Best Place To Eat At The San Diego Zoo – I am on a mission that is very near and dear to my heart. From the moment my plane landed, I’ve been on a relentless quest to find the best restaurants in San Diego.
Now based in San Diego, I’ve worked countless endless breakfasts, Taco Tuesdays, and jambalaya-
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San Diego is full of an ever-changing array of foodie hotspots. There are flavors from all over the world and more five-star restaurants than you can experience in a lifetime.
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While some incredibly popular places live up to the hype, you can easily find their names everywhere. This list is about places you might not have heard of unless you’re a local.
Categorized by neighborhood, here are the places I still dream about long after I’ve put down my fork. These are the best restaurants in San Diego. Enjoy your meal!
Liberty Public Market is one of my favorite places. With just under a dozen restaurants, there’s always a crowd-pleaser where everyone can find something they like.
Across the street from the market, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is a hip gastropub serving local craft beers and a variety of international cuisine.
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Thanks to the extensive outdoor seating around Liberty Station, this is a perfect place to linger over a meal or drink. It’s easy to wander until you find a spot with a cozy patio and then dig in.
This Mexican restaurant is loved as much for the look as for the food. With sweeping views of downtown San Diego from Point Loma, the views here are unmatched.
And dreamy vantage point over the bay. Although the food is so-so at this old-fashioned restaurant, the kitsch atmosphere has an undeniable appeal.
Whether you’re after a more casual lunch or a special dinner out, this well-loved Italian spot delivers. With delicious vegan options alongside traditional favorites (and oh, that tiramisu!), this place is a surefire hit.
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Just outside Freedom Station in Ocean Beach, this is the place to go for sunset.
There are plenty of seats and you are right on the beach for a vantage point for the sunset. This bar and grill has some good food options or you can just grab a drink.
In North Park, this wood-fired pizza joint has premium focaccia bread, vegan options, unique options like chile relleno pizza, along with your old favorites.
This vegetarian restaurant in the heart of University Heights features a variety of Thai-inspired vegetarian dishes. They are now fully vegan at dinner time and have a great selection of Asian beers to check out.
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With wood-fired pies, freshly made pasta and an impressive wine list, this place is the real deal. Even better, they have special toppings like ultra-delicious gluten-free bread that you won’t find at more traditional places.
More than a cute name, this South Park restaurant is said to have the best Indian food in town. With a great atmosphere and offers like Naanstop Mondays, it’s worth going to make your day.
This upscale Mexican restaurant in Pacific Beach features rooftop seating and an impressive menu of coastal Mexican cuisine. Come for happy hour, stay for a glamorous evening on the terrace.
A taste of Spain at Pacific Beach, you’ll find flavors from the Basque Country and Catalonia alongside unique tapa inspiration from Castilla and Extremadura.
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This La Jolla seafood market has been serving the freshest catch of the day since 1974. Try the best of the Pacific in a sandwich, taco or salad.
Downtown and Little Italy are filled with some of the best restaurants in California. There is a thriving restaurant scene throughout the area and there are countless name-brand places on every street.
It’s a great atmosphere and you can walk through the door of almost any restaurant there and have a five star meal. It’s hard to go wrong here!
For vegans, you can enjoy seasonal food and fresh kombucha while relaxing among the on-site herb gardens around the cozy courtyard.
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In the heart of Little Italy, this beautifully renovated warehouse was made for a romantic evening of champagne and oysters.
This gourmet hot spot is the premier destination for special dining out. With seasonal ingredients handpicked by the city’s best chefs, you’ll be amazed every time.
Another well-loved steakhouse, this is the place to come for a hearty meal of meat, mushrooms and whiskey.
San Diego is known for the best Mexican food this side of the border, so let’s wrap up with a quick roundup of my favorite local Mexican spots:
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Whether you’re coming for a week or a girls’ getaway, there’s plenty to see and do!
Thinking of doing something else in San Diego besides dining? There is also an alternative! Get my local guide for everything you need to know before you go. Downtown is the heart of San Diego, and with so much to explore like Seaport Village, the harbor, and the history of the Gaslamp Quarter, you can work up an appetite.
Lucky for you, there’s a selection of great restaurants in downtown San Diego to check out whether you’re looking for a quick and healthy fix, a burger, tacos, a hearty breakfast, or an upscale steakhouse.
This East Village restaurant has held the title of one of San Diego’s best steakhouses, and the consensus has been consistent since opening in 2008. Between the bison steak and dry-aged ribeyes, as well as the Miyazaki filets imported from Japan, there plenty of dishes for meat lovers to sink their teeth into.
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Insider Tip: Despite the meat-heavy menu, there’s also a selection of vegetarian options available like the Beyond Burger and a veggie-filled entree from the farmers market.
History runs deep at this downtown San Diego restaurant located on the ground floor of the U.S. Grant Hotel, and today it is still a fine restaurant known for exclusive breakfasts, lunches and dinners.
The restaurant’s mock turtle soup is a nod to the establishment’s past (it’s never left the menu), but diners can also dig into hearty dishes like bourbon apple salad, roasted leg of lamb, and leg of lamb with coriander .
San Diego’s Homemade Kebab Shop is known for its Mediterranean cuisine, and with multiple locations throughout the county, it’s the place to go for a quick, healthy fix when you’re downtown.
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Customizable meals with protein options like chicken, lamb/beef and falafel range from flatbread wraps and warm paninis to rice boxes and another filled with fries. Add a side salad for a complete meal.
Mexican food is a staple in San Diego, but if you’re looking for delicious food served in a beautifully decorated restaurant, head to Puesto at HQ. Organic, non-GMO blue corn flour is the base for all tacos filled with foods like al pastor, Maine lobster, grilled portobello or filet mignon.
Tacos aren’t the only highlights at Puesto. Save room for seasoned guacamole with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and frozen horchata for dessert.
This Gaslamp restaurant offers prime people-watching along with fresh seafood. While the San Diego location is one of several locations for this L.A.-based restaurant group, don’t discount their commitment to freshness. The group’s private supplier sends out regular deliveries of oysters, crab claws and a selection of fish throughout the week.
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Insider tip: Even non-seafarers will find something on the menu like filet mignon, ribeye and chicken, all ember-grilled.
Named after the fermentation used in baking, this downtown Italian restaurant serves wood-fired pizza, sandwiches (with homemade bread), pastries and pasta. Seasonal and fresh ingredients are local and form the basis of every menu item.
Dishes to whet your appetite include their Tuscan vegetable soup topped with slices of house-cured ham, warm squid salad and any of the pizzas.
Insider tip: Any pizza can be turned into a pizza fritta, a deep-fried Neapolitan specialty for $3 more.
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Chef-inspired farm-to-table cuisine is within everyone’s reach at this Culver City-based restaurant chain, and the downtown San Diego restaurant is a favorite of many residents and employees looking to be healthy for lunch and dinner.
Starters are built around plates with the option to choose your main protein (salt and pepper chicken, grilled salmon, falafel and marinated beef to name a few), match it with a selection of vegetables and sides. Sandwiches, specialty soups and salads round out the rest of the menu.
This burger joint is a San Diego original, so lines out the door for lunch and dinner are the norm even downtown. Don’t let the long lines stop you from sinking your teeth into the works’ famous bacon cheeseburger.
Although other options include double burgers, chicken burgers and even grilled cheese sandwiches, stick to one of the bacon-topped numbers—the bacon is a woven patty that provides pork in every bite.
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