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4 1/2 weeks and fine tuning my chow worthy restaurants

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palmtree38 Aug 24, 2010 07:23 PM

Coming from Toronto to a return trip to SD and have a list of restaurants composed back in the spring and hope they are around or still good choices.. Also kids in tow but well travelled and behaved in restaurants :O) not looking for fancy but good quality good value for meals.

Last holiday
Brigatines for happy hour fish tacos and other items
Georges (la jolla)
Alfonso's (la jolla)
El pescador fish sandwich for lunch
Rapongoos (la jolla)
Point loma seafood . fish sandwich
Casa Guadalajara enjoyed restaurant week fixed menu for hubby and i got full on happy hour freebies at bar with drink specials :O)
Mama Testa's take out (fab)
Sammys for best big ice cream sunday! kids enjoyed this after we enjoyed the Bev and Mo wine sampling time.. great concept that we dont have up our way ..

Upcoming holiday

Super cocina - lunch
Mariscos German truck for fish taco. marlin taco. broth, and not sure what else to order but this will be lunch as well.
Hodads Burger .. hubby and i love food network and he just wants to try a cheese bacon burger lol

Friday night return to Casa Guad.. I know its touristy but good atmosphere for us out of towners to watch mariachis and of course some drink and food specials.then walk around olde towne with hotel shuttle coming to pick us up.

Saturday night looking for seafood night out with no over the top $40 plates and up.. considering
Blue Water Seafood.. sword fish or wahoo sandiwich or plate . calamari . red snapper with chipotle on roll with blue cheese and pepper jack (not sure who recommended this last winter but we have been drooling with this combo suggestion)

We are staying near little italy and looking at blue water and another one that lost my brain something fish market.. not sure which would be better.

Return trip on last day for pick up at Mama Testas for dinner to relax by pool at hotel with good meal and salsa samplers before heading back next day. IMPORTANT looking at reviews of mama testas on yelp and it appears that since the throwdown on food network most reviews are down hill now????????????? we went prior to this show and like the food..

What am I missing here on my list from what I didnt get to see last time and should include this trip..?????

good atmposhere non stuffy that we can go home and say wow what a great place..

Ie georges for lunch very memorable as the roof top view..
mariachis and atmosphere that was fun at casa guad
etc etc

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

Hodads Restaurant
5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107

Casa Guadalajara
4105 Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92110

Blue Water Seafood
3667 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

Mariscos German truck
Cable St and Santa Monica Ave, San Diego, CA

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  1. DiningDiva RE: palmtree38 Aug 24, 2010 07:51 PM

    "IMPORTANT looking at reviews of mama testas on yelp and it appears that since the throwdown on food network most reviews are down hill now????????????? we went prior to this show and like the food.."

    I think there is some validity to the comment. After Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Mama Testa's got absolutely SLAMMED. Even though they had added staff it wasn't enough. Waits were long, tempers flared and the food suffered. And everytime you thought they were getting it back together - BAM - Food Network re-ran the throwdown and the cycle started all over again. The food *did* suffer and it's gone through a period of it not being as good as it once way.

    That said, I had dinner ther earlier this month with a friend who adores the place. And while not back to the pre-Throwdown days, it was better than the last few times I visited. I think if you stick to some of the more popular tacos, you'll still do fine.

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: DiningDiva
      d
      daantaat RE: DiningDiva Aug 24, 2010 10:01 PM

      We've been to Mama Testa's several times after the Throwdown and yes, it's slipped a tad but not so badly that we would completely write it off.

      If you're bumming around La Jolla, Coffee Cup Cafe is good for breakfast, brunch and lunch.
      I'd also consider Cafe Chloe in the East Village.

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

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

      Coffee Cup
      1109 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037

    2. Beach Chick RE: palmtree38 Aug 24, 2010 08:27 PM

      Aloha palmtree!
      I would do take-out for Hodad's and skip the hour plus wait..go and eat on the beach..call ahead so you don't have to wait.
      Since you'be been to Mama Testa's..I would skip it and go to Cucina Urbana up the hill from Little Italy.
      Cafe Chloe in East Village/Gaslamp is an excellent French bistro or Dobson's for the best mussel bisque en croute.
      For $40 seafood plates, no way would I spend that kind of $$ at Blue Water.
      I would head up to Fish Market Downtown to the sushi bar or oyster bar.
      Maybe Wine Vault for Saturday dinner...book early.
      Happy Hour at Island Prime on Harbor Island/SD Airport has great views and decent cocktails..good tourist vibe and eat elsewhere.
      Guadalajara Grill is a great place to soak in the tourist vibe and drink marg's and eat Mex...check out the new Cosmopolitan Hotel for drinks for us...it's in Old Town.
      Bali Hai on Shelter Island has killer mai tais and wonderful views of SD bayfront..5-10 minute car/cab ride.
      Filippi's or Mona Lisa is a great old school place for Italian that is great for pizza/subs..cheap and good...kid friendly.
      Tender Greens in Liberty Station or Con Pane.
      Bencotta gets love on this board...
      Take the water taxi over to Coronado...eat and swim at the beach @ the Hotel Del.
      Have fun!

      www.sdhe.com
      www.gaslamp.org

      1. c
        cstr RE: palmtree38 Aug 25, 2010 07:05 AM

        Super Cocina and Marisco's German are right on, you'll love them. Another possibility would be Marisco's Godoy in CV, they also have a kids menu. I noticed that you didn't have any breakfast places mentioned, one possibility would be The Cottage in La Jolla, they have a nice patio, also good for lunch. In Clairmont, there's Maritiza's on Weds for Carnitas', excellent and very reasonable. I'd also hit up some of the farmers markets, fun to walk around and have some great tastes. Lastly have you ever purchased strawberries right from the farm, totally awesome, something you'll never get in Toronto and I dare say a taste of ripness you'll never forget. There's one in CV and many in the Carlsbad area. Enjoy your hoilday time in SD.

        1. s
          shouzen RE: palmtree38 Aug 25, 2010 07:36 AM

          I won't get into specifics because others are much more familiar, but as someone who lived in Toronto for years (I used to live near Yonge/Bloor) and still visits regularly, I'd suggest lots of Mexican and Japanese, since they are much better than the equivalents in Toronto :) Kaito Sushi in particular is a board favourite, and they have fish that you'd never find in TO. I'll let the experts make other recs.

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          Kaito Sushi
          130-A N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024

          5 Replies
          1. re: shouzen
            p
            palmtree38 RE: shouzen Aug 25, 2010 09:56 AM

            Aloha Beach chick... I always love your rec's as you have not steered us wrong in the past.
            Cucina Urbana we could walk to as well Beach chick?? as just want to chil on our last day this would be even closer it sounds like to pick up food then mama testa's..

            I make my own strawberry jam so I go right to the farms. I am actually in the suburban of toronto where there is still farms :) thanks for that tip though..

            We have never visisted coronoda is it worth a trip? I mean a overpriced hotel doesnt really impress me but if views are nice and the beaches are clean and swimmable this might be a nice passtime.. We will be in laguana beach as well two days on the beach.
            The beach is public at coronado? So a water taxi is the most economical for 5 of us ?? rather then driving or a boat?

            We are having breakfast included at the hotel so we are trying to keep the food budget down!

            Should mention Saturday morning we are heading to the market in little italy. if there is a good spot to pick up yummy lunch or sandwiches let me know :O)

            Seafood dinner meant dont want to be spending $40 a person something with fresh fish good value meal... either patio to people watch or good view..

            I have seen wine vault but is it kid friendly?

            1. re: palmtree38
              f
              FireFlyFiftyFive RE: palmtree38 Aug 25, 2010 10:47 AM

              Not sure of the exact timing of your trip - but the 3rd full week of Sept. is SD Restaurant Week. http://www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com Note that I am NOT a shill for the San Diego restaurant machine. : ) Final night is Friday Sept. 24th. Might be a time to check out Cucina Urbana? Or of course, even without restaurant week. They are pretty moderately priced.

              For fish, Bali Hai was mentioned and I think that would be a good idea! Just had a great meal there and it’s right on the water.

              (Not about food: water taxi in my opinion might be a little bit of a hassle over just driving over to Coronado if you have a car. Coronado beach from the Hotel Del done to dog beach is beautiful and wide. You can just walk around The Del property even if you don’t care to eat there.

              )

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              Bali Hai Restaurant
              2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

              1. re: palmtree38
                foodiechick RE: palmtree38 Aug 25, 2010 11:27 AM

                Cucina Urbana is a great spot, but unfortunately, not really walking distance from Little Italy. Also, Wine Vault is 21 and up.

              2. re: shouzen
                honkman RE: shouzen Aug 25, 2010 01:51 PM

                Sakura might be a good place.

                1. re: shouzen
                  m
                  mangiatore RE: shouzen Sep 2, 2010 08:00 PM

                  Another former Toronto resident here (Madison/Bloor) to echo shouzen's recommendations. Whatever you do, do no pass up on the opportunity to eat at Mariscos German or Super Cocina. Being from TO, you will not be impressed with Italian in San Diego, with one exception: Cucina Urbana, which is not necessarily "authentic" but is very well executed. In the same area I recently had an excellent meal at Banker's Hill Bar and Restaurant, which is relatively new. Follow other posters' recs on sushi/Japanese. For seafood I would recommend Blue Water, taking extra care to avoid the temptation to follow the hordes walking into El Indio and Lucha Libre. Also, if you want to try an odd restaurant with fantastic food (Georgian/Russian), I am a huge fan of Pomegranate. Breakfast at Mission Cafe.

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                  Super Cocina
                  3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                  Mariscos German
                  3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

                2. deckape RE: palmtree38 Aug 25, 2010 01:28 PM

                  Try a sausage sandwich at Pete's on India St in the heart of Little Italy, old line San Diego and a superb casual lunch that isn't at all visited by tourists.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: deckape
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                    palmtree38 RE: deckape Aug 25, 2010 02:04 PM

                    Already checked the restaurant week and unfortunatly this trip we are missing it by one day .. We will be in SD last week of september/october.

                    Sausage sandwich at petes sounds good when visiting the market..

                    Saturday night spouse and I are going out on the town as we have a sitter and were going to try out Patrick's II in gaslamp and heard of a Jimmy and whiskey girl for bevvies.. Want to do a little pub crawl,

                    Our hotel will shuttle us within 3-5 mile radius of it so perhaps cucina urbana might fit in this radius?? Residence inn Pacific hwy..

                    Ok so for seafood skip blue water and fish market and do bali hai??? looking for good meals $20 entrees and under .. Were gone 10 nights of eating out so have to keep some of the dining meals down $$$

                    1. re: palmtree38
                      p
                      palmtree38 RE: palmtree38 Sep 1, 2010 07:19 AM

                      Beach Chick have you partaked in the Island Prime/C lounge happy hour they have? (C level social hour mon-friday 3:30-5:30pm???

                      As you said it would be good for view and drinks so this might be a fun idea and grab a few nibblies from their happy hour.. I believe someone mentioned 3 mths or so ago about it been decent..

                      Anyone else tried El Prada in the Parks happy hour????? We are g oing to the zoo and and this might be a great plan before heading to hotel. (tues-friday 4-6pm and 8-10pm)

                      1. re: palmtree38
                        DiningDiva RE: palmtree38 Sep 1, 2010 09:26 AM

                        C Level is good for drinks and that's about it. View is one of the very best water views in the city. For happy hour you'd probably be okay.

                        I think you mean The Prado, not El Prada :-). Drink and apps are very strong at The Prado. Patio setting is lovely. Weather should be good through at least mid-October for outside seating. Happy Hour is probably a good bet here if they let you sit outside. If they make you sit in the bar, it would still be okay but not nearly as relaxing.

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                        C Level Restaurant
                        880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

                        1. re: palmtree38
                          Beach Chick RE: palmtree38 Sep 1, 2010 09:55 AM

                          I would stick with only the happy hour at Island Prime and sit out on their bayfront patio..great views and a decent HH.
                          Prado is solid for drinks and app's too...bar or patio.
                          I would do this after the zoo.
                          Check the link below for other happy hours in the Gaslamp area.

                          www.gaslamp.org

                    2. j
                      juantanamera RE: palmtree38 Sep 1, 2010 10:01 AM

                      Blue Water Grill is exactly what you're looking for - I think some other posters misread your post and think you WANT $40 and up plates.
                      If you are in Little Italy on Saturday morning, DO NOT miss the Little Italy Mercato, an amazing farmers' market plus awesome prepared foods, crafts and live music. Almost everything there is great, but you definitely want to hit Viva Pops bright colored pushcart for popsicles made with local organic fruits, kids love them but they have some really cool grown up flavors too.
                      If you want to try Italian food in Little Italy, IMO Bencotto outshines anything else there and the prices are fairly reasonable, I think all or nearly all entrees are under $20.

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                      Viva Pops
                      3330 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: juantanamera
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                        palmtree38 RE: juantanamera Sep 1, 2010 01:16 PM

                        Yes Juantanamera! I did not want $40 a plate plus items as its not a romantic dinner with two young children in tow. :O)

                        Fish Market, Blue Water Seafood and Anthonys fish grotto were the 3 recommended for good fish meals and not over the top in prices..
                        My print out says El Prado at Balboa Park.. HH looks sweet.. AFTER THE ZOO PRADO WE COME..

                        Another one I came across was the Indigo on India street.

                        And you think Bencotto outshines Cucina Urbana?? CU looks like a interesting menu.

                        Thanks beach.. if you go out for drinks or a pub crawl downtown area would Patricks II. Jimmys and Whiskey girl be good? also a Anthapalogy heard has good music. We want to do a pub walk as its a big date night with no kids on the town.. (also in mind we are almost :O) 40 and 42 in age..

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                        The Prado at Balboa Park
                        1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

                        Blue Water Seafood
                        3667 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

                        1. re: palmtree38
                          DiningDiva RE: palmtree38 Sep 1, 2010 01:27 PM

                          Skip Indigo Grill

                          Cucina Urbana is better than Bencotto

                          Anthology has good music and even better acoustics.

                          -----
                          Indigo Grill
                          1536 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101

                          1. re: palmtree38
                            foodiechick RE: palmtree38 Sep 1, 2010 01:32 PM

                            Anthology is in Little Italy and would be a good stop if you are dining in that area (not downtown). Be sure to check the website calendar as some of the shows are fairly big names and it can be pricey just to walk in the door. www.anthologysd.com

                            Bencotto is also in the Little Italy area - great apps and pasta.

                            Cucina Urbana has great food and a very lively (loud) atmosphere, I have not had a bad meal there. It is in the Banker's Hill area part of town, next to Balboa Park and the Hillcrest neighborhood.

                            Some of these areas may look as if they are in walking distance of each other on a map, but they are really more of a cab ride away. With all of the different things you are planning/areas involved I urge you to rent an inexpensive car. It will save you lots of time/angst and probably money. SD is not a good cab town.

                            -----
                            Balboa Park
                            1549 El Prado Ste 8, San Diego, CA 92101

                            1. re: foodiechick
                              p
                              palmtree38 RE: foodiechick Sep 1, 2010 01:42 PM

                              thanks foodiechick.. your right the map can be deceiving in distance

                              We have a rental car but our hotel will also drive us to a 5 mile radius from little italy area (Marriott Residence inn) so this in mind we would like to have a drink or two and leave the rental car behind !!

                              1. re: palmtree38
                                j
                                jennywenny RE: palmtree38 Sep 2, 2010 08:10 AM

                                I agree that san diego isnt the best for cabs, but as long as you plan a little ahead you should be fine. We have pretty good luck with having the restaurant call one for us, just make sure to tell them 20mins ahead to make sure you're not waiting too long.

                                Something to consider for a 'pub walk' is that north park is a fun area with quite a few bars, pubs and restaurants, favourites including the toronado, ritual tavern, urban solace. Not sure if the shuttle is still operating up and down 30th, then you could also get to hamiltons, alchemy and others?

                                1. re: jennywenny
                                  p
                                  palmtree38 RE: jennywenny Sep 2, 2010 12:59 PM

                                  Is North park within a 5 mile radius of this hotel??

                                  Do you think this area is more fun then Gaslamp? I am not sure if gaslamp is a more clubbing area for younger crowd or not as we never saw the evening when we were there on last holiday.

                                  1. re: palmtree38
                                    DiningDiva RE: palmtree38 Sep 2, 2010 01:37 PM

                                    North Park is probably beyond the 5-mile radius of your hotel.

                                    Gaslamp is geared toward 2 groups - 1) tourists 2) young, as in the (mostly) under 30 crowd

                                    30th St. is far more eclectic and interesting, IMO. Locals will almost certainly (and probably substantially) outnumber tourists, you will experience a wider age ranges and a much more interesting (i.e. less cookie cutter, more indy) range of places to eat and drink. If you can't talk your hotel into at least dropping you off on 30th St. it would be worth the expediture on cab fare.

                                    1. re: DiningDiva
                                      p
                                      palmtree38 RE: DiningDiva Sep 2, 2010 01:44 PM

                                      Thanks I just got a hold of the map and see its north east of balboa park going towards Super Cocina!

                                      We might be able to get the shuttle one way and just cab it back.. (cookie cutter)? not heard that expression. Is that the fake pretentious type that are all about appearance and the clothes??? WE are down to earth fun couple so not into that stuffiness..."O

                                      If there is a list of hot places we should go to in north park let me know. Too bad this board does not have private messages

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                                      Super Cocina
                                      3627 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104

                                      1. re: palmtree38
                                        f
                                        FireFlyFiftyFive RE: palmtree38 Sep 2, 2010 03:42 PM

                                        If you are thinking 30th St., there is a blog at http://30thstreet.org/ that lists the eat and drink places along with a list (with website links) arranged north to south near the bottom to really get a feel for where these places are.

                                        1. re: palmtree38
                                          DiningDiva RE: palmtree38 Sep 2, 2010 04:35 PM

                                          Cookie cutter generally refers to something that is generic and all the same. But your definition works about as well for the Gaslamp :-)

                                          I think you'd be happier on 30th.

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