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{san diego} top 20 bites…





As I approach my last month in San Diego, I'm working on compiling my "top 20 bites" and the best of the best of my food adventures here over the past year. So far, I've got a solid list of 17, and now looking for 3 more things I've missed or any other hidden gems to seek out during my last 30 days in this beautiful city. So, San Diego…what say you? I'm all ears…I'll post my final 20 picks at the end of July before the big farewell…

{photos by Oh Joy}


  1. I bet CU’s in there! 😉
    Have you tried Cotixan Mexican food yet? There’s one in Mira Mesa, another on Genessee. CARNE ASADA FRIES!
    And I’ve heard Hodad’s in OB has got some awesome burgers. Haven’t tried it yet, though 🙂

  2. The Mission in North Park (blueberry french toast and chicken pesto quesadilla are amazing)
    They’re only open 7-3pm so make sure to schedule a visit to this yummy eatery!

  3. neighborhood in the east village has some awesome sweet potato fries and burgers
    basic pizza has great thin crust pizza. i love to get it with mashed potatoes on top.
    toronado in north park has an amazing beer selection, and surprisingly has really great food as well. their lamb sliders are amazing.
    el zarape for scallop tacos
    sake house in leucadia for some interesting japanese izakaya.
    oh there are so many places i could just keep going!

  4. – El Vitral: real, Mexico-city style food downtown. Great happy hour. The masa is homemade, which makes for incredible tortilla chips, quesadillas, sopes…everything. My mom goes to Mexico City every other week for work and she says it’s the real deal.
    – Buon Apetito: best Italian in down, besides Baci. But I like Buon Apetito more because of its location (Little Italy) and atmosphere (always bustling). Waiters are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to wine.
    – Crab Hut for amazing crab claws and oysters! So fresh & so deliciousss. It’s on Convoy Street

  5. I don’t know what’s on your list already, or where you’ve been, but thought I’d contribute anyway. My absolute favorite place to go is Harney’s in Old Town. Best sushi I’ve ever had.

  6. Have you been to The Kebab Shop in the East Village? Holy schmolly, you’d better check it out before you leave town. It’s on 9th Ave, just up from Market St.
    Try the lamb schwarma -the bread is to-die-for, as is the sauce, and veggies, and lamb.

  7. Hash House is amazing, Blind Lady Ale House has incredible pizza, Urban Solace, and you can’t go wrong with Las Cuarto Milpas.

  8. I will recommend : Il Postino in North Park, El Zarape in Park Blvd, The Mission in Univesity Avenue and even the Deli at Pancho Villas Farmers Market in El Cajon Blvd!

  9. I should add (re: Kaito Sushi) that if your budget allows, let the chef bring to you whatever is fresh. That’s what my husband and I did and it was the best sushi we’d ever had – not your typical “Americanized” junk!

  10. The Mission – Park Boulevard, El Zarape – Park Boulevard, Jayne’s Gastropub – 30th (get the Jayne Burger and a crostata for dessert), Mama’s Bakery (Lebanese food – they have their own special oven for the most delicious wraps for their schwarmas)

  11. i second the kebab shop downtown. make sure you get french fries in your kebab. and if you want to try something different but super delicious check out muzita on university. and the black bottom cupcake at babycakes.

  12. I will second the above:
    The Neighborhood (burgers, truffle fries, and a great beer selection)
    Harney Sushi (not as good as Sushi Oto though!)
    Urban Solace
    The Mission
    And add:
    Starlite (neighborhood lounge with fantastic cocktails and a pistachio crusted ice cream sandwich)
    George’s at the Cove (Great food, great view)

  13. Your last 30 days? nooooo! 🙁
    I can’t wait to see this list. I love eating out, but I’m not sure I can think of other places other people haven’t already contributed. Let’s see…
    PB: Broken Yolk, Green Flash, PB Sushi, Santanas (though now it’s called Fresh Mexican Food)
    OB/Pt. Loma: Phil’s BBQ, Corvette Diner, Hodad’s, South Beach Bar & Grill (fish tacos!)
    North Park is growing, but I’ve been to Splash Wine Bar, and Urban Solace. Both yummy!
    Chinese (or Convoy St): Dumpling Inn, Emerald, Jasmine
    ok, I’ll stop there. Can’t wait to see the list!

  14. I love:
    – Alexander’s in North Park (Italian)
    – Mama’s Bakery in North Park (Lebanese)
    – Pizzeria Luigi in Golden Hill
    – Claire’s in Solana Beach
    – Pomegrante in North Park (Russian)
    – Ponces in Kensington (Mexican)

  15. not being in san diego anymore, i really miss the junkier food that you can only get there…
    – carne asada fries (most taco places, but las ponchos is my favorite)
    – california burrito (most taco places, but cotijas is my favorite
    – hodad’s bacon cheeseburger. the bacon is in a patty. A PATTY OF BACON!

  16. Wow, I’m impressed by my fellow San Diegans. I do believe you’ve included most of the good ones. Don’t forget Mama’s Kitchen in South Park. Best vegetarian biscuits and gravy in town!

  17. I love your blog! Don’t leave San Diego without going to Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop in Mission Hills (! Best twist on the regular taco, awesome decor, great staff, and a one of a kind “lucha libre” experience…i love it.

  18. Thanks so much everyone! So many great suggestions…now lets see if I can get to all of them! 😉

  19. This is fabulous! I’m about to make a trip to San Diego as well for a week and I would love to check some of these places out. Last year I went and wrote a post about it on my blog, where I mentioned all the fabulous foods I tried along the way with photos:
    If nothing else, go to Fox Sports Grill and have their Banana Bread Pudding! YUM! 🙂 Thanks, Joy!

  20. The Linkery in North has the best burger I have ever had. Ate one after my half marathon. Grilled pineapple & bacon. Yummy!
    Bleu Bohemme in Kensington has amazing mussels.
    Dao Son on El Cajon Blvd. has been a favorite of ours for years. The Tasty Red Chicken or Fish is my husbands go to dish.
    If you want an perfect meal North of San Diego Market in Del Mar is worth a visit. We did the tasting menu with the wine pairing and I can’t wait to go back.

  21. You should definitely check out North County too!
    The Roxy
    Rico’s Taco Shop
    The Naked Cafe
    Mozy Cafe
    all of these are in the Encinitas area…

  22. El Q’ero in Encinitas. They serve thoughtfully prepared peruvian/south american food. Very cozy and located in the heart of the walking district. I recommend getting a bunch of appetizers so you can try a bit of everything! Check out the reviews on Yelp.

  23. – in Encinitas is to die for!!! My heart skips a beat just thinking about the “s’more” – she actually torches it while you watch. Amazing.
    2.trattoria trulli – in Encinitas on the 101. BEST ITALIAN FOOD. They are all Italians… you literaly feel like you are in Italy… listening the their accents… small spaced tables. It’s fantastic…
    3. Pipes Cafe- in Cardiff has the best breakfast burrito of your life. NO JOKE. Plus you can check out cute surfers 😉
    4. Hotel Del Coronado – The lobster bisque soup with the mango avocado salsa – yes please.
    5. The Savory – in encinitas. Former 4 Seasons chef. Best filet mignon with blue cheese amazingness on top… drool.
    Those are my top 5 pics- I’m a North County Local…
    Oh one more… if you plan on cooking from home go to the cardiff seaside market and purchase the famous “cardiff crack”(steak)in the meat section… it has that nickname for a reason 😉

  24. Starlite
    Lolitas (#1 for carne asada fries)
    Urban Solace
    Extraordinary Desserts
    The Kebab Shop
    Hash House a GO GO

  25. I can also recommend El Zarape and Basic Pizza. If you want a good sandwich for the list, Mona Lisa has this dressing they put on theirs that is just incredible (of course the crusty bread, meat, and shredded lettuce also contribute greatly).
    But no one has mentioned Cafe 222 downtown…I don’t know if you’re looking for obscurity because this was on Food Network but it is hands down the most amazing breakfast on the planet…Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast. Whether you put it in the Top 20 or not, please, please, please don’t leave San Diego without trying it!
    Also best gelato by far is at Pappalecco in Little Italy (corner of State and Cedar)- they are awesome, real Italians and so cool; it’s the only place I’ll go- it’s so good.

  26. Have you heard about MIHO Gastrotruck? They’re brand new, and out and about in San Diego everyday! Check out their website for each day’s location. (The owners are former employees of the Linkery!)
    I drool whenever I look at their site!

  27. the Pannikin- Tea and Coffee. It has the most delicious pastries, muffins, sandwiches and coffee. There is almost always a line out the door. The atmosphere of the old railroad station only adds to the wonderfully quaint coffee shop. Check it out, It is a must!!!!!

  28. Extraordinary Desserts, Cafe Chloe for brunch, Lucha Libre and Bull Taco for great tacos, Georges California Modern, & Burger Lounge.

  29. Can’t wait to see your list Joy! I’m crossing my fingers that you’ll post it before my short trip down there to visit family (July 26th – 28th. hint, hint.)

  30. My faves:
    Indigo Grill – cedar plank salmon with squid ink pasta, shrimp tamale
    Mona Lisa – four cheese white pizza
    Point Loma Seafood – any of the fried fish sandwiches
    Dussini’s – lobster mac & cheese

  31. I haven’t been to it yet but I hear BICE downtown is AMAZING! Also Benecoto (?) in Little Italy is amazing… and of course, I havenn’t seen EL CAMINO listed (Little Italy, South Park)… my favorite brunch places are Vagabond and The Pearl…

  32. Ok I’m not sure if you have been to any of these spots or not but I have to have the small taco plate at Small Bar at least once a week and their homemade, from scratch whiskey sour is TO DIE for, Ritual oysters are killer, Mama’s Bakery, Big Kitchen pancakes…I’m sure I could come up with a bunch more…I’ll probably be back! 🙂

  33. I know I’m kinda late…but have you tried Cafe Chloe in East Village? Lavender Lemon Champagne cocktail, an amazing eggnog latte during the winter, ridiculously rich chocolate pot de creme, cheese boards with heart shaped rose gelee…so cute so good.


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