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Wishful thinking
June 25, 2012 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Missing the Bay Area but headed to San Diego. What and where should I eat and drink?

I grew up in San Diego but haven't spent any time there lately; now for some reason I'm heading across the country to spend a week there, rather than the East Bay I've been missing. What bars and restaurants should I check out so that I don't spend too much time fantasizing about Comstock and Pizzaiolo and Mama's Royal and so on?

I know it's a vagueish question but I'd like to hear whatever comes to mind from people familiar with both places.
posted by villanelles at dawn to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
What's your style? If you like vegetarian food, I'd say hit up Lotus Cafe and Jyoti Bihonga in Encinitas and Normal Heights, respectively. If you've never been to a Burger Lounge, there's one in La Jolla and one on 5th Ave in downtown, and if Mexican food is more your style, try Lucha Libre too.
posted by Hello Darling at 7:26 PM on June 25, 2012


San Diego has some amazing Italian food in the little italy. I love the bay area too, but the restaurant Buon Appetito has some of the best lasagna I've ever had.
posted by bswinburn at 7:35 PM on June 25, 2012


Jimmy Carter's (Mexican, named after the owner, not the former Prez) in Hillcrest.
posted by dry white toast at 9:13 PM on June 25, 2012


It depends a little bit on what aspects of the East Bay you miss. You can get amazing cocktails at URBN, which also has quite good pizza, so you can consider that a substitute for Beretta. Fantastic tacos at Tacos el Gordo, so consider that a substitute for Gallo Giro or whatever your famous taco truck is. And I never got great ramen in SF, but you can get it in San Diego at Tajima Noodle House.
posted by willbaude at 9:57 PM on June 25, 2012


Drinks and snacks:
Prep Kitchen Happy Hour (Craft cocktails and delicious delicious foods. Honestly, you can't go ordering anything on the menu here. They are good at everything.)
Blind Lady Alehouse (Craft beer, tiny fancy pizzas. Big open airy space. Great place to hang out for an afternoon.)
Hamilton's Tavern (Craft beer, delicious grilled cheese sammiches, pool and shuffleboard)

Brunch
Cafe 21 (This was my favorite place to get interesting and delicious American style food before I discovered Prep Kitchen)

Dinner
Pomegranate (Russian Georgian food. Wonderful sense of humor.)
Pizzeria Bruno (Naples style thin crust pizza)
Prep Kitchen again.

Dessert
Mariposa Ice Cream
Extraordinary Desserts
Viva Pops

I also like Super Cocina for homestyle Mexican food, Phuong Trang for Vietnamese food, Santouka (in the Mitsuwa) for ramen and Sushi Ota for Really Expensive Sushi That Is Totally Worth It. Also if you are wandering around all tipsy from Small Bar on Park Blvd there are worse things to do than wander into El Zarape for rolled tacos. Bahn Thai is right next to El Zarape and pretty good for takeout Thai.
posted by rhythm and booze at 10:16 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once made a list of 75 Awesome Things to Eat or Drink in the San Diego Area:
(in no particular order)

Items in parentheses are when it was too hard to pick just one thing.

1. Salted fish fried rice at Sab-E-Lee (raw beef salad, larb, pad see-ew)
2. Butter ramen (with soft-boiled egg) at Yakitori Yakyudori
3. Shrimp with garlic butter at Crab Hut (oysters on the half shell, sausages, fried okra)
4. Cabbage with bacon at Bonnie Jean's (hush puppies, fried chicken, corn with bacon, greens)
5. Carnitas at Carnitas Uruapan (Lemon Grove)
6. "Midwestern Madness" bacon pancakes at Crest Cafe
7. Dutch Baby at Original Pancake House
8. Burger with duck fat fries at Smoking Goat (roasted beet salad)
9. The Nancy sandwich with sweet potato fries at Eddie's
10. Jelly and mung bean dessert at Convoy Noodle House (pho, beef wrapped in grape leaves)
11. Pico de gallo fruit salad at Frutilandia (smoothies, fresas con crema)
12. #1 sandwich (Dac Biet) at K Sandwiches
13. Idlis at Madras Cafe (Mira Mesa) (kesari dessert, dosas, coconut and squash dish)
14. Cobb salad at Tender Greens
15. Honey Brie bacon walnut panini at Bread & Cie (croissants, rosemary olive oil bread, ciabatta)
16. Maxwell St. Polish (with fries) at Lefty's Pizza
17. Garlic chicken wrap at Mama's Bakery (baba ganoosh, falafel, fried eggplant)
18. Original milk tea with boba at Tapioca Heaven (Mira Mesa)
19. Crispy chicken at Tapioca Express
20. Thin crust pizza at Sicilian Thing
21. Taro yogurt at Yogurtland
22. Turkey Cobb sandwich at Con Pane (chocolate bread, chocolate chip cookies)
23. Slam Burger at Danny's Palm (Coronado)
24. Sauteed greens at Dumpling Inn (xiao long bao, deluxe fried rice, mabo tofu)
25. Okonomiyaki at Tajima
26. Agedashi mochi at Sakura (buta no kakuni)
27. Sakuramochi at Hogetsu Bakery (Chula Vista)
28. Almond croissant at Cardamom Bakery (english muffin sandwich #1)
29. Tofu stew at Convoy Tofu House (the one by Victor's bar)
30. Chiang Mai noodle soup at Thai Grill
31. Blackberry cornmeal pancake at Cafe on Park
32. PH Benedict at Parkhouse Eatery
33. Cheese biscuits at Urban Solace
34. Szechuan cold noodles at Spicy City
35. Cold vegetable dishes at Sultan (El Cajon)
36. Nem khao at Asia Cafe
37. Smoked fish sandwich at Point Loma Seafoods (fried fish, fried shrimp)
38. Lentil soup at Hammurabi (El Cajon)
39. Lunch special (with lamb) at Little Sheep
40. Frittura mista at Antica Trattoria
41. Fried cornmeal at Hash House a Go-Go
42. Hash browns at Lucky's Breakfast
43. Desayuno Burrito at the Mission
44. Royal Milk Tea at Tea Station
45. Chicken pie at Chicken Pie Shop
46. Shrimp tossed in butter at Saigon
47. Fish sauce chicken wings at Que Huong (banana flower salad)
48. Salted pepper chicken wings at Mandarin Chinese (Chula Vista)
49. Mixiote at El Borrego
50. Pho at Pho Hoa Hiep
51. Beef salad at El Salvadoreno
52. Sausage and peppers sandwich at Pete's Sandwiches
53. Veggie burger at Veg-N-Out
54. Vegetarian platter at Asmara
55. Egg rolls with lettuce and mint wraps at Pho Ca Dao (pho, Vietnamese coffee)
56. Matzo ball soup at DZ Akins
57. Moules frites at Cafe Chloe
58. Masala drinking chocolate at Eclipse
59. Gobo salad at Okan
60. Latte at Caffe Calabria (mini salami sandwich)
61. Starlite Mule at Starlite (mussels, burger)
62. Whatever's freshest at Sushi Shirahama
63. Jayne Burger at Jayne's Gastropub
64. Chicken tawook at Alforon´╗┐
65. California burrata salad at Farmhouse Cafe
66. Cioppino at the Fish Market
67. Fish tacos at Mariscos German
68. Burnt caramel cake at Sage Cakes
69. Miso ramen at Santouka
70. Onigiri at Mitsuwa Market (I think it's only Mon and Wed afternoons that they have them)
71. Mother Earth sandwich at Bagel Towne Cafe (Rancho San Diego)
72. Muffuletta at BMH Italian Deli (or any sandwich)
73. Chocolate ice cream soda at the Julian Drugstore
74. Chicken mole at Super Cocina (pozole)
75. Gianduja gelato at Chocolat
posted by exceptinsects at 11:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, check out Kirk's blog for the best Asian and Mexican (and other) food recommendations in town!
posted by exceptinsects at 11:04 PM on June 25, 2012


Damn do I love Bronx Pizza on Washington St. in Hillcrest. As for bars, I used to live in North Park off El Cajon Blvd, within walking distance of half a dozen bars. There's the hipster-y Live Wire, but I preferred the Red Fox Room at the Lafayette Hotel. Strong drinks and relatively cheap, at least for a gin and tonic. Kind of kitschy, but my friends and I liked the atmosphere.
posted by book 'em dano at 11:38 PM on June 25, 2012


Here are a few places Mefi recommended when I was there a year or two ago, good for breakfasts especially.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 11:46 PM on June 25, 2012


Grew up in San Francisco, lived in San Diego for 7 years: Seconding Phuong Trang and Sushi Ota.

The only thing I really super missed was Chinatown style Chinese food and I just don't have a recommendation for that. You just have to make up for it with amazing Mexican (which is different from the stuff from Mission, much more "Baja", but still amaze-balls), Vietnamese, Italian, Hawaiian (L&L's was my fave when I lived there), and Thai - SD did Thai pretty well from what I recall.
posted by like_neon at 1:46 AM on June 26, 2012


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