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San Diego’s Best Restaurants of 2023

The votes poured in like hard kombucha. Here's the best of the best of San Diego, according to you (and us)
Photo Credit: Eric Wolfinger

By Mateo Hoke, Jennifer Ianni, Troy Johnson, Samantha Lacy, David Martin, Nicolle Monico, & Amelia Rodriguez

Browse This Year’s List by Category

Overall | Specific Cuisines | Specific Dishes | Ambience  | Drinks

This year’s “Top Five” is a chronicle of obsession. When Callie chef and San Diego native Travis Swikard learns local boats have fresh spot prawns, he drives to Scripps Oceanographic Institute, secures optimal seawater, and keeps the prawns swimming in his kitchen until dinner service.

On the other side of downtown, fellow hometowner Tara Monsod and her three main chefs at the heavy-draped, softly opulent Animae are Filipina a major local culture represented at the height of San Diego restaurant life.In Mission Hills, truckfuls of American red oak are stacked and set aflame at Fort Oak.

Live-fire chef Brad Wise is among the city’s most active and ascendant talents, and his surf-and-turf haven—charred bones with one of the best pokes on the planet in an Atomic Age car dealership—is still the one to beat. The gravity in Little Italy still leans toward Born & Raised, where F. Scott Fitzgerald meets rap culture, a maximalist revolt against old steakhouse tropes and warehouse minimalism.

And, finally, this year has to be Addison’s. They hauled in their third Michelin star, making them one of only 14 restaurants in the country to hold that esteem. No matter your feelings about the tire company, chef William Bradley put San Diego on a mythological culinary map. People who travel the world for food will come here—and, in the process, discover tiny charms like Muzita Abyssinian Bistro or Wolf in the Woods.

This is the 2023 “Best Restaurants” list. Not the ultimate list. Just mine. A notebook scribbled in and adjusted and fine-tuned all year—my fifteenth year of eating the city, obsessing over its details.


Overall

Top Five Restaurants 

Critic’s Picks

Callie

Fort Oak

Addison

Born & Raised

Animae

Reader’s Picks

Callie

Mister A’s

Animae

Kingfisher

Herb & Wood

Best New Restaurant

Critic’s Choice:

Marisi

Reader’s Choice:

Paradisaea

Runner-Up:

The Sushi Stand

Brad Wise Rare Society Meat Freezer
Photo Credit: Matt Furman

Chef

Critic’s Choice:

William Bradley

Reader’s Choice:

Brad Wise

(Trust, Fort Oak, Cardellino, Rare Society, Wise Ox)

Runner-Up:

Kelston Moore

(Bad Boyz of Culinary)

Service

Critic’s Choice:

Solare

Reader’s Choice:

Callie

Runner-Up:

Solare

Nine Ten Hamachi Sashimi
Courtesy of Nine-Ten

Hotel Restaurant

Critic’s Choice:

AR Valentien

Reader’s Choice:

Nine-Ten

Runner-Up:

Arlo

Caterer

Critic’s Choice:

Wild Thyme

Reader’s Choice:

Rubicon Deli

Runner-Up:

Chef Kelston’s Culinary Experience

Restaurant in Baja

Critic’s Choice:

Deckman’s

Reader’s Choice:

Fauna

Runner-Up:

Animalon

Cheap Eats

Critic’s Choice:

The Friendly

Reader’s Choice:

The Friendly

Runner-Up:

The Kebab Shop

Healthy Eats

Critic’s Choice:

Parakeet Cafe

Reader’s Choice:

Parakeet Cafe

Runner-Up:

Shak’s Mediterranean Bistro

Kindred High SteaksRestaurant San Diego
Photo Credit: Arlene Ibarra

Vegetarian/Vegan

Critic’s Choice:

Kindred

Reader’s Choice:

The Plot

Runner-Up:

Kindred

Farmer’s Market Food Vendor

Critic’s Choice:

Maya’s Cookies

Reader’s Choice:

Island Life Foods

Runner-Up:

Casa Ocho

Breakfast

Critic’s Choice:

Breakfast Republic

Reader’s Choice:

Breakfast Republic

Runner-Up:

Morning Glory

Youngblood Interior Bar San Diego
Photo Credit: Arlene Ibarra

Bar

Critic’s Choice:

Youngblood

Reader’s Choice:

Understory

Runner-Up:

Swan Bar

Brunch

Critic’s Choice:

Morning Glory

Reader’s Choice:

Trust

Runner-Up:

Le Parfait Paris

Wayfarer Bread Pastry San Diego Bakery
Photo Credit: Airyka Rockefeller

Bakery

Critic’s Choice:

Izola

Reader’s Choice:

Izola

Runner-Up:

Wayfarer Bread

 

Seafood

Critic’s Choice:

The Fishery

Reader’s Choice:

The Fishery

Runner-Up:

Mitch’s Seafood

Barbecue

Critic’s Choice:

Grand Ole BBQ

Reader’s Choice:

Phil’s BBQ

Runner-Up:

Grand Ole BBQ

Rare Society, San Diego
Photo Credit: Matt Furman

Steakhouse

Critic’s Choice:

Rare Society

Reader’s Choice:

Rare Society

Runner-Up:

Cowboy Star

Desserts

Critic’s Choice:

Sugar & Scribe

Reader’s Choice:

Extraordinary Desserts

Runner-Up:

Le Parfait Paris

Food Truck

Critic’s Choice:

Shawarma Guys

Reader’s Choice:

Shawarma Guys

Runner-Up:

The Craft Taco Truck

Chain Restaurant

Critic’s Choice:

The Plot Express

Reader’s Choice:

The Kebab Shop

Runner-Up:

Rubio’s Coastal Grill

Animae Chicken Inasal Dish San Diego Restaurant
Photo Credit: James Tran

Specific Cuisines

Asian Fusion

Critic’s Choice:

Animae

Reader’s Choice:

Animae

Runner-Up:

Kingfisher

Caribbean

Critic’s Choice:

Havana Grill

Reader’s Choice:

Rock Steady Real Jamaican

Runner-Up:

Miss B’s Coconut Club

Chinese

Critic’s Choice:

Eastern Dynasty

Reader’s Choice:

Zen Modern Asian Bistro

Runner-Up:

Fortunate Son

Ethiopian

Critic’s Choice:

Muzita Abyssinian Bistro

Reader’s Choice:

Muzita Abyssinian Bistro

Runner-Up:

Awash Ethiopian Bistro

White Rice Lechon Kawali San Diego Restaurant
Courtesy of White Rice

Filipino

Critic’s Choice:

White Rice Bodega

Reader’s Choice:

Animae

Runner-Up:

White Rice Bodega

French

Critic’s Choice:

Jeune et Jolie

Reader’s Choice:

Et Voilà!

Runner-Up:

Le Parfait Paris

Greek

Critic’s Choice:

Mezé

Reader’s Choice:

Olympic Cafe

Runner-Up:

Mezé

Indian

Critic’s Choice:

Charminar

Reader’s Choice:

Taste of the Himalayas

Runner-Up:

Punjabi Tandoor

Italian

Critic’s Choice:

Catania

Reader’s Choice:

Amalfi Cucina Italiana

Runner-Up:

Solare

Matsu Turnip Chawanmushi Restaurant San Diego
Photo Credit: Leo Cabal

Japanese

Critic’s Choice:

Matsu

Reader’s Choice:

Sushi Ota

Runner-Up:

Matsu

Korean

Critic’s Choice:

Woomiok

Reader’s Choice:

Woomiok

Runner-Up:

Grandma Tofu

Mediterranean

Critic’s Choice:

Callie

Reader’s Choice:

Callie

Runner-Up:

Kebab Craft

Valle, San Diego
Photo Credit: Audrey Ma

Mexican

Critic’s Choice:

Valle

Reader’s Choice:

Casa de Pico

Runner-Up:

Casa de Bandini

Middle Eastern

Critic’s Choice:

Tahini

Reader’s Choice:

Shak’s Mediterranean Bistro

Runner-Up:

The Kebab Shop

Peruvian

Critic’s Choice:

Q’ero

Reader’s Choice:

Q’ero

Runner-Up:

Coya Peruvian Secret

Southern

Critic’s Choice:

Flying Pig

Reader’s Choice:

Bud’s Louisiana Café

Runner-Up:

Louisiana Purchase

Spanish

Critic’s Choice:

Cafe Sevilla

Reader’s Choice:

Costa Brava

Runner-Up:

Cafe Sevilla

Thai

Critic’s Choice:

Plumeria

Reader’s Choice:

Bahn Thai

Runner-Up:

Supannee House of Thai

Kingfisher Smoked Dry Aged Duck Restaurant San Diego
Photo Credit: Kimberly Motos

Vietnamese

Critic’s Choice:

Kingfisher

Reader’s Choice:

Kingfisher

Runner-Up:

Shank & Bône

Specific Dishes

Donuts

Critic’s Choice:

Sidecar

Reader’s Choice:

Barrio Donas

Runner-Up:

Dodo Bird Donuts

Ice Cream/Gelato

Critic’s Choice:

Stella Jean’s

Reader’s Choice:

Stella Jean’s

Runner-Up:

Salt & Straw

Shank & Bone
Courtesy of Shank & Bône

Pho

Critic’s Choice:

Shank & Bône

Reader’s Choice:

Shank & Bône

Runner-Up:

Pho Hòa

Ramen

Critic’s Choice:

Menya Ultra

Reader’s Choice:

Menya Ultra

Runner-Up:

Underbelly

Wings

Critic’s Choice:

OB Noodle House

Reader’s Choice:

Dirty Birds

Runner-Up:

Shank & Bône

Burrito

Critic’s Choice:

La Perla de Michoacan

Reader’s Choice:

The Taco Stand

Runner-Up:

Colima’s Mexican Food

Chips & Salsa

Critic’s Choice:

Puesto

Reader’s Choice:

Miguel’s Cocina

Runner-Up:

Barrio Starr

Birria

Critic’s Choice:

Tuétano Taquería

Reader’s Choice:

Tuétano Taquería

Runner-Up:

Mike’s Red Tacos

Fries

Critic’s Choice:

The Kebab Shop

Reader’s Choice:

The Kebab Shop

Runner-Up:

In N Out Burger

Blue Poke Restaurant San Diego
Courtesy of Blue Poke

Poke

Critic’s Choice:

It’s Raw

Reader’s Choice:

Blue Poke

Runner-Up:

It’s Raw

Sushi

Critic’s Choice:

Sushi Todokoro

Reader’s Choice:

The Sushi Stand

Runner-Up:

Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub

Fish Taco

Critic’s Choice:

TJ Oyster Bar

Reader’s Choice:

Mitch’s Seafood

Runner-Up:

Oscar’s

Taco

Critic’s Choice:

Ed Fernandez

Reader’s Choice:

Tacos El Gordo

Runner-Up:

The Taco Stand

 

Sandwich

Critic’s Choice:

Moto Deli

Reader’s Choice:

Rubicon Del

Runner-Up:

Smallgoods

Pizza

Critic’s Choice:

Buona Forchetta

Reader’s Choice:

Ambrogio15

Runner-Up:

Amalfi Cucina Italiana

Burger

Critic’s Choice:

Nine-Ten

Reader’s Choice:

Rocky’s Crown Pub

Runner-Up:

The Friendly

Din Tai Fung Dumplings Steamed Buns Appetizers
Courtesy of Din Tai Fung

Soup Dumplings

Critic’s Choice:

Steamy Piggy

Reader’s Choice:

Din Tai Fung

Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon

Runner-Up:

Pasta

Critic’s Choice:

Cesarina

Reader’s Choice:

Cesarina

Runner-Up:

Cori Pastificio

Ambience

Design

Critic’s Choice:

Part Time Lover

Reader’s Choice:

Paradisaea

Runner-Up:

Animae

Date Spot

Critic’s Choice:

Wormwood

Reader’s Choice:

Understory

Runner-Up:

Mister A’s

Patio Dining

Critic’s Choice:

Monarch Ocean Pub

Reader’s Choice:

Mister A’s

Runner-Up:

Gravity Heights

Dog Friendly

Critic’s Choice:

Sally’s Fish House

Reader’s Choice:

Ambrogio15

Runner-Up:

Dodo Bird Donuts

Diner

Critic’s Choice:

Corvette Diner

Reader’s Choice:

Corvette Diner

Runner-Up:

Station Tavern

Best for Big Groups

Critic’s Choice:

Stone Brewing

Reader’s Choice:

Herb & Wood

Runner-Up:

Park 101

Restaurant at Petco Park

Critic’s Choice:

Grand Ole BBQ

Reader’s Choice:

Grand Ole BBQ

Runner-Up:

Puesto

Best View Water

Critic’s Choice:

Marine Room

Reader’s Choice:

Coasterra

Runner-Up:

Marine Room

Best View Urban

Critic’s Choice:

Mister A’s

Reader’s Choice:

Mister A’s

Runner-Up:

Seneca Trattoria

MisterAs New Dining Room Restaurant in San Diego
Photo Credit: Kimberly Motos

Reinvention/Rebirth/Remodel

Critic’s Choice:

Mister A’s

Reader’s Choice:

Mister A’s

Runner-Up:

Cardellino

Swan Bar Juarez Weekend Cocktail Bar San Diego
Photo Credit: John Schulz

Drinks

Dive Bar

Critic’s Choice:

Nunu’s

Reader’s Choice:

Swan Bar

Runner-Up:

The Loft

Bloody Mary

Critic’s Choice:

Cafe 21

Reader’s Choice:

Barleymash

Runner-Up:

Snooze

Margarita

Critic’s Choice:

Cantina Mayahuel

Reader’s Choice:

Cantina Mayahuel

Runner-Up:

Barrio Star

Wolf In The Woods Wine Bar San Diego
Photo Credit: James Tran

Wine Bar

Critic’s Choice:

Wolf in the Woods

Reader’s Choice:

Gianni Buonomo

Runner-Up:

Ambrogio15 Enoteca

Brewpub

Critic’s Choice:

Gravity Heights

Reader’s Choice:

Gravity Heights

Runner-Up:

Blind Lady Ale House

Coffee

Critic’s Choice:

Por Vida

Reader’s Choice:

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

Runner-Up:

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

Cocktails

Critic’s Choice:

Polite Provisions

Reader’s Choice:

Understory

Runner-Up:

Paradisaea

You & Yours Cocktails Bar San Diego
Photo Credit: Haley James

Distillery

Critic’s Choice:

Pacific Coast Spirits & Kitchen

Reader’s Choice:

Pacific Coast Spirits & Kitchen

Runner-Up:

You & Yours

Brewery

Critic’s Choice:

Fall

Reader’s Choice:

Hopnonymous

Runner-Up:

Fall

New Brewery

Critic’s Choice:

Rincon

Reader’s Choice:

Rincon

Runner-Up:

Seek

Winery

Critic’s Choice:

Gianni Buonomo

Reader’s Choice:

Gianni Buonomo

Runner-Up:

Rustic Ridge

Wine List

Critic’s Choice:

Addison

Reader’s Choice:

Solare

Runner-Up:

Ambrogio15

Juice Bar

Critic’s Choice:

Northside Shack

Reader’s Choice:

Pina Smoothies

Runner-Up:

Rad Habits

Alt-Drink, Alcoholic (Cider, Seltzers, Canned Cocktails)

Critic’s Choice:

Bivouac Ciderworks

Reader’s Choice:

Bivouac Ciderworks

Runner-Up:

Juneshine

Kombucha

Critic’s Choice:

Nova Easy Kombucha

Reader’s Choice:

Juneshine

Runner-Up:

Nova Easy Kombucha

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