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Visiting SD from NYC- need 5 lunch and 5 dinner spots BUT GREAT food pls! Anywhere from LJ to Dtown

Im visiting SD from NYC. I come once a year and that is never enough time to find restaurants I love.
Looking for 5 dinner and 5 lunch spots anywhere between LJ and Dtown, including Kensington, N Park and close by 'hoods. I am not into white table cloth atmosphere, but am looking for high quality food, taken seriously. I lean toward healthier, produce driven meals, thought open to other rec's.
I appreciate any help!!

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  1. Spread in North Park
    Sea Rocket Bistro
    Marisco German Seafood truck
    Bay Park Fish Company
    Tender Greens
    George's at the Cove Ocean Terrace
    El Pescador in LJ..great sea bass sandwich

    Head to Chino's farm stand in Rancho Santa Fe..fab expensive produce


    1. Lunch:

      Super Cocina in City Heights


      Wine Vault and Bistro
      Urban Solace

      1. For great Italian food, we like Arrivederci in the Hillcrest area. It is located at 3845 4th Avenue (just off University Ave). Reservations recommended, and you'll likely still have to wait for your table. Phone: 619-299-6282

        1. I'd add the Linkery and El Take It Easy to the list above.

          1. cannot miss Brian Malarky's 2 restaurants (top chef) Lunch or Dinner are terrific!!
            downtown - Searsucker
            Del Mar - Burlap
            In the Gaslamp District - Croce's
            and I agree with George's in La Jolla - George's famous soup is a fav. for lunch.
            La Jolla - A Dinner must is The Marine Room
            By the airport for lunch - El Indio a mexican must ( better than anything in Old Town)

            I was just in NYC for Thanksgiving - wish I could have had some of your favorites there!

            4 Replies
            1. re: nevrgru

              Not bad, pretty much all of your restaurant recommendations will create a lot of disagreement :)

              1. re: nevrgru

                heard the noise level at Burlap is so loud that you can't hear your dining companions.

                1. re: nevrgru

                  I agree, Georges and Marine Room.

                  1. re: nevrgru

                    The Marine Room, check to see if there is a high tide brunch.
                    Yes, buffet, but the waves on the windows is worth the $$.

                  2. Several good places in North Park, Ritual Tavern has excellent craft beers and homemade chow. I especially like their shepards pie. Also, Jaynes Gastropub, Urban Solace, The Linkery serves excellent farm to table food with a nice beer list, El Take It Easy, sibling of Linkery, is another farm to table restaurant. For mex, I like Super Cocina, which serves slow cooked brasied entree's, on Univ which is also near the Marisco's truck which is on Univ & 35th, great for a quick buck baja fish taco. For a larger Mex fish dinner fare, try Marisco's Godoy on Palomar in CV.

                    Here's a good website for North Park.


                    In LJ I like The Cottage, Public House and El Pescador.

                    1. I forgot a must for breakfast - Hash House a Go Go - ( sharing plates is recommended unless you have an enormous appetite) I have sent several visitors there and everyone loves it. The wait is not as long as they tell you, and a few doors down you can go for a $3.00 mimosa while you wait and people watch !

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: nevrgru

                        There is no reason for anyone to eat at Hash House. The only thing their ridiculous wait proves is that P.T. Barnum was a wise man.

                        1. re: Josh

                          And Will Rogers never met Josh.

                          There is nothing wrong with Hash House. It isn't worth waiting for, which is what people do on the weekends for an hour or more, but some of the dishes, like the smoked salmon hash are very good and pretty unique.

                          1. re: scottca075

                            Hash House offers average food in large quantities. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, there's also nothing about that which would make me think to direct a tourist from NYC to eat there.

                            If you have 5 nights here, why in the world would you spend one of those meals at Hash House?

                            1. re: Josh

                              I knew as soon as HH was mentioned, you'd be posting! I agree!

                              1. re: Josh

                                I wouldn't eat dinner at Hash House and haven't or even lunch, I only think of Hash House as a breakfast place.

                          2. re: nevrgru

                            not sure if I would put HH in the "great" food category.
                            Coffee Cup Cafe on Wall St in La Jolla has very good breakfasts/brunches.
                            Prep Kitchen in La Jolla also has good brunch/lunches.
                            Nine Ten has good breakfast/brunch, in a more "upscale" way.

                          3. If we are talking about great food, El Indio, the Marine Room and Croce's would never cut it.

                            I like all three for different reasons, but I couldn't say with a straight face they have "great" food. El Indio I like for old school, 1960's style Mexican food, but other places have long since passed it by. La Fachada, Tacos El Paisa, Las Cuatro Milpas, Mariscos German Taco Truck, El Zarape, El Comal and Super Cocina are just a few place that come to mind. These are mostly lunch places and a couple are really just taco shacks.

                            Marine Room is a great environment, wonderful for special occasions, but not great food. It is good, maybe even really good, but not foodie great given the other choices out there. George's Modern and Nine Ten are better, but even Nine Ten these days is controversial as some feel it has dropped off. Also in La Jolla I’d also look at WhisknLadle and PrepKitchen.

                            Croce's is great for listening to jazz, but not much more. In the Gaslamp I'd look at the Grant Grill, Dobson's and JSix, although I am not a huge fan, others are. Maybe Cafe Chloe too, it seems to be a fave on the boards, but I find them up and down.

                            Other places I’d look at for dinner are the Farm House Café, Alchemy, The Smoking Goat and maybe Cucina Urbana.

                            1. As a former NY'er, pass on Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese (save these for a SF trip), though San Diego does do good Thai food.

                              Besides the above recommendatons, I would throw in the following:

                              1. Breakfast-- The Mission Cafe (couple of locations) does an excellent French toast.
                              2. JRDN at Tower 23 Hotel--nice steak/seafood restaurant in hotel in Pacific Beach overlooking ocean.
                              3. Romescos Baja Med--outside your stated boundary (20 minutes south of downtown), but very good take on Baja cuisine. Original caesar salad recipe as cousin restaurant in Tijuana (i.e. owned by Plascenscia group--same ownership as highly acclaimed Mision 19), excellent seafood (gobernadores tacos and ahi tostada) along with outstanding wines from the Guadalupe Valey--worth a visit IMHO.


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: El Chevere

                                I agree pretty much on Italian, but with Chinese and Vietnamese I'd say "save it for a Los Angeles trip" (if we can lump OC in with LA since it considered the LA "metro" area). LA has such better Chinese than SF it is downright embarrassing these days.

                                1. re: El Chevere

                                  I don't really see that SD is having good Thai restaurants. Sab-E-Lee (only been to the one in Santee) is overrated (too many disappointments) and Siam Nara is on a similar ( perhaps even slightly better level) but still nothing outstanding. Are there any other restaurants ?