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2005 Critic's Picks


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State of the Plate
GRIPES AND COMMENTS? The usual stuff: Wish we had better-trained service staffs, since it ruins the restaurant experience when you can’t enjoy dinner while it’s hot because the server can’t hustle a fork to the table. Otherwise, I’m grateful the quality of our local cuisine seems to improve annually. I’ve had some opportunity to taste this progress, since July 3 marked my 25th anniversary as a professional journalist in San Diego. I’ve contributed to San Diego Magazine during most of this time, and I have to say it’s been fun, if fattening (though I have beaten back my waistline). So many have kept my career interesting. Some skipped town a while ago, including Doug Organ, who now teases Boston taste buds, and Bill Magnuson and Ulf Strandberg, whose Gustaf Anders revolutionized San Diego dining in 1981. They now reside in a tiny village in the south of France, where their circle includes a trio of llamas. And the world changed when Don and Arlene Coulon closed The Belgian Lion.

On the other hand, our local talent is starting to seem an embarrassment of riches. It’s a long list, of which the short version includes Jeffrey Strauss, Deborah McDonald Schneider, Jean-Michel Diot, Fabrice Poigin, Joe Busalacchi, Bernard Guillas, Amiko Gubbins, Trey Foshee, Paul McHabe, Deborah Scott, Gavin Kaysen and Vincent Grumel—nice company to keep for a guy who likes to eat.

 
Critic’s Picks:
David Nelson’s Favorite Restaurants
 

Best of the Best (Money No Object)
EL BIZCOCHO
AT RANCHO BERNARDO INN

Best Cheap Eats
BUD’S LOUISIANA
FOOD SHOPPE

Best Service
LE FONTAINEBLEAU
AT WESTGATE HOTEL

Best Late-Night Dining
RAINWATER’S ON KETTNER

Most Extensive Wine List
TOP OF THE COVE

Best Neighborhood Eatery
REGION

Most Romantic
RANCHO VALENCIA RESORT

Most Decadent Desserts
EXTRAORDINARY DESSERTS

Best Pizza
VIA ITALIA TRATTORIA

Best American
MORTON’S OF CHICAGO

Best Spanish/Tapas
CAFÉ SEVILLA

Best Indian
BOMBAY

Best Sushi Bar/Japanese
SUSHI OTA

Best Asian Fusion
ROPPONGI

Best Greek
ATHENS MARKET

Best German
KAISERHOF

Best Vegetarian
MONSOON

Best Steakhouse
PO PAZZO

Best Breakfast
ARGYLE AT FOUR SEASONS
RESORT AVIARA

Best Business Lunch
DOBSON’S

Best Takeout
DUMPLING INN

 

Best of the Best (Moderate)
ORTEGA’S MEXICAN BISTRO

Best New Restaurant
CAFÉ CHLOE

Best Dining with a View
MARINE ROOM

Best Hotel Dining
PRINCE OF WALES
AT HOTEL DEL CORONADO

Best Chef
JEAN-MICHEL DIOT
AT TAPENADE

Best Dining with Kids
PETCO PARK

Best Microbrewery
KARL STRAUSS

Best Local Burger Joint
HODAD’S

Best French
VINCENT’S

Best Italian
ARRIVEDERCI

Best Chinese
PEARL

Best Thai
RAMA

Best Mexican
BAJA LOBSTER
IN CHULA VISTA

Best Middle Eastern
BANDAR

Best Vietnamese
PHUONG TRANG

Best Barbecue
BUCA KOVEN BBQ

Best Seafood
THE OCEANAIRE
SEAFOOD ROOM

Best Sunday Brunch
LOEWS CORONADO BAY

Best Deli
D.Z. AKIN’S

Best Outdoor Dining
A.R. VALENTIEN
AT TORREY
PINES LODGE

Best Caterer
SHERATON HARBOR
ISLAND HOTEL

 

 

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