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L.A. family coming down for the weekend

Wifey and me plus our four kiddos (9-15) will be staying in mission valley for the holiday weekend. We like pretty much everything. Looking for a good family friendly San Diego eating experience. Would like to keep it pretty close (no further south than downtown, all the way to the ocean, no further east than Lemon Grove). Dessert recs would also be appreciated (especially ice cream!).

FYI, we've already eaten our way through Old Town and Seaport Village.

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  1. Since you are looking for 'good family friendly' eating..

    Ricky's for breakfast or Perry's in Mission Valley/Old Town..
    Blue Water Grill in Bay Park for lunch/happy hour/dinner
    JV's taco shop for good grub in Linda Vista/USD
    Basic for some fab pizza in the Gaslamp
    Bully's East in Mission Valley for bully burgers
    Tio Leo's for Mex in Linda Vista
    Marisco German Seafood food truck in City Heights
    Super Cocina
    Sab E Lee for fab Thai
    Phil's BBQ Sports Arena/Point Loma..for the 4 kids
    Bali Hai in Shelter Island..
    Filippi's in Little Italy
    Tender Greens Liberty Station past the Airport
    Searsucker in Gaslamp for brunch

    3 Replies
    1. re: Beach Chick

      Thanks for the ideas! If you had to chose between Basic and Filippi's, which would you go with (we'd like to mix up cuisines as much as possible)? Being from L.A., we're all about food trucks. Any truck lots close to the valley?

      1. re: L.A. Jay

        Filippis is red-checker tablecloth Eye-talian. I'm not as offended by that as some here are- it's easy, a little fun and familiar.

        But I'd go to Basic 5 times before I'd go.

        No big food truck lots like you have a-way up there. We have a few, mostly mariscos, and they're good if you don't mine eating of a trashcan lid or a greasy truck bumper. I go there by myself, leave the rest of the fam at home.

        Beach Chick gave you a VERY good list- she's much older than I and vastly more experienced.

        Hopefully Foodiechick will chime in- she's even more knowledgable and wise ; )

    2. Beach Chick is on the money!
      I don't have kids, but every time I hit Station Tavern it is LOADED with families and dogs. Outdoor seating is fantastic, picnic tables, playground area, beer and burgers. Best of all it's in hip South Park and the parents look like those straight outta Los Feliz or Silver Lake.. The food is not spectacular, but good enough. Walk down the street and there's a great ice cream spot. Also, several cute boutiques and vintage stores to visit en route. Stationtavern.com. Think it's right off Fern. Easy meter parking close by. Let us know what you select and have fun.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sonias

        Agreed about Station Tavern, as long as you like burgers and are not demanding about service.

        1. re: Sonias

          What's the name of the ice cream spot?

          1. re: L.A. Jay

            Daily Scoop, I think. Right off Juniper.

        2. Continuing my research, I've found "Extraordinary Desserts", but the website doesn't make it look very "kid friendly". Am I right?

          5 Replies
          1. re: L.A. Jay

            It's not like an "Olde Tyme Ice Cream Parlor" it's a lot better. And our kid LOVES the place, as do the other kids I see there.

            I wouldn't hesitate to go.

            Again- my views on food are far less sophisticated that other hounds here, who'll warn you against setting foot in the place, so take my observations with a flake of Fleur de Sel.

            But kids love the place.

            1. re: Fake Name

              I'm just as sophisticated as FakeName, even my friend's kids beg me to take them to Daily Scoop. Decor is totally lacking if anything, but who cares. Good ice cream.

              1. re: Fake Name

                Either location will work for the kids?

              2. re: L.A. Jay

                RE: Extraordinary Desserts. Hmmm. Toughy. I am just so turned off by a Quinceanera dessert display. You will pay for artistry, but I've never tasted the magic. Especially given the price. Good atmosphere for kiddos and they will be mesmerized by all the pretty flowers for sure. As a local, I just never understood the hype. If it's a weekend, expect a wait. If Vegan and thrifty, you can grab a bite at Evolution Fast Food next door. Another place with good outdoor, family-friendly seating/vibe. OH, duh. Finally two plus two. Yes, SanFilippos which other's recommended is adjacent. Super mediocre, but after the Balboa Park experience no one will care. Guarantee you, dinner will be chaper than dessert:).
                Disclaimer: I once lived in El Paso and experienced countless Quinceaneras before forming this opinion/generalization.
                In an answer, yes, kid-friendly.

              3. Options that haven't yet been mentioned that are in close procimity to Mission Valley

                Pappalecco - 5th Ave. in Hillcrest, cross street is Pennsylvania. Not ice cream but it is really good gelato, lost of flavors, Italian coffee, breakfast, salads and sandwiches.

                Chocolat - corner of 5th and University in Hillcrest. Once again, not ice cream but really good gelato.

                Burger Lounge - 4th & University in Hillcrest.

                Mama Testa - University and Richmond in Hillcrest. All tacos all the time. The hard shell mashed potato tacos are outstanding and not nearly has carb heavy as they sound. Also good are the grill chicken, cochinita pibil, mojados, and (housemade) chorizo tacos

                Tre Porcellini - next door to Mama Testa. They undergone some changes in the last few months so I can't guarantee they're still as solid as they once were. Italian

                Cafe on Park - Good breakfast/lunch spot on Park Blvd, close to University. Hillcrest

                Parkhouse Cafe - Park Blvd. University Heights (next door to Hillcrest)

                Bruno's Pizzaria - Park Blvd just south of El Cajon Blvd. Very good Neopolitan-style pizza

                Adams Ave. Grill - on, what else, Adam Ave. kind of in the University Heights area

                Blind Lady Ale House - Adams just east of 30th, great beers, good pizza and salads

                Tioli's Crazy Burger - 30th North Park area, exotic burgers

                Caffe Calabria - Pizza (and very good coffee)

                El Comal - Illinois St., 1/2 blk. north of University in North Park

                Urban Solace - 30th in North Park

                Two of the biggest farmers markets in SD are Saturday and Sunday and within 10 minutes of Mission Valley. Saturday in Little Italy, Sunday in Hillcrest. Lots of prepared food vendors, good place to wander around and graze for breakfast.

                Emjoy your visit

                1 Reply
                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Crazy Burger is also in Old Town now...

                2. On your way down from LA you could pull off at Encinitas Blvd and get some treats at Elizabethan Desserts (it's also close to SD Botanical Garden). My favorite is the pecan shortbread dipped in chocolate.
                  The Mission in Mission Beach or Isabel's Cantina in Pacific Beach for breakfast.
                  Our kids always love the Little Italy Farmer's Market on Saturdays, which has a pretty view across the bay to Point Loma. We usually share paninnis & crepes and finish with delicious popsicles from Viva Pops.
                  Mama Testa's for tacos in Hillcrest is close to the zoo & Balboa Park.
                  Tender Greens at Liberty Station for lunch.
                  Azucar in Ocean Beach for cafes con leche & amazing pastries. Their lime bar is delicious!
                  Pizza Port in Ocean Beach has great pizza and craft beers with a family friendly atmosphere (think picnic tables & video games)
                  Have fun!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: melee

                    Viva Pops also has a store front on Adams Avenue near Blind Lady Ale House (mentioned above)

                    Mariposa Ice Cream is in the same area on Adams Ave. Mariposa is a small scoop shop that makes its own ice cream.

                    1. re: melee

                      Thanks for the Elizabethan rec. Sounds like a good place to stop on our way out of town.

                      1. re: L.A. Jay

                        2nd Elizabethan and those chocolate dipped caramel pecan bars...and the lemon pie bars...and the mini fruit pies, but they're closed Sun and Mon so might want to grab a few treats on the way to San Diego

                        1. re: Island

                          Oh, thanks so much for the heads up!