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Are there any restaurant or fast food chains you desire for San Diego?

Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 03:02 PM

Although it is always nice to dine at quality homegrown establishments, for some foods, I find that chains are better options than the food available at our local establishments (chain or non-chain). Also, there is nostalgia for chains you grew up with. With that in mind, I list 3 chains that I wish opened an outlet in San Diego.

White Castle
White Castle, creator of the slider, is the original fast food chain. It is the hamburger I grew up with in New York. In my opinion, there is nothing like it, with the perfect melding of the bun, grilled onions, and hamburger patty. (As a side note, their sliders are awful as cheeseburgers, although some people appear to love them.

Probability of establishing an outlet in San Diego: 0.0%

Lucille’s BBQ
Lucille’s is a chain that now has 13 restaurants, 11 in California. They offer true smoke bbq, and their menu is extensive and creative. I love their smoked tri-tip. They also have a great inexpensive kids menu.

Probability of establishing an outlet in San Diego: 35%; If they did open an outlet in San Diego, I suspect it would be in the Sports Arena area.


Portillo’s is an Illinois-based chain of giant cafeteria-like restaurants that has opened 2 establishments in California (Buena Park and Moreno Valley) in the last few years.Their Italian beef sandwiches are very good and cheap (< $5). Their Chicago style hot dogs are also pretty good.

Probability of establishing an outlet in San Diego: >5%

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  1. m
    mayache RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 03:10 PM

    This East Coaster is hard up for some Dunkin' Donuts.

    7 Replies
    1. re: mayache
      cstr RE: mayache Jun 15, 2010 03:59 PM

      Costco usually carries DD coffee.

      1. re: cstr
        mayache RE: cstr Jun 15, 2010 06:28 PM

        I'm actually not a coffee drinker. I'm in it for the donuts (mmm...DD Boston Kreme...), for which there are no substitutes that I can find. I even tried VG's, but while they were fancier and perhaps technically better, taste-wise I gotta give it to Dunkin'.

      2. re: mayache
        leanneabe RE: mayache Jun 15, 2010 04:26 PM

        Dunkin' Donuts might be the only chain I wish was in San Diego. We do buy the coffee from Costco, but it's not really the same.

        I can think of a few chains we always visit when we travel to certain parts of the country, but we really don't eat at chains regularly enough to miss them when we come home. I still haven't been to the Sonic that opened up and I rarely stop at In 'n Out, either. Even if we did have a DD, we wouldn't go every morning. But it would definitely replace the occasional Starbucks run on weekends.

        1. re: mayache
          mikec RE: mayache Jun 15, 2010 04:37 PM

          DD had several locations here in San Diego until the early 1990's or thereabouts. IIRC, most of them were taken over by Golden Donuts and they are still fairly close in style to DD. Seems unlikely that DD would try to re-establish themselves in San Diego given their history.

          1. re: mikec
            jmtreg RE: mikec Jun 16, 2010 10:04 AM

            I'm glad I'm not the only one who remembers that we used to have Dunkin' Donuts in San Diego. Its interesting that they didn't last here.

          2. re: mayache
            zare_k RE: mayache Jun 15, 2010 04:37 PM


            Never understood what the big deal about their coffee is but I really miss the donuts.

            1. re: mayache
              oerdin RE: mayache Jun 17, 2010 08:48 PM

              They used to have Dunkin' Donuts but they all went out of business because they couldn't compete against the local shops.

            2. m
              mliew RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 03:30 PM

              I've seen a few Lucille's up in Orange County but never eaten there. Might have to give it a try next time. Have you been to Woodfire Ranch? It's another chain that exists up in LA that I haven't seen in SD. I ate there once and the food was ok but nothing to write home about. I'm wondering how Lucille's compares.

              In any case it would be interesting to see another BBQ joint go head to head with Phils in the Sports Arena area.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mliew
                Encinitan RE: mliew Jun 15, 2010 09:34 PM

                I heard of it but haven't dined there. I'm a little suspicious of a bbq joint with an extensive wine menu.

                1. re: mliew
                  goodhealthgourmet RE: mliew Jun 15, 2010 10:02 PM

                  it's Wood Ranch, not Woodfire. i met a friend at the one at the Grove in LA to watch a game once, and the only thing i remember about the food is that whatever i had, i wasn't interested in it beyond the second bite.

                2. Josh RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 03:55 PM

                  I'd be curious to know which foods you think chains are better for.

                  Anymore, after reading so much about the industrialization of our food supply, I've come to see the vast majority of restaurants (chain and "independent" included) as little more than Sysco reassembly fronts - with pre-made commodity food defrosted, reconfigured, and assembled by low-paid, unskilled workers. Chains in particular exemplify this depressing trend.

                  Also, historically, I'm pretty sure the dubious honor of inventing the fast food chain goes to Carl's Jr.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Josh
                    cstr RE: Josh Jun 15, 2010 04:01 PM

                    Totally agree, I try to avoid all food chains. I'm for the local guy.

                    1. re: Josh
                      mikec RE: Josh Jun 15, 2010 04:09 PM

                      White Castle was founded in 1921 and had multiple locations by 1923. Carl's Jr. was founded in 1941 (hot dog carts) and didn't have an actual restaurant until 1946.

                      1. re: mikec
                        carli RE: mikec Jun 15, 2010 04:25 PM

                        Burger Lounge is a chain that I really like, but usually I find the independent restaurantes more interesting and prefer to support them for the reasons already stated.

                        1. re: mikec
                          Josh RE: mikec Jun 15, 2010 07:42 PM

                          Interesting - this prompted me to do more digging, and it looks like there's some dispute between whether or not A&W or White Castle is the second fast-food restaurant. New York's Automat is considered the first fast food place. The MacDonald brothers are credited with the first hamburger-oriented fast food place, with a menu limited to burgers and fries only, and assembly line production.

                          1. re: Josh
                            Encinitan RE: Josh Jun 15, 2010 09:46 PM

                            If wikipedia is right (as it usually is about everything, excluding bios and politically charged topics), the first automat (Horn and Hardart) opened in Philadelphia in 1902. The first automat in New York (also Horn and Hardart) opened in 1912.

                            White Castle is "hamburger-oriented" and is fast food, so why would you state that McDonald's is the first "hamburger oriented" fast food place?

                            1. re: Encinitan
                              steveprez RE: Encinitan Jun 16, 2010 06:07 AM

                              Seeing the name Horn and Hardart is a blast from the past! I used to go there as a kin growing up in Philly. It was the highlight of a trip downtown.

                      2. k
                        keena RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 05:18 PM

                        I like Le Pain Quotidien. I tried it in NYC and know they are in SoCal and not SD yet. The tartines are really nice for lunch. I also actually like the Pret a Manger chain in NYC for a quick decent lunch to go (or stay).

                        1. DiningDiva RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 05:32 PM


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: DiningDiva
                            foodiechick RE: DiningDiva Jun 15, 2010 10:38 PM

                            Ooooh Sanborn's. Good one DD!

                            1. re: DiningDiva
                              kare_raisu RE: DiningDiva Jun 15, 2010 11:36 PM

                              hells yes

                            2. cgfan RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 05:47 PM

                              I wouldn't mind seeing a Beard Papa open up somewhere for an occasional treat, though I heard one once opened up somewhere in East County... It's a Japanese chain noted for their Shu Creams (Choux à la Crème or cream puffs).

                              I'd also like to see Aji Ichiban, a Taiwan-based chain (with the Japanese name!) of Asian confectionery stores, particularly specializing in various forms of preserved fruits (particularly plums - think Ling Hi Mui and the like) and seafood (such as Sawagani, squid, and cuttlefish) and sold by weight.

                              The small Hawaiian chain Crack Seed Center would be a good substitute in lieu of an Aji Ichiban.

                              And really I wouldn't mind at all the Japanese version of 7-11's to replace all of the 7-11's we have here. They actually offer, as well as the other so-called Combini's (convenience stores), decent food at a good price for a quick grab and go meal, and is nothing like the pitiful stores we have here. On my last trip to Japan I remember briefly walking into the nearest Combini from my hotel to pick up a small bunch of the incredible Kyoho grapes. If only I could do the same here!

                              ...and not a restaurant or fast food chain, but would love to see UK's Waitrose chain of grocery stores open up here. They've managed to strike the perfect balance between cost, quality, selection, customer education and service, and cutting edge food products that will give Whole Foods and the like a serious run for their money. And their magazine and free recipe cards are incredible, a Foodies resource to be sure!

                              Oh I think I can go on and on...

                              24 Replies
                              1. re: cgfan
                                geekyfoodie RE: cgfan Jun 15, 2010 05:50 PM

                                Aji Ichibans! I love those.

                                I think I loved it because it was new to me, but Culver's in Wisconsin/Minnesota wins my vote for a chain I'd liked to see here.

                                1. re: cgfan
                                  ikeg RE: cgfan Jun 15, 2010 07:08 PM

                                  There was a Beard Papa that opened in Plaza Bonita last year, but it closed, mostly because it was disgusting. I doubt they will be building another location in San Diego, if word got out...

                                  (I'm guessing that whoever was running the place was "doing it wrong," because there are bakeries on Convoy that make much, much better creme puffs-- which in turn pale in comparison to ones I've eaten in LA.)

                                  1. re: ikeg
                                    cgfan RE: ikeg Jun 15, 2010 08:23 PM

                                    Wow, that's really surprising. Any details?

                                    I've never come across a Beard Papa that produced anything but a very good cream puff. Yes one can find better, but there will always be independents that can outdo a chain. Never saw the one in Plaza Bonita, but I'd still give BP (oh oh, bad initials these days...) a second chance in San Diego... Wonder why they located there in the first place? The demographics would favor a location like Kearny Mesa...

                                    1. re: cgfan
                                      honkman RE: cgfan Jun 15, 2010 08:30 PM

                                      There is a post from mmm-yoso:


                                      1. re: cgfan
                                        ikeg RE: cgfan Jun 15, 2010 09:04 PM

                                        Well, from what I remember, the shell was very soggy, like it had been made much earlier in the day and then refrigerated. The fillings were way too sweet as well, and the filling had a weird, thick texture that kind of reminded me of cheap pudding. Actually that mmm-yoso review sums it up pretty well, so I guess it wasn't an outlier.

                                        As far as Plaza Bonita, my guess is that they were probably trying to cater to the large Filipino population that lives in the area. This place was in the new addition they built on, a stones throw from a Jollibee and and the new theatre.

                                        1401 E Plaza Blvd, National City, CA 91950

                                        1. re: cgfan
                                          Ewilensky RE: cgfan Jun 16, 2010 12:31 PM

                                          Plaza Bonita Beard Papa started incredibly strong and then went downhill incredibly fast as if they had very little turnover and their inventory sat longer than they intended it to, resulting in a vasty inferior product. It was no suprise they didn't last.

                                          Luckily the one on Sawtelle in LA is close enough to my in-laws to give me my Beard Papa fix.

                                          Hoping for a Dunkin Donuts to return, very unlikely.

                                          Any good bagel chains? I'd love to have them as well.

                                          Although not a chain, Japadog in Vancouver would be a nice addition to the city. Yes, hotdogs with a Japanese twist. Yum.

                                          1. re: Ewilensky
                                            goodhealthgourmet RE: Ewilensky Jun 16, 2010 01:43 PM

                                            "Any good bagel chains? I'd love to have them as well. "
                                            nope. the problem with bagels is the water - if you want true NY or Montreal bagels, you need the same water they use in those cities. it's been years since i had a bagel, and even longer since i had one from a chain, but no chain bagel i've had was anything more than a roll with a hole in it.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                              JRSD RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 16, 2010 02:14 PM

                                              I was thinking about the bagel issue today in response to this thread. I had always heard the water argument in regards to pizza and bagels, but now that there are good pizzerias here, does that mean that bagels can be done?

                                              1. re: JRSD
                                                goodhealthgourmet RE: JRSD Jun 16, 2010 02:26 PM

                                                i imagine so, if they use water with the right mineral content. any idea if the "good" pizzerias use local water? unfortunately i'm no longer able to eat pizza so i can't judge for myself. i've actually never even eaten a slice - good OR bad - here in SD (or in LA, for that matter)!

                                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                nileg RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 17, 2010 01:36 AM

                                                San Diego used to have excellent bagels back when Baltimore Bagel Company was in business. Then in August 1995 the chain was purchased by Progressive Bagel Concepts, Inc. (PBCI, later renamed Einstein/Noah Bagel Corporation) and the existing stores were converted to Einstein Bagel stores.

                                        2. re: cgfan
                                          SaltyRaisins RE: cgfan Jun 15, 2010 09:59 PM

                                          Love the Japanese 7-11's version of oden. Just delicious...

                                          A Zankou chicken here or there would be nice. But at least we have Mama's Lebanese for my torshi fix.

                                          And DD- let's leave the apostrophe out of Sanborns :-)


                                          1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                            DiningDiva RE: SaltyRaisins Jun 15, 2010 11:04 PM

                                            Okey Dokey on the apostrophe. At least it not VIPS

                                            1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                              Encinitan RE: SaltyRaisins Jun 16, 2010 01:22 PM

                                              I used to eat at Zankou Chicken when I lived in LA back in the late 80s. It was praise by radio food commentator Merrill Shindler that got me to try the place. Supposedly it has gone downhill since the owner died in a double murder suicide with two other family members.

                                              1. re: SaltyRaisins
                                                sd4life RE: SaltyRaisins Jun 16, 2010 08:06 PM

                                                I like the Philippines' 7-11 version. They sell all-kinds of different hand-held foods inside...even lots of varieties is siopao. Oh yeah! they even sell booze ib them.

                                                I like to see a Cattleman"s here.

                                              2. re: cgfan
                                                daantaat RE: cgfan Jun 15, 2010 10:04 PM

                                                I'd 2nd Aji Ichiban--wandered through one in Honolulu and it was the Asian version of the Sweet Shop (?) stalls that used to populate the malls.

                                                I'd LOVE Brent's Deli down here. Or any good Jewish deli, for that matter.

                                                King Hua from Alhambra for excellent dim sum.

                                                Burma Superstar and Kowloon Tong Dessert from SF.

                                                Fugetsu-Do from Little Tokyo (the mochi from the place Chula Vista's were strangely salty--at least the ones I got from Nijiya).

                                                Pearl Bakery from PDX. Ohhhh, I can taste their croissants and gibassier bread!!!

                                                1. re: daantaat
                                                  cgfan RE: daantaat Jun 15, 2010 10:44 PM

                                                  daantaat - I, too, was missing Fugetsu-Do ever since I moved out of LA, that is until I actually visited Hogetsu-do's store in Chula Vista. What a difference over the items pre-packaged for distribution. Fugetsu-Do still remains my reference, but since my first visit to Hogetsu-do's shop the difference seems to be much, much smaller...

                                                  However I still wouldn't complain if Fugetsu-Do were to open up here, as unlikely as that'll be...

                                                  BTW have you ever come across the Crack Seed Center in Honolulu? Very much like Aji Ichiban, but with a country store kinda feel...

                                                  1. re: cgfan
                                                    daantaat RE: cgfan Jun 16, 2010 09:43 PM

                                                    No, never been to Crack Seed Center, but I'll add it to our list when we go back next year!

                                                2. re: cgfan
                                                  OCAnn RE: cgfan Jun 16, 2010 11:57 AM

                                                  cgfan, I hold your comments in really high regard...but I'll respectfully disagree for this one for Beard Papa. I thought them meh at best; I thought their creme to be too heavy and their choux just okay. But ITA on Crack Seed Center and a J-version 7-11 (for their oden and pretty good rice in their riceballs)!

                                                  1. re: OCAnn
                                                    cgfan RE: OCAnn Jun 16, 2010 01:51 PM

                                                    OCAnn, while we're on the subject by chance is there anything close to a Crack Seed Center or an Aji Ichiban in OC? If so a drive from SD would be worth it. (On the other hand have you ever checked out Aji Ichiban in San Gabriel, in the Focus Plaza? A good alternative to not having a Crack Seed Center if you happen to be in the area!)

                                                    Believe it or not there once used to be an Aji Ichiban kiosk just outside of the Cineplex in Mission Valley Center, but the selection was really abbreviated and most who passed by the cart seemed to be puzzled by what they carried! Would have been a killer business had it been located in Kearny Mesa!

                                                    1. re: cgfan
                                                      OCAnn RE: cgfan Jun 16, 2010 02:22 PM

                                                      I'm not aware of a Crack Seed Center-like shop or Aji Ichiban in OC. =( The closest of something like that is the Hawaiian section of Marukai in Gardena, which is a very small portion of an aisle. Perhaps the Rowland Heights area (just north of OC) would have shops similar to that, but I've not been adventurous in my middle age.

                                                      And unfortunately, I've not been to Aji Ichiban in SGV. =(

                                                      If you ever make it up to OC, you might try Cream Pan. Their cream puffs are better than BP's. =)

                                                      1449 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                                                      1. re: OCAnn
                                                        cgfan RE: OCAnn Jun 16, 2010 10:15 PM

                                                        Cream Pan sounds awesome - thanks for the tip, OCAnn!

                                                  2. re: cgfan
                                                    cgfan RE: cgfan Jun 16, 2010 01:57 PM

                                                    Also wouldn't mind a reincarnation of L.A.'s fabulous Wil Wright's, whose complementary amaretti macaroons were as delicious as their ice creams.

                                                    But of course if it were ever to be resurrected L.A. must have first dibs, while S.D. patiently waits...

                                                    1. re: cgfan
                                                      goodhealthgourmet RE: cgfan Jun 16, 2010 02:02 PM

                                                      not necessarily...perhaps they should be punished for letting it die. they had their chance, now it's SD's turn ;)

                                                      1. re: cgfan
                                                        littlestevie RE: cgfan Jun 16, 2010 02:20 PM

                                                        Oh gosh what a time warp. We had one by the house where I grew up, which I think closed in the very early 70's. The last one I remember being open was the one in Newport Beach, and I think that one was gone by the late 70's. I just loved the cookies.

                                                    2. Fake Name RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 06:46 PM

                                                      I'd like to see a chain of Ad Hoc, beginning with one in Mission Hills.


                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: Fake Name
                                                        Fake Name RE: Fake Name Jun 15, 2010 06:48 PM

                                                        Oops forgot a photo.

                                                        1. re: Fake Name
                                                          shouzen RE: Fake Name Jun 15, 2010 08:52 PM

                                                          If you're going to ask for that, a Bouchon would be nice so I don't have to drive to Beverly Hills

                                                          1. re: shouzen
                                                            honkman RE: shouzen Jun 15, 2010 08:56 PM

                                                            Actually I would prefer an Ad Hoc restaurant over a Bouchon restaurant in SD. We had three meals at Ad Hoc and all were great. We had now about ten different dinners at Bouchon Las Vegas and Yountville with very mixed results.

                                                            1. re: honkman
                                                              Encinitan RE: honkman Jun 15, 2010 09:27 PM

                                                              It's pretty easy to see why dining at Ad Hoc would be a lot more consistent than at Bouchon. For each day, there is only one type of salad, one type of entree, one type of vegetable dish, and one type of dessert available. At least that's my understanding from visiting the website.

                                                              1. re: Encinitan
                                                                honkman RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 09:31 PM

                                                                Ad Hoc has only one 4-course menu everyday but it is not only the consistency which we found missing from Bouchon (which shouldn't be an issue anyway at that level) but quite a lot of dishes are way overpriced for what you get compared to similar restaurants and are mainly reasoned by the name Keller not the quality. In addition we found the service at Ad Hoc overall much better than at both Bouchons

                                                              2. re: honkman
                                                                Fake Name RE: honkman Jun 16, 2010 05:50 AM

                                                                Nonspecifichigherpower strike me down now, but I am forced to agree with the Honkyman. I've not had a bad meal at a Bouchon, but I did enjoy the Ad Hoc entire schtick- the limited, family-style menu and high quality meal.

                                                        2. b
                                                          beth1 RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 07:34 PM

                                                          Zaxby's Chicken
                                                          Bruster's Ice Cream
                                                          Del's (the frozen lemonade people from Rhode Island)

                                                          1. goodhealthgourmet RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 08:51 PM

                                                            i'm another one who's curious about the statement that chains are better for some foods than our local spots.

                                                            i've tended to avoid chains & fast food like the plague pretty much since college, with two exceptions when i lived in NYC...

                                                            the tossed-to-order salad places:

                                                            and The Pump:

                                                            those were my go-tos for a quick, healthy lunch or dinner when i wasn't cooking or brown-bagging it. i've always wondered why there's nothing similar to either of those concepts in So Cal - i think both would be a huge hit here in SD and up in LA. there was one build-your-own salad place up in Sherman Oaks called the Dressing Room, but they closed over a year ago.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                              DiningDiva RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 15, 2010 09:22 PM

                                                              There are a couple of places in SD that do salads tossed to order. One is at SDSU in Monty's Den in Montezuma Hall called Salad Spin. The other is downtown and I'm forgetting the name of it.

                                                              1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                goodhealthgourmet RE: DiningDiva Jun 15, 2010 09:55 PM

                                                                of course there's one at SDSU now, because i've been gone for years! ;)

                                                                re: the downtown place, are you thinking of Tender Greens? they have an extensive salad menu but they're set combos, not tossed to order.

                                                                Tender Greens
                                                                2400 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                  phee RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 16, 2010 12:05 PM

                                                                  I think she may mean Salad Style. They make very good salads, tossed to order.


                                                                  Salad Style
                                                                  807 F St, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                                  1. re: phee
                                                                    goodhealthgourmet RE: phee Jun 16, 2010 01:41 PM

                                                                    hmm, i can't tell from their website if it's the kind of place i'm talking about. at the places back in NY, *you* create the salad from all the items they have available, and then they toss it for you. so you choose your lettuce mix/base, and then pick from an extensive list of add-ins (veggies, proteins, cheeses, beans, croutons, nuts, etc), choose a dressing, and they toss it all together for you. does Salad Style have that option? if so, i need to lobby for them to open a North County location :)

                                                                    Salad Style
                                                                    807 F St, San Diego, CA 92101

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                      phee RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 16, 2010 10:12 PM

                                                                      No, that's not what they do. The salads are just prepared when you order it, but you can make changes/substitutions. On the other hand, what you've described, I'd really like to see. Kind of like a salad bar but you don't have to do the work!

                                                                      Any entrepreneurs out there looking for a good restaurant idea? :-)

                                                                      1. re: phee
                                                                        goodhealthgourmet RE: phee Jun 16, 2010 11:22 PM

                                                                        i figured as much. bummer. the places in NY are practically on every other block, and they've been there for YEARS. it boggles the mind that no one ever brought the concept here - i've been saying for a long time that if i had the investors to back it i'd do it myself!

                                                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                        DiningDiva RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 17, 2010 12:49 PM

                                                                        SDSU does the salads the way you described. You select what you want and they toss it for you, in front of you. They also offer a selection of hot protein add-ons including, steak, chicken, salmon and tofu. They offer chopped romaine, spring mix and baby spinach as the bed and about 35-40 veggies, fruit, herbs, cheeses, nuts, crunchies, etc. to add in.

                                                                        1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                          goodhealthgourmet RE: DiningDiva Jun 17, 2010 06:14 PM

                                                                          it kills me that SDSU has that option now. when i was in grad school there i used to bring a mini-cooler with my meals because the dining options on campus were so awful.

                                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                  carli RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 17, 2010 10:16 AM

                                                                  YES! I completely agree - when I moved here from NYC in 2003, the build your own salad (with exceptional ingredients) concept was just taking off in NY, and I thought for sure that Californians would be all over it, but I haven't seen anything like it here. This is the place where you pick out your greens (of various types) and thenthe chef behind the counter puts them in a stainless steel bowl, and you tell him what additional ingredients you want added. He works down the line, adding whatever delicious fresh things you specify, starting w/other veggies (from standard to exotic, either raw or grilled, steamed, etc), then starches (from items like cous cous, quinoa, homemade croutons, etc) then proteins (fresh grilled salmon, tofu, steak, etc) and then you pick a dressing (again all original, fresh and delicious - not your standard goop). Then they toss it all in the stainless steel bowl with tongs, put it in a takeout container and you go eat it at your desk, like most other NYC midtown office workers.

                                                                  When I worked in the Chrysler bldg, there was one around the corner on 43rd St that I loved but I can't for the life of me remember the name. It was a new chain (in '03) with only a couple locations around Manhattan...I thought about contacting them and seeing about opening a franchise out here but never did. I've since heard of the good salad place in Liberty station in Pt Loma but haven't tried it and don't know if it's same concept. Also, I see there's a place called Croutons near Trader Joe's in La Jolla...is that similar?

                                                                  My favorite bagels come from Myer's Bagels in Montreal. I'd be living on them if they were out here - so fantastic!!

                                                                  1. re: carli
                                                                    foodiechick RE: carli Jun 17, 2010 11:48 AM

                                                                    The name of the Liberty Station restaurant you are thinking of is Tender Greens. Locally farmed produce and other sustainable ingredients. They make every salad fresh to order, you can also choose greens/dressing and add your own "hot stuff" (protein). Great soups, sandwiches and desserts as well.


                                                                    Tender Greens
                                                                    2400 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                                    1. re: foodiechick
                                                                      rufeen RE: foodiechick Aug 14, 2010 09:06 AM

                                                                      while visiting sd, checked out CH. saw good reviews for tender greens. so true. good draft beer (lightning,) reasonably priced 'healthy' delicious food. freshly ground beans for coffee. wish they had one back east. after a taco hit, crave a healthy meal.

                                                                    2. re: carli
                                                                      goodhealthgourmet RE: carli Jun 17, 2010 06:13 PM

                                                                      @carli, Croutons is a set menu...funny you would ask me that, because my next-door neighbor is the founder & CEO and i've never been there!

                                                                      oh, and i think the place you're talking about on 43rd is Devon & Blakely. they've got 7 Manhattan locations and 3 in DC now!

                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                        DiningDiva RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 17, 2010 07:00 PM

                                                                        It's one of their most popular concepts. It went from $0 to $30,000 a week when it opened. Think there's a market for this concpet? You betcha

                                                                        There's a concpet in Colorado that does this. I ate there several times when I was at a conference in Denver. I can't remember the name of the little chain, but even though I really liked it, they had some operational issues I didn't care for. They had 18 "signature" salads that had set ingredients and were reasonably priced. If you chose to do create our own salad from their ingredients it was super expensive. Their signature salads were good and had some creative aspects to them but sometimes you just want to specify certain things and be done with it. The place was set up cafeteria style so you walked down the line as your salad was being assembled. This wouldn't have been so bad if their staff hadn't been so inept. Good idea, marginal execution.

                                                                        SDSU has gotten it right. They have an order sheet with every ingredient they offer listed. You check off what you want, give it to the server who makes and tosses it and hands it back to you. No muss, no fuss and you're out the door fairly quickly, and for about $7 +/-.

                                                                    3. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                      goodhealthgourmet RE: goodhealthgourmet Aug 30, 2010 08:49 AM

                                                                      looks like we're finally getting a similar franchise here in LA - made-to-order salads, plus wraps and rice bowls, including breakfast! hopefully it'll make its way down to all of you in SD...

                                                                    4. chris2269 RE: Encinitan Jun 15, 2010 10:57 PM

                                                                      Habit Burger...yes, I know lots of burger places allready but I like them better than In and Out.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: chris2269
                                                                        OCAnn RE: chris2269 Jun 16, 2010 11:53 AM

                                                                        The only thing habit-forming from The Habit is their onion rings & ranch combo. If I could only IV that ranch directly into my veins....

                                                                      2. foodiechick RE: Encinitan Jun 16, 2010 02:29 AM

                                                                        Brophy Brothers seafood in Santa Barbara and Ventura. My fave is the cold seafood platter!

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: foodiechick
                                                                          kare_raisu RE: foodiechick Jun 16, 2010 11:50 AM

                                                                          Brophy's is a requisite SB stop!

                                                                        2. e
                                                                          eatemup RE: Encinitan Jun 16, 2010 08:05 AM

                                                                          Houston's does an excellent job for casual food and cocktails. They are all over Orange County, LA and the western states.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: eatemup
                                                                            dustchick RE: eatemup Jun 16, 2010 01:21 PM

                                                                            I'll second Houston's.

                                                                          2. z
                                                                            zare_k RE: Encinitan Jun 16, 2010 10:19 AM

                                                                            Another thing I miss from living in Pennsylvania is Rita's Ice. Nice and refreshing in the summer.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: zare_k
                                                                              Divamac RE: zare_k Jun 17, 2010 07:47 PM

                                                                              There is better water ice than Rita's, but I would welcome them here with open arms. Gosh, I miss water ice. Chocolate, with a soft pretzel with mustard on the side. Sigh!

                                                                            2. l
                                                                              littlestevie RE: Encinitan Jun 16, 2010 01:11 PM

                                                                              I am going to pick a strange one, which is Movenpick (sp?) from Canada. It is really an upscale version of Golden Corral or your generic casino buffet. The food is cooked to order, and there are a huge range of choices. It was not all you can eat, which I feel keeps the quality up. Another, perhaps more realistic choice, is Daily Grill. They are the downscale version of the Grill in BH. They do versions of diner classics. When I am up in Newport, I stop by to get a fix.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: littlestevie
                                                                                honkman RE: littlestevie Jun 16, 2010 01:35 PM

                                                                                Movenpick is a large hotel/resort/restaurant chain from Switzerland. The restaurants sometimes work under the Marche International name. There is also Movenpick ice cream which is owned by Nestle

                                                                                1. re: honkman
                                                                                  littlestevie RE: honkman Jun 16, 2010 02:48 PM

                                                                                  You are right! I was thinking that there was a Swiss connection (one of the stands had Swiss dishes) but I was not sure.

                                                                              2. i
                                                                                ipsit RE: Encinitan Jun 16, 2010 04:00 PM

                                                                                Goodberry's Frozen Custard...or really, any good frozen custard chain!

                                                                                I wouldn't mind an outlet of Patsy's Pizza from New York either

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ipsit
                                                                                  RB Hound RE: ipsit Jun 18, 2010 12:22 PM

                                                                                  Frozen custard places do not survive in San Diego. True Hearts in eastern Poway had passable frozen custard, but few people ever ordered it - probably because it sounded "weird" to them. When they were in their death throes, they ended up more of a cold stonish ice cream place (another concept which seems to have faded).

                                                                                  I laugh at the White Castle suggestions. Your taste buds might remember them fondly, but I think many of you have forgotten the effect those things have on most digestive systems. :)

                                                                                  1. re: RB Hound
                                                                                    mikec RE: RB Hound Jun 18, 2010 02:41 PM

                                                                                    Ironically, my college-age son had been bugging us to take him to White Castle ever since "Harold and Kumar" came out. Of course, my wife and I kept going: "But it really, really sucks unless you're drunk or stoned". Finally got a chance to take him to one in the midwest last year and after taking about two bites he just went: "This really, really sucks!".

                                                                                2. Tripeler RE: Encinitan Jun 17, 2010 03:41 AM

                                                                                  I'd really love to see this -- a San Diego Fish Taco specialty restaurant. Put Jason Neroni in charge of the menu -- after all, he seemed to really know what San Diegans expected in their fish tacos.

                                                                                  Sorry, but couldn't resist.

                                                                                  1. Beach Chick RE: Encinitan Jun 17, 2010 07:27 AM

                                                                                    We just got back from Kansas City and they have a place that Anthony Bourdain states its one of the '13 places to eat before you die'..it's Oklahoma Joe's BBQ..it's in a converted old gas station and though I don't eat meat, the chicken was off the hook.

                                                                                    Would love to see the Chase from Santa Barbara and Brophy's Bros. too!


                                                                                    1. Beach Chick RE: Encinitan Jun 17, 2010 06:54 PM

                                                                                      Puka Dog and a shrimp truck from the islands..

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick
                                                                                        Ewilensky RE: Beach Chick Jun 17, 2010 08:31 PM

                                                                                        Add a shave ice truck while you're at it...

                                                                                        1. re: Ewilensky
                                                                                          daantaat RE: Ewilensky Jun 17, 2010 09:08 PM

                                                                                          How about Matsumoto Shave Ice and Leonard's Bakery for their malasadas?

                                                                                          1. re: daantaat
                                                                                            Beach Chick RE: daantaat Jun 17, 2010 09:32 PM

                                                                                            excellent call on the shaved ice at Matsumoto's and Leonard's for the malasadas..
                                                                                            I'll be hitting them both in a couple of months..can't wait!

                                                                                            1. re: Beach Chick
                                                                                              daantaat RE: Beach Chick Jun 18, 2010 03:48 PM

                                                                                              hit up Matsugen in Waikiki Beach for sublime soba and udon! All Japanese speaking clientele.
                                                                                              the musubi at the ABC Stores make a good, tasty and cheap snack too!

                                                                                      2. o
                                                                                        oerdin RE: Encinitan Jun 17, 2010 08:44 PM

                                                                                        There are better pastramis out there but sometime The Hat hits the spot.

                                                                                        1. thirtyeyes RE: Encinitan Jun 17, 2010 10:23 PM

                                                                                          White Castle!

                                                                                          1. DiningDiva RE: Encinitan Jun 18, 2010 08:57 AM

                                                                                            Taylor's Refresher

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva
                                                                                              Fake Name RE: DiningDiva Jun 18, 2010 09:01 AM

                                                                                              Yes! Taylors = winner!

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