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C Simril

Dining in San Diego (Part 2)

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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.

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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.

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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 (log)

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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We'll be in San Diego for 3 days/2 nights next month - what are some regional specialties & dining options I should be on the lookout for?

 

I haven't been to SD in years - last time was 10 yrs ago for work, and it was an in and out trip. We're staying in the Gaslamp Quarter, will most likely be renting a vehicle, checking out some of the touristy sites (Old Town, Balboa Park, beaches, etc). Casual/upscale casual is preferred to super-fine dining and I really want to eat a lot of good Mexican food, which is practically non-existent here at home. I'm looking for lunch & snack options, too.

 

A bit of Googling suggests that tiki culture is big in SD - are there any interesting tiki bars in the Gaslamp area?

 

I'll read over this very extensive thread when I have a bit more time today.

 

TIA!

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@Beebs

About tiki bars- the best one is False Idol in Little Italy, which is ~ 5-10 minutes from the Gaslamp by car. It is located inside Craft & Commerce which is a casual restaurant that I recommend. 

The Grass Skirt is another option, I like the cocktails a little less but the food is quite good. This one is located in Pacific Beach, about 20 minutes from the Gaslamp. Entrance is through the adjacent restaurant Good Time Poke.

Bali Hai is an original tiki bar in Point Loma that has been around since the 1950s; it has a great view and is a beautiful restaurant and bar, however the cocktails leave to be desired. Still worth a visit if you are a tiki fan.

Fairweather in the East Village (adjacent to the Gaslamp) used to be another option, however it recently changed hands and I no longer recommend it.

 

There is some info in this thread too:

 

 


Edited by FrogPrincesse Formatting (log)
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@BeebsFor Mexican food, I am in no way an expert but I enjoyed my dinner at the recently opened El Jardin in Point Loma (Liberty station). 

 

Liberty Station has a bunch of good lunch options, between the food market for something very casual (My favorite thing to do is to grab a charcuterie and cheese platter at Venissimo, an empenada at the place nearby, a nice juicy IPA at Bottlecraft, and have a little picnic outside. The seafood place is also quite good - they serve local uni/sea urchin and spot prawns, in season, and good ceviche), Stone for beer and Californian cuisine, or Soda & Swine for meatballs and cocktails (and the giant fussball table).

 

One of the local specialties is fish tacos, and the rooftop terrace at George’s in La Jolla has an elevated version that is not to be missed (and the view is really something too). I also like Galaxy Tacos in La Jolla Shores for its super laid-back vibe. Order an assortment of tacos (on Tuesdays they sometimes have collaborations with local chefs and their tacos get very creative and even more delicious), a house margarita (or two), and enjoy a nice walk on the beach afterwards (or a surfing lesson)... heaven! :) 

 

 


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@FrogPrincesse Thanks for the recommendations - I knew you'd have some great ideas! We're looking forward to our trip!

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