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Coming from LA - what to eat in San Diego?

We are visiting San Diego for the weekend, and trying to figure out what to eat that's a unique strength of the area. My initial thought is to focus on more specific Mexican food not widely available in LA. Mariscos German might be a good option (to compare with Ricky's Fish Tacos and Mariscos Jalisco in LA) - which location would be on the way to San Diego?

Aqui es Texcoco seemed interesting but I guess they just opened a branch in LA so no need to go there. Super Cocina seemed promising, but the consensus seems to be that it's just solid home cooking, and not mind blowing. Carnitas Shake Shack seems popular but not sure if it's really that flavorful/authentic or just a cool concept.

Thoughts? We are open to any type of cuisine. We are staying at Del Mar so probably looking to have lunch and dinner around San Diego on Saturday night, and just have brunch around Del Mar or surrounding beaches for lunch on Sunday.

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  1. Hmmm...why bother? You've written off everything before you've even gotten here or eaten anywhere.

    Mexican is NOT a strength in San Diego. Taco shops, yes, but Mexican in general, no.

    Carnitas Snack Shack isn't Mexican...Carnitas is the name of the chef/owner's pet pig.

    Just have a craft beer and a burger and call it good.

    1. I'll be visiting SD/north county in a few weeks, so this is timely! Thanks to the OP for the initial homework on the Mexican. So if not any of the above mentioned, where?

      My quick research shows Urban Plates, Kitchen 1540, Prep Kitchen and Georges Modern. Other must-try lunch options further north up to O'side? Been to Kaito, Solace & the Moonlight Lounge, Fidel's. Thanks!

      6 Replies
      1. re: OCAnn

        I like Urban Plates. However, if they were equidistant, I might head toward Tender Greens. YtastebudsMV.

        Also, since you're in the North County-ish area, try http://www.bettyspiewhole.com/ and report back -- I've been meaning to try this place.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            OMG...the seafood looks like a seafood lover's wetdream...absolutely delectable! But the "Rodents" is a bit off-putting, but piques my dirty just enough.

            Looks like I may have to do Betty's Whole Pie w/my friend and Seabasstropub another time w/Mr OCAnn. BTW, how does it compare to Kaito?

            Thank you both (TOG &DD) for the above recommendations!

            1. re: OCAnn

              Don't think there is much comparison between Kaito and Seabasstropub. Kaito is essentially traditional Japanese sushi. Seabasstropub, as their menu says, is unorthodox sushi, more contemporary than traditional?

              1. re: OCAnn

                I picked up some savoury pies from Betty's Pie Whole & two little sweet bites, which I soon realised was the former location of Elizabethan Desserts. I picked up the cowpoke, mule, chicken pot pie and meatball pie as gifts. The cowpoke is two fpieces or an order of 1 ($7) and so I stole one and ate it from the box. OMG...it was delicious, like homemade perfection. While not a huge fan of pulled BBQ anything (usu over sauced), this was flavourful and not overly messy (just enough meaty goodness). If the rest of the items taste as good as this, then this will be a CH favourite. All items look homemade. Next time I'm in the area, I'm bringing home a sampler for myself (I'm kicking myself for not doing so!). Thanks for the rec on this one!

                EDIT: the mule is missing bc someone grabbed it before I could take a pic...and I scarfed down one of the cowpokes in a very unladylike manner.

                 
                1. re: OCAnn

                  Thanks for the report, that's great!

                  Now I need to get up to Encinitas...

          2. Romesco Mex Med Bistro
            http://romescomexmed.com/

            Nothing else is really unique to SD vis-a-vis LA.

            1. Go for craft beer. The gastropubs in LA aren't on the same level as San Diego. Get flights and try a few things. Eat some good pub grub.

              Waypoint Public
              Tiger! Tiger!
              Neighborhood
              Stone Liberty Station

              2 Replies
              1. Craft beer is definitely on our list. We have visited Stone before so thinking of dropping by Lost Abbey or Alesmith. Seems like those are the highly rated places on Beer Advocate. Another option is to go to a craft beer bar instead.

                7 Replies
                1. re: krystle920

                  Craft Beer, Burgers and Fish Tacos, SD has them nailed, you'll do well with those options. Sad to hear you're writing off some good ethnic chow possibilities on the assumption that LA has it all.

                  1. re: cstr

                    If you have ethnic recommendations, please list! There weren't a whole lot of past *recent* threads (IIRC), so it would most def help me when I'm in your neck of the woods (esp north county).

                  2. re: krystle920

                    If you are in the San Marcos area check out Churchills for one of the best beer selections in the County.

                    1. re: krystle920

                      If you're going to visit AleSmith, you're within a few miles of Ballast Point, Green Flash, Hess, Saint Archer, Wet N Reckless, White Labs ... well, you get the idea:

                      http://www.sandiegobrewersguild.org/w...

                        1. re: JRSD

                          Holy carp! I had no idea, that's terrible.

                          1. re: The Office Goat

                            Never tried them but very unfortunate. Hopefully they can get back up and running.