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San Diego Restaurants

San Diego Restaurants

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San Diego Restaurants              

There are literally hundreds of excellent eateries in the San Diego area, from downtown’s Little Italy to the coastal communities of Coronado and Del Mar. Many San Diego restaurants have achieved high acclaim for their fabulous food. Some have been recognized for their outstanding ambience. Others have been praised for their excellent customer service. The best of the best San Diego restaurants continuously demonstrate their commitment to making a dining experience in their establishment worth writing home about. As a big, bustling city and a major tourist destination, there is no doubt that competition to attract customers to San Diego restaurants is keen. Both critics and customers are not shy about sharing their thoughts about the San Diego restaurants that feature the finest foods, unsurpassed service and excellent value, all at an exceptional venue. Here are what a vast consensus of diners selected as the best San Diego restaurants, cafes and bistros:

Cost Key: 

  • $ Entrees $10 or less
  • $$ Entrees $10-20
  • $$$ Entrees $20-30
  • $$$$ Entrees $30-up


Donovan's Steak & Chop House - Downtown
570 K St. (6th Ave.)
San Diego, CA 92101Phone: 619-237-9700

With a great downtown location - just steps from Petco Park - this eatery is the perfect place to have a delicious steak dinner after a Padres game. It’s décor is delightful, and its menu is packed with USDA Prime cuts of mouthwatering steaks accompanied by the freshest and most flavorful seasonal vegetables. For those who prefer to skip the beef, seafood and vegetarian selections like shrimp scampi, pan seared halibut and grilled Portobello mushrooms always get rave reviews at this downtown San Diego restaurant. For an outstanding value, try Donovan’s $45 prixe fixe dinner - 3 courses that include a salad or soup starter, a salmon, steak and/or shrimp entrée, and a cheesecake or chocolate mousse dessert. Travelers to La Jolla will find Donovan’s second San Diego area site in La Jolla conveniently located near Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and golf course and UCSD. Dinner at this La Jolla restaurant is the perfect way to relax after a day on the course or getting to know the area’s wildlife.  

Anthology - Downtown/Little Italy/Gaslamp
1337 India St
San Diego CA 92101

For fans of classic 1940s supper clubs, Anthology in the downtown area of Little Italy and Gaslamp is tops. A visit to this unique San Diego restaurant, Anthology, is a trip back in time, but with a California twist to the marvelous American menu and acoustics that are definitely 21st century. From lightly smoked southern fried chicken - served with Mom's cole slaw - to slow-cooked Alaskan king salmon with a shrimp cake, the offerings include enough options to please any palate. With a stylish décor and a great lineup of musical performances, dinner at the Gaslamp area restaurant called Anthology is truly an evening that would appeal to all of the senses. Even for those who have already enjoyed dinner, getting together with friends for a drink at the bar or in one of Anthology’s lounges is a nice way to end any San Diego day.

Bertrand at Mister A's - Hillcrest/Banker's Hill/bordering Downtown
2550 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

For a delightful, near-downtown dining experience with a billion-dollar view, Bertrand at Mister A’s is high above the competition. Located on a lofty perch on a magnificent skyscraper, far above the busy city scene, this place makes any dinner memorable. Some of its fans’ favorite fare includes Maine lobster strudel, prime beef short ribs and roasted California rack of lamb. The dessert menu at this San Diego restaurant is full of creativity and international flare, tempting the diner with offerings like Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée, chocolate and peanut butter mousse and tiramisu with petit beignets (fried, square mini doughnuts).


Bencotto Italian Kitchen - Little Italy in Downtown
750 W. Fir Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Although having just celebrated its first birthday, Benecotto has already soared to the top of the best San Diego restaurants charts. Fine fare at a competitive price combined with excellent service and an attractive atmosphere are the basis of its success. Guests can choose from a vast variety of traditional dishes such as lasagna alla Bolognese and mellanzane (eggplant) alla Parmigiana, or they can customize a pasta dish to suit their own specifications. Many dishes at this Little Italy restaurant are designed for multiple diners, great for families and friends to share. Both dine-in and take-out service is available, except on Monday, when Bencotto is closed.

de'Medici - Gaslamp
815 Fifth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-702-7228

With a menu that boasts a full array of fine Italian fare and wines, this acclaimed San Diego restaurant serves authentic dishes full of the wonderful flavors and aromas that keep customers coming back, again and again. From antipasto to zuppe, salad to scaloppine alla piccata, the possibilities are amazing. Among the most popular items on the extensive menu are the cannelloni appetizers and the seafood. A family friendly setting and convenient location make this San Diego restaurant in the historic and charming Gaslamp Quarter a good choice for a casual dinner, with or without the company of kids.

Pomodoro Ristorante Italiano - Point Loma
2833 Avenida de Portugal
San Diego, CA 92106

Many diners have determined that this San Diego restaurant has achieved the perfect balance. Its decor is a little bit Italian countryside and a little bit cosmopolitan. It offers wonderful classic cuisine, yet isn’t afraid to add contemporary touches. Lunch and dinner can be enjoyed in the attractively appointed dining room or al fresco, on the patio. Some of the dishes that have propelled Pomodoro to the top of the best dining spots lists are its vitello Milanese (veal cutlet) and linguini di mare (pasta with clams, mussels and shrimp in a tomato or white wine sauce). The fine quality of the basic accompaniments - bread and salad - round out the pleasant lunch or dinner experience of this acclaimed Point Loma restaurant.


Ponce's Mexican Restaurant - Kensington
4050 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

From their award-winning margaritas to their tasty pollo asado tacos, this San Diego restaurant offers crowd-pleasing dishes that delight diners with every mouth full. Of course, the menu is crammed with Mexican classics like guacamole salad and dip, shredded beef burritos and cheese enchiladas. But it also reveals tantalizing house specialties such as machaca con huevo, a scrambled egg and shredded beef creation that is perfect for brunch or lunch.

La Fiesta Restaurant - Gaslamp
628 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619.232.4242

Anyone looking for a great lunch, dinner or place to stop for a fabulous margarita at a Downtown San Diego restaurant in the historic Gaslamp Quarter would be wise to choose La Fiesta. From the furnishings to the food, this place is authentic in every way. The colorful décor rings true to this charming San Diego restaurant’s name - it’s a fiesta for the eyes, ears and taste buds. Start a meal with a choice of tempting antojitos (appetizers) like taquitos, toritos and the magnificent mango-enhanced Cancun shrimp ceviche. For an exceptional entrée, some popular choices include lobster quesadilla, seafood chimichanga and mole poblado. If there’s room for dessert, churros, flan or a flaming plantain dish with ice cream and spiked with rum is a real showstopper. On weekends, La Fiesta offers a special brunch during the day and a DJ playing exciting pop music and salsa tunes at night.

El Agave Tequileria - Old Town
2304 San Diego Ave.
San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: 619-220-0692

Don't be fooled by the less-than-impressive exterior of this fine eatery. This highly acclaimed San Diego restaurant in the Old Town area is known for its warm atmosphere and extraordinary mole sauces. Its bar boasts hundreds of beverage possibilities, with a fine variety of margaritas, cervezas, tequilas and mescals. Many traditional Mexican favorites receive special treatment and a new twist at this San Diego restaurant, making them modern and real palate pleasers. Among the more popular dishes are appetizers like sopecitos surtidos, soups like crèma de flor de la calabaza and entrees like mole poblano Don Julio, a chicken and rice creation that is a mole fans fantasy come to life. When a craving for fabulous Mexican food hits, this Old Town charmer of a San Diego restaurant will truly satisfy the taste buds.


Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill - India Street/Midtown
3667 India St.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: 619-497-0914

Anyone who is picky about the way their favorites from the sea are prepared would relish dining at this charming San Diego restaurant. This casual eatery is famous for its fine selection of fresh fish, shrimp and crab dishes that are prepared to order with just the right amount of seasonings and accompaniments to suit each person’s palate. Grilled and chilled delicacies from around the Pacific rim run the range from Alaskan halibut to Hawaiian albacore. Other favorite selections at this unpretentious San Diego restaurant include fish and shrimp tacos and homemade clam chowder. Portions are quite generous, and the moderate pricing for healthy and satisfying seafood puts this place on both locals’ and visitors’ Top 10 list.

Brigantine Seafood Restaurant
1333 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA
Phone: 619-435-4166

While this Coronado restaurant has a long and impressive history, all Brigantine restaurant locations offer a fine selection of tempting seafood selections. With restaurants located in Del Mar, Escondido, La Mesa, Point Loma, Poway and East Lake, anyone in the greater San Diego area will not need to travel far for some fabulous fare. From its highly acclaimed Pacific swordfish to its charismatic Oyster bar, its superb collection of wines to its warm and welcoming atmosphere, this San Diego restaurant group is a real crowd pleaser. Some of the restaurant’s more creative offerings include truffle potato-crusted salmon, cioppino (classic fisherman’s stew) and grilled mahi mahi with wasabi butter.

Ethnic Indian

Monsoon - Gaslamp
729 Fourth Ave. (bet. F & G Sts.)
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-234-5555

This attractive and elegantly furnished San Diego restaurant brings the best of Indian cuisine to southern California. With a wide range of exotic and tantalizing dishes, eating here is quite an epicurean adventure. Some of the most popular offerings include mango tikka (grilled, boneless chicken), lamb curry and coconut and ginger soup. For vegetarians visiting the Gaslamp Quarter and looking for something unique, this San Diego downtown restaurant has dozens of meat-free delights like mixed vegetable korma and lots of rice and lentil dishes that are sure to please the palate. The tasty Indian breads at Monsoon really round out the dining experience.


Sushi Ota - Pacific Beach
4529 Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: 858-270-5670

There is nothing glitzy or pretentious about this San Diego restaurant. People flock to this inconspicuous eatery in the middle of a strip mall for its tender and tasty sushi offerings. The seafood is fresh and fabulous. The rice is prepared to perfection. The choices are more than anyone could ever ask for. And if the diner doesn’t get carried away and order too many tempting delicacies, the price of a meal is quite reasonable. Since sushi alone does not make a meal, Sushi Ota has lots of other goodies to round out the dining experience. Some popular menu items are noodle soup with tempura, beef teriyaki and shi shamo (dried smelt). Since the word is out that this might be the best sushi place in all of San Diego, making a reservation is recommended.


Rama Thai Restaurant
327 Fourth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-501-8424

 The attention to authenticity and detail of the fine art and architecture of this San Diego restaurant is an indication that the dining experience will not disappoint. The flavors and textures of each delightful dish will be a real treat for the palate. Many of the more popular appetizers are prepared on a charcoal grill, just the way they would be in Bangkok. Some include satay chicken and pork, coconut lemon grass shrimp and zucchini. Other favorite selections are pad see ew (rice noodles) and Thai jasmine rice dishes.

Casual breakfast and lunch

Panera Bread - Downtown
225 Broadway # 160
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-544-7400

While this San Diego restaurant is a popular place for both tourists and downtown office workers to have a fresh-from-the-oven bagel for breakfast and a delicacy packed panini for lunch, locations throughout greater San Diego make Panera a convenient place to have a meal or snack while spending a day at any one of the area’s fine attractions. Besides offering a nice selection of specialty baked goods like artisan breads and tantalizing pastries, Panera San Diego restaurant locations have a variety of options that can take an ordinary lunch break and make it extraordinary. Some possibilities include steak chili with cornbread, broccoli cheddar soup and a Napa almond chicken salad sandwich, one of many popular signature sandwiches. Anyone watching their weight or fat and calorie intake won’t need to sacrifice taste when ordering any one of the dozens of healthier menu offerings such as Asian sesame chicken salad and low-fat chicken noodle soup. Panera restaurants in the San Diego area can be found in many sections of the city and in the nearby communities of Coronado, Chula Vista and Escondido, to name a few.

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