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foodie recommendations

Will be in San Diego area in March with a couple of adventurous young kids and a car. While we’ll probably spend a lot of the day time at the zoo and SeaWorld, would like to get some good food in. We are huge sea-food fans and love all foods spicy/flavorful!

Have been perusing the boards and the following places stood-out.

Mariscos German truck
(What’s the closest one either to the Zoo/SeaWorld or Mission Bay?)
Café Chloe
Pho Saigon (will be driving through Escondido)
Point Loma Seafood
Surati Farsan Mart
Kaito Sushi
Mariscos El Pescador

Need help from the board in paring down/refining choices!

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Point Loma Seafoods
2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

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

Surati Farsan Mart
9494 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126

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

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  1. Deff Kaito sushi
    Cowboy Star
    and Cucina Urbana IMO are the best we have to offer

    8 Replies
      1. re: chris2269

        Just to clarify to the OP, while Kaito has the best sushi in SD, I don't think they're exactly kid-friendly. I remember looking at their "menu" one time and it pretty much didn't have anything of note. The restaurant is pretty much strictly a sushi bar, so if the kids don't also eat sushi, then it might not work for you. Also, if you're staying in that hotel circle area, you probably won't want to go to Encinitas for sushi.

        For places that work for kids and are closer to that general area and more kid friendly, I'm going to say:
        Mariscos German Truck
        Cafe Chloe
        Pizzeria Bruno
        Extraordinary Desserts (for dessert only and stick to cakes)

        If you're willing to spend a little more, then Cowboy Star would fit the bill also

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

        Extraordinary Desserts
        2929 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

        Mariscos German
        3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

        1. re: karaethon

          They have cooked food at Kaito.

          1. re: karaethon

            And I'd say they're very kid-friendly. The owners themselves have young kids, so they're naturally very good with the little ones, and it's a common sight to see their customers with their kids in tow right at the Sushi bar.

            However it does help to have kids that are adventurous eaters, which is perhaps what karaethon meant but didn't say. But in this day and age I find that many are raising their kids to be just that, adventurous eaters.

            Some items that are particularly liked by the kids (over and above the outstanding Sushi) are their Tempura and Udon.

            1. re: cgfan

              yeah, cgfan totally summarized what I meant to say better (about the kids).

              1. re: cgfan

                With cgfan on this one. If your kids are restaurant friendly (my kid is), Kaito is fine. OP, you know your kids. If they'll eat new stuff without any trouble, and can behave in a restaurant, take them to Kaito. My five-year old will do fine there.

              2. re: karaethon

                We went with our 14 month old last week and had a great time. We got him the oyako-don and he had the tofu from the agedashi tofu as well. I think they only have 1 high chair, though.

              3. re: chris2269

                Kaito is definitely kid-friendly. I've seen kids sitting at the bar and it was clear they weren't into nigiri sushi or sashimi and Morita-san was very gracious in creating rolls of various colors and sizes for them. I have a recollection of a roll that was covered in bright green tobiko or masago that looked really good. If they aren't into sushi, there are lots of cooked food options. The setting is very casual, which is also a plus w/ kids.

              4. Mariscos German truck - closest to Sea World is on University Ave. in City Heights, University and 36th St. IMO, a better truck is the Mariscos German/Beyer truck at Imperial and 22nd.

                If you go to either of those two, an extra trip out of the way to El Pescador is probably not necessary.

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

                1. A couple questions, having once been an adventurous young kid, are you guys on a budget. Also, if you are on a trip, are you only visiting San Diego or are you venturing up to Los Angeles as well?

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: chezwhitey

                    chezwhitey - yes we are on a budget but wouldn't mind splurging once in a while. We will be driving up to LA as well but wont really have time to explore anything there much.

                    1. re: Jagguda

                      Where are you guys coming from? I would recommend yakitori, kid friendly and very delicious, I like yokohama, cgfan will tell you yakiyudori. You can't go wrong either way. Okan or tajima is also a good choice for experiencing different flavors that will have stuff that kids will like as well. If you can't get good mexican food in your area, super cocina. If you are going up to l.a., I would recommend you do asian up there, especially chinese or vietnamese(westminister) if you can.

                      1. re: chezwhitey

                        The last few times at Tajima weren't really highlights. I would skip them and would go to Sakura instead.

                        1. re: honkman

                          yeah, I would have recommended sakura, but for a visitor, finding the place can be a bit tricky.

                          1. re: chezwhitey

                            just have them look for the Original Pancake House and turn into that strip mall, then head straight back towards the Navy recruiting station and the Japanese video store. Sakura is in between those two. Look for the blue and red neon "open" sign.

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

                          2. re: honkman

                            Yeh, I was going to mention Sakura as well. There are a lot more excellent cooked dishes, and the sushi, while not as exquisite at Kaito, is excellent to my tastes. In addition, I hate the drive out to Encinitas sometimes.

                            What's more, I think Kaito gets overrecommended on this board. It is great, but many people don't know or really want Japanese style subtle and exquisite sushi. The last time I was there, 4 people were taking up space at the bar because "we heard this was the best sushi in SD" and ordering CA rolls, etc etc. Somehow I think those precious spots in front of Morita-san would have been better used by serious sushi hounds.

                            1. re: Ed Dibble

                              Heh, that is funny.

                              But does that really mean Kaito's over-recommended? Or that people don't realize that ordering California rolls at an authentic sushi joint isn't a good idea?

                              1. re: Ed Dibble

                                Here in Pacific Beach, the land of a thousand sushi bars and tattoo parlors, I see the majority of the patrons ordering myriad types of combination rolls adorned with cutesy names. I doubt what Morita-san crafts would be appreciated by this crowd. They might even be upset that they can't order their beloved PB Dog Crunchy Roll Suprise.

                                1. re: Captain Jack

                                  Ooo. Is that like the TJ hot dog roll? Hot dog wrapped with bacon, rolled in nori, rice and dynamite sauce, wrapped in foil, doused in vodka and set on fire?

                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                    Wow. What a visual (and stink) THAT would make!

                                  2. re: Captain Jack

                                    Deep fried hot dog roll with philly cheese and Jalapeno's??? I'M IN!!

                                    1. re: mikec

                                      ...and speaking of which... http://tinyurl.com/2c3qwt3

                                      "Roll one up, Homie..."

                                    2. re: Captain Jack

                                      Morita-san elevated my palate to the humble soft shell crab roll that was ordered by my non-CH dining companion. So perhaps even the masses can be elevated in their palates and help the rest of us elevate the dining quality in SD.

                                2. re: chezwhitey

                                  Yakyudori Yakitori and Ramen and Okan are both very kid-friendly and both very good. If you do Okan, call ahead for reservations and ask for a high chair.

                                  for the OP, Westminster is in Orange County and the San Gabriel Valley in LA has a plethora of excellent Chinese in nearly every variation you would want.

                            2. Mariscos German - would be a good zoo visit. Closest is 30th and Grape but just a few minutes further is the truck on University and 35th. Might want to go another 2 blocks and try Super Cocina as well. Very kid friendly and some of the best homestyle Mexican food we have to offer.

                              Point Loma Seafood - order to go and follow the scenic route signs up to Cabrillo Monument which offers one of the best views in San Diego - the ocean, the harbor, Coronado, Mexico and the mountains all in one panoramic swoop.

                              Kaito is the best Japanese style sushi we have to offer, and some of the best sushi in general. Period.

                              Cafe Chloe is one of my favorite places ever.

                              I'd maybe try the Copper Chimmney instead of Surati Farsan Mart. They're in the same "Little India" strip mall - this one in the Spices Grocery store. I've yet to eat the this brick and mortar version but the food truck was quite good.

                              -----
                              Point Loma Seafoods
                              2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

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

                              Surati Farsan Mart
                              9494 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126

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

                              Mariscos German
                              3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: Ewilensky

                                I prefer Surati Farsan to Copper Chimney.

                                  1. re: Ewilensky

                                    I've tried Copper Chimney three times now, two at the truck and one in their new restaurant space, and while I think it's OK, I don't think the food's as well-executed. Dosas are often cold, I've had mirchi bajji with uncooked batter in the center, which is not pleasant, and I find the spicing levels to be kind of wimpy. I'm fairly baffled by how much love they get on here.

                                    But then what do I know, I like Burger Lounge. ;-)

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      Hey, I like Burger Lounge too.

                                      I'll need to try the brick and mortar again as I've only dined at the truck twice - which we enjoyed greatly. But possibly because Allen is so generous with information and handed us sample upon sample. My wife likened it to "Indian Food 101" which was good for her as she is new to eating it. So that might have had something to do with the impression

                                      I also love Surati Farsan Mart, tho.

                                      To the OP. You can't go worng with either of these places. Look at both and see what interests you that day.

                                      And may we also suggest Burger Lounge ;-)

                                      -----
                                      Surati Farsan Mart
                                      9494 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        While I don't agree with you on Burger Lounge, I will agree with you that Copper Chimney is way overhyped. I went there once and it was one time too many. I had the same problem with the cold dosa, and I ordered the chicken 65 which tasted like frozen chicken meat that was put in the fryer (and then not fried very well at that).

                                        In general, I'd suggest the OP avoid Indian food in SD altogether. There are many other places worth the visit.

                                        1. re: karaethon

                                          Once again the San Diego Hype Machine at work- this time on a tiny food truck. As I've never seen it mentioned other than CH, are we not, in fact, the much-maligned machine ourselves?

                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                            The machine is actually kept under heavy guard...
                                            ...in a warehouse...

                                            ...on the outskirts of...

                                            ...Berlin!

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                Hey, you keep my petard out of this.

                                          2. re: Josh

                                            Interesting - Ive never had an issue with cold dosas (unforgivable, in my opinion), though I did run into uncooked batter in mirchi bajji once, when he was still using anaheim chillies. I dont order it anymore since he switched to jalapenos. Allen DID have issues with consistency at the truck after his old partner moved away some months ago - I think he had trouble running the truck without assistance (I haven't been to the brick n mortar version).

                                            If the OP likes Indian food, I would say Surati does merit a trip though (unless they are coming from LA, the Bay Area, or NY/NJ where Gujarati food is well represented)

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              I haven't had a cold dosa at Copper Chimney and am curious on what your spice/heat tolerance level is. My nose gets running after a few bites of their food and chutneys. Then again, are you the one who does one of Sab E Lee's dishes at a 10 w/o missing a beat??

                                              Surati Farsan Mart is different Indian cuisine than Copper Chimney.

                                              I 2nd Ewilensky's suggestion about looking at both menus and see what sounds good to you that day. They're in the same plaza, so you don't have to drive around if you change your mind.

                                              -----
                                              Surati Farsan Mart
                                              9494 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126

                                              1. re: daantaat

                                                I have eaten 10 at Sab E Lee and enjoyed it.

                                                Surati Farsan's food is spicier than Copper Chimney, IMO. The Mysore Masala Dosa, for example, is quite spicy.

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  I eat 8 at Sab E Lee if I'm by myself with no problem. Nose doesn't run and I don't have any problems.

                                                  I never saw a reason to go to 10 because I'm very happy with the 8 spice level.

                                                  To be fair on my dosa, I unwrapped it and took some photos before eating it, but it was a hot summer day and I spent at most 5 minutes taking photos....

                                                  1. re: karaethon

                                                    Mine was cold right out of the kitchen.

                                                  2. re: Josh

                                                    ok, that explains it. And yes, the mysore masala dosa at Surati is very spicy and makes my nose run too.

                                                    I think we've done a 7-8 at Sab E Lee on their bamboo shoot and green papaya salad and it was so spicy that we couldn't really taste much else. Everything else we can do a 7, plus or minus, pretty comfortably.

                                          3. re: Ewilensky

                                            The suggestion here re: Point Loma Seafoods is a good one. Great food - but bring cash! And the drive suggested here is really beautiful on a clear day with an historic lighthouse to explore at the end.

                                            Another idea nearby is Azucar in Ocean Beach. It's a Cuban bakery on Newport Avenue. If you go before Sea World (it's about a 10 minute drive) you can get great cafes con leche, cuban toast w/nutella for the kids and a variety of lovely pastries. For lunch they do a great Cubano, and their cocunut cupcake is worth the trip alone. You'll also be close the the beach and the lovely Sunset Cliffs (another great area to explore with little ones at low tide).

                                            -----
                                            Point Loma Seafoods
                                            2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

                                            Azucar
                                            San Diego, San Diego, CA

                                          4. Also, you may want to consider visiting a farmers market, lots of different fresh food and produce and also prepared foods. Good way to keep the kids attention span and have some fun..