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Aug 19, 2013 06:46 PM

Seeking unique, modern, fresh cuisine - can you help?

My husband and I will be in town for 5 nights - we are staying with my cousin who lives in Chula Vista. She'll have plans for us for a few nights, but on one night my hubby and I will have a date night without our 1 year old.

We are looking for a non run-of-the-mill restaurant. Any budget, so long as it's excellent food. We're coming from Boston - if you've been here, I am thinking Craigie on Main type restaurant, or Barbara Lynch's "Stir" in Boston (prep/demo kitchen restaurant) or

A restaurant that uses fresh, local ingredients whose menu is ever changing. Or a unique dining experience, but nothing kitsch or themed per se. Would also consider a molecular gastronomy type place.

Just looking for something outstanding. Any neighborhood will do....

Thanks in advance!

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  1. La Caza Club and Mision 19 would fit your desires nicely.

    La Caza Club

    Mision 19

    Both are about 12 miles south of where you're staying. There is an international border you'll have to cross, but if you walk across and take taxis it's usually not too bad in the after dinner hours. Also there is light rail from CV to the border.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jayporter

      The down side would be the length of time it takes to cross back, plus there's, IMO, a danger factor being in TJ in the evenings. Must be keenly aware of your surroundings.

      1. re: cstr

        Actually, crossing back at night is faster than during the day. What you need to be keenly aware of are the drug sniffing dogs used by CBP

        Both of the restaurants Jay mentioned will call a reliable taxi service that will take you from the door of the restaurant to the foot of the pedestrian line. The worst you're going to be exposed to are some crazy drivers. Violencia still exists in Tijuana, but it is largely limited to the eastern parts of the city.

    2. Jay has excellent recommendations, Tijuana has a vibrant and growing food scene that has gotten national media attention by major media outlets on this side of the border. Having said that, if you don't feel like crossing the border you can experience some of that cuisine very close to Chula Vista. The family that owns many of the most talked about restaurants in Tijuana owns Romesco in Bonita which is a short drive from CV.

      6 Replies
      1. re: foodiechick

        Had the same thought, you beat me to it.

        1. re: DiningDiva

          This just in about Romesco's from my companion and her friend:

          "Just got back from having dinner at Romesco's. It's far away in Bonita but well worth the trip. It felt like we were in Mexico. The food was delicious. We had a Caesar salad and she had a chile en nogada and I had paella. According to [another friend], the restaurant is owned by the same family who owns one of the restaurants you and I went to in Tijuana with her."

          I've never been, but that's her report.

          Certainly sounds recommendable.

          1. re: DoctorChow

            But not new, fresh, modern, unique.

            The best chile en nogada in the world is not breaking new ground.

            Paella? Zzzzzzz......

            1. re: Fake Name


              Arrghh. Nothing new and modern! No test-tube hamburger!

              But! Although I can see it makes you want to take a nap, I also like paella.

              Some Spanish friends of ours used to grill paella outdoors on the world's second-biggest paella pan and it was a lot of fun. And terrific. Ever since I've been looking for good restaurant paella.

              1. re: DoctorChow

                Nothing wrong with good paella, although it is an endangered species and rarer than gold hens teeth.

                But the idea that we could have a conversation about paella mean its not unique. Not modern. Not fresh.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  Agree. The things they had are neither modern nor unique, but other things on the menu might be.

                  Actually, the reason for my post was to underscore foodiechick's suggestion of Romesco, not necessarily the specific items that my companion and her friend had there. Both of them are pretty picky about food, and it sounded like the food quality at Romesco was quite good.

      2. George's California Modern in La Jolla

        1 Reply
        1. re: mcgrath

          Yes. Also. As well. Plus one. Just not as close.

        2. Concur with cstr on the length of time coming back from the border and if you do go, bring your valid passport.

          I would hit up Aqui es Texcoco in Chula Vista
          Toys R Us parking lot for the food trucks in CV
          Romesco's Bonita
          Jalisco Cafe in Imperial Beach for tamales for breakfast
          Hotel Del Coronado for drinks in Coronado

          La Jolla is gorgeous and I would definitely add George's Modern to the list.

          Take a lovely drive to Rancho Santa Fe and have lunch at Rancho Valencia Resort and dine at Pony Room or Veladora for dinner.
          Stop by Chino's vegetable stand.

          1. Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I am a bit nervous about going the Tijuana route. We are leaving my 1 year old with my cousin for the night and I don't want to have any issues (danger, timing or otherwise), coming back over the border. Just makes me nervous. Those restaurants look great though!

            What about Craft and Commerce? Just happened upon that on this board as well. Seems yummy and fun, good cocktails?

            2 Replies
            1. re: krisa20

              C&C is good. Nothing wrong with it, good food, good cocktails.


              This is not [the restaurant] you are seeking.

              1. re: Fake Name

                (as he waves his hand)......

                I always suggest Addison for these requests. So, I say, Addision. Definitely a "money no object" choice. Happy Dining!