Summer tales II – San Diego

I am recapping the wonderful times that I had with my family here in the States this summer. See all related posts under the category:  summer tales.

After a restful night (3/7), we decided  to have breakfast at Mimi’s Café in Anaheim before heading down to San Diego.
It turned out to be a good choice, because they had a delicious breakfast menu (with fresh croissants!) and we were able to score a table outside on their patio.



We had almost finished our breakfast and coffee when all of a sudden firemen came rushing through the restaurant asking everybody to leave immediately because there was a gas leak just outside the building and there was potential risk of an explosion.
Part of the road was already blocked off and cars were asked to turn around.

We walked away from the property, not really knowing where to go or how far to get away. Our cars were parked in the parking lot, so it’s not like we were able to just leave.

Also: we hadn’t paid our check yet.

So we hung out in a supposedly safe distance and waited for the permission to come back and at least get our car. Meanwhile, some of the waitressing staff walked away from the property too and when we asked them about our check (the honest person that I am), they told us to not worry about it and that the restaurant would take care of it.

Sweet. Free breakfast for everyone. Not a bad deal for a little bit of a scare. We were able to pick up our cars about 30 minutes later and then were off to San Diego.

Driving in Southern California is always on the crazy side…. so I wasn’t surprised it took us a while to get down there. We arrived at our hotel, The Crown Plaza, and first order of business was a couple of hours at the pool. The kids had earned that.




In the early evening, we drove to Downtown San Diego. After not being able to get a parking spot at Seaport Village (who’s surprised?), we parked near the convention center and walked to the Gaslamp Quarter from there. We had planned to eat at Fred’s Mexican Café (which we remembered from our last trip down there), but let it be known, it’s always wise to check the Internet if you haven’t been somewhere for a while. Lo and behold, the restaurant had moved and we had to revise our dinner plans. Of course, the Gaslamp Quarter on a Friday night is busy per usual and we had some difficulty finding a table for seven without an obnoxiously long wait time. (I swear, we always planned to eat early with the two kids, but it never quite worked out due to unforeseen circumstances.)


We ended up at “Operacaffe”, a small authentic Italian restaurant on a side street, where we were promised a table in about 20 minutes by the friendly hostess. It was already 7:30 pm and the kids were hungry and tired.

We waited 25 minutes, 30 minutes…. and finally after 45 minutes we were asked to come inside and were escorted to a table in the far corner of the restaurant.

There we sat and waited for another 20 minutes before a waiter took notice of us and took our order. The waiter apologized for the delay (it was pretty busy, I admit) and promised to get our order in right away, but cautioned us that it could be 30-45 minutes because the kitchen was so busy.

Well, you can guess it… the food came over an hour later. It was 9:45 p.m. at this point and we were just pissed. Greta had already fallen asleep on the bench.

The whole ordeal was really unfortunate, because the ambience was really nice and the food was authentic Italian, fresh and very tasty, but the service was awful.
I understand that it can get busy on the weekends, but a) I expect an established restaurant to be prepared for that and b) even for Europeans, who are used to longer wait times in restaurants, the wait time was just unreasonably long…. especially because we had two small kids in tow and they told us a time and then basically made us wait twice as long … that was just not cool.

They did try to make up for it with offering us (one) free dessert, but we were pretty fed up and just wanted to head back to the hotel. I should mention that they at least took a small amount off our final bill, which was accommodating, I guess, but the whole experience sadly was disappointing.



The highlight for the kids was that we actually saw a couple of racoons outside our hotel (rumaging through the garbage, of course). They thought they were so cute!


The next day was Independence Day (4/7). We purposefully had nothing planned for that day other than going to the beach and taking a relaxing day off from sightseeing and running around.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t really anticipated the craziness that is San Diego on a national holiday. We tried to find a place to have breakfast and everything was PACKED. We tried multiple places and couldn’t get a table anywhere, so we ended up driving further away from the city center and had breakfast at a Denny’s.
Not the experience that I wanted for my family (although the breakfast was actually quite good, I must say!), but the only place where we were still able to get breakfast after noon.

We tried to get to the beach afterwards, but we couldn’t find a single parking spot and the streets were PACKED everywhere. It was so frustrating.
We ended up driving around (and sitting in traffic) for two hours and then decided to just screw it and drove back to our hotel and hung out at the pool.
Again, not the experience I had hoped for. I had said so many great things about San Diego and was really looking forward to show my sister around, but we just didn’t anticipate the crowds of people on a holiday weekend. It was insane.


In the evening, we luckily were able to get a table at the Mexican Café that had moved away from the Gaslamp Quarter and was now located in walking distance to Oldtown. We had delicious Mexican food, margaritas and nachos and tacos.





We also explored Oldtown on foot afterwards.









We gave Seaport Village one more try in the evening in hopes of catching the Independence Day fireworks, but again, couldn’t find parking and ended up pulling over to the side of the road when the fireworks started. It was a little frustrating, to say the least. I wish my sister and BIL could have seen a different side of San Diego, because I don’t think they were really thrilled with the little that we were able to see of the city. But that’s why there is always a next time, am I right?

You can read the previous post here.

  1. UGH that does sound frustrating! My husband would have said no to the long wait and tried to find another place (I know it’s a lot more difficult with a group of people, especially when there are kids). Holiday weekends can make things quite difficult. Hopefully they can visit another time that isn’t the 4th and see a better side of San Diego!

  2. There are trolleys and such you can take to get downtown/to the water so you don’t have to fight for parking. Let me know next time and I will get all the info for you from friends who live in the area! xoxo

  3. I recognize that hotel! We stayed there a few years ago during an Army Aviators Reunion. We had a pig roast, and a Margarita Station, where I drank far too many Margaritas. (I may never drink another!) We really enjoyed San Diego, though, and I hope to go back some time.

  4. That is a bummer that your San Diego experience wasn’t as great as you were expecting due to the crazy holiday crowds. I have little to no patience for huge crowds/traffic/etc so I would have abandoned the beach plans and hit the pool instead as well. I am glad you had a good experience at the Mexican place – especially after the bad experience at the Italian place. :(

  5. Awww, that’s exactly why we don’t drive much down to San Diego….. Crazy SoCal traffic to get there, traffic in the city and no parking spot available where and when you need it. Too bad ’cause I love the city. Maybe one day, when I am retired….. lol

Comments are closed.