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May 5, 2010 06:56 AM

Info Needed to Make It An All-Round Great Trip

Salutations to my fellow West Coast Chowhounders,

Will be coming to San Diego the end of this month for a family vacation (for 1 week) - will do what, I suppose, the usual tourists do in San Diego i..e Zoo, Seaworld, Animal Park.

Would like some good recommendations of definite places to dine while visiting. Should take into account will be travelling with children (less than 5 yrs of age).

Much obliged!

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  1. The denizens of this board will no doubt respond with lots of recommendations if you can give us a little more detail about what your parameters are. San Diego has a very wide spectrum for dining or just plain eating. In what part of the city/county will you be staying while here? Are you looking for an ethnic experience? Dinner out with all the trimmings or "basic"? Also what's your budget? Are you willing to drive to the destinations or use public transport?

    4 Replies
    1. re: araknd

      My wife and I enjoy and endeavour all types of food- whether it be Chateaubriand or Cous Cous...however, as I eluded will be kids (they, of course, having a preference for finger foods like burgers or pizza). Will be staying at Loews Coronado.

      I suppose a week full of a taste of all that San Diego has to restrictions with regards to ethnic, $ (but then again, try to refrain from recommending places on par with Alinea), or neighbourhood.

      Would love to see San Diego's response to Peter Luger's and Spiaggia -- but open to suggestions of more casual scenes.

      1. re: ny2chicago

        SD has not response to Peter Luger's or Spiaggia.

        Assuming you'll have a car, you'll find child friendly eating in Liberty Station (Point Loma area) and along the 30th St. corridor in North Park. Mama Testa isn't far from the zoo and while it's not the "best" Mexican in town, it's pretty good and kids of all ages are welcome.

        The Little Italy Farmers Market on Saturday mornings has some really cool food vendors, and not far from that is Blue Water Grill, which is child friendly. A block north of Blue Water is the Lucha Libre taco shop that is as much fun to visit as it is to eat there, once again, very child friendly.

        Kids are a fact of life and SD is a tourist desitnation, the two go hand-in-hand. SD is not a very formal dining city, you should be able to find enough places that suit your tastes as well as that of your children. Enjoy your visit, the weather's been great :-)

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

        1. re: ny2chicago

          As DiningDiva notes there isn't any response to Peter Luger's, but Cowboy Star is probably the best steak house in town.

          1. re: araknd

            I think the local response to Peter Luger's might be: "oh, so now I have to fly to NYC if I want a steak?"

      2. Brigantine in Coronado across from the Hotel Del has an everyday seafood happy hour and they make great fish tacos for around $3 and kids of all ages are welcome.
        Prado is decent in Balboa Park after the SD Zoo.
        Hacienda de Vega for some of the best Mex about 5 minutes from the SD Wild Animal Park.
        George's at the Cove and dine on the Ocean Terrace in La Jolla..great views and good food.

        Where are you staying in SD?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick

          "Hacienda de Vega for some of the best Mex about 5 minutes from the SD Wild Animal Park."

          [shakes head]

          So you were the person I saw driving like a maniac a few weeks ago, Beach Chick?

          More like 10-15 minutes - still pretty close. Much better than if you decide to stop at one of the chain offerings at North County Fair Mall. Just be sure to drink plenty of water before the margaritas, though. :)

        2. My recommendation would be to try some of the many brewpubs and ale houses around SD. Rather than try to replicate what is done well in NY or Chicago, check out what SD does best and that's beer and beer cuisine. Traditionally, most brewpubs have served, well, "pub food", but many in SD have raised this to a much higher level and combined it with the farm-to-table trend. And, as a bonus to us foodies with kids, these pubs are typically kid friendly. Let me know if you're interested in specific recommendations. Many of these places will require you to deviate from the typical tourist areas.

          10 Replies
          1. re: steveprez

            Sorry to jump into the OP's thread, but the wife & I are heading to SD for 4 days next week, and would definitely like specific brewpub recommendations. We'll be staying in Hotel Circle and meandering mostly between there & Encinitas.

            1. re: adampaul

              Check out the link below from a recent San Diego Magazine issue.


              It names a lot of good brewpubs, though in deference to the OP, not all of them are necessarily kid friendly. It names the top three breweries as Stone, AleSmith and Port. Both Stone and Port (Pizza Port) have brewpubs. Stone has an interesting and varied menu, though is a bit out of the way in Escondido. Pizza Port has two locations and, as the name suggests, is based around pizza. Not everyone is enamored with their style of gormet pizza but it's of high quality. AleSmith is a brewery only (no food) in an industrial park but is somewhat of a mecca for craft beer lovers. One of the interesting and unique aspects of the SD brewing community is that even brewpubs associated with a brewery will serve beers from other breweries, both local and worldwide.

              Non-associated "ale houses" that are very good include the Blind Lady Ale House (my favorite; kid 'welcoming'), Ritual, Neighborhood, Jayne's Gastropub, Hamilton's, Toronado.

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

              1. re: steveprez

                Let us not forget my personal favorite, Lost Abbey (a subset of Port) in San Marcos. Their tasting room is open Wed, Thurs 1pm-5pm, Fri 4pm-8pm, Sat 12pm-5pm, and Sun 12pm-4pm. I just love me some Ten Commandments.

                The Lost Abbey
                155 Mata Way Suite 104, San Marcos, CA

                1. re: Captain Jack

                  Great add, Cap'n! While I'm a regular at Pizza Port Solana Beach and stock my cellar with the Lost Abbey bottles, I've yet to visit the brewery in SM. It's easy to whip my kids into a Pizza Port frenzy (not that I'd use that as a method to get my wife to agree ;) ) but harder to find time to visit the brewery.

                  The Lost Abbey
                  155 Mata Way Suite 104, San Marcos, CA

                2. re: steveprez

                  Blind Lady can now be considered a brew pub, too since they got their brewers license and have released their first beer. I agree that it is a great place to go and very welcoming to kids if you go early.

                  San Diego Brewing Co is a brewpub that is in the hotel circle area in Mission Valley. Their house-brewed beers are not the best in town, but they have excellent guest taps and their Hopnotic is an excellent IIPA.

                  Happy hour with 1/2 price apps is a good deal and they have a large restaurant area. I don't think the food is nearly as good quality as any of the places listed above (although I don't like the pizza at Pizza Port), but it will be the most convenient to your hotel.

                  Also, check each place's website for up to date tap lists or check for the places that don't update their websites (like San Diego Brewing).

                  San Diego Brewing Co
                  10450 Friars Rd Ste L, San Diego, CA 92120

                  1. re: JRSD

                    Thanks for the update on the Blind Lady! That's great news for them. I suspect we may have yet another great brewey forming in SD.

                    Also, agree with your assessment of SDBC. I also really dislike their decor.

                    1. re: JRSD

                      Just to be picky, the San Diego Brewing Company is a few miles east of the Hotel Circle area and mile east of Qualcomm Stadium, in what is called Grantville. Gordon Biersch is located in the Hotel Circle area.

                    2. re: steveprez

                      Thank you all for the great suggestions - I'm thirsty now!

                      1. re: adampaul

                        Have a great trip. We'll look forward to seeing your trip report. ;)