Thursday, May 05, 2005

If I Were in San Diego today...

So it looks like another weekend of heavy rain in Boston. This is, what, the 7th or 8th weekend in a row with rain? I love Boston, but this is ridiculous.

With the rain, my daydreams of San Diego, CA, seem to keep popping up more and more (call it California dreaming). The other night, I was listening to a great rock station from Encinitas on Internet radio. It got me to thinking about Encinitas, where my cousins used to live before they moved up the coast to La Costa.

One of my favorite restaurants in Encinitas is the 101 Diner. Located about 4 blocks from my favorite beach in the world (Moonlight Beach), the 101 Diner has everything, from great breakfast and lunch entrees to outdoor seating to a friendly, all-around nice guy of an owner. Almost as good, and just down the street, is Kim's Restaurant, which has terrific Vietnamese food. Better yet, neither of these restaurants is well-known (if you have looked at the site I founded, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, you would know I have a thing for great restaurants that haven't been discovered).

Heading south toward San Diego, another memorable, but little-known, restaurant can be found in beautiful Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Pipes Cafe is a breakfast spot that is mainly frequented by surfers and Cardiff locals looking to show up late to work (word is, Trevor Hoffman, the great reliever for the San Diego Padres, is also a regular here). Pipes has fantastic breakfast plates, and the dining outdoors on the patio is a must.

As you continue down the coast, you come to artsy Solana Beach, home to Fidel's, which is fairly well-known, and for good reason; Fidel's may be the best Mexican restaurant north of San Diego (though I have my personal favorite, which I'll mention in a minute). Fidel's is tough to find, since it's hidden in a neighborhood away from the ocean, but worth seeking out.

Just before you reach San Diego, you hit La Jolla, a tony community that seems to have more investment places than restaurants. I like La Jolla, though, with its spectacular downtown park above the ocean cliffs, and its narrow, crooked lanes. Just south of the center of La Jolla is a little restaurant called Bahia Don Bravo. The owners of this authentic Mexican restaurant have a few branches in San Diego, but this one is special, since you can order the food to go and walk a few blocks down a side street to one of the most spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean that you will ever see. And there is even a bench where the view is, so you can eat in relative comfort. Bahia Don Bravo has the type of Mexican food that you just can't find in Boston. I always go there when traveling to San Diego, and always miss it when I'm back in Boston.

Finally, you reach the wonderful city of San Diego. Where to go for food? Well, there are too many great places to mention here. A couple of standouts are Point Loma Seafood, with its memorable view of the city across the harbor, and the Coyote Cafe in Old Town. But my favorite is a little hamburger joint in Ocean Beach called Hodad's, which is where I had the best cheeseburger I have had anywhere in the country (and I've had a lot of cheeseburgers!). Juicy, thick, hearty, and smothered in cheese, the burgers here are impossibly good. Hodad's is truly amazing.

Well, I guess my daydream of eating my way through San Diego is about done. As I look out my window and see the skyline of Boston, I realize that I do live in a great city. I just wish it wouldn't rain so much.


Boston's Hidden Restaurants: A Boston Restaurant Guide