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The It List: Where to Eat and Drink in San Diego This Season

By Casey Gillespie, Claire Harper and Marisa Vito | December 23, 2019 | Food & Drink

Gourmet luxuries are tucked into little corners all over San Diego. These are some of our favorites.


Pendry San Diego's cocktail bar Fifth & Rose

BEST COCKTAIL BAR: Fifth & Rose at Pendry San Diego Located adjacent to the lobby in the Pendry hotel, Fifth & Rose is a sophisticated reprieve in downtown San Diego. Midweek, it is the perfect date spot—either with a significant other or a group of friends—while weekends are a livelier affair. The moody lighting, crimson velvet chairs and beautifully lit bar make a gorgeous backdrop for a SoCal winter evening. INSIDER'S TIP: Go straight to the exquisite menu and explore the craft classics—the El Lujoso Margarita ($135) is by far the best in town. We also love the seasonally rotated cocktails created by the innovative bar staff. 550 J St.


An’s Dry Cleaning may not be what you expected, but it has an even sweeter twist. Known for its gourmet gelato, An’s Dry Cleaning delivers tasting notes fit for any fashion connoisseur. From flavors such as Plaid and Muslin to some of their past favorites like Velour and Linen, the gourmet gelato shop perfectly pairs some of the city’s best gelato with fashion playfulness for an experience you won’t find elsewhere. INSIDER'S TIP: An’s Dry Cleaning has created Fluff & Fold 2.0, an insider’s club that includes a specially designed gelato growler—the ideal year-round gift for the person in your life who can’t get enough of the sweet stuff. 3017 Adam's Ave.

BEST FOODIE TAKEAWAY: Enoteca Buona Forchetta

Foodie favorite Buona Forchetta needs no introduction, but the restaurant group’s newest eatery, which recently opened a few doors down from the famed South Park spot, is the shiniest jewel in the company’s crown. Open all day, it’s a coffee bar, lunch spot, apertivo-hour must and gourmet takeaway. INSIDER'S TIP: The intimate eatery hosts multicourse dinners featuring authentic Italian dishes cooked by friends and family of Buona Forchetta. The dinners aren’t advertised and they sell out fast, so follow Enoteca on Instagram to stay in the know. 3011 Beech St.


Arama is Bankers Hill’s worst-kept secret—and one of San Diego’s most exclusive dining experiences. From the neutral, Scandinavian-chic design to the Michelin-starred Italian chefs, it’s an experience you won’t find elsewhere. Perfect for diners who prefer to linger over a meticulously prepared meal and enjoy watching the seemingly choreographed kitchen theatrics. INSIDER'S TIP: Elevate your Arama experience by requesting the level-two wine pairing and you’ll get the chance to try Gaston Chiquet Brut “Tradition” from Vallée de la Marne. 2550 Fifth Ave., Ste. 120


Temecula is less than hour’s drive from San Diego, but when you enter through the front doors of this winery, you feel immediately transported. From the uberchic design-forward tasting room to the bold Italian-style wines and delicious cheese boards, Bottaia is proof that Southern California wineries have finally arrived. Book in for a tasting or try your hand at wine making and opt for the wine blending experience. INSIDER'S TIP: Take part in the wine blending lab experience and ask the winery to save your recipe. Every time you return in the future, you can order your custom red wine blend to enjoy. You can also order additional bottles to take home or place a larger order for a special event. 35601 Rancho California Road, Temecula


Situated in a cozy corner of Little Italy, Vino Carta is a welcome reprieve from long restaurant queues and the often over-crowded eateries that surround it. At this part wine boutique shop and part charming wine bar, the shop’s staff are some of the most knowledgeable and passionate we have found in San Diego. The shop stocks a selection of wines you won’t find elsewhere—including many organic and sustainable options—and that alone makes it worth the trip. INSIDER'S TIP: Opt for the wine flight at the bar and get a sampling of the diverse wines they carry. We love the treasure trove of wines from lesser-known boutique wineries across California. 2161 India St.


Raved about for its Baja and Mediterranean-inspired seafood dishes, Vistal at the InterContinental caught our eye for that reason and much more. Smartly perched on the hotel’s third floor, the buzzy locale offers unobstructed panoramic bay views, which, of course, means picturesque San Diego sunsets. As you dine, watch the sky come alive with red, orange, pink and blue streaks while the sun sets over the Pacific, with the regal USS Midway perched center stage. INSIDER'S TIP: Check out the hotel’s new—and soon-to-be-raved-about—speakeasy bar and restaurant set to open early this year. 901 Bayfront Court, Ste. 1

BEST MAITRE D’: Mille Fleurs

Self-proclaimed as “born to be an educated entertainer,” Marko Dedic found his calling as the renowned maitre d’ at the city’s upscale French Californian eatery, Mille Fleurs. From his perseverance in a demanding industry to his meticulous attention to detail and his ability to work the restaurant with ease, it’s easy to see why Dedic is the city’s most beloved maitre d’. INSIDER'S TIP: Call ahead to have Dedic customize your menu presentation as a story, rather than a list of offerings, to make your dinner experience more memorable and luxe. Also, ask for the off-menu 2013 Royal Tokaji 4 Puttonyos Aszú Red Label to pair with chef Samantha Bird’s housemade chocolate morsels for an unforgettable sweet treat. 6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe

Photography by: Photo courtesy of Fifth & Rose