Where can we enjoy eating and drinking in San Diego?
November 17, 2010 11:02 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for places to eat and drink in San Diego? We're stuck at the Manchester Grand Hyatt at One Market Place for the next four days with no car, but willing to walk. But not to any of the places we saw tonight.

So this evening we tried a Persian place quite nearby, in the Gaslamp part of town. It had a big TV flickering on one wall and Iranian disco music rattling down from ceiling speakers, causing the seven people at the next table to speak Very Loudly even though there was almost no-one else in the room. And it cost us fifty dollars for two of us to have one underwhelming main course each, and a beer.

We would like to avoid similar experiences. Unfortunately, many of the other restaurants we saw in that area seemed to be even worse: LOUD music (live or recorded), uninspiring menus.

Please help us. We'd happily walk fifteen or twenty minutes for something good, perhaps even a bit further. Somewhere where a few people can sit down together and enjoy what they're eating and drinking (whatever meal it may be) while talking, without being driven to distraction by music or video screens.

We'd welcome your food recommendations for anything from a breakfast bagel for breakfast to a full evening meal (via cake!). For drink, anything from a morning coffee to a late night cocktail.

I've just seen this thread, but I suspect we're a bit more geographically limited.
posted by lapsangsouchong to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy, about a 15 minute walk away, but so worth it. They have, as the name suggests, amazing desserts, as well as light lunch/dinner options.
posted by illenion at 11:14 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cowboy Star and Cafe Chloe were excellent places to go when I visited San Diego 6 months ago. We hit Cafe Chloe twice in 4 days.
posted by hariya at 1:02 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's always Horton Plaza!

Lots and lots of great food there. :)
posted by patronuscharms at 1:05 AM on November 18, 2010

Here is the research I did (using Chowhound) for my April 2010 trip to San Diego. Maybe it will help. I was stuck in the Gaslamp area without a car, and a 6 month-old baby so I found some places that suit my needs. I did not go to all of these places. I also would avoid the Cheese Shop, and Alambres. The Tin Fish is good for fish tacos, if you cannot get yourself to a taco truck by some other means.
posted by hariya at 1:14 AM on November 18, 2010

For lunch, you should go here for California-style mexican for lunch. It will probably not be very healthy, but it will definitely be delicious. I know I'll be going there, or to a place just like it, when I get home on Tuesday. Be warned, if you are from New England or some other cold part of the country, it may ruin your ability to enjoy lesser taco shops forever. I recommend the California Burrito.

With the money you save from your awesome $5 lunch, you can go to Mr. A's or Cucina Urbana, which are both a bit of a walk but are worth the hike, or the cab. Then go to dessert at the Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy on your way back to your room. It is not cheap, but pure chocolate happines rarely is.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:53 AM on November 18, 2010

I really enjoyed Richard Walker's Pankcake House - although we had to queue for 30 minutes on the Sunday morning when we went there.
posted by mr_silver at 4:24 AM on November 18, 2010

We had a very good meal at El Agave, which serves great mole dishes. Bonus if you like craft tequilas. It's in the Old Town area, which you can easily take the Blue Line trolley to (if I'm remembering the line correctly; check the transit schedules online). As I recall it's only about a ten minute walk from the transit stop, several blocks down the main street past a bunch of touristy Old Town stuff, in the upstairs of a building that had offices in the main floor.
posted by aught at 7:01 AM on November 18, 2010

Pokez! The waitstaff is generally pretty crotchety, but the food is delicious, with lots of veggie and vegan options (hello, potato tacos!) Looks like a 20 minute walk, but from there its only 5 minutes to the Neighborhood, which is a great bar with lots of local beers and a 2 for 1 happy hour. :) Best of luck!
posted by too bad you're not me at 7:52 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Breakfast: Cafe 222 (warning, autoplaying music) and The Mission are both great places. Cafe 222 is more traditional breakfast fare and The Mission has their own Mexi-California thing going on. Both were favorites when I live there.

Dinner: It requires a cab or bus ride to North Park, but my favorite restaurant in San Diego is Urban Solace. Can't recommend it highly enough, even if it is a 20 dollar cab ride from downtown. Cowboy Star is also great as mentioned above. My favorite sushi in SD is at Kiyo's, near 6th and F. He's been in SD 35 years. His place is a little hole in the wally, but he and his brother, Sada, know what they're doing. Sit at the bar. Zanzibar cafe was also a favorite for me. Their menu is pretty diverse and just about everything is really good. Neighborhood is one of my go-to places downtown too. They're a burger place, but with a diverse menu of bar food, all really well prepared, and a few dozen beers on tap. IIRC they have various happy hours including 2 for 1 specials on San Diego beer. Get there early because it sometimes gets a little more crowded in the evening. They're also a perfect lunch stop.

If you can make it to Little Italy, Burger Lounge is a great local burger spot. A little pricy, but totally worth it.

For fine dining, there's a Roy's right on the waterfront. Yes, it is a chain, but their food is great.
posted by mikesch at 8:08 AM on November 18, 2010

There's a bunch of restaurants in Little Italy along Kettner and India Streets, ranging from low-brow Italian (Filippi's) to English pub food (Princess Pub) to more fancy stuff (Zia's Bistro, Po Pazzo, many others), as well as the previously mentioned Burger Lounge.

Filippi's is one of my favorite places, mostly because I've grown up with it. There's a deli/store in the front part that sells various Italian foods; there's a strong smell of salted cod and provolone as soon as you walk in the door. Food is nothing fancy, and their pizza would be sacrilegiously thick for any New Yorker , but they've been around since 1948. There can be a line out the door for dinner, but it moves quickly.

Nearby, near Columbia and B, is Karl Strauss, which is good if you're interested in one of our local breweries.
posted by LionIndex at 9:29 AM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

The Fish Market, just north of the Seaport Village Shopping Center, has awesome seafood and a great casual atmosphere; we go there (or to its Del Mar location) pretty much every time we're south of Orange County. Just get whatever sounds the best off their "fresh today" specials, or if you want a smaller meal get some clam chowder and a seafood cocktail.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for these suggestions, they really helped. Consider yourselves marked best answer.

In the end we mostly made do with breakfasts. The first of these was at Hash House a go go, and it was also lunch and dinner for that day: the largest quantity of food that has ever been placed before me on a single plate. (You'd need the walk from LA to walk it off.) It was good food, too. However, it was too much food, and too far from the hotel, for us to go there more than once.

Café 222, on the other hand, was only a few minutes' walk away, and served portions that were on human rather than brontosaurus scale. Excellent breakfasts and good value.

And Extraordinary Desserts really was extraordinary. I had what may be the best sandwich I've ever eaten, and the cakes I tried--I was with several other people, so I got to taste several--were all extremely fine.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 6:10 PM on November 24, 2010

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