Credit: Kimberly Motos

13 Michelin-Recommended Restaurants in San Diego That Are Worth the Hype

San Diego’s Culinary Scene Hits Prime Time with These Dining Destinations

It’s fair to say that San Diego knows good food. As you might imagine, you’ll find a lot of raw seafood, premium tacos and craft cocktails—a perfect reflection of the city’s location. From innovative Asian fusion concepts to snazzy Italian osterias, the culinary scene here is always evolving and always raking in the awards. So without further ado, we’ve rounded up 13 of San Diego’s best restaurants recognized by the prestigious Michelin Guide. Let’s dig in.

The Fishery

Michelin Recommended 

Credit: The Fishery

Fishing for the best seafood spot in town? We’re confident The Fishery will reel you in with rotating seasonal fresh catches and execution that earned them a Michelin nod. This nautical dining concept doubles as a local seafood wholesaler, brought to life by gold embossed letters that spell out its moniker, a sailor blue awning and a 30-foot fish case. The cod burrito is a warm tortilla wrapped around crisp-fried cod filets, rice, beans and guacamole. Their ahi tuna poke needs nothing more than a dash of fresh lemon to be considered the best raw fish in town.

Location: Pacific Beach 

 

Lola 55

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Credit: Kimberly Motos

It’s not hard to find good tacos in San Diego, but if you want great tacos, Lola 55 is the place to go. This trendy restaurant has two locations in San Diego and serves up elevated tacos and signature cocktails. If you’re wondering what turned Michelin on to Lola 55, the mosquito chicken taco, pork belly adobada, masa fritas and churro sundae will answer that question. You’ll find the chefs at this modern Mexican sensation sizzling away at their mesquite wood-burning grill Tuesday through Sunday.

Locations: Downtown San Diego and Carlsbad 

 

Callie 

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Best Michelin Restaurants San Diego
Credit: Callie

Mediterranean octopus, kampachi crudo, warm chocolate chip tahini cookies and a winning selection of bubbles and wine—there’s a reason the name of this Mediterranean kitchen means “most beautiful” in Greek. Callie’s menu is peppered with a whimsical montage of homegrown morsels that translate into a bold reflection of Spanish, Italian, Moroccan, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine. Sweeping past the contemporary 30-seat cocktail bar and communal dining room, you’ll find a stocked kitchen of local ingredients. We’re talking fresh yogurt from the El Cajon farmers’ market and pastured lamb from Poway. If you’re craving a little of everything, splurge on the Mediterranean Feast, a tasting set at $75 per person with an optional $40 wine pairing.

Location: East Village

 

Kettner Exchange 

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Credit: @jtran_photos

Kettner Exchange’s hip, upscale venue prefers to scatter its wealth of culinary bliss across (literal) levels of award-winning architecture. You’ll find a club lounge, sports bar and terrace on the top floor. Underneath sits a cozy dining room with a two-way fireplace and hanging driftwood. Superior standouts among their globally-inspired small plates include bigeye tuna doused in a Makrut lime-soy marinade, suckling pig larb, foie gras French toast and grilled quail char sui—all ready to be paired with shaken cocktails, like the Post Water-Malone and Rice and Shine.

Location: Little Italy

 

Juniper & Ivy

Michelin Recommended

Juniper and Ivy
Credit: Courtesy of Juniper and Ivy

It’s hard to believe Juniper & Ivy’s white-tiled cocktail bar, soft tan furnishings and dining booths concealed by curtains are housed inside what was once an abandoned 1920s warehouse. Guests who opt for the pre-fixe dinner will be greeted by an award-winning assortment of Latin and Asian eats, curated by James Beard finalist Anthony Wells. Market-fresh finds, seasonal specialties and artisan vintages provide the foundation for plates like yolk-filled ravioli and roasted half chicken with grilled peach panzanella. Skim the dessert section if you must, but there’s really no contenders for the decadent chocolate Yodel cake.

Location: Little Italy

 

Addison

Three Michelin Stars

Best Michelin Restaurants San Diego
Credit: Courtesy Fairmount Grand Del Mar

Did you know San Diego is home to Southern California’s first and only three-star Michelin restaurant? Its triple-crown rating has marked Addison as a formal dining destination worthy of any trip to get here—whether from near or far. A seasonal bounty sourced from California’s finest farms and a creative palette of global inspiration awaits guests inside this elegant white-tablecloth dining room. No dish is less than perfect, but we’re biased toward the sesame Koshihikari rice with applewood-smoked sabayon and Regiis Ova reserve caviar. Then again, chicken liver churros, shellfish-studded chawanmushi and a polished selection of small bites and dessert wines are on our must-eat list, too.

Location: Del Mar

 

Coasterra

Michelin Recommended 

Credit: Coasterra

Perched on the tip of Harbor Island, dreamy views meet even dreamier seafood plates at this midcentury modern Mexican venue. If avocados turned into creamy guacamole tableside doesn’t convince you Coasterra is Michelin-worthy, the smoked beet tartare tostada with king trumpet mushrooms certainly will. Specialty cocktails and margs made with local ingredients? They’re all on the menu, and a premium tequila list as well. Good food and events go hand in hand at Coasterra with a large floating deck and a 300-seat banquet room. This is the quintessential place to savor chicken enchiladas and cinnamon churros over sunset views, if you ask us.

Location: Harbor Island

 

Sushi Tadokoro 

One Michelin Star

Step aside, Nobu. Sushi Tadokoro may not look like much from the outside, but their traditional Edo-mae style sushi will quickly change your mind about appearances. This omakase sushi bar prides itself in homemade sauces, top-of-the-line ingredients and fresh-caught seafood flown in from around the world. With oysters from British Columbia, succulent scallops from Hokkaido and sea urchin from California, this Michelin-starred San Diego restaurant is a melting pot of the ocean’s best. An airy yet simplistic design keeps the attention where it belongs (we’re looking at the bluefin tuna), but their compact dining room means reservations are essential.

Location: Old Town

 

Mabel’s Gone Fishing 

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Best Michelin Restaurants San Diego
Credit: Kimberly Motos

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that deliver the most joy—like a bucket of oysters and a gin tonic from Mabel’s Gone Fishing. A salty and satisfying blend of California and Iberian seafood, this trendy bodega draws inspiration from traditional Spanish tapas bars. Oysters and kampachi are the perfect palate warmers before moving on to swordfish schnitzel served with salsa verde, creamy tonnato sauce, caper berries and fennel. The food has earned this San Diego restaurant a Bib Gourmand recognition from the Michelin Guide. We agree that the cozy outdoor heaters, custom ceramic plateware and Spanish-tiled backsplash pass the vibe check.

Location: North Park 

 

Soichi

One Michelin Star

soichi
Credit: Raechel Kadoya

Michelin-starred sushi, anyone? Step up to the bar at Soichi for a stellar culinary experience helmed by Chef Soichi Kadoya, who’s been practicing the art of sushi making since the age of 16. This omakase restaurant likes to keep things small and personal. It features a communal dining lounge and polished 12-seat bar that accommodates up to two parties at once. Top-quality nigiri and sake are the house specials at Soichi. Golden eye snappers and fatty tuna are flown in from a small fishermen’s village in Japan, while local greens are sourced closer to home from a hydroponic farm here in California.

Location: University Heights

 

Solare

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Homemade pasta kneaded fresh each morning, oversized pizzas and a warm, homey atmosphere that emulates dinner in the living room are just a few attributes that set Solare apart. A Bib Gourmand award is just one of many badges of pride worn by this Michelin-recognized San Diego restaurant. This Italian trattoria is known for its award-winning wine and service—not to mention there’s a World Pasta Championship winner manning the chitarra pasta cutter. Lasagna al forno will satisfy your pasta cravings, but don’t miss the fennel sausage pizza that’s delivered with hot charred crust from their 900-degree wood-fired oven.

Location: Liberty Station

 

Cesarina

Bib Gourmand: good quality, good value cooking

Photography By: Swells Creative

Cue the Italian music, please! Cesarina is the reigning pasta champion of San Diego, as these chefs have mastered the art of the perfect fusilli, fettuccine and mafalde noodle. Hand-painted pottery adorns each colorful tabletop, while thrifted portraits and black-and-white tiled flooring replicate a traditional vintage Italian osteria. Everything from the truffled gnocchi and paccheri vodka scampi to their mix-and-match menu is made with amore. And where there’s pasta, there’s wine—and plenty of it. Let’s just say Cesarina does it right, with a house selection made with grapes plucked all the way from Italy’s central Lazio region.

Location: Point Loma

 

Paradisaea

Michelin Recommended

Best Michelin Restaurants San Diego
Credit: Paradisaea

A tropical tiki bar where watermelon radish adorns crispy halibut and coconut shrimp is grilled over a robata, Paradisaea isn’t your typical Asian fusion restaurant. The flamboyant wallpaper, exotic flora and pink neon sign replicate the habitat of the Bird of Paradise—all while delivering a Michelin-worthy experience. White sea bass crudo, dry-aged burgers and their Dancing Bird cocktail demonstrate their culinary mission: to elevate plates using seasonal ingredients. Adjacent to the dining room is sister-outfit Dodo Bird Donuts. Here, you’ll find your morning fix of horchata, churro and tres leches donuts. 

Location: Bird Rock

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