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.
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.
In strictly alphabetical order!
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
969 Pacific Highway
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
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
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
505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101
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
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
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.
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
Treat yourself to a meal here if you want to know how good
the food in San Diego can be. The décor 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
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
Feb 27, 24 10:16 AM
Feb 27, 24 10:16 AM
Feb 27, 24 10:16 AM