(Mostly Breakfast) Dining in San Diego
May 31, 2012
We recently took a long Memorial Day weekend trip to San Diego. (Is it still a weekend trip if it’s 6 days? Probably not.) As per usual for our vacations, dining was quite a large feature of the trip. Pictures of the dining however, were not. So I’ll mention some of the highlights of our dining, interspersed with completely un-food-related photos of the San Diego area.
Over the years it became apparent that we had a bit of a problem with our pre-vacation research on breakfast restaurants. We would barely get up in time to make it before the changeover to lunch, be too tired and hungry to find a place in time, and end up having to eat lunch instead. So on this trip, I really outdid myself, and found at least 10 restaurants serving breakfast to put on the spreadsheet I made before we left. (Yes, I’m an engineer. Yes, I’m one of those geeks who researches and takes documentation on vacation). Needless to say, we had some of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had on vacation, since we actually planned ahead!
Our first breakfast was at Cafe 222, downtown. I have a thing for pumpkin waffles, so it went without saying that we would get the Pumpkin Waffle for one dish. Spiced like pumpkin pie, it was quite tasty, but not quite as crisp as it could have been. The other item we got was the Eggs Italia Scramble, with tomatoes, goat cheese and pesto, also quite yummy. The space was small, but bright, and our waiter was wonderful. A nice start to the vacation!
Our second breakfast was cafe chloe, in the East Village. This was a really cute place, but the service was rather slow. It wasn’t clear if this was because we were stuck up in the tiny two-table ‘Loft’, or just because the kitchen wasn’t able to keep up. Our first item, the whole wheat pancakes with tart cherry syrup & applewood smoked bacon was excellent. The tart cherry went perfectly with the more robust taste of the whole wheat pancakes. The eggs & piperade – peppers, onions & prosciutto was a bit less spectacular, seemingly missing some essential ingredient to make it more special. To be fair, this was Memorial Day weekend, so they may have been busier than normal.
We did a few quick coffee and granola, yogurt, fruit, or pastry breakfast stops, which while yummy, weren’t really blog-worthy. Our last proper breakfast meal was at The Mission in East Village. We at lunch at The Mission in Pacific Beach earlier in the week, and both locations had a great, funky urban vibe, with local art on the walls. The breakfast plates were huge! We got a gigantic stack (not labelled as such, or we would have opted for a slightly lesser stack) of Strawberry Granola Pancakes. They were perfectly cooked, and wonderful when lovingly drowned in syrup. (Clearly I have a pancake/waffle thing. I never have them at home, so I tend to overindulge in them when we go on vacation). We also got the Soy Chorizo & Eggs, which was another large plate of deliciousness. The soy chorizo was nice and spicy, scrambled with eggs, and included black beans, cheese, flour tortillas and chipotle crema.
Lunch at the Mission Beach location was just as wonderful. We ordered the Tamales Verde, which was fresh and filling, with slightly citrusy tasting tamales, black beans, rice, and roasted salsa verde. We also had the Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos, also very fresh and featuring ginger sesame chicken, black beans, cheese, rice, avocado and sour cream. We loved both meals at the Mission, and I highly recommend it.
We also had some great dinners in San Diego, but my notetaking on this trip was sadly lacking, and after returning home it became apparent that half of what we ordered was nightly specials, which are not on the online menus. So I’ll only mention specifics for one place — but it was my favorite dinner by far. It was at Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill, which is another very funkily decorated place – sort of ‘new modern’, with lots of dark woods, but the space didn’t feel dark because of all the great lighting. We had a completely divine foraged-mushroom pizza with taleggio cheese, braised leeks and truffle oil. I really didn’t want to share that one, it was so delicious. We also had a very lovely spicy shrimp puttanesca angel hair with olive, caper and tomato. I would definitely recommend Cucina Urbana. Other places where we had great dinners were Jsix in the Hotel Solamar in the Gaslamp District, Bankers Hill in, non-surprisingly, Bankers Hill, and Top of the Market, which is downtown.