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Which Places do you Frequent because the Owners Appreicate your Patronage

  • c

I've been to many excellent small family run places where the owners/proprieters and staff know that you come out of your way for their food. They show their appreciation in many wonderful ways,and I appreciate their food. A few of my fav's are:

Aqui Es Texcoco, where Paco will gladly assist you with trying different things as well as accommodating your guests.

Marisco's Godoy, the whole staff is friendly and will help this gringo by explaining areas of their menu that I wish to try as well as cooking methods and spicing.

The Marisco's and Gorda trucks by the Toys R Us, always very friendly and patient to help with questions.

El Pescadore, the guys are just polite and friendly and willing to recommend a fish sammy.

I could list more but, this is why I will go out of my way to patronize places like this. Have places like this that are your go to places? What are your gems.

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  1. Gosh. "Owners"...."appreciate"? Two rareties at SD restaurants. Sab -e- lee comes to mind. Not much else.

    1. Everyone at Bety's in Encinitas is super friendly (plus I think their food is the best Mexican home cooking I've had in the greater San Diego area).

      In particular, the son (I think his name is Luis) is exceptionally friendly and welcoming, always making sure that we have a great experience and he even remembered our family and what my daughter ordered, after we hadn't been there for a few weeks. I believe it's either his mom or grandmother who does a lot of the cooking in the back, and his sister is up front in the dining room.

      They're all hard-working, quality and service minded people who really care about what they serve. They make us feel very welcome and sincerely appreciated. The food is so fantastic that we'd probably go there regardless, but their attitudes definitely make us want to support them even more.

      9 Replies
      1. re: carli

        Very much agree with your Bety's assessment. It is Bety who is both cooking and in the front of the house. She is Luis's mother.
        Oh now I so want Bety's. I miss it.

        1. re: carli

          I've been to Bety's a number of times, but it's always been for take out. However in the past two weekends I've made it a point to dine in there and have noticed something that I wanted to pass by others on this board who go there more regularly than I.

          On both dine-in visits, they were both in the late morning hours on the weekend, they had the music up so loud that it actually interfered with service. In trying to flag down a server I was not able to be heard above the music. Now I give a lot of margin to small independent ethnic restaurants in terms of what they do to provide atmosphere, but in the two cases where I dined in it was almost to the point where I felt like complaining about it. It was almost as if they were having a house party, it was so loud.

          Anyone else have this experience there, and did it bother you?

          1. re: cgfan

            This is a problem for me in most restaurants, and really in most public places in general. It's as though having a moment's silence is simply not permissible. I always enjoy having a nice conversation over a meal, and nothing ruins that more than obnoxiously loud music. Somehow I doubt that anyone would complain if that practice was abandoned.

            1. re: Josh

              I'll also add the fool yelling on his/her cell phone. Josh you been, peddled, around the block a few times. How about your fav owners/places.

              1. re: cstr

                I don't know that I have a place I'd say this about. Usually the reason I patronize a place is if the food is good. I will say that I feel better about my patronage if I feel like the owner is a nice guy, or someone who I want to see succeed. And I know there are places I've avoided patronizing, because I don't want to support people financially who I have issues with on a personal level, for whatever reason.

          2. re: carli

            I grew up in Encinitas, but don't know Bety's. Details, please. I will be driving up to Encinitas weekly for the next few months, so would love to try it. Where is it?

            1. re: Ms. Verde

              Here's an old comp I crudely put together for another post. (It's not the easiest restaurant to find...)

              1. re: cgfan

                Another place in Encinitas that I been treated well is Jorge's Mexican.
                They have really good chicken soup that everyone raves about.
                I have some good meals at Bety's and they have some unique items but I find the quality to be inconsistent.

                1. re: pantani

                  Really love the soup at Jorge's. My s.o. finds the one on Santa Fe a bit crazy at lunch time with all of the Scripps people crossing the street.

                  Santa Fe Cafe
                  445 Santa Fe Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024

          3. Kaito. Everyone who works there is incredibly welcoming and we always feel like guests in someone's home. By leaps and bounds the friendliest restaurant I have ever been to.

            Jay at the Linkery has always been very friendly, everyone at Alesmith Brewery have been very nice, and the owners at Viva Pops and at Ranas.com were very pleasant and welcoming.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JRSD

              K & B Wine in Del Cerro. Costa Brava.

              1. re: globocity

                Rana's in Spring Valley in addition to serving excellent food in the style of Mexico City has a very appriciatve owner.....

              2. re: JRSD

                I definitely second The Linkery.

                3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

              3. Okan. The owner/manager always makes a point to stop by, say hi and ask how things are going, no matter how busy it is.
                Oton. Whoever is training their staff at both places (Okan) is doing an excellent job.
                Kaito. All of the staff are welcoming and accomodating. Regularly checking on how we're doing.

                1. Mariscos La Ensenada -Oceanside
                  and Brookyn Boyz Pizza - Oceanside
                  Great treatment from all Owners and staff.

                  1. I'll add another, Stacey at The Ritual Tavern is very helpful with beer descriptions as well as what's good in the kitchen. She's always friendly.

                    1. Moumen at Kous Kous is extremely warm and welcoming, we make a point of going there as often as possible. The lamb tanjia being completely delcious helps!!

                      I also really like the folks at Starlite, they are super nice and welcoming.

                      The opposite was true of La Vache 4 years ago, we used to like the food but they were extremely unhelpful, and even though we went there regularly they used to pretend they'd never seen us before!

                      1. Vo's Cafe, which is great for takeout in North Park. Francois has been nothing but delightful and always does his best to build a relationship with his customers.

                        1. The Copper Chimney truck in Mira Mesa. Allen is always happy to talk food, and one time, they were late in setting up, he gave free drinks (cans of Frooti - an Indian brand of mango juice) to the 15 or so people who were waiting - not the kind of thing you see often!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsit

                            Allen was great and made eating at his truck a great experience. His food is very good, which is the biggest reason I will go back.

                          2. Not the owners, but the staff at Cafe Chloe. They know us, at least by sight and always say welcome back or great to see you. We do frequent the place but it is nice that people remember. Also, Taco Surf. Sam and Cindy have kept track of me since high school and always had a kind word of encouragement!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jturtle

                              2nd that, the staff certainly plays a significant role in the appreciation dept., of course the chow has to be worthy as well. WOW, Taco Surf, never thought anyone would mention that place, I like the kick in their salsa, and yes they're very friendly.

                            2. I love the owners at Casa Adams and Super Cocina. Both gentleman are charming and make us feel extra welcome. The special shrimp enchiladas with chipotle cream sauce are fabulous at Casa Adams, and I have a hard time getting past the carnitas at Super Cocina.
                              Our local traditional cantonese restaurant, Peking Cafe has a great waitress, Maria. She remembers our favorites and splits a won ton soup for us.

                              1. i'll probably get flamed for this because it's not exactly Chowhoundish, but so be it...Station Sushi in Solana Beach.

                                sure, the place isn't exactly a mecca for sushi purists, but the staff is terrific...particularly FOH. they're friendly and accommodating even when the place is slammed, and they remember regulars, which i appreciate. it's actually become a running joke, because i only go there for one particular item - the "Protein" roll - and at this point i don't even have to place an order. when they see me walk in or he my name on the phone, they already know what i'm having.

                                they also occasionally send free sake shots to repeat customers...which doesn't really impact me because i don't drink anymore, but i still think it's a nice gesture.

                                1. La Pinata in Old Town. My in-laws have been going there for about 30 years. When we walk in they automatically bring a cheese quesedilla and hot peppers and carrots - without us asking. (For most restaurant patrons they bring salsa and chips) They are always warm and welcoming. The food is phenomenal and the prices are reasonable. We don't usually go during peak meal times. The rare occasion that I have I have to admit that their service is not as good, but the food is always really good.

                                  1. These three immedaitely came to my mind: Nobu in Solana Beach, Wet Stone Wine Bar, Cowboy Star. As to the first, we've been going for 13+ years; as to the latter two, I've been in regularly since they opened.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: ibstatguy

                                      i've heard that about Nobu. i went there once about 6 years ago, and the experience was really underwhelming. i've considered going back after hearing positive things, but at this point i'd almost feel like i was cheating on Station Sushi - my Nobu equivalent!

                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        go with what you are comfortable with...

                                      2. re: ibstatguy

                                        Can't believe that I left out Paul Dobson of Dobson's; wonderful host.

                                      3. okay, not a high-end place, but for a quick taco/burrito/enchilada kind of lunch, try Taco Express downtown (State Street between A and Ash). The food is great, and the owner is incredibly nice; thankful for your patronage. My office is 2 blocks away, so I'm there at least 3 or 4 times a month. Seriously, the owner might be the NICEST restaurant owner ever!

                                        Taco Express
                                        1330 State St, San Diego, CA 92101

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: invinoveritas

                                          Agreed! He's a sweetheart. I used to work downtown, and will still head over there if I'm in the vicinity for lunch.

                                        2. Wine Vault & Bistro - we always have eager (if not always the most professional) service there. Everyone recognizes us and welcomes us back like old friends. It also seems like they remember your favourite places to sit. All in all, the staff definitely seem appreciative.

                                          Wine Vault & Bistro
                                          3731 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: shouzen

                                            Mary and Chris at Wine Vault has always been awesome and very welcoming. It definitely helps when the food is steller. I make it a point to visit there whenever I can because of the combination of great food, killer service and appreciative owners.

                                          2. My vote goes to Cenote Grill in Escondido. The owners are the chef and his wife. He often brings our order directly from the kitchen to the table and will come back after an appropriate time to ask in person how the meal is tasting. His wife generally tends to front of the house and serves as well. It's a very comfortable place to eat and drink their wonderful sangria with out that feeling that the owners want to turn the table as quickly as possible.

                                            Cenote Grill
                                            1896 W El Norte Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92026

                                            1. Cafe 21 on Adams
                                              Abby's BBQ on Clairemont Mesa
                                              O'Briens on Convoy

                                              1. Oishii in Santee. We've been going in there for years now, and, though we may not show up for a month or two, whenever we do, it's kinda like home. Mike usually sends over some little specialty for us. The food is good, the staff is friendly and helpful - what better reasons to continue our patronage?!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: phee

                                                  Mister Sushi in PB. The sushi there is actually very fresh and they have good variety in their specials. Tony, Naoki and Sue are always so welcoming and know us by name. Everytime I think about driving somewhere else, it's so nice to have a local place where they treat you special and know your name.

                                                  Same with Bahia in Bird Rock.

                                                  Mister Sushi
                                                  1535 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                                                  1. re: keena

                                                    I second Mister Sushi. It is as good or better than almost all options in the immediate area - great for when I don't feel like driving all the way to Encinitas and potentially waiting hours for a seat at the Kaito sushi bar. They welcomed our baby like she was their grandchild and even brought her some tofu for a snack. There aren't many nicer people.

                                                    Mister Sushi
                                                    1535 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                                                2. Taste of Lebanon on Miramar road.
                                                  They treat stangers like friends and they remember what I order even though I have not been there for months.

                                                  Taste of Lebanon
                                                  6780 Miramar Rd Ste 110, San Diego, CA 92121

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: pantani

                                                    Dobson's in Horton Plaza. As a long-time Chicagoan, I gravitate toward dark, woodpaneled bars where regulars saddle up to the bar at lunchtime, partially for the food, but mostly for the company and around-the-town gossip, and where everyone there the knows your name, your business, and your "usual" order. After much searching, I found Dobson's (thanks in large part to the CH board recommendation for the mussel bisque -thanks!) where the regulars come in like clockwork on certain days at certain times, and the owner (Paul) and the staff always have a place setting ready for them and great them by name at the door. One of the women I met last week has been going their for lunch every Wed and Friday for 23 years. I can only hope to be so lucky! I've only been twice, but the staff recognized me on trip #2 and made my lunch feel like a friendly hour among friends.

                                                    Horton Plaza
                                                    324 Horton Plz, San Diego, CA

                                                    1. re: salustro

                                                      So glad you enjoy Dobson's Mussel Bisque en croute..it is so delicious.
                                                      Paul and his staff are a class act..
                                                      Next you need to go have drinks at the Waterfront..oldest bar in SD in Little Italy..it's a real beauty..especially, during the holidays.