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San Diego / West Coast for a first timer w/ a vegetarian

Last minute and unexpected trip to San Diego and the West Coast for the first time. Would love some recommendations for typical Mexican / Californian style cooking that we don't see so much on the East Coast. One in the party is vegetarian so that's a consideration. Would also appreciate any recommendation for an unusual San Diego moderately priced gem (no more than $100 for two without tip) I don't think we'll have the time do a real high-end restaurant on this trip. Thanks looking forward to your ideas.

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  1. Jyoti Bihanga on Adams Avenue (around 3300 block) is good vegetarian. Also, try Spread near 2800 University Avenue.

    1. Rancho's Cocina has Mexican food w/ many vegetarian options.

      1. Thanks for the recommendations. I will check them out. I should make it clear that I'm not looking for a vegetarian restaurant. Just a place were a vegetarian would have something to eat as well.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kelly001

          You might take a look at the Linkery which always has some good vegetarian option and at the same time has at least for San Diego a very unique concept (locally sourced, sustainble, most food done in-house from scratch etc.)

          1. re: kelly001

            Rancho's isn't vegetarian. They simply offer more vegetarian options than most Mexican places. Another good spot near there is El Comal. They have really good Mexican food, better than Ranchos, with some vegetarian items.

          2. If starlite lounge still has the corn cakes with black beans that I had on saturday I'd recommend going there, they were totally delicious and veggie! They also do a great burger or steak and outstanding cocktails.

            Even if their menu has changed, they always have at least one really interesting veggie dish.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jennywenny

              I really like Starlite for their cocktails but we found their food to be very inconsistent. For example the grilled octopus appetizer is really good whereas the chacuterie plate was very diappointing. For the entrees we had the burger (average), Jidori chicken (very dry), halibut with coucous (good), braised beef special (very tough, my wife was very disappointed). Overall I think Starlite is a great place for some cocktails but about the food we have more mixed feelings.

              1. re: honkman

                Thats interesting, we always get the charcuterie and the boys like it (I dont eat meat) and the mixed fry, and the boys always get a burger and a steak. I get whatevers new, and I've definitely had some dishes better than others but mostly really great. Each to their own!

                1. re: honkman

                  Don't discount that Starlite serves till 12.

                  A godsend in san diego.

                  1. re: stevewag23

                    Alchemy is also a good options for late(r) dining. Overall I like the food at Alchemy more than at Starlite (even though the sirloin florentine I had last time was the first big disappointment at Alchemy - tough, medium, instead of medium-rare, hardly any vegetables, some kind of starch component was missing and the service was unusual rushed - entrees came when we were still eating our appetizers).

              2. VegNOut on 30th in North Park is great vegan/vegetarian. It's not fast but totally worth it. The Sweet Potato rounds and tempura veggies are both excellent and big enough to share.
                Even non-vegs will like it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: beth1

                  Thanks for the recommendation though I'm really not looking for a vegan or vegetarian restaurant.

                  1. re: kelly001

                    Alchemy has a $25 vegetarian tasting menu, 3 courses every Wed. in addition to regular menu. Has seem to become very popular

                2. Thank you everyone for the recommendations. While our stay was very short, we managed to go to El Comal, which was very good. The owners were extremely friendly (even offered a free meal for my son). We clearly were the only gringos in the place. The veggie burrito was by far the best offering I've ever had. The cilantro mixed with the asparagusy cactus flavors was just great. There is nothing sophisticated about this restaurant (and we weren't looking for anything sophisticated here), it's family cooking at its best. I'm glad we were able to eat here. We also were able to eat at the WhisknLadle in La Jolla. This also turned out to be a very pleasing experience. With its refined and trendy bistro approach, we were greeted to a most excellent summer salad (best salad thus far this summer), moules & frites, flatbread pizza with roasted vegetables, cheese platter (with sweet pairings), chocolate cake with peanut butter crème anglaise and concord grape ice-cream (beautiful presentation to boot), fruit crumble with blueberry cardamome ice-cream (this actually worked extremely well!). They paid attention to detail: the french bread was very good, the cucumber infused water was a nice touch. While our server was extremely friendly and upbeat, he wasn't very knowledgeable about the menu and several times retreated to the kitchen to get some answers. No biggy, but a restaurant like this should probably have tastings for their servers so they can answer basic questions about the dishes or ingredients. He gave us a whole shpil about how they try to only use local produce and ingredients, but when we asked if they had any local cheese on the menu, he had no idea. Odd. While in Coronado, we had breakfast at Tartine, which was petty good. Good scones, turnovers and sticky buns but average croissants. The espresso drinks were well made. They also bake "Épi" (a type of French bread) that was delicious for breakfast with some jam and butter. We went back the next morning just to pick up some "Épi" to bring home for breakfast. So all in all, we ate very well thanks to you guys! :)

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: kelly001


                    The veggie burrito at El Comal is by far the best one we've found in San Diego, hands down. Good call.

                    1. re: kelly001

                      There's scant local cheese in San Diego. There's Winchester, which makes a line of delicious Goudas, but apart from that there's nothing.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Not sure if this counts as "local" cheese, but Venissimo has a cheese this month, called "Fat Bottomed Girl" that is made by an ex-worker of theirs. They said they're the only distributor for this cheese.

                        1. re: daantaat

                          Fat Bottom Girl is from Marin County, the cheesemaker moved there from San Diego. Her company is called Bleating Heart: http://www.bleatingheart.com/ .