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Nov 26, 2011 07:20 AM

Staying in the Gaslight district where to eat

I will be in s an Diego from 12/10-12/18. since 1971. I remember taking a ferry to Coronado island. I need places to eat , drink and enjoy everything that makes your city unique. So here goes. Checked out Yelp but it's still only Yelp and I figure hounds are more discerning.

Casual/ mexican barfood, Barbeque, street food nearby,Korean, Italian (trucks in walking distance)

High end just one or 2

Sea food and fish I fell in love with marlin etc

I am a a fan of ethnic eating rather than just high end fine dining.I really am looking for food I can't get in the NYC Metropolitan area.

I will have a car and am willing to travel for something exceptional.

Thanks in advance

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  1. You're asking the most popular and frequently asked question on this board. So popular in fact that it is often asked multiple times in one day.

    * It's Gaslamp, not Gaslight. If you type Gaslamp into the search box above you will get 118 posts about it. If you type downtown into the search box you will get 208 hits. So between the 2 search options you will get 326 threads about the Gaslamp/Downtown. Chowhound isn't Yelp, the quality of the information in those 326 threads will be far more usable.

    * The ferry was replaced nearly 40 years ago by a blue bridge. It is, however, possible to take the water taxi from the foot of Broadway over to Coronado

    * Street food is not that common in SD due to California public health laws that make it very difficult to do legally.

    * Most useful resource for finding food trucks in SD - . For smoked marlin tacos (tastes like Carnitas) your best bet is Marisco German at the corner of University and 35th in the City Heights neighborhood, probably about a 10 minute drive from downtown (longer if you get all the stoplights). Best fish taco is probably El Pescador in the Toys R Us parking lot in Chula Vista.

    * You won't find anything in SD that you can't find in NYC

    * The best dining right now is in Tijuana, not San Diego

    8 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      "You won't find anything in SD that you can't find in NYC"

      I don't contest the underyling point here, but at the same time I would be surprised if there is anyplace in NYC that serves a proper San Diego-style burrito (protein, salsa fresca, maybe guac/cabbage/cheese in a griddled flour tortilla, no beans and rice inside) as served in our gazillion taco shops. From an anthropological standpoint at least, that might something worth checking out for a vistor from outside the region. From a culinary standpoint, maybe, maybe not; I used to love these in my youth but find them not particularly delicious now, your mileage will certainly vary.

      Also, IMO there are certain unique menu items at some restaurants -- like the live urchin dish at Sea Rocket, local sardines and other local seafood at a couple places -- that might not be widely seen in other regions.

      1. re: jayporter

        Second this comment.

        Just got back from a trip to NYC, and it's devoid of our kind of taco shop.

      2. re: DiningDiva

        Where ? My wife is scared to death about going into Mexico. I guess that's the lastime I was there was in the 70's. Thanks for the links. California food is very different than NYC. Just like when you go down south you go to meat and 3 places or communal tables. There has io be some indigenious cuisine that is SD centric. You can get fair Vietnamese food and excellent Cantonese, .Italian etc. But California cuisine is an animal all to itself. I had great fish in Santa Barbara. I am interested in Baja cuisiene without going over the border.

        1. re: coachrbc

          Jay - you're right, I thought bought the uni angle after I posted.

          Coachrbc - Tijuana has really interesting food these days, too bad your wife won't cross. It's not a dangerous a the media makes it out to be, though it was the wild, wild west there for a couple of years. Things have calmed down considerably. But...I am not one to push people out of their comfort zone and if you wife would be too nervous, she wouldn't enjoy the experience. The 2 best dining experiences I've had this year have come South of the Border, once at Mision 19 in Tijuana and again at Asao in Tecate.

          You can, however, experience a version of Baja cuisine at Romescos in Bonita, which is about 20 minutes south of downtown and about 10 minutes north of the border. It is owned by the Plascentia family which owns many restaurants in Tijuana including the current favorites Mision 19, Eriza and the Hotel Cesar. If you go try the Tamarind Martini.

          Along the same lines, if you like lamb then Aqui es Texcoco in Chula Vistawould be a good choice. It's even closer to the border but without having to dip a toe over it. . It's in a strip mall, but don't be put off by that. The lamb is seriously good and their salsa negro would make almost anything taste good. I have a friend who buys it by the quart from them. Also good at AeT are the mashed potato taquitos/flautas.

          For comdia casera - home style Mexican cooking - the only place to try is Supre Cocina - . It's probably a 10-15 minute drive from downtown and is located in a transitional, but safe, neighborhood. Even though they are open for dinner, the meals to go for are breakfast (for the chilaquiles) and lunch (almost anything). It is located in a small building and serves most items from a steamtable. Do NOT, repeat NOT, be deterred by the steamtable. Most of what is served from it are stewy guisados that only improve with the moist heat of the steamtable. They will give you a taste of anything (or everything) before ordering, all you have to do is ask. Portions are generous. The cooks are actually home cooks who only prepare their specialty. None of them work everyday, so the items rotate, tho' things like chile relleno and carnitas seem to be fairly constant.

          To experience california produce you might try these places
          The LInkery -
          JSix -
          Tender Greens -
          Little Italy Farmers Market -
          Blue Water Grill - - close to downtown, for seafood

          Enjoy your visit. If you're really lucky we'll have weather like we're having today...clear, sunny and warm, 80*

          JSix Restaurant
          616 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101

          Tender Greens
          2400 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106

          1. re: DiningDiva

            As a native NY'er living in San Diego, I have to agree with Dining Diva. Romescos is excellent, though off the beaten tourist path. Baja is putting out some amazing wines and if you go you must also have their Caesar salad and sample their ahi tostada and gobernadores tacos.

            BTW, I am in NY now and had a wonderful meal at Rayuela's--contemporary Latin cuisine.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              Super Cocina is definitely worth your time. To clarify Diva's point about the menu, there are approximately 7 items that change daily (and sometimes more than that in a day, based on depletion), with another 10 or so that are always on.

              The always on items include:
              Pollo en mole
              Puerco Enchilado
              Chicharron in salsa verde
              Chiles Rellenos
              Nopales w/ dried shrimp patties
              Caldo de Res
              Birria de Chivo (stewed goat)

              There will also typically be some kind of enchilada, empanada, and sope available.

              At breakfast time, another two items that are always available are Chilaquiles and Huevos Oaxaqueños.

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

              1. re: Josh

                I was told to check out El Centro any places you recommend

                1. re: coachrbc

                  El Centro is a good 2 hrs away from SD. Not sure if it's worth driving out there for food, unless you'll already be out there.