Restaurant Guide–San Diego

Restaurant Guide Main Index


California

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)

Bonita

Donny’s Cafe–3901 Bonita Rd. (Cafe) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Sun).  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). (3-23-19)

TJ Oyster Bar–4246 Bonita Rd. (Mexican) Open daily except Sun evening. 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. (3-23-19)

Carlsbad

Bluewater Grill–417 Carlsbad Village Dr. (Seafood) Open Daily.  Highly rated place with a “today’s fish” menu. (3-19-19)

Miguel’s Cocina–5980 Avenida Encinas (Mexican) Open Daily.  Fish tacos.  Rec. by Scott P. (from Yelp). (3-19-19)

Chula Vista

El Patio–410 Broadway (Mexican) Open Daily.  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). (3-19-19)

Tacos El Gordo–556 Broadway (Mexican) Open daily (open late night).  Tijuana style street tacos that seem to be regarded as the best in San Diego. (6-8-18)

Escondido

Pho Truc Xanh–503 W. Mission Ave. (Vietnamese) Open Daily. Scott P.’s favorite. Not just pho (has a good Vietnamese menu). (3-19-19)

Tamales Jovita–158 W. Grand Ave. (Mexican) Open daily except Sun dinner.  Tamales are not only very good according to reviews, but there is a large variety of special types: rajas, mole, chocolate ice cream, etc. (3-19-19)

Julian

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. (3-19-19)

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. (2-10-19)

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). (2-10-19)

Oceanside

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). (3-19-19)

San Diego

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. (3-19-19)

Chef Chin–4433 Convoy St. (Chinese) Open daily to 10 pm.  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. (2-10-19)

China Max–4698 Convoy St. (Chinese) Open Daily. Best & most authentic Cantonese in SD. Dim sum is popular (no carts–you order it from the menu). (3-19-19)

Din Tai Fung–4301 La Jolla Village Dr. (Taiwanese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 5 pm).  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. (3-19-19)

El Agave–2304 San Diego Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily. Authentic Mexican–specializes in pre-Spanish food. 10 kinds of mole. Rec. by Gil. (3-19-19)

El Zarape–4642 Park Blvd. (Mexican) Open Daily (open late night).  Maybe the best fish tacos in SD. (3-19-19)

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). (3-19-19)

King Bistro–4957 Diane Ave. (Chinese) Open daily (dinner only).  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). (2-10-19)

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. (2-10-19)

Lao Community Market–110 47th St. (Lao) Open daily to 8 pm.  One of the few, or perhaps the only Lao restaurant in the city that prepares the food with true Lao flavors instead of some of it being Thai. They also say the food is delicious and good quality. (2-10-19)

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. (3-19-19)

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. (2-10-19)

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. (3-19-19)

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. (6-8-18)

Romeo & Julieta–4715 Monroe Ave. (Polish) Dinner only (closed Mon).  This is a Polish restaurant and wine bar, which may be a little different but reviewers say the Polish food is good. Pierogi (several kinds), schnitzel, chicken kasha. A caution from reviewers is that service is very slow when the restaurant is full of customers. (2-10-19)

Super Cocina–3627 University Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily. Serves authentic home style meals. Mole, pozole, red and green enchiladas are popular. (6-8-18)

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). (3-19-19)

Vista

Flying Pig–230 S. Santa Fe (Gastropub) Open daily (dinner only; lunch & dinner on Sun).  Vista has a large concentration of gastropubs, breweries, wine bars, etc., and this seems to be one of the better ones for food (for drinks there is a large choice of good places). (3-19-19)

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). (3-19-19)

 

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.

 

Sources:

Chowhound (San Diego)

Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog

Thrillist (Best Mexican Restaurants in San Diego)

Urbanspoon.com (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Scott P.)

Zomato (San Diego)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *