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good ethnic eats

Hi, I'm in staying in La Jolla till early July. Can anyone recommend some Philippine, Vietnamese or great mexican places in the area? I don't mind being the only person in the place not from whatever country the cuisene is from. I also don't mind traveling a bit. Thank you in advance.

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  1. Best pho tai in the city is at Pho Hoa, Linda Vista. Also try their Bun Thit Nuong, and if you're adventurous, bun bo hue.

    Can't go wrong with Phuong Trang on Convoy. Too many dishes to list, but their Mi Xa Xiu is wonderful (ask for the red vinegar, "yum", and also pickled chiles to go with it). Another favorite there is Bahn Tam Bi, with thick noodles and coconut sauce. And if you're in a vegan mood, try the Hu Tieu Rau Cai Chav Nuoc. Best in town.

    Then there's Sab-E-Lee. Can't go wrong here, whatever you order. Also on Linda Vista Rd. I like their soups (especially Tom Yum or Tom Ka), Larb, and papaya salad. Remember that you're supposed to use the fork to push food onto the big spoon, and eat with the spoon, if you want to eat the way they do in Thailand.

    A great hole-in-the wall Mexican place is Meritza's on Mt. Acadia in Clairemont. The world's most hideous strip mall, but great home-style Mexican food, and the fresh home-made hot sauce is to die for. Try their carne asada or chicken torta, or the carnitas burrito (Wednesdays only).

    K-Sandwiches on Convoy can't be beat for their bahn mi. And try Koon's, nearby, for Thai. Their Pam Ram is really good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DoctorChow

      Thank you so much. I'm droolin here :)

    2. You might check this thread on ethnic food from SD Chowhound last summer: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/843868
      A lot of good recs in this thread. WRT Vietnamese, Point Loma Pho has excellent Banh Mi. For regional Mexican, it's hard to best Super Cocina on University in City Heights. They have Mexican ladies "of a certain age" who make the specialties of different parts of Mexico daily. Downscale ambience, Upscale food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sandiegomike

        First time at Point Loma Pho today, and pleasantly surprised. A bustling place with lots of Vietnamese customers -- a good sign. Both I and my companion wanted something quick and familiar and ordered pho tai. Our gold standard for this is what they serve at Pho Hoa in LV, and, compared to that, the pho here was good but not quite as good: the broth a little thinner; the beef not as flavorful; and the noodles a bit on the pasty side. My companion also thought there was a more pronounced anise flavor to the broth, although I'm not sure I'd agree, and we didn't see that as a negative in any case.

        All in all, a tasty and satisfying bowl. Fast and responsive service, too. Will return sometime when in the Midway area and try their banh mi.

      2. Porkyland is an above average mexican place in the village of La Jolla. Their burritos and tacos are excellent, and despite the name, most of the menu isn't pork. I personally recommend their chicken mole burrito. They also carry great chips and salsas to go. http://goporkyland.com/

        1. For Filipino, you really need to go to National City which has some of the best Filipino food around.

          I'm still exploring the area, but so far I would recommend Porky's, Valerio's and Karihan.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ipsedixit

            Persian- Sadaf (gaslamp). Darband 5th Avenue (near downtown).

            Thai- Sab-E-Lee, linda vista or rancho penasquitos locations. Siam Nara- (mira mesa).

            I too think Phuong Trang is a good because they have a wide variety of dishes.

            Chinese- Spicy House or Spicy City. If you go to Spicy City prepare for a wait at peak hours, it's very popular.

          2. KirkK's mmm-yoso blog has a very extensive and well-documented list of the Filipino restaurants he has visited in San Diego.


            Enjoy and please report back!

            1. Just so you have your expectations calibrated before coming here, please keep in mind that the Mexican food found in SD is what most Mexicans would regard as "fast food": burritos, tacos, etc. Since Don Marios and El Palenque disappeared about a decade ago, I haven't been able to find any of the dishes that Mexicans actually eat for a family meal in, say, Mexico City or Oaxaca, except at Super Cocina where it's touch and go. Having said that, there are a number of places for really good burritos, tacos, etc., but for some of them you'd have to drive a good distance from La Jolla and will spend more on gas than the meal. So I'll second the recommendation that "Encinitan" made for checking out Porky's, which is right where you'll be staying.

              2 Replies
              1. re: DoctorChow

                So I'll second the recommendation that "Encinitan" made for checking out Porky's, which is right where you'll be staying.


                I think you meant Porkyland not Porky's which is a Filipino joint.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Thanks! Yes, I meant Porkyland. I guess over the years I've called Porkyland "Porky's" sometimes. But, yes, definitely, not to be confused with the Fillipio place. Good catch!

              2. Sab e Lee
                Bahia Don Bravo
                El pescador for sea bass torta sandwich
                Dumpling Inn
                Hacienda de Vega
                Bull Taco
                Aqui es Texcoco
                Mariscos German food truck
                Las Cuatro Milpas

                1. If you want the real deal, you can get it in La Jolla. Some of the BEST Mexican food I've had ANYPLACE is at Belinda's booth at the Farmer's Market on Sundays from 9-1pm (7335 Girard). Food made from scratch and she always has a line. I highly recommend the Chile Rellenos. She poured Chile Verde over mine one time and now I'm hooked. Sooo good!

                  1. Pho LaJolla is closer to your location, then most fo the recommendations farther out in the burbs.
                    It is the only Chicken Pho, that I have seen in San Diego and Ilike it for a change.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nutrition

                      Actually, lots of places have Pho Ga. It's pretty common. It's not my personal favorite pho, but ok once in a while.

                    2. Filipino : conching's cafe