The Best Restaurants in San Diego
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
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.
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 Ibérico, and burrata; and...
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...
5200 Grand Del Mar Way, San Diego, CA 92130, USA
When the Michelin Guide extended into Southern California in 2019, it came as no suprise that this restaurant in the Fairmont Grand Del Mar became San Diego's first to earn a coveted star. Its executive chef, William Bradley, is essentially San...
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...
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...
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...
3302 32nd St, San Diego, CA 92104, USA
San Diego foodies all swear by this Central Texas-style barbecue joint. If you’re dying to try it, get there close to when it opens (11:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday), as lines can be long and the...
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...
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...
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...
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)...
810 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, USA
This beachy white-shingled restaurant on Highway 101 in Encinitas is the ultimate spot for a low key date night. Couples can often be found canoodling on the patio hung with lights, and Chef Alex Carballo's well rounded menu, which draws...
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...
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...
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. Don't be turned off by the location in a strip mall, Betty's pies are delicious; they always use real fruit, pure butter,...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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,...
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...
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...
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...
5525 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
This charming bakery by the beach in La Jolla rivals the best bakeries in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Founder Crystal White, a former lead bread baker at San Francisco's Tartine, sources the best ingredients from California, except...
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