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Visiting San Diego for the first time. Please help with dinners

Hi all! I am visiting San Diego for the first time ever on business. I will be staying at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina at 333 W Harbor Dr. and I will be conferencing at the San Diego Convention Center. Unfortunately I won't have a car and I will most likely be dining alone. I'm on my company dime and can't spend a fortune on food - around $60 a day for dinner. I like all types of food. I'm from Northern NJ so I do have lots of good ethnic food nearby.

I have 4 nights to plan for. What do you recommend? I can walk or cab it for dinner. I wouldn't mind one night being some place with a great view and great food.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. What do you consider walking distance?

    In the Gaslamp area (about a 10-15 minute walk from your hotel), there's JSix and Bice. A bit further east of the Gaslamp area is Cowboy Star, a great option.

    In Little Italy there is Cucina Urbina and Bencotto.

    In downtown I like Currant and Saltbox.

    I'm sure others will chime in, but wherever you end up, avoid the Seaport Village at all costs.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      And don't forget Cafe Chloe the best of all option downtown

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Cucina Urbana is in Banker's Hill, Cucina Enoteca is in Little Italy.

      2. How about cocktails at Mister A's. The view is fantastic.

        1. well, what do you feel like? Dining alone with $60 will get you pretty far. Especially if you happen to be visiting during restaurant week.

          There's not a lot of notable ethnic food downtown anyway,

          Cowboy Star
          Cafe Chloe
          Hane - Sushi...if you're a sushi fan, it's worth having some while you're in SD.
          Saltbox
          Jsix
          Redlight
          Dobsons

          1. I would add Fish Market Oyster Bar and sushi bar downtown next to the USS Midway.
            Top of the Hyatt for drinks..
            Take the water taxi over to Coronado from Gaslamp and have dinner at Candelas.

            www.sdhe.com

            1. Thanks for all the information. I have been making lists crossing things off them and then adding others. It is enough to make my head spin. I put together a list of some places that interest me. It includes:

              Jsix .5 miles away from the hotel
              Bertrand's at Mister A's 2 miles away from the hotel
              Red Light district .6 miles away from the hotel
              Urban Solace 4.5 – 5 miles away from the hotel
              Alchemy 3 miles away from the hotel

              Searsucker (brian Malarkey) maybe for Sunday brunch
              Café Chloe
              Cowboy star

              I am thinking that on Saturday I will go to Coronado Island for the art walk and then have dinner there. I'm thinking Mistral or Leroy's. So that leaves me three nights for dinners. The top 5 on the list are my top contenders. What do you think?

              Thanks again for all your help!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Disneyfreak

                I think you have a nice list, but if it were me, I would definitely substitute Cafe Chloe and Cowboy Star for Red Light District and either Urban Solace or Alchemy, both of which I really like but at both of which I've had uneven meals. If you do end up going to Alchemy the appetizer/small plate side of the menu is more successful than the entree side.

                1. re: Disneyfreak

                  The walk/ride to Urban Solace is worth it IMO. I always recommend it to people visiting - I consider it an iconic SD restaurant. I'm almost leaning towards telling you to visit them for brunch though, it's one of the more popular ones around - and will give you another spot to visit for dinner.

                  Cowboy star - branded as a steak house, and the best place to get one - but they do a lot more and do it really well.

                  Alchemy - I've been meaning to visit myself, really like the looks of the menu

                  Cafe Chloe - for french I've never seen a bad review.

                  I really recommend staying away from Searsucker - The emphasis is more on the scene and less on the food. You may be lucky and have a decent meal, but it won't compare to the other restaurants you've mentioned.

                  1. re: Rodzilla

                    So far I have reservations for Jsix and Bertrand's at Mister A's. One other night will be on Coronado Island. I called Urban Solace and they don't take reservations for brunch. I am thinking of going there early because they open at 10 and I would need to be seated early to eat and catch my flight. I still have one dinner slot to fill. Someone I work with just told me about Prado -- is it any good?

                    1. re: Disneyfreak

                      The Prado is in Balboa Park, in a lovely building, with great outdoor seating. It is good for drinks and apps, put spotty for everything else.

                      1. re: Disneyfreak

                        I think those are fine choices. Bertrand's is an older SD institution, the menu is pretty traditional but I'm sure everything will be prepared well and the view will be killer. Definitely make the trip for brunch, I doubt you'll have any trouble with seating.

                        I had another idea for dinner. I know you said you have many ethnic restaurants in NJ, but if you're a sushi fan you should really try some in SoCal.

                        Akinori just opened in Hillcrest, very reasonably priced (in fact they have a $60 omakase) sitting at the bar with chef Aki would be a great time especially when dining solo. And it's not just nigiri/rolls/sashmi, he's doing a lot of composed dishes that are really

                        there's also Hane, and Azuki right by Balboa Park- the former a bit more expensive.

                      2. re: Rodzilla

                        I think Cowboy Star is good for steak but everything else was very mixed on several of our visits. Several of their appetizers, e.g. foie gras, pork belly and especially the steak tartare were disappointing. Their sides could also need some improvements. I know Cowboy Star gets good reviews on CH but either we were there during several off nights but we don't really see the appeal of it when even within walking distance Cafe Chloe and JSix are much better options. And I wouldn't call the food at Cafe Chloe French (even though they have a few classical French dishes sometimes on the menu) it is more Californian Cuisine with Mediterrean influences