Itinerary Review for 4 Days in SD, Please

Hey SD FTC’ers,

Visiting San Diego in a bit for just a couple of days. Staying in Del Mar and will have a car. I’d really appreciate feedback on my itinerary, as it’s been a while since I last visited SD! Any better options in the style of restaurants I listed? Thanks. I recognize that there’s great breweries around the area but I won’t be touring those on this trip. I’ll be happy to provide a Trip Report after in hopes that it can be useful to others.

Day 1 (arrive around 4:00pm):

  • dinner: Ironside Fish & Oyster
  • Churros / Dessert in Little Italy district - is The Blind Burro ok?

Day 2:

  • breakfast: Clubhouse Grill at Grand Del Mar
  • lunch: Bracero Cocina
  • (drive to La Jolla, maybe see beaches, MOCA, and/or grab a drink at LOT)
  • dinner: George’s at the Cove, California Modern

Day 3:

  • breakfast: Porkyland
  • lunch: Panama 66 (as we will be visiting the Museum of Art and then the Zoo)
  • dinner: Addison

Day 4 (leave):

  • breakfast: Amaya (then checkout and leave Del Mar)
  • lunch: either Buona Forchetta, Sushi Tadokoro, or visit Coronado. Any great eats in Coronado for lunch? Open to anything sit-down.


Solid itinerary. Day 1 looks good; keep in mind that Ironside will be noisy. Blind Burro is fine, and a good place for churros if that’s what you’re craving. If you’re open to other options, a great dessert place that isn’t too far is Extraordinary Desserts. For Mexican style desserts other than churros, Puesto is just down the way from Little Italy.

Day 2 and 3 look super! Whoa, dinner at George’s on Day 2 and Addison on day 3 ! I’ve never had breakfast at Porkyland; maybe someone else will comment.

I guess I’d say that visiting Coronado and walking around for a while would be fun on Day 4, but I’d suggest going back to SD for food. Either of the two options you mentioned would be a very good choice. It just depends on your food mood that day.

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Looks like you’re all set.

Solid choices all around. Might argue with a few or two, but that’s more personal preference than anything else, and then I’d be just quibbling.

Enjoy your stay.

Sounds good, thanks guys, looking forward to it. Will report back!

Blind Burro isn’t in Little Italy but East Village. Go for desserts (and a cocktail or two) to Juniper & Ivy instead (or skip better skip Ironside completely and go for dinner to Juniper & Ivy (Perhaps together with Georges the best restaurant in SD)

Thanks for the inspiration @markambrose73 :smile:

To all the SD FTC’ers, wow I haven’t heard of any of these places. Been too long since my last visit. :smile:

So are the places Mark lists the best of the best of San Diego?

honkman - Thanks for the note. I know juniper & ivy is a popping place, and I looked into it. I wanted to eat mainly raw bar, and while I realize that Juniper & Ivy does serve oysters, Ironside’s menu seems more what I’m looking for on the whole. Unless Ironside isn’t that great. I appreciate the note about Blind Burro. We kind of wanted churros specifically, but maybe Extraordinary Desserts may be in order instead if it’s that good.

Chowseeker - oh I wouldn’t say best of the best, as a good deal is based off of convenience and personal preference. E.g. breakfast places are at the hotel (Clubhouse and Amaya) or nearby (Porkyland) just for convenience. Panama 66 for lunch because it’s at the Museum of Art and very close to the Zoo, so it fits perfectly into the afternoon schedule. Ironside and Bracero Cocina are two I chose because I was looking specifically for that kind of menu, i.e. raw bar and nicer Mexican food, respectively. I’m quite excited about Bracero - the menu looks interesting and seems to strike the right chord of the kind of ingredients I’m looking for (huitlacoche tamal! “Sabina Bandera” tostada, delicious sounding crudo, lamb neck barbacoa). It was either Bracero or Galaxy Tacos. George’s and Addison because it’s a birthday and we wanted to celebrate nicely and to see what SD has to offer in this department in comparison with similar style places in the SF Bay Area when we return. A lot of trip itineraries represent personal preferences, but I will report back to provide some notes about what was good and why others may consider working them in to their itineraries.

It’s hard to objectively say what the “best of the best” is without some context.

For someone coming from SF or LA, the best restaurant for that person will invariably differ than someone visiting SD from, say, Bismark.

For example, some will crown Georges as one of the best restaurants in SD (and it might be) but if I’m a visitor from SF, going to Georges will feel like redundancy, and a bad one at that, if not a complete letdown, compared to places back home (such as Saison, Benu, or the like). It’s sort of the epitome of “tweezer-ification”

Similarly, if a person is coming from LA, there is no way I would recommend them spending any time exploring Convoy, or parts of adjacent Kearny Mesa. But if the same person was coming from, say, Phoenix, then I would think a visit to Kearny Mesa would be in play.

And even a list of the “best” restaurants in SD, based on a local’s perspective, is still probably at best the proverbial moving target. I mean, just go ahead and search “carne asada burrito” on Chowhound, then sit back, get some popcorn and enjoy the repartee, some of it even on point.

But if you do visit, then definitely post and let everyone know what you’re looking for. @markambrose73 list is a good starting point, no doubt.

Very well said, ipse. What the ideal restaurants will be for me depends much on my experiences, what I’m looking for in this trip, and what I can get locally. I’m from SF and I also dine often in LA, but I am curious about what George’s and Addison have to offer in comparison to SF Bay Area. Specifically, I’m visiting Meadowood right after I return, and I know that Chris Kostow worked at George’s under Trey Froshee; I’m curious how the cuisines will compare/contrast and reflect their locales. I know they’re different chefs, but I’m also curious about shared viewpoints, as I like Meadowood very much. Yes, Meadowood is very much a reflection of its terroir with its “new Napa cuisine,” so to speak, but the connection still has me curious about George’s. The possibility of that kind of cooking sensibility with the context of the ocean nearby could be interesting. I’m on a roll with those types of restaurants recently so I’d like to experience them back-to-back, relatively speaking, so I can be attuned to their relative merits and how they differ. Oh, and I love Saison, and I respect Benu even if I haven’t quite connected with it. I believe that Norcal has some of the very best fine dining in the country, so I’ve set my expectations accordingly but am willing to be pleasantly surprised.

If I were to help a friend craft an itinerary for SF or LA, I’d need to know what they like, what is/isn’t available around them, their preferences for different types of restaurants, etc. In any event, I will report back so that people who may have a similar viewpoint as me, or who are looking for the same kinds of things I’m looking for on this trip, might have some guidance. For this trip, I’m looking for a mix of some exciting sit-down Mexican food, raw bar (I figured these two should be good in SD), some high end with nice views (celebrating a birthday), and some convenient stuff (breakfast places, Panama 66). I don’t need to go to Sushi Tadokoro or Buona Forchetta necessarily, because I can probably get similarly good sushi and Italian food in the SF Bay Area or LA. Of course, it’s largely a matter of personal preference, but I hope I can report back on my experiences to help those who might be looking for the same things.

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Consider Coasterra

It offers one of the more stunning views of downtown San Diego and the harbor area.

The food, while far from great, does offer a few notable items, like the guacamole and tamale.

I am a big fan of Juniper & Ivy. Great small plates. (photo Steak tartare with jalapeño and crumbled cotija cheese on thick slices of toast topped with fried quail eggs) Very nice service too.
I was disappointed in Ironsides, the dishes did not live up to their descriptions…but the place is still packed. …

Thanks mark, ipse. Makes perfect sense.

If you want to really experience Trey’s food go for TBL3 (one table every night for 14-course tasting menu) - Georges downstairs (especially their 8-course menu) is really good but TBL3 is a completely different level with no limitations from the kitchen and the bedt food in SD )and will give you a much better comparison to Meadowood)

Looks great to me - you’ve obviously done your homework. I didn’t even know that Tadokoro is now serving lunch.

Try and get a sunset dinner time at George’s.

Addison can be a bit of a wallet-shock. Buyer beware.

Buen provecho!

Thanks, guys, for all your input.

ipse - The views look awesome at Coasterra. Thanks for the rec, as I never heard of it, but George’s is a little more convenient since we’ll be in La Jolla that afternoon and the goal was just to flow from the La Jolla MOCA and beaches to grabbing a drink at George’s Ocean Terrace then head downstairs for the meal. I’ll ask my party what they think, because the views are great, but probably sticking with George’s this time around (unless people here don’t care for the food).

wienermobile - The tartare looks very nice. We’re not really into New American small plates that much (not too keen on State Bird, Stones Throw, et al. up here in SF), though I’m sure we could craft a pretty good meal from selective ordering. Hmm, that’s two votes for Juniper and I fear Ironside might be very noisy and hyped? I was really hoping for just some simple and solid raw bar stuff, fish & chips, lobster roll…

honkman - Yes I had heard of the TBL3 menu, but I just looked into it and realized that I missed the 1-week notice requirement. I was debating it and thought we could decide at the table, but looks like we’ll have to do it next time. Actually not a bad thing because we’re doing George’s, Addison, then Meadowood and Manresa w/in a 5 day-span so just doing the shorter menus at George’s and Addison might be all we can handle. We don’t want to get exhausted, and while it’s generally not preferable to do everything so close together, this is the only time we could coordinate everyone’s schedule. We decided on Meadowood and Manresa a while ago (Meadowood was tough to book), then San Diego came up very recently as kind of a spontaneous vacation. So we probably won’t get the best comparison, but I hope we’ll enjoy George’s nonetheless. In any event, we kind of envisioned our meal at George’s to be a little more relaxed and just soaking up the views while still having some good food.

JL - I heard of Tadokoro based off of your rec, so thanks for that. And yes it appears that they’re doing lunch now! Our reservation at George’s is definitely at sunset time and we plan to arrive early and have drinks at the Ocean Terrace first ~ 5ish. Noted about Addison. Since it’s my first time, I probably won’t be getting any supplements, unless things are really intriguing.

Thanks all.

It is…

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This seems very busy day. Unless your dinner at Addison is somewhat later in the evening, you probably aren’t leaving yourself a lot of time to do the Zoo.

Is Mark’s list the best of the best in SD?

Not, but he does have some good, reliable choices on it and I don’t think he’ll be disappointed.

I had lunch at Panama 66 day before yesterday. The menu is small and a bit odd, but the food our group had was actually pretty good and everyone enjoyed their selections.

Nice selection of beers on tap. They also have a grab & go station set up just outside the entrance and their G&G boxes are a pretty good value for what you get.

It turns out the Museum of Art is closed on Wednesdays, which is fine, because we’ll be visiting the MOCA in La Jolla the day before. Yes Addison is later in the evening. Porkyland at 9:00 - 9:45, Panama 66 from 12:00 - 12:45, Zoo from 1:15 - 6:15. Addison around 8:00. I anticipate ~5 hours at the Zoo being plenty, or at least I hope so! Not sure I can take much more than that in one place.

DiningDiva - Thanks for the note. This is my first time back to SD in a long while, so I’m sure that I’ll refine my itineraries in future visits. Yeah, Panama 66’s menu is a bit small. I think it’s still convenient for something fairly close to the Zoo and the grounds look pretty nice, even if the Museum will be closed at that time.