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Oct 30, 2013 08:39 AM

Help me find great food outside of Mission Valley!

I'll be coming to San Diego for just 3 nights, and I'm staying in Mission Valley. I've never been to that area before (usually stay in Gaslamp or Bankers Hill), but the map shows it to be packed with chains, and it seems from these boards that nearby Old Town is filled with tourist traps. I usually work hard to avoid these spots, so I'm on a mission to find something else.

Anyone up for the challenge of helping me find three great places for a solo traveler to get dinner? Here are two limitations:
-I won't have a car, so I'd prefer something close to a light rail stop that I could reasonably reach in 30 minutes or less. (I'm a New Yorker, so I don't mind walking 10-15 minutes, as long as it's a safe area).
-While I'm usually an adventurous eater and a huge beer drinker, I'm in the queasy stages of pregnancy. So beer bars, breweries, and sushi are out, as is anything with eyeballs or stomach lining. Spicy is fine.

Any help you can offer would be much appreciated! And I'll report back on where I end up.


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  1. You might consider Bully's East--old school steak and prime rib. Ask to sit on the side away from the bar, if you want to avoid that sort of thing. I'm not sure about the trolley access, but it's halfway up from the valley off of Texas St./Qualcomm.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Ms. Verde

      Good call on Bully's. Even if you're not drinking because of the pregnancy, their bartenders are old school and good, I'm betting they could whip up something non-alcoholic for you.

      Prime rib and the burger are usually really good.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        I'll second the prime rib at Bully's, which I think is beyond really good, all the way to excellent. But how to walk there? That is the question. I've never gone there that way. Texas is a strange street, and Bully's appears to be accessible on foot, with difficulty, only from the south side of 8.

        1. re: DoctorChow

          Bully's is not particularly accessible by trolley or by foot. It is, however, accessible by, I think, the #18 bus.

          If not, if the OPs hotel has a shuttle service they'll probably take her over there because it's close by. There is always taxi service and it probably wouldn't be an arm and a leg going from one point in MV to another

        2. re: DiningDiva

          Ha. I just returned from there tonight. Actually thought of BC and DD sharing a cocktail at that bar.

          1. re: foodiechick

            You can always spot DD bar stool with the dedicated 70's leg warmers..

            Sab E Lee for Thai
            Blind Burro Gaslamp

            Congrats on your baby!!

      2. The first question is: Will your hotel be 10-15 minutes walking distance to a trolley stop? That sounds pretty basic for what you'd like to do. If so, your dining possibilites include Little Italy and downtown. You can check by looking at the map here:

        2 Replies
        1. re: DoctorChow

          Taking the trolley westbound you can get off in Old Town, the busses there will give you access to La Jolla and the beach cities. Old Town is not exactly a dining destination, but you could probably find something fast and easy if you wanted it.

          Stay on the trolley to the Washington St. stop, get off and walk east up Washington a couple blocks till you get to India. You'll come to Lucha Libre tacos first. Most of this board will tell you it's awful and to keep walking. Your choice. Is it awful? No, but it is over exposed, the food pedestrian, but it is a fun place with good energy. When you get to India, cross Washington, and you'll come to Saffron, Wine Vault & Bistro, Shakespeare Pub (fun) and Blue Water Grill. All four of these get generally favorable reviews on this board. You can skip El Indio, it was good 40 years ago, not so much now, but the tourists (and Guy Fieri, love it)

          Or, stay on the trolley to the County Administration/Little Italy. Get off and walk up 1 block to - yet again - India. The restaurants - mostly Italian-style - are cheek by jowl. It's a little bit like Alice's can get just about anything you want on India...not all of it good, but there are options galore in Little Italy. For a pleasant, light salad or sandwich, try Songo di Vino.

          You can stay on the trolley 2 more stop to America Plaza and then transfer to the Blue or Orange lines, either direction will take you into downtown, the Gaslamp or Seaport Village area.

          You can also take the trolley east from MV. Frankly, the options around the eastbound line are far more limited and there are rarely taxis at most of the eastbound stops.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            An asterisk for Rosemary's benefit.

            You now have to get off at Santa Fe Station, go through the covered walkway, and follow an under-construction walkway to get to America Plaza (also under construction), if you want to transfer.

            Or, depending on where you're going, you can stay on and get off on the south side of downtown at the Convention Center stop near 3rd.

        2. It would help to know in which part of Mission Valley you'll be staying. I worked close to the Marriott, and there are some decent places within walking distance. You'll also be close to the trolley. However, if you're staying in "hotel row" along Camino del Rio South, that's a different selection (and not that close to a trolley stop).

          1. Wow. Lots of great suggestions. Thanks.

            I'm staying at the Mission Valley Hilton, which appears to be about a 1 mile walk from the nearest trolley. I don't know if there's anything nearby that's decent, but any suggestions would be welcome,even if not great, for the night I get in and need to grab something relatively quickly.

            3 Replies
            1. re: RosemaryHoney

              See if the hotel has a courtesy shuttle service to the mall, trolley..for a buck or two each way and I always get their cell# so your not walking a mile each way..
              If you could switch to the Doubletree which is a Hilton property, across the freeway, better choices without a car and get on the trolley real close by.

              1. re: Beach Chick

                +1 on the suggestion to change your location if possible. Hotel Circle is a dining wasteland and being able to get to the trolley opens up all kinds of interesting options. The Doubletree Mission Valley (not the Hotel Circle location) is steps from a trolley stop and would be my choice if I didn't have a car and had to stay in that area.

                The chain-restaurant options across the freeway probably aren't going to be worth the walk there. After accounting for the lights and crosswalks, I'd bet it will take more like 15-20 minutes. It's not dangerous from a mugging-point of view, but there is a lot of traffic from the freeway on- and off-ramps.

              2. re: RosemaryHoney

                There is a Bennihanas very close to your hotel, maybe a 5 minute walk.

                You are just across the freeway from Gordon Biersch, Fuddruckers, and King's Fish House all of which are easily accessible by the bridge over the freeway, maybe a 7 or 8 minute walk at most.

                Also across the freeway and only about a half block further than Gordon Biersch, is Pei Wie Asian Diner (parent company is PF Chang), Corner Bakery and Mimi's Cafe

                Your hotel is across the freeway from a large shopping Mall and all of the above restaurants are surrounding the mall. The road over the freeway is a major thoroughfare. It is reasonably well lit, with lots of traffic. I second BCs suggestion to see if the hotel has a shuttle to run your over and back.

                That Hilton happens to be next door to a Denny's and the Mission Valley Cafe. The MV Cafe is part of a small local chain called SD Home Cooking. If you value your life - and that of your unborn child - DO NOT eat at the MV Cafe.

                And one last note, SD restaurants tend to close fairly early. If you get in late, say after about 9:30 or 10 pm room service may be your best bet

              3. Has anyone been to the Lazy Dog in the area with Trader Joes/BevMo/West Elm/Gordon Biersch? I know nothing about it, but their hummus made the UT "50 things to eat" or whatever.

                If forced to eat in the valley, so far I have only had luck with True Food and Bullys. Someday I will have the guts to go into Albies.

                5 Replies
                1. re: MrKrispy

                  it's basically an Applebee's.

                  Some of the waitstaff may go above the requisite 15 pieces of flair.

                  1. re: Saabiar

                    ugh, that's what I was afraid of. Some chains can pull off a few good dishes and use fresh food, but most are just Applebee's derivatives. Oh well.

                    1. re: MrKrispy

                      Went to one in Valencia with a work group and they at least had a couple of decent beers on tap. I think Wookie Jack was the best of the lot.

                      1. re: JRSD

                        Hmmm...Wookie Jack? Sounds like the name of a fictitious "fetish" beer that FN would dream up.

                  2. re: MrKrispy

                    Had the hummus. It was pretty lackluster and not worthy of making any "things to eat" list.