This isn’t a guide to the fanciest food in town. We aren’t trying to be like the Michelin Guide. We’re normal people, who just like really, really good food. What follows is what we believe is the best food in San Diego– we ignore factors like the pedigree of the chef and the price level. Our sole criterion is how good it tastes.
1. Cafe Gratitude – San Diego
Café Gratitude is a collection of plant-based restaurants specializing in gourmet cuisines. Their chef, Dreux Ellis, spent 8 years in Venice, Italy training under two Michelen-starred chefs and he was the founding chef of Le Spighe, the first vegetarian gastronomy restaurant in Venice.
- Cafe Gratitude supports local farmers and offers 100% organic, plant-based cuisine
- Meal plans available for $60 per day
- Detox Market offers 10% discount on your first purchase
- We LOVE their Cashew Queso Fresco and their desserts!
Sundara’s menu includes many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Their fresh Naan is baked to order and the Curries are slow-cooked to bring out the intricate flavors unique to India.
- Their Samosa, Tikka Masala, and Garlic Naan are phenomenal
- Lots of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options
- Cozy atmosphere with front dining room and covered patio perfect for couples or small groups
- Wide selection of quality craft beers and wines
3. CUCINA urbana
CUCINA urbana is the originator of the CUCINA retail wine program where each dedicated wine shop allows guests to hand select wines at a retail price, either to enjoy with their meal for a minimal corkage fee or purchase to go. The CUCINA curriculum continues to develop an ambitious in-house cheese, charcuterie and sausage program, hand crafted confections, and a selection of artisanal breads and pastas prepared from scratch.
- Great happy hour drink specials and half off on pizzas and other selected food items.
- Their Burnt Brussel Sprouts paired with House Red Wine is our go to
Bombay opened in October 1988 and is located on restaurant row in Hillcrest. Since then, Multi award winning Chef Ashley Popat has been serving both quality interpretations of classic Indian dishes and daring new ventures into the uncharted territories of food.
- You can watch Bollywood movies next to a lovely waterfall…SRK status romance
- One of the best Indian lunch buffet we’ve had in San Diego
- Vegan friendly. Food substitutions can be adjusted for dietary needs
- Their desserts are amazing. The Lychee Mousse is to die for!
5. Queenstown Public House
Queenstown Public House is 100% dog-friendly on it’s outside patio. You can sit on the front lawn, the back patio or if you’re early enough you can find the perfect spot to dog-watch on their front porch.
- Great happy hour: $9 flights for Sangria, Wine or Beer and $4 for their sliders.
- Cozy, fun and laid back vibe. We’re fans of the eclectic décor and the outdoor fire pit
- Kill sweet potato fries – perfectly executed
6. Punjabi Tandoor
- 10News.com A-list’s Best Punjabi Restaurant in San Diego and Anaheim and Corona in 2012
- We’re super impressed with the consistency here; solid meal every time we’ve dropped by
7. Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop
Get ready to walk into the the fun, festive world of Lucha Libre. They’ve got TVs running classic wrestling matches and if you come in wearing a Lucha mask they’ll give you the Luchador Discount!
- The Surf N Turf Burrito and Salsa is to die for!
- Excellent veggie options for vegetarians and the large selection of dips wins them extra points in our book
8. Cafe Sevilla
Cafe Sevilla San Diego is located right in the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, just steps from the convention center, Petco Park, local shops, museums and other San Diego attractions. Come join for live “Gypsy-King” style music seven nights a week, flamenco dinner shows on the weekends, salsa dance classes, happy hour and so much more.
- Love the live performances
- Great happy hour specials and great selection of tapas
9. La Puerta
- They never use artificial flavorings and enhancers
- Their Quesadilla game is on point
- On Mondays, all drinks and appetizers are half off and
- Taco Tuesday happy hour: Selected tacos for only $3
10. BO-beau kitchen + bar
For over 33 years, David and Lesley Cohn have brought San Diego dining to a new level. Beginning with one small diner in 1981, Cohn Restaurant Group now owns and operates over 24 restaurants within Southern California and Maui.
- Great date night spot – there is a rustic, romantic feel to the space
- Can’t beat their French Onion Soup and Crispy Brussel Sprouts
- The wait can get long on the weekends, so plan ahead or come early if possible
11. Veganic Thai Café
Address: 1417 A University Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 230-5540
Yelp: 4.5 stars with 200+ reviews
- Hands down, one of the best Thai Vegan place we’ve tried. Definitely worth a visit
- The Larb Salad is a total knockout
- They offer meal prep plans for those with specific dietary goals or looking to lose weight
- We recommend getting a bowl of their fresh salad choices and hand made sauces/dressings paired with a refreshing Hibiscus tea
13. Cafe Coyote
For over 25 years Café Coyote has remained one of San Diego’s Landmark Restaurants located in the Heart of Old Town San Diego’s Historic Walking District. Café Coyote y Cantina is a certified “Tequila House” by the prestigious Academia del tequila, Mexico City and is ONE OF ONLY TWO “Tequila Houses” IN THE ENTIRE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
- They usually have long lines but lines move fast
- Margaritas are top notch, among the best in the city
- Chosen an as a favorite “editor’s choice” by SanDiego.com
- They’ve got a live Mariachi band that floats from table to table
14. Surati Farsan Mart
Serving your favorite Indian sweets and snacks since 1986, Surati Farsan Mart first opened its doors in Little India Artesia, California providing customers a place to enjoy fresh food served with quality and consistency. Before they knew it, they became highly regarded in the Indian community and now with a second location in San Diego.
- They offer nationwide shipping that includes free ground shipping for all orders above 7lbs.
- We LOVE the freshly made Delhi Chaat
15. Bencotto Italian Kitchen
- Their pastas are made fresh daily; Great Gnocci
- They have gluten-free pasta options
- Fresh and organic. Lots of vegan, gluten-free options
- Owners Samia and George are the epitome of what makes mom-and-pops so great
17. Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
18. Berkeley Pizza
- Incredible Chicago Style Deep Dish pizzas
- The pizzas are handmade, so you have to wait for your order, but trust us, it’s well worth the wait
- Open super late
19. Juniper & Ivy
Located in the North End of the Italy Neighborhood, Juniper & Ivy offers refined American cuisine with unique iterations of the clasics. The whimsical menu, helmed by Chef Partner Richard Blais and executed by Executive Chef Anthony Wells, is in constant state of change depending on the freshest, seasonal ingredients provided by our local purveyors.
- Top Chef: All Stars winner Chef Richard Blais and his team are among the best in the industry
- The place is modern, trendy, and luxurious all at once; definitely worth checking out
20. Zia Gourmet Pizza
- Solid pizza spot and friendly service have made Zia a regular part of our cycle
- Great vegetarian and vegan options and they’ve even got a wheat crust option
21. Hash House A Go Go
Listed as Reader’s Choice Breakfast in 2009 by San Diego Magazine, Best American Food in 2009 by City Search, A List Winner Best Brunch in 2009 by ABC 10 News, and many more awards. They were also featured in Marth Stewart, New York Times, Man vs. Food, Travel Channel, Rachel Ray Show, etc.
- Huge portions
- Ask about their Waffle Tower
- This is the kind of place that is always packed because of how solid it is
22. True Food Kitchen
They take great pride in a menu that caters to nearly every food preference with a variety of gluten-free, naturally organic, vegetarian and vegan offerings.
- Vegan Pizza is a total game changer – some of the best we’ve had anywhere
- The Ginger Margarita and Hangover RX are some of our favorites
23. Buon Appetito
The three partners have more than 60 years of restaurant and hospitality experience between them. All three found their cooking skills from the “University of Mama’s Kitchen” and hospitality and management skills from grace and compassion of remembering where they came from and how it all got started back in 1993. Break bread in Buon Appetito, drink wine and nourish your soul with the goodness of genuine Italian hospitality and the true family recipes from their kitchen to your belly.
- Everything they serve is great, has authentic Italian flavor but their pasta dishes are the true stars
- The restaurant was bustling and loud with friendly chatter and laughter – reminded us of Italy
24. Plumeria Vegetarian
Plumeria Vegetarian believes in high-quality vegan and vegetarian food. All of their dishes are free of fish sauces and animal products, with the exception of optional egg in some dishes.
- Even our non-vegan friends enjoy the vegan dishes here, it’s that good.
- The flower cups are a great appetizer, light and very flavorful
25. Buona Forchetta
- Some of the best, authentic Italian food in San Diego
- Pet friendly
26. Urban Solace
- Cozy setting with rustic and modern touches throughout
- Phenomenal sweet potato options, we love all of them especially their sweet potato hash
27. Loving Hut
Loving Hut is currently the fastest growing International vegan fast food chain in the world with branches in Milpitas, Palo Alto and San Francisco. Internationally, branches are currently open in Formosa (Taiwan), Au Lac (Vietnam), Singapore, Indonesia, Tokyo and Hong Kong. More branches will be opening in various locations all around the world in the coming months.
- Super reasonable prices given the quality of the food
- Their Spicy Cha Cha will blow you away. Definitely on our favorites list
28. OB Noodle House
OB Noodle House is known for our signature pho bowls and Asian-fusion dishes. Featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, it’s the meal Guy Fieri says “You’re going to have a pretty tough time finding it this good.”
- Fun, young, hip vibe
- Their Vermicelli dishes are splendid, among their best sellers
- Parking can be difficult
Puesto has branches in La Jolla, Los Olivos Irvine, Park Place (Coming Late Summer 2017) and Santa Clara (Coming Late 2017). Awarded as Best food 2016 by Oozefest, Diner’s Choice 2016 Winner by OpenTable, Best Restaurants 2016 by San Diego Magazine, 2016 Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor, etc.
- Taco Tuesdays: selected tacos are $2.50 with unlimited complimentary chips and salsa
- They have created the world’s first taco donut!
30. Bahn Thai
Family owned & operated restaurant serving freshly cooked, flavorful, authentic Thai dishes with no MSG added. With 20+ years of culinary wisdom, Sam and Kate together have formed a masterful set of skills to bring the best Thai flavors in order to delight each and every taste bud.
- This place is a foodie’s dream, a hole in the wall of sorts with mind blowingly good food
- Their Pad Thai is amazing, but their Rangoon is our favorite
31. Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen
Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen opened its doors in October of 2012 to it’s first locatation in the heart of Kearny Mesa in San Diego, California. Now with a second location in San Diego’s Little Italy, Rakiraki specializes in serving authentic Japanese cuisine including curry, tsukemen, or dipping noodles, and specialty sushi rolls, but is best known for its great-tasting ramen. Spending over six years dedicated to learning the basics of cooking, Watanabe quickly established himself as a devote student in the culinary arts. He flew back to Japan and spent several months shadowing three of Japans most notable ramen chefs. After years of apprenticeship, Watanabe brought his vision into fruition as Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen opened in October 2012.