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Photo courtesy of Kingfisher San Diego

Foodie 15: Best Restaurants in San Diego, California

Updated March 4, 2024

From beachside eateries serving up fresh seafood to hidden gems tucked in the heart of vibrant neighborhoods, our guide to San Diego’s best restaurants will take you on a culinary crash course of “America’s Best City.”

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a plate full of food sitting on top of a wooden table
Photo courtesy of Alforon

Alforon

The homey charm and old-world decor of Alforon is only one reason to stop by. This San Diego gem is renowned for its expertise in crafting irresistible flatbreads and an array of meze, weaving an authentic flavor experience that represents the heart and soul of Lebanese cuisine. One popular dish is the Manoush Zaatar, a traditional flatbread adorned with a blend of zaatar, which includes thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac.

a bowl of food on a table
Photo courtesy of Banbu Sushi Bar & Grill

Banbu Sushi Bar & Grill

Banbu serves up Japanese plates in an eco-chic dining room with fireside patios; where beautifully plated sushi and other Japanese dishes mirror the restaurant’s vibe. We recommend The Ultimate Hamachi Roll and Poke Crisp, both of which will take you on a culinary journey of Japanese cuisine and leave you looking forward to what you’ll try next.

a pizza sitting on top of a brick building
Photo courtesy of Blind Lady Ale House

Blind Lady Ale House

Blind Lady Ale House (BLAH) is a beloved establishment in San Diego’s Normal Heights., known for being one of the city’s most-admired slingers of SoCal-style pizza. With a relaxed, modern-tavern space filled with communal tables, and a craft beer list that perfectly complements their wood-fired pizzas — all made using farmers market-bought and housemade ingredients — you’re sure to have a tasty experience any time you visit.

a hand holding a sandwich
Cheers Deli & Liquor (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Koury)

Cheers Deli & Liquor

Cheers is a unique mash-up between delicatessen and liquor store, offering an extensive menu of specialty sandwiches and salads. This favorite of locals has more than the usual options, with crowd favorites like the hot Greek chicken sandwich, featuring marinated chicken, provolone and feta cheeses, black olives, cucumbers, and garlic on a French roll — showcasing the deli’s commitment to creating flavorful and satisfying bites.

a pizza sitting on top of a plate of food
Photo courtesy of City Tacos

City Tacos

Nestled in the heart of North Park, City Tacos delivers Mexican eats with a modern twist situated with a slew of vibrant bars and neighboring shops. Renowned as one of the most reliable places for great tacos in San Diego, you can take your pick between fish, veggie, and meat options as well as regional specials like the achiote-tinged cochinita pibil or the Veracruzana fish taco. Don’t forget to leave room for their churros!

 

 

 

a plate of food on a table
Fusilli Alla Norma (Photo courtesy of Civico 1845)

Civico 1845

Conveniently located on India Street, Civico 1845 brings contemporary Italian cooking to San Diego’s culinary scene. A fixture in the heart of the city, this restaurant has become known for its focus on seafood and its dedication to Southern Italian cuisine. Notably, Civico 1845 stands out as the first Italian restaurant in the country to offer a full vegan menu, with options for any diner seeking an authentic and inclusive Italian dining experience.

a hot dog
The Works (Photo by Giorgino's)

Giorgino’s

Giorgino’s is a down-to-earth eatery located in Golden Hill, on a mission to bring an East Coast-inspired menu to San Diego. Known for its award-winning cheesesteak, this spot also offers pork roll sandwiches, subs, and more. Whether you’re craving an egg roll sandwich or a hot turkey and provolone, Giorgino’s has you covered.

a plate of food with meat and vegetables
Snake River Farms Wagyu Skirt Steak with fried squash blossom (Photo courtesy of Kingfisher)

Kingfisher (San Diego)

Golden Hill’s Kingfisher stands out as one of San Diego’s must-visit dining destinations. The French-influenced Vietnamese cocktail bar offers stunning dishes that showcase flavors from across Southeast Asia, including the mussels in coconut and Thai basil broth, wild mushroom congee with crispy garlic, or the smoked dry-aged duck served with rice noodles, crunchy lettuce wraps, and nuoc cham chimichurri. This place stirs quite the buzz, but if you’re in the mood for a quieter experience, ask for a spot on the quaint yet still stylish outdoor patio.

a bowl of food on a plate
Photo courtesy of YouStayHungrySD

Las Cuatro Milpas

If you look up “best hole-in-the-wall taco joint in San Diego” you just may find a photo of Las Cuatro Milpas. Drawing locals and food enthusiasts alike to its doors from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, this old-school Mexican joint has been winning hearts since 1933. Known for serving some of the city’s best tacos, tamales, burritos — and even rice and beans — the no-frills ambiance only adds to its charm while creating an authentic experience that keeps patrons coming back.

Las Cuatro is cash only, and while parking might require a little stroll from Chicano Park, the walk and the stop by the ATM will prove well worth it.

 

 

 

a plate of food on a table
Soufflé Pancakes (Photo courtesy of Morning Glory)

Morning Glory

Looking for a brunch spot that vibes? Morning Glory has you covered with its infectious party vibes and a menu that spans the globe. The fun atmosphere is evident as soon as you walk up, where the wooden seating and light-filled, pink-hued space set the stage for memories to be made. The star of the show is the Turkish eggs roving cart, bringing global breakfast and brunch noms right to your table. Don’t miss out on their creative drink menu, which includes boozy coffee and cocktails to complement their dynamic menu.

 

 

a plate of food and a cup of coffee on a table
Honey Cake and Turkish Coffee (Photo courtesy of Britney Waldheim)

Pomegranate

When dining at Pomegranate, you’re invited to explore the flavors of Russia in a homey, candlelit setting. Known for its authentic Russian fare, this cozy eatery goes beyond the ordinary. From the rich and hearty borscht to the blini, Pomegranate’s menu showcases the diverse and flavorful offerings of the country’s cuisine, occasionally elevated by live music, making it an ideal spot for those seeking a taste of Russia in the middle of San Diego.

a plate of food on a table
Tom Yum Soup (Photo courtesy of Signature Thai Cuisine)

Signature Thai Cuisine

In nearby La Mesa, Signature Thai Cuisine stands out as a solid spot for savoring authentic Thai flavors. With popular dishes like drunken noodles and green curry, as well as addictive specialties such as pad prik Thai dum — an enticing soft shell crab sautéed in garlic and black pepper sauce — the menu is a gateway to the vibrant tastes of Thailand. Whether you’re a cuisine enthusiast or a newcomer, Signature will ensure your visit leaves a mark on your culinary map.

 

 

a close up of a sandwich on a plate
The All American Burger (Photo courtesy of Terra American Bistro)

Terra American Bistro

One of San Diego’s pioneer farm-to-table restaurants, Terra American Bistro — owner and led by Executive Chef Jeff Rossman —  has been a popular mainstay since its move from Hillcrest. With a menu of New American dishes and drawing influence from around the country, whether you’re craving a Nashville hot chicken sandwich or want to try an inventive dish like stuffed pork chops with chicken chorizo, the menu has you covered.

 

 

 

a pile of food
Croissants (Photo courtesy of Wayfarer Bread)

Wayfarer Bread & Pastry

Founded by owner and master baker Crystal White, Wayfarer Bread & Pastry quickly became a sought-after destination for baked goods and good vibes upon opening in 2018. Known for its flaky pastries baked using local produce and crusted loaves crafted from heirloom grains, Wayfarer is a testament to the artistry of baking, committed to ensuring each bite reflects a commitment to quality ingredients and the mastery of the craft.

 

 

 

a bunch of food on a table
Photo courtesy of Yakyudori Yakitori & Ramen

Yakyudori Yakitori & Ramen

Yakyudori Yakitori & Ramen, located in Kearny Mesa, is an unassuming treasure for Japanese cuisine enthusiasts in San Diego. Despite its modest exterior, this spot is an industry favorite, cherished by locals and travelers in the know. Stop by and revel in the mastery of expertly grilled yakitori — ranging from crispy-edged chicken wings to succulent meatballs. The menu also offers a compelling selection of izakaya delights, including takowasa (raw octopus with wasabi) and fried smelt.

 

 

 

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