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C Simril

Dining in San Diego (Part 2)

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It was reported a few days ago by Troy Johnson and Keli Dailey that Arsalun Tafazoli and Nate Stanton, the team behind Noble Experiment and Craft & Commerce, were working on a new project. Polite Provisions will be a bar with an adjacent restaurant, Soda & Swine, located on 30th & Adams. Chef Jason McLeod (who trained under Raymond Bland and Marco Pierre White) will be the executive chef, while Erick Castro (ex Bourbon & Branch) will be working on the bar program.

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Brooklyn Girl is a restaurant that opened earlier this year in Mission Hills. I had my first meal there about a month ago; I believe that their original chef had already left. This must be one of the most pleasant kitchens to work in because it has large windows that open into the street with lots of light. The dining space itself is a little reminiscent of Cuccina Urbana - large, loft-like space, noisy and animated, with the bar in the middle.

We started off with some cocktails. They arrived in large glasses and were mediocre across the board for a place that claims to serve "craft cocktails". The namesake cocktail was ok; it's their take on the Brooklyn cocktail with Averna substituted for the Picon (and it came with an unfortunate layer of foam indicating that it had been shaken instead of stirred). The cantaloupe Manhattan seemed watered down, the Southern Bell was a weird spicy concoction with bell pepper, and their take on the whiskey sour (I forgot the name but it was an homage to someone's grandmother) was a monstrosity. It was so sweet and candy-like that my friends convinced me to send it back (a first for me as I am very uncomfortable complaining in restaurants). In short, don't order the cocktails.

Now that this is out of the way, the food... After the complementary popcorn (which is fun with the cocktails), we had the clam pizza, short rib gnocchi, ribeye steak with bone marrow and chimichurri, and the clams "casino" - a misnomer because these are steamed clams in broth (which was clear from the description in the menu).

The clams pizza was slightly undercooked and the clams a little rubbery. Everything else was great though. My dish, the clams "casino", was meant to be an appetizer but was actually an extremely generous portion of juicy clams for $12 I believe - a great deal. The steak and the short ribs were substantial and succulent. We left quite happy with the food. So I am sure that we will be back, but we will make sure to order wine next time!

The ribeye steak with bone marrow and chimichurri

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Short rib gnocchi

7867321670_65345b464a_o.jpg

Clams "casino"

7867327362_b5c008019e_o.jpg

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Recently had hotpot at Mr Dumpling in Kearny Mesa.

Everyone gets to play with their food :smile: .

There's a Taiwanese place opened up in the 99 Ranch. Havent tried it yet.


"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 went back to Brooklyn Girl this weekend. The cocktail menu had changed and I was relieved to see that the bizarre whiskey sour from my first visit was gone. In any case, we got wine. For starters, we shared a generous pot of mussels with a cream broth, fries and crusty bread (heaven), and oyster po'boys (pretty good). For the mains, the whole roasted duck with ginger and honey was crispy and tender (the vegetables that came with it were remarkably bland, so it's a good thing we ordered the terrific roasted corn as a side) and the lamb shank was very satisfying. Someone got the chicken which seemed well prepared. Dessert was a disappointing cold (and somewhat dry) chocolate blackout cake, and a nice warm brownie that would have been perfect without the overly-sweet caramel sauce that came with it. Our friends loved the place. I agree that they do a great job.

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I went back to Brooklyn Girl this weekend. The cocktail menu had changed and I was relieved to see that the bizarre whiskey sour from my first visit was gone. In any case, we got wine. For starters, we shared a generous pot of mussels with a cream broth, fries and crusty bread (heaven), and oyster po'boys (pretty good). For the mains, the whole roasted duck with ginger and honey was crispy and tender (the vegetables that came with it were remarkably bland, so it's a good thing we ordered the terrific roasted corn as a side) and the lamb shank was very satisfying. Someone got the chicken which seemed well prepared. Dessert was a disappointing cold (and somewhat dry) chocolate blackout cake, and a nice warm brownie that would have been perfect without the overly-sweet caramel sauce that came with it. Our friends loved the place. I agree that they do a great job.

Interesting - there is a long discussion on Chowhound about how much Brooklyn Girl has gone bad after the recent change of exec chef. Many which liked them before a lot seemed to stop going there.

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Interesting - there is a long discussion on Chowhound about how much Brooklyn Girl has gone bad after the recent change of exec chef. Many which liked them before a lot seemed to stop going there.

I've seen that but I've been there twice since the change and have been happy. For my first visit the chef had changed already. Our friends who are quite "picky" (in a good way) were impressed.


Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)

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I am going to be in San Diego in December and would appreciate some suggestions for places to eat. My preference is for places that serve interesting and excellent food without trying to do the Michelin starred service thing.

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I will be staying downtown at the Hotel Palomar but am more than happy to take a taxi to a good restaurant.

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Well, you'll certainly be safe from that "Michelin starred service" thing in San Diego. If anything, service tends to be a little to much on the casual side, much like San Diego itself. The usual suspects downtown are

Cafe Chloe - http://www.cafechloe.com/

Cowboy Star - http://thecowboystar.com/

JSix (in the Hotel Solamar, also a Kimpton property) - http://www.jsixrestaurant.com/

Saltbox in your hotel is fairly well regarded

Downtown, the Gaslamp and to some extent Little Italy all cater more to the tourist and convention trade than locals. There are hundreds of restaurants in the downtown/Gaslamp/Little Italy corridor, all with varying degrees of competency.

For a glass of Italian wine and tasty panini try Songo di Vino - http://www.sognodivi....com/index.html - in Little Italy

Bencotto - http://www.lovebencotto.com/ and Underbelly - http://www.godblessunderbelly.com/ - both also in Little Italy get a lot of love. Prep Kitchen tends to be a bit uneven and trends young. Little Italy is easily reachable via the Blue or Green line trolley from downtown. Depending upon where you pick up the trolley, LI is only 1- 4 stops away. Get off at the Little Italy stop an walk East 1 block to India St., which is pretty much 3-blocks of restaruants from which to have your pick. And if you're in town on a Saturday morning, check out the Little Italy farmers market, you can pretty much graze it for breakfast or lunch, from crepes to fresh local uni it's an easy market to eat your way through.

Best view of the bay is probably at the Bali Hai - http://www.balihairestaurant.com/ - which has been a SD landmark on Shelter Island for 50+ years. It went through a major renovation several years ago where the menu was seriously revamped in addition to the facility. The killer Mai Tais are legendary, tho' I, personally, find them too strong and somewhat distasteful. Last time I was there I had an excellent pork tenderloin dish. The Bali Hai is an easy cab ride from downtown.

Also with spectacular views of the bay are CLevel Lounge - http://www.cohnresta...s/island-prime/ - and Candelas - http://www.candelas-...com/index2.html - in Coronado. Be forewarned, C Level is part of a large and very successful local restaurant conglomerate which is pretty universally disliked on local SD food forums. CLevel is fine for drinks and apps, less successful for a full meal. Candelas does upscale Mexican and they do it pretty well. There is also a Candelas branch in downtown SD on 4th, but the Coronado location is doing a better job right now. You can take the water ferry across the bay, IIRC it leaves from the pier at the foot of Broadway, tho' your hotel should be able to provide you with the most accurate information. If you're from an area where the Mexican isn't too good, Candelas is a good introduction to the emerging upscale Mexican trend.

El Take it EZ - http://eltakeiteasy.com/ - is bringing a bit of Baja to San Diego and keeping it local and sustainable at the same time. Very interesting bar program with tequila and mezcal. The big sister restaurant, The Linkery - http://thelinkery.com/blog/ - wass one of the first, if not the first, local restaurants to really focus on, and do, the farm-to-table seriously and well. Everything may not always work at either restaurant all the time, but they both are always doing something interesting. Both are located within walking distance of each other in North Park, which is probably a $20 cab ride (if not more) in each direction. But if you make it that far, the 30th St. corridor in North Park is a vibrant casual dining part of town with a number of places devoted to the craft beer movement and bistro-style dining. If a cab were to drop you off in the heart of North Park, University & 30th, you could walk 4 blocks in any direction and find any number of pretty decent places to try, from vegetarian/vegan to fried bacon.

Enjoy your trip.


Edited by kalypso (log)

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I am going to be in San Diego in December and would appreciate some suggestions for places to eat. My preference is for places that serve interesting and excellent food without trying to do the Michelin starred service thing.

Lots of good suggestions from kalypso. Also if you take a chance to review this thread there are quite a few places that fit your description.

This other thread has more recommendations.

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Chris,

I am afraid that there are not too many great options downtown - most are geared towards the convention crowds and tourists.

Within walking distance, there is Café Chloé. It's a cute little French-style bistro. Nothing earth-shattering there, but it's very pleasant for lunch.

I would also recommend the Lion's Share (good food & cocktails), but they don't open until 4 pm.

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Lately I've been going a lot to Carnitas Snack Shack. It's a little food stand with a tiny kitchen that chef Hanis Cavin, formerly from Kensington Grill, opened about a year ago in North Park. There is always a line. They have just remodeled the back and there is now an expanded patio area with lots of greenery and a fun pig-themed mural.

The menu celebrates pork in many of its forms, but there is also a delicious beet terrine with goat cheese and spinach, and specials that changes on a daily basis. Recently they have been offering whiskey and bacon dark chocolate truffles that are terrific.

The beet terrine

8333260751_38c4764857_z.jpg

The pork belly appetizer, which is a nicely-sized portion served with a little frisee and shaved radish salad on the side

8334316848_60d2ce5d82.jpg

I usually get the BLT and ask for pork belly instead of ham. It's served on thick toasted brioche bread.

8333261589_6a8f5d1d94_z.jpg

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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 (log)

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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 (log)

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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.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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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.

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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!

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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 (log)

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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!

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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 (log)

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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/biz_photos/town-topic-kansas-city?select=Z9oGenaN1Mw3FZO3I5lMEA#Z9oGenaN1Mw3FZO3I5lMEA

Grinders in KC:

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3255/2583834609_fa443d4327_z.jpg?zz=1

Arthur Bryants BBQ

http://openplac.es/trips/arthur-bryant-s-barbeque-in-kansas-city-missouri

Thanks for the help!


Edited by PumpkinStalker (log)

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