San Diego has no shortage of great restaurants, so I did a little research before we left and set up an outline of places to have lunch and dinner plus some nearby options for grabbing a drink as well.
Olive Cafe – Eric came here for breakfast before I arrived and really liked it so we went back. My breakfast burrito was massive and very tasty but the chips and salsa on the side was a little strange for 8am. My latte was delicious though and Eric enjoyed his french toast and hot chocolate. You order at the counter and find yourself a seat – lots of seating both indoors and out. As a bonus there is a large parking lot two blocks away on Mission Bay.
BO-Beau Kitchen – For our first dinner in SD I choose a place less than 10 minutes from the hotel. The entrance is charming with chalk drawings on the floor and a few rooms of seats. Wine was served in short water glasses and the complimentary bread was delivered in a paper bag. Unfortunately, the charm outweighed the food experience. I ordered the mussels and while eating I discovered a few that smelled ‘off’ and Eric had a few pieces of gnocchi that were undercooked. They didn’t charge me for the bad mussels and the chocolate dessert was very good. Maybe they just had an off night that Monday?
Coaster Saloon – Located across the street from the Mission Beach rollercoaster, this bar has more than doubled it’s draft list since we were here two years ago. The bartender was very friendly and eager to tell us about local beers and even provide a sample of the Belchin Beaver peanut butter stout! Eric had the Alesmith Horny Devil (belgian tripel) and the Rip Current Western Swell weizenbock, while I tried the Rip Current Black Lagoon (scotch ale). Very relaxed atmosphere (probably due to the fact that the Chargers lost their game the night before).
Snooze – Despite the annoyance of having to refill the parking meters in downtown San Diego, this place was a great find. We arrived around 9am on Wednesday and there were plenty of open seats but the restaurant filled quickly. Eric’s chocolate pancakes were closer to a cake than breakfast and my Benedict with pulled pork and corn tortilla cakes were delicious. The hashbrown side almost deserves its own post. It was that good.
Baja Betty’s – This place was left over from a search I did two years ago and last time we wound up at a great place two doors down because Betty’s was closed for some reason. Ultimately, we should have gone back to Mama Testa’s because the food here was mediocre Mexican at best. We won’t be going back.
Stone Brewing Bistro – The new location in Liberty Station is a sight to behold. With large steel tanks behind glass and a gigantic outdoor beer garden, it’s worth coming here just for the setting. On top of this, you get to drink their beer and eat steak that looks like this…
perfectly charred steak with chimichurri sauce
JRDN (at the Tower 23 hotel) – Eric finished his conference Wednesday morning, and after I picked him up we went for a long walk on the beach then relaxed at the hotel restaurant for lunch. Wanting to keep it light I ordered the three cheese plate which came with lovely toasty bread. Two of the three cheese were a hit with the blue cheese the big winner. Eric had the boneless buffalo chicken which was a gigantic appetizer portion. We made a reservation the night before so our table was right on the boardwalk with a great view of the ocean plus people watching as we dined.
Prep Kitchen – Parking in Little Italy can be a test for one’s patience but this second floor restaurant is worth the trouble. The waitress tried to talk us into ordering several small plates, tapas-style but we found splitting three things was enough food for us. The patatas bravas had good flavor but were quite greasy and needed much more sauce. (The ones at Mateo back home are way better.) My beef tartare was tasty and Eric enjoyed his gnocchi but thought the sauce was excessively oily. Overall, the service was good but the food could use a little fine tuning. We also didn’t care for the cucumber-infused tap water.
Amplified Ale Beer Garden – Just across from the Surfer Beach Hotel, with an indoor-outdoor rooftop deck, this pub would be a great place to unwind after work. They have a few of their own beers on tap (the house-made peach tripel was great) as well as a handful of other options. Definitely go during happy hour from 4-6pm when most of the beers are half price. This meant three great beers for under $10!