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San Diego’s Best Restaurants of 2024

Chew on this—a butter-drenched bible to our sizzling dining scene, bursting with all the bites, sips, chefs, and trends that make San Diego hallowed ground for food people
San Diego's Best Restaurants in 2024 by San Diego Magazine including Kinme Omakase in Bankers Hill
Photo Credit: Matt Furman

Put that salad on layaway. Get an APR on some fries. This was the year the cost of dining out landed on Mars. Around the time the phrase “supply chain issues” took a hint and deleted our number, inflation slid into our DMs. Food costs bullied chefs, restaurant owners, and diners.

I realize this is a pretty apocalyptic way to introduce our annual celebration of San Diego’s food and drink culture—our bible of the restaurant scene, with its attendant bao bun psalms and birria haikus.

But that lurking doomery only underscores the heights San Diego’s restaurant culture has finally reached. It’s never been harder to operate a restaurant, and yet our food and drink people made national headlines and hype reels again. It has not always been this way. After eras of deep-fried pain, we’re in a far better place.

Why? Because our seafood’s right there. Because our produce is among the best on the planet—and any cook will tell ya that using the world’s best ingredients is like running a 100-yard dash and starting at the 40-yard line. That’s why the top chefs have come. Plus, moms and pops who started cooking furiously four years ago (due to The Terrible Thing) are opening kitchens. The proximity to Mexico’s fire and ash and stew culture never hurts. So many reasons.

This list is a citywide tradition we’re honored to keep. You guys picked your favorites (with 41,000-plus votes, a new record), and I picked mine.

I switched it up a bit. I left out a few that have become institutional and duh-of-course. Once Addison landed three Michelin stars, no one needed to be told to go there. Same with Jeune et Jolie, a pinnacle of Frenchishness. I politely placed them over on Mt. Olympus and made room for other places that deserve that spotlight.

I’ve been lucky enough to document, study, and tell stories about food and drink for almost two decades. I did the math recently and realized I’d been to thousands of restaurants, tried tens of thousands of dishes. It’s been an obscenely obsessive career without complaints.

I know food better than I know myself. That said, I’ll never pretend my list is somehow the only valid take. It’s just mine. It’s the list I keep in my pocket and constantly update as I eat my way through the city and send to friends when they come to town and ask, “What should I eat in San Diego?”

I urge you to make your own. –Troy Johnson

And Now the 2024 Best San Diego Restaurants Winners List…

You voted. Food critic Troy Johnson picked his favorites. We chose the must-try dishes at some of the winning joints and unpacked the people and trends changing SD’s dining scene for the better. Hope you’re hungry, because it’s time to dig in.

THE 2024 WINNERS ARE...

Overall

Specific Cuisines

Specific Dishes

Ambience

Drinks

THE LIST IS SORTED BY

Critic's Picks

Reader's Pick

Runner Up

AWARDS

Critic's

Reader's

Overall

Specific Cuisines

Specific Dishes

Ambience

Drinks

Overall

Restaurant of the Year

Wolf in the Woods

Reader's pick
Callie
Runner-up
Animae

Photo Credit: James Tran

Top Five Restaurants

Callie

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Callie
Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Fort Oak
Critic's pick
Kingfisher
Critic's pick
Marisi
Reader's pick
Animae
Reader's pick
Mister A's
Reader's pick
Solare Ristorante

Courtesy of Callie

Best New Restaurant in San Diego

Atelier Manna

Critic's pick
Atelier Manna
Reader's pick
El Sueño

Photo Credit: James Tran

Best Chef in San DIego

Brad Wise

Reader's pick

Priscilla Curiel (Mujer Divina, Tuétano Taquería)

Runner-up

Frank Anctil (Rovino)

Photo Credit: Matt Furman

Best Service

Critic's pick
Steak 48
Reader's pick
Solare Ristorante
Runner-up
Callie

Best Hotel Restaurant in San Diego

Nine-Ten

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Nine-Ten
Reader's pick
Arlo

Courtesy of Nine-Ten

Best San Diego Caterer

Critic's pick
Hanna's Gourmet
Reader's pick
Kebab Craft

Best Restaurant in Baja

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Fauna

Best Cheap Eats in San Diego

Critic's pick
Pop Pie Co.
Reader's pick
Yum Zab!
Runner-up
The Friendly

Best Healthy Eats in San Diego

Parakeet Cafe

Critic's pick
Parakeet Cafe
Reader's pick
Urban Plates

Courtesy of Parakeet Cafe

Best Vegetarian / Vegan Restaurant

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Kindred

Best Farmer's Market Food Vendor

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Bonjour Patisserie

Best Breakfast in San Diego

Best Brunch in San Diego

Critic's pick
Atelier Manna
Reader's pick
Madi
Runner-up
Parakeet Cafe

Best Bakery in San Diego

Wayfarer Bread

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Wayfarer Bread

Photo Credit: Airyka Rockefeller

Best Bar in San Diego

Critic's pick
Swan Bar
Reader's pick
El Chingon

Best Seafood in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
The Fishery

Best Barbecue in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Grand Ole BBQ y Asado
Runner-up
Phil's BBQ

Best Steakhouse in San Diego

Rare Society

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Rare Society
Reader's pick
Cowboy Star

Photo Credit: Matt Furman

Best Desserts in San Diego

Best Food Truck in San Diego

Best Chain Restaurant in San Diego

Reader's pick
The Kebab Shop
Runner-up
Farmer Boys

Specific Cuisines

Best Asian Fusion Restaurant

Animae

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Animae

Photo Credit: James Tran

Best Caribbean Restaurant

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Havana 1920
Runner-up
Coco Maya

Best Chinese Restaurant

Best Ethiopian Restaurant

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Muzita Abyssinian Bistro

Best Filipino Restaurant

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Lia's Lumpia
Reader's pick
Animae

Best French Restaurant

Et Voilà! French Bistro

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Et Voilà! French Bistro

Courtesy of OpenTable

Best Greek Restaurant

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Mezê Greek Fusion
Runner-up
Olympic Cafe

Best Indian Restaurant

Critic's pick
Bhojan Griha
Reader's pick
Curry & More
Runner-up
Charminar

Best Italian Restaurant

Critic's pick
Catania

Best Japanese Restaurant

Izakaya Sakura

Critic's pick
Izakaya Sakura
Reader's pick
Azuki Sushi
Runner-up
Matsu

Courtesy of Izakaya Sakura

Best Korean Restaurant

Critic's pick
Chon Ju Jip
Reader's pick
Choi's

Best Mediterranean Restaurant

Critic's pick
Medina Kitchen
Reader's pick
Kebab Craft

Best Mexican Restaurant

Critic's pick
Valle
Reader's pick
El Sueño
Runner-up
Puesto

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

Alforon

Critic's pick
Alforon

Courtesy of Postmates

Best Peruvian Restaurant

Critic's pick
Flama Llama
Runner-up
Flama Llama

Best Southern Restaurant

Best Spanish Restaurant

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Costa Brava
Runner-up
Cafe Sevilla

Best Thai Restaurant

Plumeria

Reader's pick
Taste of Thai
Runner-up
Banh Thai

Courtesy of Plumeria

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Kingfisher
Runner-up
Shank & Bône

Specific Dishes

Best Donuts in San Diego

Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee

Courtesy of Sidecar Doughnut Co.

Best Ice Cream/Gelato in San Diego

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Stella Jean's

Best Pho in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Shank & Bône
Runner-up
PHOnomenal

Best Ramen in San Diego

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Menya Ultra
Reader's pick
BESHOCK Ramen

Best Wings in San Diego

Critic's pick
Royal Mandarin
Reader's pick
Taste & Thirst

Best Burritos in San Diego

Mujer Divina

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Mujer Divina
Runner-up
El Chingon

Courtesy of Mujer Divina

Best Chips & Salsa in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Puesto

Best Birria in San Diego

Reader's pick
Mujer Divina

Best Fries in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
The Kebab Shop
Runner-up
Barleymash

Best Poke in San Diego

It's Raw Poke Shop

Critic's pick
It's Raw Poke Shop
Reader's pick
8th & B Poke
Runner-up
PB Poke House

Courtesy of It’s Raw Poke Shop

Best Sushi in San Diego

Critic's pick
Kinme Omakase
Reader's pick
The Sushi Stand
Runner-up
Glass Box

Best Fish Tacos in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Fish Guts

Best Tacos in San Diego

Critic's pick
Mike's Red Tacos
Reader's pick
City Tacos
Runner-up
Puesto

Best Sandwiches in San Diego

Wise Ox

Critic's pick
Wise Ox
Runner-up
Havana 1920

Courtesy of Wise Ox

Best Pizza in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Amalfi Cucina Italiana

Best Burgers in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Rosemarie's Buns & Brews

Best Xiao Long Bao in San Diego

Best Pasta in San Diego

Cesarina

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Cesarina

Courtesy of SwellsCreative

Best Soup in San Diego

Reader's pick
La Especial Norte
Runner-up
DZ Akin's

Ambience

Best Design

Lilian's Kitchen

Critic's pick
Lilian's Kitchen
Reader's pick
Understory Bar
Runner-up
Marisi

Courtesy of the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

Best Date Spot in San Diego

Best Patio Dining in San Diego

Reader's pick
Gravity Heights
Runner-up
Mister A's

Best Dog-Friendly Restaurant

Critic's pick
OB Noodle House
Reader's pick
Glass Box

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

City Tacos

Critic's pick
City Tacos
Reader's pick
Farmer Boys
Runner-up
Glass Box

Courtesy of City Tacos

Best Restaurant for Big Groups

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Arlo
Reader's pick
Gravity Heights

Best Restaurant at Petco Park

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Puesto
Runner-up
Hodad's

Best View in San Diego: Water

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
The Marine Room

Best View in San Diego: Urban

Mister A's

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Mister A's
Runner-up
Coco Maya

Courtesy of Mister A’s

Best Reinvention

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
The LaFayette Hotel

Drinks

Best Dive Bar in San Diego

Til-Two Club

Critic's pick
Til-Two Club
Reader's pick

Aero Club Bar

Runner-up
Nunu's Tavern

Photo Credit: Erica Joan

Best Gin Bar in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Mabel's Gone Fishing
Runner-up
Botanica

Best Whiskey Bar in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
The Whiskey House
Critic's pick
Prohibition Lounge

Best Tequila/Mezcal Bar

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Cantina Mayahuel
Runner-up
El Chingon

Best Wine Bar in San Diego

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Vino Carta

Best Brewpub in San Diego

Gravity Heights

Critic's pick & Runner-up
Gravity Heights

Courtesy of Gravity Heights

Best Distillery in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Cutwater Spirits

Best Brewery in San Diego

Best New Brewery in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
GOAL. Brewing

Best Winery in San Diego

Pali Wine Co.

Critic's pick
Pali Wine Co.

Courtesy of Opentable

Best Cocktails in San Diego

Critic's pick
Youngblood
Reader's pick
Marisi
Runner-up

Shaks Mediterranean Bistro

Best Bloody Mary in San Diego

Critic's pick
Morning Glory
Reader's pick
Breakfast Republic
Runner-up
Great Maple

Best Margarita in San Diego

El Agave Restaurant & Tequileria

Reader's pick
El Chingon
Runner-up
Puesto

Courtesy of Old Town San Diego

Best Coffee in San Diego

Reader's pick
Surje Coffe Co.
Runner-up
Invita Cafe

Best Wine List in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Solare Ristorante

Best Juice Bar in San Diego

Critic's pick
Northside Shack
Reader's pick
Señor Mangos

Best Alt Drink in San Diego

Bivouac Ciderworks

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Bivouac Ciderworks

Courtesy of Bivouac Ciderworks

Best Kombucha in San Diego

Critic's pick & Reader's pick
Nova Easy Kombucha
Runner-up
JuneShine

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