Hi! Long time poster from your NorCal zone travelling down to SD this coming weekend.
Where might you put on our list of Must Eats?
we don’t live in SF, we live on the peninsula and eat a lot of the south bay. We have world-beating chinese and indian, and mexican is really no slouch around here.
we are not into “long form” dining. Nor entrees. While “lots of small plates” is the order of the day, we’ll group them and organize them ourselves.
we eat all the things.
we want to eat more like locals than visitors.
we’re staying a bit east of balboa park but will be roaming.
we slack a bit on getting reservations
we eat later rather than earlier (eg, 8pm or 9pm more than 5pm)
we like beer, wine, cocktails
As usual for a trip like this, I’ve eyeballed things like Eater’s list, different best of list, and have collated a few things. My local sources say one should go beyond the Fish Taco and eat Cali Burritos, which we intend, and have read a few pages on the better spots.
Any highlights of San Diego I should try to work into the trip? Would love to hear (and will report back) — thanks in advance!
Juniper & Ivy was our most visited spit when we lived in SD and every time we visit we always go there once or twice. Perfect to make a whole dinner out of small plates. If you like the action of a kitchen get reservations for the kitchen counter
It depends how much time you have. Time is always limited. So you can either spent 4-6 meals on fish tacos and try to get the most of out San Diego fish taco. I almost did that for Grilled/Rockefeller oysters at French Quarter, New Orleans.
Aside from fish taco, I would just try to focus and explore what you normally enjoy.
Just an FYI: San Diego is overall a town that closes early, especially our more casual eateries, so check hours ahead of time. Many close between 8-9pm, so keep them on your radar as lunch possibilities. I also think San Diego does better at casual over upscale, FWIW.
As mentioned above, Juniper & Ivy is very good.
As a San Diegan, I’m for fish tacos over the California burritos. The seafood restaurants (from fishmongers to high end) do them with fresh catch of the day, so keep an eye out for those. I usually enjoy https://thefishshops.com/ for very casual seafood.
I know you have access to good Mexican food, but if you want to eat like a local, Super Cocina is the best. Their website is awful, but their Facebook page will give you an idea of what they offer: https://www.facebook.com/supercocinasd/.
Another place I haven’t been, but hear great things about that seems to fit your criteria: Trust - https://www.trustrestaurantsd.com/ It’s on the top of our list to get to once we are doing indoor dining again. (The patio there is competitive, from what I understand.)
Good call on Trust which we enjoyed very much on our last visit. And yes, fish tacos (or a nice gubernator taco a enjoyable in SD but I wouldn’t call any burritos worthwhile wasting a lot of calories.
One place which is open late (2am) and has great food but also some of the best cocktails in SD is Lion’s Share
Thanks for all the tips! I didn’t know about the Taco Gubernator (I thought it was perhaps a reference to our larger than life Governator, but apparently it’s a form of shrimp taco from Sinaloa).
I think we will be angling heavily toward the fish tacos and away from the Cali Burrito. There’s only so many calories one can eat in a few days.
I have seen a lot of italian restaurants, and it’s odd, we don’t eat a lot of italian here (ok, I did eat italian twice this week but it was a rare week, one was a neopolitan pizza place, one was a work thing, but generally we’re all about the tacos and beer).
Comparing SF to SD taco scene (especially on the peninsula) I am not sure if SD has so much more to offer beside a few more unique ones like the gubernador (and most of the good ones are better at trucks and not at restaurants). But a lot of the cabeza, lengua, tripe ones you can get in RWC for example are at least as good to what we got in SD. If you really want to up your taco game you would have to cross the border (and yes, burritos in SD aren’t anything special)
I’m glad to know it. I have yet to find a single Indian restaurant in the USA that seems to match up with most neighborhood spots in London and the UK. I’m eager to try something better here because I love Indian food.
i have never been to an Indian restaurant other than sweets in bradford (90’s) that i thought was particularly good. At best, i suspect they are different styles. currys in the uk are just different. i have also eaten a bit in India (my company has an office in Bangalore and plenty of customers in delhi and folks knew i like food).
i like Southern Indian, specifically chetinad, a lot, and i like aachi aapakadi. my local curry shop, dosa point, has some excellent dishes, the chicken chukka, and era thokku mali are very good, which i haven’t ever seen elsewhere. rooh is good, but it is high end food, more like the fancier Indian places you get in London. ettan, though, a few blocks away, is a much hotter ticket, hard to get a reservation, one Michelin star. the big flavor northern place i like is himalyian kitchen in mv, but there are specialists in most regions of indian food thought-out Sunnyvale.
none of them make british style curry. Arguably that is a regional which has yet to have its moment, but i would bristle at saying Indian isn’t good. by the same metric, there would be no good Indian food in India.
I could eat fish tacos morning noon and night. There appear to be three strains of fish tacos: breaded (classic), grilled (plancha), and “wet” (we found a ceviche-style variant). The hardest part with fish tacos is if you don’t like mayonnaise / crema, which my partner has extreme aversion to. We had two misfires: we got them “plain” (fish finger on a taco) once, we had our “no sauce” ignored once. Sometimes it’s crema, which is less objectionable, more times it’s really tartar style sauce. I generally like a little more punch, but that’s what the little bottles of spice are for (or a little extra lemon). Fish is delicate, and I eventually started going with no extra spice. We went to Marisco’s German (sic) because we were out at the Safari Park and the wait was really really slow (typical post-pendemic thing it seemed) and the fish tacos were revelatory, and the Gubernator was great.
california burritos really are good with super fresh fries. California tacos though (only seen at Lucha Libre) is a really good idea.
We went to Trust, I thought it was OK not great. They rely on acid more than I think they need to, food just seemed a little heavy-handed. It was “fine”. I can’t say if we just didn’t pick well, it’s always tough when you have only one dinner meal.
All the cocktails I had were pretty spiffy. From just average places to fancy places. I’ve had better cocktails at higher end places in other cities, but the uniformity in my small sample size was encouraging. Maybe I had low expectations.
Enjoyed Kindred (across from original Buono Forchetta). We were literally at an AirBNB upstairs, so we slunk in right as it as closing the first night. I’m not crazy about all-vegan, but I loved the vibe and I loved the cocktails and the food was different (also rather sour-focused for flavor… maybe that’s a trend?)
We drank a lot of beer, but would have drunk more if the line to park at the fairground for the beer festival wasn’t 45 minutes long. We fled in terror. It’s no secret that beer is good in the area (we went to both the OG Pizza Port and to Lost Abbey (for “all the samplers”).
San Diego seems to LOVE brunch. We’re not that brunch focused, still found ourselves having brunch. Don’t go for brunch, anywhere, on father’s day. I would probably get sucked into having brunch on a regular basis if I moved there. We at somewhere in Normal that was recommended called The Rabbit Hole and it was seriously above average and above expectation, although not someplace I would recommend. It’a a neighborhood bar with extra goodness. They turned a pulled pork hash with a couple of eggs on top to a really solid dish.
Glad you had some fun and ate and drank well @bbulkow. Nice report. I haven’t really explored the current dining/cocktail scene down there at all. We just returned from a visit down there last week with kids and the thirst for cocktails was immediate back at home.
i share your partner’s mayo-phobia. I’m pretty careful to have that excised on ordering stuff and usually not a problem. Crema can be sour cream-esque but it’s also often mayo not in disguise or mixed with mayo. yikes! Salsa or hot sauce work just fine here.
If you liked the California burritos, give some asada fries a whirl one day too, sorta same thing different format, but fries stay crispier. Now I’m not going to say anything bad about nachos, but let’s just say both you girls are pretty…