My Favorites in San Diego
Here are some of my favorites in SD when I was there for grad school. I think of these places often now that I'm out east away from them. Just thought I'd share the info, enjoy them for me!
Adams Avenue Grill- great food, nice casual laid back kind of place where the locals eat. The menu changes weekly, but don't miss the waffle fries and the desserts.
El Zarape- with so many mexican options in SD, this small place has to be my favorite. All the basics, but you can get great tacos (including salmon and shrimp), and they have a nice burrito with chicken and mole sauce. What I wouldn't give for a carne asada taco right now...
Saffron- the freshest and one of the tastiest Thai places I've eaten at.
The Mission (both locations)- I could have brunch here everyday of the week and still not get tired of the place. Love their rosemary potatoes, chicken apple sausage, french toast, cinnamon buns, blackberry shakes...the list goes on and on!
The Brigantine- even though it's a local chain, they know how to do fish and seafood well.
Via Italia Trattoria- you can't tell by its location in a strip mall, but this italian place is absolutely authentic. The waiters are italian, the people at the other table are italian, this is the real deal. Love their pastas and pizzas.
DZ Akins- great deli and restaurant, especially for california.
Rubios- even though it's a chain, you can't beat their 99 cent fish taco promotion.
In N Out- another chain, but once you leave the west coast and no longer have access, you sure do miss the fantastic double doubles with grilled onions. Try 'em "monster style" too.
So that's my two cents. How's the new downtown stadium coming along?
I've lived in Mexico many years and now live in Spain for the past 5 years and I miss some of the best mexican (Cal-mex) from Albertos near Convoy and Balboa in San Diego. The Carne asada burrito and 3 rolled tacos with guac. is to die for.
I lived in M.B. for 5 years (in S. D for ten)and the Robertos across from the Roller Coaster isnt as good as albertos but good for late night munchies there.
Dont miss Vien Dong markets (Near USD and SDSU too) for the best seafood ingredients for cooking on your own as well as good fried crab in their Chinese take away.
The best pizza I ever had is at Papachino's in Del Mar off Via de la Valle. They use whole milk mozzarella which makes for a thick, ropy cheese. If you really love cheese then ask for extra cheese on it and you'll nearly choke ...its great!
I lived near San Diego in the early '90s while starting my journalism career and became addicted to several eateries. Sadly, I moved back to Texas and no longer savor the following "delicacies" - proffered by chains as well as independent restaurants:
RUBIO'S BAJA GRILL: Sure, it's a mammoth chain, but it still makes some of the best tacos and burritos of any casual Mexican restaurant. For a while there, its quality slipped when it added enchiladas and other items to its core menu. Thankfully, the quality has returned. Although I love the basic fish taco, my favorite item is the simple grilled chicken burrito.
CROCE'S: great Gaslamp Quarter restaurant operated by Jim Croce's widow, Ingrid. Try the seared salmon fettucine with pine nuts in Gorgonzola sauce. And the chicken sausage fusilli's good, too, if you've got the stomach for it!
TOP OF THE MARKET: Sure, the critics praise the pricy Star Of The Sea, but the more casual Top Of The Market at Tuna Harbor is just as good. Avoid the pricier items and go for the shark steak. The veggies alone - grown organically in Chico Farms - are worth the price. The view of Coronado bridge is breathtaking, but definitely make reservations. And don't skip dessert: the banana cream pie was rich, as was the tiramisu, which my dining companion proclaimed the best she's had.
DZ AKIN'S: Quirky deli in East County. Choose from the huge list of sandwiches. The liver and onions is great, as is the Matzo ball soup.
SUBMARINA: Sure, it's a regional chain proferring simple sandwiches. But the bread makes 'em stand apart from most Subway pabulum. Wish they had Submarinas nationwide.
IN-N-OUT BURGER: I don't often indulge in fast-food burgers, but this place is unequaled. My tastes are as simple as the menu: a cheeseburger with grilled onions and vanilla shake made with real ice cream. When I'm really hungry, I order the Double Double with fries, though the fries tend to be "feast or famine."
THE BRIGANDINE: great appetizers, particularly the fish tacos.
THE FISH MERCHANT: casual restaurant near Cowles Mountain in San Carlos serves solid seafood in East County. While Anthony's Fish Grotto and other coastal restaurants get all the attention, The Fish Merchant's been served quality seafood every bit as good as its coastal rivals for years. Even the fish taco dinner comes with a mammoth side salad and bread basket.
As long as you brought up the subject of San Diego's best, I thought I'd mention my experiences during a recent trip (from Los Angeles).
Blue Point (Gaslamp District) - One of the best seafood restaurants in the State. Food is as good as the Water Grill in LA, but the place is nicer (better seating, better view [of street activity], less noise [though not quiet]. Don't miss the New Zealand Saugingnon Blanc by the glass. The grilled fish special was halibut. It's not my favorite fish, but this preparation was great - charred crust, creamy middle, freshness that rivals what you get in Hawaii. Quirky accompaniments, mainly vegetable melanges, are interesting but don't detract from the incredible quality of the fish.
Taco Surf (Pacific Beach on Mission Bl)- better than average Mexican counter service restaurant; fun atmosphere, but entirely overrated by the links on this board.
Mezzogiorno - 3667 India St, not too far from Old Town - new "Italian Nouvelle" restaurant. Some interesting, if not really "nouvelle" ideas; intense portabella mushroom appetizer, unusual eggplant wrapped around pasta entree. The place is worth a look.
Saska's (Mission Bl, Mission Bch) - forget it; great ads but delivers very little for the $. The "deck with a beach view" is a come on.
Mission Cafe (3795 Mission Bl, Mission Bch) - the breakfast equivalent of Blue Point; gargantuan portions of spectacular cinnamon french toast, double smoked bacon, etc. Unique.
I'm back east eight years now, but I still miss:
1.) El Indio
2.) Gelato Vera
3.) Hob Nob Hill
5.) Margareta's (Ocean Beach)
6.) Point Loma Seafoods
8.) In-n-out Burgers
9.) That Thai place on India Street
10.) Gone now, I know, but the Cotton Patch.
Sure, there are plenty of fine-dining places in SD, but you can find those places almost anywhere.
How can anyone forget Karen Krasne's Extraordinary Desserts? I can't find a place like it in all of LA. *sigh* with their incredible Raspberry Chocolate Truffle cakes, and beautiful confections like the Napoleon. I know most people order the coffee, but you
should not pass up the remarkable selection of teas.
There is an incredibly fragrant South African tea
named Blomfontein which in of itself makes Extraordinary Desserts worth visiting. Plus tea offsets the sweetness of the desserts divinely.