San Diego Restaurants

San Diego is an up-and-coming culinary destination, thanks to its stunning Pacific Ocean setting, proximity to Mexico, diverse population, and the area’s extraordinary farming community. Increasingly the city’s veteran top chefs are being joined by a new generation of talented chefs and restaurateurs who are adding stylish restaurants with innovative food and drink programs to the dining scene at a record pace. Yes, visitors still are drawn to the San Diego Zoo and miles of beaches, but now they come for memorable dining experiences as well.

The city’s culinary scene got a significant boost when San Diego emerged as one of the world’s top craft beer destinations, with artisan breweries and gastropubs now in almost every neighborhood. San Diego also was on the cutting edge of the farm-to-table, Slow Food movement. Local sourcing is possible for everything from seafood to just-picked produce from a host of nationally recognized producers like Chino Farms and Carlsbad Aquafarm. The city’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods with their modest eateries offering affordable authentic international cuisines add spice to the dining mix.

San Diego’s distinct neighborhoods have their own dining personalities with friendly restaurants and bistros catering to every craving in this sun-blessed city. The trendy Gaslamp Quarter delights visitors looking for a broad range of innovative and international dining and nightlife, while bustling Little Italy offers a mix of affordable Italian fare and posh new eateries. Modern restaurants and cafés thrive in East Village, amid the luxury condos near PETCO Park.

The Uptown neighborhoods centered on Hillcrest—an urbane district with San Francisco flavor—are a mix of bars and independent restaurants, many of which specialize in ethnic cuisine. North Park, in particular, has a happening restaurant and craft beer scene, with just about every kind of cuisine you can think of, and laid-back prices to boot. And scenic La Jolla offers some of the best fine dining in the city with dramatic water views as an added bonus.

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  • 1. Azuki Sushi

    $$ | Bankers Hill | Japanese

    Sushi should be a no-brainer when visiting San Diego, especially for tourists from landlocked states who don’t often get fresh fish. This menu...Read More

  • 2. Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant

    $$ | Bankers Hill | Modern American

    The living wall of succulents, hip warehouse interior, and wine bottle chandeliers suit this vibrant restaurant where good times and great eats...Read More

  • 3. Blind Lady Ale House

    $$ | Normal Heights | Pizza

    There's almost no combination on earth as satisfying as pizza and beer—which just happen to be Blind Lady's specialties. The old-world-style...Read More

  • 4. Born and Raised

    $$$$ | Little Italy | Steakhouse

    The name is cheeky if a little morbid; the title refers to the restaurant's speciality—steak. It's a twist on a classic steak house, with a...Read More

  • 5. Buona Forchetta

    $ | South Park | Italian

    A golden-domed pizza oven, named Sofia after the owner’s daughter, delivers authentic Neapolitan-style pizza to fans who often line up for patio...Read More

  • 6. Cesarina

    $$ | Point Loma | Italian

    A wall of mason jars with pickled vegetables and brined olives transports you to an Italian market in Rome where the owner’s mother perfected...Read More

  • 7. Civico by the Park

    $ | Bankers Hill | Italian

    Dario and Pietro Gallo, the Italian brothers behind the Civico restaurants in Little Italy, have taken their concept into Banker's Hill, bringing...Read More

  • 8. Cucina Urbana

    $$ | Bankers Hill | Italian

    Twentysomethings mingle with boomers in this convivial Bankers Hill dining room and bar, one of the most popular restaurants in town. The open...Read More

  • 9. Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro

    $ | South Park | American

    This local bistro and chocolatier sells flavored bars, truffles, cupcakes, and many other confections, as well as breakfast favorites (buttermilk...Read More

  • 10. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

    $$$ | Embarcadero | Seafood

    Don't be put off by the name, or that it is part of a small chain. This fine-dining restaurant at the Headquarters at Seaport in Downtown has...Read More

  • 11. Extraordinary Desserts

    $ | Hillcrest | Café

    This café lives up to its name, which explains why there's often a line, despite the ample seating. Paris-trained Karen Krasne turns out award...Read More

  • 12. Extraordinary Desserts

    $ | Little Italy | Café

    For Paris-perfect cakes and tarts embellished California-style with fresh flowers, head to this sleek, serene branch of Karen Krasne’s pastry...Read More

  • 13. Herb & Wood

    $$ | Little Italy | American

    Design lovers will fall for celebrity chef Brian Malarkey's sprawling restaurant, a former art store that has been refashioned into four luxe...Read More

  • 14. Hodad's

    $ | Ocean Beach | Burger

    Surfers with big appetites, and fans of Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, chow down on huge, messy burgers, fries, onion rings,...Read More

  • 15. j/wata Temaki Bar

    $ | Kearny Mesa | Japanese

    For an interactive dining experience, snag a seat at j/wata Temaki Bar for made-to-order hand rolls filled with premium fish—best eaten immediately...Read More

  • 16. Liberty Public Market

    $ | Liberty Station | International

    The city's former Naval Training Center is home to more than 30 vendors so even the pickiest of diners will be pleased. Options include tacos...Read More

  • 17. Liberty Public Market

    $ | Point Loma | Eclectic

    This bustling market and food hall is just one of the latest additions to an ever-expanding Liberty Station, the historic mixed-use redevelopment...Read More

  • 18. Morning Glory

    $ | Little Italy | American

    Among the plentiful and popular brunch options in Little Italy, Morning Glory stands out for not just elevating its breakfast options but making...Read More

  • 19. Osteria Romantica

    $ | Italian

    Between music by Pavarotti, the checkered tablecloths, and the sight of homemade pasta and free-flowing vino, you’ll swear you’ve died and gone...Read More

  • 20. Prep Kitchen Little Italy

    $$ | Little Italy | Modern American

    Urbanites craving a hip casual setting and gourmet menu pack architectural salvage–styled Prep Kitchen Little Italy, tucked upstairs above a...Read More

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