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Weekend near Petco

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My fiancee and I are headed down to SD from LA this weekend to see the Yankees play Padres Sunday afternoon at Petco. We're considering also going to the Saturday evening game, but also looking at options for a night out. We're looking for something fun, but not clubbing in the Gaslamp.

Primarily we're probably looking for dinner and/or drinks on Saturday night, and somewhere for breakfast and possibly lunch before the game on Sunday. Is Petco worth eating at, or should we consider something like Lolita's before the game?

I've tried to do my homework, and came up with the following options.
Cafe Chloe
Cowboy Star - Seems well liked, but pricey. Worth it?
Neighborhood
JSix
Lolitas
Richard Walker's Pancake House - Had friends from LA who ate here a few weeks ago and rec'd.

Any suggestions? Anything we're missing? I realize we're staying in a tourist area, but more local options are appreciated as well.

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  1. The food at Petco is probably better than most ballparks but it's still nothing I would hold out for instead of eating at a place before the game.

    For dinner Cowboy Star is a good choice. Cafe Chloe is a board favorite, but not mine. If you like pizza, I would recommend Basic. There's also Blind Burro (for Mexican) right next to the ballpark.

    For breakfast, don't bother with RW. Instead go to Jsix.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks. Funny enough, Basic and Blind Burro were two others I had "scouted" but forgot to put in my original post.

      Since I know you frequent both boards, how does Cowboy Star compare to places in LA?

      Any reason you don't love Cafe Chloe as much as others?

      Sounds like some combo of the following would work?
      Dinner: Cowboy, Chloe, Basic
      Brunch: JSix, Blind Burro

      1. re: VealParmGuy

        What do you mean by how does Cowboy Star compare with LA places? Which LA places? Thing is, SD does not really have many options for high-end steaks (if you exclude chains like Morton's, Ruth's Chris, Donovans, etc.). I would consider Cowboy Star a mix of Nick and Stefs combined with Jar.

        Nothing at Cafe Chloe seems all that interesting. Food is fine enough but nothing that's really memorable.

        1. re: VealParmGuy

          Cowboy Star is good, though you might not get there until 8:30 (although given the lack of offense from, both, the Yankees and Padres in 2013 the game could be completed within 2 hours and you might be at Cowboy Star by 8 based on a 5:40 start time.)....Donovan's is another alternative for a good steak in San Diego, if that is what you have your heart set on.

          There is a Nobu at the Hard Rock Hotel (I always leave hungry from that place afterwards and it's not cheap) though it is very close to the ballpark....I cannot, in good conscience, recommend Searsucker to you because I am not a fan of their menu and the crowd can be sketchy at times (unless you are into the Ed Hardy t-shirt, wallet chain crowd) but lots of people like it for some reason.

          Neighborhood would be good and it is casual. Will also probably be crowded. Great craft beer and cocktail list and very good burgers--though they do not serve ketchup. They have a back room (Noble Experiment) speakeasy that you need to email prior to your visit--pretty cool place run by the Milk & Honey group out of NYC....another speakeasy bar that I have found a little easier to gain entrance to is Prohibition.

          For breakfast, I prefer The Mission in East Village--best French toast in town though, like Richard Walkers, does get busy and it is not uncommon to have to wait on line....in the Gaslamp, you might also wish to check out Cafe 21 and Bailiwick.

          Go Yankees.

          1. re: El Chevere

            Thanks. A friend made the pilgrimage a few years ago for the Phillies, and said the same thing re: Searsucker.

            Great tip re: Noble Experiment.

      2. Cafe Chloe is your best bet for excellent food in SD downtown, one of the few mid-price places in SD which also would work in LA or SF, creative California-French cuisine. Cowboy Star is OK but can be quite inconsistent. JSix is also a good option with a very good chef who makes excellent dishes very focused on local produce

        1. Food at petco is mediocre even for ballpark food. Service is horrible. Figure on missing an inning to get some food and a beer.

          20 Replies
          1. re: Victor Lieberman

            +1 re: poor service

            1. re: El Chevere

              Wait, if you're sitting with the hoi polloi (i.e., anywhere but the luxury suites) when is service not horrible at a ballpark?

              Even those peanut throwing vendors are more show and real customer service.

              And what would constitute good service at a ballpark? Would you want hot dog vendors to apply the mustard and relish for you? Check on you after half-inning to see if everything is "ok?" Refill your water bottles, perhaps?

              1. re: ipsedixit

                If there is a line of 6 people ordering food and there are 3 people behind the counter, it should not take 20 minutes to order, pay and receive food. In the first several years, they hired retirees and handicap folks who were non-union part time. They have been replaced by younger, yet even slower and less capable people. It is literally the worst ballpark in America to accomplish eating and drinking and I have been to 23 of the 30 parks.

                1. re: Victor Lieberman

                  20 minutes?

                  The AYCE lines at both Dodger Stadium and Chase Field can take much longer than that, esp. the latter in the middle of August during an afternoon "day" game.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Dodger Stadium draws twice as many people as the Padres and I have never had a problem at Chase Field. The issue isn't how long it takes, it's that they can't process even a few people.

                  2. re: Victor Lieberman

                    Victor--I always thought it was me who thought the process was real slow.at Petco..yes, there's slow service at other ballparks as well but the several times I have been to Petco (and I am heading there twice this weekend) it has stuck out in my mind like a sore thumb and is noticeable. I, too, have been to many parks around the country.

                    1. re: El Chevere

                      My wife wants "healthy" before tomorrow nights game with the cubs. I park on 10 th ave off the 163 and walk down. Any recs?

                    2. re: Victor Lieberman

                      I would also be curious if they have upgraded the food at the Omni Club (located behind the home plate area of the field level boxes)....I went in year one and was shocked at their cost cutting efforts--no prime rib as part of the buffet, chinette plates, and the 'premium' beer was Budweiser.....I have to imagine it must have improved since then and am hoping they have a premium beer that is actually a premium beer (Heinkenen, Stella, or one of many local craft beers)....as a comparison, I have been to the Diamond Club at Angels Stadium and you get a first class buffet--then again, the crowd that goes there certainly dresses (and probably is) considerably more affluent and would not put up with Budweiser and cheap plastic plates.

                      1. re: El Chevere

                        I haven't been to the Omni Club. But at the Toyota Terrace where they have servers bring the food, it comes very late and cold. We went to Hodad's last month and the burgers were great, but again, the length of time to get them was excessive. We ordered burgers, fries, onion rings and beer and 2 and half innings later we were back in our seats.

                        1. re: Victor Lieberman

                          I am sitting in the Toyota Terrace so that's good to know...I will probably grab something to eat prior to the Friday night andSunday afternoon games....I seem to recall they changed the theme/cuisine of the restaurant on that level by the LF foul pole from sushi to something different (first time I will be going in 2013)..

                          1. re: El Chevere

                            Apparently Bull Taco was there for a while but they closed too. Now it's a "California" cuisine/ Beach type place which looked awful.

                            1. re: Victor Lieberman

                              Let's not lose sight of the fact that eating at a ballpark--with very few exceptions (in SF and some places, such as Lobel's at Yankee Stadium) is not Chowhound worthy....it's one thing when I was a drunk teenager and did not know any better to pay for overpriced, bad tasting and bad for you food, that I washed down with watered down beer--and it's another thing as we have become adults....throw in the fact that most of the newer ballparks and arenas have turned into 'caste systems' where good food is served only to the exclusive corporate and 1% suite owners while the masses are subjected to nothing more than fast food at airport prices.

                              1. re: El Chevere

                                @El Chevere except you can get non-watered down craft beer and food from locally-owned restaurateurs at Petco....have you actually been to Petco? It doesn't sound like it.

                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                  this will be my first time this year this weekend....though I won't be in the mood to wait in line 20 minutes to get a beer if that turns out to be the case.

                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                    MrKrispy, anything specific you rec?

                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                      Went to last night's game, Friday v. Yankees...will give props to Petco for giving love to local businesses and offering items from such places as Puesto, Phils, Chocolat, Hodad's, Bird Rock Roasters, etc. Did not have a chance to sample anything from these or similar places...Checked out the restaurant in left field of the Toyota Terrace level and it appeared to be Mexican fast food (not that appealing)....did order some chicken tenders with fries from my Toyota Terrace seats...whereas the service was better than I expected, the food was dismal.

                          2. re: Victor Lieberman

                            Worse than Dodger Stadium? The only vendors that come around there are candy and ice cream and the lines at any concession stand will make you consider fasting. Drives me nuts at Dodger stadium that there are no beer vendors in the seats.

                            Yankee Stadium and AT&T Park are the best. Those lines move quick, and there are always plenty of vendors coming around.

                            Sounds like we should eat before the game....

                            1. re: VealParmGuy

                              Definitely. No beer vendors. Good craft beer kiosks but very pricey and again, agonizingly slow to pop a top, pour it into a cup, take the money and hand you change.

                            2. re: Victor Lieberman

                              Victor - Pretty sure Sportservice has held the Petco Park concessions contract since 2004. I'm also pretty sure they have been a union shop (HERE local 30) since that time. Just figured you might want to know that the elderly and handicapped employees you referred to were probably union members (though i would love to hear how one can distinguish between union vs. non-union service in a ballpark setting).

                              Perhaps, lowered expectations and, as someone else suggested, pre/post game dining plans for Padres games might lend to a better experience in the future.

                              1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                Go to Lolita's right across the street. The way you find out about union vs non-union is to talk to the actual people. I've been going to Padres games since I moved here in 1988.

                      2. If you have breakfast at Richard Walker's (usually a long long line on weekends) you definitely will not need to eat lunch before the game!

                        1. Note that you can also bring food and sealed water bottles (there might be size limits) into Petco Park.

                          Neighborhood is often a tradition for me either before or after games. Good burgers, beer and cocktails.

                          1. Has anyone been to Lolita's? Going to game tonight and thinking of going down to National City for el Gordo taco, but Lolita's would be 1000% easier.

                            1. I haven't seen any responses about Lolita's. Anyone been?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Victor Lieberman

                                It appears people have.
                                http://www.chow.com/search?q=lolita%2...

                              2. I second (third?) Cowboy Star if you are coming from out of town. Splurge a bit for a great dinner in the area. You can try to make reservations in the middle of the game, and if nothing is available head over to Neighborhood or Blind Burro.

                                Also, there IS plenty of good food in Petco for a stadium..including Phil's BBQ (just don't try to claim it is real BBQ on chowhound lol), pork belly nachos at the Ballast Point Beer Garden, Hodad's, sushi, etc.

                                As someone else pointed out, Hodad's can take awhile during busy games and they have an absurd rule that you must be seated in the restaurant to order take out. Plan accordingly.

                                You could also try to get some food at the game, and follow it up with a trip to Neighborhood afterwards for an appetizer and fantastic beer (or bourbon) and put your name in for some spots in the Noble Experiment back bar area (ask a bartender to help you, plan on waiting an hour for seats after texting).

                                Have fun!

                                1. I too am not impressed by Cafe Chloe, been three times and still trying to figure out the hoopla.

                                  For breakfast, Richard Walker's good, but def not worth waiting for. Check Cafe 21 and on the weekends the pubs like The Field and Dublin Square serve breakfasts.

                                  Cowboy Star is okay, but no better than Donovan's, just a different feel. For something less spendy than CS, look at Dobson's.

                                  Lolita's is okay, but when you can jump on the trolley and be at 25th & Commercial in two stops for Tacos El Paisa or La Fachada, why would you eat at Lolita's?

                                  1. We're heading to the game on Sunday too and I'd forgotten about Basic. The pizza they served during one of the Comic Con screenings was delicious! That or Neighborhood will be one of our choices. Had a great burger at Neighborhood and the person sitting across from us at the shared table said his braised short rib was excellent!

                                    1. Thanks everyone for suggestions. Here's my report.

                                      Got down to SD on Saturday afternoon and got a late lunch at Neighborhood. I thought my burger was pretty good, as were the fries. Good beer selections too.

                                      We ended up with tix for Saturday night's game as well, but didn't eat anything there. Ended up at the Blind Burro for dinner and drinks after the game. Really enjoyed it, probably the best meal of the trip. Followed that up with excellent cocktails at Noble Experiment.

                                      We braved the lines at Ricard Walker's on Sunday (prob took about 25 mins) since my fiancee really wanted the pancakes. It was about what I expected, but wish we had tried Lucky's next to the stadium. Looked pretty good as we walked by.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: VealParmGuy

                                        Glad you had a good time and thanks for reporting back....wish I had gone to Saturday's game (a Yankee win)--instead I went to the 2 games they lost.

                                        1. re: VealParmGuy

                                          Thanks for the follow up, hope you had a fun trip!

                                        2. Good grief - I thought you were spending the weekend at a pet store!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: wincountrygirl

                                            Nice ballpark. Bad location. Good name for a pet store.

                                            1. re: DoctorChow

                                              Not sure how it is for a local, but for a tourist it was great to walk to the stadium and see a vibrant restaurant/bar scene surrounding the area.

                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                Bad location? Compared to which ballpark?
                                                Petco Park is within walking distance to some good spots for pre game dinner and post game drinks. A few of my friends live nearby and we enjoy being that close to the stadium.

                                                1. re: globocity

                                                  It would be better if it had been sited several blocks further east. I'll say no more.

                                            2. Having gone to Petco 3 times within the past 2 weeks, I have upgraded my opinion about the food and beverage offerings. Much more offerings of local restaurants, much better beer selections (including local craft beers), and it appears from what I have heard from those who have been--rather than from personal experience--the food offerings inside the Omni Premier Club have been significantly upgraded and now are up to the standards they should be vs. when I attended during the stadium's early years (this includes now serving prime rib as part of the buffet and serving food on actual plates with metal utensils rather than plastic plates).

                                              Can these significant improvements be attributed to the change in team ownership and/or are they fairly recent (i.e. within the past year)???

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: El Chevere

                                                Many of the improvements are from this season. The craft beer stand on the first base side with about 20 different bottled offerings is new, the Ballast Point beer garden with the pork belly, ruben and buffalo chicken sliders and tots is new and the Bird Rock Roasters stand is new. All excellent additions and some of the best ballpark concessions I have ever seen

                                                1. re: JRSD

                                                  Agreed and last night was Tuesday so I was able to take advantage of $5 taco night (5 small chicken tacos for that price that were not bad)....Petco is right up there, though SF remains #1 followed by Yankee Stadium...Seattle and Anaheim are not bad either....I also noticed they changed the seating on the Terrace Level directly behind the plate that Cox used to occupy and they have these sweet, expensive seats on the field level--4 separate sets of 4 leather chairs (think along the lines of 1st class airline seat) with a table and plasma TV about 15 rows behind the plate. My understanding is these were added in the past 4+ weeks or so.....looks like the new ownership group is spending money as is Fox Sports.

                                                  1. re: El Chevere

                                                    I was there last night too and thought the $5 taco night was a great idea. Loved the table of hot sauce next to it and also that they have sliced jalapenos out for the hot dogs.

                                                    You are the first person I have heard say that the new Yankee Stadium is anything but a complete failure concessions wise and I know a lot of yankee homers. I think with the new additions, Petco is now better than SF and has edged out Citi although the Korean chicken wings and elote at Citi are great ballpark food.

                                                    1. re: JRSD

                                                      Don't get me wrong--I HATE the new Yankee Stadium compared to the old one...has the feel of a vanilla, corporate themed mall with moats preventing you from getting to sections of the park you don't have tickets for and, at $1600 for box seats near the dugout--I'll never have an opportunity to get that close again (hence, the reason why you see some of the best seats unoccupied during many games).....that being said, they do have a steakhouse inside the Stadium that is open to the public that serves very good food (I understand they are opening one up by the same name in Manhattan); you can get a foot long Nathan's hot dog, and they do have a Lobel's stand which offers up a phenomenal sliced roast beef sandwich (Lobel's is also one of THE best mail order meat companies in the country)....I have not been to Citi field yet.

                                                      1. re: El Chevere

                                                        I heard Lobel's is good but that the whole stadium has a beer selection that is horrible.