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First time in San Diego.... Where would you suggest...?

We are going to be visiting SD for the first time in mid-October for a conference. For a few nights, we'll be staying at the Hilton Bayfront. Any recs for spots nearby that are your favorites? We are pretty adventurous and like all kinds of cuisines, and love anything from upscale to a total dive, as long as the food is special. We will have a car.
The second part of my question is: we will likely add a few days to our trip & can't decide if we should stay in town, or venture out to another area. Are there any surrounding areas (and we don't mind driving up to an hour or even two) that are fun, walkable foodie towns? Thanks in advance for your guidance. I have no shame - I plan every trip around food, so I like to start planning early. ;-)

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  1. Neighborhood for local draft beers and delicious bistro food.

    1. This has been said before and I will venture to say it again - you need to indicate what kind of cuisines that have your interest.

      San Diego has many very good restaurants, but they are located over a huge area - 2700 square miles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gypsy Jan

        Thanks, Jan. I'd said that "we are pretty adventurous and like all kinds of cuisines" in an attempt to specify that we're open to just about anything.

        We love sushi, Italian, Mexican, Latin, Chinese, Thai, French and anything in between. Additionally, would be open to trying something completely new.

      2. A bit S-SE of your hotel is Barrio Logan (and Sherman Heights) with some good Mexican taquerias.

        Little Italy is about 2 miles N-NW of the hotel. Good place to walk around, get some Italian fare at Monello or Bencotto, as well as sushi (yes, sushi) at Shino, and some gelato at Pappalecco.

        A short walk up on Harbor Blvd. from your hotel (at Kettner Blvd.) is Lion's Share, which has some interest game dishes. Only been once, but left sufficiently satisfied.

        North of you (about 1.5 miles) is Banker's Hill and Balboa Park. In the former, I would recommend Cucina Urbana. In the latter, walk around and maybe get some tea or desserts at Prado (inside Balboa Park).

        Further north of Banker's Hill (again about 1 mile or so) are Mission Hills and and Hillcrest. In that area, people seem to really like Snooze for breakfast, but the lines can be long esp. on the weekends, weekdays are much better.

        A bit east of Hillcrest is North Park, where I recommend Carnitas Snack Shack.

        1. Bring yout passport, take the blue line trolley to the border and visit Tijuana where you can sample Baja Med, upscale or downscale

          1. I'd go to Las Quatros Milpas in Barrio Logan. You'll read all kinds of things- it's not "authentic" etc. and how the high-brow has far better alternatives. For me, I like this place.

            But I consider it a fairly unique experience here in San Diego.

            I go every Monday morning and have a small bowl of Chorizo con Huevo- comes with tortillas that are worth about 1k calories each.

            There are also rolled tacos that are pretty good, burritos that I don't enjoy much. Beef or pork tacks that are fried and delicious.

            If you go at lunch, expect a line. Actually there's a line all the time, except 0830 Monday. But don't tell anyone.