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Which beach for excellent food?

I'm planning to spend one week in the San Diego area and I'd like to stay at the beach that has the highest concentration of great places to eat. "Solana Beach" showed up quite a bit in my search. Is this a destination?

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  1. This will be tough to answer. Are you looking for a place to stay that is on the beach, or will walking distance to the beach suffice? Do you have a price point or type of place to eat that you prefer? Are you looking to eat at the beach?

    That being said, La Jolla, Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach all have excellent places to eat. Depending on what you like and how much you want to spend on lodging, all could work.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JRSD

      Walking to the beach will suffice. I don't need to eat on the beach either; my only concern is that I can walk or cycle easily to the ocean and to great food. As for eating out, I'd really love to focus on local or Southern California cuisine (if this even exists) and Mexican while not exceeding a budget of $30/pp per meal excluding drinks (with the exception of maybe one or two restos over budget).

    2. Short answer: Solana Beach isn't the one where I'd go if I was looking for good food.

      La Jolla probably has the greatest concentration of good food for a beach neighborhood.

      15 Replies
      1. re: Josh

        I agree wtih Josh on this one. La Jolla probably has the best selection of restaurants in a concentrated area. For fun and funkiness, however, I'd probably go with OB

        1. re: Josh

          As a rule, the closer you are to the beach, the less likely you are to find good food. In Solana Beach, doubly so. The few places I've eaten there were meals I didn't finish. It was like being served straight off of a Sysco truck.

          There's perfectly edible food at Mission Beach, and several places that rise to a B- in La Jolla. I'd agree with the funkiness angle in OB, probably your best choice.

          1. re: Indirect Heat

            B- in La Jolla? Tapenade, Cafe 910, George's...these are B-?

            OB isn't comparable to La Jolla, food-wise, IMO.

            1. re: Josh

              George's isn't a B-. George's is a D+ in my book. Nice view, though.

              1. re: Indirect Heat

                If Georges downstairs is a D+ everything in Mission Beach and Ocean Beach is of the charts bad. Just curious which restaruant in Mission and Ocean Beach delivers better food than Georges.

                1. re: honkman

                  Better for the price? Or better? Sure, George's has marginally better food than most of the dives in OB, but it charges obscene prices for that marginally better food. They should be in completely different categories. Sadly, they're not.

                  In any other city, for the prices George's charges, you'd get *good* food. All you get in George's is the view.

                  I really can't understand why George's stays in business.

                  1. re: Indirect Heat

                    So what you're saying, correct me if I'm wrong, is that the food at George's is only marginally better than the food at Hodad's? Am I understanding you?

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                    Hodads Restaurant
                    5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107

                    1. re: Indirect Heat

                      "George's has marginally better food than most of the dives in OB" - Which dive in OB has only marginally worse food than George's ? And when have you eaten the last time at George's ? You mentioned the price which is bit surprising since their prices, e.g. tasting menu are lower than most other "higher end" places in SD. Just curious, which upscale restaurants in SD do you prefer ?

                      1. re: honkman

                        I've only been to two upscale restaurants in SD that I thought came close to being worth their price. Cowboy Star is quite good. And Addison is very good. But generally, when we want upscale food, we go to L.A. We've had too many expensive failures in S.D.

                        1. re: Indirect Heat

                          I don't disagree with you about upscale restaurants here being a lot less good than in other cities, but I do think it's a pretty big stretch to say that places like Tapenade, Nine-Ten, and George's are only marginally better than OB dives. I lived in OB for a long time and know the dives there very well. It's a pretty unfair exaggeration you're making, IMO.

                          1. re: Josh

                            I can't speak to Tapenade and Nine-Ten, but George's seems to be a fancy version of Chili's. At least the OB dives are authentic. George's dishes are prettier than many places, but they're certainly no tastier. I know a lot of folks on the SD CH disagree with me, but for the life of me, I can't understand why George's is still in business. Different strokes, I guess.

                            1. re: Indirect Heat

                              umm, are we talking about the same George's? Cause the one I've been to has nothing in common with Chili's. The fact that you just made that comparison invalidates anything you've ever said in my book.

                              1. re: Indirect Heat

                                If you haven't eaten at Tapenade or Nine-Ten, and are seriously comparing George's to Chili's, then it sounds to me like your knowledge is seriously out of date. It reminds me of the people who compare Marine Room to Denny's, based on eating there during their dark years in the '80s and '90s before they hired a new chef and revamped their menu.

                                1. re: Indirect Heat

                                  "George's seems to be a fancy version of Chili's" - It 's one thing not to like George's but to compare it to Chili's is simply showing no knowledge of food.

                              2. re: Indirect Heat

                                I don't disagree that upscale restaurants in SD (and Cowboy Star is not even upscale for me) are not really exciting but that doesn't mean that the few we have are on the same level (or even close) as some dives in OB.

                2. I don't think of Solana Beach when thinking of excellent food..
                  LJ would be my choice.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    I really don't think of Solana Beach as having a good beach. It really is narrow with the cliffs so don't get stuck. I think Encinitas has a much better food scene and a way better beach. Sez the person that moved from Solana Beach to Encinitas.

                    1. re: littlestevie

                      I agree. There are so many better beaches elsewhere.. Same with the food. Eat in LJ, OB, Del Mar or anywhere else for that matter. Meanwhile, I love my peaceful, empty beaches and surf breaks of SB. (oops, did I say that out loud?)

                  2. La Jolla, specifically, La Jolla Shores. You can make the rounds of Piatti, Barbarella, Marine Room, then head up the hill and wind your way through the Village (910, George's, Trattoria Acqua). Rinse, then repeat.

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                    Trattoria Acqua
                    1298 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037

                    Marine Room Restaurant
                    2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bizzwriter

                      I went to Piatti last night with an out of town guest and some colleagues and was unimpressed. Food was good, but not great, and service was lacking. One person ordered the Stone Levitation Ale on draft and was brought the Stone IPA (bottled) because they were out of the former. The server did not check if it was ok before making the substitution. They did offer to comp that beverage, but the person who ordered declined. The actual check had the originally requested item (which was more expensive). We also had drinks at the bar while waiting for everyone to arrive, and had the two bills combined. They charged us for two beers at the bar instead of the one which was ordered. I didn't complain because of the group setting, but my overall impression of their service is very poor.

                    2. Thank you everyone for your responses. I think I'll start looking into a place to stay in La Jolla, but I'll keep Ocean and Pacific Beaches in mind as alternatives. Just so I know so I can avoid it or try it, the George's everyone is disagreeing about is George's at the Cove?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: schtroumpfette

                        George's At The Cove is the former name. A few years ago the name was changed to George's California Modern, to reflect the new menu. I would ignore the negative comments made by some. You should try it yourself and form your own conclusions. If you don't want to commit to dinner in the more expensive downstairs dining room, have lunch on the Terrace or in the bar.

                        1. re: schtroumpfette

                          Everyone is not disagreeing about Georges at the Cove. Indirect is a statistical outlier. The comparison with Chili's is ludicrous.

                          Pacific Beach is a fun alternative to La Jolla. It has a much younger, college age demographic. The boardwalk that runs from PB to the South Mission jetty is where the action is. The food scene is decidedly more downscale than La Jolla, but there are plenty of good places to eat which are more in line with your $30 budget. Latin Chef, Olde City Bar & Grill, and The Fishery are all good examples. For your one or two special nights, La Jolla is a short bus ride away.

                          1. re: Captain Jack

                            I missed the $30 budget. La Jolla is probably too spendy, agreed.

                            1. re: Josh

                              $30 per person per meal (not day) excluding drinks seems doable. Yeah, George's would probably go over but I feel like you could keep enough meals underneath.

                          2. re: schtroumpfette

                            There are several restaurants involved at George's. The one being disputed up-thread is George's California Modern. I think it's better than Indirect Heat is giving it credit for, but not as good as Josh and Honkman imply. It also may not be in your budget of $30pp, tho' I think with some judicious choices you could swing it. What is in your budget is George's Terrace or the bar.

                            La Jolla is pretty upscale and has always attracted a lot of money. It's a pretty well manicured area all around. If SD had an "old money" enclave, La Jolla would be it. Most of the rest of the beach communities in SD are pretty informal and that is reflected in their dining options. You could eat very well within your budget in OB and PB, but most things would be considerably more downscale.

                            One of things you might do is to check out http://www.signonsandiego.com and http://www.sdreader.com not so much for the restaurant reviews, but you can pull up restaurant menus from both sites, and both sites will let you filter your searches by area, including "Beaches" and "La Jolla". Then you can see which areas have menus and food to suit your tastes and your budget

                            1. re: DiningDiva

                              This is a great source, thank you! After doing a bit more research and considering everyone's comments on LJ, I'm now looking into renting in OB or PB. This way I can enjoy the vibe, save a bit, then maybe splurge elsewhere during the week. Thanks again!

                              1. re: schtroumpfette

                                If I understand correctly you will have a car so that you don't have to stay very close to the interesting restaurants. It is of course always personal preferences and what kind of vacation/vibe you are looking for in general but I like PB for some of the restaurants but otherwise it is a place where a lot of young college student live who for the first time don't live at home and are mainly interested to get drunk and party. OB has a more laid back/relaxed vibe but personally if I would look for a place with nice beaches and a relaxed vibe I would mostly like pick Del Mar (and even some of the restaurants are very good - Kitchen 1540 (went a few times for different cooking events and was very impressed), and it is also easy to get everywhere in SD from Del Mar.