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Visiting SD for 4 days in November, where must we eat?

ladykave Sep 1, 2011 01:12 PM

My boyfriend and I are coming to SD from Brooklyn for about 4 days in mid-November. We're both big into food, high and low, and are ideally looking to get a real sense of what sets San Diego food apart from what we could normally get in NYC (I'm thinking especially seafood and Mexican).

Let me preface this by saying I've already been doing a hearty amount of research on the hound SD board so I know for sure that we're going to try the following:

*As many tacos as possible at Marisco's German (plus the free soup!)

*The mussel bisque en croute at Dobson's

*Whatever strikes our fancy at Super Cocina

*Animal burgers and well-done fries at In-N-Out (probably to and from the airport!)

*Something at Sab-E-Lee (I see a lot of love for the dry Pad See Ew, anything else a fave?)

*I'm a pie-baker by trade so I have to check out Elizabethan Desserts

*Possible brunch/breakfast spots: Cafe Chloe, Cavaillon, any other suggestions?

*Cocktails/happy hours/bites: George's, JRDN, Nine-Ten (we both love a great cocktail and craft beers as well)

*I will have lots of free time during the day while the man is at a conference, and am planning to drive up to Chino Farm, but if there are any other great greenmarkets or farmstands I should check out, please say so!

There are a couple of places I'm curious about but not sure of: Green Flash, Aqui es Texcoco, the Ritual Tavern, and Hodads. Thoughts?

Am I missing anything major? Do I have any duds on my list? Any great hole-in-the-wall places you'd suggest? Also, if there are any gem attractions nearby to the above restaurants, please let me know as I want to explore as much of the city as I can during my brief visit! I don't get to drive much in NYC, you see, so I'm happy to hop in the car for a good journey.

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

Chino Farm
6123 Calzada Del Bosque, Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Elizabethan Desserts
155 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

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

Cavaillon Restaurant
14701 Via Bettona, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92127

Hodads Restaurant
5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107

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

Green Flash
701 Thomas Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

  1. k
    knifesavers Sep 1, 2011 09:17 PM

    "*Something at Sab-E-Lee (I see a lot of love for the dry Pad See Ew, anything else a fave?)"

    The one in Linda Vista is cash only so keep that in mind. Have not been to the Santee location as the LV is walking distance for me.


    1 Reply
    1. re: knifesavers
      Fake Name Sep 1, 2011 09:24 PM

      Cash-only and closed Mondays. I've only made one of the mistakes so far.

    2. Beach Chick Sep 1, 2011 03:12 PM

      '*The mussel bisque en croute at Dobson's'
      You must be reading my posts...what great taste you have!

      It really is good and if your staying in the Gaslamp, with a bottle of wine, it's the perfect dinner..I like to dine in the bar..very San Francisco'ish...great burger too!
      I would not drive up to Esco just to go to Stone brewery..it's about an hour each way.

      I would hit up La Jolla/Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe area..you can go to Chino's..their surly in a weird way but your from NYC but more aloof..don't take it personal.
      I would have dinner at George's at the Cove..Ocean terrace or the new place, Eddie V's..
      Walk around gorgeous LJ..
      Drinks and app's at the Marine Room in LJ..

      Mille Fleur in RSF for dinner
      Michele Coulon in LJ for dessert
      Rent bikes at Hamel's in Mission Beach and have drinks and lunch at Green Flash or World Famous..ask for a lock..oceanfront...ride the roller coaster at Belmont Park.

      Starlite or Noble Experiment for cocktails..
      Waterfront in Little Italy for dive bar and burgers

      Taco shops in SD are pretty good..rare if you get a bad one..

      Have fun and report back..
      BTW, don't listen to Fakey..he just got out of prison a couple of days ago..we just humor him!
      (just kidding about the prison thingy)
      ; )

      15 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick
        ladykave Sep 1, 2011 03:38 PM

        You rule, lady. I def read a bunch of your reviews! Glad I'm in good hands.

        I read a yelp review (though I take all yelp reviews with a handful of salt...) that mentioned the 'tude you get at Chino's, but for the chance to get perfect produce, I'm happy to deal with some shade. Some of the farmers at the NYC greenmarkets take New England stoicism to a whole 'nother level, so I think I'll be used to it!

        I really appreciate the bike rental info - I want to be able to have some drinks without worrying about dealing with a car. This is all great information and soooo appreciated!

        1. re: ladykave
          foodiechick Sep 1, 2011 04:26 PM

          Just got back from Chino's today. Tom Chino is as gruff as ever but the people he employs are friendly and helpful. Best time to go is during the week (closed Monday) to avoid the weekend lines, they close at 4pm Tues-Fri. Please don't try to take photos...he will rip your head off and ban you for life, but the produce is heavenly.

          I would also suggest you hit up the Little Italy Mercato (farmer's market) on Saturday morning. Really a well run gathering with lots to see and try. Breakfast and prepared food items, fruits and veggies. a great coffee truck and be sure to try the fresh uni!

          1. re: foodiechick
            ladykave Sep 1, 2011 04:29 PM

            Ooo fresh uni - you're speaking my language! I'll definitely check that out - and thanks for the Chino's guidance.

            1. re: ladykave
              Cathy Sep 1, 2011 05:33 PM

              Chinos is cash ONLY and there are NO prices posted.

            2. re: cgfan
              ladykave Sep 1, 2011 05:30 PM

              I am indeed a sushi fan. I'm considering Goody's Sushi - any opinions? Any other places far better?

              1. re: ladykave
                Fake Name Sep 1, 2011 05:37 PM

                Like to drive? Best sushi in the county- and well worth the drive- Kaito.

                1. re: Fake Name
                  ladykave Sep 1, 2011 05:45 PM

                  Thank you - I think this might be the spot for one of my solo lunches. From the map it doesn't appear to be that far away from Chino's, so perhaps I'll hit them both up in one go.

                  1. re: ladykave
                    cgfan Sep 1, 2011 05:57 PM

                    Yes, and also Elizabethan Desserts; they are all in coastal North County.

                    Since you had also mentioned some spots in La Jolla, which along with Torrey Pines is the northernmost part of coastal San Diego before getting into coastal North County proper, it might be a good idea to combine some of these destinations as well depending on how many drives you'd like to make to the area.

                    Elizabethan Desserts
                    155 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

                    1. re: ladykave
                      JRSD Sep 1, 2011 06:15 PM

                      I don't think Kaito is open for lunch. You could hit Chinos, Elizabethan Desserts and Betty's in one afternoon and eat very well. Elizabethan is attached to the Quail Botanical Garden (has a new name now) so you could check that out too.

                      1. re: JRSD
                        ladykave Sep 1, 2011 06:23 PM

                        I definitely want to check out the Botanic Gardens, that's good to know. I just tried to search for Betty's and got something called Baja Betty's, and another spot called Bety's Tacos Restaurant. Are either of those the place you were referring to?

                        Baja Betty's
                        1421 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                        1. re: ladykave
                          DiningDiva Sep 1, 2011 06:39 PM

                          Definitely not Baja Betty's. Bety's Tacos is, indeed, in Encinitas and a very easy drive to or from Elizabethan Desserts.

                          Elizabethan Desserts
                          155 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

                          Baja Betty's
                          1421 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                          1. re: ladykave
                            JRSD Sep 1, 2011 06:39 PM

                            Bety's Tacos Restaurant. This is an old thread that mentions 2 places in Encinitas (same city where Elizabethan and Botanic Gardens are.


                          2. re: JRSD
                            melee Sep 1, 2011 09:47 PM

                            Quail Botanical Garden is now called San Diego Botanical Garden. It's a nice place to visit and very close to Elizabethan Desserts. I had the most amazing pecan shortbread that was dipped in chocolate on my last visit. Once you've satisfied your sweet tooth head east on Encinitas and take the scenic route through Rancho Santa Fe to Chino Farms. Their produce is such a treat and they have always been cordial.

                            I second foodiechick's recommendation for the Mercato in Little Italy on Saturday mornings.

                            If you're a baker I'd stop by Azucar in Ocean Beach for a cafe con leche and morning pastry and a walk down to the pier or get it to go and head south along Sunset Cliffs for a pretty view of the coast.

                            Have a great trip and please report back!

                            Chino Farm
                            6123 Calzada Del Bosque, Rancho Santa Fe, CA

                            Elizabethan Desserts
                            155 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

                            San Diego, San Diego, CA

                          3. re: ladykave
                            daantaat Sep 1, 2011 07:43 PM

                            Kaito is not open for lunch. However, if you're heading north to Chino Farms, this is what I would do going north up the 5:

                            Chino Farms (bring tons of cash). I don't find them particularly gruff, just reserved in a traditional Japanese way. There are a few people there who really know their produce and what they taste like--the red-headed guy w/ glasses, the tall, thin Caucasian woman who's been wearing Chez Panisse t-shirts the last few weeks (looks like she's been working on a farm/outdoors most of her life) and the younger middle-aged (50-ish), shorter Caucasian woman w/ glasses. If you ask questions, they're happy to answer.

                            Venissimo Cheese in the Flower Hill Mall off Via del la Valle. They have 2 other locations in SD--Hillcrest and downtown. However, this is right on the way to Chino Farms.

                            Elizabethan Desserts in Encinitas. I think her pies, buckles and cookies are her best work. If her hot chocolate cupcake is available, that is very, very good.

                            Kaito opens at 4:30 pm, I believe. Best sushi in the county, hands down.

                            If you need to kill time until Kaito opens, the beach is not that far away.

                            Yu Me Ya in Encinitas is a terrific izakaya on Highway 101. Dinner only, though.

                            If you can get Soba-ya to open a branch out here, I will be forever indebted to you!

                            Venissimo Cheese
                            754 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103

                            Chino Farm
                            6123 Calzada Del Bosque, Rancho Santa Fe, CA

                            Elizabethan Desserts
                            155 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

                            1. re: daantaat
                              cgfan Sep 1, 2011 10:23 PM

                              Actually I'll go one further than daantaat's request - convince Bon Yagi, the unofficial "mayor" of Manhattan's Japanese dining scene - to move to S.D.!

                2. w
                  Wawsanham Sep 1, 2011 02:50 PM

                  You should also go to the Point Loma Seafood Market (I'm fairly sure that's the name). I grew up in SD, though it's a while back, and that was the place to buy fresh seafood--they also sell meals right there on the spot. I remember getting lots of squid, albacore, swordfish, etc... there. I don't know if Hodads is that special. It was a big burger joint when going to the beach (like 1978).

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

                  Hodads Restaurant
                  5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Wawsanham
                    zmirzlina Sep 1, 2011 03:09 PM

                    Point Loma Seafood is nice - whenever I pick up firends from the airport around lunch we head there, get everything to go and then drive to Cabrillo Monument to picnic. Best views in the city, IMO.

                    As for beer, I'm a fan of Alpine Brewery which I think makes the best beers in town. Tasting room isn't much and not worth the drive if you're here for only 4 days but if you see them on tap anywhere, order a pint.

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

                    1. re: zmirzlina
                      DiningDiva Sep 1, 2011 03:41 PM

                      Love Alpine Brewery too. No, the tasting room isn't much, but just walk a couple doors over to the cafe and belly up to the bar. They'll pour you anything you want and their tasting flights are nice. I like the way the delivery the flights so you can keep each beer separate. I understand their food is pretty good there, but I haven't eaten in the cafe, only sampled beer

                  2. Fake Name Sep 1, 2011 02:17 PM

                    Thanks for doing the research in advance....

                    I'd add the Catfish Larb at Sab e lee, but otherwise your list sounds good to me. Look, BC, another mussel bisque on which you'll be commissioned...; )

                    That typed, the mussel bisque does not really "fit" in the rest of the list, and I think you'd do much better in NYC with food of that style. Don't misunderstand me (many do!), I think it's good, and Dobson's a nice place. But I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Fake Name
                      ladykave Sep 1, 2011 03:11 PM

                      I'm usually wary of places that are known for only one dish, but damn, that dish sounds divine! It combines so many of my favorite things that I think I might just go on my own for lunch and order it at the bar. Mussels, cream, sherry, puff pastry? Basically irresistible to me.

                    2. j
                      JRSD Sep 1, 2011 01:54 PM

                      If you are into craft beer, you are missing out on most of the major stops. Check out the craft brewer's guild website for more info: http://sandiegobrewersguild.org/.

                      Stone World Bistro and Gardens is a great stop as it is a beautiful setting with fantastic beer. Kind of out of the way in Escondido, though. I prefer Alesmith and Ballast Point to Green Flash if you are interested in visiting a brewery but I have not made it out to Green Flash's new facility. Hess Brewing is a nanobrewery that is in the same area as Green Flash and Alesmith.

                      Green Flash
                      701 Thomas Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: JRSD
                        DiningDiva Sep 1, 2011 02:17 PM

                        A few months ago we did an afternoon at Lost Abby and Stone. Lost Abby was small, personal and quite fun. Stone, of course, is much larger and corporate but it made for a nice contrast to see where Stone had started and to where they had grown. It was a long wait for a table so we elected not to stay. Actually, we got our tickets for the Stone tour and left and went over to Lost Abby where we tasted and toured for an hour+ and then went back to Stone for the tour. I was surprised at how quickly we were able to get there, so if the OP is interested in spending 3 -4 hours in Escondido this isn't a difficult expedition. We had a blast.

                        The first part of July we did Ballast Point in Miramar (no ambiance at all, but great tasting!) and tried to do Alesmith since they're less than a 10 minute drive apart, but Alesmith had cut back on their tasting room days and we were SOL. Love both Ballast Point and Alesmith but their tasting rooms are not big on charm. But, perhaps you don't need ambiance when you've got such great products :-)

                        1. re: DiningDiva
                          ladykave Sep 1, 2011 03:03 PM

                          Thank you both for these great suggestions. Maybe I'll do a solo day in Escondido while the BF is at the conference, so I'll have enough time to sober up post-tasting for the drive back! Anywhere else in that area that you'd recommend for food and non-food activities?

                          1. re: ladykave
                            svnirvana Sep 2, 2011 04:08 PM

                            Go to Chino's in the morning, and then drive up to Stone for lunch. It's only about 20 minutes up the road from Chino's Farms.

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