Top Five San Diego Food Recommendations
It has happened.
The San Diego food scene has gotten to the point where I don’t need to go to NY for my food fix anymore. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep going to NY (don’t be ridiculous). But I don’t have to go.
Here are my top five reasons the San Diego food scene is strong:
There’s lots of good pizza in San Diego (Bruno’s, Tribute Pizza, Buona Forchetta for starters), but when I bit into my first cheese slice at The Friendly I almost cried. It tasted just like my childhood. Now I can get a satisfying cheese slice fix whenever I want.
If I had to live a gluten-free life I think I would be a miserable person. Crusty bread with butter is one of my most favorite things in life.
For a long time, Bread & Cie was the only game in town. But our options keep expanding. I hope one day I meet the Prager Brothers for they have brought delicious bread to San Diego. Evidently they have a store in Carlsbad, but Paul calls anything north of the 52 Freeway the LA-Orange Metroplex, so we don’t get up there very often. Instead, I head to the Little Italy Mercato (a weekly homage to our regional farmers and food makers) where they have a booth. Equally as delicious is the bread from Biga, an Italian restaurant on the edge of the Gaslamp (damn good pizza too!).
When Thomas Keller calls you “the future of our profession”, you’ve got game. Chef Bradley at Addison has been wowing us with his prix fixe meals for many years. The room is ridiculously over the top (faux Tuscan) but the service is impeccable and the food sophisticated.
San Diego also has several fantastic high-end eateries downtown. Herb & Wood and Juniper & Ivy (around the corner from each other in Little Italy) are both gorgeous and serve inventive, high quality dishes. Both chefs are Top Chef alum, but we don’t hold that against them.
For sheer wow factor, visit Born & Raised (yes ampersands are a thing in restaurant naming here). This $7 million extravaganza is a special occasion even if you’re just having a drink. Which might be the best way to visit and not break the bank. Though the food is quite good.
Asian All Day
Some cities have a Chinatown, some a Korea Town. We have Convoy Street. Whatever you crave, you can find it on or near Convoy Street. Chinese, Korean BBQ, Korean home style, Japanese Izakaya, Ramen, Sushi, Dim Sum, even Mongolian Hot Pot. There’s a really tasty fried rice at Facing East, and I don’t even like Fried Rice.
Please don’t invite me to eat Mexican food in NY. Or anywhere else for that matter. For I am spoiled now. When we want great Mexican food, we drive 20 minutes to the border, walk across, jump in a cab and go eat real Mexican food. I know, technically this isn’t a San Diego food recommendation. But this is the benefit of living in our cross-border town. Our current favorite is Verde y Crema, a surprisingly modern, friendly and accessible restaurant. For an extraordinary meal, head to Mision 19. Your mouth will thank you.
Further south, in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s wine country, we eat exceedingly well. We have been known to go down just for a day and hop from one place to another. And when we hop, we usually include Finca Altozano and Deckman’s al Mogor.
The kitchens are outdoors and so is the dining. It’s 90 minutes from home, but we feel like we’re a world away. The food here may surprise you. It’s sophisticated, often plant focused and always with that satisfying blend of richness, spice and acid. I can never get enough of it.
The San Diego food scene just keeps getting better. Pretty soon we’re going to have a lot more time on our hands so tell us about your favorites.