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SD Trip With Kids - Missing Anything (did lots of research)

We are doing the usual SD tour with stops at the zoo, gaslamp and seaworld. There will be 6 of us including 2 kids ages 20 months and 28 months. I've been to SD quite often so need help narrowing down our choices because I've never been down in the area with kids. We are staying by Petco and would like to stay in the downtown area.

Pizza - I always hit up Luigi but have had Basic Pizza or Pizzeria Bruno Napoletano. Will probably just stick with a known entity since they have lots of options and kid friendly.

Fish tacos - Bahia or Blue Water Seafood. I know they are not necessarily in the same vein of fish tacos but both seem to rate highly. Is Lucy's still closed on weekends? If you had to choose one for a Friday fish taco lunch where would you go?

Early dinner - Cucina Urbano over any of the Brian Mularky restaurants. Am I making a good decision and is CU a kid friendly restaurant?

Breakfast places that are open early - I haven't had a lot of success finding many. It seems like a few that come up often are Farm House or Urban Solace.

We'll probably try to brave Hodad's when we go to Seaworld. We'll see about that. Anything else you recommend? Thanks ahead of time.

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  1. I like Blue Water's tacos, especially their grilled shrimp. BUT!

    The line in that place is intolerable, and I wouldn't consider it with a two-year-old. I no longer go, and I live within a mile.

    Cucina Urbana is friendly to children, but I don't remember a "kids menu".

    Sea World had great ribs- some of San Diego's best (ok, a poor playing field) but if you're going there, I'd eat there.

    Breakfast- try Snooz. Opens at 7 (verify that) is big and colorful and interesting. Get there at 7, you'll be fine. By 730/745, you'll be stylin' with the other sheep standing in a herd on the sidewalk. The food is good, but nothing is worth that wait, especially with young-uns.

    Brunch at Urban Solace (or any meal, actually) is excellent.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Fake Name

      Fakey....Il' n'est pas beaucoup personnes ici dan le board avec joie de vivre.

      You're staying in the Gaslamp and I would hit up..

      Basic for pizza
      Bay Park Fish Company in Bay Park or Tin Fish in Gaslamp for fish tacos..next to Petco
      Snooze for breakfast
      Urban Solace or Farm House or Searsucker for brunch
      Bencotta or Cucina Urbana for Italian
      Hodad's in the Gaslamp
      Water Fine Foods on Morena if you want to grab fab food before Sea World and save it for your mortgage payment..


      1. re: Fake Name

        Our kids are actually very adventurous and we don't order off kids menus.

        Thanks for the advice on Blue Water. Based on other recommendations we'll probably try Bahia.

        We're not expecting greatness for breakfast just someplace with good food that opens early. Snooz is close to the hotel so we'll add to the list.

        1. re: js76wisco

          Not in an area where there is anything else to see but fairly close to downtown is Mariscos Negro Durazo in Lemon Grove. Interesting Mexican Seafood preparations and very kid friendly. They serve an early breakfast as well, the Marlin Machaca was good.

          1. re: js76wisco

            It is so nice to find another "foodie" family that shuns the kids' menus. Most places look at us sideways when we order adult sized meals with the real food for our kids, but my two boys are adventurous and would rather eat the regular menu items.

        2. Don Bahia is a local, family place. Sometimes it's busy, but you'll always get a table and see other children there. The tacos are pretty good (definitely as good as any I've had) but you'll experience a non-tourist side of San Diego, and after you eat, you can walk a block down the street and stand on the ocean cliffs. Parking is easy. It will feel like an ocean breeze after Sea World or downtown.

          I can't imagine taking kids to Cucina Urbana, but then, people take kids anywhere now. To me the noise was deafening, and the vibe was too hopped up and frantic. Maybe early it would be fine?

          For breakfast consider Mission Coffee Cup, La Jolla (not Mission Beach) or Cantina in Pacific Beach. Not sure what time they open, but you can google. The same chef owns Barrio Star but it doesn't open until later in the am.

          Don't know where you're coming from, but Tender Greens is a great family place with excellent food. After/before you eat, there's a terrific green space for walking and running with kids. (A former naval parade ground) and a rare piece of preserved San Diego history.

          I love Farmhouse's brunch but their space is so tight that unless you go very early, it may not be easy for them to accommodate your group.

          1. For breakfast, there's a Broken Yolk on 355 6th Ave, good all american comfort food and very kid friendly. Agree with Fake, the BBQ place at Sea World is credibile, considering this is SD. Also, as mentioned, Bahia Don Bravo is easy to access with the ocean a block away. Lastly, Harry's in La Jolla is another good kid friendly place for breakfast.

            1. Blind Lady Ale House is family friendly if you go during the day and has excellent pizza and beer.

              I haven't been since we had our son so not sure how child friendly, but Cafe 222 downtown is walkable to Petco. The Mission gets mixed reviews here, but I like it for breakfast as well. Did not think the Brooklyn Bagel place was worth a stop, though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JRSD

                Cafe 222 is fairly family friendly particularly if you arrive early. The waffles are really good, better than the composed plates.

              2. Your research looks good.

                Cucina Urbana is kid friendly if you go early. They let the kids make their own pizza - which might be a little messy w/a 20 month old but probably fine for your older one.

                My kids love Cafe 222 for breakfast and also Cafe Chloe (but not sure what time they open).

                An alternative to Hodads on your Sea World day is California Kebab in PB. We ate there last weekend and they have a sunny deck with ocean views, great craft beers, and pretty tasty kebabs. My girls split a plate with pita & hummus, chicken kebab & french fries. They LOVE the fries. It's probably a much easier experience than Hodads if you have little ones who might not want to wait in that line. Validated underground parking too.

                Have a great trip!

                1 Reply
                1. re: melee

                  Thanks for the recommendation on California Kebab. The wait at Hodads is brutal even at 11am especially on the weekend. The menu here is probably better for us with more choices.

                2. Reporting back on our trip. All meals except at Basic were 6 people (4 adults and 2 kids). My favorite part of the trip is that almost every place down in SD has great tap beer. I saw Stone, Lagunitas and a bunch of other great craft beers on tap all over the city. At every restaurant we ate at we had fantastic very kid friendly service with a huge thumbs up for Cucina Urbana. They accommodated us on Friday with no reservation and the waiter we had was so patient and friendly. We left generous tips everywhere for the mess we left.

                  Studio Diner - breakfast day 1. Pretty standard diner breakfast fare. The best items we had were the biscuits and gravy and the corned beef hash. It was the salty out of a can variety of corned beef hash but sometimes that hits the spot. The english muffin was not toasted enough and the juice tasted like the kind you get out of a machine. But nothing beats seeing a very drunk guy eating a steak and eggs slurring his words at 7:15am when you walk in with your family.

                  Snooz - breakfast day 2. Our favorite meal of the entire trip. The whole atmosphere, staff, menu, kitsch, etc... We loved this place and see why it gets so crowded. We barely missed the rush and got a table very quickly. The coffee was fantastic. I didn't have a chance to read up on the whole story but they are obviously very serious about their coffee. Every person was thrilled with their order. We had 3 bests - best french toast, best eggs benedict and best huevos rancheros any of us have had anywhere. They let you choose 2 different eggs benedict so you can try 2 different types. The huevos rancheros were simply amazing. A great balance of flavors between the creamy yolk, beans, sausage and fresh salsa. It was very filling but I ate the whole thing. My wife loved her egg sandwich on the pretzel roll. The pretzel roll was delicious.

                  Basic Pizzeria - snack day 2. A great find. I liked the atmosphere but it seemed like a bar more than a restaurant. The pie was mis-shapen but we really liked the pie. We ordered a small pie with sausage and mushrooms. It was like a long football rather than a traditional pizza pie. The sauce was a bit more tangy than the usual sweet pizza sauce but it meshed well with the pie. Great thin crunchy crust and bottom. I very much enjoyed the pizza and would definitely recommend. You can only get pies and the small is a perfect size for 2 people.

                  Cucina Urbano - dinner day 1. Great service. I loved the idea of selling the wine at cost with a corkage fee. It seemed odd since restaurants make so much money off their wine service but I wasn't complaining. A great meal all around. The highlights were the suckling pig, market, salad, brussel sprouts and meatballs. The suckling pig with the poached egg and crispy skin. I could have eaten 2 orders myself as my main entree. Tender, rich and one of the best bites I've had in a long time. The huge meatball was a crowd favorite all around. We ordered pizza and the red sauce on the pizza and around the meatball was very nice. Versatile enough for the pizza and a good compliment to the savory meatball. The short rib pasta I had was good. The pasta seemed like it was home made but the sauce was a tad rich for me. I wished there was something to cut through the rich short rib sauce.

                  Burger Lounge - dinner day 2. Casual dinner spot in the Gaslamp. They recently opened up 2 branches in LA so they've been getting a lot of press up here. The fries and onion rings were great. The burger itself was tasty. My biggest complaints were the bun was too hard and big for the burger. The burger had a great crust, was seasoned nicely but it was overcooked. I also wish they had some pickles. The one confusing thing is that for a organic sustainable place they use Dreyer's ice cream. Isn't there a local organic ice cream company they could have teamed up with and promoted?

                  All in all a great trip. The SD Zoo is fantastic. We could have spent a few days there easily. Could do without ever going back to the Safari Park. Too few animals, too far to walk and too far off the beaten path for us. The Shamu show was the highlight of the weekend.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: js76wisco

                    Great report, thanks! FYI, Basic is New Haven, CT style pizza and that is how it is shaped there.