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Aug 16, 2010 11:26 AM

LA Chowhounder looking for recs in DT/Gaslamp District

SD is probably one of my favorite cities in the world, but my food experiences have always been lacking. Of the many many times I've visited, I can't remember a single truly memorable meal. I am looking for recommendations on all food that is good in the DT/GD area, preferably walking distance from the Se Hotel.

Looking mainly for dinner and brunch recs, as our lunches will be had at the hotel pool most likely. Will be coming down over Labor Day weekend.


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  1. Memorable food isn't found in the Gaslamp.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Memorable food in a good sense, Josh. :)

      TailbackU - or maybe that should be ProbationU ? :) - it would be somewhat helpful if you let us know some of the more hyped places you tried that did not impress you. If you stuck to the tourist/hotel guides or some of the "local favorites", it is a different thing that if you tried many of the places that get good Chowhound reviews.

      1. re: RB Hound

        honestly, i don't remember the names of the places that I've already tried because I didn't really care to remember them. I'm basically just looking for good restaurants that you would take an out of towner foodie for some good chow.

        And is Josh implying that there are no good restaurants in the Gaslamp District? I find that hard to believe with the sheer number of different restaurants in that area.

        1. re: TailbackU

          Food in the Gaslamp ranges from dreadful to acceptable. Memorable isn't to be found there. I don't know why you find that hard to believe. The Gaslamp is oriented wholly around conventioneers and tourists, apart from the clubs, which are for drinking and dancing. If you go outwards to the East Village, there are a couple of good spots (Cafe Chloe, Cowboy Star), but compared to the great food you can find in LA, I'd say memorable might not be the best descriptor.

          If you're willing to drive, you can find much better food.

          1. re: TailbackU

            if you haven't figured it out by now, the answer to "is Josh implying..." is yes. If you're willing to drive out of downtown to nearby Hillcrest or North Park, you'll greatly increase your options for good food.

      2. This is one of the most frequently asked questions on the board, and the one that probably inspires the most snark (and the most variations of "there's nothing good there"), but here are some specific recs:

        Cafe Chloe -- French bistro, a board darling, great food and a nice atmosphere
        Cowboy Star -- one of the best in SD IMHO, a Western-themed steakhouse, slightly kitsch but very serious about food (and not just steak)
        Neighborhood -- pretty good burgers, they refuse to serve ketchup which I find obnoxious but the burgers and fries are good
        JSix -- in the Salomar hotel, Californian/American cuisine, emphasis on local/sustainable
        Basic -- I wouldn't say "memorable", but good New Haven-style pizza and one of the better pizza spots in town
        Grant Grill, Dobson's -- haven't been to either of these spots, from what I hear they are good if a bit conservative
        Currant Brasserie -- also haven't been here, but it's been well reviewed
        Kebab Shop -- low-key Turkish-type kabobs, tasty but I hear they have better ones in Berlin

        All these places are walking distance from your hotel. The more Eastern ones (e.g. Cafe Chloe) are on a border with a rougher neighborhood, but just stay aware and you'll be fine.

        Cafe Chloe
        721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

        JSix Restaurant
        616 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101

        3 Replies
        1. re: mayache

          Perfect!! This is exactly the type of response I was looking for. Thanks so much...will look into these places. We LOVE turkish style kebobs!!

          1. re: mayache

            Strongly second Cafe Chloe, Cowboy Star and JSix

            1. re: mayache

              Good list, I don't think any are technically in "The Gaslamp" though. Except J-Six.

              I would go to Cafe Chloe or Oceanaire.

              Or maybe check out that new place Searsucker by San Diego's own Celebrity Super Star, Brian Marlarkey.

            2. There is a sometimes fantastic restaurant in the Sé Hotel called Suite and Tender. They just completely changed their menu, so you'd be a pioneer, but the chef has a solid reputation.

              Otherwise, you've been well guided.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Fake Name

                Suite and Tender is pretty expensive. And that hotel has be absolutely pulverized by the economy.

                I would be a little leery about eating there, for food turnover reasons. Not to take away from Fake Name's suggestion, just sharing info.

              2. Any good brunch/breakfast recommendations?

                5 Replies
                1. re: TailbackU

                  Cafe 222
                  Avoid at all costs Richard Walker's Pancake House

                  Cafe 222
                  222 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                  JSix Restaurant
                  616 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101

                  Pancake House Restaurant
                  1000 N 2nd St, El Cajon, CA 92021

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    Cafe Chloe again for breakfast.

                    There is also a broken yolk downtown, but I have never been.

                    "Avoid at all costs Richard Walker's Pancake House"

                    Is that place really that bad? They always have huge lines. (I do know that huge line doesn't equal good).

                    1. re: stevewag23

                      Ooo, good call on Cafe Chloe for breakfast. I totally forget they're open for it, and I've even eaten their for breakfast :-).

                      Regarding Richard Walker - extremely noisy, lots of hard surfaces, nothing to mute the sound. Expensive for what you get, i.e. the price per value ratio is w-a-y off. Food is marginal at best and staff was rude.

                      Cafe Chloe
                      721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        cool thanks, these will be our breakfast spots!

                    2. I like going to the Waterfront for breakfast and a bloody in Little Italy.
                      Parkhouse Cafe in Hillcrest for breakfast.
                      Las Cuatro Milpas for some of the best Carnitas and flour tort's in Barrio Logan.
                      Fish Market Downtown for drinks and app's on the bayfront patio.
                      Take the water taxi from the Gaslamp over to can go and have Sunday Brunch at the famous Hotel Del..pricey but good.
                      Quarter Kitchen at the Hotel Andaz has a great breakfast..
                      Have fun and report back!


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        The Parkhouse Cafe is in University Heights, though not far from Hillcrest.