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Sep 16, 2011 06:25 PM

San Diego New Places Opening Thread, Part Deux

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  1. Just got back from Stacked, a new burger place in Fashion Valley.

    Mr11 and I had some very enjoyable burgers, handcut potato chips, and a decent five-dollar shake. The meat was certified "Angus" (not a terribly meaningful pronouncement, but not grass-fed, might just be the first name of the source, Mr Angus A. Steer) and they didn't cook it medium rare as requested. But it was still enjoyable.

    But even more enjoyable was my first experience with something for which I've long-waited: Electronic ordering from the table. Each table has it's own iPad in a special holder, and there is custom software with which one can easily evaluate and specify a myriad of options for each menu selection. Building and ordering custom burgers, pizzas and "sausages" is easy. This is a new paradigm in restaurant service, and it's overdue.

    After our entrees arrived, for example, we decided an otra vez of potato chips was desired. A few taps, and the order was in, just like that. Food arrived in a timely manner, too.

    I'll grant you this is far closer to the gastronomic experience one expects more from Cheesecake Factory than Cafe Chloe.

    But Mr11 and I enjoyed our meals.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Fake Name

      ugh... I guess I have to add this and elevation burger to my "casual dining" burger reviews.... I think the ipad in a restaurant was started by the French Laundry by having their wine list in the ipad?

      1. re: karaethon

        There were other restaurants long before IPads were even an idea from Apple who used Tablet PCs to have their long wine list online and so that you could order wines electronically, e.g. Aureole

      2. re: Fake Name

        It's a cool idea, but also means more jobs gone.

        1. re: Josh

          I ate there on Saturday, and there were two waitresses manning the bar section (where I was seated) - and were necessary to help people order using the iPads. Its not a bad concept, but I don't see using an iPad to take orders escaping the chain/fast-food restaurant arena.

          1. re: jmtreg

            Ate at Stacked Sunday night. Given how busy it was and the number of staff running here and there, it doesn't appear to have reduced their labor costs. The burger was a good burger, moist and the carmelized onions were nice. I thought the fries were really good and the butternut squash aioli was great but a tad underseasoned - not a flick of salt and pepper can't fix, but the house ranch dressing and the chili were watery and bland. The ipad order seemed like just a gimmick but you can't blame the kitchen if your order is wrong!

            1. re: sdnosh

              I got your back! If anything, it seems like Stacked employs far more people than they should. You have someone that seats you and lets you know how to order, and then someone will check on you. Most the runners seems to multitask.

              I actually prefer the iPad thing to a Burger Lounge style of ordering - the food pacing is in your control, you don't have to wait if you want another drink or want to add an appetizer, and when you want your check you can easily ask for it and get it fast. Or slow. It's up to you.

              On the flavor taste side, we both ordered medium rare burgers and both came out medium. However, somehow the burgers were still very juicy - I am guessing it had something to do with the bacon or sauteed mushrooms haha.

              I liked Stacked, don't like Fashion Valley, but if you want to eat (espeically something besides Food Court or the dreaded Cheesecake Factory ) Stacked seems to be the best bet.

              Cheesecake Factory
              2015 Birch Rd Ste 705, Chula Vista, CA 91915

              1. re: Fake Name

                now THAT is a decent use of technology. The rest is just gimcrackery to this old curmudgeon. I almost apoplexied during the silly order process at Puesto.

                1. re: pickypicky

                  Gimcrackery! Love it.

                  Maybe we could at least start with something simple- paying for a meal.

                  Please no longer make me wait for you to bring me a piece of paper that I'll glance at and place my card on. Then I'll wait again for you to pick it up. Then I'll wait again while you wait for the authorization (while doing all your other duties), then I'll wait again while you bring it back to me.

                  Instead, when I make my open table reservation or when I appear at your hostess stand, I'll provide you with my text or email address. As you enter our meal into your service system, it will send me a link to my very own special "shopping cart" that keeps a tally of what I order.

                  When I'm done. I'll use my device to pay you, and I'll leave.

                  1. re: Fake Name

                    That's great!! I thought it was just me!! I would rather wait 45 minutes for my appetizer (which unfortunately has happened far too often) than wait 20 minutes to pay (which also happens way to often). Sometimes, just getting someone's attention to get the check is a chore. If I'm not getting dessert, I've gotten to the habit of asking for the check at one of the waitstaff check ups and handing them my credit card when they bring the check. I've always been very, very polite about it but still gotten some odd looks. But the odd looks beats the alternative of waiting and waiting. What happened to wanting to turn tables?

        2. in today's UT

          "Alex Munoz-Suarez, chief operating officer with the Batali-Bastianich Hospitality Group, which is looking to expand its pizzeria concept worldwide, confirmed that it has tentatively structured a deal with Terramar to locate a 4,200-square-foot Pizzeria Mozza in a two-story space within the downtown San Diego building."

          Full story is here:

          19 Replies
          1. re: Fake Name

            I find it hard to celebrate more chain restaurants, even with that pedigree. It's going to mean trouble for locally-owned, mom & pop places, IMO. Catering to the audience that worships celebrity chefs because they're on the tv machine is not good for the development of an authentic local dining scene.

            1. re: Josh

              I understand your point about celebrity chefs and respect that you're looking out for the local food scene. It's a shame that some cities don't get recognized for their local cusine until they do have restaurants that are run by celebrity chefs. Maybe the introduction of a place like Mozza will put the spotlight on other great local spots - like Blind Lady, Bruno or even Pizza Port. In any case, I'll admit that I'm looking forward to the opening of Mozza to see if it's as good as the one in LA. Hope that doesn't make me a sellout.

              1. re: melee

                I totally agree that the celebrity chefs associated with Pizzeria Mozza can only help elevate San Diego's dining reputation. Let's not forget about Nobu Matsuhisa and Wolfgang Puck already have a stake in the area. I would also hope it forces the local chefs and restaurant owners to step up their game in the quality of food and service they put out. While SD is no where near a dining mecca, it's been pretty fun watching the dining scene evolve for the better and so quickly in just the last 2 or 3 years.

                207 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

                1. re: hungerpane

                  "it's been pretty fun watching the dining scene evolve for the better and so quickly in just the last 2 or 3 years."

                  Good point, hungerpane. I've particularly been pleased with such recent additions as Cucina Urbana, Blind Lady Ale House, Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, Pizzeria Bruno, and Muzita Bistro. Bravo, SD, let's keep the ball rolling.

                  Cin Cin.

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

                  1. re: globocity

                    Feel free to add Bencotto, Counterpoint, Alchemy, Hane, The Smoking Goat , Blue Ribbon, Farm House, Cafe 21 and the new Terra to your list for me! Yes, keeping the ball rolling would be a good thing, considering these tough economic times.

              2. re: Josh

                It's in the "tourist area" of town. I think it should be fine.

                I for one am happy with the development, but I think the restaurants coming in should be similarly high quality to Mozza.

                1. re: karaethon

                  I spoke to the developer of the Old Police Headquarters project some time ago, and expressed my concerns that it would be another tourist trap, ie, Seaport Village. I made a point to say they need to gear it towards SD residents and not just for tourists. I was pleased to hear that the model they were going for was Grantville Market in Vancouver. If anyone has been, it's a great mix of locals and tourists. Let's hope they stick to their guns and not include a Ripley's Believe It or Not or an awful aquarium!

                  1. re: hungerpane

                    I think we're safe on the aquarium angle. Sea World already has that base covered

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      Not to mention LegoLand and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography...

                    2. re: hungerpane

                      That's been the idea from the start. A few anchor tenants (Mozza!) and a market-y thing like San Francisco's pier marketplace.

                      But the Port District has been squeezing so hard- they believe it's buckets 'o gold- tenants like those are not really possible.

                      Glad to see they're making headway.

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        Funny, the last time I suggested that the Seaport Village/Old Police HQ Bldg would be an excellent place for something like the SF Ferry Building/Farmers Market my post was deemed inappropriate and became an unpost. I would be quite happy to see Mozza become an anchor in such a development. Too bad Knight Salumi Co. didn't last long enough to provide us something like Boccalone. We need something special in that area.

                  2. re: Josh

                    Even if it is a chain it might help to elevate the level of quality in SD if they work on a similar level as in LA. I am all for supporting local business but if somebody from outside starts a business with superior products I will also support it. Quality of product is more important to progress the dining scene than being a local. But I also think that in case of pizza we have good places which can compete against Mozza - we went recently the first time to Blue Ribbon Pizzeria and had great pizza but also outstanding appetizers.

                    1. re: honkman

                      We enjoyed Blue Ribbon a lot when we went. We also had some really good pizza last night at Calabria. Definitely worth a try if you haven't been.

                      1. re: Josh

                        We haven't been to Calabria and also Bruno yet. How do they compare since they seem to serve similar style of pizza. And how are their choices beside pizza.

                        1. re: honkman

                          I prefer Calabria. We've only ordered pizzas there. Bruno is good, too, but has a softer dough and a bit of a heavier hand w/ toppings and sauce.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Just tried the pizza at Calabria last night. Interestingly enough, my wife and I both thought that the pizza crust didn't have the same woody flavor that we would get from a Bruno pie. Their pizza seemed a lot less substantial, both in the crust as well as the toppings. (For instance, we got the "four seasons" pie, which had four toppings on it. Except they only put one topping on each quarter of the pizza, so you missed any combination of topping flavors. Made it a little bland.) My wife thought that the pizza toppings were not as hot out of the oven as a Bruno pie. The pizza also seemed to come out of the oven really fast. I'm guessing that Calabria might be running their oven at a higher temperature than they do at Bruno, which would account for the many of the differences. We both still prefer Bruno's neapolitan pizzas, but to each his own.

                            While we were eating, I noticed a delivery from "Specialty Produce" which you are probably familiar with. I know you're a big on restaurant sourcing, so I figured I'd give you the heads up.

                      2. re: honkman

                        More importantly, I think, is that burgeoning business help the economy. Sure, getting quality food in SD is a priority but I find it more thrilling to have creation of jobs.

                        Hey maybe our fine city can become a double threat of superior,local craft beer AND great pizza.

                        1. re: globocity

                          Completely agree that the economic impact of newly opened restaurants is always big independently if the owner is local or not (I can also not understand if other people write that restaurant deserve to close like in the Jake's La Jolla discussion). But I didn't mentioned it before because every time I try to write something beyond just food it gets normally deleted and I get an email from the moderatot

                  3. The original comment has been removed
                    1. Arggh........Enough with the burger joints already! Habit burger opening in Mission Valley and Carmel Mountain Ranch.


                      14 Replies
                      1. re: hungerpane

                        So does that mean you don't want to hear about Slater's 50/50 opening up in Liberty Station. They're a growing chain out of Anaheim. Their big claim to fame is the burgers made of 50% ground chuck and 50% ground bacon. Bacon make an appearance in other menu items such as their mac n' cheese, a shake and even a brownie.

                        1. re: sdnosh

                          Wow, TWO bubbles. Burgers and bacon.

                          So tired of hearing about these.

                          1. re: sdnosh

                            I looked at the menu for Slater's 50/50. The breakfast burger is a 50/50 burger (half bacon, half beef), a slice of cheese, a fried egg, a scoop of guacamole, and some chipotle mayo wedged between two glazed doughnuts.

                            I don't know about you, but there just seems to be something deeply wrong with that....

                            1. re: wrldtrvl

                              After the fried egg, the description of guacamole, chipotle mayo and TWO glazed donuts makes the whole thing seem like it is sliding off a cliff into an ocean of molten lava.

                          2. re: hungerpane

                            I can still remember back when they were called Hamburger Habit instead of The Habit; I have fond memories from my college years in Santa Barbara. I guess they wanted people to know they were more then just burgers. Still, additional options are never a bad thing and if the new investment helps the economy then I am all for that.

                            1. re: hungerpane

                              Not to quibble about quick serve burger joints, their ubiquitous nature, or the relative degree to which they're "chowwworthy;" yet the Habit is an interesting chain in that they are the only QS joint which in my mind gives In and Out a run for their money. As such, I'm happy to see them finally make it to SD.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  No, I was referring to the Habit. Burger Lounge is gourmet Quick Serve and definitely chowworthy. :-)

                                2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                  Dang, the Habit looks their menu and beer selection..


                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    That's not the chain. Local Habit is new gastropub in Hillcrest.

                                    The Habit is a chain of burger joints.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      Thanks Josh!
                                      Have you been to the Local Habit?

                                  2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                    Update. Just ate at the Mission Valley location and unlike in Goleta, they no longer allow you to call temperature on the burger. In my mind this is key and one of the main points that kept them close to In and Out (not many know you can get a rare burger at In and Out). It would appear the new money into the chain has also come with a more defined corporate identity. Other advantages remain, salads, sweet potato fries, real avocado and bacon additions etc. keeping them a heavy contender in the Quick Serve burger category.

                                    1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                      I'm surprised that you could order a rare burger at In and Out, especially considering their patties are probably 1/8" thick. They must cook them for maybe 10 seconds on each side to get them rare.

                                      1. re: mliew

                                        It stunned me as well. They come close most of the time.

                                3. Never would have guessed that Brian Malarkey/James Brennan would ever be looking east of the 15! They are looking to take over the former Gio Bistro and Wine bar in Downtown La Mesa. Now all of the beautiful people of East County will have a place to go.....


                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: hungerpane

                                    Wow. As you all know, I'm a big restaurant-business believer. But even I question the rapidity with which these guys are expanding.

                                    Wonder who's got the money? Must have some very good VC ties.

                                    Hey, if they can pull it off, good for them!

                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                      I agree, it's pretty shocking to see them expanding so quickly..............sorta like Subway! It's just good to see other parts (besides the urban and coastal neighborhoods) of the county getting in on the new restaurant action.

                                      1. re: hungerpane

                                        Happy to see other parts of the county get restaurant action? Me too!

                                        1. re: hungerpane

                                          Shouldn't be too shocking.

                                          1/2 of that team did the same thing with (mediocre) nightclubs before it all ended in tears.

                                          1. re: stevewag23

                                            Yep - perhaps the next bubble is restaurants.

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              Could be.

                                              We already had a boutique hotel bubble and nightclub bubble.

                                                1. re: Josh

                                                  BURGER bubble. As bad as the Mac n cheese bubble of 2009.

                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                    There was a "steakhouse bubble" back in 2003-2008 during the striped shirted mortgage broker era.

                                                    Every chain steakhouse had representation in the gaslamp before they started folding.

                                                    Anyone seen LG's Steakhouse lately?

                                      2. re: hungerpane

                                        Wow, downtown La Mesa. I think that would be a very interesting location for them to take over. La Mesa Blvd. is very underrated.