San Diego is known for its beautiful weather, sunny beaches and parks but that is just the beginning of what this bustling city has to offer. Along with over 70 miles of beautiful beaches you can visit the world famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, the Old Globe Theater, Balboa Park, and Sea world. It is an artist’s dream city with artist studios, art galleries and museums in abundance.
Along with its rich culture and plentiful outdoor offerings, San Diego has been called one of America’s best cities for foodies by Travel and Leisure Magazine. With tasty craft beer, awesome food and local wines, any foodie will be able to find plenty to satisfy their food and drink cravings. Two big influences on the San Diego cuisine are the city’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and Mexico.
Whether you decide to try California-Baja fine dining, scrumptious fresh seafood, or tasty fish tacos you will find a huge variety of restaurants to cater to your food whims. The local chefs are dedicated to providing guests the freshest local ingredients, along with Mexico’s Baja Mediterranean Cuisine provides some new and interesting things for you to experience.
Of course you can get all the classics too from delicious pizza to juicy steak or excellent diner food. Whatever you’re craving, San Diego’s restaurants have. We have provided you with a list of the best places to eat in San Diego to get you started on your culinary journey. Any one of these dining establishments will thrill and delight your senses and give you a delicious experience you will never forget.
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto
Visit: Filippi’s Pizza Grotto
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is owned by family members of the original founders of Filippi’s Cash and Carry which became a very successful line of restaurants from the 50s. Using traditional family recipes to create delicious food, guests are invited to come try their variety of pizzas including their Special that has cheese, mushroom, sausage, black olives, meatballs, bell peppers and onion. Or you can choose from a large variety of others as well. This pizza is the real deal and will make you feel like you’ve sat down at a table right in the middle of Italy itself. With a dedication to the tradition the original founders, Vincent DePhilippis and Madelaine Stefani instilled for over 50 years, you will be able to taste the passion and love for providing delicious pizza that this family has passed down along with their delicious recipes.
If you’re looking for a great place to get a fantastic burger, look no further than Hodad’s. Byron and Viginia Hardin, founders of Hodad’s started serving amazing burgers to San Diego in 1969 and they have continued to please their guests for decades. Their philosophy is that it’s all about great portions, fresh toppings and good times. What better place to join your friends and family and enjoy some of the best tasting burgers in the world? Hodad’s was visited by none other than Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive In, and Dives where they were featured on the wildly popular food show. That spot brought people from all over the U.S who wanted to try these delicious burgers. In fact when you do visit Hodad’s try the burger that was inspired by Guy and order the Guido, a burger that is topped with pastrami, ketchup, Swiss cheese, pickles, grilled onions, and spicy mustard. They have a huge variety of burgers to try as well as other sandwiches like their delicious BLT. Don’t forget to try a tasty milkshake or have a cold draft beer with your burger. Their onion rings are homemade and out of this world too. A burger at Hodad’s will change the way you feel about every other burger you’ve had.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
Visit: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
There is a charismatic vibe that permeates Eddie V’s that will just draw you in to relax and savor both the delicious food and the live Jazz that is in the V lounge. Here you can experience the finest steaks and seafood, along with impeccable service and world-class wine in an atmosphere that inspires recharging and relaxing. They are known for their seafood but the key ingredient they add to every dish on the menu is excellence. Every day they fly in fresh fish from around the world including their Scallops from George Banks, their delicious swordfish from Block Island, and their Yellow fin Tuna straight from the waters of the Caribbean. Their steaks are hand-cut, USDA Prime, and have been specially aged for over 28 days to get that wonderful peak flavor they are known for. The tortillas are made fresh every day as well. Eddie V’s believes in going above and beyond in everything they do, from each step of the food preparation to the service staff that helps make your dining experience unforgettable. They offer free Wi-Fi for those who may be visiting Eddie V’s on business and there is private and patio dining available as well.
The Marine Room
Visit: The Marine Room
There is a symbol that has stood for the most exquisite dining experience in San Diego since 1941 and that is the Seahorse symbol of The Marine Room. Come here and get transported to a dining experience that is indescribable, from being eye-level with crashing waves at high tide or tasting Executive Chef Bernard Guillas’s and Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver’s culinary artistry as you try such dishes as the Togarashi Sesame Spiced Tuna, which is Ahi Tuna that is served with sticky black rice, mango, avocado and infused with a white port hibiscus infusion. The seasonal variety, hand-selected local ingredients, and fresh seafood combined with the unbelievable views make The Marine Room an experience that is unsurpassed. They are dedicated to serving their guests a dining and visual experience that will make whatever occasion they are celebrating something special. The Marine Room has been a favorite of world figures, locals, tourists and celebrities for over 75 years and it will stay that way. If you’re looking for a place to get million dollar views, impeccable service, and a perfectly prepared, delicious meal The Marine Room is perfect.
The Fish Market
Visit: The Fish Market
This location of The Fish Market is the flagship location, started in 1989. It is a beautiful, waterfront restaurant that has been recognized as the premier place to go for beautiful San Diego Bay views and delicious seafood. The downstairs restaurant offers guest a more casual dining experience and has an oyster bar for you to enjoy as well as a sushi bar and cocktail bar. The second story of the restaurant, Top of the Market, provides diners with views that spam from Point Loma all the way to the Coronado Bridge and features a fine dining experience that makes any occasion even more special. The Fish Market was founded by a sport fisherman and a boat captain and gourmet cook that teamed up to open a place with one focus: serving guests the highest-quality, freshest seafood they could get, prepared in a simple yet delicious way and served at honest, reasonable prices. They achieved this objective and more with a restaurant that features a lounge and bar area, retail seafood market, full-service oyster bar with seating at a counter, and the mesquite wood broilers they are known for. Signature items include cheesy garlic bread and au gratin potatoes that are made from scratch, and their to-die-for sourdough bread that all guests get to try when they are seated. The décor includes old, vintage photos and lots of wood paneling and flooring that provide guests with a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere for their meal. There are now 6 Fish Markets in this impeccable restaurant group in California.
Visit: Cowboy Star
Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop provides guests with a unique combination of neighborhood Fine Dining along with contemporary American cuisine that has a distinct Western flare. They offer an unmatched level of customer service where the guest is the number one priority and it is a philosophy that you will feel the moment you step through the door. The interior of the restaurant is full of old western charm such as exposed beams, classic landscape photography, cowboy accents that provide a laid-back, relaxed background that is perfect for your private parties, intimate dinners and special occasions. The focal point of The Cowboy Star is an amazing display kitchen that offers guests an inside view of the heart of the restaurant. The menu is full of delicious entrees that feature only the finest beef from the nation’s top Certified Humane Angus herd and the freshest seafood available under the stringent Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Standards. Choose from such delectable dishes as the Roasted Lamb which features a lamb shoulder that has been honey braised and is served with roasted bell pepper puree, local grapes, pickled salt and pepper cucumbers, and sautéed artichokes. Or if steak is why you’re at The Cowboy Star, try the mouth-watering 20 ounce T-Bone for One, cut from Prime Natural Monson Ranch Beef that has been aged for 21 days for that incredible, ranch flavor that can’t be beat. Whatever you decide to try at The Cowboy Star, you’re going to be pleased and ready to come back again.
Visit: Casa Guadalajara
At the north entrance of Old Town, San Diego is Casa Guadalajara, a restaurant that offers guests fabulous décor, charming presence and delicious food. You can choose to dine outside in their beautiful courtyard that features splashing fountains, or dine indoors in the romantic garden room or the beautifully decorated dining room. You will be entertained by the lively mariachi band while the staff provides you with exceptional service. The Mexican folk art adorning the walls and the delicious authentic Mexican cuisine satisfies all your senses and makes your dining experience one that will be remembered for a long time to come. Casa Guadalajara only uses the freshest, highest-quality ingredients in their food that is prepared fresh every day. Choose from delicious selections like the Tequila Lime Shrimp or tasty Fish Tacos. There are over 50 of the most popular Tequilas to choose from if you feel like a cocktail. Each month there are drink promotions and a special tequila that is featured. In the Cantina there is a complimentary antojito buffet, margaritas and many other beers and cocktails. The flat screen TVs in the Cantina allows fans to watch their favorite sports teams. There is something for everyone at Casa Guadalajara.
Visit: Perry’s Café
Constantine “Costas” and Margaret Georgakopoulos opened Perry’s Café with a specific dream to create a menu that offers Mexican and Italian breakfasts along with traditional American breakfast fare and to provide the guests with appetite pleasing large portions. He holds the distinction of being one of the first restaurateurs in San Diego to offers guests 11 different kinds of frittatas. Perry’s quickly established the reputation of serving excellent food and super portions at affordable prices and they are still going strong. The restaurant is still in the family, owned by their daughter Perry, for whom the restaurant was named. They are known for their hard-working and dedicated staff. Many of them have been with Perry’s for 15 to 20 years and a few for more than 25! The Mexican and Italian breakfasts are served all day long along with traditional breakfast offerings, Mexican dishes, salads and sandwiches too. If you plan to visit San Diego, make sure that Perry’s Café is on your itinerary. You’ll love everything about this wonderful place.
Torpasta Devine Pastabilities
When you were young, did you ever make spaghetti sandwiches at school? You remember…the little helping of spaghetti and the roll that made perfect little sandwiches. The founder of Torpasta Devine Pastabilities had the same memories, only he came up with the idea of hollowing out the bread so there would be no mess. It spurred the idea of opening his own restaurant and catering business and the Torpasta, their signature dish was made a reality. This incredible Italian roll has been hollowed out, filled will amazing Italian ingredients and then perfectly toasted. You can order the traditional Italian dishes to be served on a plate as well, but what could be better than a traditional Italian dish? A traditional Italian dish stuffed into a toasted Italian roll of course! Try Mike’s Meat Lover’s Lasagna that is meat lasagna with pepperoni and two different kinds of sausage, stuffed into a 6” or 12” Italian roll. The salads are also uniquely served in a garlic roll if desired like the Caesar Torsalad that includes Romaine, parmesan and Caesar dressing inside of a 6” or 12” garlic roll. You can add chicken to this for a little extra. These sandwiches will thrill you with their delicious taste and unique delivery. Devine Pastabilities has been voted the best sandwich shop in San Diego thanks to this delicious childhood invention. Once you have experienced one you will understand why.
A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines
The Lodge at Torrey Pines has a signature restaurant that you have to make one of your dining stops while you are in San Diego. A.R. Valentien serves regional San Diego cuisine that is served to their guests in a beautifully decorated, elegant indoor/outdoor dining room that overlooks the 18th hole of the Torrey Pines Golf Course. Executive Chef, Jeff Jackson serves his guests only the best local ingredients. The menu changes often depending on the seasonal foods and ingredients available so there are frequently new specials and different tastes being offered. The restaurant features art work from a 20th-century, talented artist and is the restaurant’s namesake as well. The beautiful Craftsman architecture that features post and beam structures, wood-framed windows that have been hand-crafted, a frieze painted with pine boughs and beautiful stained glass will visually appeal as well. There are many intimate, plush booths and several small dining rooms that provide guests with a quiet, intimate experience that will make their occasion even more special. There are many regular events going on at A.R. Valentien’s such as their monthly Signature Wine Series where they will feature several special wine pairings from specialty wineries along with tray pass bites and a four course dinner that is served family style. You may also want to plan your trip around their enjoyable Playing with Fire Series that features Executive Chef Jackson pairing up with some of the hottest chefs in San Diego as they host the ultimate grilling session. This fun event is hosted on the restaurant patio and includes a special draft brew that is served to the guests. Those are just a handful of the unique and enjoyable events the A.R. Valentien offers. Make it a ‘must-visit’ on your trip. You’ll love the experience.