Newcomers to San Diego shouldn’t let the city’s casual vibe fool them, especially when it comes to their culinary scene. Don’t think for a minute that San Diego is just about fish tacos. Its diverse culinary venues rival all major metropolitan areas. When dining in “America’s Finest City”, get used to seeing key buzz words such as “farm-to-table”, “locally-sourced”, “organic”, and “sustainable” on menus. Interestingly enough, San Diego’s chefs are active on social media platforms, have a genuine concern for their customers as well as the environment, and promote many charitable causes.
What to be aware of
You’ll quickly discover that ambience varies from one restaurant to the next. One may feature an eclectic yet rustic flair while another is all about traditional craftsman-style architecture. Furthermore, great happy hour values and ocean views are the common as are award-winning wine lists, craft beers, and specialty cocktails. Don’t worry about finding someone to watch the kids as they are welcome, too.
Our Top 5 Restaurant picks
Whether you prefer indoor or outdoor dining or are just as content with either delivery or take-out, San Diego offers an abundance of dining options that are sure to please. The following are our top 5 picks:
Cucina Urbana – Banker’s Hill is the location of this Italian kitchen and wine shop. Enjoy anything from pizza to veal piccata while dining family-style or traditionally. In order to keep their menu items under $20, they use locally-sourced, organic ingredients whenever they can. The interior décor is a balanced blend of modern-day kitchen and old, rustic farmhouse with Bohemian accents here and there. Because its chic, family-friendly, and reasonably priced, Cucina Urbana is a favorite of San Diego locals.
Metl – although the Gaslamp Quarter wasn’t a hot spot for San Diego locals, it’s gotten more popular since the arrival of this restaurant. Metl features spicy Southern dishes and liquored-up ice cream in a rock ‘n roll atmosphere. You’ll enjoy comfort foods such as burgers, chicken-fried steak, and poutine, the Canadian favorite that features French fries with cheese and smothered in brown gravy. There are numerous Vegan options as well as a first-rate cocktail menu to choose from.
NINE-TEN – the Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla is the setting for this restaurant. The menu features an “evolving California cuisine” as it is commonly referred to thanks to the fresh products found on a daily basis at local artisan providers. You have a choice of breakfast, lunch, or dinner, whatever you’re in the mood for. Dine indoors in a casual yet elegant interior or sit at a pet-friendly table outdoors on Prospect Street. Their kids menu features mac and cheese, PB & J’s, along with other favorites.
Serēa’s Coastal Cuisine – whether it’s sophisticated indoor dining or enjoying a meal outdoors on the patio, Serēa’s offers views of spectacular sunsets and serves up some of the tastiest sustainable seafood in the entire county. Enjoy dining on flash-fried or wood-grilled whole fish served with a hand-crafted cocktail or a selection from their wine cellar collection. Be sure to book your reservations at this Coronado restaurant well in advance because walk-ins are only acceptable if there are tables available.
Tuétano Taqueria – our top 5 picks wouldn’t be complete without this traditional South-of-the-Border taqueria transplant from Tijuana. Although it is often referred to as a “bare bones’ taco shop, it overlooks the US-Mexico border in San Ysidro and has proven to be one of the San Diego Metro Area’s best recent new openings. You probably want to order your food to go here as there are only a few tables indoors and it is typically crowded from the time they open until they close.
Well, there you have it – our top 5 picks for best restaurants in San Diego County. However, if you are looking for celebrity owned restaurants, here are some more to explore in this beautiful city:
- Island Prime
- Ocean Terrace at George’s at the Cove
- King and Queen Cantina
- Adrian’s Surf N’ Turf Grill
- The WineSellar & Brasserie
- Vessel Restaurant
- Kettner Exchange
- Corvette Diner
- Juniper & Ivy
Although there are plenty more that offer some of the best and delectable dishes by renowned chefs, we are sure you are already looking forward to exploring the city soon. Whether you are looking for pan-Asian, Italian, Mexican, Greek, or Thai cuisine, San Diego has plenty of restaurants to satisfy your taste palate.
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