There is a plethora of phenomenal places to grab a bite in San Diego but Yelp can be overwhelming and mixed reviews can sometimes point you in the wrong direction. When I first moved to San Diego, finding my favorite dinner restaurants involved a lot of trial and error. I’m not a picky eater but the restaurants I love an adore are full of flavor from the details in the decor to the decadent dishes and presentation. I’ve explored San Diego high and low and after three and a half years of expanding my roots in America’s Finest City, I thought it was only right to share my findings with you. Below are not only some of my favorite restaurants in San Diego but my favorite restaurants EVER!
ENJOY! & if you happen put any of my recommendations to the test and give them a try for yourselves, please comment below about your experience! I’d love to hear what you think. OR if you have any recommendations for me, PUH-LEASE don’t hold back!
PS- THIS POST IS NOT SPONSORED BY ANY RESTAURANTS LISTED! The purpose of this post is simply to share incredible eateries.
Et voila is James and my go-to date night restaurant. This hidden North Park gem is known for their incredible service, cocktails, and French AF atmosphere and cuisine. Our MUST TRY dish is hands-down the Mushroom Ravioli. For my meal, I’ll typically go for the Scallops or mussels while James drools over his lamb tenderloin.
I’ve been coming back to Herb and Wood religiously since I’ve tried it for the first time four months ago. Not only is the aesthetic breathtakingly beautiful but the dishes are e v e n b e t t e r. So much effort is put into every dish, every cocktail, and every dessert. I recently tried the scallops (can you tell I like scallops?) and couldn’t even talk until I finished every last bite- I was THAT consumed in the dish. If you know me, you know I’m hardly ever at a loss of words but this place has left me speechless time and time again. My MUST TRY dish is the steak tartar and the Gnocci!
I can’t recommend this place enough! Because it’s on the pricier side, this is definitely a special occasion restaurant for James and I. We just recently celebrated our two year anniversary at this Gatsby-esque restaurant. I could go on and on about how the atmosphere sucks you in immediately from their mobile cooking stations to the open kitchen and stunning bar but let’s get to the important stuff- the food. We read countless reviews DEMANDING that we try the bread with Normandy style butter and thank GOD we did because it was delicious! Our MUST HAVE item at Born & Raised is the escargot! ESPECIALLY for the person who has never tried snails before. The dish is the most decadent appetizer I’ve EVER had in my life.
OK SO. I actually had the pleasure of being wined and dined by the Lionfish staff as an influencer and I just about cried of excitement when I received the offer e-mail. I had been wanting to try this place since they opened and it was finally my time to shine! This place goes above and beyond with their cocktails and presentation. Each of their dishes has a slight touch of Spanish/Mediterranean vibes and spice. I, of course, got the scallops. I mean… DUH! I FUCKING LOVE SCALLOPS- but you already know that. If you don’t… you must not have read the first couple paragraphs of this post? Anyways, I was impressed by EVERY single thing I tried but my two MUSTS are the “Rice, Paper, Scissors” cocktail and their Lobster Carpaccio (which btw is the BEST carpaccio I’ve had in my life which says a lot because I’ve had a lot of carpaccio in my day)!
Holy HOT HELL. James brought me to Cucina Urbana the first time for my 24th birthday last year. I don’t even know where to start, ya’ll. From the aesthetic of the restaurant to the delicate details that decorate each dish, these peeps know how important presentation is and it SHOWS. While our parppardelle pasta was full of flavor and deliciousness, I must say- the octopus appetizer was extremely impressive and therefore, it is my MUST TRY dish!
Not many people know of this fine-dining gem that sits inside of the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad but I figured I’d let you in on this secret, delicious spot. James and I are OBSESSED! For the past two years, we’ve driven up to stay the night at this luxurious hotel primarily because of Vivace. The waiting staff is incredible. I mean… if you drop your napkin, they are there to pick it up for you before you can even consider picking it back up. The entire dining experience at Vivace is GRAND! We have yet to try anything we don’t LOVE at this extravagant restaurant but our ABSOLUTELY MUST TRY dish is HANDS DOWN the lobster risotto. Risotto can easily become too rich for my liking but Vivace’s is always prepared perfectly. I made the mistake of giving James a bite and he ended up eating half of it! I couldn’t blame him though because I’d have done the same if he had ordered it. Another great dish is the tartare which only has one negative- once it’s gone, you wish you had more!
If you’re looking for a 5 star meal unlike any other Taiwanese meal you’ve ever experienced, you go to Din Tai Fung, aka the new restaurant in San Diego that had a month long wait list BEFORE THEY EVEN OPENED. Starting January 2019, Din Tai Fung will be open for walk-ins instead of maintaining the reservation-only system they currently have in place. DTF boasts 4 Michelin Stars and the best ribs you’ll ever try in your life… you can quote me on that. The ribs and soup dumplings are our MUST TRY dishes.
BUT WAIT… there’s more.
7. Costerra - for a scrumptious view of San Diego Bay and delicious food.
8. The Lion’s Share - for BOMB ass cocktails and weird but A M A Z I N G dishes. For example- James and I are obsessed with the antelope sliders. Yes, ANTELOPE (?!)
9. Buona Forchetta - Italian cuisine and an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in Italy! The pizza is to DIE.
10. Provisional Kitchen - for incredible meaty dishes and a very elegant atmosphere.
I hope you all get the chance to try these fabulous restaurants- you will NOT be disappointed! Please come back to my website and leave a comment on this post if you take me up on any of my recommendations and love your meals and experiences! If you have a great San Diego restaurant recommendation, leave it in a comment and I’ll be sure to try it out and get back to you with my opinion and experience details. As always, I hope you all enjoyed this post! Are there any other lists you’d like me to make for San Diego recommendations? Let me know!