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Visting SD This Weekend: I know where I'm drinking - But where should I eat?

I'm meeting a friend from Boston on Sunday in San Diego to check out the beer scene. We've pretty much decided where we'll be drinking, but I've failed to plan our meals. Here's the itinerary:

Sunday - Escondido & Carlsbad
* Port Brewing/Lost Abbey
* Pizza Port - Carlsbad
* Stone Brewing

Monday & Tuesday - San Diego Proper
* Ballast Point Brewing
* Toronado San Diego
* Hamilton's

I was hoping you guys would be able to suggest some spots in the surrounding areas. I'd be most interested in San Diego specific eats (of which I'm only aware of Carne Asada Fries, I'm sure there's a lot more).

I'm excited to see where you guys send me! Thanks.

Hamiltons Tavern
1521 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102

Toronado San Diego
4026 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

Ballast Point Brewing Co
10051 Old Grove Rd Ste B, San Diego, CA 92131

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Garden
1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029

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  1. One suggestion is Blind Lady Ale House: my husband tells me their selection of beer is outstanding, and we have followed Chef Aaron around SD. At BLAH he's making great CA pizzas (one features housemade chorizo) and salads. BLAH is loud, crowded (unless you go early in the afternoon) and tasty tasty. It's a real neighborhood place but with world-class food and beer. it's closed mondays. PS. Don't be tempted to eat at Stone. Cool place; intriguing menu; food sucks bigtime.

    Blind Lady Ale House
    3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA

    1. I strongly second Blind Lady - if you dont have time in addition to the above schedule - I would hit it instead of Hamilton's (Its changed for me).

      In Esco - I would go to La Cocina de Maria or El Tejate across the the street and also check out Holiday wine Cellars down the street. The Esco swap meet is also a trip - especially if you are going on the weekend - its the closest you are going to get to experience a Mexican market in the US.

      By Toronado - I would shoot over the 805 on University ave to the 35th st corner to experience Sinaloan style Mariscos at Mariscos German. Be sure to try the Marlin - you wont find anything like it in NY. Further down is a great Vietnamese cafe called Cafe Dore which makes the best Banh mi in SD - but you may have your fill of these in NY.
      If you dont do Mexican in Esco - you really owe yourself to get to Super Cocina which is between the two above.

      4 Replies
      1. re: kare_raisu

        Just realized how close my by far favorite reccomendation is to Ballast Point - Go to Surati Farsan on Black Mountain near Mira Mar Rd. Get the Pani Puri, one of the Curries with Menthi Thepla,Kasta Kachori, Chaash to drink, Sev Khamani, Delhi Chaat, Masala Dosa, Chole Samosa. Its a super special and unique window for us San Diegans into the world of West Indian Gujarati and snack aka chaat foods.

        1. re: kare_raisu

          Definitely second the Cocina de Maria suggestion - outstanding home-style Mexican dishes (their mole is really good), and they welcome you to bring your own beer. If you're still in the mood for any after the brewery visits, you can stop by Holiday Wine Cellar, which is right down the street from Cocina de Maria, and pick up a great bottle to have with your meal.

          Near Toronado, I would also second the Mariscos German taco truck recommendation. You won't find anything like that in NYC.

          1. re: kare_raisu

            KR, I am little bit confused with Mariscos German. Which food trucks are still belonging to them ? I read somewhere (mmm-yoso ?) that they sold some of them, is it true ?

            1. re: honkman

              The people who were running the truck in City Heights when I first reported on them are now at the location on Imperial ave in Barrio. I havent been to the Clairemont Mariscos so I cant say anything about their quality or relations.

              I still like the people and cooking of the original - now in the Barrio, but that isnt to say that those who run the city heights truck aren't bad. They have definitely adapted to the popularity

          2. Jayne's Gastropub might be a good idea for when you are in the North Park area. Also goes along with the beverage theme.

            1. You could combine good beer with good food and go to Linkery. I had some very good evenings with excellent food over the last few months at Linkery. The food is getting better and better and the beer selection was always very good (and it is a classical SD place which started a lot of things)

              1. Urban Solace on 30th street across from The Linkery-get the Duckaroni

                1. try alchemy right next door to hamilton's, great fresh seasonal food.

                  1. Thank you all for the recommendations so far!

                    By popular demand Cocina de Maria will be added to the itinerary. The Blind Lady too. Other recs are still in the running.

                    And just a note - I'm coming in from San Francisco (in case that changes anything)

                    From the replies so far, it sounds like Mexican food is the local cuisine of San Diego. Are there any dishes (mexican, or otherwise) that are unique to the area? If so - where should I consume them?

                    I'll make sure to post a San Diego trip report once I return to SF. Thanks again for all of the advice.

                    La Cocina De Maria
                    168 W Mission Ave, Escondido, CA 92025

                    Blind Lady Ale House
                    3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: iafigueroa

                      SF is such a great food city. San Diego is pretty weak by comparison, IMO. It used to be that Mexican food was one area where I think it was generally better here, but now you guys have Nopalito, which I really liked a lot.

                      That said, there's a lot more Mexican food here that is not found in SF. I would definitely check out Mariscos German, and I would also check out Super Cocina, which is two blocks from German on University. Very different food at each. Super Cocina offers a lot of authentic home-style dishes that you won't find elsewhere, since they hire home cooks from all over Mexico's various regions. They have more than 100 recipes they rotate through, with 10-12 available on any given day.

                      If you had time to drive down to South Bay, which you might consider for a visit to South Bay Drugs, which has a ridiculous selection of bottles that you won't find elsewhere (including from Alpine brewing), then a visit to Aqui es Texcoco would make that even more worth your while. They do lamb barbacoa and it is fantastic. The only thing on the menu is lamb in various preparations, and a few quesadillas with things like zucchini flower and huitlacoche fillings. Highly recommended.

                      1. re: Josh

                        The other thing that Aqui es Texcoco does remarkably well are the mashed potato tacos (aka taquitos, rolled tacos, tacos dorados). Devinely good with their brick red, deeply flavorful sauce. Also their ensalada de nopales is really good too.

                      2. re: iafigueroa

                        As far as dishes unique to the area, I'd say the food most people associate with San Diego is the fish taco. There are a lot of opinions out there on where to go for this item, but for me the obvious answer is a mariscos taco truck like the aforementioned Mariscos German. A lot of people rave about South Beach Bar and Grill, but dude - ranch dressing on a fish taco? Yellow cheese? Flour tortilla?? Um, no.

                        Mariscos German does a baja fish taco for $0.99. They also have a smoked marlin taco, which is really delicious, and I also suggest one of the ceviches - the tostada mixta is my personal favorite of those, and it's got a mix of octopus, fish, and shrimp with avocado.

                        1. re: Josh

                          I think the other thing people associate with SD is the Carne Asada Burrito (or CAB) and it's variant the California Burrito (a CAB with french fries inside).

                          Burritos in SD are far different than the meal-in-a-tortilla Mission-style burritos of SF. I'll heartily second the fish taco recommendations for Mariscos German, but if given my choice of a fish taco or a CAB, I'd pick the CAB any day. Maybe not the California Burrito, but a good CAB with nothing but meat, salsa and guac can really hit the spot.

                          1. re: Josh

                            South Beach is the worst part of OB - its like a piece of PB transfered a few miles south.

                          2. re: iafigueroa

                            If you're up for it, identify yourself to Chef Aaron. Before BLAH, he made some magic at a Mexican fusion place Delirio's: hence the housemade chorizo as pizza topping. Always wondered why nobody in SD has taken more from Mexican cuisine and used it creatively in upscale CA cuisine. . . but Aaron's way game.

                            1. re: pickypicky

                              Did not know that was the same guy, Delirio's was a good spot too bad about that location. Road work and other factors killed a few good spots in Bird Rock.

                              1. re: pickypicky

                                It should be done a lot more. I was living up in Sonoma County a year or two ago and I noticed it being a lot more incorporated into the Bay area dining scene. I even surmise the influence can be partly attributed to the workers of the wineries - Carnaros' is one example of this

                            2. BTW, when you're in San Diego proper, you might also consider a trip to Small Bar. It's owned by the same guy who owns Hamilton's, but has twice as many tap handles, plus a great selection of bourbons and whiskies. It's in the same general vicinity as Blind Lady and Toronado.


                              1. Not SD specific per se, but check out The Linkery. Emphasis on local / slow food. Right in the 30th St. corridor.