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La Jolla and Del Mar

Heading to the San Diego area for my first visit this holiday weekend. We'll be staying in La Jolla, but the main event is a reserved table at the Del Mar racetrack. While my husband would prefer all lunches there, I'd like options to branch out.

We have dinner reservations already (Nine-Ten, Addison, and George's Modern), so mainly interested in lunch and craft cocktail recs in La Jolla. For lunches I was thinking (view-wise since all our dinners will be late when it's dark) one of the restaurants at La Valencia or George's Ocean Terrace. Or maybe some place in Del Mar close to the track like Jake's. If not going for a view - I'm thinking WhisknLadle or Herringbone. I also may spend one day at the hotel while my husband is at the track. Any thoughts on a spot that would be best for a solo sunset cocktail in walking distance of the Grande Colonial? TIA!

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  1. Solo sunset cocktail: La Sala at La Valencia, upstairs bar/outside lounge at Eddie V's, George's in the bar or upstairs at the Terrace Bar.

    Drop the lunch idea at La V, new owners have decimated the dining program except for the Sky Room. Was at WhisknLadle for lunch today. Food is good, but with the current temps it is really hot and humid on the almost totally enclosed patio (1 fan and no breeze). Although, I will say they have a pretty strong craft cocktail bar.

    I would suggest a lunch in the open roof lounge at Herringbone. Prices are reasonable, craft cocktails, great atmosphere (much better deal than dinner at the same venue).

    Have a great Labor Day weekend.

    1. Oh, I forgot. Eddie V's is now serving lunch on their two outside patios (the lover level is more intimate and has better views) on Saturdays and Sundays...as well as Monday on this holiday weekend. Highly recommend - but call and make a reservation (including your lower level request).

      1. Thanks so much, very helpful!

        Dropping La V per your advice and lunching at Herringbone. I'm already thinking oysters and the clam pizza with bone marrow, while my husband is eyeing the lobster roll. Now that you mention it, he had suggested Eddie V's because he had been to that spot when it was the Chart House and says it has a gorgeous view. And I think I'm leaning towards one lunch with a view in Del Mar before the track, most likely Jake's....

        Very much looking forward to my first trip to San Diego. Thanks again, and have a great weekend!

        1. Hi Rubee!
          You've never been to SD...Wow, you are going to love it coming from PHX!
          Foodiechica gave you fab advice..

          Eddie V's for lunch or dinner, George's ocean terrace for casual or George's Modern for fancy..3 tiered resto..bar is great too.
          Drinks at Marine Room in LJ Shores..
          The Shores on the patio for lunch or dinner..oceanfront at LJ Beach and Tennis
          Cusp at Hotel La Jolla
          Cheese Shop for deli sandwich if you're swimming at the beach..Jeff's burger too.
          Piatti's for lunch in the Shores
          AR Valentien at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

          Have breakfast on the back ocean patio at La V....drinks at the Whaling Bar.. (before they make it a Sports bar..bastards)

          Flavor Del Mar or Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar..
          I might be at the DMTC playing the ponies this weekend...crazy on Labor Day...loved to say HI.
          Red Tracton's across from the track is old school and oyster bar at the Fish Market...do not eat at the restaurant.
          Tony Jacal's past the Fish Market is fab for margs and Mex.

          I would cruise the 101 from LJ to Carlsbad and back..drive into Rancho Santa Fe and stop at Chino's at the famous 'vegetable stand'. where all the top chefs get their veggies.
          Delicias, Mille Fleur and the Inn at RSF are lovely...one of the prettiest places.
          Roberto's taco shop on Carmel Valley rd or 101 in Solana Beach has decent taco shop grub.

          Have fun Rubee and I was in your town last week at the Princess..Bourbon Steak was great.

          1. The two best ladies in town just fixed you up. You're set.

            I will say, that my first thought is the madness of what you'll face, crowd-wise in La Jolla and Del Mar this weekend. (You may love it. I don't.) For that reason, you might consider a lunch or drink on the terrace of the Lodge at Torrey Pines (A R Valentien) since it's right between LJ and DM, and you'll be driving right past. Also, excellent place for a solo diner. Just you and the torrey pines.

            1. PickyPicky - love that idea of Torrey Pines, adding it to one of the lunch options. My husband is a golfer, so he liked that idea too. It sounds so pretty : )

              BeachChick - Do you still have my email? Message me and I'll give my #. Would love to meet up if you're around. We'll be at DMTC all weekend.

              Thanks especially to both of you for the heads-up on how crazy it will be this weekend (ack, didn't even think about that).

              Sooo..we landed tonight, picked up the rental car, checked in to the Grande Colonial (love our room and the feel of this place), and had an excellent late dinner at Nine-Ten. Jamaican pork belly and duck for me, ceviche and NY strip for E, and a shared panna cotta with blackberries and chocolate sorbet for dessert. Really wonderful. A cocktail, Bordeaux, and after-dinner bourbon were also involved, and must mention the great service from Thierry. After dinner, we took a walk and stopped at La Valencia to look around - so nice. What a lovely intro, and can't wait to open the curtains tomorrow and see La Jolla in the daylight.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Rubee

                Good Morning Rubee!
                Love love love the Grande and I used to live a block away for many many years and its such a great area...walking the coast walk..take the 'secret' walk over the cliffs from LJ Cove over the cave and there is a great bench that gazes all the way up the coast.

                Nine-Ten is lovely..
                Go and have breakfast on the back patio of La V outside to view the coast line..

                We are going to forgo this weekend with the ponies because of the crazy crowd but have a blast and they are giving away a fleece pullover..
                Tony Jacal's rocks it for margs and Mex..

                AR Valentien at the Lodge at Torrey Pines is so lovely and hike next door at the stunning Torrey Pines State Reserve..

                Welcome to gorgeous San Diego!

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  ah, the "secret walk" on the cliffs. I lived on Park Row for three years before I found it -- and once I did, it was the daily dog walk. I also love the "secret staircases" by the LA V and the Grande. . .

                  So glad your trip began so perfectly. You'll have a fine weekend, crowds or no, because you have the right spirit of the place. Enjoy !

              2. If your husband is a golfer, you may want to lunch on the TP golf greens, outside The Grill. Another option (besides the ARV terrace) at the Lodge at Torrey Pines.

                1. Rubee, I'm not going to recommend restaurants, but I will share some information. If you want a view of the "water" after dark, go someplace where the view is of the well lit bay. I lived in a beach front condo in Del Mar for three years that had an absolutely incredible view of the ocean and Torrey Pines.... until the sun set. If there wasn't a ship out there sailing up or down the coast, it was pitch black on a moonless or cloudy night. Some restaurants atop tallest buildings in La Jolla with a view to the south will have nice after dark views, but keep in mind that ocean front views that don't overlook the bay or harbor won't be very exciting after dark. Have fun...!!!

                  Edit: Oh yeah to The Lodge at Torrey Pines! An old haunt.

                  1. Aloha Rubee..
                    Read your twitter feed and you really know how to rock star it sista...with food and drink et al..
                    Glad you had a blast and you won too!
                    Isn't LJ/Del Mar wonderful..welcome to my hood and can't wait to have you back!

                    1. Thanks again, we had a great trip (as BeachChick knows by my Tweets! @rubee100)

                      First, thanks for any tips and suggestions I didn't partake of this visit - I will be sure to do it next time. Because there will be a next time, hopefully sooner rather than later. ; )

                      Loved our hotel. We arrived after dark and it was so nice to wake up and see the gorgeous view. I also loved being able to stroll such a pretty area. Our first lunch was Jake's Del Mar. Another beautiful location on the beach. Service was great. We agreed that E's appetizer of layered seafood was the favorite, but everything else was just okay - my roasted tomato soup, the crab melt, and ono with Caesar salad. The special seafood Caesar was especially disappointing. The dressing needed much more acid, and my cajun-spiced ono tasted as if it had been cooked ahead, chilled, and slightly re-warmed, so it was overcooked and dense. We were tourists, though, so the view and proximity to the Del Mar race track helped.

                      We went to Addison from the track, I did a quick change, and ahhhh we walked into that absolutely amazing restaurant and immediately felt relaxed. We planned our reservations so we would have time to have a pre-dinner cocktail and I was exceptionally glad we did. Happy to see a favorite cocktail on the menu - the Last Word - and thus we had a chance to chat with Mitch at the bar about classic cocktails. Of course, then I had to have a Remember the Maine (a cocktail I last had at No 9 Park in Boston) after Mitch told me it was a favorite of his. Excellent, and count me now as a huge fan of his.

                      Those cocktails + 6-course tasting/food coma + excellent wine pairing (and a very cool Japanese red ale) by Andrew + a double after-dinner armagnac = dinner report isn't as detailed as it should be, but it was absolutely wonderful. I also didn't take any pics because I wanted to relax and enjoy. Highlights included a panna cotta with oyster, uni, and caviar, escargot with coddled farm egg, and ris de veau. They also kindly let us request two dishes we saw on the a la carte menu (the escargot and sweetbreads). Very pricey but an experience I highly recommend.

                      Already too long, so rest of trip tomorrow (including our must-return for lunch - Herringbone - and dinner - George's Modern).

                      View our first morning in La Jolla

                      Jake's layered seafood cocktail:

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Rubee

                        Awesome report Rubee!
                        Get your flame shield out for dining at Jake's.. ; )
                        Best for drinks and apps but you can't beat the view..especially before heading or after the track.
                        Grande Colonial is a special place for me too...my dear friend used to own the hotel and back in the day, we used to go up on the roof and have drinks..before it became all gussied up.
                        Grand Del Mar is lovely and Addison's is one of SD best.
                        Can't wait to hear more!

                      2. Almost forgot to finish up!

                        Our best lunch of the trip was at Herringbone's where we shared a fab lobster roll and a clam pizza with bone marrow and garlic.

                        Dinner that night was also a favorite of the trip - George's Modern. Loved the flavorful, creative combinations. Started with excellent cocktails. I knew it was a good sign when we saw the bitters lined up. We sat at the bar and after a chance to chat with Frankie, I enjoyed my Acquedotto (North Shore Distillery aquavit, Cynar, lemon verbena, and lemon) and off-menu favorite of Frankie's - his Old Betsy with rye, Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Dandelion & Burdock Bitters, and tamarind soda. Highly recommend.

                        Dinner - well, not a slacker in the bunch. My husband was still talking about the octopus the next day. We ordered: Grilled local octopus with piquillo peppers, chorizo, egg, potato. Chino Farms beans with burrata, peaches, Australian black truffle, and sunflower vinaigrette. Beef tongue with smoked marrow vinaigrette and fennel pollen. Jidori chicken with buttermilk fried and boned thigh, sous-vide breast, spicy watermelon, cherries, potato salad, and arugula. and Spaghetti with local sea urchin topped with a soft egg and Australian black truffle., which I've been craving ever since. A shared selection of sorbets ended a fabulous meal.

                        Great service from Tristan, who also a recommended a white Boutari Greek wine which was extra-special because it's a favorite I don't often seen on menus (we had visited the winery in Santorini). Another nice touch - when we couldn't decide if we should order the "fish tacos", they kindly served us an order complimentary. Loved everything about this spot.

                        Our last meal was at Eddie V's for lunch on Labor Day. Beautiful view (we ate on the top floor) but disappointing meal. My lobster tacos were half-full of small shreds of chewy lobster and an overpowering chipotle remoulade.

                        Still had a great trip, thanks all!

                        I'll add pics later.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Rubee

                          That sounds awesome, I'm really looking forward to pictures. I'm really impressed by the quality and type of dishes the modern offers given the amount of tables they have each night.

                          Your report is getting me really excited for TBL3

                          1. re: Rodzilla

                            Oh, so jealous you're going to TBL3!

                            I sent post below too soon, so some other pics from George's: Fish "tacos" (ahi-filled ahi 'tacos', ground corn nuts, tempura-fried avocado, and jalapeno aioli - what a genius take on this SD staple), beef tongue, and Jidori chicken:

                            1. re: Rubee

                              I love George's Modern, but I have to say the "fish tacos" treatment there just does not work for me. The only thing that I haven't loved.

                              1. re: foodiechick

                                I loved it, but my husband would agree with you. George's was the highlight for him, as it was for me, but his favorites were the beef tongue and octopus (and he's usually a steak and potatoes guy!).

                              2. re: Rubee

                                I've had the famous fish tacos - i do think it's a fun play. I think beef tongue is actually one of my favorite cuts, I saw a similar dish on one of the TBL3 menus. Thanks for the pics!

                            2. re: Rubee


                              Littleneck clam pizza and lobster roll at Herringbone:


                              George's California Modern - Old Betsy, octopus