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The Best Restaurants in San Diego

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Casual meals like tacos and pizza reign in San Diego, but chefs are getting more creative with the city’s unparalleled produce and easy access to fresh seafood and fish.
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Given the lines you’ll almost inevitably find at the original Puesto—an authentic taqueria so beloved, it’s expanding into a small SoCal empire—you may well be discouraged. But don’t be: Simply put your name down,...
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2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
At Little Italy’s Herb & Wood, Chef Brian Malarkey’s wood-fired dishes include roasted parsnips with pickled raisins, parsley-shallot verde, and molten Marin County brie; roasted beets with sherry, walnut pesto, jamón...
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Like a nautical version of the yellow brick road, illuminated anchors embedded in the floors of Ironside Fish & Oyster lead you to the Emerald City of raw bars, where the bounteous platters come in Big, Bigger, Biggest, and Holy Sh*t. This...
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Although the Smoking Goat is credited with pioneering a culinary renaissance in a once-sleepy corner of North Park, nothing else about chef Fred Piehl’s flagship restaurant screams “culinary vanguard”—and that’s...
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For a place that’s best known for its buttermilk biscuits, Juniper & Ivy seems improbably swanky at first. Picture curtained-off banquettes, modern light fixtures, and painstakingly turned-out patrons. But the upscale/down-home contrast...
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5921 Valencia Cir, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92091, USA
Tucked in a lush canyon perfumed with the smell of eucalyptus, Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa is one of the San Diego area’s most sublime getaways. Even if you’re not staying there, you can experience the magic by dining at the...
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5200 Grand Del Mar Way, San Diego, CA 92130, USA
If the Michelin Guide extended into Southern California, this restaurant in the Fairmont Grand Del Mar would surely have a star or two. Its executive chef, William Bradley, is essentially San Diego’s Thomas Keller. A Relais &...
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2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008, USA
In 2016, one of San Diego’s most seasoned restaurant managers decided to open his first solo project, bringing Campfire to Carlsbad. The eatery is dedicated to the art of live-fire cooking and draws inspiration from famed Argentinean chef...
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2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106, USA
San Diego’s first food hall is housed in the city’s former naval training center, a 361-acre site in Point Loma that now features a lively business district with wide lawns, a waterfront park, and historic Spanish Revival–style...
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2259 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
Trey Foshee, executive chef of George’s at the Cove in La Jolla, is one of the most talented and respected chefs in San Diego. At his casual Mexican restaurant near La Jolla Shores, he cooks with equal skill, using only the best...
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3302 32nd St, San Diego, CA 92104, USA
San Diego foodies all swear by this Central Texas–style barbecue joint in North Park. If you’re dying to try it, get there close to when it opens (12 p.m. for lunch Wednesdays through Sundays, and 6 p.m. for dinner Wednesdays through...
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2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
From Top Chef: All-Stars winner Richard Blais comes this Little Italy favorite, a fast-casual spot specializing in humanely raised chicken and eggs. Here, the fried chicken is crispy and not too greasy, and sandwiches like the Malibu Barbie Q...
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1503 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102, USA
When it comes to Kindred, you can forget your preconceived notions of vegan restaurants. The South Park spot features killer cocktails, filling food, and an edgy design, complete with a coffered ceiling, a white-marble bar, and a demon-wolf-head...
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3001 Beech St, San Diego, CA 92102, USA
Thanks to an owner and several staff members who hail from Italy, this Neapolitan-style pizzeria has an authentic feel that locals love. Its popularity shows—San Diego restaurants are rarely crowded, yet Buona Forchetta often boasts wait...
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1302 N Coast Hwy 101 #101, Encinitas, CA 92024, USA
The spirit of Jacques Cousteau is very much alive at this Encinitas restaurant, which specializes in tacos filled with local fish, organic meat, and fresh vegetables. The Cousteau taco—featuring catch of the day (like California halibut)...
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810 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, USA
At this spot on Highway 101 in Encinitas, the lowly sandwich is elevated to an art form. Moto Deli is fast-casual, so place your order at the counter and take a seat either indoors or out on the patio, which features string lights and Mexican...
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2196 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113, USA
In a city with a taco shop on nearly every corner, Salud stands out for its Chicano-inspired food and decor: According to owner Ernie Becerra, the tacos served here are not traditionally Mexican. The signature Barrio is served on a tortilla made...
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3102 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104, USA
This travel-inspired eatery got so popular that it moved to a larger space on University Avenue in August 2017. Once in the new location, executive pastry chef Kristianna Zabala was able to expand her menu (which changes daily) to include...
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155 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024, USA
Good, old-fashioned pie can be hard to find these days, which makes Betty’s in Encinitas more than worth a trip. While the bakery’s location inside the Sunshine Gardens Nursery is a bit unexpected, it’s lovely to be...
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723 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109, USA
Surprisingly, great cocktails and an ocean breeze can be hard to find in San Diego, which makes JRDN at the Tower23 Hotel somewhat of an anomaly. It may be a scene—there are bouncers at the door, and the 70-foot-long wave wall...
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777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
More than worth a visit if you’re in the Gaslamp Quarter, Neighborhood features healthy food for everyone from the meat lover to the gluten avoider. Guests will also find around 27 local brews on tap and many more kinds of bottled beer. The...
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11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
Breakfast at A.R. Valentien in La Jolla is a relaxing way to start the day. Located in the Lodge at Torrey Pines, the restaurant is just minutes away from Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, so you can head there after your meal to enjoy this...
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2885 Perry Rd, San Diego, CA 92106, USA
El Jardin chef and partner Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins starred on Top Chef and Top Chef Mexico, but this is far from a vanity project. The regional Mexican restaurant in Arts District Liberty Station is deeply personal. The chef grew up in Tijuana...
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1909 India St, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
Opulent is the word that may occur to you as you stroll into this split-level steakhouse. The art deco-inspired main dining room features oak pillars, camel-colored banquettes, and a jaw-dropping six-tiered brass and crystal chandelier. Upstairs,...
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4622 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92116, USA
Locals flock to this restaurant and bar in lively University Heights for innovative cocktails and award-winning design. (The midcentury–inspired design of the 3,000-square-foot space, with an impressive vaulted ceiling and cedar walls...
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1670 India St, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
Little Italy, once the center of San Diego’s tuna-fishing industry, is now the city’s prime culinary corridor. On India Street, among traditional Italian spots and fine-dining restaurants, this creative ice cream shop draws a steady...
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435 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
Restaurants in San Diego’s touristy Gaslamp Quarter haven't had to try very hard in the past, but the 2017 opening of the swanky Pendry Hotel infused the neighborhood with new culinary energy. Of the hotel's six drinking and dining venues...