Monday, June 06, 2011

My Top Ten in San Diego

Cafe Chloe
I just updated my "Favorite Places to Eat" post from 2009.  It was a little bit overdue, so I was glad to see that it hasn't changed all that much.  I only had to delete one restaurant that closed, and I belatedly added a couple of "new" places, like Bankers Hill and Cucina Urbana.

As I looked at the list, I also realized that though I stand by everything on it, I generally find myself going back to the same very few places over and over again, just by habit or because they appeal to me personally.  This is completely subjective, and I don't know that I'd even say these places are necessarily the 10 best on the list, they are simply the ones I return to most often!
  1. Farm House Cafe - The best bang for your buck in town.  Love the seafood dishes, chicken liver mousse and burger. Nice wine selection too.  We always sit at the bar.
  2. Blue Ribbon Pizzeria -  Love their pizzas with ricotta, and the salads and apps are fantastic.  Try the BLT salad, the burrata or the albacore with avocado.  The butterscotch pudding is to die for too.
  3. Cafe Chloe - Three words, long, leisurely lunch.  (aka LLL)  Settle in for multiple small courses and throw back a glass of wine or two.  Don't forget to bring lots of quarters for the parking meters!  They also do a really nice afternoon tea.
  4. A.R. Valentien - Their deck is another great place for a LLL, and you can order their awesome Drugstore Burger at lunchtime.  They do a really nice three course lunch for around $25. (910 in La Jolla does this too.)
  5. Blind Lady Ale House - Love the chorizo pizza, mussels and beer.
  6. Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant - Haven't been in a few months, but we're going next Saturday.  Good cocktails and Rachel Going makes fantastic desserts! 
  7. Starlite - Great cocktails and an interesting, affordable menu.  It changes constantly and they always have something good for non-meat eaters. 
  8. Cucina Urbana - I like it best for lunch, but dinner is good too.  The menu is a little odd, but I always seem to find something good.  Joe Manganelli knows what he's doing. 
  9. George's in La Jolla - California Modern & Ocean Terrace - CA Modern is the best blend of atmosphere and food in town for fine dining.  The Ocean Terrace has the best view in town, bar none, and is a fantastic place to entertain out of towners. 
  10. K Sandwiches - Where i go for my iced milk coffee and banh mi fix.  Extra pickle, easy mayo. :)
Other contenders:  Piatti at La Jolla Shores (our go-to with the 'rents), Market in Del Mar,  Bread & Cie (I go, but I'm not always happy about it), Okan in Kearny Mesa - love, but don't get over there as often as I'd like. Tender Greens and Con Pane at Liberty Station are also in the lunch rotation.  I also went to the MIHO Gastrotruck a lot when they were coming to Little Italy on Wednesdays. 

How about you?  Do you have a short list of places you like to go in San Diego or your own hometown? 

Photo:  Cafe Chloe


  1. My top ten is definitely affected by our preference to bring our dog out with us and our laziness for driving anywhere usually.

    1-Por Favor, La Mesa Village location
    3-Cafe Chloe
    4-The Linkery
    6-Ritual Tavern
    7-Casa de Pico (we have a Mexican problem)
    8-Pizza Port
    9-Blind Lady

    I'd say that frequency at the last six is pretty low. Our favorite place, definitely is Cafe Chloe for brunch or dinner. Always great atmosphere and Alison is always super friendly to us.

  2. your list and my list are pretty close. i just have to add miho on fridays at the whistle stop. i also like the coffee cup in la jolla for a long saturday morning with a walk and a tamale.

  3. #2 and #3 are my current reigning faves! I also think Con Pane is amazing (the turkey Cobb being my favorite sandwich in SD). We finally tried Urban Solace a few weeks ago and are eager to get back to try more menu items. I thought Cucina Urbana was pretty awesome too. Bankers Hill is high on our to-try list!

  4. How many days should I reasonably plan to crash at your house so that we can hit every one of those top 10??? Love, Tracy

  5. Great list!
    Love Cucina Urbana.
    In North County the favorites are Claire's on Cedros and the 3rd Corner in the Lumberland.


    Nannette Eaton

  6. A second to Jen's nod to Alchemy. But what about Whisk n'Ladle and 910 ... both fresh and always amazing...

  7. perfect timing, i'm headed south in a couple months. i ate through your NYC list earlier this year, so i'll have to try some of these places too!

  8. The Mr and I were going to make an impromptu San Diego trip this weekend sadly it's not happening because I told him I finally must go to Cafe Chloe.

    My favorites here in the Phoenix area are: Noca, The Mission, Pizzeria Bianco, Carolina's. There are several other tasty places but these are usually my go-tos when we have go out to dinner.

  9. I couldn't have a top ten list that didn't include 910 and Jayne's!

    And Empire House in Hillcrest is rising fast on my list with their amazing burgers and relaxed farmhouse industrial atmosphere.

  10. Great list! There are a couple I have to try.

  11. Thanks Alice-always look forward to your reviews and the menus from your parties.

  12. On my last trip I visited the Smoking Goat. Those goose fat fries (duck fat?? I forgot) Anyway, they really are ALL that. Oh, man the whole meal was fantastic, and the service was so warm. Highly recommended!

  13. Hi Alice,
    I live in SD too. LOVE your list and learning about a couple places that I need to try(Blue Ribbon Pizzeria and AR Valentien).

    My Top 10 SD Favorites, in no particular order:
    1) Los Quatros Milpas in Barrio Logan
    2) The Salk Institute's cafeteria (hidden gem)
    3) Pho Hua in City Heights
    4) El Salvadoreno in Barrio Logan for ahhhmazing port pupusas.
    5) Bankers Hill Rest. (Butterscotch Pudding)
    6) Surati Farsan Mart for Indian Food
    7) The Rose Wine Bar in Southpark for warm potato chips with warm blue chees
    8) Rockys in Point Loma for the best cheeseburger
    9) The Sation Tavern for tator tots
    10) The Prado's chipotle hummus.

  14. Hi! Great site and list. You must try these places for Banh Mi: A-Chau on El Cajon Blvd. & Menlo Ave. Or Ba Le in Mira Mesa. Easily the best in SD without having to go to Westminster. They'll easily blow K's out of the water. I guarantee it.

  15. Don't take this personally but K sandwiches are absolutely disgusting and inedible to me. I'm clueless with wine but baguettes are my domain and I've tried just about all in SD..Bread & cie, Boudin, Charlie's best bread, Con Pane, Bread on market, Village mill, O'briens, Champaigne bakery, all of them and they can't match the quality of the baguettes at Banh mi Saigon on Westminster/Magnolia up in Garden Grove.

    It's perfect crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with this wonderful aroma and you won't break any teeth or cut your you lips like the others. And get this, it's only $1 per so I just load up and freeze them and yes I drive an hour up there but it's so worth it. Your morning eggs, ham, anything will taste like nothing you've eaten I'm not exaggerating.

  16. Hey Alice, nice blog! Even better that's in about food in San Diego.

    And just FYI - I've noticed that "banh" was misspelled in this post, and also in your Tiger!Tiger! post.

    Looking forward to coming back to the site in the future!


  17. Suzette - How embarrassing! Must be my high school German coming to the fore. Thanks for catching it!

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