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San Diego Convention Center -- Resturant recommendations where a local would go

Help! Will be at a convention downtown and want to eat in a great restaurant that the locals know but the conventioneers don't. Any kind of food would work although sushi, Mexican and Asian would be my top priorities

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  1. These recs don't fall into the categories you are ideally looking for but I highly recommend Cowboy Star and Cafe Chloe which are walking distance from the convention center. I also recommend Hane Sushi in Banker's Hill which is maybe a $8-10 cab ride from the Convention Center. EXCELLENT Sushi. Good luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mjill

      Cowboy Star is the only place I've been to near the convention center that I would feel comfortable recommending. It's a pretty decent steakhouse.

    2. I second both Cowboy Star (steakhouse) and Cafe Chloe (french). Cafe Chloe is small and does not have a full bar if that is of importance to you. Also just a short cab ride from downtown is Cucina Urbana, their food is great.

      1. Will you have a car? How far are you willing to travel or take public transportation?

        1. Oceanaire doesn't get the love on this board like it did a year ago.

          2 Replies
          1. re: stevewag23

            How has it been since Malarkey left and their chain started failing? I haven't been in probably at least a year.

            1. re: stevewag23

              Had dinner at Oceanaire on Saturday the 16th. It's been somewhat hit and miss the last 18-24 months, but they were right on that night. We had a large group so I tried the steamers (some of the best I've had in years – as a native Washingtonian, I'm pretty picky on that front), a couple of the salads that were fresh and well dressed, the crab cake (that honestly has never disappointed) and friends had the oysters on our waiter's recommendation -- they were very happy with the selection. My entree was the diver scallops on parsnip puree with a blackberry sauce -- and wow -- they were perfect. We also had a couple of desserts that we shared which ended the night perfectly. As always, the service was spectacular.

              I have to say, I'll be back sooner than later.

            2. Primary, I'm sure a little more detail would elicit some great rec's (especially from a number who've already responded).

              1) Are you looking for walking distance (ie. in gaslamp or downtown) or are you willing to drive for a great meal.

              2) Do you have a preference for type of place (sit down dinner vs hole in the wall with great food

              3) Price (is this a nice dinner with business associates, or a solo mission for great grub etc).

              I trust with these type of details you will get more than enough rec's to fill your trip.

              1. Thanks for all the input. Since I will be on my own but with wheels, I'll just have to decide when I get to town what type of food I want before choosing between all the recomemndations.

                8 Replies
                1. re: primary palate

                  That being said, perhaps a quick reference guide is in order?

                  Cowboy star and Cafe Chloe are great (based on numerous CH posts) nice places in DT. Cowboy Star is a steak place, cafe chloe a french restaurant. Like wise, Bluepoint is a great seafood place. All of which however may draw some of the convention crowd.

                  If you are will to drive a little. Bluewater Seafood is a small whole in the wall Seafood place only a few an exit or two above DT on the 5 (or just take India street North and you hit it before you reach the freeway). IMHO it's one of it not the best for Seafood in SD (and easy on the pocket, simply search posts for it).

                  Another 5 or so minutes away is Sab-E-Lee, a hole in the wall Thai place, which gets raves by CH'ers. I have yet to make it but am dying to go. again search for the many posts it gets here.

                  In the Mood for BBQ, I would definitely pay a visit to Phil's BBQ, Again not far away (at the 8 and 5.

                  In little Italy, there's a great Argentinian Restaurant, Puerta la Boca (sic?).

                  I am sure there are many more great suggestions.

                  1. re: csils

                    Sab-e-lee is only 5 mins away from Bluewater, but has no landing strip.

                    So if you must drive instead, add 15 mins, and it's a tricky drive.

                    It's odd to me to suggest Sab (great place) to someone asking about convention center recs.

                    1. re: stirfry

                      Yeah, no kidding. That's at least a 20 minute drive.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Mapquest says 9 minutes and 6 miles.

                        Side roads.

                        I'd swear there are signal lights though.

                        1. re: Cathy

                          I think with traffic lights and getting out of downtown, depending on time of day, that 9 minutes seems wildly optimistic.

                    2. re: csils

                      Good recommendations, but I think that the food at Oceanaire is better than the food at Blue Point downtown. Oceanaire also has a great happy hour from 5-6 with $1 oysters. I liked the raw food at Blue Point much more than the cooked food there.

                      Oceanaire is a national chain while Blue Point is part of a local restaurant group (that gets bashed on the boards regularly). If you search the board for Oceanaire you will find a bunch of posts about it - but the chef just left.

                      1. re: csils

                        Gonna put one vote in against Blue Point. The food there isn't bad, but given the price, it ought to be great. And it's not.

                        1. re: Indirect Heat

                          Yeah, I wouldn't even put Blue Point in the same class as Oceanaire.

                          Blue point is grim.