San Diego's proximity to Mexico makes it an attractive destination for anything wrapped in a tortilla, but there's so much more. While most of the top restaurants offer seasonal California fare, San Diego also boasts excellent ethnic cuisines available at all prices. As elsewhere in the United States, the San Diego dining scene has moved toward using sustainable, locally sourced meat,
seafood, and produce—and providing good value. This emphasis on affordability is often presented as early or late-night dining specials, but also extends to the wine lists, where smart sommeliers are offering more wines from value regions like France's Loire and Languedoc, and countries like Chile and South Africa.
Downtown is packed with restaurants, but many can be touristy, so it's a good to be selective. The übertrendy Gaslamp Quarter delights visitors looking for innovative concepts that also have nightlife appeal, while the gentrified Little Italy district has become a center for affordable Italian fare as well as surprises like English pubs and supper clubs with live music. Modern restaurants and cafés thrive in the East Village, amid the luxury condos near PETCO Park. Bankers Hill, just west of Balboa Park, is one of the hottest food destinations in the city, and most spots also have interesting cocktails.
The Uptown neighborhoods centered by Hillcrest—an urbane district with San Francisco flavor—are a mix of bars and independent restaurants. North Park, in particular, has a happening restaurant scene, with just about everything kind of cuisine you can think of, and laidback prices to boot. Mission Valley, a central area with many hotels and shopping malls, abounds with casual, family-friendly fare. And scenic La Jolla offers some of the best fine dining in the city.
Ethnic cuisine remains popular in the Gaslamp Quarter, Hillcrest, and Convoy Street in Kearney Mesa, which is a hub for Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese fare. In Chula Vista you'll find authentic Mexican food, while Coronado—the peninsula city across San Diego Bay—has beachy neighborhood eateries and extravagant hotel dining rooms with dramatic water views.
The top 25 places we think should be on every traveler's radar this year.More
View deals in San Diego for vacation packages, hotels, airfare, and more from our partners!More