Some of my personal favorites/recommendations for San Diego restaurants:
American – Barbecue
- Coop’s West Texas BBQ – The most authentic Texas barbecue, outside of Texas. The brisket, hot links, and pulled pork are must-trys!
American – Casual/Bar
- The Blind Lady Ale House – Favorite pizza joint in San Diego. They serve thin-crust pies with creative and delicious topping combinations. Also features a large list of beers on tap.
- Carnitas’ Snack Shack – Love the Triple Threat sandwich and the burgers here. The North Park location is pretty much an actual shack, whereas the Del Mar location is a sit-down restaurant.
- Hodad’s – Hands-down, the best burgers in San Diego. Get the regular, NOT the mini burgers, with everything. The toppings are what make the burger unique, balanced, and delicious.
American – New American/Fine-Dining
- George’s California Modern – Creative, modern, and delicious – especially the appetizers!
- NINE-Ten – Great choice for Restaurant Week. Definitely try the Jamaican pork belly.
- Urban Solace – Modern and upscale, but with a more relaxed atmosphere than fine-dining. The cheese biscuits here are a must-order.
Asian – Chinese
- Sieu Sieu BBQ – My favorite Cantonese-style roast duck and char siu in town! Come early though, the duck sells out fast.
- Tasty Noodle House – Shanghai-style Chinese cuisine – my favorite xiaolongbao in town.
- Village Kitchen – Cuisine from my home province of Hunan. Authentic and flavorful – perfect for spicy food-lovers!
Asian – Indian
- Punjabi Tandoor – Punjab-style Indian food, which features creamier curries. My favorites here are goat biryani and chicken makhani.
- Taste of Himalayas – Features Indian and Nepalese food – order off the Nepalese menu for unique items that can’t be found at other Indian restaurants.
Asian – Japanese
- Izakaya Sakura – Serves a variety of lunch and dinner items, often with seasonal and menu specials.
- Ramen Yamadaya – The best tonkotsu ramen in San Diego – the soup is made from pork bones simmered for hours upon hours. A must if you love rich, creamy ramen broth.
- Sushi Diner – The best Americanized sushi rolls that I’ve had. The rolls are creative and flavorful – everything that I’ve tried so far has been delicious.
- Sushi Tadokoro – Amazing omakase experience here.
- Yakitori Yakyudori – The best yakitori (grilled skewers) – the pork and chicken thigh are both delicious! Ramen here is also quite delicious, with a unique “Nagoya ramen” served with minced pork and chives.
- Wa Dining Okan – Japanese homestyle cooking. Best to come during lunchtime for a delicious and cheap lunch set, with a seasonal menu that often features items beyond the “typical” Japanese bento items.
Asian – Korean
- Buga – A la carte Korean BBQ, the meat quality is really good and makes the higher price tag worth it!
- Grandma Tofu & Korean BBQ – Features everything from tofu soups and stone bowl rice to tabletop BBQ, with generous portions and good flavors. Opens til late night!
- Manna BBQ – Favorite all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, and the most popular in San Diego. Be prepared for a wait, but the quality of the meat and side dishes here is worth it.
Asian – Taiwanese
- Tea Garden – A large menu consisting of everything Taiwanese, from appetizers and snacks, rice dishes, stir-fries, noodle soups, and hot pots, and of course all sorts of milk tea drinks.
Asian – Thai
- Koon Thai Kitchen – The taste here is more Americanized than other Thai places, but the food is delicious and service is nice. Try some of their specialties.
- The Original Sab-E-Lee – Offers items from the Issan region of Thailand. My favorites include the papaya salad and duck larb.
- The Mission – Delicious brunch dishes at very reasonable prices. Try the steak hash or huevos rancheros.
- Urban Solace – Appearing twice on my “Favorites” list, this is one of my favorite restaurants in SD. The pork belly benedict is my favorite item.
- Cucina Urbana – There’s a reason you need to make reservations in advance for this place. Everything from appetizers to pizzas and pastas to entrees were amazing.
- Las Cuatro Milpas – The tacos here are quite different from the fish tacos that are all over San Diego. The taco shells are freshly fried and filled with pulled braised pork or chicken – those are the only options for filling. Don’t miss the delicious chili sauce!
- Lolita’s Taco Shop – Our favorite burrito shop. Popular items here are the carnitas burrito and carne asada fries (the best in SD).
- South Beach Bar & Grill – Delicious fish tacos – my favorite is shark. Come for late-night happy hour to avoid the crowd.
- Tacos el Gordo – Tijuana-style taco shop in Chula Vista. Definitely try the adobada/al pastor, which is pork roasted on a vertical spit and served with a cilantro cream sauce. Also, fried green onions and hot pickled peppers are free.
- Infini Tea – Favorites here include the iced milk drinks (copycat of LA’s Half & Half Teahouse), old-fashioned milk tea, and caramel milk tea.
- Kung Fu Tea – My favorite items here are the Golden Oolong milk tea and the White Gourd/Winter Melon milk tea.
- Oo Tea – Franchise from Taiwan’s famous 50嵐, they feature both boba (large bubbles) and pearls (small bubbles). The milk green tea here is excellent.