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May 3, 2012 05:02 PM

San Diego Trip Report from a Seattle Hound

I've just returned from a 5-day solo trip to San Diego. I trolled this message board for budget-friendly, casual restaurants and my tummy left San Diego very happy. Here are the restaurants I visited, the dishes I ordered, and my general observations:

Azucar in Ocean Beach - Guava/cheese pastry, meat pie and mojito cookie. This uber-casual cuban bakery in Ocean Beach was delightful. The pastry dough was perfectly flaky. I realized too late I should have asked for hot sauce to go with the meat pie as I overheard someone else order that. But without it, I still enjoyed the yummy seasoned ground beef filling. The cookie was limey and great. Loved this place and would return. It was fun to walk to the beach to watch the surfers after my breakfast.

Prep Kitchen in Little Italy - Spinach salad with beets, avocado and tangerines. Delish! It felt like a very "California" dish and I loved the hip atmosphere of the restaurant. I would definitely return for dinner and drinks with friends. I ate at the bar and even though they were slammed with people (it was during the art festival) the service was outstanding. A pleasant surprise.

In-n-Out Burger - Cheese burger, fries and a chocolate shake. I'd never been to one before and honestly, I don't see what the big deal is. It was good, but I wouldn't seek it out again. Given my screen name (frygirl) I was excited to try the fries since I know they're hand cut and cooked fresh, but I thought they were just 'meh.'

Marisco's Taco Truck - Fish taco. OMG this was tied with Mama Testas as my favorite food of the trip. The generous portion of fish is so perfectly cooked, and the corn tortillas are soft and fresh. My only regret is that I didn't return a second time during my visit. Note they have moved from University to El Cajon, but I didn't jot down the cross street. Luckily there was a truck parked at the old University location advertising the new address. The new location is in the parking lot of a Chevron station. Yum yum yummy yum.

Point Loma Seafood - Scallop sandwich + cole slaw. I'm glad I tried this. It's a hugely generous portion. I thought the sourdough flavor of the sandwich bread clashed slightly with the mild scallops, but not enough to ruin the meal. The cole slaw was a nice complement to the sandwich - it has the standard mayo dressing.

Mama Testas - Mojados de carne + side of refried beans and rice. This dish is beef flautas chopped into a bowl of chili broth. Ignore my lame description and just go eat it. It's heavenly. The beef is pot-roast tender, and the fried flautas very slowly soften as they sit in the broth so the texture gradually changes during the meal. I read on the board that their refried beans are noteable, but I thought they were just average. The salsa bar was fun. I loved the pickled carrots, the tomatillo salsa with parmesean, and the blended tomato/jalapeno salsa. I licked my plate. Seriously.

Tender Greens - Roasted vegetable salad with lemon vinaigrette. I wish they'd open an outpost in Seattle because I could eat these freshly tossed salads every day. The roasted veggies were tossed with crunchy greens and made for a surprisingly filling meal. The grilled artisan bread slice that came with it was finger-lickin' good.

Cafe Chloe in East Village (or is it Gaslamp?) - Pan seared king salmon salad. Being from Seattle, I have high standards for salmon, and this dish met them to a tee. The fish was perfectly medium-rare and served over frisee, beets and asparagus. It was simply perfect. And I snagged a sidewalk table on a beautiful day.

Pomodoro in Point Loma - Spaghetti carbonara + ceasar salad. This meal was disappointing, probably due to my own preferences. The carbonara sauce was extremely creamy, almost like an alfredo sauce, and it just didn't appeal to me although the flavor was good. Most carbonaras aren't quite that saucy or creamy. The salad was served room temperature (ick), was over dressed, and underseasoned. Maybe I just caught them on a bad night.

El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla - Grilled seabass sandwich with avocado. This is a great sandwich to pick up and take to the waterfront to watch the seals. I can't say I'd recommend it as worth a drive from SD, but it should be on your list if you're already in LJ. It was a nice item to fill my tummy after hitting the Green Flash tasting room in Mira Mesa for IPA samples.

You have a wonderful city and a fantastic food scene. Thanks for maintaining a vibrant discussion on chowhound. It made my trip a pleasure, because my trips are always all about the food.


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  1. Thanks for your recap frygirl.

    In 'n' Out fries are notorious for being not that good. The trick is to order them twice fried or extra crispy. I'm not a fan of their fries either, so don't feel too let down. Their fries just aren't that special, hand cut or not.

    Your description of the tacos de mojado is just fine and it's a fine dish, especially when the weather is (by SD standards) chilly. Whoever said the refrieds at MT were noteworthy was wrong. Their refrieds are only so-so, their rice, however, is a pretty decent rendition of Mexican rice.

    Tender Greens is in expansion mode and I believe they may have the Seattle area on their radar, so you may get your wish :-)

    The mojito cookies from Azucar *are* very, very good.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the trip! I'm also very impressed that you were able to make a trip report entirely out of the search function! That is truly impressive

      1. glad you had the mojados de carne--they and the mashed potato tacos are my fave items at Mama Testa's!

        1. Awesome report frygirl!
          Sounds like you had a great time and I gotta hit up the Green Flash..thanks for the reminder.
          Love Seattle..jonesing for the chowda at Pike Place Chowder.

          1. Great report. I'm so glad someone came to San Diego and ate "San Diego." If/when I go to Seattle, I'll look for Frygirl's reco's. (But admit it, weren't the El Pescadorians behind the counter much cuter than the Pt Loma Seafooders?)

            6 Replies
            1. re: pickypicky

              True! El Pescador has great eye candy behind the counter for the ladies. :-)

              1. re: frygirl

                I may need to rethink the reason why my 6-year old daughter likes going to El Pescador with me.

                  1. re: RB Hound

                    Those young gentleman who run the counter are polite and friendly, your daughter has a good eye! Have to admit, their sammies are pretty tasty. Just keep an eye open dad!

                    1. re: RB Hound

                      My son worked at El Pescador years ago. The owner always greeted me with "Moms of my guys never pay here. You eat free." So I did. Until my son finally told me, as sweetly as he could, that every time I ate there, his pay got docked for my meal. I cut back on my visits. Now when I go in, I can't help but leave extra big tips to help cover the guys who are paying for their moms' meals.

                      1. re: pickypicky

                        Well, maybe he was telling the truth in a weird way. Moms never pay 'here' but, their sibs will pay for them.... later.