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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Tajima

    $ | Kearny Mesa | Japanese

    Opened in 2001, this Japanese restaurant helped pioneer San Diego’s ramen movement as the first noodle house on Convoy to set down roots without...Read More

  • 4. 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro

    $$ | Ocean Beach | Wine Bar

    Enthusiasts from around the world laud this combined wine shop, bar, and cozy California bistro. Available from lunch until after midnight Tuesday...Read More

  • 5. Carnitas' Snack Shack

    $ | North Park | Mexican

    Long lines snake down the block outside this quintessential San Diego dining spot where chef-owner Hanis Cavin serves fast-casual cuisine based...Read More

  • 6. Davanti Enoteca

    $$ | Little Italy | Italian

    With its innovative, affordable Italian food, polished service, bustling bar scene and olive tree–shaded patio, this Chicago transplant is right...Read More

  • 7. Dumpling Inn

    $ | Kearny Mesa | Chinese

    Since 1994, this family-owned restaurant has been serving fans of traditional northern Chinese food who drive hours to sample dumplings made...Read More

  • 8. El Pescador Fish Market

    $ | Seafood

    This bustling fish market and café in the heart of La Jolla Village has been popular with locals for its superfresh fish for more than 30 years...Read More

  • 9. El Zarape

    $ | University Heights | Mexican

    Don’t be fooled by the humble facade—this tiny Mexican taqueria serves up some of the best seafood-focused border food in town. There’s almost...Read More

  • 10. High Tide Bottle Shop & Kitchen

    $ | Pizza

    While it carries an extensive selection of craft beers, wine, and spirits, High Tide Bottle Shop is a lot more than a liquor store. The extensive...Read More

  • 11. Kono's Café

    $ | Pacific Beach | American

    Surfers, bicyclists, and sun worshippers visiting or living in Pacific Beach line up at the counter of this casual seaside café for hearty breakfasts...Read More

  • 12. Phil's BBQ

    $ | Point Loma | Barbecue

    During peak hours at San Diego’s most popular barbecue, lines can be long for diners craving heaping portions of fall-off-the-bone baby-back...Read More

  • 13. Phuong Trang

    $ | Kearny Mesa | Vietnamese

    This much-praised, popular Vietnamese restaurant offers such a mind-numbing selection of dishes that choosing a meal here can be difficult....Read More

  • 14. Point Loma Seafoods

    $ | Point Loma | Seafood

    When fishing boats unload their catch on-site, a seafood restaurant and market earns the right to boast that they offer “the freshest thing...Read More

  • 15. Soda & Swine

    $ | Liberty Station | Burger

    Meatballs get a trendy spin at S&S, where the decor blends a gold-wrapped bar and geometric stools with old-time touches like a bakery area...Read More

  • 16. Spicy City Chinese

    $ | Kearny Mesa | Chinese

    Get bold Sichuan flavors with loads of chili peppers at this restaurant, where food is served family style, and “mild” is not an option. If...Read More

  • 17. Tajima East Village

    $ | East Village | Japanese

    With four other locations in the city—Hillcrest, North Park, and two outposts in Kearny Mesa—Tajima has become a favorite source for ramen-hungry...Read More

  • 18. The Kebab Shop

    $ | East Village | Mediterranean

    At its five San Diego locations—East Village, Little Italy, Mira Mesa, Mission Valley, and Rancho Bernardo—this fast-food Mediterranean eatery...Read More

  • 19. The Promiscuous Fork

    $ | American

    This 500-square-foot restaurant serves up heaping portions of tacos, burgers, bowls, and “sammiches” inspired by the owner’s international travels...Read More

  • 20. 100 Wines

    $$ | Hillcrest | Wine Bar

    Locals of every stripe share good times at this relaxed Hillcrest bistro, so expect much laughter and toasting during meals in the cozy bar...Read More

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