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Alternative to Pt. Loma Seafoods

Catalina Offshore is a great option, especially if you are willing to buy a kilogram or more at a time. These are the guys that supply many sushi and seafood restaurants in town. They sometimes have live uni (sea urchins) available.

If you are willing to get more challenging than ahi, sea bass and halibut, you should also try the Asian seafood markets. If you can learn to enjoy oily fish like mackerel, the meaty taste of catfish, or learn to recognize the names of dozens of fish lacking standard English names, you will often save money and help the environment. Mackerel, fresh-water fish and other cheap options like squid are in no danger of being overfished, are low in mercury and heavy metals, and may be better for your health.

Good prices and great selection are available at Vien Dong in Linda Vista and 99 Ranch in Kearny Mesa. Lucky Seafoods up in Miramar and World Foods Market on El Cajon in Mid-City are also good options, though I have not visited them as recently.

For a start, try some Japanese recipes for Saba or Aji (two types of Mackerel); even very pretty fillets should cost no more than $5 in a nice Japanese market, and whole "saba" is sometimes on sale for as little as $2.00 / lb. It may be good for your health, and it is certainly a more sustainable choice than "sea bass", both for the environment and for your pocketbook.

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99 Ranch Market
7330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA

Vien Dong Market
6937 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA

World Food Supermarket
5245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA

Lucky Seafood
9326 Mira Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA

May 30, 2008
Joseph in San Diego

Thanks, San Diego--the big payback

Thanks for the report. It's nice to hear about good experiences, and you made some good choices.
Super Cocina is definitely better if you ask for tastes of the different dishes before choosing. The owner(?), who speaks English and clearly cares about good food, will be happy to explain things to you and give suggestions, as he seems to have done for the gringos who came in afterward. Some of the dishes at Super Cocina are just okay, but there is almost always two or three great ones each day.

Mar 30, 2008
Joseph in California

A store to buy fresh masa in San Diego or Palm Springs Area?

If you are taking 8 east to 15 north, you can take a quick detour to Pancho Villa Market. It is a mexican supermarket with a machina to make tacos, and they always have masa para tamales for about $0.80 per pound, I think.

It's on El Cajon Blvd just east of the 805 offramp

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Pancho Villa's Farmers Market
3245 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

Mar 25, 2008
Joseph in California

K Sandwiches sd

Linda Vista Rd at Mesa College Dr; San Diego, CA

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K Sandwiches
7604 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA 92111

Mar 22, 2008
Joseph in California

Pomegranate Reaffirmation San Diego

Thank you for the update. I again passed this place by on the way to Mama's Bakery. We really need to give it a try. It seems like it deserves more attention.

Mar 22, 2008
Joseph in California

Good Coffee/Breakfast in Gaslamp Quarter (San Diego)

Elixir, a small cafe hidden in the first floor of an office building along the trolley line, may have the best espresso downtown. They use locally-roasted beans from Caffe Calabria. Their bagels are pretty good too.

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Elixir Espresso Bar
427 C St # 101, San Diego, CA

Mar 22, 2008
Joseph in San Diego

Best day of the week, and best place for uni in San Diego?

I think you will find that freshness makes the biggest difference. If you are going to the trouble, make sure you are eating Uni that was alive when you ordered it.

If you call ahead, Sammy Sushi might have it for you. Sammy sometimes has live Uni on hand, but he can usually get it on any day, with advance notice. The place is a seemingly ordinary neighborhood Sushi shop, but they can get you some good stuff.

I'm sure Sushi Ota has it available most of the time, but again, call ahead and ask.

Mar 16, 2008
Joseph in San Diego

Specialty Restaurants SD

The real issue here is one of definition. How do we define "one dish in particular?" Is "sushi" a dish or a whole chapter in a cuisine? Is a "plate lunch" a dish or a way of eating? Is a hamburger a hamburger if it is made of vegetables, or bison, or rattlesnake?

Is birria a dish or a method of cooking? It can be anything from taco to an appetizer to a main course. The meat can certainly be beef or goat or lamb, perhaps even turkey or chicken.

I don't think I should mention places that specialize in yogurt or ice cream or cakes or beer or wine. That seems like a different topic. I gather that you meant "one MAIN dish in particular".

But I'll do my best to add a few places to your list:

Pho Ca Dao, and many others with "Pho" in their name.
SD Chicken Pie Shop
(Tioli's) Crazy Burger (though they do stretch the category of "Burger", most all the menu items are of that category); Other burger places (Rocky's, In-N-Out...)
El Salvador Restaurante y Pupuseria (Other menu items, but Pupusas are in the name - they are Salvadorean filled "tortillas", made with thick plain corn "masa" around a filling, cooked on a skillet)
Kim Chan, K Sandwiches, other vietnamese Ban Mi places
Crispy Fried Chicken (El Cajon blvd / 49th st)
Tofu House (Korean Tofu)
Carnitas Uruapan (Mexican Carnitas)
Grab-N-Go subs
Curry House (Japanese curry)
Little Sheep (Mongolian hot pot)
Leocynn's Lumpia (Filipino)
Dumpling Inn (Northern Chinese dumplings)
and...
Bronx/Lefty's/Sicilian Thing/Any pizzeria
Any steakhouse
Buga, other Korean BBQ places (is this a dish or a way of cooking? Don't know)

...

This could be a long list.

How about this: what are some unique or outstanding specialty restaurants? I think kare raisu was getting at that.

On a less positive note, most fast food places specialize in one or two dishes. And so does every crappy "sushi" place (The dish? Sushi rolls with funny names)

Mar 16, 2008
Joseph in California

OK San Diego, I think I've done my homework....

Google maps will show you how to use public transit in San Diego:
Directions to Asia Cafe via Orange line trolley:
http://tiny.cc/AsiaCafeViaTrolley
Directions to Tacos El Gordo via Blue line trolley:
http://tiny.cc/TacosElGordo
Directions to Imperial Fish Market via Orange (or Blue) line trolley:
http://tiny.cc/ImperialFishMarket
Mariscos German:
http://tiny.cc/MariscosGerman
Super Cocina via the 7 (you don't need to transfer):
http://tiny.cc/SuperCocinaViaTrolley

The first four trips take about 25 minutes, including walking time; Super Cocina is about 35 minutes. You can even get to the vietnamese restaurants (like Pho Ca Dao) on El Cajon Blvd in 40 minutes total, due to the express service on the 15 bus ("every 15 minutes") - that's 5.6 miles from your hotel!
Google Maps is cool, but it is best to confirm the trip with the official transit trip planner: http://sdcommute.com/

(Edit: sorry for the long links! Note that you can change the departure/arrival date and time, if necessary, to get the right trip. I'm just impressed that you can link to those search results at all. And I just realized that some other folks mentioned these directions)

Mar 10, 2008
Joseph in San Diego

OK San Diego, I think I've done my homework....

I disagree on the cab, unless you are pressed for time. The 7 bus route comes every 10 to 15 minutes from Broadway up to that neighborhood. If you can spare an extra 20 minutes, the ride will give you an experience of the other San Diego.

It's worth noting that the Trolley is a nice ride, and it can take you to a couple great places to eat, if you have the time. Mexico is only 45 minutes via trolley (and 15 minutes to walk across the border to the good food), but plan for some time to get through the border on the way back; try to avoid commute times. Closer to home, you can get to places like Tacos El Gordo in Chula Vista, or the Imperial Avenue "Farmer's Market" (with Mexican food stalls) via a short walk from different trolley routes. Even Asia Cafe is a mere 5 minute walk (1/2 mile) from the 47th street Orange Line station! (Go before 6:00 pm)

Actually, we should do a thread on places near the trolley. It would be a great reference for convention/conference attendees.

Mar 10, 2008
Joseph in San Diego

15 Chefs in SD? **Updated**

Super Cocina should be fine with 15 extra diners. They usually have a large amount of food ready on the steam table at the beginning of each meal period. But seating would be tight.

Mar 10, 2008
Joseph in California

Changes in the Clairemont (SD) area

Thanks, Kirk. It's nice to see you on Chowhound.

Mar 01, 2008
Joseph in California

San Diego favorites

1) Mexican (cheap): Super Cocina (for guisados), Tacos El Panson (for al pastor tacos), Farmer's Market on Imperial (for market shops)
Vietnamese: Pho Ca Dao (pho), K Sandwiches
Chinese: Ba Ren (Sichuan)
2) California: The Linkery (moderate, great beer); Market (pricey)
3) El Salvador Pupuseria, Mama's Bakery (Lebanese wraps), Mamma Mia (Italian), O'Brien's (great local beer, bar food is okay)

Feb 29, 2008
Joseph in San Diego

North Park Produce - El Cajon Blvd. + Tamal Cart Notes

Tamal Cart:

The tamales we tried from this cart were the best street food we've had in San Diego so far. My wife and I like the tamales from across the street (there is a cart outside of the liquor store at 35th and El Cajon Blvd), but I was intrigued when I saw this new cart at NPP's location in City Heights. The store itself is my 1st stop for produce, especially fruits, greens, olives, feta and Middle Eastern items (Pancho Villa and Trader Joe's are my 2nd and 3rd most frequent choices).

We tried a couple in platano (banana leaf) and a couple in maiz (corn husks). The masa was smooth, soft and flavorful, suggesting the tamales had been made that morning. Chicken and cheese fillings were good, but the pork was amazing. It reminded me of the braised pork at Chilango's (late, lamented). The banana leaf ones were thinner but wider, and had a hint of tropical flavor from the steaming banana wrapper (an extra layer of aluminum foil helped keep them warm on the way home. At about $1.50 apiece, these make a great appetizer or lunch.

Jan 02, 2008
Joseph in California

North Park Produce - El Cajon Blvd. + Tamal Cart Notes

DD, do you imply that many corn tortillas made in San Diego are NOT made of fresh masa? The machinas I've seen at Pancho Villa market and other tortilla factories certainly seem to be using fresh masa, rather than reconstituted maseca. Am I mistaken?

Jan 02, 2008
Joseph in California

San Diego Restaurant Week 2008

Their regular menu is good, and I hope they are the sort of place that will do their best to maintain that level of quality for RW. You many need reservations in advance; many of the better places are completely booked.

Dec 28, 2007
Joseph in San Diego

Dinner in Paso Robles

We went to a taqueria recommended on an older post, for a quicker meal, and still ended up getting home just a few minutes ago (2:30 AM). It was a place on 12th, west of Spring, called "Lo Mejor de Michoacan", and it was a great meal on a long drive south. I'll write a review later. Suffice to say, if it were in San Diego, we would be regulars.

Dec 28, 2007
Joseph in California

Great food in Paso Robles

Thank you for recommending the place on 12th, west of Spring. It's actually called "Lo Mejor de Michoacan", and it was a great meal on a long drive south. I'll write a review later. We loved the salsas, the hand-made corn tortillas and the excellent carnitas.

Dec 28, 2007
Joseph in California

Dinner in Paso Robles

Great question.

We are driving through on our way to San Diego, tonight.

Would any of these places work for a quick dinner? Or is there a taqueria or something we should try instead?

Dec 27, 2007
Joseph in California

Utage Japanese, Chula Vista (review)

Thanks for the report. We rarely get recommendations about the San Diego South Bay communities. Please feel free to mention any other places you run into.

Dec 17, 2007
Joseph in California

Broken hearted in San Diego...

Agreed. I had forgotten about that place. And I've been working just down the street, come to think of it. Tomorrow I will scout it out.

Dec 17, 2007
Joseph in California

best coffee in SD

Sadly, I don't know the barista's by name. I've had the opposite experience; almost every shot has been good to great. And we don't make it down there often enough.

Dec 17, 2007
Joseph in San Diego

best coffee in SD

I only like it for studying. The lighting isn't the best, but it is just about the only place open at 10 pm with free wifi and available tables. Lestat's doesn't always work. My wife likes the "Mexican Mocha" there, but the straight espresso really isn't that great. Oh, and we also like that they have Fair Trade coffee, even for the espresso drinks.

But I can see why it wouldn't work for most people.

Dec 17, 2007
Joseph in San Diego

Between LA and Phoenix

Seach the Southwest board for ed's posts about Yuma, if you are taking interstate 8. It has good mexican food, and is located about halfway between the coast and Phoenix. I've never found much good food between Indio and Phoenix on interstate 10. The Southwest board might have better advice.

Dec 17, 2007
Joseph in California

Best Taco Shops In San Diego...

I agree that El Zarape isn't as good as it once was. The fish tacos are still just a buck, so we usually get those The salsas seem to be just as good, especially the tomatillo and avocado salsa (light green), which is excellent with the cheap beer-battered fish taco.

Dec 16, 2007
Joseph in San Diego

best coffee in SD

Caffe Calabria is slowly remodeling (they plan to serve italian-style pizza, eventually, on top of the current panini), so the atmosphere could be better, but their espresso is the best I've had in town. Cgfan has had a couple of bad shots there, and I have had one or two that weren't great, but in my experience the espresso is often exceptionally good. Most of the baristas make it with a good crema, rich and full-flavored, but without the bitterness and burnt aftertaste you get at Starbucks or any number of imitators.

The coffee cart at Kaiser's hospital and office building serves Calabria's roasts, and the barista I met also pulled a great shot.

The one other place I can recommend, though off of only one taste, is Elixir, along the trolley line downtown. It's hidden in an office building a block from the 5th street trolley stop. It took me three tries to find it, but going off of a recommendation from someone at Calabria, I sought it out. The espresso was good, and the toasted bagel was also one of the best I've had around San Diego - crisp outside and solid inside, unlike the bready ones oftern served in California.

I've tried dozens of other coffee shops while studying. Several are good for hanging out, people watching or cramming before an exam, and even Starbucks will get you a bathroom and air conditioning when you are desperate. But I haven't had good espresso anywhere besides the three places I've listed.

Worth mentioning:
Goldfish Point has just about the best view of any place in La Jolla. It looks out over La Jolla Shores
Lestat's in Normal Heights has free wireless and stays open 24 hours (the only place I know of in town). But the coffee isn't good.
Cream in University Heights has free wireless and stays open late.

Dec 16, 2007
Joseph in San Diego

Best Rolled Tacos in San Diego?

Welcome back! I've missed your informative and well-written posts.

Will you be in North County or farther south?

Dec 16, 2007
Joseph in San Diego

Parallel 33? (San Diego)

We once ate at Parallel 33 in Hillcrest, San Diego, about 2 years ago. The appetizers were good, and the mains acceptable, but the menu did not look interesting enough for many return visits, and we have not been back yet. I've noticed occasional recommendations for this place, but I get the impression that many of you may not have eaten there in a while, either. The online menu looks almost unchanged from what I remember of a couple years ago.

Now, I read that Jayne's Gastropub in North Park has the chef from Parallel 33. (According to a review on sandiego.eats.it) Perhaps they were getting bored.

Anyone have recent experience at Parallel 33? Is it worth checking out again? Has it improved, or gone downhill?

Dec 16, 2007
Joseph in California

Any update on Caffe Calabria's pizza endeavor?

A couple of months ago, I was there while the owner, an architect and a city inspector went over the remodeling plans. I had a chance to see the blueprints, which called for a second level of seating, moving some walls, and other major changes. The guy from the city wanted to make significant changes to the entire lay-out, from what I overheard, including some expensive smoke-ventilation equipment for the wood-fired oven. I would not expect pizza for sale any time soon.

Remind me never to start a new restaurant in this city.

Dec 07, 2007
Joseph in California

Thoughts on SD restaurants

According to this search for Candelas: (http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...), you did recommend it a few times in the past. I imagine you have dined there more than once. Were your experiences recent enough to offer a few more details and impressions? I respect your opinion on Mexican food.

Dec 07, 2007
Joseph in California