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Jun 21, 2011 07:04 PM

Boston chowhound needs help with San Diego rec's

Joining my husband for a long weekend in San Diego late July. I have had much success on the east coast boards planning my past trips.

We appreciate/enjoy fine dining but value fresh/ great food the most.

Where are the must haves in San Diego? In other words, if I were to tell someone that I went to San Diego, where are they likely to ask if I went to?

Where is the best food with a view?

Where is the best bakery, place for coffee/pastry?

I also love to go to a farmers market or gourmet food store and plan a picnic for one of our meals.

I am from Boston and downtown I would tell people to check out the back bay(Charles Street) for antiques and boutiques type shops, Newberry for the "Fifth Avenue" of Boston and not to neglect Boylston Street...the North End for everything the equivalent exist in San Diego?

Thanks in advance

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  1. The answers to some of your questions are mutually exclusive, I think.

    San Diego is probably most known outside of town for fish tacos. The big local chain, Rubio's, is most well-known, and also not very good. Best for fish tacos are the mariscos trucks, which specialize in Mexican seafood preparations. The Mariscos German truck on University Ave. and 36th is a good option.

    San Diego is also really well-known for our beer. We have a lot of top-notch, award-winning breweries, and if you hit the 30th St. corridor, you'll have access to Hamiltons Tavern (which is next door to Alchemy, my current favorite of our farm-to-table restaurants), Toronado, Ritual Tavern, The Linkery, and a bit further north, on Adams Ave, Blind Lady Ale House. Any of these spots are worth checking out.

    Bakery and coffee/pastry spots aren't something done especially well here, IMO, not compared to places I've been in NYC, anyway.

    A good farmers market is the Hillcrest one, held on Sunday mornings.

    3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

    Hamiltons Tavern
    1521 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102

    Blind Lady Ale House
    3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA

    Ritual Tavern
    4095 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Josh....thanks for your reply.....I will plan on the Mariscos German truck/ look forward to the farmers market on Sunday.Also appreciate the info on the farm to table restaurant....DC is getting into that in a big way and when I visit my daughter we always enjoy the seasonal menus

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

      1. re: Terriwth4

        You might also want to consider Saturday's Little Italy Mercato (Farmer's Market). Depending on who you ask, it's usually between the Hillcrest or the Little Italy markets. They're each quite different, so chances are one would appeal to you more than the other. In a sense it's not necessarily redundant to go to both, as they're each quite different in mix, feel, siting, and demographic.

        The Little Italy Mercato stands out as having the widest selection of protein items amongst our farmer's markets, including two live seafood vendors.

        For coffee, if you're looking for the widest selection of single-origin pour-over coffee, then your choice is between the new District Coffee Bar (Hillcrest) and Bird Rock Roasters (Bird Rock, La Jolla).

        With respect to espresso and espresso drinks, the most consistent shop right now is Caffe Calabria, and they are also doing some wonderful things with their new pizzeria's wood-fired oven (evenings only for pizza). I just love their sandwiches too (served all day). I think the best espresso shop right now, though somewhat lower in consistency than Calabria, is Zumbar (Sorrento Valley). If you can, pay the extra half-dollar and ask for their Red Sea Blend if they have it on bar. (...though right now they're featuring a nice Sidamo single-origin espresso for the same premium...)

    2. " if I were to tell someone that I went to San Diego, where are they likely to ask if I went to?"

      Hmmm....they're probably going to ask you if you went to (in no particular order) the zoo, Sea World, Leggo Land or the beach.

      They're probably not going to ask you what or where you ate, unless they ask if you ate a fish taco. The Mariscos German truck Josh mentioned is very good and one of your best options. However, if you don't want to do a food truck, other options would be The Brigantine (a local chain) for their happy hour fish taco, Blue Water Grill. South Beach in Ocean Beach is well known for it's fish tacos, and are both loved and hated on this board depending upon the posters personal preferrence.

      Best food with a view? Frequently asked question on this board and something of an oxymoron. Depends upon where you are and what you want. Most frequent recs are Georges at the Cove and the Marine Room in La Jolla, Top of the Market downtown and Mister A's on Bankers Hill. C-Level lounge and Peohe's have the most spectacularly views and pretty unspectacular food. The newly renovated Bali Hai on the tip of Shelter Island has a great view, food can range from good to bad depending upon what you order and who's in the kitchen.

      Are you staying downtown/Gaslamp? Will you have a car? How far are you willing to travel for food. San Diego is a large, sprawling metropolitan area and (unfortunately) our public tranist system is not very rapid. You can get to where you're going but it might take a while.

      What San Diego does pretty well, are bistro-style restaurants like Cafe Chloe, Urban Solace and Alchemy. Interesting food, well prepared at fair prices.

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

      Urban Solace Restaurant
      3823 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104

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

      Marine Room Restaurant
      2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

      1201 1st St, Coronado, CA 92118

      Mister A's Restaurant
      2550 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

      Top of the Market
      750 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

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

      1. Agree with Josh' recs. I might add Bread & Cie for bakery products and some coffee on the patio, located on 350 University Av, in the Hillcrest section of SD. We do have a Little Italy section but, nothing like the NE, Italian in SD is very weak.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cstr

          Thnx cstr.....already checked out website.....looks great:)

        2. Head for drinks and app's at the Marine Room in La Jolla..
          Nine-Ten, George's Modern, Grant Grill or Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar for dinner.

          Farmer's Market in Little Italy and SD is no where near the greatness of things in BOS.
          Chino's in Rancho Santa Fe is local gem but very pricey..have dinner at Mille Fleurs or Rancho Valencia resort..stunning area that is one of the prettiest in the world!

          Take the water taxi over to Coronado from the Gaslamp..dinner at 1500 at the Hotel Del.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Beach Chick

            Thanks Beach Chick.....Love the idea of the water taxi over to Coronado

            Will definitely check out the other suggestions as well.....just the type of stuff I was looking for;)

            1. re: Terriwth4

              To clarify BC, Chino's is Chino Farms. It is not a restaurant but a small vegetable/fruit stand with some of the best produce in SD that also gets trucked up to LA for Wolfgang Puck and other big name chefs. In the summer, they have French and California strawberries, corn, tomatoes (usually a good 5-6 varieties), peaches, nectarines, lettuces, peppers, etc. If you go, they only take cash, so take LOTS of it.

              If you make the trip up there, stop by Venissismo Cheese in the Flower Hill Mall off Via de la Valle for the best cheese shop in SD. If you can't make it that far north, Venissimo has a downtown SD and Hillcrest location, which is much closer to you.

          2. Josh made some great points and probably the most efficient ones as the 30th street corridor packs a nice punch of variety all within a short distance.
            In essence, what we lack in polish we make up for in some of the simpler things.
            Fish tacos, shrimp burritos, farmers markets etc.
            There are some great recommends here for nicer restaurants in La Jolla and such, but for as great as they are, you would only be comparing the food to at least several other restaurants in BOS.

            We are definitely growing into a beer mecca. I for one LOVE the beer here (hence the "hopheadsd" name). If you felt like going for a drive, the Stone Bistro in Escondido is pretty amazing. For me at least, any friends I have from back east coming here that love beer, would certainly admire that choice as a destination.

            have fun

            2 Replies
            1. re: hopheadsd

              hopheadsd, have you ever been to a beer tasting dinner at the Grill at the Lodge at Torrey Pines? Just curious. . . there was one going on the last time my book club met in the bar. The menu was matched to beers at each course like a wine tasting dinner. The last Wed of each month?

              1. re: pickypicky

                hi pickypicky,

                Yes I have been but not in a while. The Lodge has a big one once a year outside which is fantastic.
                There are several of these types of events at differnet restaurants throughout the county as well. The San Diego Brewers Guild (google search) has all the events and pairings around town. Even the restaurant at the Zoo (cant remember name) has pairings sometimes.