Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's the Deal? San Diego's Best Restaurant Values

I'm going to be judging a cook-off this Saturday night with Sam (the Cooking Guy) Zien at my temple, Congregation Beth Israel. I was asked if I could fill the crowd in on five of the best values in local dining in San Diego. I've got some of my own ideas, but, of course, I wanted to reach out to my friends on Twitter and Facebook and already have been getting some great suggestions. You'll find a lot of the value is at the happy hour, but not exclusively.

Here's what I've heard so far from followers and friends (sorry PR folks, no good just giving me client names; what's the deal?). Please let me know if you have any favorites!

1. Wine Vault & Bistro's Saturday five-course tasting menu for $30.
2. Surati Farsan on Black Mountain Road: Four-course meal for $12. "Killer dosas for $4. Yummy belpuri chast."
3. Sunday lunch at Sakura on Convoy. Miso salmon and all the fixings.
4. Wet Stone on 4th for wine and small plates. Happy hour specials during the week.
5. The Marble Room downtown. "A relatively new spot in the Gaslamp that has an interesting variety of entrees and appetizers at reasonable prices compared to other upscale Gaslamp hot spots. They don't advertise as "Tapas Style" but it really is so it's fun and affordable good food."
6. Spices Thai
7. Cafe Sevilla is "right-sizing their menu in terms of both portions and prices, including many tapitas at $5 or under. And, their happy hour at the tapas bar includes 16 dishes, most of which are $4 and under along with daily drink specials."
8. Tender Greens. "It's a great value. You can get a great fresh from the farm organic meal for under $15."
9. The Pearl. "On Mondays we do a three-course meal for $25 with happy hour pricing all night."

To that I add:
1. Sbicca: Half-priced wine Tuesday and Thursday. No corkage Sunday and Monday. Half-price bar food nightly between 4 and 6:30.
2. Opera Cafe & Patisserie: An unlikely location in Sorrento Valley's office park area but wonderful French food priced very reasonably. Mostly breakfast and lunch, but they're now open Fridays for dinner and are serving wine.
3. Starlite: Come for early bird food specials during happy hour or stop by for a late-night meal.
4. Avenue 5: Another happy hour pick. Great prices for terrific food in Bankers Hill.
5. Tapenade: Authentic French food is very accessible at their happy hour and with their Bar-Tapas menu. Or try their Riviera three-course lunch menu for $21.95.
6. Laurel: 7 before Seven happy hour -- seven drinks, seven eats at $7 each. Plus, Mondays at the bar: Wagyu beef burger, truffle fries and beer for $14.95. Tapas Tuesdays at the bar: Chef comes out and makes tapas from 5 to 8:30. Mad Wednesdays selected bottles of wine are half price.

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