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Dining in San Diego


Bashful3
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I lived in San Diego for almost a dozen years. Back when we had the Jeffrey Steingarten discussion, I asked him why there was no real haute cuisine in San Diego.

Here is that discussion.

Carolyn,

Thanks for bringing that thread back up. I remember reading it with great interest and not a few belly laughs. I lived in Tecate below San Diego for a while and later in P.B. and even later downtown in a high rise (living in downtown San Diego is highly underrated-it is a very livable area). Thankfully I crossed the border everyday, no matter where I was living, to work in MX. I loved the drive down through East County, with a stop occasionally at the Dulzura Cafe for a cold one and some great conversation from the old timers and the self styled back to the landers that frequent the place. The border crossing never, in almost 3 years of doing it, took more than 5 minutes. 2 lanes, 3 guys, mainly green lights (especially after they knew me-El Maestro de Cervecero-the one with the beer in the trunk :wink: ).

You will notice that I did not mention food. It was incredibly unremarkable, although I did like the Green Flash in PB, dependable casual fare and Longboard Sushi just because. Oh yeah, Sushi Ota (sic?) was pretty great, it was exceptional in fact. Outside of that I mainly ate in Mexico. All of the time. Breakfast at El Mejor Pan, lunch at El Pulpito (mmm, cockateles :wub: ), Dinner at one of many places-often Rancho Tecate for the "Shining" like atmosphere and really good food.

Anyway, thanks for bringing it up as I had forgotten about chestnuts from Steingarten like:

P.S. About San Diego: If you think I'm saying that people who move somewhere for the weather are shallow or chronically ill, you're right.

He should learn how not to mince his words. Way too soft spoken. :wink::laugh:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I am attending a huge annual meeting in San Diego next week and we're flummoxed as where to eat with a large group. I have two separate large dinners engagements with "Buca di Beppo" picked as the "restaurant of choice" because it can accomodate large groups and its walking distance to the Convention Center.

Can anyone recommend something that will save my palate?

As for fine dining in San Diego, I like George's and my parents like the Marine Room. I recently had an excellent Italian dinner at a place in the Renaissance shopping center where the Afghani restaurant once was housed. Its the shopping center off of Executive drive near UTC. The decor was nothing big, but the food was outstanding.

lalala

Are you the same lalala from the Seattle area who often posts on FT? If so, it is ironic that we are both looking for restaurants in San Diego.

Thanks to all for the recommendations. We certainly need to check Region and a couple of others.

The discussion about SD having "no great restaurants" is somewhat reminiscent of comments on the PNW board about Seattle. I do not agree about Seattle, but it will be interesting to see how our October event turns out.

Thanks again. Any additional suggestions and comments would be appreciated.

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SeAAttle,

Si. Si. I thought that was you. :)

I guess we'll just saddle up to mediocrity for the week I'm down there. I am hoping that we can find something decent to eat in La Jolla on Saturday night.

lalala

I have a relatively uninteresting life unless you like travel and food. Read more about it here.

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SeAAttle,

Si. Si. I thought that was you. :)

I guess we'll just saddle up to mediocrity for the week I'm down there. I am hoping that we can find something decent to eat in La Jolla on Saturday night.

lalala

Will look forward to your report on how the Buca di Beppo in San Diego compares with ours here in Seattle. :smile:

Seriously, I will be interested in any other recommendations. We are looking for something on par with Rovers, Mistral, etc. here in Seattle.

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The mention of Buca di Beppo makes me shutter a bit, although I have to admit I've never been there. Within walking distance of the convention center, there aren't a lot of great choices, but I think you can certainly do a lot better. Athen's Market has good Greek food and the atmosphere is nice. http://www.athensmarkettaverna.com/ They can handle groups of 15 easily if you call ahead. Royal Thai http://entertainment.signonsandiego.com/profile/87501 is close to the convention center and has has decent Thai food, somewhat Americanized, but that shouldn't bother people who are considering Buca di Beppo. If you are willing to walk about 10 blocks, La Gran Tapa http://entertainment.signonsandiego.com/profile/90989 has some interesting Spanish food and can probably handle your group. Candelas http://www.candelas.signonsandiego.com/ is close, very good and quite unique, although you will pay alot more than you will at the Buca.

I think we have pretty much covered the choices in La Jolla and elsewhere in other posts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

we went on a short 2 day trip to san diego to visit a friend. the visit was not food focused, so all the food we had was fairly cheap, fast and filling.

on the first day, we spent about an hour on convoy street. we saw a korean supermarket and dropped by to pick something up when i saw "dumpling inn" which i had read mentioned here as having good xiao long bao. so we went in there and ordered some soup (hot and sour) and the dumplings (at the dumpling inn!)... dumpling inn is a really small place. something like 8 tables or so and one wall has mirrors to double the appearance of the place. very modest. there were two workers there cleaning chives (nira) for more dumplings as we waited for our order. finally, after about 5 minutes, our food arrived!

040815dumplingInn.jpg040815dumplingInn2.jpg

both were very good, but i would like to note that the soup was EXTREMELY generous. it was humongous. it was enough to serve maybe 8 single servings, but it was all $5.25. the dumplings were $5.50. (or was it the other way around? those numbers are correct, but i forget which goes with which.)

what a deal! cheap, filling, delicious! total bill came under $11 w/o tip.

dinner was supposed to be chicken, lamb, beef and veggie kabobs that our friends were supposed to grill up, but their water went out earlier that day, so to save hassle and to get maximum talking time, we just went out.

dinner was at a quick and casual little minimall/strip mall, but i really liked the name of the place:

040815porkyland.jpg

porkylands specialty is al pastor, so i got a combo for $4.99: two small tacos al pastor, a pork tamal and rice and beans. two other people got the burritos al pastor, for something like $3.50 or there abouts. very filling. delicious pork.

husband went for a felafel plate at another restaurant two stores down. his was also excellent, with crispy crunchy, yet moist felafel, soso pita, some rice, and a really great little iceburg/romaine salad. i dont know how much his plate was, but im sure it was also cheap. sorry no pics of the food... i forgot because we were talking...

the next day, we got the whirlwind tour of san diego. we spent most of the time just walking around different parts, but two places were food related...

one was the jbx. this is apparently one of two "concept" restaurants that jack in the box has made. i dont know jack in the box that well, but the idea of a "gourmet" jack in the box was too funny.

indeed the outside was kind of "hip" with stainless steel, and earthtoned colors...

040815jbx.jpg

inside there was a fireplace next to a couple of the seats! how cushy!

040815jbx2.jpg

the view near one of the inside entrances...

040815jbx3.jpg

i did not take any photos of the food because we did not eat anything there. we did buy one $3 jack keychain and a can of arizona iced tea (because it was soooo freaking hot). we were just there to gawk, not to eat. they also sold a variety of tsirts and mints (in jack silver tins) and jack-in-the-boxers (boxer shorts). hehehe...

i did manage to snag a menu (in english. there were some en espanol too)...

040815jbxMenu.jpg040815jbxMenu2.jpg

(click to see a large image)

040815jbxMenu3s.jpg 040815jbxMenu4s.jpg

the items offered are apparently slightly different. i did a bit of research and found a few pages about these new jbxs:

my friend said that there was also a concept gourmet mcDonalds in san diego with a turkey wrap to die for, but maybe that will be for our next trip!

we spent a few hours at balboa park, but did not eat there. we also spent a good three hours near this other area, the name of which i do not remember... it was a harbor (maybe its just called that?) and in the harbor are a number of many extremely impressive sights including the decommissioned aircraft carrier midway. we ended up eating lunch at some place caled anthony's fishette for fish and chips and a squid sandwich. reasonable prices and decent fast food. fish and chips went for $7.50 and the squid sandwich $6.25... sorry, no pics.

on the way home, we made a stop in orange county, but that goes into my samgyetang thread... :D

dumpling inn

4619 Convoy St # F

San Diego, CA

(858) 268-9638

Porkyland Restaurant

1030 Torrey Pines Rd

La Jolla, CA

(858) 459-1708

jbx (jack in the box gourmet)

804 University Ave

San Diego, CA 92103

(619) 298-1273

Anthony's Fishette

1360 N Harbor Dr

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 232-5105

"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo
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melonpan,

Thanks for the report and the photos.

Another great place for dim sum would be just down the street on Convoy at a place called Jasmine.

The JBX restaurant looks totally cool, which is, I guess, the reason they built it. I am eager to "take one for the team" and try the food to see how different it is from the usual JITB fare.

Did you happen to notice if Porkyland sold t-shirts? If ever there was a t-shirt that had eGullet written all over it, that'd be it. :laugh:

 

“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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regarding mcdonald's version of the jbx...

i tried to look up information on san diegos concept mcdonalds restaurant, but my google searches have been fruitless. "diego concept mcdonalds" or "renovat*" or any other number of possible searches have come up with nothing.

anybody know where they are and what they are called? i also thought it might be one of the mccafes, but i dont think its that either...

"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo
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Did you happen to notice if Porkyland sold t-shirts? If ever there was a t-shirt that had eGullet written all over it, that'd be it. :laugh:

porkylands seems to just be a takeout place (but there are tables outside and thats not a problem in mild sd/la jolla). i dont think they have tshirts. i surely would have gotten one! the names great innit?

"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo
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regarding mcdonald's version of the jbx...

i tried to look up information on san diegos concept mcdonalds restaurant, but my google searches have been fruitless.  "diego concept mcdonalds" or "renovat*" or any other number of possible searches have come up with nothing.

anybody know where they are and what they are called?  i also thought it might be one of the mccafes, but i dont think its that either...

I was curious, too, since I had never heard of these "gourmet" fast food places. Googling "gourmet McDonald's San Diego" turned up this article.

Three years ago, McDonald's opened the first Bistro Gourmet in Orlando, Fla. Since then, nine more have opened in Florida, one in New Orleans and another in San Diego.

Cheers,

Squeat

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I love Star of the Sea - the flavors are consistently bright and well thought out and the service is great. The bar leaves a little to be desired but the wine and coffee services were great. They even have some local beers on tap!

Bertrand at Mister A's is darn good as well, with a fantabulous view. The foie gras is the best I've ever had.

The time my husband and I went to the Sky Room we had a great time and the food was marvelous. Expensive, yes...but we were going for a fancy dinner.

Honestly, I'm tired of the consistent declaration that San Diego doesn't have good food. It does. Maybe not the world's greatest, but immensely enjoyable all the same.

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Honestly, I'm tired of the consistent declaration that San Diego doesn't have good food. It does. Maybe not the world's greatest, but immensely enjoyable all the same.

Well, earlier I asked the question "So what makes a restaurant great?" and haven't really gotten a clear answer from anyone. I, too, have had some great meals in San Diego, and was taken aback by everyone saying that they're aren't any great restaurants in San Diego.

So what's your yardstick? What is the benchmark? What makes a restaurant "great" versus "good" or "so-so"?

 

“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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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks to all of you who wrote about Region. We've just come home from a wonderful birthday dinner. There were eight at the table and we opted for the Trust the Chef menu, which the staff handled goodnaturedly, especially given the variety of food preferences and predjudices in our party. The entire dinner was great and the server's wine suggestions excellent. Special kudos for the scallops (tasted like the essence of the sea), hanger steak (probably the tenderest I've ever had, even the non-beef eaters loved it), the house-made mozzarella and fig tart should be singled out for special kudos. Not cheap, but memorable.

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  • 4 months later...

Hey guys-

My husband and I will be going to San Diego on vacation in May. Any places we shouldn't miss?

I've done a search and have seen that the consensus is generally that food in San Diego is not so great. Is this really the case?

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

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I grew up in San Diego.

The thing I liked about it is that the food was real.

Those in the know seem to send people towards the Gaslamp.

I hope it doesn't spread!

Point Loma Seafood is definitely in contention for best fish sandwich, anywhere.

But, alas, you wish to dine .............

For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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hi annsyp: my buddy jay is opening a place in the next month or so. the menu isn't finalized yet, but here's his website--the menu will be up soon.

The Linkery

please stop by and say hello--he's a really great guy and will make you feel right at home. he's also a native san diegan who absolutely loves the city, and can tell you everywhere that's worth going. AND, his sausages are incredibly good. :smile:

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Hey guys-

My husband and I will be going to San Diego on vacation in May.  Any places we shouldn't miss?

I've done a search and have seen that the consensus is generally that food in San Diego is not so great.  Is this really the case?

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

annsyp,

San Diego does have this apparent culinary stigma attached to itself. Mind you, I heard about some fine restaurants in La Jolla. I did some initial searching and found this webpage for your reading pleasure: Friends of James Beard Benefit. There are some places.

Let me get back to you. I recently did some research for my boss ("Find some SD restaurants for Christmas"). Where are my notes? :unsure:

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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I lived in SD for many years and have eaten in many fine restaurants, bars, taco stands there... what are you looking for?

Hey guys-

My husband and I will be going to San Diego on vacation in May.  Any places we shouldn't miss?

I've done a search and have seen that the consensus is generally that food in San Diego is not so great.  Is this really the case?

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

Sitting on the fence between gourmet and gourmand, I am probably leaning to the right...

Lyle P.

Redwood City, CA

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I live in the San Diego area, and the dining scene is DESOLATE! I have, however, had a very good meal in La Jolla at a French bistro called Tapenade.

If you want something nicer, The Marine Room is probably the only high-caliber restaurant in the area (I'm sure at least someone has tried to push Mille Fleur or A.R. Valentien on you - don't believe the hype! I staged at A.R. Valentien and ate at Mille Fleur - both of which were mediocre at best).

We definitely have the best weather in the country right now, though!

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