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2 nights in San Diego with wife; no kids

Visiting beautiful San Diego for 2 nights/3days just me and the mrs. and am hoping to get some excellent food while there. Any suggestions are welcome but to narrow it down we both really like breakfast, pizza, sushi, and other seafood (especially fish tacos). We are staying near downtown (Pacific Hwy and Ash) but will have a car. Thanks!

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  1. If you've only got 2 nights, I suggest you stick to downtown and the surrounding nearby neighborhoods, going no further north than La Jolla at the Cove. San Diego is huge in comparison to many other cities. You're likely to get recommendations suggesting to drive 30 minutes to get to a hole in the wall in an industrial or suburb area where there is nothing else around that has any tourist value whatsoever. We're used to the drive, as there are some real gems outside the city metro area. But, those types of recommendations should be left for people who have weeks in town, not days. For only 2 nights and 3 days in town, I really would resist the temptation to go any further than La Jolla.

    You'll be in Little Italy, so I can recommend Bencotto for Italian. Enoteca Style is great for wine and panninis and salads. The sushi bar at the Fish market is excellent, as is Hane Sushi up the hill in Banker's Hill, and Taka sushi in the gaslamp. Don't forget Nobu at the hardrock hotel near the ballpark.

    As for Pizza, you could try out Basic Pizza in the Gaslamp (near the ballpark), Arriverderci Pizzeria, or Bruno's Napoletano in the Hillcrest area. For casual slices with premium ingredients, and great salads, Pizzicato in Banker's Hill does fantastic pizzas.

    For La Jolla, the terrace at George's at the Cove for drinks and a view of the Pacific Ocean, and then the California Modern room at George's for dinner. Check the menus to see which you might like better. There is also Whisk n' Ladle right nearby.

    For fish tacos, I would go to a place like the Fishery in Pacific Beach. Everyone here will recommend you the Mexican taco trucks, but for the most part they use frozen fish and are overhyped. I love Mariscos German, but that requires eating from a truck in a parking lot or outside of a liquor store, some of which are in a not-so-fun part of town. I'd stick with Point Loma Seafoods for deep fried fish in a theme-park like seating environment, Blue Water for excellent fresh fish plates/sandwiches and counter service, and the Fishery for more of the proper dining experience, and close to the beach in Pacific Beach, which is why people come here in the first place, for the beach. To which, if not the Fishery, then definitely check out one of the Brigantine locations near the water (such as across the street from the Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado), for excellent fish tacos during happy hour.

    For other places to eat around the metro area I recommend Cucina Urbana (make reservations ASAP) for excellent food and cocktails.

    For breakfast, try Cafe 222 in the Gaslamp, World Famous in Pacific Beach (literally right on the beach), and of course the Hash House a Go Go in Banker's Hill/Hillcrest (check the pictures online of the food).

    2 Replies
    1. re: cookieshoes

      Hash House is known for oversized portions of so-so food. Isabel's Cantina in PB has better breakfasts.

      1. re: cookieshoes

        Thanks for the suggestions, I have seen some of these place mentioned (debated) on other SD boards. The hard part now will be deciding.

      2. Hmmm, don't have a rec for breakfast (I'm looking for one myself, really), and pizza is too controversial to take a stab at, but over the past couple of years there have recently been a whole spate of openings attempting Neapolitan-styled thin-crust pizza, which an easy search on our boards will yield plenty of potential offerings...

        However for Sushi, a personal and a board fave is Kaito Sushi, if by Sushi you are referring to classical Sushi in predominantly the Edo-Mae or Nigiri style (the latter encompassing the former)... It's a slam-dunk rec if you wish to seek traditional Sushi. No menus (unless you ask), most all regulars simply goes with Omakase, which is the best way to go. Plenty of write-ups on the board for Kaito...

        However do keep in mind that Kaito is in North San Diego County; it'll have to be your call if that's worth the drive. If not than the only other Sushi bar I can recommend in the county is Sushi Dokoro Shirahama, with the caveat that it's not necessarily the most relaxed environment... (They've been called Sushi Nazi's...) Read the reviews on our boards to decide whether or not it's right for you...

        They're both very good, with Shirahama somewhat close to Kaito in quality, but with what may seem to some like nuanced differences that puts them in a clear 2nd place behind Kaito for me... However it's generally accepted that the atmosphere between the two are as different as night and day... Kaito, as good as they are, is anything but threatening, even to the Americanized roll-loving, Wasabi-popping, soy-dredging Sushi diner...

        For Fish Tacos I still love Mariscos German, particularly with their Marlyn Tacos... For seafood in general I'll pass on that, as first and foremost if I eat seafood I prefer Sushi, and if not Sushi than a simple Japanese Himono no Shioyaki, or salt-grilled half-dried fish...

        But I do continue to rec. Oceanaire for their oyster bar and their incredible crabcakes, though I haven't been there in a while. Our board's been getting less enthusiastic about them, I'm guessing it's b/c it's a small chain, but perhaps there are other reasons as well. But I've personally found their standards to be consistently high when it comes to their oysters and signature crabcakes, though I've always dined at the bar and not on the main floor...

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

        Oceanaire
        San DIego, CA, San DIego, CA

        Mariscos German
        2802 Ocean View Blvd, San Diego, CA

        3 Replies
        1. re: cgfan

          I second Oceanaire. Excellent oysters too. Old-school style service, and really nicely done pieces of fresh fish (usually cut very thick), with unique presentations. I seem to recall I had shark there once with a sauce of rosemary hazelnuts and cherries on it - tasted wonderful.

          1. re: cgfan

            The Oceanaire minichain went into bankruptcy in mid-2009 and closed 4 of their 16 restaurants. They were bought by Landry's Restaurants in mid-2010.

            The San Diego location was a big favorite of mine and many friends, but we all seemed to feel things weren't quite the same afterwards. Hard to say exactly what -- the menu is still basically the same, and the room is still great looking. A few servers I knew left as well, so maybe they sensed something was different. Or maybe it was just the loss of Brian Malarkey. ;)

            Probably still a better choice for downtown seafood than most alternatives, although I haven't been much lately.

            1. re: cgfan

              Parkhouse eatery has some good breakie items. Also, Bread & Cie could do well.

            2. Fish tacos..
              Brigantine for everyday happy hour at Shelter Island in the bar..
              Bay Park Fish Company
              George's Ocean Terrace in La Jolla..sea bass tacos

              Sushi..
              Kaito
              Taka
              Fish Market Downtown bayfront

              Breakfast..
              Perry's.. Old Town
              Ricky's.. Mission Valley
              Green Flash.. Pacific Beach
              Cafe Chloe

              Pizza..
              Basic.. Gaslamp
              Filippi's.. Little Italy
              Blind Lady Ale House

              Seafood..
              Point Loma Seafoods..casual
              Fish Market Oyster Bar or sushi bar..not the downstairs restaurant..
              Top of the Market..upstairs from the Fish..pricey but good
              Mariscos German food truck..gobernator tacos, fish and marlyn tacos.
              Jsix at Hotel Solamar
              Dobson's for the Mussel bisque en croute..

              Some great happy hours in the Gaslamp..

              www.gaslamp.org

              1 Reply
              1. re: Beach Chick

                Wow, lots of ideas, thanks. Again, many mentioned are all over the SD discussion boards. I checked Taka menu online becuase it's closer to where we will be than Kaito; looks limited. Is the menu online accurate? Wife is too squeamish for omakase, as many times that is the best option.

              2. Okay, this isn't pizza, seafood or sushi, but if you are going to be here for two nights, I'd hit up the Wine Vault and Bistro in my humble neighborhood of Mission Hills. Every week they do 3-5 course wine and food pairings for between $30-$60 per person (including wine). Its right down the street from where you're staying.

                1 Reply
                1. Thanks for all the pizza recs. I love a good pie and where I am in Texas, there is none. Of the places you all mentioned, which is most NY style with the crisp but chewy crust with a little body? If the guy behind the counter is wearing adidas sweat pants and t-shirt that doesn't quite cover all his back hair, that's a good sign. We actually have a decent wood fire, thin crust, pizza napoletana place here.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: drgordo

                    Bronx Pizza. If you're not careful, they'll yell at you too.

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                    Bronx Pizza
                    111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103

                      1. re: jmtreg

                        JM, say no more, this sounds like my place.

                    1. My husband and I try to escape the kids and OC at least twice a year and head down to SD. We like the following based based upon great atmosphere/view and good food:
                      - Fish Market - sit outside enjoy the view and order the smoked fish platter, oysters and some sushi
                      - Green Flash - again sit outside and enjoy the ocean. Great bloody mary's and pretty good breakfast (in PB)
                      - Noble Experiment - make reservation for tasty cocktails
                      - If you like beer, stop off at Ballast Pt right off the 5 fwy near USD to fill up a growler and do a few tastings

                      Have fun!

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                      Green Flash
                      701 Thomas Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                      1. Thanks everyone for your ideas. Just got back. So these are the places we visited and my thoughts:
                        Point Loma Seafood - fresh fish and good fries but not really "fish-n-chips" as the fish is not battered but breaded
                        Bronx Pizza - good pizza but crust was a little too thin, pizza is such a personal thing. While we were there they made fun of a guy for asking for ranch dressing, classic.
                        Mariscos German - excellent ceviche and fish tacos, really excellent
                        The Mission - mission beach, best french toast hands down, pancakes were average and the hashbrowns were not crispy enough
                        Hob Nob Hill - good belgian waffle, good eggs, good hashbrowns. overall a solid choice for an american breakfast
                        Green Flash - PB, another good belgian waffle, decent pancakes. Similar to Hob Nob but what makes this place is really the setting, eating on the patio watching the ocean and people watching.
                        Ghiradelli ice cream shop on 4th - similar to the store in San Francisco; best hot fudge sundaes

                        Tried to get some sushi from either Nippon or Taka but parking in the gaslamp was impossible, didn't realize until the last night I could park at Horton and validate for 3 hours. Anyway, never got the sushi, maybe next trip. Of note, Nippon was empty on thursday night and Taka had a line out the door; not that this reflects on the quality of the sushi, but it made me think.

                        Thanks again everyone!

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

                        Bronx Pizza
                        111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103

                        Mariscos German
                        3515 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104

                        Hob Nob Hill
                        2271 1st Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                        Green Flash
                        701 Thomas Ave, San Diego, CA 92109