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Looking for a few good recommendations for the San Diego area...

mjcs Dec 29, 2009 05:36 PM

I will be staying with a friend who live just outside of San Diego next month and would love a few good recommendations. The four places he suggested I saw on another discussion that I should stay far away from them.
I love good food and atmosphere. No chains please.
Thanks in advance for the help.

  1. j
    JMahogoff Jan 5, 2010 08:57 AM

    I'm in similar circumstances as the original poster. I'm another foodie coming to town, though I'll be staying near the marina and convention center. Quick questions:

    1. Where can I find a Marisco German truck? What's the best way to get there? I'm not adverse to taking a cab, and asking to be picked up an hour or so later. (And it would be too much to hope that the truck serves beer, right?)

    2. Where's the best Vietnamese place nearby? Best dish? How do I get there?

    Many thanks in advance for sharing your expert, local help.

    11 Replies
    1. re: JMahogoff
      Josh Jan 5, 2010 09:22 AM

      1 - Trucks don't serve beer, no. There's a good mariscos truck quite close to downtown, though, at 22nd and Imperial. You won't need an hour to eat. Honestly, taking the bus here might be the easiest and most cost-effective option. The food at this truck is good.

      2 - I've heard there's a new pho place somewhere on 6th, but I haven't been. Downtown is pretty weak on Vietnamese. The heaviest concentration is in City Heights and Kearny Mesa areas, both about 20 minutes from downtown.

      1. re: Josh
        JMahogoff Jan 5, 2010 12:51 PM

        Thanks, Josh. That's a super-big help (despite the sad news about no beer).

        Where does the truck park at (near?) this corner on Imperial? On google earth I see a AutoZone, a used car lot, an auto mechanic, and a fenced lot for a farmer's market at this precise junction.

        And I'll keep looking for good Vietnamese, incl. the new pho place.

        1. re: JMahogoff
          Josh Jan 5, 2010 01:58 PM

          It's across the street from the Farmer's Market building, in the parking lot. You can't miss it. It's just not visible on Google Street View yet. Just had lunch there, today in fact. The pulpo mexicana taco was fantastic. If you like spicy food (I mean really spicy) try the taco called 7 Chilies. It's a really spicy sauce on your choice of seafood.

          1. re: Josh
            JMahogoff Jan 5, 2010 02:35 PM

            Thanks again, Josh. You've totally hooked me up.

            1. re: Josh
              JMahogoff Jan 6, 2010 09:21 AM

              If I can slip in one last question as I pack my bags: do you have a recommendation for a nice, sit-down Mexican place (with good mole, et cetera) in the marina/gaslight area or in easy reach?

              1. re: JMahogoff
                jturtle Jan 6, 2010 09:26 AM

                You can try El Vitral in the East Village. Has some hits and misses but was somewhat positively reviewed in the San Diego Reader by Naomi Wise. sdreader.com

                1. re: JMahogoff
                  Josh Jan 6, 2010 09:29 AM

                  In addition to El Vitral there's also Candelas, which is high-end gourmet Mexican. I believe they do moles.

                  1. re: Josh
                    sdaints Jan 6, 2010 10:01 AM

                    Is this a new truck or one that has been there? Do you know what hours/days they are there? There are a number of trucks and small places that I have seen in that area but I haven't tried too many. Any others that you would suggest trying?

                    1. re: sdaints
                      Josh Jan 6, 2010 10:46 AM

                      It's been there for a few months now. It's called Mariscos Beyer. Tacos El Paisa is up Imperial from there and is also very good.

                      1. re: Josh
                        JMahogoff Jan 6, 2010 01:59 PM

                        Thanks over and over again. I'm really looking forward to some good eats!

                        1. re: JMahogoff
                          JMahogoff Jan 11, 2010 09:23 AM

                          Thanks for the tips -- because I ate like a king!

                          An hour after getting off the plane, I got to the Mariscos German truck. At 5:30 PM or so, it's wasn't so busy. Such nice hosts, tolerating my terrible Spanish and looking out for the first timer ( . . . telling me where to find the hot sauces and the bottle opener, asking how I was doing). Great, GREAT seafood tacos. Had the free caldo, then gobernador and marlyn and some refrescas mandarin. Lingered over the last bites while talking to other patrons.

                          Next night I ate at El Vitral -- very different scene there, of course. Ate at the bar because I was flying solo. Very good house margarita; no changes to suggest there. Had a good mahimahi ceviche; flavors were balanced, but the consistency of the tomato base was a bit thicker than I prefer. Had good mole poblano; nothing wrong at all with that sauce. I'd think the proportions on the dish could have been better, like less mole (let me add more if I want) or perhaps two pieces of chicken (a half breast and then a dark piece). Rice was overcooked and I had a bit of toasted/crusty -- perhaps the bottom of a large pot. I think the dish also needed something with a contrasting taste / visual on the side, like roasted or even pickled carrots. None of this takes away from what was a very good meal. I talked to a bunch of the staff and observed the owner closely, and I think the place has all the tools to succeed.

                          Thereafter I was eating in the home of family, then back home to the chilly east coast.

                          Thanks again, all.

        2. o
          ourstar Jan 3, 2010 08:46 AM

          We enjoy Nine-Ten in La Jolla.

          1. k
            Katballen Dec 29, 2009 06:53 PM

            Cafe Sevilla is one of my fav' restaurants of all time. I still dream of the paella. Cafe Sevilla is located in the Gaslamp District. http://www.cafesevilla.com/locs/sanDi...

            4 Replies
            1. re: Katballen
              Josh Dec 29, 2009 07:00 PM

              I hear it's good if you've never been to Spain. I've heard Costa Brava in PB cited as the better of San Diego's attempts at Spanish cuisine. The problem here, of course, is the scarcity of authentic Spanish foodstuffs.

              1. re: Josh
                honkman Dec 29, 2009 11:11 PM

                And Spanish friends who went to Costa Brava agree that it is the best spanish restaurant in SD but still wouldn't recommend it to anybody for good Spanish food.

                1. re: honkman
                  mjcs Jan 2, 2010 07:05 PM

                  Thanks for the tips and recommendations. If you think of any others please let me know as I am not leaving until later in the month...
                  Thanks again

                  1. re: honkman
                    stevewag23 Jan 3, 2010 11:19 AM

                    "And Spanish friends who went to Costa Brava agree that it is the best spanish restaurant in SD but still wouldn't recommend it to anybody for good Spanish food."

                    I agree with that as well. Costa Brava is not great, but its decent.

              2. r
                RB Hound Dec 29, 2009 06:39 PM

                What were the 4 places he suggested? Sometimes there are dissenting opinions, and a place that most people like are hated by a few.

                3 Replies
                1. re: RB Hound
                  mjcs Dec 29, 2009 06:47 PM

                  Kemo Sabe
                  Hash House
                  Old Town Mexican Cafe

                  1. re: mjcs
                    Josh Dec 29, 2009 06:53 PM


                    Yes, far, far away.

                    1. re: mjcs
                      y6y6y6 Dec 29, 2009 08:46 PM

                      These four places will certainly give you good food and atmosphere. Not great, and certainly touristy, but I think visitors would enjoy all of them.

                      Kemo Sabe - I haven't eaten here, but I have been to most of their other places. The chef tends to get creative with recipes, though some might say gimmicky. I predict you'll love it or be rather meh.

                      Hash House - They get wild with breakfast. Too wild in my opinion, and the lines are stupidly long. Too long. Still, it's good, and fun once you get seated.

                      Prado - I actually recommend this to visitors. Get there early to snag a seat on the patio. The patio is the key. The setting is worth it, and the food is good. Add this to a day in the park and you a great visitor experience.

                      Old Town Mexican Cafe - San Diego has some really good Mexican food. Tons of it even. This isn't it. And the lines............ Turn the tables on your friend and school him/her about SD Mexican. For the the good stuff, go to Tacos El Paisa, El Comal, Marisco's German Taco Truck, or Mama Testa.

                      Mama Testa
                      1417 University Ave Ste A, San Diego, CA 92103

                      Tacos El Paisa
                      840 S 47th St, San Diego, CA 92113

                      El Comal
                      262 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910

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