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Where to Eat in San Diego

Pacific Coast Highway Travel's guide to where to eat in San Diego from fresh local seafood to Mexican, Italian, fine dining, and the best fried chicken and burgers in the USA.

Several plates of food at ANIMAE restaurant in San DiegoSample Dishes at ANIMAE

San Diego is renowned for its lively and eclectic culinary scene. It has a diverse range of restaurants offering everything from fresh seafood to Mexican and Italian cuisine, and what's been described as both the best fried chicken and the best burgers in the United States!

Here's our pick of where to eat in San Diego.

Where to Eat in San Diego

In strictly alphabetical order!

ANIMAE

The interior of ANIMAE restaurant in San DiegoANIMAE Interior

This restaurant is right on the Pacific Coast Highway as it goes through San Diego, and is a block back from Broadway Pier. The menu is as eclectic as the decor, which could be described as art deco meets a Chinese restaurant but done with style and vibrant colors.

The Executive Chef, Tara Monsod, is from the Philippines, and she creates food that is fusion at its finest - classical Asian dishes meet contemporary California. ANIMAE is one of the few places in San Diego that serves genuine Japanese A5 Wagyu beef, though lots of US beef too. You'll find dishes like Shanghai crab noodles, Hunan lamb chops, and Taiwanese chicken as well.
969 Pacific Highway
(619) 432-1225
animaesd.com

Buona Forchetta

Several sample plates at the Buona Forchetta Italian restaurant in San DiegoSample Plates at Buona Forchetta

This neighborhood restaurant in the South Park district serves up some of the best Neapolitan-style pizza in the city. It started in 2011, and there are now several offshoots, but this is the original. It has an oven specially made to withstand the temperatures of up to 1000F (about 540C) that Neapolitan pizza-making demands. There's outside seating on a pleasant street corner, and the menu remains simple, but totally delicious.
3001 Beech St #101, San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 381-4844
buonaforchettasd.com

The Crack Shack

Fried Chicken Burger at The Crack Shack in San DiegoSuperb Fried Chicken at The Crack Shack

The Crack Shack, in Little Italy, is owned by Michael Rosen, who also owns the fine-dining Juniper & Ivy (coming up, below). He wanted somewhere that was more accessible and more casual but which still served good quality food.

The Crack Shack was the answer, its signature dish being what you might call SCFC - Southern California Fried Chicken. This has been described by some food critics as the best fried chicken in the USA. Eat your heart out, Kentucky! There are now several branches, including ones in Las Vegas and Houston, but this is the original.

We love fine dining as much as anyone, but sometimes you just can't beat a fried chicken sandwich, their signature serve, though there are several variants. The chicken is totally free-range and all their ingredients come from small local farms, so you can expect fried chicken like you've never tasted it before. Their fries are pretty good too! Go for the large helping, every time, as the regular quickly disappears.
2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 795-3299
crackshack.com

Cucina Urbana

The Bar at the Cucina Urbana Italian restaurant in San DiegoThe Bar at Cucina Urbana

This popular Italian place is in Bankers Hill, on the edge of Balboa Park, so makes a good spot for lunch or dinner if you're visiting the park or San Diego Zoo. It's also a wine shop and they stock over 200 wines from around the world but with a focus on Italy and California. They make their own pasta fresh daily, as well as their own cheeses, bread, sausages, and charcuterie. They also source most of their produce locally, and you notice the difference in the freshness of their wood-fired pizzas, and their other Italian specialties.
505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222
cucinaurbana.com

The Fish Market

Outdoor terrace overlooking San Diego Bay at the Fish Market restaurant in San DiegoThe Fish Market

The Fish Market has a great location north of the harbor with a deck right over the water and giving lovely views of San Diego Bay. You won't get fresher fish anywhere and we like The Fish Market because you can eat cheap and simple or lavish and expensive, whatever you're in the mood for. They do a great clam chowder and beer-battered cod and chips, right through to king crab legs and lobster tail.
750 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-3474
thefishmarket.com

Herb & Wood

Wood-Fired Oven at the Herb and Wood Restaurant in San DiegoHerb and Wood's Wood-Fired Oven Is Not Just for Pizza!

A few blocks back from the harbor in Little Italy, this upscale place offers contemporary American cuisine that combines Mediterranean flavors with fresh Californian ingredients. The chef, Brian Malarkey, has the knack of taking the simplest things and transforming them into something sensational. Who knew fried olives could be so delicious? Or roast carrots? The menu isn't huge but includes steak, several pasta dishes, and wood-fired pizzas. Don't miss the cocktail list, which takes a similar approach. A Mezcal and Beet, anyone?
2210 Kettner Blvd #110, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 955-8495
herbandwood.com

Hodad's Downtown

A Burger at Hodad's restaurant in San DiegoBest Burger in the USA?

This casual burger chain with several locations is a San Diego institution. The downtown branch is right on Broadway and an easy way to see whether you agree that they make the best burgers in the USA. That's what some fans say. The menu's what you'd expect, and if you think they're a little on the pricey side for burgers, just wait until you bite into one.

They have veggie burgers too, and a wide range of local beers to wash it all down with - though then you might not have room for one of their awesome milkshakes - that's always a tough call!
945 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-6323
hodadies.com

Juniper & Ivy

The funky interior of the Juniper and Ivy restaurant in San DiegoJuniper and Ivy's Funky Interior

Treat yourself to a meal here if you want to know how good the food in San Diego can be. The d├ęcor is kind-of industrial-chic, as the building was an abandoned warehouse in Little Italy, transformed into a fine-dining Mecca in 2014. The James Beard-nominated chef, Anthony Wells, conjures up an array of inventive dishes, such as baby beets with house yoghourt, marinated kumquats, and toasted pistachios. Or you could have a miso black cod with king trumpet mushrooms, Swiss chard, and a sesame seed crunch.
2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-9036
juniperandivy.com

Puesto

Sample dishes at the Puesto Mexican restaurant in San DiegoColorful Mexican Dishes at Puesto

This Mexican restaurant isn't far from the waterfront Ruocco Park, though there are several other branches around southern California including La Jolla, Huntington Beach, and Anaheim. The success is down to fresh ingredients and a creative approach to typical Mexican dishes without sacrificing the tradition.

For example, you can get several different guacamoles, squash blossom quesadillas, filet mignon tacos, a range of their own Mexican beers, Mexican wines, and flights of mezcals and tequilas. We love our Mexican food, and this is a cut above, believe us.
789 W Harbor Drive, Suite 155, San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 233-8880
eatpuesto.com

Where to Stay in San Diego



Other San Diego pages

  • San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, San Diego, California has been called the best zoo in the world and is the most visited zoo in the United States.

    San Diego Zoo

    San Diego Zoo is in Balboa Park, San Diego, California has been called the best zoo in the world and is the most visited zoo in the United States.

  • SeaWorld in San Diego is the original marine theme park, featuring killer whales, dolphins, shark encounters, manatee rescue, and Journey to Atlantis.

    SeaWorld San Diego

    SeaWorld in San Diego is the original marine theme park, featuring killer whales, dolphins, shark encounters, manatee rescue, and Journey to Atlantis.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends the best museums in San Diego, including art museums, science centers, historical museums, and motor museums.

    Best Museums in San Diego

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends the best museums in San Diego, including art museums, science centers, historical museums, and motor museums.

  • San Diego whale watching tours like this from Hornblower Cruises let visitors get up close to see gray whales, dolphins, sea lions and other wildlife.

    San Diego Whale Watching

    San Diego whale watching tours like this from Hornblower Cruises let visitors get up close to see gray whales, dolphins, sea lions and other wildlife.

  • Cheap flights to San Diego with Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, WestJet and other airlines from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

    Cheap Flights to San Diego

    Cheap flights to San Diego with Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, WestJet and other airlines from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

  • Whale watching trips and tours in San Diego are one of the California city's best activities but you can watch the whales from the San Diego shoreline too.

    Whale Watching from the San Diego Shoreline

    Whale watching trips and tours in San Diego are one of the California city's best activities but you can watch the whales from the San Diego shoreline too.

  • San Diego in Southern California is a major travel destination and this page from Pacific Coast Highway Travel has visitor information and best things to do.

    San Diego

    San Diego in Southern California is a major travel destination and this page from Pacific Coast Highway Travel has visitor information and best things to do.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel's website recommendations on Where to Stay in San Diego include reviews of budget and luxury hotels in downtown San Diego.

    Where to Stay in San Diego

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel's website recommendations on Where to Stay in San Diego include reviews of budget and luxury hotels in downtown San Diego.

  • Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends good cheap motels in San Diego including Super-8, Motel 6, Travelodge and Days Inn.

    Good Cheap Motels in San Diego

    Pacific Coast Highway Travel recommends good cheap motels in San Diego including Super-8, Motel 6, Travelodge and Days Inn.

  • The San Diego Museum of Art is in Balboa Park, San Diego, and is the oldest and biggest art museum in the city with a fine collection of Spanish art.

    San Diego Museum of Art

    The San Diego Museum of Art is in Balboa Park, San Diego, and is the oldest and biggest art museum in the city with a fine collection of Spanish art.

  • Things to do in San Diego include visiting the world famous San Diego Zoo, touring the city's outstanding Wild Animal Park, whale-watching and visiting museums.

    San Diego Things to Do

    Things to do in San Diego include visiting the world famous San Diego Zoo, touring the city's outstanding Wild Animal Park, whale-watching and visiting museums.

  • Here are facts and figures about Balboa Park in San Diego, which is bigger than New York's Central Park and contains 19 gardens, 17 museums and 14 restaurants.

    Balboa Park in Facts and Figures

    Here are facts and figures about Balboa Park in San Diego, which is bigger than New York's Central Park and contains 19 gardens, 17 museums and 14 restaurants.

  • Visiting Balboa Park is one of the best things to do in San Diego, California, as the park is home to San Diego Zoo, several museums, and beautiful gardens.

    Visiting Balboa Park

    Visiting Balboa Park is one of the best things to do in San Diego, California, as the park is home to San Diego Zoo, several museums, and beautiful gardens.



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