Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Sep 4, 2009 02:12 PM

Staying at Island Palms Hotel & Marina in San Diego- I had some questions

Hi, love these boards. Me and my wife will be staying for two days at the Island Palms to celebrate our anniversary, and I was wondering if anyone here could give recommendations for some really good eating places in the local area? Was specifically looking for good seafood/authentic fish tacos type places, as well as a nice guilty pleasure pizza type place, and also breakfast bakery type places. It will be a no dieting weekend! My wife works very hard (actually she's rather overworked) and rarely gets a vacation, so I want it to be perfect and I want to spoil her. I have done a little bit of Chowhound research and come up with a small list of places I was thinking about taking her- Mariscos German (for the marlin tacos), the Brigantine (fish tacos), Mama Testas (for potato tacos)- what do you guys think?

We will have a car, but would prefer it if the recommendations are near. How is parking in SD, since we have never been there before? Does anyone know of any really good food places (of any kind) within walking distance of the hotel?

Also, a friend recommended the area called "Sunset Cliffs" for the view, has anybody heard of this place, and is there any good food places in that particular area?

Finally, I might be wrong but it seems like Mariscos German has mutliple locations- if so, which is the best truck to go to (as we won't be visiting for long, and we'll probably only go there once), and is there easy parking available there?

Sorry for so many questions. Thank you in advance, I REALLY appreciate it.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. definitely Mama Testa's for tacos. Bring quarters for the parking meters in case you have to park along the street. Otherwise, you can look along the side streets for free parking.

    Sunset Cliffs is in the Pt Loma area. There are lots of recs on the board for this. Nearby neighborhood is Ocean Beach.

    Mariscos German has several locations and they have a permanent one south of the 8, off the 805 freeway. The exact location escapes me and the parking wasn't that bad when we went.

    4 Replies
    1. re: daantaat

      Thanks for the great info, daantaat.

      Anyone know of any great breakfast places or bakeries nearby?

      1. re: Wellington82

        Exactly which place of town is your hotel in? It sounds like downtown and/or near the airport.

        1. re: daantaat

          Hi daantaat- the hotel that me and my wife will be staying at is on Shelter Island Drive.

        2. re: Wellington82

          Con Pane Rustic Breads is a good bakery option. I'm not sure about breakfast in that part of town. If you don't mind driving I'd suggest The Mission in Pacific Beach for breakfast.

      2. You can walk from the Island Palms to the Brigantine. A good pizza place in the neighborhood is Pizza Nova (the one you want is on Harbor.)

        Sunset Cliffs is beautiful - there are no restaurants overlooking but you could pick up a picnic and eat down there. A good place to get sandwiches close by is the Olive Tree Market on the corner of Narragansett and Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

        There is also a great view from the Island Palms - and the food in the restaurant is pretty decent, for a Best Western. I like to go to their outside bar from time to time and pretend I am a tourist. The manager loves wine, and they have great wines by the bottle and glass.

        If you want to get some burritos close by and eat them at your hotel, the Santana's on Rosecrans Avenue is good for taco shop fare. There are two very close to each other - I go to the one that is farther north.

        For a killer breakfast/bakery experience, go to Azucar in Ocean Beach.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Shannon

          Thanks for all your help, Shannon. I wasn't planning to visit the actual restaurant in the hotel (I have an aversion for hotel restaurants, bad experience long time ago), but since you mentioned it's decent, I think we might just try it out!

          1. re: Wellington82

            I got ya on the hotel restaurant thing... but they have a chef and he actually seems to care. So if you just want to hang out, give it a whirl. They have some good happy hour specials - glass o wine and bar snack with a nice view, what else do you need?

            One thing I should tell you - the dining room is in serious need of a remodel. I'd sit outside, or the bar.

        2. Fish tacos are hard to lock down. Even though they may be a popular item in San Diego, few places do them well. For the area you're in I'd recommend Brigantine Seafood or Miguel's Cocina. Neither are my favorites for either seafood or Mexican food, but they do have good fish tacos.

          Hudson Bay Seafood in the area is a good choice for seafood. Point Loma Seafood is near by, and I like the scallop sandwich there (other stuff there is just okay).

          Walking along the bay near your hotel is likely to be the best for walkies, especially at sunrise (if you get up the early, which you shouldn't). But driving to the Cabrillo National Monument nearby would be worthwhile for a great walk as well. And I highly recommend spending some of your walking time at Balboa Park. You could easily spend a whole day or two walking around there and the zoo without having to move the car. The Prado is a good place to eat there, but try to come early enough to score a table on the patio. Check Balboa Park's website for special events.

          Parking is easy is most places that aren't Balboa Park, La Jolla, or the Gaslamp.

          Sunset Cliffs is a stretch of cliffs in a residential area, so there is nothing to eat right there. But there are plenty of places in the Ocean Beach area which is near by. The various pullouts there provide access to the cliffs, but there really is no accessable beach.

          I recommend the Mariscos German truck on University since it's close to the 805 freeway, is easy to spot, and typically has plenty of parking. Keep in mind Mariscos German is not a tourist oriented place. It's in the dirt parking lot of a liqueur store in a poorer section of town. I don't mean for that to scare you off, I just want to point out it's not a romantic dining sort of thing. I suggest going, as the food is delicious. If your Spanish is spotty, you want the marlin (smoked) taco and the gobernadore taco. The fish tacos here aren't worth passing up the other stuff, so only get one if you're still hungry.

          Mama Testa is very good. The potato tacos are good, but the other options are better in my humble opinion.

          1 Reply
          1. re: y6y6y6

            y6y6y6- thank you so much for all the information. This will really help in making it a great weekend. Great stuff!

          2. Red Sails Inn for breaky...Brigantine for Happy Hour at the Oyster Bar.

            1 Reply
            1. re: deckape

              deckape- Red Sails Inn I actually never heard of before when doing my Chow research, so there's another one for the list. Thanks!

            2. Island Palms is on Shelter Island on the Point Loma side of the peninsula. i've heard that Humphreys, walking distance from you, has a pretty good breakfast and brunch and it overlooks the bay, although I have not tried it personally. On Rosecrans just south of Shelter Island Driver is one of the best bakeries in San Diego, Con Pane Rustic Breads. It is also walking distance from your hotel. They don't make a traditional breakfast, but they make the best cinnamon rolls I've ever tasted, amazing breads and great sandwiches. Across the street from the bakery is Roseville. You didn't mention french, but if you're interested, it is one of the best french restaurants in San Diego. For Pizza, try Pizza Nova. They're not the best pizza in San Diego, but they do a very good job and they have a wide selection of dishes. They are also walking distance and are right on the water. For something a little on the funner side, try the Pearl. Great, but not cheap burgers, interesting food in an interestingly remodeled 50's motel. The restaurant seating surrounds the pool and it is also walking distance. Also, there's a great sushi place just a short walk from Island Palms - Umi Sushi - a local favorite. For very casual seafood, try Point Loma Seafoods. They make the best clam chowder in town and you can sit outside and watch the fishing boats. As I write this, I realize that Point Loma has come a long way in it's food offerings. Sunset cliffs has great view, especially at sunset. I recommend you drive over to see the sunset, drive back to the hotel, then walk over to the restaurant/bakery of your choice.

              6 Replies
              1. re: sdnosh

                Cheers, sdnosh. Got lots of recommended places to visit now, this is exactly what I was looking for.

                1. re: Wellington82

                  I forgot to mention, with all these good restaurants to try and even more if you get in your car, there is absolutely no reason to go to Red Sails. it's dark, old, and really bad.

                  1. re: sdnosh

                    concur on Red Sails..the only reason to go to RS is to use their dinghy dock to hit up the Brig and Bali Hai!
                    I see a new place went into where the old Boll Weevil was.
                    I miss the old Chart House in Shelter Island where Fiddler's Green is..does anyone go there?

                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      Beach Chick. Point Break Cafe moved from it's light, airy, clean space in the mall where Stars n Stripes is to the Boll Wevill location and did nothing to the dank, smelly place. While I personally only had gone there a couple of times, it was kind of generic breakfast and lunch food. Nothing exciting, but it seemed to do a good business. I can't for the life of me fathom why they made such a move without at least cleaning, painting, and opening up the place.

                      I've been to Fiddler's Green a couple of times and like Point Break it was OK. Kind of old school steak house that appeals to older yachtsmen.

                      I forgot about Bali Hai. Often times, Bali Hai doesn't get much love, except for it's Mai Tais, but it has great view and good polynesian style food with some American alternatives. It's also a good alternative for lunch.

                      1. re: sdnosh

                        They moved over to that nasty ass Boll Weevil site and did nothing in the realm of tenant improvements?

                        We used to always go as a kid to Bali Hai and watch the Polynesian dancers out on the grass and drink pineapple juice with umbrellas and lots of cherries..
                        Those fire dances with the tiki torches...priceless.
                        Their mai tais are some of the best in the world..they redid their dock which is also great if your sailing and want to pull up for a drink and app.
                        I like there food..

                        Still pissed at the Chart House for moving out of the Shelter Island location and put in Fiddler's Green..first of all, what kind of name is that?

                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          yes beach chick, Point Break did nothing to the Boll Wevill building but did add dinner. I can't even imagine the thought process. I always hate to see any business struggle or worse go out of business, but I can't see this as a positive move for their business.