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C Simril

Dining in San Diego (Part 2)

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Just reporting back on where I ate in the evening. My meetings were a little busier than I expected, but I still managed to get out to Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. Despite the extraordinary wait (at least an hour) I enjoyed the food very much - a bracing seviche to start, wolfed down next to the counter with El Indio tortilla chips, and then two delicious mahi mahi fish tacos. I chased it all down with a Ballast Point wheat beer.

I had also eaten at some fast food taco stand for lunch, downtown. I'm sure for you people it was entirely pedestrian, but I promise you if it opened in New York there would be riots. Just excellent.

What I'd like to eat, predictably enough, is really good mexican food, since I have never been anywhere that has it.  I'm also looking for a excellent cocktail place where I can molt comfortably with something gin based for a few hours.  I read about Modus in this thread.  Does that fit the bill?

I'm happy to walk about a mile at a time, about.

Thanks.

Modus closed last week.

If you're in downtown, you're more or less in, or close to, the Gaslamp district where there are more watering holes per square foot than pedicabs on the street. You will have your pick of just about anything.

Oceanaire at 4th and Island does a terrific clubby, oyster bar happy hour.

Top of the Hyatt (40th floor or so) at the embarcadero will provide you with a spectacular view of the harbor. If the marine layer doesn't come in early that day, you'll be able to see for miles and miles and miles.

Dobsons is good for cocktails and mussel bisque.

And then there is Candelas, one downtown and one on Coronado. Upscale Mexican in the style of Mexico City. Good to very good. You can get to Coronado via the water ferry and then it's a short walk to the restaurant which is right on the bay. Here's thelink to the Candelas web site

El Vitral is very new downtown at 8th and J. Upscale Mexican, good selection of tequila. Buzz and early review have been decent.

Downtown is pretty easy to navigate especially if you use the trolley system. There is an around downtown pass you can buy that I think is about $1. In what part of downtown is your meeting?

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Just reporting back on where I ate in the evening. My meetings were a little busier than I expected, but I still managed to get out to Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. Despite the extraordinary wait (at least an hour) I enjoyed the food very much - a bracing seviche to start, wolfed down next to the counter with El Indio tortilla chips, and then two delicious mahi mahi fish tacos. I chased it all down with a Ballast Point wheat beer.

I had also eaten at some fast food taco stand for lunch, downtown. I'm sure for you people it was entirely pedestrian, but I promise you if it opened in New York there would be riots. Just excellent.

Good call on Blue Water. Their fish tacos are some of the best in SD

G

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This is just a quick write-up on a visit I had a short while ago at Tommy's Italian Resturant and Deli on 2nd Street in El Cajon.

http://www.tommysitalianrestaurantanddeli.com

It's a nice little place with indoor and patio seating. We first went on Valentine's Day and sat on the patio. They had a guitar player out there and was playing some really good stuff. My wife and I both thought it greatly added to the embiance and gave him a nice tip at the end of our meal. The second time I went there was to pick up some deli meat and cheese and stayed for a quick pasta meal with the kids.

The food both times I thought was excellent. On Valentines Day I had the Veal Picatta and not only was the portion pretty sizable it came out piping hot as if it only took 30 seconds from frying pan to table. The flavor was rich and not too runny like I've had at other places. The veal was not breaded and was very tender. I despise when restaurants bread their veal. Makes me think they're trying to hide something. The second time I went with my kids we just had some basic pasta dishes that again were delicious and lots of it as well.

The service was also very good and the waiter did a very good job of understanding our questions and was never unsure of his responses. Service was very attentive as well.

All in all each experience has been positive and will most definately go back. Matter of fact, we drive by it every day to pick up our kids and we've been trying to find the time to go. I'll try to get pictures next time. Good stuff.


Edited by Octaveman (log)

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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I have quite a backlog of restaurant reviews I have been wanting to post. It looks like this thread has been inactive for a while, so I thought I should reactivate it. So here we go for part 1.

Cavaillon

We had a great dinner there. My brother and sister in law treated us to a gift certificate. We had not had dinner there in a long time so were not sure what to expect. We had the tasting menu which involved a fantastic foie gras au torchon (very similar to Tapenade’s) served with toasted brioche, delicious seared scallops with vanilla foam and corn risotto, duck breast sous vide (my favorite preparation for duck breast since I’ve tried it at Blanca – tender and pink, perfection), and their specialty for desert, chocolate pastilla. Overall a very enjoyable meal and attentive service. Only one area of improvement that I can suggest– the wine pairing could have been optimized (the white that was paired with the scallops really clashed with the dish as it was way too acidic), and our first glass came a bit late. We ended up spending less than $200 total for the two of us with wine, and I felt it was a great value for the quality of the meal.

Café Chloe

We had a pre-symphony lunch there with a couple of friends. Service was poor but they did apologize profusely, comped the drinks and gave us an appetizer to compensate for the wait - there had been a mix-up in the kitchen and our order was never fired, which resulted in a > 45 min wait for our meal. The food was great when it finally arrived. I had steak frites and the skirt steak was very tender and “rare” as requested. The fries had been cooked with scallions with gave a them a very nice & interesting taste. My husband had the moules frites – we love the curry sauce that they are served in and use it as a dip for the fries. Our friends loved their croque madame and omelette. The bill was reasonable and we will be back.

[to be continued]

As a side note, we need to hear about your dining experiences in San Diego! So many restaurants I used to frequent have closed down recently – La Vache, Better Half, Modus, Chive, and my new favorite Crescent Heights, etc. It would be great to have a few new recommendations.

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As a side note, we need to hear about your dining experiences in San Diego! So many restaurants I used to frequent have closed down recently – La Vache, Better Half, Modus, Chive, and my new favorite Crescent Heights, etc. It would be great to have a few new recommendations.

Here are a few suggestions (even though I don't think any of them can replace Better Half which for us was by far the best and most creative restaurant in San Diego. Hopefully Chef John Kennedy will reappear on ther culinary scene soon):

The Linkery (farm to table restaurant. The last few dinners were very, very good and service has improved a lot over the last few months)

Jayne's Gastropub (very solid food, nice service)

Restaurant at the Hotel Pearl (surprisingly creative food. Not your typical hotel restaurant)

Wine Vault (fantastic $30 5-course dinners on Saturdays but also a lot other good wine dinners throughout the week)

Alchemy (new restaurant in South Park with good food, Service can be mixed depending who is in)

Cowboy Star (very good steak/meat focus restaurant)

Terra (flies under the radar but has very good food)

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Is there any kind of food in San Diego that can't be had better in the LA-area? I'm staying in Irvine and will be making a trip to San Diego to the zoo. I'll need to get lunch, so preferably something near the zoo, but if there's anything really special in town, I'd be willing to drive farther.

No Mexican as I'm going to Mexico City and Oaxaca next month.

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Someone mentioned Mama Testa's; I was in SD this past weekend, and did the Mama Testa's thing to see what the hype was about (you know, the FoodTV throwdown win and all that). I was disappointed.

One of the draws of the place is supposed to be their salsa bar. I showed up at about 8 p.m. on Saturday night, and was told they were out of chips. Bummer. First item on the menu I wanted to try was their beef soup. I was told they were out of that too.

Got a combo plate of carnitas, beef, and marinated pork tacos. The first two were OK. The marinated pork taco was phenomenal. I probably could've eaten a 1/2 dozen of those things (portions are small).

For dessert, I ordered flan. I was told they were out. Got a tasty churro instead.

I guess I could understand being out of a dish or a special during the week, close to closing time. But at prime time on the weekends, this was pretty unsatisfactory. And to run out of tortilla chips at a Mexican restaurant?!?

I did have a great carnitas taco for lunch one day at a 'hole in the wall' place called Aldarabo's or something like that (on Rosencrans, I believe).

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All the publicity - and there was more than just the Throwdown with Bobby Flay - has not been a good thing for Mama Testa's. They've had a hard time keeping up with the business and I think the quality of both their food and serivce has suffered...and not in a good way.

I keep thinking all the hype will die down but then FTV reruns of the Throwdown, or a piece appears in print (this month's WestWays magazine is a good example) and the place gets over run with customers again. I'm very happy that Cesar has had such good luck, it has been less lucky for their long and loyal customers.

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Is there any kind of food in San Diego that can't be had better in the LA-area? I'm staying in Irvine and will be making a trip to San Diego to the zoo. I'll need to get lunch, so preferably something near the zoo, but if there's anything really special in town, I'd be willing to drive farther.

No Mexican as I'm going to Mexico City and Oaxaca next month.

Kent, I'm surprised no one has piped up with suggestions. I would have suggested a place with fish tacos since it originated just over the border but you don't want Mexican food.

I don't know how it compares to LA but have you ever had Guamanian food? Islander Grill is on Park Blvd. and is two (big) blocks down from the zoo and qualifies as a dive. My brothers and I enjoy their hot sauce condiment (fina'denne) that's quite fiery. Some of the dishes remind me of Filipino food (Chicken Kelaguen, lumpia, etc). It seems to be a mom & pop place so their hours can vary and service sometimes suffers because it just seems to be family members doing working all positions. But that being said, we've liked the food.


 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I think for a dive bar burger Rocky's is far superior to Hodad's even though Hodad's gets most of the press. Some of my favorites:

Cucina Urbana - Probably the most talked about restaurant in SD right now, casual rustic Italian (think Batali), inexpensive (all under $20). Absolutely amazing place.

I second the Linkery, absolutely awesome.

Whisknladle - La Jolla, rustic farm to table stuff, really delicious menu and great patio type seating.

Sushi Ota - Best sushi in SD. The owners also own a place called Hane in Bankers Hill, havent been but hear it is good

Market-Upscale in Del Mar, very well renowned.


"A man's got to believe in something...I believe I'll have another drink." -W.C. Fields

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The short answer is no. There is nothing food-wise in San Diego that is better than you can get in LA, especially if you eliminate Mexican food. There are some good places though. I think the mid-level bar and Ocean View Terrace at the top of George's at the Cove in La Jolla have a great lunch, especially on weekdays or off-hours, when it isn't too crowded. The food is great, the prices are fair, and on a nice day, the setting is excellent.

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La Gran Tapa has improved. We havent yet tried any entrees, but have been pleased with the tapas menu. The lamb chops are especially good; tender, lamby, herby. The short ribs are nothing special in flavor or texture. The gazpacho was right up there with the 30 or so bowls of it that I ate in Spain - fresh, snappy and refreshing. The house red is good, and on Saturday evenings, they have an excellent sax player.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I've lived in dozens of places, but San Diego has some of the best food in the world. Is Quel Frommage still there in Hillcrest? They made chocolate truffles and espresso that I still dream about. Then there's the antipasto salad at Filippi's downtown...

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To dredge this from the depths--does anyone have a fair evaluation of Bite? I owe a friend a thank-you dinner (she's an amateur foodie like myself) for taking me to/from the airport. Was planning on doing the fixed menu. Thanks!

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No experience with Bite. I see that they are located on University Avenue. We used to be regulars at Café W, Chris Walsh’s first restaurant in Hillcrest. I had not realized he had opened a new place (in 2007!). It looks great on paper – maybe someone can report? If not, I will likely try it in the near future.

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I've eaten at Bite. It's good to very good. I like it. I don't know that I would do the Prix Fixe, tho'. I prefer to just use the menu and start with a dish or 2 that looks interesting and then build from there.

Almost everything I've had there has been well prepared and flavorful. As small plates is the concept here, portions are kept small on most things so that you can order more than 1 or 2 items and try a nice cross section of the menu. Service can be a bit casual but is not inattentive or careless.

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Is it suitable for well-behaved children?


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Is it suitable for well-behaved children?

How old, and how much "alternative lifestyle" do you want to expose them to? Remember Bite is in the heart of Hillcrest and pulls much of it's clientel from the surrounding community including some of the more flamboyant parts :laugh: Your children may be the best behaved people in the place.

Expect waiters with multiple piercings, multiple tats, Doc Martens, and the occasional whacky hair cut. Patrons are less colorful. Their customer base appears to be a pretty even mix of straight and gay, usually well dressed, usually on a date or for a small celebration. I think older (i.e. not under 10) kids would probably be okay, especially if you were willing to eat early.

Bite sites right in between Mama Testa and Baja Betty's. It's pretty much the antithesis of BB.

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I've eaten at Bite. It's good to very good. I like it. I don't know that I would do the Prix Fixe, tho'. I prefer to just use the menu and start with a dish or 2 that looks interesting and then build from there.

Almost everything I've had there has been well prepared and flavorful. As small plates is the concept here, portions are kept small on most things so that you can order more than 1 or 2 items and try a nice cross section of the menu. Service can be a bit casual but is not inattentive or careless.

Sounds great, and very similar in concept & atmosphere to Cafe W. I've made a reservation for this weekend.

Thanks for posting this review, kalypso!

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Thanks for the heads up Kalypso! Much appreciated and the service sounds just perfect. We'll try mixing and matching the tapas. Hopefully I'll remember to bring the camera for some foodie shots and a report.

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Thanks Kalypso.

The lifestyle is not an issue. There are parents of classmates that meet all those descriptions, in one.

Would the presence of a 6-yr old piss people off, is more the question.

We go early, and she usually earns fear from the waiter upon first sighting, and respect by the time she's made her choices from the menu and dug into them. But, there are still places I dont want to deal or other patrons dont want to deal with a kid in the room, no matter how well behaved.

The spanish tapas place in Pacific Beach works, the Fish Market works. We havent tried much higher end than that.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Thanks Kalypso.

The lifestyle is not an issue. There are parents of classmates that meet all those descriptions, in one.

Would the presence of a 6-yr old piss people off, is more the question.

We go early, and she usually earns fear from the waiter upon first sighting, and respect by the time she's made her choices from the menu and dug into them. But, there are still places I dont want to deal or other patrons dont want to deal with a kid in the room, no matter how well behaved.

The spanish tapas place in Pacific Beach works, the Fish Market works. We havent tried much higher end than that.

I don't think Bite is higher end than either Costa Brava or The Fish Market. I think if you eat early you'll be okay. If you're concerned call the restaurant and ask. Or, if you show up and get attitude, you can always decamp for Mama Testa's which is literally right next door and kids of all ages are always welcome there :smile:

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Quick report on Bite. Nice large space; suitable for kids. Decoration is somewhat reminiscent of Café W. I am not sure how they are doing business wise. We (my husband, our 4-year old and me) went there last Saturday and it far from being full.

A few hits (stuffed squash blossoms, piping hot and perfectly crispy; homemade duck terrine, but need to remove the thick pieces of bacon used for lining; sliders with caramelized onions for the little one) and misses (caramelized onion tart had very little toppings; salad of duck confit, not sure the mango was a good match). The trio of desserts was a hit with panna cotta with strawberries and basil, coffee pot de crème (very rich and smooth, the way it’s supposed to be!) and a walnut cookie. I enjoyed my lychee champagne cocktail.

Overall, a fun place, but maybe not as consistent as Café W. Exploring the very long menu may require another visit. Anything I should make sure to try next time?

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Went back to Costa Brava this weekend.

Again with the shrimp ala plancha, the patatas ali & oli, lamb skewers and a few other favorites.

The special, some kind of pepper stuffed with seafood, and sauced w red pepper puree, was very good.

We also tried the sampler of ham etc: serrano ham (oh my), pork loin, chorizo, and manchego cheese.

The munchkin made herself happy with a 'sandwich' of serrano ham wrapped around slices of loin and chorizo, alternating with the shrimp. If she keeps up these expensive tastes, I'm gonna have to get her a job.

We have vowed to try the paella next time. The table next to us had the black paella. The squid ink turned the rice a dark blue, which looked very thematic with the red pepper & other garnish (red, white and blue).

We're also on for the bacon-wrapped dates.

The small person hunted down every molecule of raspberry sauce from the 'helada para ninos'. She was tickled pink that her dish of icecream had a special name.


"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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