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NYC Hound in San Diego

Spending a long weekend in San Diego for the first time. I'd love to check out some of the top spots in SD.

Staying downtown and will have auto access if necessary but would prefer walk/public trans.

Would enjoy:
Any and all Mexican or South American food
Seafood of any shape or size
Any other cuisines or restos that are particularly good in the SD area.


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  1. Not for food, but for best SD has to offer: JRDN (pacific beach) for sunset cocktail. Great 2-way bar; people-watching (inside and on the boardwalk); view of the Pacific; decent drinks. Eat some place else. My friend, former NYT cocktail columnist, loved JRDN when he was in town on assignment.

    1. You'll want a car for Mexican food, the best of it is not near downtown.

      Places to check out:

      Super Cocina on University Ave. - homestyle Mexican cooking, very authentic. Dishes from all over Mexico's varied regions. Not a taco shop.

      Mariscos German truck on University Ave. - Mexican seafood, stellar. Try the smoked marlin taco.

      Aqui Es Texcoco in Chula Vista - Mexican lamb preparations.

      Super Cocina
      3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

      Aqui Es Texcoco
      1043 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91911

      Mariscos German
      3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

      1. Seafood, go to oceanaire, blue water or point loma seafoods.

        The later two give you more a 'san diego" experience.

        I have had the worst bar service in my life at JRDN. Twice. Beyond retarded.

        The sunsets are nice, although I wouldn't give credit to JRDN for those.

        4 Replies
        1. re: stevewag23

          Never had bad service at JRDN. Or any worse than any other busy, popular bar in SD. Maybe if your attitude in person is similar to how to come across on chow, poor service may be a result of your impatience, intolerance or provocation?

          1. re: pickypicky

            Actually I had the worst bar service that I have ever encountered sitting at the bar. The bartender was more interested in checking his football pool (which he had sitting out on the counter) then getting us another beer. In fact, other patrons wanting at the bar almost went around the bar looking for more water. This was around 4 in the afternoon and not busy, maybe 7 or 8 of us at the bar. It was really attrocious. On the other hand, I have had excellent service sitting at the table and actually enjoy the food most of the time.

            1. re: pickypicky

              No need to take shots at me. Or get defensive for a sub-par restaurant.

              I have heard tons of people say it is some of the worst service they have ever encountered.

              I have ordered tons of drinks in my life. I started going to bars at age 15.

              JRDN was the worst bar service I have even encountered.

              Simple as that.

            2. re: stevewag23

              Hahaha! I almost spit my beer on the keyboard when I read this. Too funny and pretty much on the nail's head. Beyond retarded, hahahaha.

              Here are my recomendations:

              Blue Water Grill
              Point Loma Seafood
              Cowboy Star
              Farm House
              Marine Room
              Oceanaire, although a chain and you might get same experience in your area
              Kitchen 1540
              Urban Solice
              3rd Corner
              Pappas and Tacos - neighborhood hole in wall
              Taco Rey - another neighborhood place for me

              Point Loma Seafoods
              2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

              San DIego, CA, San DIego, CA

              Farm House Cafe
              2121 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

              Marine Room Restaurant
              2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

              Taco Rey
              1870 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

              Point Loma Cafe
              4856 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

              1125 Rosecrans Steet, San Diego, CA 92106

            3. some great advice given...I would add Las Cuatro Milpas for lunch for some of the best carnitas and the salsa and flour tortillas are out of this world..close to downtown..
              Candela's in Coronado for dinner..you can take the water taxi over from the Gaslamp.
              George's at the Cove in La Jolla is a great place for locals and tourists to watch the sunset, have drinks and dine...ocean terrace or bar is more casual.
              Marine Room for drinks and app's in LJ..high tide is a real show.
              I like the Fish Market downtown but only the oyster bar, sushi bar or the bayfront patio for drinks and app's...upstairs at Top of the Market is good but pricey.


              1. Yakitori Yakyudori in Hillcrest and close to downtown.

                Had the uni and jellyfish recently. Excellent along with all their other offerings.

                Easily one of my top five places to eat in san diego.

                Yakitori Yakyudori
                3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                1. Lots of requests from visiting 'Hounds, so definitely surf the board a little bit.

                  Mexican- I second all of Josh's recs. You'll need a car to get to these locations, although transit is possible for Mariscos German and Super Cocina


                  South American- check out Latin Chef in Pacific Beach. Their Peruvian dishes brought me back to my homestay in Lima.

                  Seafood- Little Italy Farmer's Market (the whole market is a worthy stop) on Saturday mornings. Stop by the uni stand for fresh uni, grab some salami from Knight Salumi, pastry from Loic Patisserie, and coffee from the orange coffee truck.

                  Other places to try- Sab-E-Lee does fabulous Thai (best I've had in SD and LA), Muzita or Asmara for Ethiopian, Toronado/Hamilton's Tavern for some of San Diego's best beers, Izakaya Sakura for Japanese small plates, Wine Vault and Bistro for fine-ish dining.

                  San Diego isn't NYC in terms of food, obviously, but we have quite a few gems and you can always find a good meal here.

                  Latin Chef
                  1142 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                  Super Cocina
                  3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                  Mariscos German
                  3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

                  1. The Fishery in Pacific Beach or Blue Water (closer to downtown).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mmjgam

                      No fresher seafood in SD nor better variety than The Fishery. Great wine list, good service, flexible and creative chef. Good reco.

                    2. As a former NY'er, would agree with, both, JRDN and The Fishery in Pacific Beach. Enough has been said on JRDN--very good meat BTW--but The Fishery also owns a wholesale operation and distributes to many of the leading seafood restaurants in San Diego, including Oceanaire (which is a chain--something that is taboo for a NY'er).

                      For something unique but quite good and reasonable, I would also recommend The 3rd Corner in Ocean Beach. it is a wine bar that serves very tastey food and has a nice ambience. One of my favorites and a best value restaurant in SD with good quality.

                      Not that big a fan of downtown, but if you do go and want to go strictly for the food then I would recommend Dobsons. Continental cuisine that is a favorite amongst the attorneys and conveniently located in front of Horton Plaza.

                      Only Mexican restaurant I am a fan of is Los Arcos in Chula Vista. Not a tourist destination by any means, but they serve up some excellent Baja seafood and are owned by the same group that owns restaurants by the same name in Tijuana and elsewhere in Mexico....if you are brave and want real good Mexican food, I could steer you to Tijuana where you could enjoy great food--besides the Los Arcos location--at such excellent places as Cien Anos, La Differencia, and La Querencia....they even have a great Argentine steakhouse called Cheripan.

                      1. Below, a few of my faves. They all might be considered along the lines of “refined” casual dining. They all have their own personality. I like them because they’re among the more unique dining experiences in town, and in prime-time, each has a room that buzzes with good energy. Happy eating and enjoy your stay!

                        The Linkery – A nationally-recognized farm-to-table experience. Features an eclectic menu of good, house-made sausages and other selections. Excellent craft beer and wine selections. Among the best excuses to visit the North Park neighborhood (where you’ll also find the abovementioned Urban Solace).

                        Cowboy Star – Major meat emporium. Steaks, rabbit, sweetbreads. Cool décor. Downtown, but nicely off the beaten path.

                        Cucina Urbana – The hottest new restaurant in town. Good food and menu variety. Good wines and good prices (nothing over $20). Feels a bit like a hip, LA restaurant, but a welcome addition. Always packed. You'll need a reservation.

                        The Pearl Hotel – An uniquely California-casual gem with good food (mostly locally sourced, seasonable, blah, blah) poolside dining and Palm Springs modern ambiance. Best burger in town that no one knows about!

                        Café Chloe – Downtown bistro with consistently good food and wine. Great for brunch, too.

                        Candelas – Nouvelle Mexican that satisfies with very interesting flavors. The downtown location is nicely off the main downtown drag, and IMHO, has the best servers in town. Also has a hip lounge attached. Meanwhile, the Coronado location has similar food and great views of the water.

                        Tractor Room - Small room, small menu and big ambiance. Great cocktails. Bring an appetite. The food is heavy and meat-centric. Not a place to find “light” fare.

                        Urban Solace Restaurant
                        3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

                        The Linkery
                        3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                        1. For "South American food" Berta's Latin American Restaurant could be an option. Its in old town and you could also take the trolley.

                          Mangu downtown has a passable cuban sandwich, but I just saw on yelp that it is closed.

                          I thought I saw it open a few weeks back so I haven't confirmed that or not.

                          Berta's Latin American Restaurant
                          3928 Twiggs St, San Diego, CA 92110

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: stevewag23

                            One of my employees is an investor in Mangu. It's been used lately as more of an event venue than a straight restaurant. Could be the Yelper was by on day it was use for a private party

                            1. re: DiningDiva


                              Their website is down and number not in service.

                              Maybe they are going the super duper exclusive "in the know" route.

                              I liked it when you could smoke cigarettes and get a glass of vino.

                              If anyone who pulls the strings is reading this, go back to that.

                              You have at least one strong customer.

                              1. re: stevewag23

                                Let's just say my employee will be VERY glad to get his investment back and be done. There were a ton of internal problems. I doubt super duper exclusive is on their radar

                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                  I bet.

                                  Its too bad.

                                  Tell him to rev up the smoking room again.

                                  Hell, they do that, I will go there tonight.

                            2. re: stevewag23

                              yes same owne rturned it into 809 club. Latin fusion! no bueno, wish it were cigars and mofongo.

                            3. Thanks a million everyone! I'll report back.

                              1. Reporting back.
                                Day 1 - Mariscos German - AWESOME fish tacos, ceviche mixta and gubernador (?, shrimp and cheese). Loved this place.
                                Neighborhood for Alesmith beer and dinner pairing - food was terrible. Cold and an entire 5 course tasting came out on one plate. Flavors weren't even good.
                                Day 2 - lunch at pizza port solana beach - tasty sonana pizza with shrimp and clams, really tasty beers to match. Followed by a tasting/cheese plate at Stone, also solid.
                                Dinner at Cowboy Star - best meal of the trip. Pork belly, foie and sweetbread apps were the stars. Pork dinner and rabbit also very good.
                                Day 3 - Mad River Cask Beer Dinner at Linkery - food was very good and expertly paired with MR cask beers. Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Ale was my fav, wife liked the Pork Sliders with the IPA. Service was a little confused since we ordered two of each tasting pairing. Seems like a sandwich/pub sort of spot so there were issues getting the food timed correctly and paired with the right beers. Servers were very nice though and tried hard to make it right. I'd go back.

                                Loved SD, loved the beer in particular.

                                The Linkery
                                3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                Mariscos German
                                3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

                                1 Reply
                                1. Heading back! Plan to hit some of the places I missed on this thread. Anything else new and noteworthy? Thanks.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Ralphus

                                    Addison (without the wine pairing)
                                    George's California Modern
                                    Cafe Chloe
                                    WineVault and Bistro for their Saturday 5 courses for $30 + $20 for wine pairing

                                    Cafe Chloe
                                    721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                                    1. re: Ralphus

                                      If Sushi is in your game, then Kaito Sushi in Encinitas serves the best Sushi in San Diego. There is much written about them on these boards. Best advice if you are a traditional eater would be to order Omakase with Morita-san, their head chef (who takes the front-most place in the Sushi bar). They receive deliveries daily, but the widest selections can typically be had on Friday, Tuesday, Saturday, Wednesday in order.

                                      If you do go, make sure to tell them you're from Gotham. They get many, many customers from the Big Apple.

                                      BTW your timing is just about right to hit Sujiko (Ikura in skein), Sayori and Katsuo, which are just coming in season. And if you hit them on a day when they have some of their Matsushita Uni, then you're in for a real treat.

                                      Note that many find them difficult to find, since they don't have any signs except for two hard to see window decals. They're located directly behind The Vitamin Shoppe, in between the Sylvan Learning Center and Santa Fe Cafe.

                                      Kaito Sushi
                                      130-A N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

                                      1. re: Ralphus

                                        There's a ton of new places that have opened recently but I either haven't had time to visit most of them or visited only once so I'll refrain from making any suggestions and leave that to others (or scouring the boards). This is a good thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6685...

                                        From the old recs, I'd try and make Super Cocina or Aqui es Texcoco, Farm House Cafe, George's, AR Valentien, Kitchen 1540, Cucina Urbana and Cavaillon.

                                        When are you going to be here? If it's the 1st week in June, there's going to be a bunch of Cooks Confab events for sustainable seafood. http://cooksconfab.com/Coming_Up!.html

                                        Super Cocina
                                        3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                                        Cavaillon Restaurant
                                        14701 Via Bettona, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127

                                        Farm House Cafe
                                        2121 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

                                        1. re: DougOLis

                                          Thanks everyone. I will be there the first week in June thankfully.

                                          1. re: Ralphus

                                            Looks like you hit the Linkery last time around, great spot.

                                            I can't recommend Cucina Urbana and Whisknladle enought, I think they are the two best restaurants in SD right now.

                                            Bankers Hill has become a hot spot with a bunch of new openings including Bankers Hill Bar and Grill which just opened last week (I think). Carl Schroder's(of Market in Del Mar-also awesome but very high end) sous is running the kitchen. Early reports seem good.

                                            Quality Social has some good food.

                                            Barrio Star is another new one in Bankers Hill

                                            3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                            1044 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037