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Feb 18, 2013 07:44 PM

San Diego Trip

My wife and I are planning a trip to San Diego in the next few weeks. Since I'm a chef, I can get Sunday-Monday off, so we're looking at Sunday arrival, Tuesday AM departure. What are the can't miss food and drink places in San Diego? A few qualifications:

1. Assume money is no object. At least one night we're hoping for the best of the best food-wise. We've hit most of the best in Los Angeles, and many across the country, but we're interested in what San Diego has to offer.

2. We prefer contemporary "american" (whatever that means) food. Meaning ethnic food is great (and we'd LOVE recs for lunches, or a second dinner that include that), but my personal preference is for fresh, well prepared, preferably interesting food. That said, refer to point 1 - best of the best for at least one meal.

3. We're also looking for a great bar that can make fantastic cocktails. In LA we're fans of places like The Varnish, Library Bar, love a great classic cocktail list. Modern variations are great too, as long as balance and quality is on point.

4. Where should we stay? Obviously, with food and drink involved, we'd prefer not to be driving all that much. Is there a place to stay within walking distance of both? Are cabs relatively easy to come by?

5. We'd love great suggestions for things to do during the day. We're definitely game to walk around, especially if the weather is nice, and though museums aren't really our "thing," any great suggestions are worth it.

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  1. 1. TBL3 at George's

    2. Urban Solace or Carnitas Snack Shack

    3. Noble Experiment

    4. (Dunno)

    5. Balboa Park

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Agree with all but would add for 2) Avenue 5 (one of the most underrated places in SD) and JSix

      1. re: honkman

        Totally agree on Avenue 5. However, I'm concerned about your slam on Nine-Ten. We've always loved it. Has something changed?

        1. re: Ms. Verde

          I like 9-10 for lunch and think their 3-course lunch is a really nice offer but we had twice their 5-course dinner tasting menu over the last year and where completely underwhelmed with the quality, creativity amd the value. When my wife and I discussed our biggested food disappointment in SD last year we had no problem to agree immediately on 9-10.(Will write up something in the future in more detail)

    2. For a lunch try the Marisco's Pescador truck in the Toys R Us parking off the 5 south by Industrial Ave.

      Romesco's would be a good Mex dinner choice.

      1. Agree with TBL3 at Georges, and if you choose to dine there, might as well stay within walking distance. There are three hotels that qualify, and also feature their own noteworthy chef or restuarant. The Empress Hotel has Manhattan, old school Italian with a NYC feel. The Grande Colonial houses Nine-Ten with well regarded chef Jason Knibb, and the La Valencia just added local superstar chef Paul McCabe to head up the food operation. None of these hotels are new, edgy or cool, but all are competent, comfortable and close to the ocean, and to George's.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mcgrath

          I stayed at La Valencia at the end of January, and they were doing construction inside. It may be done, but worth calling to make sure. That said, the view was beautiful, bed VERY comfortable, and the food was delicious. We walked to Roppongi one night for tapas, which are half-price during happy hour from 3-6 p.m. The duck quesadilla was the win out of all we tried.

        2. I'd suggest hitting up some of the places in North Park. Carnitas Snack Shack, El Take It Easy, Urban Solace, Smoking Goat, Alcemy (technically South Park) and then head back to El Take It Easy of 7 Grand for cocktails.

          Lafayette Hotel would be a central place to stay.

          Cabs are found easily enough but the cost adds up fast.

          1. I recommend staying at the US Grant downtown. Great bar and bartenders who know there stuff in the lobby bar. Then you are close to Cafe Chloe for late breakfast and Cowboy Star for dinner. And sneak into Noble Experiment for late night 'nightcap'. Craft and Commerce for Sunday brunch.