Restaurant Recommendations (SF/LA/Anaheim/SD)

PlutoTheDog89

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 19, 2011
Doing a road trip from December 23rd through January 3rd down PCH. Maybe it's all those years of planning WDW trips, but I'm stressing over planning restaurants and places to eat.

For context, we're foodies from NY. We love trying new places. My mom and sister are both not spicy people and won't typically eat food with a lot of spices like Indian. I frankly could care less, but they'll rule the roast there.

With it being a long trip, we're probably going to err on the lower-price side and not dine out at expensive restaurants a ton. Quick bites or lower-price sit downs are what we're looking for. I've done some digging and asked a friend from work who is from Cali and he was able to offer some tips... but I'm looking for some recos:

SF: 2 days
Monterey: 1 Day
Santa Barbara: 1 Day
LA: 2 days
Disneyland: 2 days
SD: 3 days

Food stops so far:

SF:
- Taqueria Cancun

LA:
Giusados

Disneyland:
Plaza

We'll also do In-N-Out at least once (either LA or SF).

My questions:
- Where to get really good ice cream
- Lower-priced/quick food recommendations
- Best sweets/baked goods/donuts
- Best seafood
- Best tacos/fish tacos
 

theluckyrabbit

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Are you flying into LAX? There is an In'N'Out on Sepulveda, just north of LAX. There is also a location at State College and Ball Rd., about 5-10 minutes NE of the parks -- a very easy drive.
Ice cream -- try Salt & Straw in DTD -- it's not for everyone, but the quality is very good and the flavors certainly are unique. The service is great and they are very generous with samples.
In SB for ice cream: McConnell's! Vanilla Bean is the best, but any of their seasonal flavors are great -- at that time of year, try peppermint!
You might want to visit the Anaheim Packing District -- this is a converted citrus packing warehouse that is now a fancy food court -- live music -- all kinds of upscale food stalls -- about 10 minutes from the parks.
Always call any smaller places before visiting -- at that time of year, smaller businesses may be closed for the holidays.
 

Purrkins

Mouseketeer
Joined
Apr 16, 2012
My questions:
- Where to get really good ice cream - Humphry Slocombe (SF) and Salt and Straw (Downtown Disney, also Little Italy in San Diego)

- Lower-priced/quick food recommendations - ethnic places are always good for this.

- Best sweets/baked goods/donuts - Tartine (SF), people like Donut Bar in SD (meh). But if you find yourself in Glendale, The Donut Man is worth the detour and really the only donut worth eating.

- Best seafood - Sea Harvest (Monterey), this could also work for lower-priced/quickish food. Point Loma Seafood in San Diego is an institution. Protip: don't stand around in line, just walk up to an open person and order it to go and Google map yourself to Cabrillo Monument for 360 views of San Diego, the Bay, the Ocean, Mexico, and the Mountains. Whales also swim by below you.

- Best tacos/fish tacos - 7 Seas Taco Truck (San Diego, in a Target parking lot nearish to the zoo, best fish tacos in town). For general tacos in San Diego Salud is a good place (between Coronado and the Zoo). Also worth mentioning Super Cocina in San Diego which is a guisado based Mexican restaurant and for my money the best in town. Generous with samples. Nearish to zoo. Many will find the neighborhood "rough". It's not. You know your family best.

Try the "Funk District" in Santa Barbara. Probably also worth mentioning La Super-Rica Taqueria in Santa Barbara - Julia Child's favorite Mexican place. It's good. There are better ones on this list.

Have fun.
 
Last edited:
  • wingednike

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2010
    Doing a road trip from December 23rd through January 3rd down PCH. Maybe it's all those years of planning WDW trips, but I'm stressing over planning restaurants and places to eat.

    For context, we're foodies from NY. We love trying new places. My mom and sister are both not spicy people and won't typically eat food with a lot of spices like Indian. I frankly could care less, but they'll rule the roast there.

    With it being a long trip, we're probably going to err on the lower-price side and not dine out at expensive restaurants a ton. Quick bites or lower-price sit downs are what we're looking for. I've done some digging and asked a friend from work who is from Cali and he was able to offer some tips... but I'm looking for some recos:

    SF: 2 days
    Monterey: 1 Day
    Santa Barbara: 1 Day
    LA: 2 days
    Disneyland: 2 days
    SD: 3 days

    Food stops so far:

    SF:
    - Taqueria Cancun

    LA:
    Giusados

    Disneyland:
    Plaza

    We'll also do In-N-Out at least once (either LA or SF).

    My questions:
    - Where to get really good ice cream
    - Lower-priced/quick food recommendations
    - Best sweets/baked goods/donuts
    - Best seafood
    - Best tacos/fish tacos
    I second the recommendation for McConnalls. They also have a great chocolate chip cookie. There is a small shop in Downtown LA's Grand Central Market (a food hall) and that is also close to Guisados. Most of the shops at GCM are very good and have a variety of prices. If you go to Eggslut there, be aware they can have crazy lines. The buko (coconut) pie at Sari-sari store is deeelicious.

    Baked goods: Portos has several locations and one is about 10-15 minutes away from Disney. Katella Deli is also good, about 20 minutes away from Disney.

    My brother is in New York now and when he comes to visit, he loves going to the mom and pop donut shops. There's one around every corner here. Donut man in Glendora is good but might be out of your way

    I know you said you are foodies; does that mean you skip fast/junk food? If not, Jack in the Box (tacos, chicken strips, other fried foods) is addictive and not in New York. Del Taco (another chain) also has tasty food, including fish tacos.
    Jimboy Tacos has a location across Disney and has great ground beef tacos.

    In San Diego, Epic Wings (formerly Wings n Things) has great hot wings. Lolita's Tacos for carne asada fries.
     

    theluckyrabbit

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    ... But if you find yourself in Glendale, The Donut Man is worth the detour and really the only donut worth eating...
    Are you referring to the same Donut Man that is mentioned below in Glendora, not Glendale? We love Donut Man, but it is definitely in Glendora.

    I second the recommendation for McConnalls. They also have a great chocolate chip cookie. There is a small shop in Downtown LA's Grand Central Market (a food hall) and that is also close to Guisados. Most of the shops at GCM are very good and have a variety of prices. If you go to Eggslut there, be aware they can have crazy lines. The buko (coconut) pie at Sari-sari store is deeelicious.

    Baked goods: Portos has several locations and one is about 10-15 minutes away from Disney. Katella Deli is also good, about 20 minutes away from Disney.

    My brother is in New York now and when he comes to visit, he loves going to the mom and pop donut shops. There's one around every corner here. Donut man in Glendora is good but might be out of your way

    I know you said you are foodies; does that mean you skip fast/junk food? If not, Jack in the Box (tacos, chicken strips, other fried foods) is addictive and not in New York. Del Taco (another chain) also has tasty food, including fish tacos.
    Jimboy Tacos has a location across Disney and has great ground beef tacos.

    In San Diego, Epic Wings (formerly Wings n Things) has great hot wings. Lolita's Tacos for carne asada fries.
    Another vote for GCM and all the booths -- note that Egg Slut has a storefront in Glendale (across Brand from the Americana -- usually short/no lines -- actually across from Din Tai Fung, another worthy stop for soup dumplings!).
    Another vote for Porto's!
    I don't think the OP skips fast food since he asked about In'N'Out. So keep the recs coming.
     

    wingednike

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2010
    Are you referring to the same Donut Man that is mentioned below in Glendora, not Glendale? We love Donut Man, but it is definitely in Glendora.


    Another vote for GCM and all the booths -- note that Egg Slut has a storefront in Glendale (across Brand from the Americana -- usually short/no lines -- actually across from Din Tai Fung, another worthy stop for soup dumplings!).
    Another vote for Porto's!
    I don't think the OP skips fast food since he asked about In'N'Out. So keep the recs coming.
    Oo, I like The Americana in Glendale. It's a nice open space with shopping and dining. If you do go to Glendale, check out Karina's Cake House. It's in a teeny-tiny space but it's worth stalking for parking to try their pastries.
     
  • Blue32

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 21, 2012
    Following along....we are doing the PCH drive as well next year but probably not heading as far south as San Diego. We are adding Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo Beach to our list of stops.😋
     

    Purrkins

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 16, 2012
    Are you referring to the same Donut Man that is mentioned below in Glendora, not Glendale? We love Donut Man, but it is definitely in Glendora.


    Another vote for GCM and all the booths -- note that Egg Slut has a storefront in Glendale (across Brand from the Americana -- usually short/no lines -- actually across from Din Tai Fung, another worthy stop for soup dumplings!).
    Another vote for Porto's!
    I don't think the OP skips fast food since he asked about In'N'Out. So keep the recs coming.
    Yes, Glendora. My mistake.
     

    nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    We got Randy's Donuts in LA (they have more than one location) and they were delish! Its my understanding they are somewhat famous and I think were featured in the Iron Man movies? I learned this after the fact - it was just a place we happened upon, and we ended up liking it!
     
  • gregf71

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 4, 2012
    OK, San Diego native here, born and raised; lived here for almost 48 years. Here are some of my favorites (and some have already been mentioned):
    • Lolita's Taco Shop - Depending upon where you grew up in San Diego, you had your regional taco shop. I had a work buddy who grew up in the city next to mine and there they had a different taco shop that he swears to to this day and we would frequently give each other a hard time. Where I grew up, in the south county, Lolita's was ours and I put it up against all others. There is just something special about their carne asada (within a burrito or a torta or on top of fries) and their refried beans are simply sublime; my family always buys a side of chips with cheese to dip in their spectacular beans. They now have several locations.
    • Lucha Libre Taco Shop - A place that has sort of become a San Diego landmark in recent years. Their food is very good (though I would rather go to Lolita's), but the ambiance is what sets this tiny place apart. There TJ Corn and TJ Dog are wonderful! I have only been to the one in Mission Hills, but they now have one up in Carlsbad.
    • Tacos El Gordo - Now, you will have to drive way south to go here, but it is worth it. Much like my other two favorites, TEG is very casual, perhaps even moreso here. These are authentic Tijuana tacos and their adobada (spiced pork) are the stuff of legend.
    • Phil's BBQ - A San Diego institution. I bleed BBQ sauce and his stuff is the BBQ that I compare to all others, always bringing me back here. Nothing even comes close for me and that says a lot.
    • Point Loma Seafood - Already mentioned above. No frills, fresh fish.
    • Menya Ultra - The best ramen and broth we have ever had!
    • Din Ta Fung - Taiwanese dim sum (in the UTC mall, near UC San Diego)
    • Little Italy - Not a restaurant, but an area north of downtown San Diego. Just go there and pick a place, any place. There is also a Salt & Straw there (as mentioned previously).
    • Sushi Ota - Best sushi in the city.
    • Crack Shack - If you like chicken, then you need to come here.
    • International Smoke - Recently opened in a new One Paseo development in the Del Mar area, it is the creation of two famous chefs, and is spectacular. My wife and I were lucky enough to enjoy the chef's tasting menu several weeks ago and we were simply speechless afterwards. The food is amazing and the service is spectacular....and there is also another Salt & Straw ice cream joint in the mall.
    OK, I am getting super hungry now, so I am going to stop there, but I hope this helps you plan your visit to my fair city.
     

    Purrkins

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 16, 2012
    OK, San Diego native here, born and raised; lived here for almost 48 years. Here are some of my favorites (and some have already been mentioned):

    • Phil's BBQ - A San Diego institution. I bleed BBQ sauce and his stuff is the BBQ that I compare to all others, always bringing me back here. Nothing even comes close for me and that says a lot.
    OK, I am getting super hungry now, so I am going to stop there, but I hope this helps you plan your visit to my fair city.
    Not sure where OP is from, but BBQ is not our strong suit. If you are craving BBQ I'd send you to Grand Ole BBQ which is Central Texas style and can hold its own against the best in Texas. Damn fine BBQ. I find Phil's to be overly sweet and lacking that bark you get in good BBQ. But everyone has different tastes and BBQ is subjective so YMMV.

    We do sushi VERY well and Ota is one of the best. If you prefer Edomae style (fish and rice, no rolls) Sushi Tadokoro is the best in the city. In Old Town in an unassuming strip mall.

    Another place I take people is the sushi bar hidden in the Fish Market on the harbor (next to the Midway Museum). Very good sushi (not the best), but man, sitting on the deck and watching the sunset and the boats go by is an perfect San Diego experience. The rest of the restaurant is meh.
     

    oakleycat

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 19, 2017
    We got Randy's Donuts in LA (they have more than one location) and they were delish! Its my understanding they are somewhat famous and I think were featured in the Iron Man movies? I learned this after the fact - it was just a place we happened upon, and we ended up liking it!
    Randy's Donuts is good, and my kids love it because of Iron Man lounging in the giant donut in the movie so it's worth it if you're into that. Donut Man in Glendora the best for donuts, and I'm with everyone else on Porto's for pastries.
     

    mentos

    Minty fresh happy haunts
    Joined
    Aug 19, 2017
    +1 for Porto’s!

    Also, if you want something fancy-ish with a view, I would consider Tom Ham’s Lighthouse in SD.

    Also, best tacos in SD IMO are Tacos El Gordo in Chula Vista....make sure to go to the adobada line. If you don’t want spice, ask for salsa on the side.

    +1 for Sushi Ota and +1 for Din Tai Fung. Be sure to use the Yelp app to check in for the latter (waits at the South Coast Plaza location in Costa Mesa reach 1.5-2hrs on a weekend... you can check in within 5 miles of the location and go do other stuff). Splurge on the truffle soup dumpling...and if it’s your first time eating soup dumplings, lookup how to eat them, lest you stick a hot one in your mouth and it explodes with scalding hot soup like a grenade!
     

    RedVines2001

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 14, 2018
    in SF good ice cream: mitchell's at 29th and San jose. i prefer them over humprey slocom's. Get the chocolate caramel crackle-it has the word crack in it. Good seafood at swan oyster depot on polk st. avoid the fisherman wharf stuff. too touristy IMO. also house of prime rib is old school san francisco and a good value in my opinion.

    In Monterey: esteban's at the Casa Munras hotel. spanish tapas with local ingrediants. good paella. highly recommend.

    Dont' know if seafood includes sushi but if it does there is a killer spot about 15 minutes away from DL in Tustin called Oshima's. sushi straight from japan. will satisfy the pickiest of raw fish eaters (my wife). get there for the first seating.
     

    mentos

    Minty fresh happy haunts
    Joined
    Aug 19, 2017
    in SF good ice cream: mitchell's at 29th and San jose. i prefer them over humprey slocom's. Get the chocolate caramel crackle-it has the word crack in it.
    Oh I love Mitchell's. I would actually recommend the tropical flavors, specifically ube, macapuno, and mango.... those are very difficult flavors to replicate and Mitchell's pulls it off very well. Also because those flavors tend to be difficult to find otherwise.

    Just be prepared to drop someone off in the car and circle the block, the place has about 7 parking spaces in the back. Feed your driver or get them a milkshake! haha
     

    RedVines2001

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 14, 2018
    Oh I love Mitchell's. I would actually recommend the tropical flavors, specifically ube, macapuno, and mango.... those are very difficult flavors to replicate and Mitchell's pulls it off very well. Also because those flavors tend to be difficult to find otherwise.
    While chocolate caramel crackle is still my favorite, i wholeheartedly agree with this. Very well done indeed
     

    S. Lopez

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 20, 2016
    In Monterey - check out Alta's Bakery -https://www.altamonterey.com. By far the best baked goods I have ever had...yummy!
     

    4orm

    Disney bride 2004
    Joined
    Dec 10, 2003
    I came here to say Guisado's but I see it's already on the list. So good!
     

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