Yet another I need help thread...2 lunches and 2 dinners!
I hate these kind of threads on my home board, where someone shows up, and with seemingly little self help, asks, "where should I eat"? But, thing is, I've tried to research and even had a bunch of bookmarks on places that were found on this board, and I lost all my bookmarks somehow. My time is running out! So here goes....
Where should we eat for two days? We're staying on Shelter Island, but location is of little consideration as we'll have a car and will always travel for good chow. As most tourists, we'd love a great rec with great views and food, but understand because we live in a ocean-centric resort community that the two are often mutually exclusive. I love seafood. My DW not as much, although shrimp and crab work for her. I crave authentic Mexican which is not available anywhere at home, but again, my wife is not a big fan, although if it contains beef and isn't too spicy, she'll usually acquiesce. So, how do we satisfy both of us? It's such a short visit, so little hole in the wall joints are probably not on our agenda, although I'm well aware that is usually where the real gems are in any given city. So, two lunches, and two dinners, neither being super lux, but not down and dirty either. Maybe throw in one don't miss truck or hidden gem to satisfy my Mexican fix where I'll nosh on something between meals. We would be thrilled if we end up with the quintessential southern California experience which is the complete opposite of what we have every day at home.
I promise to return the favor for anyone traveling to The Cape or Southern New England. I hate these threads. I need your help. We leave Wednesday.
For Mexican, you might look at this list, http://thelatinkitchen.com/slideshow/foodcrawling-san-diegos-best-latin-restaurants-street-food, as well as this previous post on Chowhound, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/843207
While not Mexican, I would highly suggest you think about visiting a place like Carnitas Snack Shack and Romesco Baja Med Bistro
Carnitas Snack Shack looks great for a cheap eats lunch. Nothing wrong with great chow on a budget. Would this be the place to get carnitas, or should I reserve that for a true Mexican truck/stand/sit down? I read the steak sammy is awesome too, among other things. Too many choices, so little time! Still trying to decide on a nice sit-down lunch without breaking the bank.
The Las Cuatro Milpas reviews on Yelp are all over the board. recent reviews range from 1 to 5 stars. One of the reasons I hate yelp. But Snack Shack seem mostly very positive.
Carnitas Snack Shack and Los Cuatros are not in the same league. CSS is way, way better.
There is a reason the Yelp reviews are all over the place, it's because the food is all over the place. A lot of people on this board love the place, I am one of the minority posters that really thinks this place is over rated and not worthy of a line out the door. The chorizo is good and the tortillas, but the tacos are grease bombs.
You're on Shelter Island, you can probably walk to the Bali Hai. Even if you just go for drinks and apps it's probably got the best Bay view in town. The food is good to very good. Their signature drink is a Mai Tai which is pretty much all booze. I can't drink it, but they've got other drinks that'll do just fine. In many respects this is a quinessential SD restaurant. Shelter Island was dredged in 1956 and the Bali Hai opened not too long after that. It's a long time local institution that has had it's ups and downs, current in an up phase, but it probably exemplifies the laid back, casual SD lifestyle. Prices are moderate
For lunch you're close to both Tender Greens in Liberty Station and Point Loma Seafood on Scott St., which is also walkable from Shelter Island. Con Pane in Liberty Station does some nice sandwiches and salads at lunch, and they are home to a killer cinnamon roll. If you're into beer, Stone Brewing just opened their new facility in Liberty Station...not walkable from Shelter Island, but only a 5 min drive away, you can check recent (i.e. last 2 weeks) posts about it for info on the food.
Also on Scott St. and almost on Shelter Island is The Elegant Truffle. Her truffles are good but the hand dipped caramels are spectacular.
As for the Mexican...
There should still be a Santana's on Rosecrans, although I think they changed their name and are now calling themselves MXN. It's decent "safe" Mexican meaning you should be able to get your fix of Mexican flavors and your wife can find something on the menu as well. There are 2 ubiquitious items on every taco shop menu in San Diego, the Carne Asada Burrito (and it's cousin the California Burrito, which is a CAB with french fries) and 4 rolled tacos with guacamole.
The following Mexican food recs are made with the criteria in mind that you like it and your wife is lukewarm to it. So you should be able to find something you like and so should she. (These are in no particular order)
1) Mama Testa on University in Hillcrest does nothing but tacos. The hard shell mashed potato tacos are wonderful and your wife may like the Asi Yasado, which are chicken tacos with a very good salsa verde. The chorizo and pibil tacos are also good, stay away from the carne asada and carnitas which aren't so hot.
2) Mayahuel on Adams Ave a 1/4 block west of 30th has a stellar selection of Mezcal. The owner serves an excellent mole as well as the usual assortment of tacos. Very informal, and if the weather is nice, sit on the patio
3) Casa Guadalajara in Old Town serves very respectable, if not mainstream, Mexican food. You'll find the flavors, you wife will find something to eat. Sit on the patio if you can
4) Mariscos German truck at 30th & Grape in the South Park area. While it's almost all seafood, your wife can order a shrimp quesadilla and get by
5) Romesco's in Bonita...2nd the earlier rec. If there is a risotto or octopus on the menu, try it. The family that owns and operates this restaurant really knows how to cook both very well.
6) Karina's in Chula Vista, specifically the new one in Eastlake. While the men is mostly fish and seafood, they do have meat and chicken items on the menu.
7) El Comal on Illinois Ave. in North Park. This one might test your wife's limits, but it's usually good to very good and there are plenty of meat/poultry items on the menu.
8) Ortega's on University in Hillcrest does Puerto Nuevo style lobster dinners along with the usual Mexican suspects.
9) Los Arcos in Chula Vista is the only American outpost of a very successful and much loved Mexican restaurant chain. The menu tilts heavily to fish and seafood, but there are a couple of steaks on the menu and quite a few shrimp preparations.
10) The Blind Burro at 6th & J in downtown may work best because there are lots of items including fish, fowl, meat and veggies.
Enjoy your stay
Thank you ALL for the replies thus far. A special thanks to Dining Diva for such a thoughtful detailed response. I understand first hand the effort that goes into these, so I had to single her out. And I also certainly appreciate the others who took time to provide useful links as well.
Looks like I've got info for Mexican covered, but what about other cuisines? Bali Hai sound great, but we're not locked into staying on the island, so anything downtown, Gas Lamp, or Coronado or even La Jolla is a possibility. Keep 'em coming!
Hey Cape Cod Guy!
Bali Hai..mai tais and apps.
Las Cuatro Milpas..breakfast/lunch
Mariscos German seafood truck
Tender Greens at Liberty Station for lunch
Fathom in Shelter for beer and sausages
MXN taco shop in Point Loma for rolled tacos, carne asada burritos, quesadiilas.
Brigantine in SI for fish tacos everyday happy hour.
Georges in La Jolla ocean terrace lunch or sunset dinner..make reservations!
Drive up coast on 101 from LJ to Carlsbad and then swing over to Rancho Santa Fe..drinks/apps at Pony Room at Rancho Valenica resort.
Hit up Robertos on Carmel Valley Del Mar for chicken tacos with guac..
Torrey Pines, The Lodge at AR Valentien for dinner..next to the beloved golf course.
Hike Torrey Pines reserve!
Damn, getting some significant blow back from the usually accommodating MRS. at thought of eating one of our only two lunches or dinners at a stand, truck, or hole-in-the wall. And although she's only ever had atrocious Tex-Mex that's maybe a small step above Taco Bell, she says she has ZERO interest in trying good authentic Mx chow. So, a challenge I know, any sit-down place, preferably with a view or nice patio, that serves up decent Mexican and gringo food as well?
Casa Guadalajara is a good choice, the patio is very nice. http://www.casaguadalajara.com/ - link includes a virtual tour
Candelas would also be a good choice. The one in Coronado has a terrific bay and pretty decent food. It'll be more upscale than what you are expecting, but your wife would probably really like it. http://www.candelas-coronado.com/index2.html
Mama Testa is actually a casual sit down resto. Order at the counter, they bring your food to you. http://www.mamatestataqueria.com/ (oh, and even tho' the owner beat Bobby Flay in the fish taco throwdown, don't order the fish taco, only so-so)
Blind Burro might also be an option - http://www.theblindburro.com/
Romescos is a little far from where you are, but it is definitely sit down and the menu has both Baja Med dishes and standard dishes. http://www.romescomexmed.com/about.html
All 4 of these are essentially sit down Mexican restaurants.
Casa Guadalajara serves decent, toursit oriented food; it's going to be exactly what a tourist perceives "Mexican" food to be. It's not challenging, it's not weird, it's not exotic. It's pretty good for what it does.
Candelas serves a version of what is called alta cocina, which means it's a lot more upscale, the dishes more refined. The flavors will be there, but you're not going to find your basic combo plate here.
Mama Testa is going to be closest to what you want, and the dicest for your wife. None of the dishes or flavors should be off putting to her and it is a sit down restaurant
The Blind Burro is sit down and offers a pretty wide variety of menu choices. They're doing Baja Med which is not what most people think of as "traditional" Mexican cuisine.
Romescos is a nice sit down restaurant. It is the only American outpost of the Plasencia family. They offer many Baja Med options as well as non-Mexican dishes.
Revised for the Mrs.
Head to La Jolla for lunch at Georges at the Cove on the ocean terrace..walk around the gorgeous seaside town.
Guadalajara Grill for lunch.
Bali Hai dinner/drinks.
Walk from your hotel.Humphreys see if they have a concert going on..fab place.
Brigantine Shelter Island happy hour or Fathoms pier in SI for beer.
Stop for drinks at Marine Room in LJ..
Waves splash against Windows.
Thanks for the all the advice Hounds! Sadly, I never really got my true Mex fix, yet settled for a very excellent carnita tacos at Canitas Snack Shack. Two days fly by so quickly as it is, you can never do everything you hope to. We tried to hit a Marisco German truck, but sadly, we didn't find one on the two locations I got from Yelp. One was supposed to be on University, so that's how we ended up at CSS. The tacos were great as was the triple pork sammy. Oh my. A heart attack on a bun.
We went to the zoo and ate at Arthurs for lunch. Nothing special food wise, but a nice spot and good way to relax with a cocktail in the middle of the day.
We walked to Bali Hai from our hotel for apps and drinks at sunset as suggested, and it was perfect for our first evening. Drinks are CHEAP! By Boston standards at least. Frozen drinks for under $7 were a welcome respite from the $17 we paid at Terrenea up the coast the night before. Great view and service from the bar area.
The chow highlight was lunch at Georges. We requested, and received a table at the railing. Our service was top notch, the view spectacular, the smell acceptable and food terrific. We stared with a nice ceviche and house made chips, DW had linguini and clams and I had the potato gnocchi with scallops. Yummy.
Thanks for all the help . Anyone with plans to visit the Cape, feel free to look me up on the S. New England board and I'll return the favor.
Thanks CCG for reporting back!
Glad to hear you had a great time.
By BOS standards, things are very cheap here.
Glad that George's took good care of you with a table at the rail and you enjoyed Bali Hai..hope you had a mai tai!
Craving me some clams from Cobie's Clam shack in Brewster!
re: Beach Chick
No problem BC. I appreciate your help and it always vexes me when folks fail to report back after spending the time and effort to try and help them.
Cobie's is a quintessential Cape Cod road side clam shack, but there are better fried whole clams to be had on the peninsula. Hit me up on your next visit and I'll share my inside secrets!
Thanks again. Still pissed I couldn't find a Marisco German truck though. :-)