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Top 5 Hotel Restaurants in San Diego

Top 5 Hotel Restaurants in San Diego

Known for its spacious beaches and enjoyable weather, San Diego, Calif., is one of the nation’s most sought-after vacation spots. On the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, this city attracts a variety of vacationers hoping to both relax and also explore all that the city has to offer. San Diego is home to many fabulous hotels, and with these hotels come exceptional hotel restaurants. With an emphasis on local produce and a desire for sophistication, these five restaurants are a must when dining in San Diego.

  1. A.R. Valentien, The Lodge at Torrey Pines
    Great attention is given to seasonal produce at A.R. Valentien, located in The Lodge at Torrey Pines. Because of their attention to local and seasonal food, the menu is constantly changing, but does not disappoint. Both the food and the architecture in the restaurant are a tribute to Southern California. Cher Jeff Jackson has more than 30 years of experience and succeeds in pairing basic ingredients with minimal handling, highlighting the strengths of the individual foods. An example of this is the Alaskan halibut from the dinner menu, which is served with mustard greens, roasted mushrooms, and a white anchovy and green garlic vinaigrette.
  1. Nine-Ten at the Grande Colonial
    2010 StarChefs Rising Star Chef winner Jason Knibb also uses local ingredients at Nine-Ten, located in the Grande Colonial Hotel. This sophisticated bistro features California-style cuisine that is both casual and elegant. The restaurant uses regional produce, in dishes like the slow-roasted Colorado lamb loin with purple Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, cardoons, asparagus, nettles, and lamb sauce.
  1. Saltbox, Hotel Palomar
    Located in the Hotel Palomar San Diego, Saltbox serves elegant, traditional food but with a street food twist. The menu features mostly classic American staples, like the "Hamburguesa Grande," and the edgy cocktail menu by famed mixologist Erin Williams offers a combination of both sophistication and quirky treats. Try the "Sunday Morning" cocktail, made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, maple syrup, lemon, and Peychaud's bitters. This contemporary restaurant is not only luxurious, but also playful.
  1. The Grant Grill, The US GRANT
    Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, The Grant Grill at The US GRANT San Diego offers traditional American favorites that are taken to the next level. The attention to detail produces savory dishes the entire family can enjoy, like the Grant Grill Waffle Brunch Buffet, featuring more than 25 sweet and savory waffle toppings. While the dishes may be traditional at The Grant Grill, their execution is unique and memorable.
  1. Addison, The Grand Del Mar
    This final restaurant, located at The Grand Del Mar, is the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star Restaurant in San Diego. Addison is home to chef William Bradley, who executes classic French techniques with locally grown ingredients. The restaurant is famed for its wine collection; a magnificent 2,500-bottle custom glass walled cellar sits in the main dining room. The courses are perfectly paced, and the restaurant offers a four-, seven-, or 10-course option. If you wish to experience perfect indulgence, this is one spot not to miss.

The 11 Best Italian Restaurants in San Diego

Whether you are in search of an unforgettable plate of pasta or a fresh platter of seafood, enjoy our list of San Diego's best Italian restaurants.

If you're open to a culinary adventure, check our lists of best Italian restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County and Silicon Valley.

What could be better than coastal Italian food, a refreshing drink and a panoramic view of the ocean? At Catania, you get all three. Located in the heart of La Jolla, Catania features specials highlighted by their handmade pastas and wood-fired pizzas. A Catania-classic includes Tagliatelle Alla Portofino with basil pesto and creamy san marzano tomatoes with a Amalfi Coast cocktail on the side. 7863 Girard Ave., #301 F3, La Jolla, Website

2. Isola Pizza Bar

With dishes akin to gorgeous works of art, Isola Pizza Bar&rsquos food is definitely as good as it looks. Wood-fired pizzas, house-made focaccia bread and fresh mozzarella are the stars of the show at Isola. With locations in Little Italy and La Jolla, Isola is a perfect stop at any time of the day. 7734 Girard Ave., La Jolla, Website

Considered one of the best Italian restaurants in San Diego, Solare delivers and delights with its authentic cuisine and inviting staff and atmosphere. Taking pride in their farm-fresh ingredients, Solare also offers a plethora of handmade pasta made daily on their menu. 2820 Roosevelt Rd., San Diego, Website

With the most inviting al fresco dining steps away from the shore, Piatti La Jolla entertains their diners with delectable dining decisions. Serving La Jolla for more than 25 years now, Piatti&rsquos selections include Cavatappi with house-made Italian sausage, and a lush tiramisu to top off your meal. 2182 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, Website

5. Cucina Urbana

Cucina Urbana, &ldquowhere dining meets design,&rdquo combines a contemporary Italian experience with the standard Southern California freshness. With delicately crafted charcuterie staples and an eloquent selection of wine from their in-house wine shop, Cucina Urbana&rsquos eatery brings delectable Italian fare to San Diego. A true delight for all ages. 505 Laurel St., San Diego, Website

6. Cucina Enoteca

From the ever-loved squash blossoms to an enticing short rib pappardelle, Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar offers a fresh and sustainable Italian dining experience. Dine under the sparkling string lights or take your provisions home from their to-go menu, no matter what, Cucina Enoteca hits the spot each time. 2730 Via De La Valle #1906, Del Mar, Website

Cesarina, your &ldquohappy Italian trattoria,&rdquo is known for its tableside dessert service and vegan-friendly menu. Opened in 2019, Cesarina aims to please, and does so efficiently with its interactive menu, where you&rsquove got control. Design your own meal from pasta shape and sasuke choice, to a handcrafted latte or cocktail. Don&rsquot forget, dessert here is a must. 4161 Voltaire St., San Diego, Website

8. Buona Forchetta

With multiple locations throughout San Diego County, Buona Forchetta takes pride in family and quality. Serving edible works of art such as Pizza Napoletana from the wood-burning oven, and specialty pastas such as Bolognese, Buona Forchetta proves itself a San Diego staple. With vegan options and breakfast on the weekends, what more could you ask for? Multiple Locations. Website

9. Bencotto Italian Kitchen

Nestled in historic Little Italy, Bencotto brings a taste of authentic Italian cuisine to San Diego. Aged imported cured meat and cheese, handcrafted pasta and velvety soup are featured on the stellar menu Looking for an experience like no other? Try their Cheesewheel Pasta, prepared in the window for passersby to see. 750 W Fir St., #103, San Diego, Website

10. The Red Door

In beloved Mission Hill sits The Red Door, with its cozy patio setup and mouth-watering Italian eats. Choose from options such as the Seared Scallops with a Cauliflower Puree, or the Orecchiette pasta with Pearl Onions and Brandy Cream. Paired with a glass from their marvelous Wine List, The Red Door proves classic time and time again. 741 W Washington St., San Diego, Website

11. Davanti Enoteca

One of the hottest spots in Little Italy, Davanti Enoteca curates an experience filled with not only staples, but authentic eats with fresh ingredients. Focaccia Di Recco, a must-try starter, is a Ligurian flatbread with soft cow&rsquos cheese and honeycomb is an essential to any meal at Davanti Enoteca along with a Cannoli to finish your meal off. 1655 India St., San Diego, Website


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1. Soak chicken livers overnight in milk. Place in colander over a bowl and drain. Put napkin on top of livers to soak up additional moisture.
2. Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add oil. Sauté shallots until they just start to brown. Stir in herbs. Add livers and cook until the middle is pink but not raw—medium rare. To check on doneness, cut through the thickest part of the livers.
3. About halfway through the cooking process, deglaze the skillet with the liquor. Reduce the heat as the livers absorb the liquor. Add the salt and stir well.
4. Once the livers are cooked, turn off the heat and let sit about 20 seconds.
5. Using a heavy-weight blender, like a Vitamix, add the liver mixture, scrapping the skillet clean to get all the bits included. Add the cream and the lemon zest. Blend until smooth.
6. Take off the top and slowly add the butter while at medium/high speed. Add a pinch more salt while mixing.
7. If you want, you can strain the mousse mixture through a sieve. Stir the mixture and add more salt until it’s just a bit saltier than you think you’d like, taking into account what you’ll be serving the mousse with, such as whole grain mustard and jam.
8. Pour the mousse into a concave serving dish and refrigerate at least five hours to let it firm. You can make this several days in advance. To keep it fresh, melt butter and pour over the top to seal it and refrigerate. Before serving, lift up the congealed butter top and discard.

The Waterfront Grill at Pier 32 Marina‘s Parmesan Crusted Albacore Tuna Melt

  • 16 oz canned albacore tuna drained
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 oz finely chopped celery
  • 1oz finely chopped red onion
  • 2tbs sweet pickle relish
  • To taste season with salt, garlic powder and pepper

Mix above ingredients in bowl and set a side

  • To make the sandwich
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 16 slices of sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • Butter for the pan/ flat top

Turn on your flat top or skillet( cast iron works the best) and let it get hot. Once it’s heated all the way through melt some butter and sprinkle 1/4 some of the shredded Parmesan directly into the pan. Immediately place two slices of sour dough directly on top and reduce heat to medium. Top each slice bread of cheddar and 2 oz of tuna mix. Leave pan until cheese begins to melt and tuna is warm. Fold the two sides together and enjoy with your favorite side. French fries, onion rings and even a nice side salad will compliment this sandwich.

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City Tacos

City Tacos , home to some of the best Mexican food in San Diego, welcomes guests to savor a unique twist on classic taco selections. The beloved taqueria has seven locations across San Diego and boasts innovative recipes such as the house favorite Mexicali taco&mdashfeaturing grilled arrachera steak, onions, poblano peppers, and mashed potatoes over melted asadero cheese, all topped with crema fresca. The menu features options for every palate, with paleo and vegetarian options available. Pair any dish with a refreshing agua fresca or a Mexican soda.


Best Restaurants in San Diego &ndash Recommended by a Local

In San Diego, you can find restaurants on almost every street. Us San Diegans love our grub and we love to share our recommendations for the best restaurants in San Diego with visitors and local friends alike.

I can&rsquot speak for everyone else but I like to eat food that&rsquos above standards and I feel the need to share my knowledge with the rest of you. As a result, I have teamed up with the best restaurants in San Diego to provide you the ultimate restaurant guide for San Diego.

A great way to explore new restaurants, whether you are a visitor or a San Diego local, is a food tour. This one is pretty awesome and offers some delicious treats along the way.

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Food is so important. It&rsquos always been more than just a way to stay alive. Every recipe can date back to an origin point. Every ingredient comes from somewhere and when everything comes together, they tell a beautiful story with their flavors. I think the food you choose to eat on vacation can speak volumes to the town you&rsquore visiting.

Please note that due to COVID-19, some of the restaurants mentioned below have changed their menu, opening hours, or service options. Also, as most restaurants operate with reduced seating, I recommend making reservations in advance. We try to keep this list as updated as possible.

Original 40 Brewing Company San Diego

Best Restaurants in San Diego Downtown

Dobson&rsquos Bar and Restaurant

956 Broadway Cir, San Diego, CA
(619) 231-6771
Reserve a Table at Dobson&rsquos Here
$$ | Historic | Reservations Recommended

Dobson&rsquos Bar and Restaurant

Dobson&rsquos Bar and Restaurant is an institution. Right in the heart of downtown, next to Horton Plaza, Dobson&rsquos has been open since the early 80s.

Wood-paneled walls, a long and well-stocked bar, and of course the delicious food, make Dobson&rsquos a popular lunch and dinner spot with a classic feel that makes it perfect for a business lunch just as much as drinks before a show or even a romantic date night.

One of the must-try dishes is the famous mussel bisque, served with a puff pastry shell that is absolutely divine. According to their website, they sold over 1 million of them so far.

Tags: classy, great cocktails, excellent service, fine dining, vegetarian-friendly

Open for: Lunch and Dinner

The Prado Balboa

1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA
(619) 557-9441
Reserve a Balboa Park Table Here
$$ | Beautiful Location | Reservations Recommended

The gorgeous Prado at Balboa Park is a spot for people looking for great food and atmosphere. Between visiting the nearby museums and hiking the San Diego Zoo, most foodies will tell you to make a pit stop at The Prado at Balboa Park. The historic charm of their location combined with the grade A hospitality and 4-star menu creates a near-perfect experience.

The menu includes vegetarian, gluten-free, and even pescatarian options on top of their other delicious menu items. Their specialty cocktails, wine, and draft beers are well-known by the servers to ensure great food pairings. Dessert is no joke either. With a touch of Hispanic inspiration braided into their elegant concept, every taste bud is sure to be satisfied.

Tags: date night, vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free options, great cocktails, beautiful plates, excellent service, fine dining

Open for: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

KINDRED

When you think of vegan, you often think of something extreme or boho. This is not the case with KINDRED. They are very much the opposite. KINDRED is an eclectic vegan spot where they play some headbanging death-metal.

Yes, you read right. Death-metal. They make it a point to clear the stigma around being vegan. From their big brunch plates to their awesome sandwiches, you would never know such delicious food was vegan if you didn&rsquot look at the menu.

Their ambitious menu and style are not the only thing people come for at KINDRED. Their merch is a big hit too. You can find it in the shop and on their website. But people praise them most on the team&rsquos great attitude and dedication to providing an exciting experience. Their cocktails aren&rsquot too shabby either with the fresh herbs and interesting flavors. It&rsquos definitely worth a visit.

Tags: vegan-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, late-night dining, innovative menu, dive-y, interesting concept, outstanding service, great cocktails

Open for: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Buona Forchetta

3001 Beech St, San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 381-4844
Reserve a Table for 6 or More Here
$ | Pizza | Fresh Pasta

Funny enough, this Italian restaurant is not in Little Italy. I think that&rsquos a good thing since very few amazing Italian restaurants are in that area. Buona Forchetta serves up amazing authentic pizza baked in their wood fired oven and fresh pasta. Their fresh authentic Neopolitan pizza is given high praises along with their great neighborhood charm.

Guests rave about their authenticity and atmosphere. They&rsquove set themselves up very professionally. However, it&rsquos more than just that. The servers will gladly help you pair your awesome lunch or dinner with the perfect beverage, alcoholic or not.

Tags: fun with friends, date night, family-friendly, gluten-free options

Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop

640 Tenth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 450-5880
Book Your Table for the Best Steak in Town Here
$$ | Steakhouse | Butcher Shop

For every person that says eating meat is inhumane, there are amazing places like Cowboy Star. Their entire concept revolves around serving humanely treated livestock and the freshest seafood with locally grown crops.

If you&rsquore worried about any untruths, don&rsquot because I did my research. Cowboy Star beef is Certified Humane Angus beef and all their seafood follows the Seafood Watch Standards. They not only have prime ingredients, they treat them with respect and integrity.

The stunning plates accompanied by a stunning dining room and service will knock your socks off. Guests write of nothing but great service and food. And for my extreme foodies, there is a wine and beer pairing for everything on the menu.

Tags: fine dining, family-friendly, humane food, farm to table, great service

950 Sixth Ave C, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 794-0444
Save Your Table Here
$ | Italian | Coffee

As a foodie, I appreciate places like BIGA (bee-gah). Not only are they a farm to table restaurant, they use their local ingredients to create authentic Italian dishes. The pizza they serve is made in the traditional Italian way. If the ingredient isn&rsquot from nearby then it comes straight from Italy, adding to their authenticity. But it&rsquos not all about their crazy authentic Italian food.

Customers go out of their way to write reviews about how friendly everyone is and how amazing the coffee it. They&rsquove created a whole separate menu just for their coffee creations. Their dedication really shows through when eating there or even just sipping on a cup of coffee. The owner is hands-on, working just as hard as all his employees. It&rsquos a very united front.

Tags: great atmosphere, great coffee, fun with friends, excellent service, farm to table, vegan-friendly, gluten-free options

Open for: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

CUCINA Urbana

505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222
Book Your Little Italy Table Here
$ | Italian | Craft Cocktails

I must say before I start going off about the food, it was a pleasure speaking with the restaurant&rsquos publicist. He responded quickly and answered all my questions. He was a delight. It attests to the service you can expect to get at CUCINA Urbana. Their innovative menu and lovely California twist on Southern Italian food is refreshing.

The owner wanted to give the diners a sense of comfort when they visit the restaurant. While they have a farmhouse feel, they serve upscale food that the chefs pour themselves into, figuratively of course. The beauty and refinement can be seen all over the restaurant from how they plate your food to how they serve your cocktails.

It&rsquos definitely a great find but try to stop by during Happy Hour (5 pm-7 pm daily) at the bar. This spot is popular so reserve your table ASAP so you don&rsquot miss out.

Tags: family-friendly, great cocktails, excellent service, friendly management, seasonal ingredients, comfort food, instagrammable, innovative menu

Open for: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Best Restaurants in Little Italy

Crack Shack

2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 795-3299
Check Out Their Menu Here
$ | Chicken |Casual

Watch out everyone because the Crack Shack is in town and it doesn&rsquot play around. With the famous chef, Richard Blais at the head of the culinary team each plate is treated with the utmost care and consideration. These aren&rsquot your average fried chicken dishes.

Their philosophy is to treat every piece as if it were a $90 plate of food. The great thing is that none of their dishes will break the $30 mark and it&rsquos only $30 dollars because it&rsquos a big family meal.

The atmosphere is so friendly and welcoming while the food is just straight-up mouthwatering. And if you like your chicken with a little booze then drop by for happy hour Monday-Friday from 3 to 6. Beware though, expect lines. Food this good is in high demand.

Tags: casual dining, fun with friends, excellent service, great cocktails, innovative menu, vegetarian option, dog-friendly

Open for: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Juniper & Ivy

2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-9036
Reserve Your Table Here
$$ | Bar | Modern

From the owner of the Crack Shack, Juniper & Ivy also makes my list of good restaurants in San Diego. Their classy take on the farm-fresh movement.

Their menu goes through a regular change to keep their regulars guessing and the chef more inspired. They take familiar concepts, techniques, and ingredients and push their limits. The food they serve pushes every boundary to display its full potential.

The restaurant is in a former timber warehouse that offers a spacious, relaxed, social atmosphere. So, with beautiful plates, cocktails, and venue, you are sure to have a lovely time. Please be sure to make a reservation, without one you may have a long wait ahead.

Tags: Fine dining, great cocktails, excellent service, vegetarian-friendly, bar, vegan-friendly, farm-to-table

Herb & Wood

2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 955-8495
Secure The Best Table in The House Here
$$ | Rustic | Upscale

Spaghetti Squash
Photo is a representation of a Herb & Wood item, not the actual item

With transcendental art on the walls, gorgeously prepared food being served, and expertly crafted cocktails, it&rsquos no wonder why I put this on my list of greatest restaurants in San Diego.

This Little Italy restaurant has the pleasure of having Chef Brian Malarkey on staff cooking meals. Let&rsquos not forget the fabulous pastry chef, Adrian Mendoza who makes all the bread and desserts. Because of their creativity and perfection, people can enjoy the delicate notes of their food.

The restaurant has a jungle vibe with a modern chic twist. There&rsquos plenty of room at the bar and around the dining room. But it does fill up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation. If you&rsquore looking for an event venue, they are happy to accommodate so just ask!

Tags: fine dining, great cocktails, vegan-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, excellent service

Kettner Exchange

This wonderful restaurant is dedicated to our town&rsquos founder, William Kettner. The decor around the two-story restaurant gives nods to key elements of our city such as the bay and seafaring history.

The loveliness of the Kettner Exchange doesn&rsquot stop there either. Their bartender and Beverage Director is award-winning while the food itself is made by an expert chef and his crew of cooks.

Rooftop cabanas are available so guests can enjoy beautiful views as they sip on carefully crafted cocktails and perfect platters of food. Be sure to set up your reservations early, especially if you want a spot on their stunning rooftop.

Tags: fine dining, vegetarian-friendly, great cocktails, excellent service, wonderful location

Born & Raised

1909 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 202-4577
Set Up Your Reservation Here
$$ | Steakhouse

  • Michelle Orencia Credit: Anne Watson
  • Credit: Medium Raw Arts
  • Credit: Medium Raw Arts

This is the absolute place to be if you&rsquore looking to satisfy a luxurious palate with steak. Their humanely treated meats are sure to melt in your mouth then set your palate ablaze when paired with an expertly crafted cocktail.

The price is most definitely worth the quality of food and service according to the past guests. I highly recommend setting up a reservation, especially if you&rsquore bringing a date. Waiting for a table on a date is no bueno.

Tags: fine dining, steakhouse, gluten-free option, amazing cocktails, date night

Civico 1845

Personally, I have been to this restaurant a couple of times. I love it based on the fact that they use authentic techniques and fresh ingredients to bring the palate to Italy. It&rsquos owned by two brothers who were born and raised in Italy and they want to bring their home to the states.

When I ate there, the food spoke to me and told me about their gorgeous country. The interior was comfortable and humble as to not draw away from the food. On top of all that, they even have a vegan menu so everyone can be happy.

Tags: authentic, vegan-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, excellent service, great wine & beer selection, date night

Open for: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Ironside Fish & Oyster


Brought to you by the owners of Born & Raised, Ironside is its opposite. Serving some of the finest seafood around for a fair price, this Little Italy spot is sure to make the seafood lovers swoon.

Much like its sister restaurant, the menu changes daily to keep things fresh. I&rsquove dubbed it one of the best restaurants in San Diego because of the endless praise it receives for its service, food, and venue. Be sure to make a reservation stat.

Tags: date night, fun with friends, seafood, great bar service, excellent employees, innovative menu

Best Restaurants in Carlsbad

Jeune et Jolie

2659 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
(760) 637-5266
Book Your Table Now
$ | French

This quaint little French restaurant has a lovely ambiance with soft pastel colors all around and a gentle touch caring for the food. While they serve bold and rich flavors in the form of reimagined French dishes, the owners aim for a relaxed environment.

The little diner is unpretentious yet sophisticated with its environment. It&rsquos a great spot to get a taste of France so far to the West. Truly one of the best restaurants in San Diego.

Tags: date night, vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free options, authentic French, excellent service

Best Restaurants in La Jolla

La Jolla has some of the best restaurants in the city, as well as some of the top Brunch spots. Here are some of our recommendations for restaurants in La Jolla.

A.R Valentien

11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 777-6635
Secure Your Table Here
$$ | Californian | Reservations Recommended

Settled in the Lodge Torrey Pines and among their other luxurious dining options, the best would have to be A.R Valentien. They highlight the beautiful fresh flavors of California.

Tables overlook the hotel golf course greens but the real sight to see is the whole reason for the restaurant&rsquos name. Works by A.R Valentien, a 20th-century Californian artist, are displayed on the walls. It gives the restaurant the same air of elegance and freshness as the food they serve.

Tags: fine dining, hotel & restaurant, seasonal ingredients, vegetarian-friendly, date night

Open For: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The Marine Room

It is a well-known fact that the Marine Room is one of the best restaurants in San Diego. For over seven decades, they have welcomed everyone to enjoy their elegantly and carefully made seafood.

Eating here is a dream for many and a renaissance of flavor for those who have. If you&rsquore looking for a primo spot to have an anniversary or date, go here.

Tags: fine dining, date night, pescatarian-friendly, beautiful views, excellent service

George&rsquos at the Cove

1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-4244
Get Your Ocean View Table Here
$$ | California | Reservation Recommended

I really love the practices of George&rsquos. They approach every day as if it were a special occasion. With their locally sourced and harvested products, they make some really special dishes.

The contemporary dining room overlooks the beautiful ocean and the employees are so helpful and knowledgeable that it&rsquos hard to not enjoy yourself. They embrace the flavors of San Diego, like fish tacos, and treat their ingredients with so much respect that their dishes turn out amazing.

Tags: date night, innovative menu, great cocktails, pescatarian-friendly, vegetarian-friendly, small plates

Open for: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Nine-Ten Restaurant & Bar

910 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 964-5400
Make Your Reservations Here
$ | Seasonal Cuisine

In the Grande Colonial Hotel, there is a Michelin reviewed restaurant named Nine-Ten. They interestingly don&rsquot have a set style of cuisine. They rely on what the season offers in an effort to keep up with the evolving San Diego.

The decor is a casual take on an elegant contemporary style. Everyone who works there is well trained and enthusiastic to help with anything you need. And the ocean views is the cherry on top of this Michelin praised sundae. Make Your reservation right now so you don&rsquot miss out.

Tags: innovative menu, vegetarian-friendly, specialty cocktails, vegan-friendly

Open for: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Best Restaurants in Pacific Beach & Mission Bay

The Fishery

Opened by former fisherman, Judd Brown, the Fishery is a place where seafood can be highlighted and presented as its best self. The Fishery prides itself on paving its own way in the industry and creating a collaborative space.

The new executive chef, Mike Reidy, takes a fresh spin on the menu regularly so everyone can have a different taste of greatness. The servers and barkeeps are friendly people on top of everything. It truly makes it one of the best restaurants in San Diego.

Tags: pescatarian-friendly, sushi, seasonal, farm-to-table, vegetarian-friendly, great wine selection, date night

Open for: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Rocky&rsquos Crown Pub

3786 Ingraham St, San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 273-9140
Check Out Their Menu Here
$ | Bar | Cash-Only | 21+| Hidden Gem

Rocky&rsquos Crown Pub is a super straight forward spot. They only have a couple of burgers on their menu and an order of fries. This bar serves up quality beer, wine, and other boozy drinks to their guests who must be 21 and over to enter.

Those who work there are friendly, taking care of everyone who walks through their doors. With fresh ingredients, cold beer, and an awesome ambiance, there&rsquos no chance you wouldn&rsquot enjoy yourself. But remember, this is a cash-only joint.

Tags: excellent service, great liquor, burger joint, late-night, fun with friends

Open For: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Best Restaurants in Normal Height

Et Violà!

3015 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 209-7759
Make Your Reservations ASAP Here
$$ | French Bistro

If you&rsquore looking for some classic French cuisine with a touch of flair, then look no further than Et Voilà! Chef Vincent Viale takes seasonal ingredients and his French training to make each dish an absolute delight.

Guests rave about the perfectly cooked seafood and duck. The ambiance is serene while the employees are catering. It&rsquos a pretty popular spot though so make sure you reserve one of the rustic tables ASAP.

Tags: date night, classic bistro, very responsive owners, great service, lovely ambiance, vegetarian-friendly, happy hour

Best Restaurants in Hillcrest, Bankers Hill & North Park

Fort Oak

1011 Fort Stockton Dr, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 722-3398
Set Up Your Reservations Here
$$ | Surf & Turf

This is where rustic meets elegance. At Fort Oak, everything that can be made from scratch is made from scratch with prime ingredients. Each plate shines with Chef Brad Wise&rsquos personal finesse.

The dining room speaks of the famous oaks in Presidio Park nearby where you can take a leisure stroll before or after your reservations. But make sure to make them because they do get busy.

Tags: vegetarian-friendly, pescatarian-friendly, innovative menu, date night

Trust Restaurant

3752 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 795-6901
Pick Your Table Here
$ | New American

From the owners of Fort Oak comes this New American restaurant named Trust. They named it this because you can trust that their food will be delicious and innovative in both presentation and flavor.

Chef Brad Wise continues his culinary innovation at this restaurant and continues to bring a rustic elegance to the Hillcrest community. It&rsquos not just about the food to them but also the atmosphere, service, and drinks. You can get the whole package at a pretty reasonable price.

Tags: seasonal food, date night, great service, excellent cocktails, vegetarian-friendly, pescatarian-friendly,

Starlite

3175 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 358-9766
Secure Your Lounge Spot Here
$ | Gastropub | Hidden Gem | 21+

This 21+ hidden San Diego gem is serving up some fabulous innovative dishes. Not very many know about the Starlite Lounge but those who do know about its elegance and coziness. Guests have not only raved about the service, food, and drinks but also of the great decor that really ties the whole place together.

The fact that it&rsquos a hidden gem further proves that it&rsquos one of the best restaurants in San Diego. There&rsquos a little something for everyone here food and drink wise but check out the regularly changing specials to get a real treat.

Tags: date night, night with friends, excellent cocktails, great service, vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free options, pescatarian-friendly

Original 40 Brewing Company

3117 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 255-7380
Read About Their Journey Here
$ | Brewery

Disclaimer: When I visited I was provided complimentary service. My opinions are my own.

When I walked into Original 40 Brewery I was greeted right away by a very nice man. He immediately told me a little bit about the beer on tap and handed me a menu that was straightforward and simple. Every question I asked, he answered politely and confidently.

Most of the beer they have is house-made as well as the hard seltzer they rotated in and out. The food was flavorful and well cooked but my favorite, by far, were the ribs! They were juicy, fall off the bone, saucy ribs. I definitely recommend them.

They also have vegetarian and shareable options. If you aren&rsquot a big beer person then feel free to look at the wine list as well. They even have a charcuterie plate to cater to my wine lovers out there but no worries beer-fanatics, you can pair beer with it too. Just ask the knowledgeable employees. It&rsquos most definitely one of the best restaurants in San Diego.

Tags: craft beer, fun with friends, date night, vegetarian-friendly, great service, patio available

Open For: Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Best Restaurants in the Midway District

Sushi Tadokoro

2244 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 297-0298
Check Out Their Menu Here
$$ | Sushi Bar

As a San Diegan, I know great sushi places can be hard to find in the midst of all the low-quality places there are. Sushi Tadokoro is one of those amazing sushi gems that you can&rsquot really find anywhere except Japan.

They use homemade ingredients and fresh fish to bring integrity to the sushi they serve. They also offer a selection of Japanese liquor to pair with your sushi order. Really a diamond in the rough.

Tags: sushi, pescatarian-friendly, excellent service, authentic, great drinks

No great restaurant is just about food. The people are what make restaurants great. There may be some terrible people that go out to eat. Everyone has an entitled person story. But these restaurants make the most of every customer that walks in.

Yes, their food is monumental and that&rsquos part of why I put them on this list. I also added these places because of their reviews and some of my own experiences. They aren&rsquot just-food. They&rsquore real people serving stories and beauty on plates. Visit them and enjoy it!

And remember to book a food tour, it is such a great way to explore a city and try some local eats.

Disclosure: Most photos belong to the according restaurants as stated

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Best Restaurants in San Diego &ndash Pin for later:

Best Restaurants in San Diego by Neighborhood was written and edited by Hedge Metreyeon. For more San Diego Explorer posts, check out our homepage. For more of their articles visit here. Follow them on social media here.

Last Updated on February 23, 2021 by Maria Haase

About Hedge Metreyeon

Hedge is a San Diego local and loves to share their top recommendations for the best restaurants and places to go, fun stuff to do in San Diego all year round, and the best secret spots this city has to offer.


Other Fine Dining Restaurants

Bertrand at Mr. A's

Go for the view&mdasha sweeping, 12th-floor vista of downtown, San Diego Harbor, Point Loma and beyond&mdashand stay for the contemporary American cuisine. Superb wine list, sleek surroundings (including patio dining at eye level with planes heading for the nearby airport) and exceptional service make Bertrand's a standout for any fine dining occasion.

Mille Fleurs

Long celebrated as one of San Diego's top restaurants, Mille Fleurs in Rancho Santa Fe boasts haute cuisine, elegant décor, top-notch service and an intimate hacienda setting. Tucked off a tree-lined lane in San Diego's toniest neighborhood, the place is exclusive, expensive and worth every cent. A courtyard offers divine outdoor dining and the piano bar is a perfect place for a nightcap.


San Diego’s Oldest Restaurants

Restaurants come and go, but some are more popular and stick around for decades. Here’s a quick checklist of some local San Diego restaurants that have been in business for at least fifty years. How many have you patronized? Enjoy!

(1931-2019) Pekin Cafe Chop Suey [closed Mar 2019], was the oldest surviving Chinese-American restaurant in San Diego. Great for takeout. Old-school egg foo yung.
North Park
2877 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92104

(1933) Las Cuatro Milpas, old homestyle Mexican cooking from the Estudillo family. Cash only. Pork (no beef) tacos for breakfast!
Barrio Logan
1875 Logan Avenue
San Diego, CA 92113

(1928-2018) La Piñata [closed Nov 2018], originally founded by Florence Peters and family as Ramona’s Spanish Kitchen in 1932 to take advantage of tourists’ fascination with the story of Ramona (Nearby, Old Town’s Casa de Estudillo was renamed Ramona’s Marriage Place and heavily marketed as the venue from Helen Hunt Jackson’s period romance novel). The restaurant was taken over as La Piñata in 1962.
Old Town
2836 Juan Street
San Diego, CA 92110

(1933) The Waterfront Bar & Grill, San Diego fishermen’s hangout and longest continually held liquor license in town. Breakfast dishes and wide beer selection.
Harborview
2044 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

(1934) Tobey’s 19th Hole Cafe, Balboa Park municipal golf course clubhouse coffee shop. The restaurant concession was initially granted to golf pro Sterne Davis in 1934, then Chester and Lois Tobey, and since operated by the Tobey family — for three generations! A hidden gem, with tasty diner food and bubbly brunches.
Golden Hill
2600 Golf Course Dr
San Diego, CA 92102

Update: Even though historically designated, the clubhouse is scheduled to be gutted and converted to a pro shop and offices. The City of San Diego’s Clubhouse Improvement Project dictates a new modern clubhouse and restaurant will be built adjacent to the ‘renovated’ clubhouse. Litigation has stalled the city’s efforts.

(1935-2016) Red Sails Inn [closed 31 Aug 2016], established by Joseph Y Viery at Fisherman’s Wharf and G Streets, this seafood eatery was originally adorned with a red sail. Okay. Not continually running since 1935 (it was closed for a few years), but reopened by Jack Allen Davis in the Shelter Island location in 1957. A favorite with local boaters.

Fisherman’s Wharf
654 Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

Shelter Island
2614 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

(1937) Turkey Inn, Homer Tucker’s longtime cafe and bar in Ramona was known for turkey dinners, as well it should. Ramona was once the epicenter of San Diego’s pre-war turkey farming industry.
Ramona
716 Main Street
Ramona, CA 92065

(1938) San Diego Chicken Pie Shop, serving inexpensive chicken dinners since the Great Depression. Chicken pot pie dinner (includes dessert).
North Park
2633 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

(1940) Café La Maze, old gambling hangout and key-club for Hollywood types, now a nostalgic steakhouse. Get a booth and order prime rib au jus.
National City
1441 Highland Avenue
National City, CA 91950

(1940) El Indio, traditional Mexican food, allegedly the originator of rolled tacos. Go for the taquitos, stay for the chips.
Mission Hills
3695 India Street
San Diego, CA 92103

(1941) Clayton’s Coffee Shop, popular Coronado counter service coffee shop where you’ll have to wait in line for a spot. Malted milkshakes rule.
Coronado
979 Orange Avenue
Coronado Island, CA

(1941) The Marine Room, originally built in 1916 as the Spindrift Inn. High-tide brunch gets exciting when ocean waves hit the windows.

La Jolla
2000 Spindrift Drive
La Jolla, CA 92037

(1944) Hob Nob Hill, Harold and Dorothy Hoersch moved their original Juniper Café to the present location in 1946. Bakery. Breakfast. Almost bottomless mimosa.
Bankers Hill
2271 1st Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

(1946) Anthony’s Fish Grotto, a San Diego family-run institution on the waterfront since 1946. La Mesa location still open! Crab Louie or Mama Ghio’s Cioppino.
Embarcadero (1946-1951)
965 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

Middletown (1951-1965)
2535 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92101

La Mesa (1961-Now)
9530 Murray Drive
La Mesa, CA 91942

Embarcadero (1965-2017)
1360 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

(1946) Barrett Junction Cafe & Mercantile, home of the world famous all-you-can-eat fish fry, and some mighty good barbecue too. Originally homesteaded in 1888, the mercantile was established in 1915. Now run by Chris and Leon Herzog. Hush puppies with honey.
Hwy 94 at Barrett Junction
1020 Barrett Lake Road
Dulzura, CA 91917

(1946) Pernicano’s Family Ristorante, founded by Vennero and Maria Pernicano and made famous by handlebar-mustachioed son George, this Italian-American chain is still operated by the family. Chicken Francesca or a la Baffi.
El Cajon
1588 East Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92021

Scripps Ranch
9932 Mercy Road #109
San Diego, CA 92129

La Jolla
711 Turquoise Street
San Diego, CA 92109

(1946) Rainbow Oaks Cafe, originally founded in 1946 as ‘The Oaks.’ The historic eatery was bought by Jonell & Duke Maples in 2009 and remodeled using salvaged lumber from the 2007 fire. American home-style food, big portions is in order here!
Old Highway 395
4815 5th Street
Rainbow, CA 92028

(1946) Tony’s Jacal, the Gonzales family’s traditional Mexican food restaurant, a Solana Beach historical landmark. Get it with turkey…
Eden Gardens
621 Valley Avenue
Solana Beach, CA 92075

(1947) Aero Club, Mariam Profits’ iconic Middletown tavern for aircraft workers, now a classic whiskey joint (with more than 1200 kinds). Recently saved from obscurity by the owners of The Waterfront Bar & Grill.
Middletown
3365 India Street
San Diego, CA 91203

(1947) The Barbecue Pit, established by two sisters and their husbands, the chain of Texas-style barbecue joints is still run by the families. Joe & Lila Browning and Ed & Mella Jenson started out in the Maryland Hotel. Several locations have split off over the years as Wrangler Family Barbecue.
Fletcher Hills
2388 Fletcher Parkway
El Cajon, CA 92020

National City
920 East Plaza Boulevard
National City, CA 91950

North Park (catering)
2888 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92104

(1948) Red Tracton’s, old school steakhouse and piano bar across from Del Mar racetrack. Originally from LA. Alaskan king crab legs, filet mignon.
Solana Beach
550 Via de la Valle
Solana Beach, CA

(1949) Harbor House, the bayside seafood house originally located on what was known in the 1940s as Fisherman’s Wharf. It was reopened in 1980 in Seaport Village which is slated for redevelopment.
Seaport Village
831 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

(1949) Rudford’s, was the quintessential San Diego 24-hour diner on Old Highway 80, now “The Boulevard.” Get a spot at the counter and a cup o’ joe.
North Park
2900 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

(1950) Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Vincent and Madeline De Philippis family-owned pizzaria in Little Italy and several other locations. Pizzas are great, Lasagna’s a fave.
Little Italy
1747 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101

(1950) Turf Supper Club, Golden Hill grill-your-own steakhouse and piano bar. Steaks are great (if you cook ’em right), pint-sized cocktails.
Golden Hill
1116 25th Street
San Diego, CA 92102

(1951) Grant Grill, iconic restaurant in the U.S. Grant Hotel. Originally a men-only-for-lunch establishment, until stormed by a group of women attorneys in the 1970s. Look for the bronze plaque! Excellent food and beverage programs today, with live entertainment.
Downtown
326 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

(1951) Saska’s Steak and Seafood, the steak, seafood and sushi joint is considered a Mission Beach institution. Originally opened by Joseph Saska as Saska’s Hi-Tide Cafe, now owned by the Patio Restaurant Group. Crab chowder.
Mission Beach
3768 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

(1953) Bali Hai Restaurant, Tom F Ham Jr’s classic Shelter Island tiki destination, originally called Christian’s Hut. Mai tais are very strong, ‘Goof Punch’ is just right. Buy a mug.
Shelter Island
2230 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

(1954) Venice Pizza House, the LoMedico family’s pizza house, on more top-ten lists than we can count!
3333 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92104

(1955) La Bella Pizza Garden, Tony and Kitty Raso opened their pizzeria in 1955, and it’s still run by the family.
373 Third Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910

(1955) Lido’s Italian Foods, family-owned for generations, Marco and Liz Simi’s traditional Italian restaurant is well-loved, with a consistently good menu. Go for the pizza, but partake of their famous appetizer served first – the salami, cheese and Cheez-It® cracker plate.
7252 Broadway
Lemon Grove, CA 91945

(1956) Mona Lisa Italian Foods, Brunetto family restaurant and deli in Little Italy since 1973, originally located downtown San Diego. Explore their extensive deli, the sandwiches are great!
Little Italy
2061 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101

(1957) 12th and Broadway Restaurant, inexpensive, Mexican-American diner located on the southeast corner of 12th (now park Blvd) and Broadway streets. For years Juan and Teresa Gonzalez’s cafe entrance was graced with one simple, hand-painted word — ‘Restaurant.’ Originally opened as Chick’s Coffee Shop by Juan Gonzales and Raymond Turnage.
East Village
999 Park Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92101

(1958) Napoleone’s Pizza House, Crivello family restaurant on National City’s old Mile of Bars. Singer Tom Waits worked there as a youth.
National City
619 National City Blvd
San Diego, CA 91950

(1959) Red Fox Steakhouse, steakhouse and piano bar attached to the Lafayette Hotel. One of the last to serve a garnish tray. Try a shrimp cocktail and steak.
North Park
2223 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

(c1960) Club Marina, Point Loma’s oldest dive bar, now under ownership of the Waterfront Bar & Grill.
Point Loma
1310 Scott Street
San Diego, CA 92106

(1960) Harry’s Coffee Shop, Harry Rudolph’s classic coffee shop in the heart of La Jolla. Breakfast all day. (Surfers order the breakfast burrito.)
La Jolla
7545 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

(1960-2018) Nati’s Mexican Restaurant [closed June, 2018], founded in 1960 by Vernon E Lontz (who said he bought it from a woman named ‘Nati’, but the location was previously Dorothy Bales’ Consuelo’s, and he was its manager), now owned by Marilyn Thomas and Dennis Kerr, this longtime favorite has been serving up some of the same delicious Mexican recipes since the Eisenhower administration.
Ocean Beach
1852 Bacon Street
San Diego, CA 92107

(1961) Fidel’s Little Mexico, originally his barbershop, Fidel Montanez started selling tacos there, and the rest is history. Crab Burrito, Fidel’s Famous Margarita.
Eden Gardens
749 Genevieve Street / 607 Valley Avenue
(corner of Genevieve & Valley Ave)
Solana Beach, CA 92075

(1961) Imperial House Continental Restaurant & Lounge, old-school Continental cuisine, Caesar salad, Steak Diane presented tableside a la minúte. Classic piano bar attached.
Park West
505 Kalmia Street
San Diego, CA

(1962-2015) Albie’s Beef Inn [Closed Dec 2015], home of 1960s boudoir paintings and traditional piano bar. Prime rib and sweet carrot.
Mission Valley
1201 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108

(1963-2019) Old Trieste , a time-capsule of a restaurant, serving the same menu of Italian food for years. Jacket required. Lobster Fra Diavalo, Calamari Fritti, Scampi Trieste, all great!
Bay Park
2335 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110

(1963) Point Loma Seafoods, fresh seafood counter and takeout at the sportfishing docks. They’ll clean, filet and smoke your catch. Mrs Kelly’s Ceviche.
Point Loma
2805 Emerson Street
San Diego, CA 92106

(1964) Roberto’s Taco Shop, starting out with a tortillaria in San Ysidro, Roberto Robledo and sons have grown their family tree of ubiquitous taco shops to over 70 in the Southwest (not including all the *berto’s variations). Go for the carne asada burrito.
Roberto’s No. 1
National City
1406 Highland Avenue
National City, CA 91950

(1965) Aunt Emma’s Pancakes, Don Roland’s iconic pancake house in Chula Vista, originally located on El Cajon Blvd, was opened in 1959. Second location (old Keith’s Drive-In) in National City opened in 2009. Now both owned by Nick Gelastopoulos. Home of “Pancakes Around the World.”
Chula Vista
700 E Street
Chula Vista, CA 91910

National City
214 National City Blvd
National City, CA

(1965) Mister A’s, posh restaurant high atop Park West’s Fifth Avenue Financial Centre, was opened by San Diego businessman John Alessio. Remodeled by restaurateur Bertrand Hug in 2000. Dress code. A favorite outdoor rooftop happy hour for locals in-the-know.
Park West
2550 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

(1965) The Wrangler Family Barbecue, opened up by Forrest Holly and the Jenson family as another location of their Barbecue Pit restaurants, this place is a treasured time capsule that still serves up the same great Texas-style barbecue from Lyndon Johnson’s day…
El Cajon
901 El Cajon Boulevard
El Cajon, CA 92020

(1966) Wong’s Golden Palace, classic family-run Chinese eatery, celebrated its 50th anniversary February 28, 2016. Island of Flowers has been on the menu since day one. The Dragon Room bar serves tiki drinks, including their signature Wong Cup.
La Mesa/Rolando
7126 University Avenue
La Mesa, CA 91942

(1967) Bully’s was founded in La Jolla in 1967 by George Bullington, JD Dahlen and Lester Holt. Today both the Del Mar (est 1969) and Mission Valley (est 1971) locations are known for strong cocktails, hearty steaks and great prime rib. Bullington is said to have invented the Keoke Coffee.
Bully’s (1967-2008)
5755 La Jolla Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037

Bully’s North (1969-2017)
Del Mar
1404 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, CA 92014

Bully’s East (1971-now)
Mission Valley
2401 Camino del Rio South
San Diego, CA 92108

(1967) Chiquitas Mexican Restaurant. Opened by Ray and Chela Rodriguez and still run by the family. Black angus carne asada, wild shrimp cocktails, and margaritas. Yes, please!
Fairmont Park
4110 Home Avenue
San Diego, CA 92105

(1967-2019) Paesano Fine Italian Food [closed Apr 2019]. A classic, old-school red-sauce joint on the 30th Street ‘craft beer corridor.’ Known for their baked ravioli and lasagna.
North Park
3647 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104

(1968) Roberto De Philippis Butcher Shop Restaurant, old-school steakhouse known for its loyal customers, generous cocktails, prime rib, Nebraska corn-fed beef and fishnet-legged waitresses. Founded in 1968 by Roberto De Philippis (Caruso’s, Roberto’s Pizza House, The Continental, Italian Village), son of Vincent and Madeline De Philippis (Filippi’s Pizza Grottos). The surviving location now operated by International Aero Club LLC (94th Aero Squadron).
Chula Vista (1968-c2016)
556 Broadway
Chula Vista, CA

Mission Valley (1972-1986)
Plaza International Hotel
2151 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA

Kearny Mesa (1988-now)
5255 Kearny Villa Road
San Diego, CA 92123

(1968-2019) Su Casa, Marshall Pellar’s long-lasting Sonoran-style Mexican food and seafood grotto. In the same spot as The Luau, Mister Lucky’s Smorgette, and The Connoisseur restaurants. Pellar claimed to have invented the Strawberry Margarita and Nachos in 1968.
Wind’n Sea
6738 La Jolla Blvd
San Diego, CA 92037


You’re going to start noticing a few themes here. One of them is neon signs, a trend we covered in our last blog post.

People like taking photographs of words, and those pictures tend to do well on Instagram. Pair that with neon and a good pun, stir lightly, and wait for social media to ignite.

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7. Lunch Near Me: Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

You can smell Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream long before you walk in the door. The aroma of fresh waffle cones made in the store is tantalizing, there is no way to pass by without stopping in for a taste. The industrial space the shop occupies is fabulous, with high ceilings, and a curious chandelier made out of vintage sundae cups and reused wood. The tables and countertops are manufactured of wood from trees fallen around San Diego.

There are more than 100 flavors they rotate regularly, 32 of which are available at a time. The ice cream is made in Hawaii with local ingredients, with 18 percent butterfat. Low air is infused during the mixing process which gives the ice cream its signature density and richness. Their ice cream was awarded the Hawaii Seal of Quality, because more than half of the ingredients come from the Island. Some of the most popular flavors includeChocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut, Lychee Cream, Toasted Coconut, Tahitian Vanilla, Ginger Cream and Lilikoi Sorbet.

3077 University Ave, San Diego, California 92104, Phone: 619-220-0231 Hammond's Pacific Beach - 1418 Garnet Ave. Hammond's Point Loma - 3047 Sports Arena Blvd Suite 6

"12 Must-Try Lunch & Dessert Spots in San Diego" Back to Top or Romantic Getaways, Wedding Ideas close to me this weekend, honeymoon, anniversary Ideas, fun places near me

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Luau Room

The Luau Room (1949-1969) tiki restaurant and bar was the Hotel del Coronado’s grand entry into Polynesian Pop.

“Where you’re sure to find a tiki that tickles your fancy among the fascinating curios…”

The only other tropical restaurant nearby was The Island Cafe, but by the 1950s had evolved into a jazz club. Previous San Diego pre-tiki places had relied more on standard steak-and-fried-shrimp menus. Not to worry. There were also the Circus Room and Ocean Terrace for less adventurous visitors to the trans-bay hotel. And in the evening, there was dancing to to the music of Vic Vincent and his Orchestra.

“Are you big, brave and strong? walk to the Luau Room on the Ocean Terrace of the Hotel del Coronado and have a Zombie. If you aren’t the bravest kid in the block, you will be after one Zombie. Follow the Zombie or any other libation with the best Chinese food you have ever tasted…”

The Hotel del Coronado was built as a seaside vacation resort in 1888 on Coronado — a natural, sandy spit of an island in the bay — now considered by many as the crown jewel of San Diego.

The Luau Room opened in the summer of 1949 in the hotel’s Ocean Terrace mall, and immediately became popular with vacationists curious to experience the Hawaiian atmosphere, entertainment and exotic drinks —

Stay at the Hotel del Coronado. Check out the beach. The tennis courts. Buy a few Hawaiian shirts in the Ocean Terrace arcade. Go have dinner and drinks in the Luau Room.

Then head over to see Ray Kinney’s Royal Hawaiian Revue (opened August 15, 1949 for a four-week run) in the Circus Room, get a ‘ring-side’ table. Prolific Decca recording star Ray Kinney and his group appeared at the Palomar Theater in Seattle just before their extended appearance at the Hotel Del. They became quite popular after performing “Sweet Leilani” in Bing Crosby’s Waikiki Wedding (1937).

Films like Waikiki Wedding popularized everything Hawaiian with continental-bound American audiences.

Dinner? The Luau Room advertised ‘South Pacific food selections’ — but really, riffs on American-Cantonese food. Replete with egg rolls, fried shrimp, egg drop soup, chicken chow mein, pork foo yung, pressed duck, spare ribs. The Chicken Luau curry special was baked and served in a whole coconut.

The Luau Room’s cocktail list came complete with recipes for its tiki drinks, now attributed to head bartender Ebert William ‘Bert’ Chan (1916-1974).

Bert reportedly started his career at Trader Vic’s in San Francisco before tending bar at the Hotel Del — the later position he held for over 18 years.

His Coronado Luau Special became the restaurant’s signature drink, and can still be ordered at tiki bars today. Over the years, Chan’s cocktail menus listed more than two dozen tiki drinks, including Amber Dream, Bachelor’s Punch, Coronado Cooler, Doctor Funk, Flat-Top Punch, North Island Jet, Pango-Pango, Royal Hawaiian, White Lily, and the Zombie. And a separate menu insert for flaming drinks!

A Coronado newspaper wrote up the place a week after it opened, “and if none of these morsels are enough, there’s always the gyrating hula dancer over the bar which represents about the closest thing to perpetual motion This Dept, has seen since they inaugurated the 8 a.m. coffee hour down at the Shamrock. If one wearies of watching the hula queen, there’s also a whole roomful of strictly lovely South Seas atmosphere at its best set off with a quiet charm and grace, backed up by soft lights and warm music plus the same kind of silent, sandalized service which was so renown at the Hotel des Indies in Batavia, Java, before the war — and now so deftly transplanted to Hotel del Coronado’s Luau Room overlooking the blue Pacific…”

The Luau Room closed for good at the end of 1969. Hotel del Coronado manager Carlton Lichty (US Grant, Lubach’s) opened in its place the Prince of Wales Grille in January 1970. Today [2016], the location hosts the hotel’s seafood restaurant 1500 Ocean.

Citation: Martin S. Lindsay. ‘Luau Room.’ Classic San Diego: tasty bites from the history of America’s finest city. Web. < http://classicsandiego.com/restaurants/luau-room/>

Majority of information is from local newspapers San Diego Union, San Diego Evening Tribune, and Chula Vista Star. Further references are from articles and advertisements in Magazine San Diego, San Diego & Point Magazine, and San Diego Magazine ads, April, May and July 1950, January 1951.

“opened in the summer of 1949” comes from references in local newspapers and magazines. One article states the restaurant opened in 1940 (‘118 years of dining at The Del,’ San Diego Union, 21 Jun 2006), but there are no references or ads for it until 9 years later. 1940 probably comes from the catalog listing for a Luau Room menu in the Mandeville Special Collections at UC San Diego, which lists its creation date as ‘1940-1970.’ The first ad shows up 29 Jul 1949 and first mention “In the exotic setting of the Luau Room, Hotel del Coronado’s recently opened South Sea rendezvous…” is in San Diego Union, 1 Aug 1949. Writer Dick Watkins reviewed the week-old restaurant in ‘Tales and tidings,’ Coronado Journal-Compass, 4 Aug 1949. So, the opening was right around Friday night, 29 Jul 1949.

“No cover or minimum” Display advertisement, Magazine San Diego, March 1950.

“Ray Kinney’s Royal Hawaiian Revue” is from ‘Royal Hawaiian Revue opens at hotel on Monday,’ Coronado Eagle and Journal, 11 Aug 1949 and ‘Hawaiian revue trio,’ San Diego Union, 16 Aug 1949.

“South Pacific food selections” Display advertisement, San Diego Magazine, May 1954.

“Ebert William ‘Bert’ Chan” comes from San Diego city directories, 1966, 1971 Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014 probate estate notice, Coronado Eagle and Journal, 12 Sep 1974.


The group behind Trust and Fort Oak restaurants took over popular butcher shop The Heart & Trotter, expanding beyond its well-stocked meat counter to including sandwiches, weekend specials, and prepared food.

Ramen master Takashi Endo’s newest noodle shop is where to find brand new menu items, including shio tonkotsu ajitama ramen and Nagoya-style karaage. The Hillcrest location is also the only spot to feature his latest vegan versions of shio and miso ramen. For the first two weeks of April, the restaurant is offering 30 percent off all ramen, beer specials, delivery discounts, and free Hammond’s ice cream with every ramen purchase.

Vegan shio ramen Courtesy photo