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San Diego Restaurants


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#241 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 12:23 PM

The Eater published a solid list of 38 Essential Restaurants in San Diego, many of which have been discussed on this thread including Cafe Chloe, Blue Ribbon Pizza, Carnitas' Snack Shack, FarmHouse Cafe, Sushi Ota, George's, Cucina Urbana, Nine-Ten, Whisknladle.

On the other hand, Zagat just released their 2013 San Diego guide but their selection seems hit-and-miss, and just out of tune in general. It never not looked like they put much thought into their San Diego guides in the past (which are not updated frequently), and maybe this time more than ever. Here is their top 5 list for food: Sushi Ota (29), Tao (28), Market (28), Tapenade (28) and Pamplemousse Grille (27), followed by a bunch of steak houses (Ruth's, Donovan's). Quite puzzling.

Edited by FrogPrincesse, 17 January 2013 - 12:28 PM.


#242 kalypso

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:02 PM

The Eater published a solid list of 38 Essential Restaurants in San Diego, many of which have been discussed on this thread including Cafe Chloe, Blue Ribbon Pizza, Carnitas' Snack Shack, FarmHouse Cafe, Sushi Ota, George's, Cucina Urbana, Nine-Ten, Whisknladle.

On the other hand, Zagat just released their 2013 San Diego guide but their selection seems hit-and-miss, and just out of tune in general. It never not looked like they put much thought into their San Diego guides in the past (which are not updated frequently), and maybe this time more than ever. Here is their top 5 list for food: Sushi Ota (29), Tao (28), Market (28), Tapenade (28) and Pamplemousse Grille (27), followed by a bunch of steak houses (Ruth's, Donovan's). Quite puzzling.


Tao? I don't think I've even heard of Tao.

Other than Sushi Ota, it's a very bland, middle of the road list more for tourists than locals, don't you think? :huh:

Edited by kalypso, 19 January 2013 - 01:02 PM.


#243 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:16 PM

Tao? I don't think I've even heard of Tao.

Other than Sushi Ota, it's a very bland, middle of the road list more for tourists than locals, don't you think? :huh:


Exactly my thoughts. It does not seem that they have done much research.

#244 Chris Hennes

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:04 PM

A quick report from my recent visit, for whatever it's worth...

We had dinners at

Cowboy Star - http://thecowboystar.com/
Mediocre steakhouse. Dramatically overpriced for the quality.

JSix - http://www.jsixrestaurant.com/
Interesting menu, fine food, nothing remarkable.

Cafe 21 - http://www.cafe-21.com/
Even more interesting menu, quite good food, service might have been a little too laid back, but it wasn't awful.

and lunches at


Cafe Chloe - http://www.cafechloe.com/
Excellent all around: fantastic fries and a great omelette.

Napizza - http://www.na-pizza.com/
Decent pizza, fabulous location to eat a Saturday lunch.

Dobson's - http://www.dobsonsrestaurant.com/
They got a new chef 3 weeks ago, no idea if he's still cutting his teeth or what. The burger was terrible.

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#245 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 06:24 PM

Thanks for the report, Chris. I am glad that you enjoyed Cafe Chloe. We need more places like that, with solid unpretentious food.

On the hand, regarding Cowboy Star, I could never understand what the hype was about. My friends dragged me there a few times. Overpriced is correct, with unremarkable food and substandard cocktails... Like most places in the Gaslamp, unfortunately.

#246 PumpkinStalker

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 01:54 PM

I'll be going on a very brief business trip to Solana Beach and would love some recommendations for food.  I will probably only get 1 dinner so make it a good one!  I'll also have 2 lunches during my brief stay.  I will have a rental car so I don't mind doing a little driving, and will probably be in SD for the dinner anyway.

 

I'm not into touristy "districts".  I'd rather go where the locals go.  I am completely open minded, I like all sorts of food (although I had duck tongue tacos once that I wasn't a big fan of). 

 

A little direction though if it helps:

  • I like to be full afterwards, avoid places that are overly frou-frou for this trip
  • Places with good desserts a plus
  • I drink - mostly enjoy craft beers but sometimes enjoy handcrafted cocktails. 

I'll look back in the thread for ideas, but thought I'd get the ball rolling with a comment too.

 

Thanks!



#247 Baselerd

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 02:01 PM

Nine-ten (La Jolla, a straight shot down I5) is great if you are into modern food. I believe you can get a 3-course dinner for $55, and they have great cocktails (and some craft beers iirc). Excellent desserts as well.

 

Maybe a little too fancy based on what you said - although it might be considered a local spot considering the average incomes in the area...


Edited by Baselerd, 22 March 2013 - 02:02 PM.


#248 Honkman

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 02:21 PM

I would avoid 9-10 (too many disappintments) and go to George's if you want to stay in La Jolla. If you want to stay in Solana Beach Solace might be a good choice. If you are willing to drive about 20-25 minutes I would drive to North Park where you have a lot of good choices like Urban Solace, Smoking Goat, El Take It Easy, Jayne's Gastropub (all have different culinary strength just look at the online menus).

 

 

 

I'll be going on a very brief business trip to Solana Beach and would love some recommendations for food.  I will probably only get 1 dinner so make it a good one!  I'll also have 2 lunches during my brief stay.  I will have a rental car so I don't mind doing a little driving, and will probably be in SD for the dinner anyway.

 

I'm not into touristy "districts".  I'd rather go where the locals go.  I am completely open minded, I like all sorts of food (although I had duck tongue tacos once that I wasn't a big fan of). 

 

A little direction though if it helps:

  • I like to be full afterwards, avoid places that are overly frou-frou for this trip
  • Places with good desserts a plus
  • I drink - mostly enjoy craft beers but sometimes enjoy handcrafted cocktails. 

I'll look back in the thread for ideas, but thought I'd get the ball rolling with a comment too.

 

Thanks!



#249 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 02:31 PM

PumpkinStalker,

 

North of Solana Beach in Encinitas you have Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza which is a local spot that is very good. It is tiny so you will end up chatting with your neighbors for sure.

 

NINE-TEN in La Jolla is good, especially the tasting menu. It could be considered "frou-frou" based on your definition (the portions are not huge but if you get a full menu you should be ok), although it has a fairly casual vibe (they call it "casual elegant").

 

Also in La Jolla, Whisknladle is very good and more casual. They make everything from scratch including their charcuterie selection.

 

Based on your description (where the locals go + like to be full + good desserts + craft beers and cocktails), I think that Cuccina Urbana would also be a good fit, although I have had mixed experiences with the cocktails on busy nights - it's usually safer to get wine or beer there.

 

There are a bunch of other ideas in this thread and in this other one too. I agree with Honkman's suggestions too (except for his comment about NINE-TEN :wink: !)


Edited by FrogPrincesse, 22 March 2013 - 02:32 PM.


#250 PumpkinStalker

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 09:40 PM

Thanks for the suggestions!  I suppose I should have said I don't mind fancy inventive and interesting foods provided the portion is decent :-)   I think of frou frou as mainly a description of something that takes forever to make and a half second to eat :smile: 
 
I looked them all up...Georges and Urban Solace seem to be the front-runners from what I see on their websites.  Thoughts on any specific "must get" menu items?
 
 
What about any places you REALLY enjoy but are aprehensive sending a visitor to either because of neighborhood, or grimeyness of the the place or whatever...Something you would never see advertised in the visitors guide?  Give me your favorite hole-in-the-wall. This would be for a weekday lunch.  If it helps, here are a few pictures of places that I would put in this category in KC MO.  I figure I'll go super casual and grimey for lunch, then class it up a notch for dinner.
 
Town Topic Hamburgers
http://www.yelp.com/...N1Mw3FZO3I5lMEA
 
Grinders in KC:
http://farm4.staticf...4327_z.jpg?zz=1
 
Arthur Bryants BBQ
http://openplac.es/t...s-city-missouri
 
 
Thanks for the help!

Edited by PumpkinStalker, 23 March 2013 - 09:41 PM.


#251 martha

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 10:28 AM

See the recent San Diego Eater interview for more on George's.  Its the place you send all the guests because it's beautiful and tasty.  http://sandiego.eater.com/tags/trey-foshee 

 

George's is good.  There is a closer version of Urban Solace in Encinitas called Solace and the Moonlight.  If you're driving all the way to North Park, there are many interesting choices, but I will warn you that El Take it Easy (which was great) just closed.  It will be back in a new incarnation with the same ownership soon.

 

There is a better place in Encinitas called Craftsman, in a really dull location on El Camino Real.  It's the same couple that run Blue Ribbon, which really is delicious.

 

If you need a covenient meal, there is a nice new place called Real Food and Spirits in Solana Beach right near I-5.  Yummy and inventive pizzas and salads, nice buildout, boring shopping center. 

 

Don't be tempted by Pamplemousse in del Mar.

 

As for places I might not send guests but go myself:

 

Bull Taco inside the San Elijo campground.  (because it's hard to find)  http://www.bulltaco.com/site/  is a great lunch choice--the other combination of stunning view and really quality food besides Georges.

 

Eden Gardens neighborhood in Solana Beach.  There are very old mexican restaurants that have been serving local families for generations.  You'll hear ceaseless debate about which is better:  Fidel's and Tony's Jacal.   http://www.fidelslittlemexico.com/days-a-hours      http://www.tonysjacal.com/

 

Yu Me Ya in Encinitas--right on 101, Japanese izakaya style appetizers and comfort food, not sushi.  Lovely inside, just looks uninviting from the outside.  Only open at dinner.



#252 martha

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 10:35 AM

I just reread the OP and wanted to add:  Blue ribbon has craft beers and amazing butterscotch pudding--sounds dull, is great.

 

Bull taco does not have beer in Cardiff, just in Oceanside (no view there).

 

Whisknladle and Cucina Urbana are great, but make sure you get a reservation.

 

Have a Racer 5 and a Sculpin if you're comfortable with hops.  You're coming to a great craft beer town!  And do go to Pizza Port just for beer.  It's right on the 101 in Solana Beach.  Find a designated driver if you can't walk--you're going to be in heaven. :)

 

If you need brunch, there is a lovely locals place called claire's on Cedros right in Solana Beach.  They even have some good beer.



#253 Honkman

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 10:44 AM

See the recent San Diego Eater interview for more on George's.  Its the place you send all the guests because it's beautiful and tasty.  http://sandiego.eater.com/tags/trey-foshee 

 

George's is good.  There is a closer version of Urban Solace in Encinitas called Solace and the Moonlight.  If you're driving all the way to North Park, there are many interesting choices, but I will warn you that El Take it Easy (which was great) just closed.  It will be back in a new incarnation with the same ownership soon.

 

There is a better place in Encinitas called Craftsman, in a really dull location on El Camino Real.  It's the same couple that run Blue Ribbon, which really is delicious.

 

If you need a covenient meal, there is a nice new place called Real Food and Spirits in Solana Beach right near I-5.  Yummy and inventive pizzas and salads, nice buildout, boring shopping center. 

 

Don't be tempted by Pamplemousse in del Mar.

 

As for places I might not send guests but go myself:

 

Bull Taco inside the San Elijo campground.  (because it's hard to find)  http://www.bulltaco.com/site/  is a great lunch choice--the other combination of stunning view and really quality food besides Georges.

 

Eden Gardens neighborhood in Solana Beach.  There are very old mexican restaurants that have been serving local families for generations.  You'll hear ceaseless debate about which is better:  Fidel's and Tony's Jacal.   http://www.fidelslittlemexico.com/days-a-hours      http://www.tonysjacal.com/

 

Yu Me Ya in Encinitas--right on 101, Japanese izakaya style appetizers and comfort food, not sushi.  Lovely inside, just looks uninviting from the outside.  Only open at dinner.

 

 

I agree on a number of points but strongly disagree with Bull Taco - great view but some of really lousy, overpriced food,.In a city like San Diego with quite a few Marisco trucks nobody should go to Bull(shit) Taco. Without their view they would be out of business for a long time.


Edited by Honkman, 24 April 2013 - 10:45 AM.


#254 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 12:06 PM

Any news places worth checking out?

 

Lately my rotation for regular/everyday kind of places includes Tender Greens for the salads and specials (also a small but decent beer selection, and their excellent charcuterie), Carnitas Snack Shack for pork overdose (carnitas tacos, BLT with belly instead of ham), Fathom Bistro for sausage sandwiches and craft beers (they make their own sausages and they are great), Blind Lady Ale House for pizza and more craft beers, Burger Lounge (so much better than In-N-Out...), the Fish Shop in PB (ceviche, fish tacos, local beers, oysters), Cucina Urbana (stuffed squash blossoms, handmade pastas including the wonderful short rib pappardelle, good wine selection) and Eclipse Chocolate for an afternoon snack (bourbon caramel pecan cupcake). 

 

Places that need more time: Sea and Smoke - it was promising for dinner but not quite there yet (great lobster, chocolate ice cream; didn't care much for the Bison Smash cocktail, the appetizer was blah, and the service needed some work) . Dinner at Blue Ribbon Rustic Kitchen was overall pretty good, but less so considering the price. I think it needs some time as well.

 

Places that I will be back to: The Hake in La Jolla - I had a great lunch there. I had a couple of good dinners at The Patio, but I make sure to avoid the brunch which is nothing special, and the cocktails which are hit-and-miss. Blind Burro was fun after a visit to Noble Experiment (garlic-chile crab claw fingers, bbq yellowtail collars, cochinita pibil).

 

Restaurant Week starts this weekend, so I will do my best to avoid restaurants that participate. :smile:



#255 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 04:37 PM

Richard Blais' new restaurant in Little Italy, Juniper and Ivy, is about to open. The hype has been building up for months now, and there is a lot of media coverage, including this article today in San Diego magazine. He has hired local bartender and mezcalier Jen Queen to design the cocktail menu.



#256 Brown Hornet

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 09:57 AM

I had dinner at Juniper and Ivy over the weekend so I thought I'd post my impressions.  It was just my wife and I so we were only able to sample a small portion of the extensive menu.  The menu had no fewer than 7 categories -- snacks, raw, toasts, pasta, small plates, large plates, desserts -- between all of them you're probably looking at 40 or so dishes. 

 

We ordered several of the snack/raw/small plates to share and they were uniformly fantastic.  Particularly great was a corn dish that was essentially their version of corn on the cob, and a chicken liver terrine that punched well above its weight.  Less successful were the entrees.  My "Ensendada" sea bass was overcooked and didn't really hold up to the Mexican sauce and accompaniments.  My wife's berkshire pork porterhouse was delicious, but frankly a bit pedestrian.  Dessert, however, was stellar, and the "Yodel" was about as close to a perfect dessert as I've ever had. No surprise that it's J&I's most popular dish.

 

The house signature cocktails were extremely disappointing.  We ordered three of their signature cocktails and they were all overly sweet to the point of cloying. To be fair, I could have just ordered any ol' cocktail, but I always like to see what a bar is coming up with on its own.  The head bartender is apparently someone of note in San Diego, but I wasn't feeling her style at all.  For a fun/hip restaurant like J&I, I think the cocktail menu is one place where you can and should push boundaries a little more aggressively, but that was sadly not the case.

 

Service was uniformly outstanding and for such a new restaurant, the dinner service was smooth and perfectly paced -- nothing rushed, nothing delayed.  Blais was in the kitchen the night we were there, so maybe everyone was especially on their game with the boss in town.  It was especially impressive given the large menu and large dinner crowd the night we were there. The overall atmosphere was fun, if a bit loud and boisterous, and J&I is clearly the hot spot in San Diego right now.

 

I think J&I is ideally suited to a group of 4-6 where you can order a bunch of the smaller dishes to share.  If I could go back, I'd definitely stick to the smaller plates and snacks and skip the large plates.  We aren't local so I can't say how well Blais has captured San Diego/SoCal cuisine.  Like a lot of California restaurants the menu struck me as overly eclectic -- a little Asian here, a little Mexican there, some Italian because why not -- but if everything tastes great who cares.  

 

Last, I'd be remiss not to add that I'm from Atlanta and have been dining at Blais helmed restaurants since well before his Top Chef celebrity.  With that in mind, in my opinion J&I may be the most fully realized and successful fusion of his disparate influences to date.  For anyone who gets turned off by celebrity chefs I can assure you that Blais has legit chops and knows how to run a quality fine-dining restaurant.  Lastly, J&I is not a modernist-focused restaurant per se, although any number of modernist techniques are utilized in the dishes.  If you're turned off by modernist stuff don't worry you won't notice it at J&I, but if you do appreciate modernist techniques you'll be able to spot them at work in the dishes.

 

Bottom line, a strong recommendation if you're in San Diego, and make sure you order the Yodel for dessert.



#257 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 01 July 2014 - 05:03 PM

Nice detailed report, Brown Hornet.

 

I've been there once but opted not to report because Chef Blais was not in the house that night (I was aware of it but decided to go anyway based on excellent reports from my friends), and although the food was nice, it was not at the level I was expecting. I also tried a couple of cocktails that left me cold (and, interestingly, are gone from their current drink menu) .

 

But I will be back for sure. The place is fun and has a ton of potential. It's great to see more and more of this type of restaurants in SD  - did you have a chance to go down a few blocks to Ironside Fish & Oyster?



#258 Brown Hornet

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Posted 02 July 2014 - 08:13 AM

Unfortunately, given our itinerary we only had one open evening for dinner during our trip to SD -- so J&I was it.  Hindsight 20/20 I would have foregone J&I and opted for one of SD's top seafood or Mexican restaurants, both of which are in short supply in Atlanta. No knock on J&I, but we probably have a couple dozen restaurants in Atlanta that are at least as good or better.  Still, curiosity got the best of me and I just couldn't resist seeing what Blais was up to in San Diego.  To his credit, I've never had less than a good meal at a Blais helmed restaurant, and at least from a diners' point of view his kitchens always seem to be well run and efficient.

 

Just my layperson's opinion, but if J&I's bar was equal to its kitchen it could be a special place given its hip and fun vibe.  It was borderline shocking to me how poorly conceived the drinks were.

 

Next time I'm in SD I'll need to revisit this thread!