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Oct 21, 2011 10:25 AM

Tapas in San Diego

Suggestions for tapas and good wine list for next week while visiting San Diego.

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  1. I'm no expert on tapas but Tapas Picasso ( in Hillcrest is probably the best I've had in San Diego. I would not recommend Costa Brava in Pacific Beach, went once and it was pretty mediocre.

    Costa Brava
    1653 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

    2 Replies
    1. re: mliew

      I'd 2nd Tapas Picasso. I've always enjoyed their sangria, as well.

      1. re: camilles

        haven't been to Tapas Picasso in years because I don't live over there anymore (and hate parking in that area). I should try to get back there and get a refresh. I don't recall the wine list ever being very good.

        I've always quite enjoyed myself there but have no idea as to its "authenticity" (a phrase I am increasingly finding annoying and useless when judging the quality of a meal). Then again, I have never been to Spain so I have nothing to compare it to anyway.

        Another place I might suggest is Wetstone down near Banker's Hill. It is more wine oriented than taps, but they had some interesting dishes last time I was there (also focused more on South American cuisine and wines).

    2. not sure if that exists in SD. I would also avoid Costa Brava. Prices were high for what you get and they used canned white asparagus for one of their tapas. Might be better off looking for a place w/ good wine and apps.

      Costa Brava
      1653 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

      1. We haven't visited yet but heard some got reviews for Aquamore (?) in LJ which serves tapas with a southern twist

        1 Reply
        1. re: honkman

          I was there several months ago and thought overall, it was pretty good. Their tapas are not true Spanish tapas but more like Southern style appetizers. My take on their use of "tapas" is how Sammy's and Roppongi's define tapas. I can't remember everything we had, but the grilled asparagus, pomme frites and short rib (yes, short rib) were pretty good. Their veggie mac and cheese left me unsatisfied. I think it didn't have enough of a cheesy punch or flavor to it and felt neither "homey" or "elevated" enough, so it fell somewhere in an odd middle ground. Onion rings were ok, nothing special.

          Service was very friendly, attentive and not rushed at all. I think we ended up sitting there for 3 hrs and they didn't push us out the door.

          I'd go back if someone wanted to go. The only thing I missed is that hard-core Southern/Low Country style approach. Bigger flavors, more cream and butter. :-)

        2. While not meeting the true definition of tapas, Romesco's in Bonita is quite good. It's off the beaten tourist path (about 20 minutes from downtown San Diego) but this restaurant is owned by the family of chef Javier Placenscia (owner of critically acclaimed Mision 19 in Tijuana) and boasts a diverse menu with excellent wine selection (many from Baja).

          1. A great Spanish restaurant is a glaring weakness in the san diego dining scene.

            I really wish someone would step up to the plate.

            If you don't need Spanish food specifically, you might want to have "tapas" at a sushi restaurant as san diego does sushi well.

            6 Replies
            1. re: stevewag23

              San Diego does Japanese well. I've never had the breadth of different types of Japanese cuisine until they all started popping up around here. Izakaya, sushi, good ramen, good udon, robata-yaki, yakiniku, oozara (Okan, if I've misspelled the Japanese word).

              I totally agree, we need a great Spanish restaurant around here. We need a lot more great restaurants around here...

              1. re: daantaat

                Spanish food seems to one of the cuisines that is not usually mentioned at all whenever I hear people talk about the best cuisines in X city in the US. Where exactly are the good Spanish restaurants outside of Spain?

                1. re: mliew

                  NYC has great ones, Casa Mono, Boqueria etc

                  DC has Jaleo and a few others

                  SF has Zarzuela, and Bocadillos

                  Chicago has Cafe Iberico, Mercat a la Planxa

                  Not sure about other cities like LA, but I think any cities that is somewhat known for good food would have at least one.

                  All those are really good, and just a sampling

                  And if you are talking Europe, there are many more (outside of Spain)

                  Maybe san diego will catch up in 10 years and every single new restaurant opening will be a Spanish Tapas bar.

                  1. re: stevewag23

                    The only one on your list I've been to is Bocadillos and I wouldn't consider that to be great. Decent enough but not great.

                    1. re: stevewag23

                      Vegas also has Jaleo and Julian Serrano. Only been to Jaleo and it was divine!

                      1. re: stevewag23

                        Zarzuela is very mediocre. I think SF is still lacking a really good Spanish restaurant. I understand the love for SF as a culinary hot spot, but that does not mean all specialty cuisines in that city are above average.

                        And as for NYC, Txikito is by far better than Casa Mono.