San Diego hidden treasures

User Forum Topic
Submitted by Alex_angel on September 6, 2007 - 7:48am

My wife and I seem to get into the same argument every couple months or so. We start to wonder why the hell we live in this city, other than nice weather we start to wonder what else is there to San Diego.

So I ask you piggs to help out. What little hidden treasures do you know about in San Diego that make you believe that this city is more than just nice weather.

Thanks in Advance.

Submitted by Alex_angel on September 6, 2007 - 7:51am.

The Best of San Diego survey listed things like Olive Garden as best Italian, In and Out as best burger, Papa Johns was in the top 3 of best pizza. I mean come one people. There has to be better Italian than Olive Garden or a place that makes a mean burger that is better than In and Out. This city is so predictable. For goodness sakes, Statbucks for 8 straight years was best coffee. There is just no character to this city or is there?

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on September 6, 2007 - 7:57am.

Besides the weather ?

These aren't hidden gems, but other 19 obvious things ...

The obvious ones are the Beaches, Mission Bay, San Diego Bay, Sailing, taking 3/4 day fishing trips and catching Yellowtail, hiking along the coast (sunset cliffs, Torrey Pines reserve), Golf courses (e.g. Torrey Pines), Whale watching from Point Loma Lighthouse, taking kids to Sea World, Zoo and Wild Animal Park (off-season of course), taking trolleys to baseball and football games, Karl Strauss, taking the ferry to Coronado and renting bikes, good Mexican food, Del Mar Fair, No bugs.

Submitted by csr_sd on September 6, 2007 - 8:06am.

Best Italian - Pasquales on prospect

Best Pizza - either bronx (too thin a crust for NY'er, but good) or the place on lomas santa fe (a little hole in the wall).

As a side, now that ralphs carries Boars head meat we can get a deli sandwich

Less silicone than Irvine

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on September 6, 2007 - 8:09am.

The Best of San Diego survey listed things like Olive Garden as best Italian, In and Out as best burger, Papa Johns was in the top 3 of best pizza. I mean come one people. There has to be better Italian than Olive Garden or a place that makes a mean burger that is better than In and Out. This city is so predictable. For goodness sakes, Statbucks for 8 straight years was best coffee. There is just no character to this city or is there?

The character in San Diego is not the food. If you want that you need to go to New York, Paris, or LA.

Submitted by Alex_angel on September 6, 2007 - 8:45am.

The obvious ones are the Beaches, Mission Bay, San Diego Bay, Sailing, taking 3/4 day fishing trips and catching Yellowtail, hiking along the coast (sunset cliffs, Torrey Pines reserve), Golf courses (e.g. Torrey Pines), Whale watching from Point Loma Lighthouse, taking kids to Sea World, Zoo and Wild Animal Park (off-season of course), taking trolleys to baseball and football games, Karl Strauss, taking the ferry to Coronado and renting bikes, good Mexican food, Del Mar Fair, No bugs

This is what you see in every tourist book, but what about what the locals know that you can't find in a tourist book. This stuff is nice if you are visiting San Diego, but doing this every weekend gets boring fast.

Submitted by bubble_contagion on September 6, 2007 - 8:57am.

Bland Diego has great things going for it, like beach brawls and an absolute lack of culture.

Submitted by Alex_angel on September 6, 2007 - 9:01am.

I saw an article in today's paper talking about how people in the Del Mar area hate the traffic that the fair and races bring. On the city's web site they claim the San Diego fair brings it National publicity. I had to shake my head at that. This fair is pathetic unless you like gorging yourself on deep fried goods. Pathetic.

Submitted by slackerboy on September 6, 2007 - 9:02am.

San Diego has smog, poluted beaches, brawls as the beach, gridlock traffic, budget deficits, million dollar tract homes, and a lack of urban planning...what more could you want in a city?

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on September 6, 2007 - 9:07am.

You asked about things beside the weather. I thought I would knock off the easiest ones first.

For the record, these are also things I miss since I moved away.

Compare these to the usual activities available in Phoenix, Dallas, Austin, or St. Louis. There's no comparison.

Submitted by gandalf on September 6, 2007 - 9:37am.

The Dude abides...

Submitted by JES on September 6, 2007 - 10:34am.

How exactly do we quantify 'culture' anymore? Museums, ethnic enclaves with nice restaurants, historical buildings, or perhaps professional football and baseball franchises? If you live in a city with a rich history, I guess that counts as culture, but I'm still confused. Many of these 'historical' areas have given way to urban ghettos and empty buildings. The few times I've been to Paris and Munich, it was apparent to me that there was more of this 'culture' going on, but it was hard to quantify. Lots of neat churches, but nobody attends them anymore! We are a country that over time has largely abandoned many of the traditions, langauges and customs of our mother countries, wherever they may be, but defining what we have replaced them with is the hard part.

African Americans have very little, if anything, in common with African culture, even though many would claim African cultural identify. Similarily, of the 60 million + German Americans, how many have you met who speak the language, can cook wiener schnitzel or wear leider hosen? As time passes, even our religious identities are changing. I used to be a member of the United Church of Christ - the first church in America, and one that the Puritons planted. I now belong to an evengelical church and have abandoned the UCC, ironically, due to the rapidly changing cultural ideals within the church that have made this once conservative church now the most liberal church in America.

The real challenge is defining exactly what American culture is all about in this day and age. We champion diversity, but isn't that an antiquated and exclusionary way of looking at culture that risks alienating everyone? But the alternative - a true American culture - is increasingly hard to define. We are becoming a culture defined by mass consumption and secularism. In our house, we don't cook any meals that are remotely ethnic, but instead go out to eat. Our great cultural traditions are dominated by consumption with the original meaning lost in translation. Christmas is about getting presents, and Thanksgiving is all about turkey and the parade.

And our historical religious institutions are being abandoned for mega churches. EG: Look to the Lutheran ELCA, or any other mainline protestant denominations decline. At school our children are being taught that every opinion or belief, no matter how extreme, needs to be valued for its diversity. So what exactly are they supposed to believe, and by what values will they be defined? We were once defined as a Christian nation, but even that has become controversial and is going by the way side.

So how exactly do we define 'American' culture?

Submitted by jakejakew on September 6, 2007 - 10:46am.

It sound like your problem is the same as the people in the survey. You don't get out enough. If Olive Garden and In and Out are the best you could come up with for a survey, you probably spend most your weekend at your local suburb strip malls. I challenge you to leave San Diego and see how much "culture" is in the new city you choose. I am speaking from experience as I have done so. I have also visited friends and family in various cities and find that most cities have nothing to offer but a place to call home. Try to spend one weekend in SD without hitting any chain stores/restaurants or strip malls. It is very easy to do when compared to other cities out there. Hit up Coronado, Balboa Park, Gaslamp, Mission Bay, PB, La Jolla, Del Mar, Torrey Pines, Solona Beach, Encinitas, etc.

Wait.....On second thought, San Diego is not great at all. Everyone should know that all others cities are much more exciting, cultural, diverse, and overall pleasing. Please leave so that you can make more room for the rest of us to be miserable.

Submitted by greekfire on September 6, 2007 - 10:51am.

Bacione Ristorante (pronounced bahch-ee-oh-nay) in Hillcrest is my vote for best Italian. I recommend the seafood linguine.

Submitted by taz on September 6, 2007 - 10:54am.

JES makes the accurate (imho anyway) observation that our "culture" has been reduced to "mass consumption." While I personally don't mind secularism's rise, it saddens me that Americans seem to have abandoned an active "public" realm for a consumption based private realm. Everyone retreats to their McMansions after shopping in the big box stores, never mind working to get a real public library downtown, more public parks in our older neighborhoods and a truly functional public transportation system.

In response to the OP's question, some of San Diego's hidden gems for me are: the summer "Concerts in the Park" series in Mission Hills (other neighborhoods have similar events I believe, e.g. Scripps Ranch and University Heights), Hornblower bay cruises, hiking in the Cuyamacas, Birch Aquariam, Balboa Park and its many museums, the Hotel del Coronado, and the annual airshow at MCAS Miramar.

Submitted by SanDiegoDave on September 6, 2007 - 11:07am.

Try to spend one weekend in SD without hitting any chain stores/restaurants or strip malls. It is very easy to do when compared to other cities out there.

I have to agree with that statement. If you haven't found enough to do outside of major tourist attractions in San Diego, you're not looking hard enough.

And I moved here from New York!

Each weekend my significant other and I try out a new restaurant. It's fun. Up and down 4th and 5th downtown it will take you a year to visit all the non-chain restaurants if you try a different one every week. Throw La Jolla and Del Mar into the mix and you're choices are that much greater.
(we're big into trying new places to eat, that's why I emphasize on the restaurants).

Besides the food, there is the spectacular scenery and terrain for bike riding. Pick an area on the weekend, and hit the road. Torrey Pines, the beaches, inland over by Poway, etc. Lots of places to see. And keep yourself in shape at the same time ;-)

Coming from NYC, I figured the theater scene here would not live up. But much to our surprise, it has. All the good national touring shows come through S.D. And the locally originated stuff is top notch.

For us, a Friday evening dinner downtown followed by a Padres game or theater show is a lot of fun.

Despite being "touristy", the Wild Animal Park and zoo really do have a lot to offer. The WAP especially, with their new tram and ever-changing animal exhibits, continues to impress. And just as with the cycling, you can get a great healthy hike in that place if you venture out to the more distant habitats.

The Del Mar Fair blows. But the horse racing is a lot of fun if you get a group of people together for it.

Check the schedules for street fairs and farmers markets in places like Hillcrest & La Jolla. You'll love 'em.

Plenty to do around here. You just have to search for it.

Submitted by an on September 6, 2007 - 11:11am.

Some of the hidden "gems" I find in SD that hasn't already been said is "Carne Asada Fries" at the local Roberto's. It's not gourmet food by any stretch of imagination, but it's sure tasty. I find that only So.Cal. Mexican taco shop has this too.

Then there's the Asian food. Dim Sum is decent price and quite tasty compare to the best of them. There's an abundant of Vietnamese food from all regions of Vietnam. I find Sushi on the Rocks make the best rolls around. Chinese restaurants with excellent lobster/crab at a very reasonable price; I'd recommend Lee's Garden and Ly's Garden. Both are in El Cajon.

We also have Donovan's who were ranked #1 stake house in the US a few years back.

Submitted by tugg49 on September 6, 2007 - 11:51am.

Hodads for burgers in Ocean Beach

Iowa porker in Santee for a Fried Tenderloin.

Konos for Breakfast in PB.

The Brigantine for a decent Shelter Island Dinner.

Keiths in Nat. City for a diner type meal.

A weekend anchored off Glorietta Bay cause if you don't own a boat in San Diego you might as well live in Yuma.

Mitsuwa market for a takeout bento just like the Hoka Hoka Bento shop.

A bicycle ride from Balboa Park to Shelter Island and back.

Lindbergh Field after a two week trip to Seattle in January. It NEVER feels bad to be back in San Diego.

Apple season in the mountains.

When the heat season breaks and the weather cools in September. The dog gets the beach back.

And I just remembered....A long lunch at Point Loma Seafood.

Submitted by lindismith on September 6, 2007 - 12:19pm.

Here are some of my favorite:

Point Loma Seafood's calamari sandwich
How the Grinch Stole Xmas in Balboa Park each year
Barbarella's fungi pizza after surfing at the Shores
Drinks at Mister A's - great views!
Hiking Cowels mountain in La Mesa on a Sunday a.m.
Naked cafe in Solana Beach for breakfast
UCSD's lecture series called Revelle Forum
Biking around Mission Hills checking out old properties
Taking a kayak or boat out to listen to a concert at Humphreys
Bonfires on Moolight Beach in Encinitas
OB Farmers Market on Wednesdays - what a zoo!

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on September 6, 2007 - 12:31pm.

The Living Room on Point Loma for coffee.

Nati's In Ocean Beach for Mexican food

Dr. Hefe's in Ocean Beach for a tatoo

Submitted by Hot Blonde on September 6, 2007 - 12:35pm.

Every city has hidden treasures. San Diego has hidden treasures PLUS nice weather. That's enough for me.

Submitted by bsrsharma on September 6, 2007 - 12:45pm.

Hmm, no one mentioned it. So easy to "Go Abroad"; The Joys of TJ/Baja/Mexico!

Submitted by Critter on September 6, 2007 - 12:49pm.

Get ahold of the Jerry Schad hiking book - Afoot and Afield in San Diego County. 250 hikes from Tecolote Canyon to the Laguna Mountains. Mission Trails Park in La Mesa / Santee is huge and good for both hiking and mountain biking.

There are a lot of "neighborhood canyon" coalitions that clean the inner-city canyons and host hikes - the San Diego Sierra Club website lists those. Friends of Tierrasanta Canyons is quite active and just carved out a new nature trail overlooking Admiral Baker Golf Course. Getting involved takes some effort but it is worth it.

Summer concerts in Balboa Park every Tues, Wed and Thurs, and concerts at the Organ Pavilion on Sundays.... rotating free museums on Tuesdays...

Submitted by Alex_angel on September 6, 2007 - 1:03pm.

Thanks to those that listed some joints. Some places I never heard of that I will have to try.

Submitted by schizo2buyORnot on September 6, 2007 - 2:18pm.

Fish sandwiches at Point Loma seafood . . . .

In search of a crystal ball . . . .

Submitted by little lady on September 6, 2007 - 2:41pm.

Desert to the west, Mexico to the south, wineries north west.
Proximity to OC and LA....disneyland, etc....no brainer......

Submitted by LostCat on September 6, 2007 - 3:05pm.

Les Girls, the body shop, Cheetahs, Little Darlings, dream girls, Déjà vu., $99.00 RT to Vegas, Mexico next door, Surf, Scuba, Sail, Hot girls.

If you don't like it leave.

Submitted by FormerSanDiegan on September 6, 2007 - 3:16pm.

Desert to the west, Mexico to the south, wineries north west.
Proximity to OC and LA....disneyland, etc....no brainer......

Geography : Desert is to the east

Submitted by LostCat on September 6, 2007 - 4:14pm.

"Geography : Desert is to the east"

lol

Submitted by stockstradr on September 6, 2007 - 5:26pm.

Pizza. There is one exception to San Diego's mundane pizza places.

A good friend whispered the name of this place in my ear after I lived in San Diego a year:

Lefty's Chicago Pizzeria
http://www.leftyspizza.com/index.html

I lived in Chicago for 8 years, so trust me that this pizza is FANTASTIC authentic deep-dish Chicago Pizza, and they have other Chicago specialty sandwiches.

I now live in Bay Area and that is one restaurant in San Diego I miss dearly. Ooooh, it is damn good.

The pies are about $25 a pop. You don't get quality cheap.

And one more thing. Anyone who complains San Diego is worthless is clueless.

In my career with several multinational corp's I relocated through my share of "glam" cities. San Diego is simply the finest city in America. I really really miss San Diego.

Oh, I forget an important qualifier.

San Diego is a city where you need at least low six-figures income to enjoy many of the blessings the city offers, and even more $$$ if a wife and kids are in the picture. I never would have accepted that first job in San Diego had it been sub six figure salary.

Submitted by 34f3f3f on September 6, 2007 - 5:27pm.

Hmm, no one mentioned it. So easy to "Go Abroad"; The Joys of TJ/Baja/Mexico!

Seems the obvious choice to me too. But, there is a little security issue with Mexico isn't there? Are you really safe just driving across the border in your Lexus, and exploring. I've often wondered if there are small organized groups (safety in numbers) that go across. Love to hear about them, if they exist.

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