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Nov 30, 2011 06:30 AM

4 Days in San Diego- Where should we eat?

Visiting Family in San Diego from Jan 27-31. Not sure where we are staying yet, but we will have a rental car. We are looking mostly for casual places, and would love some suggestions. I know I am asking early but I am excited to plan my San Diego eating! If you have any suggestions of San Diego food blogs I would love to look at those too.


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  1. I notice people are not responding. Where does the family live? The county is 4200 square miles, it's 70 miles from the North to the South along beaches/ocean/West. Freeway traffic from 3-7 p.m. can be a nightmare, without accidents. If you will be in Chula Vista, you won't want to drive 2 hours one way to Julian or Escondido or Encinitas. We need a clue.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Cathy

      They live in san carlos/ la mesa area. Thanks!

      1. re: sarahelan

        San Carlos/La Mesa is not the best of food areas. Mystic Grill on 70th and University has been our favorite of the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean places in the area- especially the falafel.

        Trattoria Antica is very good Italian food and Terra is an "American Bistro" with farm to table ingredients. Both are mid-range in price. Vine Cottage is also decent, particularly the small plates.

        DTM Sandwiches on Fletcher Parkway and BMH Italian on El Cajon Blvd are good places to pick up lunch to go.

        Search the board for recommendations in North Park, South Park, City Heights and University Heights, Downtown and Hillcrest- all are about 15 minutes away.

    2. Do you have any preferences other than casual? There are quite a few different cuisines represented in San Diego, and we can give you more tailored suggestions depending on what you're looking for...

      As for food blogs, mmm-yoso is a good place to start (perhaps Cathy, who is a contributor there, was just too modest to mention it):

      It has links to many other SD food blogs as well.

      3 Replies
      1. re: hye

        Thanks, Hye. Our blog does have links to almost all the other San Diego blogs- the right column.

        Sarahelan- You are visiting in an area very close to where I live (and right in the area where Dining Diva lives). It's close to SDSU and a good part of town for more casual places. Dining Diva's recommendations, below, are all ones I would suggest.

        Closer to San Diego State, still casual, is KNB Wine Cellar. It's right next door to Windmill Farms (a fancy-ish grocery store). The food selection is quite good.

        In addition, heading East, Beef and Bun is in El Cajon on Fletcher Parkway just East San Carlos (Navajo Road turns into Fletcher Parkway at the City border) (get a peanut butter shake, or a banana shake and the fried zucchini; it's a meal. The burgers are good, the fries are not special) and on the far East side of the City (stay on Fletcher Parkway, go South on Second and it will turn into Jamacha at Washington street) where Sultan Kebab and Baklava is located- The best, freshest Turkish food.

        Is there a particular type of food you are wanting to try?

        1. re: Cathy

          I'll second Sultan Kebab and Baklava and also suggest Sab E Lee (a little northwards in Santee) for Thai food.

          1. re: Cathy

            Thanks for these ideas! I am open to almost all types of foods. I am a vegetarian but everyone else are omnivores and open to trying new places. We do love good cocktails (and are willing to spend the money if they are worth it) if you have any suggestions.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. The new Brian Malarkey eatery, Gingham, in La Mesa will be open with about 6 weeks of operations under it's belt by the time you visit. (Opening is coming up in the next couple of weeks from what I've read recently)

            JRSD is right, San Carlos is not exactly a culinary mecca. Second the recs for Trattoria Antica and Terra. Just down the street (east) of Terra you can find Pubcakes, cupcakes made with some our finest local beers, nice stop for a sweet treat, plus you can get a cup of coffee from Treehouse Coffee which shares the space with Pubcakes.

            Nicolosi's in San Carlos does a pretty good pizza and is celebrating it's 49th anniversary. The Trails was recently featured on Restaurant: Impossible on FTV. It was never really as bad as most of the other resto on that show, but it's defnitely better since the show. It's not bad, the food is decent, and it fills a niche in San Carlos that is defnitely lacking.

            Even though SC is kind of a culinary desert, it well situated making it easy to get to other parts of San Diego pretty easily. Adams Ave, the 30th St corridor and North Park/Hillcrest are all only about a 15 minute drive. You can search the board for them and get a lot of hits.

            For pretty good Mexican, you can drive Rana's in Casa de Oro, it's not necessarily close to San Carlos, but it's closer and easier than some of the other usual recommendations on this board.

            For real hole in the walls options

            Longhorns (Zion & Mission Gorge) for burgers

            Mr. Chick (Zion & Mission Gorge) for Greek salad (get it with chicken)

            Gaglione Bros (in the shopping center where Friar's Rd & Mission Gorge meet) - assorted East Coast style sandwiches

            Foster's Freeze (on Waring Rd) for soft serve & a burger

            Thai Basil (on Navajo Rd at Lake Murray) - for, well, Thai

            West Coast BBQ (Lake Murray & El Paso) - good BBQ, they do a brisk business in take-out too

            There's a new Mexican place at Lake Murray & Dallas next to the Dollar Store

            Not a hole in the wall but Los Primos on Jackson Dr. is actually pretty good, Mexican but very Americanized

            Gus's on Baltimore - breakfast only

            Chin's (on the frontage road at Fletcher Parkway & Jackson)

            Kalima - new Russian place in the small shopping center on Jackson just before Fletcher Parkway (if driving South)

            Riviera Supper Club (University Blvd. in La Mesa) - DIY steaks, chicken, burgers. Kind of dive-y, good cocktails and (enormous) sides. Home of the chocolate bacon layer cake (yes, it's good)

            Avoid at all costs - Brothers in Allied Gardens, McCarters in San Carlos, the Denny's, Coco's that are in the area.

            5 Replies
            1. re: DiningDiva

              I always forget about West Coast BBQ but I like their beef. Kalima is also a good rec.

              I would generally agree with your recommendations except to add Lake Murray Cafe to the avoid at all costs list.

              We had a horrible meal at Thai Basil and go to Black Orchid Thai on Fletcher (in the same strip mall as Souplantation) for Thai in the immediate vicinity.

              I can't picture where you mean by the new Mexican place. Do you mean the one in the Big Lots shopping center? There is not a 99 cent store that I recall.

              1. re: JRSD

                Oh god, The Lake Murray Cafe, that is DEFINITELY on the avoid at all costs list. In fact, it should be #1 and Brothers #2.

                Sorry to hear about your terrible experience at Thai Basil. We don't go frequently, but our experiences have usually been pretty good. Will have to try Black Orchid

                We got a flyer for the new Mexican place (and I can not for the life of me remember it's name) which said it was at the corner of Dallas and Lake Murray Blvd next to the $ store. I think it's in the space formerly occupied by Manhattan Pizza, but that doesn't seem right for a sit down Mexican place. I'll do a drive by this weekend and clarify.

                The beef is definitely good at West Coast BBQ. We also like their pulled pork pretty well.

                Sarahelan, if you need a salad fix, the salad bar in the Keil's market is surprisingly good and affordable. 3 types of lettuce, spinach and a really wide array of fresh vegetables, meats and other toppings. You can make a salad and get half a rotisserie chicken for under $10

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Manhattan Pizza just reincarnated but perhaps they are opening in the vacated golf shop? Perhaps it is Pedro's in the next center over down from Big Lots. Had a couple of meh meals there.

                  A new taco shop called Tito's opened at Baltimore and Parkway in the 7-11 shopping center. They had a very good shrimp diablo burrito and rolled potato tacos.

              2. re: DiningDiva

                Love the "avoid" list! Thanks for the suggestions, will be looking into these places.

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  La China for chinese food is located at Navajo and Fletcher Parkway in the far right corner of the shopping center (same side as the Taco Bell). DH had great shrimp there the first time, my potstickers were the best I've had in SD. The next time - different chef and it was just ordinary. I like the fact that you can look right into the big wok area and see the food being cooked. They also deliver.

                2. You could hit up the everyday happy hour at the Brigantine in La Mesa which has some of the best fish tacos for around $3..good prices for beer/wine/margs.
                  Casa de Pico in Grossmont Center is close if you want to have aquarium marg's and Mex food with lots of melted cheese...
                  30th street in North Park area has lots of great local restaurants...Linkery, El Take it Easy, Jayne's Gastropub, Urban Solace and Cantina Mayahuel..
                  La Jolla, have lunch at George's at the Cove on the ocean terrace.
                  Searsucker for brunch in the Gaslamp is quite good.

                  Have fun in SD and report back!