Restaurant Guide–San Diego

Restaurant Guide Main Index


Los Angeles | Orange County | San Bernardino/RiversideSan Francisco

  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources (see bottom of page for further explanation)


Donny’s Cafe–3901 Bonita Rd. (Cafe) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun & Mon).  When looking at why people like it, they say the service, the sandwiches, and the coffee (all of these are equally good for breakfast and lunch). (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

TJ Oyster Bar–4246 Bonita Rd. (Mexican) Open Daily. Baja style seafood, specializing in raw and marinated dishes. Has a large variety (much of it cooked), and all of it seems to be like you would get across the border. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)


Bluewater Grill–417 Carlsbad Village Dr. (Seafood) Closed Mon.  Highly rated place with a “today’s fish” menu. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Miguel’s Cocina–5980 Avenida Encinas (Mexican) Closed Mon.  Fish tacos.  Rec. by Scott P. (from Yelp). (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Chula Vista

El Patio–410 Broadway (Mexican) Closed Mon.  May be Cal. style Mex. food (but I’m not sure). Has been in business since 1954. Many especially like the breakfast. Some say skip the tacos and enchiladas and get the slow cooked meats (such as costillas de res). (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

Tacos El Gordo–556 Broadway (Mexican) Open daily 10 am to 2 am (4 am Fri & Sat).  Tijuana style street tacos that seem to be regarded as the best in San Diego. (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

Talavera Azul–365 3rd Ave. (Mexican) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily).  Owner moved from Tijuana, and serves authentic Baja style food. Best known for its breakfast (huevos rancheros, chorizo, chilaquiles, etc.). They have omelettes because it is “popular everywhere” but this is about the extent of their food that is not Baja style. (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

El Cajon

Crafted Greens–745 Jamacha Rd. (American) Open daily except Sun evening.  Healthy and fresh cuisine–known for things like free range chicken and fresh vegetables. (Dining room is open 10-5-21)

Sahara Taste of the Middle East–2990 Jamacha Rd. (Middle Eastern) Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.  Reviewers say it is good quality Middle Eastern food. The big bonus here, though, is the Indian style food and chai they have (the cuisine here must be Pakistani and food from neighboring countries). (Dining room is open 8-22-21)


Pho Truc Xanh–503 W. Mission Ave. (Vietnamese) Open daily 11 am to 8 pm. Scott P.’s favorite. Not just pho (has a good Vietnamese menu). (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

Tamales Jovita–158 W. Grand Ave. (Mexican) Open 7:30 am to 6 pm (closed Sun).  Tamales are not only very good according to reviews, but there is a large variety of special types: rajas, mole, chocolate ice cream, etc. (Dining room is open 10-5-21)

Flinn Springs

Grand Ole BBQ–15505 Olde Hwy. 80 (BBQ) Closed Mon.  Texas Style BBQ (brisket is said to be very good). Said to be very good for San Diego. Some say compared to Texas it is average (but it sounds as if this is still pretty good). (Dining room is open 8-22-21)


Julian Cider Mill–2103 Main St. (Cider) Open daily until 5 pm (5:30 on weekends).  Fresh cider, apple butter, nuts, trail mix. I especially want to try this since Stout’s Cider Mill in Arizona closed (and I think this will be just as good). Located in NE San Diego County. Recommended by Scott P. (from Yelp). There are several other businesses in the same block such as Julian Pie Co, Mom’s Pie House, Julian Cafe, Apple Alley Bakery, Candied Apple Cafe, and Julian Tea. (Takeout only 7-9-20)

La Jolla

George’s at the Cove–1250 Prospect St. (Seafood) Open Daily.  Seems to have a good balance between upscale seafood and affordable prices, along with an ocean view. It also actively promotes sustainable fishing. (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

The Cottage–7702 Fay Ave. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily).  Known for its very good breakfasts (innovate dishes), cost is about $12 to $15.  Featured in magazines as one of the top breakfast places in the U.S. Also has dinner menu which includes fish & chips and other seafood dishes such as mahi and salmon (this runs about $18 to $24). (Dining room is open 10-5-21)


Sabai Sabai–1906 Oceanside Blvd. (Thai) Open Daily.  In an area full of Thai restaurants, many reviewers say this is the best they have tried. Recently changed owners, and comments say the food is at least as good as before and possibly even better (and they like the facelift that has been made to the restaurant). (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

San Diego

Angkorian Pikestaff–734 Park Blvd. (Cambodian) Open 11 am to 2 pm Mon-Fri; 12-3:30 Sat.  Small restaurant serving Cambodian food that has specials from other countries (such as Indonesian coconut chicken on Wed). It looks as if they only have one or two Cambodian dishes each day, but they will always have something. (Dining room is open 10-5-21)

Bane Phonkeo’s–110 47th St. (Lao) Open 9 am to 7 pm (closed Tue).  Located in a cluster of Lao food (this is the upscale restaurant). Next door is Muang Lao Market (which I think is takeout). In 2019 I found a Lao Community Market listed at the same address which was recommended (but it is not currently on Google Maps) (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

Ban Lao–4134 University Ave. (Lao) Open daily 10 am to 8 pm.  Good reviews, and looks like it has a more upscale dining room than some other Lao restaurants (but apparently is just as authentic). (Dining room is open 10-5-21)

Blue Water–3667 India St. (Seafood) Open Daily. Casual, cheap, many times has line going out the door. Has an outdoor patio. Clam chowder, oysters, fish & chips. Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Chaba Thai–8010 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. (Thai) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Has an impressive menu, and many reviewers say this is the best Thai in San Diego. Khao soi is recommended (but it looks like everything is good). (Dining room is open 10-5-21)

Chef Chin–4433 Convoy St. (Chinese) Closed Tue.  Shanghai style restaurant with popular dishes such as soup dumplings, but it is a good place to try other dishes that are not normally found in US restaurants. Note, though, that these come from the Chinese section of the menu (which has English translations so you don’t need to go with someone who speaks Chinese in order to know what to order). Also has Sichuan style food, but I think the Shanghai cuisine is more popular with people who have eaten there. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Devine Pastabilities–3545 Midway Dr. (Italian) Closed Sun.  This seems to be simple and flavorful Italian food (the way they do it in Italy). They have their own take on many dishes, though, with one being salad stuffed in a toasted garlic roll (called a torpasta). (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

Din Tai Fung–4301 La Jolla Village Dr. (Taiwanese) Open Daily.  Specializes in soup dumpling (xiao long bao). Has a large selection of soups, dumplings, and noodles. This is part of a chain with locations in LA, San Francisco, Seattle, etc. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

El Agave–2304 San Diego Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily. Authentic Mexican–specializes in pre-Spanish food. 10 kinds of mole. Rec. by Gil. (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

El Zarape–4642 Park Blvd. (Mexican) Open Daily (open late night).  Maybe the best fish tacos in SD. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Grill House Cafe–9494 Black Mountain Rd. (Persian) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Good reviews, and has a good menu (such as ghormeh sabzi). (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

King Bistro–4957 Diane Ave. (Chinese) Dinner only (closed Tue).  Authentic Sichuan style restaurant known for its hot pot, but has a large menu of dinner items. Chowhound diners particularly liked the braised fish-flavored eggplant casserole, ma po tofu, and twice cooked fish (but the latter was only on the Chinese menu at the time the review was written). (Dining room is open 8-22-21)

Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro–3940 4th Ave. (Moroccan) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Chicken tagine is a customer favorite, but it looks as if they have a full menu of Moroccan dishes. Reviews are excellent. Seems to be on the expensive side, though. (Seem to be closed but I can’t confirm this 10-5-21)

Los Cuatro Milpas–1875 Logan Ave. (Mexican) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun). Cheap and “very good authentic Mexican food.” Seems to be south of the border style. Rolled tacos and chicken tacos are popular. (Dining room is open 10-5-21)

Mien Trung–7530 Mesa College Dr. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon, closed Sun evening.  The most distinguishing feature of this restaurant is that it serves Hue style Vietnamese food (something hard to find anywhere in the US). Bun bo Hue is a good bet here, with a more seasoned and well flavored broth than people find at other restaurants. Apparently it is a take-out place with a few tables inside. Serves the traditional style of bun bo Hue (with blood balls, etc.), so check the ingredients if you are only used to the more traditional Vietnamese restaurants in the US. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Mitsuwa Marketplace–4240 Kearney Mesa Rd. (Japanese) Open daily (closes at 8:00 pm).  Grocery store and market that has stalls for small restaurants. Reviewers say the food at these restaurants is authentic and “just like home.” It seems to be rather inexpensive also. Reviewers say the best item is ramen. The store is similar to Uwajimaya in Seattle which is great for picking up tea and other treats. (Santouka Ramen is open for takeout 11 am to 6:30 pm 10-5-21)

Oscar’s Mexican Seafood–746 Emerald St. (Mexican) Open Daily.  Some consider it to be the best place for Ensenada style tacos (fried fish with cabbage). There is another location nearby at 703 Turquoise St. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Point Loma Seafoods–2805 Emerson St. (Seafood) Open daily to 6 pm.  Reviewers say the seafood is truly fresh, prices are high, and you get what you pay for (it does not serve expensive fish, just the normal San Diego fish that supposedly is better than in other restaurants). Some say do not get the chowder or fish sandwiches, though (their flavor just not justify the high prices). (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

Shank & Bone–2930 University Ave. (Vietnamese) Open daily for dinner only (lunch served on Sat & Sun).  Known for having possibly the best pho in San Diego, but has a good menu of other items as well (all with good reviews). The name comes from the fact that some types of pho include a whole beef bone. (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

Super Cocina–3627 University Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily. Serves authentic home style meals. Mole, pozole, red and green enchiladas are popular. (Dining room is open 8-3-21)

The Taco Stand–645 B St. (Mexican) Closed Sun.  This is a “taco bar” type of restaurant where they have a help yourself salsa bar, but it is a regular restaurant and definitely not a “stand.” One good point of it is that there is such a large variety of tacos, but the other important point is that they are so good (according to reviewers). Several locations throughout San Diego. (Dining room is open 9-9-20)

Trieu Chau–4653 University Ave. (Cambodian) Open daily 8 am to 8 pm.  Chinese (Cantonese) restaurant that also serves Cambodian food (reviewers say it is authentic). (Dining room is open 10-5-21)

San Marcos

Muay Thai–740 Nordahl Rd.(Thai) Closed Mon.  What convinces me most about this place is not necessarily because most reviewers really like the food, but the complex ingredients used in the curry and the fact that the Thai tea is not too sweet (meaning that this is likely more authentic than most restaurants). (Takeout only 8-3-21)

San Ysidro

Tuetano Taqueria–143 W. San Ysidro Blvd. (Mexican) Lunch only (closed Tue & Wed).  Owner is from Tijuana, and the mission of the restaurant is to bring Tijuana flavors to this side of the border. (Dining room is open with restrictions 9-9-20)


Shaks Mediterranean Bistro–406 Main St. (Middle Eastern) Closed Mon & Tue.  This is the former Armenian Cafe which moved from Carlsbad and changed names (but the owner is the same). Food is standard Middle Eastern (I do not see any Armenian specialties on the menu but perhaps there is a special way of cooking that gives the restaurant its high ratings). (Dining room is open 9-9-20)


Notes About This List:

This is a “master list” of restaurants that I have seen on the Internet or other sources and would like to try, or that I think would be of interest to others.  I do not mean for this to be an exhaustive list of every good place to eat, but it should represent a good sample of the most interesting or unique restaurants, along with a few that best represent an area’s regional cuisine.  My own recommendations are in Bold.

I am not looking to include:

  • Fine dining (unless they are unique because of regional specialties)
  • Low end restaurants that are popular with locals but may not be of much interest to travelers or people in general (everyone will have to use their judgment on this one)

Extra consideration for the following:

  • The food is organic, fresh, healthy, or farm to table
  • The restaurant serves a relatively hard to find type of ethnic food and reviews are good

In addition to the regular guidelines I try to include:

  • The best Asian restaurants in the area even if they are not totally authentic
  • Particularly good Mexican restaurants (this usually means the food is from a particular state in Mexico or it is one of the best examples of a U.S. regional style)

Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.



Chowhound (San Diego)

Eater (The San Diego Restaurants Bringing Tijuana Flavors Across the Border)

Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Google Maps

Thrillist (Best Mexican Restaurants in San Diego)

Trip Advisor (Eating in San Diego) (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (San Diego)

Yelp (Scott P.)

Zomato (San Diego)

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