San Diego's Definitive Food & Drink Guide Of The Season

The Editors | October 11, 2019 | Food & Drink

Enjoy S.D.’s best restaurants, sorted alphabetically and by neighborhood. Prices reflect the average cost of a three-course dinner for one, excluding drinks, tax and tip. Menus change frequently and seasonally, so not all items mentioned may be available at all times.

$$$$ Very Expensive ($60 and up)
$$$ Expensive ($40-$60)
$$ Moderate ($30-$40)
$ Inexpensive (under $30)

La Jolla

Beaumont’s Eatery
This Bird Rock favorite is known for its live music Thu.-Sat. and acoustic Sun. brunch. The menu, that is all about California fare, is full of standouts and is constantly changing. 5662 La Jolla Blvd., 858.459.0474, beaumontseatery.‌com

Bistro du Marché
Chef Jean-Michel Diot, of beloved former French bistro Tapenade, is helming its new rendition—Bistro du Marché. It’s a cozier escape than its predecessor, but its authenticity is as bona fide as ever. The Saint Jaques du Maine scallops are not to be missed. 7437 Girard Ave., 858.551.7500, bistrodumarche.‌net $$

Brockton Villa
Boasting one of the best views of La Jolla Cove, this cottage charmer is a staple on the weekend morning scene. Don’t overlook weekday dining, however, when dishes like the California lobster roll (packed full of claw and knuckle meat) are on the menu. In the am, try the breakfast tacos with soy chorizo, or the cinnamon roll pancakes with cream cheese frosting. 1235 Coast Blvd., 858.454.7393, brocktonvilla.‌com

The Cottage
The Cottage is best known for its stellar brunch, which draws a crowd of locals and visitors from near and far. From the griddle, don’t miss the buttermilk pancakes that boast seasonal batters and toppings. Searching for savory? The Baja chicken hash is the ultimate south-of-the-border take on poached eggs with hollandaise. Fortunately, the La Jolla hot spot goes beyond brunch as well, boasting renovated lunch and dinner menus with standouts like the shrimp and lump crab salad. 7702 Fay Ave., 858.454.8409, cottagelajolla.‌com

Covo La Jolla
Holding a prominent spot on Prospect Street, this 10,000-square-foot restaurant is extremely versatile. Not only does it serve delectable dishes, but it’s known for its late night lounge, private dining rooms and boasting bar—definitely your next birthday destination. 1205 Prospect St., Ste. D, 858.246.6721,

It’s sunset viewing and approachable fare atop Hotel La Jolla. Start with executive chef Ingrid Funes’ daily ceviche with papadum (lentil crackers); then move on to the apricot-glazed crispy cauliflower, a standout dish. 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive, 858.551.3620, cusprestaurant.‌com $$

This steakhouse’s signature USDA prime beef now comes with an ocean view, thanks to this La Jolla iteration. Go with its wheelhouse fare—the 14-ounce prime filet. 1250 Prospect St., 877.698.6666 donovanssteakhouse.‌com $$$

This eatery pays homage to Hawaiian and Californian fare with a focus on seasonal, locally sourced products. Chef Dave Underwood is dishing out delicious seafood dishes alongside California craft beers and a carefully curated global wine list. 1216 Prospect St., 858.454.5888,

Eddie V’s
The oceanfront restaurant is an outpost of the Texas-based chain, which specializes in fresh seafood, high-end cuts of beef and highly stylized service. Menu standout includes an oversize tomahawk. Steak lovers: Spoil yourself with add-ons like battered oysters with bearnaise sauce and a lobster tail. 1270 Prospect St., 858.459.5500, $$$$

El Pescador
This La Jolla standard knows market-fresh fish and laid-back vibes. The ceviche is one of S.D.’s best, and sandwiches like the shrimp and crab on toasted sourdough capture the essence of coastal living. For home cooks, the fish market has some of the freshest local catches around. 634 Pearl St., 858.456.2526, $

Galaxy Taco
Trey Foshee—known for fine dining at George’s California Modern and TBL3—takes on tacos at this La Jolla Shores hot spot. Masa is ground daily for the housemade tortillas, which enclose fillings like lamb barbacoa, lengua with charred onion salsa, and a vegetarian grilled avocado with lime and creamy corn salad. For dinner, a small menu of main dishes has standouts like short rib birria and wood-grilled trout. 2259 Avenida de la Playa, 858.228.5655, $

George’s California Modern
This La Jolla icon and Trey Foshee are local treasures. Start with the crudite, a sampling of Chino Farm veggies: It’s a perfect example of Foshee’s “San Diego on a Plate” credo. For the ultimate taste of S.D., though, is built around intensely regional ingredients like spot prawns, abalone, spiny lobster, and even foraged cattail hearts and natal plums. 1250 Prospect St., 858.454.4244, georgesatthecove.‌com $$$

This indoor-outdoor “ocean bazaar” is a stunner. Seafood fans will love Oyster Hour and all-day Thurs. $1 oysters and $5 cava. Don’t miss the whole fish ceviche, buffalo ranch octopus and monthly Ales & Acoustics events. 7837 Herschel Ave., 858.459.0221, herringboneeats.‌com $$

Isola Pizza Bar
With a wood-burning pizza oven straight from Naples, authentic Italian is hard to miss at this pizza bar. A comprehensive list of Italian wines and selections from a family vineyard in Piedmont will have you feeling whisked away to Italy. La dolce vita! 7734 Girard Ave., 858.412.5566, $

La Valencia
Chef Timothy Ralphs is now helming The Med, bringing years of hotel resto expertise. Expect to taste Emery’s affinity toward unique spices and locally sourced products—particularly seafood. Emery’s relationship with the Berry Good Food Foundation translates to his daily sustainable approach. 1132 Prospect St., 858.454.0771, $$

Manhattan of La Jolla
The moody dining room of this updated but old-school Italian classic at the Empress Hotel is where you go for the famed cannelloni, a classic Alfredo and an addictive New York Delmonico steak. The longtime beloved bartenders, Mike and Beige, know regulars’ drink orders by heart. Find them holding court in the piano lounge. 7766 Fay Ave., 858.459.0700, manhattanoflajolla.‌com

The Marine Room
At high tide, waves spray the windows at one of S.D.’s ultimate rooms with a view. Chef Bernard Guillas, an inductee into the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, is a global cuisine master. Proof? We love the Cervena elk loin with wattleseed and rhubarb, and just about everything else on the menu. 2000 Spindrift Drive, 858.459.7222, marineroom.‌com

Chef Jason Knibb’s Jamaican jerk pork belly is a star dish, but perhaps the best dining option here is not to handcuff Knibb—go
for a Mercy of the Chef experience and let the guy run wild. Otherwise, start with the lamb tartare with cured egg yolk and move on to mains like the braised oxtail tortellini. 910 Prospect St., 858.964.5400, nine-ten.‌com $$$

We’re partial to a seat on the twinkly patio for alfresco dining at this La Jolla Shores mainstay. The beef carpaccio with capers and shaved Grana Padano has a cult following, and the lemon herb half-chicken is a favorite. 2182 Avenida de la Playa, 858.454.1589, piatti.‌com $$

Authentic Mexican street food freshens the La Jolla dining scene. Standouts include the signature tacos, and comfort food with a south-of-the-border twist. 1026 Wall St., 858.454.1260, eatpuesto.‌com $

Wayfarer Bread + Pastry
Serving artisan craft bread that will have your mouth watering right when you walk in the door, Wayfarer Bread + Pastry is a small neighborhood bakery that prepars bread fresh and locally. Pro tip: try one of the delicious hand-made pastries. 5525 La Jolla Blvd., 858.454.1924, $$

Centered on housemade specialties, high-minded cocktails and owner Arturo Kassel’s well-curated wine list, this is one of S.D.’s top spots for seasonal dishes. While it may seem simple, make sure to try the Caesar salad with cabernet vinegar and a light spritz of lemon. 1044 Wall St., 858.551.7575, whisknladle.‌com $$

Torrey Pines/Utc

A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Executive chef Jeff Jackson, a winner of the Bocuse d’Or Culinary Gold Cup, and chef de cuisine Kelli Crosson lead the nose-to-tail charge in S.D. Needless to say, their house-cured meat plate is fantastic. Insiders tip? The off-menu Atomic Burger is perfect for heat-seekers. 11480 N. Torrey Pines Road, 858.777.6635, arvalentien.‌com

Din Tai Fung
Authentic food reminiscent of what’s traditionally served in Taiwan, Din Tai Fung’s menu features options like soy noodle salad to sweet and sour spare ribs, and it’s all delicious. 14545 La Jolla Village Drive, Ste. E-25, 858.546.8858,

DRIFT eat + drink
The Hyatt Regency La Jolla has a newly renovated restaurant with DRIFT eat + drink. Experience coastal aesthetic and fare like the Baja shrimp ceviche tostadas—a piquant mix of tender shrimp, avocado, cilantro, pico and lime. The Cali meat and cheese board is not to be missed, with its regionally sourced options like Marin Creameries Triple Cream Brie. For approachable mains, try the beautifully seared salmon and melt-off-the-bone short ribs. 3777 La Jolla Village Drive, 858.552.1234, $$

The Grill at The Lodge
The Grill’s long-awaited new reno is complete and exec chef Jeff Jackson mans the kitchen—and the new custom six-foot wood-fired grill outside on the expanded patio. Fan favorites like the no-frills drugstore hamburger are still on the menu. 11480 N. Torrey Pines Road, 858.777.6641,

The Winery
Grab a glass of wine and a choose from favorite small plates seared ahi tuna and fresh seasonal oysters. Opt for the chef’s nightly special of fresh wild game or fowl, which ranges from Venison and Elk to Rabbit and Squab. 4301 La Jolla Village Drive, 858.230.7404, $$$

Cocktail connoisseurs take note, bespoke drinking hole Raised by Wolves might just become your second home. Embark on a well-welcomed cocktail journey by ordering a Redneck Riviera featuring rye, whiskey, apple brandy, lime, bonal, maple, amaro, orange, cinnamon and allspice dram (serves two) or perhaps you’re double-dating, and in which case, you’ll be remiss not to order the Promise of Paradise Punch boasting a striking blend of blanco tequila, lemon, strawberry, sparkling rose and Italian aperitivo. Cheers to endless options! 4301 La Jolla Village Drive, 619.629.0243,

Rancho Santa Fe

The Cork and Craft
From humble origins in 2012, the small urban winery The Cork and Craft has risen to the zenith of cuisine and culture. As the dining portion of Abnormal Company—San Diego’s only joint restaurant, winery and brewery—this Rancho Bernardo landmark has executive chef Scott Cannon (formerly of Jake’s Del Mar) at the helm, and is sure to make you swoon with a seasonal and local menu of starters, salads, sides and mains. 16990 Via Tazan, San Diego, 858.618.2463, $$

The starring centerpiece of the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe sparkles in its brand of casual-glam. Chef Casey Tompson menu is an ode to the carefree but elegant California ranch lifestyle. 5951 Linea Del Cielo, 858.756.1131,

Mille Fleurs
Offering European fare with a relaxed, casual dining atmosphere, Mille Fleurs’ dishes range from Oeufs (deviled eggs and caviar) to Chino Farms Ravioli prepared with sweet potatoes, pumpkin and sage. You can’t go wrong with this menu. 6009 Paseo Delicias, 858.756.3085, millefleurs.‌com $$$

The Pony Room
The approachable menu here includes a classic ceviche with plump shrimp and mahimahi tacos. Locals sip skinny margaritas at Rancho Valencia’s chic, reincarnated bar, where tequila is the spirit of choice. A members-only agave spirits program focuses on guided tastings and comes with the chance to have your name engraved on the Pony Room’s All Agave trophy. 5921 Valencia Circle, 858.756.1123, ranchovalencia.‌com $$

Across the hall from The Pony Room, find one of the most gorgeous dining rooms in S.D., replete with Damien Hirst artwork and a plush wine cellar downstairs. Chef Jarrod Moiles focuses on a strong coastal cuisine that is exemplified throughout his dishes. For meat eaters, the Brandt Beef rib cap is remarkably flavorful and tender, and a good counterpart to light farm dishes like the Chino’s market vegetable salad, a medley of raw, cooked and pickled local veggies. 5921 Valencia Circle, 858.759.6216, ranchovalencia.‌com $$$

Westroot Tavern
Casual dining with high-end twists meets sleek industrial style. Thirty beers on tap with two full bars and locally sourced SoCal meals make this a primetime spot for the big game. Cherry on top? Brunch lovers like the impressive bloody mary lineup. 6025 Village Way, 858.720.6645, $

Del Mar

With an exclusive wine list, unparalleled service and a menu executed by chef William Bradley, this S.D. staple at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar is second to none. And the honorifics just keep rolling in: five stars from AAA and Forbes rank the North County destination as one of the top 40 restaurants in the United States. This, as well as Bradley’s rep as a Relais and Châteaux elite grand chef, easily makes him one of the most decorated chefs in the county, with good reason. 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, 858.314.1900, addisondelmar.‌com

The Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s more casual eatery has a celebrated new executive chef—Dana Hauser. As the first woman exec chef in the entire Fairmont brand, Hauser features a famed Southern Italian-inspired menu. 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, 858.314.2727, thegranddelmar.‌com $$$

The Del Mar resto that launched the career of S.D. star chef Carl Schroeder is reclaiming its relevance thanks to Evan Cruz, who cooked with Bernard Guillas and Roy Yamaguchi. An Asian-inflected menu includes signature sushi like the albino roll with crab, avocado and baked halibut and new additional sushi offerings from chef Andrew Hoh. 11966 El Camino Real, 858.369.6032,

This Del Mar institution is the essence of see-and-be-seen. Go for one of the many classic options or opt for seasonal specials, including roasted wild Alaskan halibut or pan-seared scallops. 3263 Camino Del Mar, 858.481.1166, brigantine.‌com $$

Casa Sol y Mar
A vibrant addition to Diane Powers’ family of Mexican restaurants, Casa Sol y Mar invites guests to indulge in classic recipes like Carnitas a la Michoacán, or lighter fare with the new “Cazuelas”—tortilla-less burrito bowls. S.D.’s iconic birdbath margaritas are served amid a backdrop of beautiful Mexican folk art and decor, under a handpainted vaulted ceiling illuminated by 35 traditional brass stars and sparkling glass lanterns.
12865 El Camino Real, 858.792.4100, casasolymar.‌com $$

CUCINA enoteca
Upstairs in the spacious high-design resto, grab a swinging seat among the hanging planters of the cool bar to nosh on charred octopus or one of the mini Mason jars of savory spreads served with Tuscan toast. The dinner theater continues downstairs, a lively scene for dishes like short rib pappardelle, a favorite. 2730 Via de la Valle, 858.704.4500, cucinaenoteca.‌com $$

Davanti Enoteca
This Chicago-born concept at Del Mar Highlands serves rustic Italian cuisine in a modern wine bar setting. Fan favorites include the truffle egg toast and the focaccia di Recco, a creamy, cheese-filled flatbread served with fresh honeycomb. Weekend brunch features a signature build-your-own bloody mary bar with pickled veggies, stuffed olives, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and more than 150 different hot sauces. 12955 El Camino Real, 858.519.5060, davantienoteca.‌com/delmar $$

Jake’s Del Mar
This Del Mar eatery serves up iconic SoCal dining. There’s a solid bar program, and the Chef’s Burger, served on a Hawaiian bun with cheddar and grilled onions, is one of the best in North County. Don’t miss the open-faced lobster club with bacon.
1660 Coast Blvd., 858.755.2002, jakesdelmar.‌com $$

S.D. darling Carl Schroeder is a three-time James Beard Award nominee and his skills with fresh produce (almost exclusively from famed Chino Farm) are second to none (try the avocado and grapefruit salad). The cabernet short ribs are a favorite. It’s a tough weekend table to get, but worth every obsessive call to the hostess. 3702 Via de la Valle, 858.523.0007, marketdelmar.‌com $$

Enjoy killer ocean views while feasting on dishes like sea scallop crudo or grilled swordfish with cauliflower, chickpeas and fennel. An international vodka bar boasts more than 200 bottles, but the signature margarita is fantastic. 1555 Camino Del Mar, 858.792.0476, pacificadelmar.‌com

Favorites at this Whisknladle offshoot include the cutting board with cheeses and house-cured meats, and the PK Brick Chicken with spring peas and glazed carrots. The seasonal dish not to miss? Prosciutto-wrapped trout. 1201 Camino Del Mar, 858.875.7737, prepkitchen.‌com

Searsucker Del Mar
The Searsucker team is rolling out a seasonal prix fixe, three-course menu featuring ripe harvests
and the freshest ingredients. Venerated local chef Vince Schofield (formerly of Catania La Jolla), the new chef de cuisine, and executive chef Anthony Torres are dedicated to keeping the quality of beloved faves while adding new signature dishes. 12995 El Camino Real, 858.369.5700,

Solana Beach/Cardiff/Encinitas

Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza
Expect a wait on a busy night: Locals can’t get enough of Wade and Kristi Hageman’s wood-fired, thin-crusted pizzas topped with organic, seasonal and local ingredients. What else to try? That salted caramel pudding. 897 S. Coast Highway, 760.634.7671, blueribbonpizzeria.‌com

Death by Tequila
Known for flavorful dishes and beautiful plate presentation, Death by Tequila’s menu is boasting with options from wood-fired salsa to a tequila flan. Try one of its many tequila options to see where its name originates. 569 S. Coast Highway 101, 760.782.2240, $$

Pacific Coast Grill
We’ll take a patio seat and that billion-dollar ocean view, please! Mains include Pacific paella and Hawaiian-style baby back ribs. The martini menu is suitably epic. 2526 S. Coast Highway 101, 760.479.0721, pacificcoastgrill.‌com $$

This Peruvian gem has authentic aji de gallina (shredded chicken in an amarillo sauce), seco de cordero (lamb shank) and other Peruvian classics. The cozy eatery fills up fast. Make reservations! 8564 S. Coast Highway 101, 760.753.9050, qerorestaurant.‌com

Red Tracton’s
Lobster bisque lovers, you have arrived. A longtime favorite of Del Mar Racetrack fans, the classic menu here also offers standout prime rib, huge seafood portions and fab salads. Due to popular demand, the open-faced lobster club sandwich is available on Friday and Saturday. A new, lighter menu features grass-fed filet. Live music Wednesday through Saturday makes the old-school bar even livelier. 550 Via de la Valle, 858.755.6600,

Tony’s Jacal
Famous for its turkey tacos and cabbage salad, Tony’s has been a staple for Mexican food since 1946. It’s just seconds from the racetrack and the patio offers a great place to sit, chill and reminisce. 621 Valley Ave., 858.755.2274, tonysjacalsd.‌com


Argyle Steakhouse
Located on the Aviara Golf Course, this award-winning steakhouse is a go-to hot spot for San Diegans. The eatery prides itself on its fine cuts of beef—think American and Japanese wagyu—which are paired nicely with sauteed seasonal mushrooms and a glass of ZD cabernet sauvignon. Opt for a table overlooking the golf course’s lush greens or inside the elegant dining room. 7447 Batiquitos Drive, Carlsbad, 760.603.6908,

Blue Ocean
This stunning sushi bar and robata grill is making a splash in North County thanks to whimsical design flourishes from Bells & Whistles; a deep menu of specialty rolls (try the lobster tail roll); and flamed-grilled skewers like pork belly and black cod. 2958 Madison St., 760.434.4959, blueoceanrobatasushi.‌com

This hip hangout is about as close to the great outdoors as it gets without pitching a tent. Chef Andrew Bachelier utilizes wood-fired fare to create standout seafood dishes of the day, served whole and sizzling with flavor. As for dessert, in true campfire fashion, it boasts some of the best s’mores in town. 2725 State St., 760.637.5121, $

The beachy vibe at this Cape Rey Carlsbad eatery pairs well with its coastal-inspired cuisine. Take a seat around one of the fire pits for a menu of savory shared plates. Craft cocktail offerings include the house mezcal and silver tequila margarita—the local go-to. 1 Ponto Road, 760.683.5500, chandlerscarlsbad.‌com

Located in the Sheraton Carlsbad, Twenty/20 attracts locals and tourists alike with an indoor-outdoor design that makes the most of its killer coastal views and a menu inspired by northern Spain. Share small plates and house sangria by the fire pit. 5480 Grand Pacific Drive, 760.827.2500, twenty20grill.‌com $$$

inland North County

This stylish indoor-outdoor eatery creates contemporary farm fare using the property’s kitchen garden. Look for fresh and flavorful dishes and don’t miss the astounding cheese selection. 17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, 877.517.9340, ranchobernardoinn.‌com/‌avant $$$

Bellamy’s Restaurant
Known as California modern with French influences, this farm to table local favorite features favorite starters like the baked brie and braised pork fries. For the main, opt for mussels mariniere or the spicy shrimp prepared with Spanish sausage and pepper ragout. 417 W. Grand Ave., 760.747.5000,

Black & Blue Steakhouse
Valley View’s signature steakhouse is premier casino dining. Try the surf and turf or The Cowboy, an 18-ounce bone-in rib-eye served with shoestring onions and a peppercorn sauce. 16300 Nyemii Pass Road, 760.291.2130, valleyviewcasino.‌com

Decoy Dockside Dining
Lakehouse Hotel and Resort’s new eatery, Decoy Dockside Dining, is well worth the expedition to San Marcos for its scenic plot of land and elevated fare. The menu offers touches of wilderness and game throughout, with cold and hot starters, and shareable plates. End the evening with a complimentary boat ride around Lake San Marcos. 1035 La Bonita Drive, 760.653.3230, lakehousehotelandresort.‌com $$

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
Beer is only half the story at the Escondido home of the groundbreaking brewery. Nearby, Stone Farms (open for tours) grows produce for the restaurant’s exclusive use, inspiring a winning, garden-fresh menu. 1999 Citracado Parkway, 760.294.7866, stoneworldbistro.‌com

Mission Hills/Bankers Hill/Hillcrest

Azuki Sushi
A favorite with chefs and
foodies, this Fifth Avenue spot emphasizes locally sourced seafood and veggies from S.D. farms. Prime sushi is on the menu (rolls are great, but go with sashimi or nigiri to truly taste the ocean bounty), but we also like the salmon and shiitake mushroom risotto, and the Japanese fried chicken. 2321 Fifth Ave., 619.238.4760, azukisushi.‌com $$

Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
This reclaimed wood-interiored resto from Carl Schroeder and partner Terryl Gavre is beloved for its braised short ribs. With bar manager Zack Gray mixing cocktails, it’s added a late-night happy hour program with braised pork tacos, deviled farmers market eggs and the restaurant’s outrageous truffle fries. 2202 Fourth Ave., 619.231.0222, $

CUCINA urbana
The first of its kind in San Diego, the California-inspired Italian kitchen and wine shop opened doors in the heart of Bankers Hill in 2009 and has been a San Diego dining staple ever since. Executive chef Joe Magnanelli takes the reigns in the kitchen with his inventive menu comprised of vasi, antipasti, insalate, pizza, pasta, piatti and dolce. For large groups (yes, it’s party central), check out the lunch and dinner prix fixe menu options. 505 Laurel St., 619.239.2222, cucinaurbana.‌com

Great Maple
Playful touches abound at this elevated dinette, like a roving cocktail cart and sweet Red Light Specials (trust us). After noshing on one of the savory dishes, be sure to save room for the sweets! At brunch, it’s all about the maple and bacon doughnuts. 1451 Washington St., 619.255.2282, thegreatmaple.‌com

Hane Sushi
The sister location to famed San Diego sushi house Sushi Ota isn’t tradition-bound: Modern flair shows on creations like the Kitchen Sink Roll, a massive juggernaut of sea creatures (tuna, octopus, salmon, etc.). Find chefs sitting at the bar indulging in owner-sushi chef Roger Nakamura’s omakase menu. 2760 Fifth Ave., 619.260.1411

Mister A’s
Downtown’s penthouse resto is as iconic San Diego as it gets—with contemporary flourishes on traditional. Timeless classics? The view of the 747s landing at Lindbergh, and chef Stephanie Voitzwinkler’s fine cuisine, which includes favorite dishes like the Maine lobster strudel. 2550 Fifth Ave., 12th Floor, 619.239.1379, asrestaurant.‌com $$$$

The Patio on Goldfinch
This indoor-outdoor eatery is a standout for its elegant glass cheese cave housing an international selection ranging from milky and mild to sublimely stinky. Breakfast and brunch have crossover dishes, while lunch and dinner include small plates, salads and heartier fare, like whole stuffed fish. 4020 Goldfinch St., 619.501.5090 $$

Starlite Starlite is the hippest slow-food lounge in town. Try the organic mac and cheese, the all-natural Brandt Beef burger, a simple dish of grilled octopus or local legend singer-songwriter (and part owner) Steve Poltz’s favorite veggie burger. 3175 India St., 619.358.9766, starlitesandiego.‌com $$

The Red Door
Chef Luciano Cibelli personally selects and prepares his dishes almost exclusively from local farmers. Our favorites include hand crafted pastas like the gnocchi made with basil pesto, string beans and roasted peppers. Save room for desserts, as these are some of the most decadent in S.D. 741 W. Washington St., 619.295.6000, thereddoorsd.‌com $$

With a spray-painted mural and open kitchen, this hip restaurant is serving dishes with locally sourced ingredients from chef Brad Wise. Menu standouts include ricotta agnolotti, wood-grilled octopus and braised oxtail raviolini. 3752 Park Blvd., San Diego, 619.795.6901, $$

North Park/South Park

Buona Forchetta
Pocket-sized Buona Forchetta cranks out wood-fired pizza from its gold-tiled Ferrara oven, christened “Sofia” after the Italian owners’ daughter. A twinkly sidewalk patio is buzzy at night, with table-waiting guests sipping wine and sharing stories. The chalkboard menu highlights nightly housemade pasta specials. 3001 Beech St., 619.381.4844, buonaforchettasd.‌com $

Carnitas’ Snack Shack
This taco shack has turned into a landmark thanks to the sculpted wood pig gracing its roof and chef-owner Hanis Cavin’s porkcentric menu. Step up to the sidewalk window and order the pork belly app (the composition of which changes daily) or the pork sandwich, with layers of schnitzel, pulled pork and bacon. 2632 University Ave., 619.294.7675, carnitassnackshack.‌com

Dunedin North Park
This neighborhood spot has elements from its New Zealand surf town namesake and a curated menu of game meats like wild boar. The alfreso experience has locals raving about its burger options and memorable sangrias. A bonus: It’s dog-friendly. 3501 30th St., 619.255.8566, $

Holy Matcha
Holy Matcha, indeed! This North Park addition is responsible for the influx of green goodies on social media that has been circulating as of late. From avocado toast to yogurt bowls, this spot utilizes matcha, a traditional Japanese green tea, for all treats. Owner Geraldine Riaduara has poised the cafe to serve two types of the beverage—a ceremonial-grade matcha served traditionally and seasonal matcha sips like the matcha latte. However, the ambiance is the real star of the show. 3118 University Ave., $


Photography by: Dalila Ercolani