Thursday, March 17, 2011

San Diego City Guide - Eat

You guys are in for a real treat today! My good friend Danielle is going to guest post about food in San Diego. Danielle is probably the most knowledgeable person I know about food. Not only does she know how to choose a good restaurant but she knows a ton about unique ingredients, good recipes and the science of baking. So, enjoy her recommendations! 


My husband and I have lived in San Diego for a little over a year now, plus the summer we spent here in 2008 (same summer Cami lived here). We love eating out and are always looking for great restaurants.

Foodwise, the happening neighborhoods in San Diego seem to be Hillcrest and the Gas Lamp District. There are plenty of great restaurants there to be sure, but since I live in Del Mar (north county) and since I have a baby, those are not the most convenient places to eat. The only real complaint I have about living here is that we have to drive a good distance to get to good food. There are some places, however, that are worth driving out of my way for.

Here is my top five list.

#1 --- VG Donuts
106 Aberdeen
Cardiff, CA 92007

Photo from jimnorris.com

VG's is famous around here. They are flat out the best donuts I've ever had. I've compared them to a couple of other people's "best donut" places in other cities, and nothing beats VG's.
VG Donuts is in Cardiff, which is a little beach community. Our favorite Saturday morning ritual is to go to VGs early (early enough to get prime pick of our favorite donuts) and take them to a nearby beach (there are several to choose from) to eat and watch the ocean. Why live in San Diego if you're not going to eat donuts on the beach and watch the ocean on Saturday mornings?

Our favorites are maple bars, orange rings, and cream filled. But you should definitely also try the blueberry buttermilk.

#2 --- Burger Lounge
Various locations - La Jolla, Coronado, Hillcrest, Little Italy, and Kensington

Photo from burgerlounge.com


Burger Lounge is kind of a trendy burger chain that is only here in San Diego. It's the best burger I've had. It's kind of like In N Out in the sense that they have a pretty bare menu. The burgers are made with grass-fed beef, and I don't know if that's what makes the difference, but they are good.

There are five locations around the city--all of them in prime locations. So plan to spend some time looking for parking. Also, it's not a totally kid-friendly place, but it can be done. You'll probably have to wait a little while for a table--especially during peak times.

#3 --- Harney Sushi
3964 Harney Street
San Diego, CA 92110
Photo from yelp.com


Harney Sushi is, unexpectedly, located in Old Town. But despite the unlikely location, it is a huge hit. As in, don't even try to go there for dinner without a reservation. And if you plan to go for dinner on a weekend night, make sure to call for your reservation a few days in advance. It opens for dinner at 5:30 and people are always lined up waiting for it to open.

But this sushi is worth it! It easily rivals my favorite place in Chicago. There are two whole pages of special rolls that are all good. Make sure you go hungry so you can try lots of different rolls.

Caveats: (1) If you like simple, traditional sushi, this place is not for you. This sushi is stuffed full and is covered in lots of yummy sauces. (2) If you do not like loud restaurants, avoid going on a weekend night. They have a live DJ, and it gets pretty loud and obnoxious.


#4 --- Mama Testa
1417 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
Photo from blackchickontour.com


Mama Testa was on the Food Network a few years ago. The owner beat Bobby Flay in a fish taco throwdown. I have to say, I actually prefer Bobby Flay's fish tacos--I'm not really into Mama Testa's double deep fried thing--but there is plenty of good Mexican food to enjoy here. My favorites so far are the De Aleman tacos (pork tacos topped with grilled pineapple) and De Bandera Guera (rolled crunchy chicken tacos).

The highlight of Mama Testa is probably the salsa bar. This is no Baja Fresh salsa bar, with just mild, medium, and spicy to choose from. There are always at least 10 salsas to choose from and lots of interesting flavors like papaya mango salsa.

Mama Testa can also get fairly crowded during peak times, and you may have to wait outside for a table. But the service is pretty quick, and we've never had to wait for more than 10 minutes.


#5 --- The Cottage
7702 Fay Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037

Photo from cottagelajolla.com


The Cottage is a quaint little restaurant in La Jolla Village. In the summer of 2008 we lived in a tiny studio just a few streets away from The Cottage. It was one of the few restaurants that we wanted to keep going back to. We had dinner there once, but breakfast is where it's at. The french toast is amazing!
Expect a wait on weekend mornings during the summer. We thought it would be the perfect thing to do for breakfast on the 4th of July, but so did the rest of San Diego. The wait that day was over an hour, BUT most days you can get in pretty easily. And there's hardly anything more pleasant than sitting on their patio on a pleasant warm morning, feeling the cool ocean breeze, and enjoying french toast and fresh squeezed orange juice.

I just realized I need to go back there very soon.


Well, if you have a chance to visit San Diego, I hope you can pull yourself away from the beach long enough to try some of the delicious food the city has to offer!

1 comment:

happyfamily said...

Have you been to hash house a go-go yet? Tasty stuff that'll feed you for days...

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