

          "we would always hang there and Old Venice and the food was pretty good.."

          Not comparable to old venice though right?

          1. re: stevewag23

            I really dislike Old Venice. The atmosphere is nice, but I found the food to be really sub-par. I'd rather eat at La Scala.

            1. re: Josh


              I always her good things about Old Venice.

              What was wrong with the food?

              1. re: stevewag23

                It was a long time ago now, but I just remember thinking it was really bad. I was completely stunned by the hype I'd heard over the years.

                1. re: stevewag23

                  Haven't been there in a couple years, stopped going as the food was adequate at best...except it was the only place I could get a sundried tomato and walnut pizza.

                  1. re: rotie77

                    The bolognese at Old Venice is superb. Same goes at Alexanders (if not slightly better). Add chicken to the dish and it takes it over the top. Start it off with that roasted head of garlic with brie and a decent bottle of wine and you're in a nice state of mind very quickly.

                    1. re: cookieshoes

                      Adding chicken to ragu bolognese ? That's sounds like a really bad combination. Or are we talking about ragu bolognese with Italian sausage as the only meat part like too many "Italian" restaurants here in SD use for the "ragu bolognese" which makes it already horrible by itself.

                      1. re: honkman

                        2nd that honkman, just came back from the east coast, went to a place for home made bolognese, the chef would go into shock at the thought of chicken and probably ask for forgiveness to St. A for even having thoughts of sausage.

                        1. re: honkman

                          This misapprehension of the ragu bolognese is certainly not a SD thing- it's a national tragedy. Somewhere along the line bolognese became confused with meat marinara. There is only one tbsp of concentrato in my recipe...the rest is the flavor of meat- veal, pork and pancetta all ground together as one...

                          1. re: SaltyRaisins

                            That's a tragedy, bolognese is not cheap to make but, it's all about the flavor. Meat with marinara, probably hamburg, would have my grandparents turning in the graves. I think the exceptions are cities with large Italian 'hoods and locally family owned restaurants, like NYC, BOS, CHIC and SFO to name a few.

          2. JV Tacos on Moreno in Mission Valley area (near University of San Diego) . Excellent and cheap!

            1. Super Cocina
              Tacos El Paisa
              Aqui Es Texcoco
              El Borrego
              Tofu House
              Sab E Lee
              Ba Ren
              Mien Trung
              Mama's Bakery and Deli
              Pizzeria Luigi
              Mariscos German

              12 Replies
              1. re: Josh

                Thanks Josh. I've been to Tajima, Saigon and Luigi's (if it's the spot in Mission Beach). Any specifics about the other places (what's good, or what their specialty is etc?)

                1. re: Josh

                  What he said. Add Surati Farsan Mart, Punjabi Tandoor, and Cafe Dore to the list too.

                  Pizzeria Luigi is in South Park actually.

                  1. re: DougOLis

                    Man, how'd I forget Surati Farsan and Punjabi Tandoor?

                    1. re: Josh

                      Is Surati Farsan really a hole in the wall? I thought it looked a little spiffy in there.

                        1. re: Josh

                          To me a hole in the wall place is something you would not know about unless someone who's been there and loved it tells you about it. A place that does not have the marketing budget to do anything but survive on good food and word of mouth. More often than not this is a place with minimal decor, however that to me would not be a deciding factor.

                          For example, I've lived in SD for nearly 11 years. Have driven by Blue Water Sea Food probably 1000 time, Frequented the bar a block south and the bar a block north maybe 50 times each...and yet had not really noticed or thought to try it....Until my Dad (who does not live in San Diego) suggested it for dinner one visit, because he heard from a friend who raves about it....Now I tell all my friends and anyone who'll listen. Possibly my Fave place in SD.

                          1. re: csils

                            By that definition, Surati Fursan definitely fits in the "hole in the wall" category.

                            Punjabi Tanjor really is a hole in the wall, IMO. :)

                        2. re: RB Hound

                          It's clean and kind of modernish I guess, but other than that it fits csils' definition to a 't.'

                          1. re: DougOLis

                            I was going to add Surati Farsan Mart to my list but didn't b/c it wasn't enough of a dive! Quite the clean establishment!

                      1. re: DougOLis

                        FYI - Luigi's also has a new location on El Cajon Blvd/Alabama (next to Eclipse)

                        1. re: rotie77

                          I was there today- they're still figuring it out. I'm sure they'll be up to speed soon.

                      2. Bonnie Jeans certainly qualifies as a hole-in-the-wall.

                        Bonnie Jean's Soul Food Cafe
                        1964 54th St, San Diego, CA 92105

                        1. In no particular order...

                          Sab E Lee
                          El Cuervo
                          Tofu House
                          Chopstix (a step up from a hole in the wall)
                          Kaito (minimal decor in strip mall but not run down hole in the wall-type)
                          Ba Ren
                          Mariscos German
                          Punjabi Tandoor
                          Latin Chef