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San Diego -- Great eats, no tourist traps

Stevie Ray Apr 4, 2006 02:55 PM

Staying at the W Hotel this weekend. Obviously we want to eat well. Looking for the best. Killer seafood, fish tacos, Mexican, Indian, Thai, whatever. Dinner and lunch options please. Thanks in advance.

"To eat good food is to be close to God."
-- Primo, Big Night

  1. j
    JS Apr 4, 2006 03:17 PM

    Unfortunately, you're in tourist-trap central being downtown. San Diego's best eating is found elsewhere, IMO.

    For seafood, make your way to Blue Water. It's located on India St, about 10 minutes from downtown. That's the place for super-fresh fish. Great fish tacos, sandwiches, and plates. Order off the blackboard for the really fresh stuff.

    I have heard good things about the Thai food at Rama, which is in the Gaslamp.

    3 Replies
    1. re: JS
      LuckyO Apr 4, 2006 03:54 PM

      Whenever I make the drive to San Diego from LA, we have dinner at least once at Chilango's Mexico City Grill in the Hillcrest neighborhood.

      Link: http://www.chilangosgrill.com/

      1. re: LuckyO
        Ms. Verde Apr 5, 2006 09:03 PM

        I can also second the vote for Chilango's. And you might be able to get a coupon on Restaurants.com. I love the shrimp ceviche appetizer--lots of lime and avocado with substantial chips. I keep coming back for a chicken dish with a creamy chipotle sauce.
        If you're stuck in the Gaslamp and want an elegant meal, consider Dobson's and don't miss the mussel bisque soup en croute, with a splash of sherry. Yum!
        If you LOVE meat, consider the South American Rei De Gado on 4th just up from Horton Plaza. It's a bit pricey, but it will be a 2 meal day if you eat an early lunch there!

        1. re: Ms. Verde
          phil Apr 7, 2006 04:01 AM

          A second on Dobson's. An excellent restaurant that's frequented by the locals.

    2. d
      daantaat Apr 4, 2006 11:29 PM

      I second the comment below that you are in the tourist trap of SD. Lots of eating places but not all worth going to.

      If you want good Indian and are willing to leave the Gaslamp District, drive or take a cab north to Punjabi Tandoor on Activity Road, off Black Mountain Rd. Will probably be a good 20-30 min north of downtown. Tiny, hole in the wall place but has the best Indian I've found in SD. Not Americanized or watered down flavors.

      If you are chained to the Gaslamp Quarter, check out Cafe Chloe and Bandar (Persian). Both have good food. Oceanaire (seafood) has gotten thumbs up on the board.

      6 Replies
      1. re: daantaat
        honkman Apr 5, 2006 11:05 AM

        I ate now three times at Punjabi Tandoor and though I like it I have to say that they are a little bit inconsistent and don't order any biryani dishes they are very disappointing and tasteless. I also asked an Indian friend to eat there to get an idea about authenticity and quality and he was pretty diappointed about the quality in comparison to other Indian restaurants in SD, e.g. Madras Cafe etc. Overall I think Punjabi Tandoor is good Indian food but not the best Indian food in SD and not worth a drive from Gaslamp

        1. re: honkman
          JS Apr 5, 2006 01:16 PM

          "I have to say that they are a little bit inconsistent"

          Funny, I just went there for the third time and while some of the food was great (Paneer Tikka Masala), the Bhindi Masala was not as good as my previous two visits.

        2. re: daantaat
          JS Apr 5, 2006 01:15 PM

          Where's the love for Cafe Cerise??

          That's one of the best places downtown - easily surpassing Cafe Chloe in terms of freshness and creativity, yet for some reason I seldom see it recommended.

          Chloe is good, but they've been serving the same identical menu for over a year now. Cersie's menu changes daily, and I've never had a bad meal there.

          Cafe Cerise is on 6th, between B and C streets.

          1. re: JS
            Ms. Verde Apr 5, 2006 08:55 PM

            I second the rec for Cafe Cerise. I've only made it there once, but it was outstanding! It's a bit north of the Gaslamp, but that just makes the parking easier in my opinion!

            1. re: JS
              daantaat Apr 6, 2006 01:04 AM

              We have yet to make it to Cafe Cerise, although it is on the need to try list.

              re: Cafe Chloe, for a visitor, they will not necessarily notice that it is the same menu for the past year, as would a local. with that in mind, I think it is one of the better places downtown.

              1. re: daantaat
                JS Apr 6, 2006 10:05 AM

                Everyone should be eating at Cafe Cerise. It's really something special.

                If you like charcuterie items, make sure to ask the server if they have anything special not listed on the menu. They make great rillets and pates in-house.

          2. g
            Gypsy Jan Apr 4, 2006 11:59 PM


            I hope you enyoy your visit to San Diego.

            For non-tourist trap destinations, I really endorse reading KirkK's blog:

            Look at the left hand margin, he breaks his reports down into ethnic dining groups and posts comprehensive reviews w/pictures and addresses.

            I can verify that if he likes a restaurant, you will, too.

            Standard Chowhound request, please report back on your advertures!

            1. El Chevere Jul 16, 2006 10:59 PM

              If you must confine yourself to downtown, I can recommend Dobson's, Athen's Market (great Greek food), Red Pearl Kitchen (Asian fusion) and Salvatore's (Italian)....have not been to Cerise.

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