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San Diego: What are your top picks?

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Starting a week from now, this Manhattan chowhound will be in San Diego for a whole week, so there's lots of time to get in whatever places you San Diegan chowhounds deem as your favorite picks.

I'm going to be with my husband and lots of extended family; I can get a night alone with my hubby at a top place, but other than that I'll need more casual restaurants that can handle a large group with a few kids sprinkled into the mix. So for the more casual, more moderately priced places, I'd be interested in Mexican for sure, Thai, maybe pizza, Italian, Japanese, "Californian" (if that category still exists). For the more upscale choice for a night out just the two of us, give me something that's not stuffy, heavy on fish or vegetarian choices, with maybe an Asian bent.

We'll be based in Coronado (which I've found to be a relative culinary dearth), so choices that aren't too far from there would be most likely to be visited.

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    3 Replies
    1. re: buddha

      Well, that's only somewhat helpful, as I'm not familiar with the location of any of the restaurants listed. Again, I'm looking for places not too far from Coronado (say, within 20-25 minutes). It's also impossible for me to tell which of the places is casual, which is more upscale, etc. Consider that I'm a visitor, not a resident, and that it's my first time hearing of these places on your lists. Thanks for your help!

      1. re: gab

        Parallel 33 would probably be on my list of places to go. Med-Exp in price $25-50 per. This is SoCal, so not really a formal place. I guess you'd call it semi-formal/business casual. The theme of the restaurant is the 33rd parallel so you'll find Chinese-Moroccan, etc..fusion, and most of the time it's done rather well. This is our "special occasion" place.

        The Address is:
        741 West Washington Street, Mission Hills, 619-260-0033

        Head North up Hwy5, exit on Washington, head east.

        In SD proper, nothing is really too far away. After dinner head East on Wash and get on University and check out the Hillcrest/Uptown area - lot's of different places there.
        As for Coronado, we had some friends who had dinner at Azzura Point - it's in the Loews Resort. They rather enjoyed it - I don't have any specifics. They also had a rather good meal at Peohe's, about the same price range, also on Coronado - the info:

        1201 First St.
        619-437-4474

        Of course most of this is second hand, though it may be worth a try!

        1. re: KirkK

          Thanks everyone for your advice. I'll let you know where I ended up and what I thought.

    2. Unfortunately, my dining acumen is skewed to North County...not downtown. But here's a couple places near(ish) you that get solid reviews:

      Lucky Star - 54th and University - dim dum + more
      Point Loma Seafood
      .and Tapenade in La Jolla would be a nice "date" dinner!

      Good luck!

      1. Bring me some of those desserts from Sacred Chow on Hudson St. (especially the vegan Almond Joy-type candy) and I'll drive you and your whole entourage around all week!

        Seriously:
        I agree that Coronado is not too chowhoundy. I did eat a fairly good Thai meal there recently. Can't remember the name, but it was about two blocks from the Lamb's Playhouse--from the front of the theater, cross the main street, and walk about two blockson the street perpendicular to the main street; it's on the corner across from a church.

        For Mexican, my current extreme favorite (and no one has yelled at me here yet for this potential heresy) is Ranchos, on 30th Street just north of University (3910 30th St.). This is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I described this restaurant on my post on the thread about "San Diego rotation." If you could get from Coronado over to I-805 North (via 94??), and exit University, then go just a few blocks east, that would do it. It's probably more than 20 minutes, but it's what I recommend.

        For the evening out with hubby, I would go far enough afield to get to either George's at the Cove (La Jolla) or Parallel 33 (on El Cajon, not far east of I-5) (both on my "rotations" post), but if you want something closer, look on other threads for a restaurant others have recommended as particularly nice in the Gaslamp.

        And now, like Admiral Stockdale of Coronado, I am out of ammo. But come up farther north next time, and I'll be able to offer better suggestions.

        1. You are in serious trouble in Coronado. Pack a picnic.

          Quatro Milpas is just under the land side of the bridge in Aztec Park. Cheap, authentico(food and ambience) and delicious.

          Nice for family is Saffron. Up the I5 to Washington St. Best chicken in San Diego, great egg rolls, spring rolls, salads. Moderate price. Very Casual.

          A night out for two ...hm. I love Laurel (5th & Laurel) because their food is simply divine. A bit formal. My second choice for food, a more casual (but not too casual)and nice service is Cafe Pacifica in Old Town.

          Onami in the valley might be a nice family nite out, if you like stuff out of the ocean. Japanese buffet.