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Dining in San Diego


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How long do you think it'd take to get our rental car, drive to Point Loma, eat, and drive back to LAX to pick up Liam on his 4:45 flight in?? I have about 3 hrs total...

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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How long do you think it'd take to get our rental car, drive to Point Loma, eat, and drive back to LAX to pick up Liam on his 4:45 flight in?? I have about 3 hrs total...

Threads are getting crossed here. No way can you leave LAX, get to Point Loma (in San Diego County) and back to LAX in 3 hours. No way. Same with Rancho Santa Fe.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Hmmm...

How does El Agave Tequileria compare to Candela's??

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll be in San Diego from 20th June for four days. I'd love to seek out the best food shops, markets and restaurants. Where would you suggest I visit? I run a gourmet tours and events company in Edinburgh, Scotland ..

Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland

www.edinburghfoody.com

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Here are some past threads on San Diego restaurants & entertainment:

Discussion 1

Discussion 2

Discussion 3

Entertainment: Humphrey's by the Bay has summer concerts. They sell dinner/concert packages. The food is good-to-okay but there's nothing like listening to great jazz outdoors at night right next to the marina. It's quite beautiful.

45 to 60 minutes North of San Diego up Interstate 15 is the town of Temecula. Lots of wineries there. Some limo companies in San Diego sell winery tours to Temecula...they do the driving and you do the wine tasting!

Frankly, I can't really recall any large produce markets in San Diego, which is odd.

For some low brow entertainment, the county fair starts mid June and usually continues until July 4th or so. It's held at the Del Mar Racetrack & Fairgrounds. It's the 7th largest county fair in the US.

Hopefully, you will get more responses to your query.

 

“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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Thank you! Would love some more recommendations on great food stores - any sort of cuisine. Are there any farmers' markets? Will be staying near Escondido, but am willing to travel!

Danielle

www.discoverthetaste.com

Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland

www.edinburghfoody.com

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A world-class experience is over on Coronado Island. The Hotel del Coronado (which locals call "The Del") is a grand old hotel, and you can tour its historic lobby and hallways. It was where "Some Like it Hot" along with many other movies were filmed, and was the inspiration for Disney's "Grand Floridian" hotel in Disneyworld.

But if you're lucky enough to be there on a Sunday, "Brunch at 'the Del'" is one of the most fabulous things one can do.

"Sunday brunch at 'The Del'"

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I'm not sure if you have a car available, but I will give you my favorites all over San Diego County.

Food Shops and Markets: Chino Farms on the edge of Rancho Santa Fe has an outstanding vegetable stand. Chuao in Encinitas has some of the best chocolates I've had. Ranch 99 Market has terrific seafood, and is like a trip to Asia.

Restaurants: Tapanade in La Jolla for good Provencal food. I love lunch on the roof of George's at the Cove in La Jolla on a nice day- great casual food and a view. The more formal restaurant below is also very good, if more expensive. Good seafood and wine list. In La Jolla Shores, I like the Marine Room, which is literally on the beach. I would get there before dark and ask for a table on the beach side. The chef is French and the seafood is quite innovative. Decent wine list.

In Del Mar, Il Fornaio has a great view and fairly authentic Italian food. In the same center is Pacifica del Mar, with the same view and Southern California seafood.

If you want to venture to Rancho Santa Fe, Mille Fleurs and Rancho Valencia are first class.

In Downtown SD, I've enjoyed Laurel- another Provencal restaurant, although I prefer Tapanade. It's a cab ride from downtown, actually. If you want real French food downtown, Le Fountainebleau at the Westgate Hotel is very good and the closest we have to Paris. They have a very good happy hour at the bar downstairs if you like Cole Porter. And the "coffee shop" at the hotel is a less formal place with very good food, especially for lunch.

Near Ranch 99 Market, Jasmine and Emerald both have good dim sum during the day and good seafood and other Chinese food, as authentic as you will get around here.

As far as things to see, I always take visitors to the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma for a little history and a great view back to the city. The ferry from downtown to Coronado is always fun. The zoo is world-class if you are into zoos. as I mentioned in another post, I think Dizzy's is a great jazz place. Humphrey's gets world-class talent right on the bay- I just wish they would get better chairs.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of good places. Have a nice visit.

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Thanks everyone. Looks as if I really need several weeks vacation ...

If I can ever help anyone on info for Scotland, just let me know ...

Regards

Danielle

www.discoverthetaste.com

Danielle Ellis

Edinburgh Scotland

www.edinburghfoody.com

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I didn't notice before that you are staying near Escondido. You might want to check out the Be Wise Ranch, which isn't too far from you. http://www.bewiseranch.com/

Also, I've had several very good meals at the French Market Grille in Rancho Bernardo. http://www.frenchmarketgrille.com/ In downtown Escondido, Vincent's Sirinos (French) http://www.sirinos.com/ and 150 Grand Cafe (California) http://www.150grandcafe.com/ (website may be out of order) are both very good and moderately priced.

El Bizcocho at the Rancho Bernardo Inn is expensive, but one of the best in the area. http://www.ranchobernardoinn.com/Dining_elbizcocho.htm

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi- We got back a few days ago. Here's the report!

I spent 4 hours waiting for Liam at LAX, but thankfully discovered the Tom Bradley Intl terminal--the only area with food open to the public not holding a plane ticket. I had a great bowl of ramen at Hamada Orient Express ($8), which was full of Japanese flight attendants.

In San Diego we took many of your suggestions and hit the following places:

1. Rice-- at the W Hotel. The mojitos here weren't well done but we liked the food a great deal. We had some very nice dungenous crab cakes, spicy fresh shrimp summer rolls, a thai beef salad, and a chinois chicken salad (my first, I loved it). Liam also enjoyed the chocolate lava cake for dessert.

2. Kiyo's--sushi in the Gaslamp. We had a very nice, fresh lunch here. It was much less expensive, and almost as good as the sushi we'd had earlier at Sushi Roku in West Hollywood.

3. McCormick and Schmick's--this was an unplanned lunch, we were driven to it by the absence of any places near the water that served raw oysters and were open for lunch (I had a craving). We had some great Beacon Points and Malaspinas, manila clams, and a Crab Louis.

4. El Agave--This was pretty good. We had a sea bass, and a pork mole. The margaritas were served very weak the first time, which was a big disappointment at $8.95 a pop. We were seated outside on a cold night, and the heaters kept breaking; and at the end of the meal we had to come inside in search of our server and the check. I also thought the food was overpriced for the area. However, it was a nice meal, somewhat unexpected in the midst of that incredibly touristy area.

5. Point Loma Seafood--LOVED IT. Fabulous fish tacos, fabulous clams, great ceviche. I'm dying to go back there!!

6. Marine Room--beautiful romantic views, definitely overpriced food. My seared tuna was way over sesame-crusted, but Liam did enjoy his baramundi. We had a lovely Saintsbury Pinot Noir--that made the evening, along with the terrific entertainment provided by gorgeous white seagulls prancing on the black ocean.

We also hit a few bars in SD (we were disappointed by the Grape fyi) and Liam also went to Rubio's for fish tacos--he'll have to report on that. We did go to Chino Farms, where I was surprised at the small size of the stand but thrilled with the freshness and sweetness of the strawberries. :biggrin:

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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  • 4 weeks later...

I just came back from Dalton's Roadhouse. all the makings of one of those successful chains you want to avoid, yet they closed down their locations in Las Vegas and Palm Springs. This is the only one left.

We had a surprisingly decent $10 steak here while looking at life sized models of the Blues Brothers illuminated from the light of a lamp made from deer antlers. It's off the 78 towards Escondido.

--I forgot to mention they give you a bucket of peanuts when you're seated. But they don't give you a little bucket to put the shells in. So you just pile the shells on the table and when your meal is done, the waitress just shoves the shells onto the floor. I forgot to ask how often they swept up the place.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'll be visiting San Diego for a couple of days at the end of the month for my little brother's graduation at MCRD. I'd appreciate recommendations for the best of the best in the area (price not an issue, one way or the other).

Thanks!

Scott

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Click here for a past discussion on San Diego restaurants.

Point Loma Seafood, recommended in the discussion, is in the general area of MCRD (both MCRD and NTC border Point Loma).

If money's no object, George's at the Cove would be a good choice (I believe they have a dress code...coat & tie for men...you may have to call to verify this).

There's an Anthony's Seafood right on downtown San Diego bay if you're looking for a view. They have an upscale place right next door, too (Star of the Sea Room?), if you want ambience (they used to have a dress code but the owner of the Chargers may have broken them of that rule...call to find out).

Peohe's in Coronado (seafood) also has a great view of the San Diego downtown skyline. If you call for reservations, make sure you request seating with a good view. Afterward, you can drive over to the other side of the "island" and take in the famous Hotel del Coronado. You can also eat some awesome ice cream at the Moo Time creamery (kind of like a Cold Stone, but a wee bit tastier) on Orange Ave.

 

“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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Be prepared for disappointment. I don't think San Diego has, yet, really made it to attract great chefs and top-tier fine dining restaurants.

I have heard great things about George's at the Cove. Mille Fleur, which I believe is rated even higher than George's, is terrible. I had a very disappointing meal there after hearing so many positive things about it.

However, if you don't mind settling for a really good French bistro, Tapenade in La Jolla is very good. That's probably the one really good meal I have had in the area.

Steer clear of A.R. Valentien, Aqua, and the Sky Room. They are also rated very highly but are not of high quality.

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We found plenty of mediocrity during our recent visit to San Diego. Point Loma Seafoods will definitely make you happy.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I haven't been there yet, but maybe other eGulleteers can comment: Region

http://entertainment.signonsandiego.com/profile/269828

The chef (Michael Stebner) and pastry chef (Jack Fisher) used to work at Nine-Ten restaurant in La Jolla, which I loved -- Region opened in November 2003 and I can't wait for an excuse to go down to San Diego so I can check it out for myself!

3671 Fifth Ave.

San Diego, CA 92103

Phone: (619) 299-6499

At Nine-Ten they used to serve a nice lobster risotto, and for dessert, a malted-milk ice cream to die for...I wonder if they still make it at the new place?

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I moved to the San Diego area in 1982 from LA and San Francisco before that. The food scene was very dismal then. I remember when the local paper polled restaurant people for recommendations for various kinds of food, and for Italian, several said "a plane ticket to San Francisco." It's gotten a lot better, but it's still not San Francisco. Fine dining is not a stength.

I second Tapanade as a good choice. I have eaten there several times, and have found the food to be consistently good. I have also had consistently good food at The Marine Room in La Jolla. It has a terrific setting, right on the beach, and the fish dishes are always interesting and well-prepared. It has some formality and is a good special occassion choice.

I think that the one strength of the San Diego restaurant scene has more to do with the weather and the casual lifestyle than the food. The place I recommend most to people from out of town is the rooftop of George's at the Cove in La Jolla. The rooftop is open air, and I think it embodies Southern California at its best on a nice day. Bring your shades. The food, which includes some very good (somewhat inauthentic) fish tacos; sandwiches like ahi, burgers, portabello mushroom; salads; fish soup, and some more substantial dishes, is moderately priced and especially good for lunch or early dinner. The view down to La Jolla Cove is awesome. I've always enjoyed the main dining room at George's, but lately we always end up on the roof.

In this same vein, are Pacifica del Mar and Il Fornaio, both in the same center in La Jolla. The view at Il Fornaio is about as good as it gets from the terrace, and the food is as authentic and good as any Italian place in the area, despite the fact it is part of a chain. The weather in June can be overcast, but this year it seems to be less so, and most days it clears for at least part of the day. It's a perfect day today.

The food critic in the San Diego Union wrote a glowing review of Anthony's Star of the Sea Room a week or two ago. I haven't been there in years, but the review made me want to try it again.

Have a nice trip.

Edited by Carlsbad (log)
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Yes to Region!

Although the acoustics are terrible on busy nights it really is the best dining in San Diego.

Tuesday is the night to go as that is when the ingredients are at their freshest.

Why I love Region:

The first time we went was a Saturday, and with a group of people I was just meeting for the first time. Although the food was AMAZING the experience was less than perfect due to the fact that I could hardly hear what the person next to me was saying.

But a few weeks later, the chef came to the school I work at--to talk to a class. The students were all excited about this restaurant, so I had to try it again. My partner and I went on a Saturday. It was busy but talking across the table wasn't so bad this time. Chef Michael came out to our table and talked to us and we chatted about Chino Farms. He told us to come back on Tuesday when the ingredients were fresh. After our meal we got a tour of the kitchen. We then made reservations for Tuesday.

We went back the following Tuesday and got Trust the Chef--a four course meal with the courses chosen by the chef. We made friends with the sommelier and also spoke with our server from the previous Sat. On our way out Chef Michael caught us and apologized for not coming out to our table before. He asked us how our meal was and we told him we especially enjoyed the strawberry dessert. Guess what? He went up to his kitchen and brought us down a basket of strawberries.

We have standing reservations on Tuesdays.

Also one of the Tuesdays we were there we invited a Culinary Student with us. Again he came out to our table and invited her (and us) back into the kitchen for a tour--super deluxe this time because there was a future chef with us.

The staff is great and the food is organic, fresh, and from local farms. It is also a slow food restaurant.

So, San Diego might not be the most evolved culinary city, however I think that with two culinary schools and the recent progess it has made in terms of restaurants like Region it is making strides to become better than mediocre.

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Wow, I'm so glad to hear that Region is wonderful -- I can't wait to try it (although driving down from Los Angeles for dinner probably won't be happening on a Tuesday night!). I really liked the crew when they were at Nine-Ten, so it's nice to hear that they are still turning out awesome food and still such nice guys.

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For a nice mix of good food & atmopshere, the Marine Roomin La Jolla is worth considering. The Best Western in town has some good deals, much more affordable than many of the higher end resorts closer to the restaurant's location.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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In all these discussions I am surprised not to see one of my favorites, Hash House A Go Go. (www.hashhouseagogo.com for a menu). While I am the first to admit that for the most part San Diego is lacking a bit in the culinary area, there are a few gems.

"I believe it was Socrates who said, ‘I drank what?’"
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If you're in North County (Encinitas) there's a lovely newish place called Savory in a strip mall on el Camino Real. I believe the owner came from the four seasons Aviara. Service and food are very good, prices on food and wine are reasonable. Arterra in del Mar is also good, but it's inside a Mariott. It might be nice to sit on the patio at Il Fornaio/Pacifica in del mar at the coast for a drink or two at sunset, then come inland a bit for better food at Arterra for dinner.

Parallel 33 in Mission Hills is delightful. Call for reservations, it's quite small. Not far from there is a fun Louisiana-themed place called Sassafras. They have great oysters and "deconstructed" lobster bisque.

Berta's in old town has slow service but really interesting food from all over South and Central America.

I can't wait to try Regions. Otherwise it's best to be careful with the Gaslamp. Lots of visitors and conventions, non enough courting of return business.

Hodad's (burgers) and South Beach (fish tacos) on Newport in Ocean Beach are very very so-cal laid back and also really tasty.

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