Credit: Zack Benson
Credit: Zack Benson

12 of the Hottest Spots to Dine in San Diego Right Now

San Diego’s Burgeoning Culinary Scene Is a Force to Be Reckoned With

When it comes to extraordinary dining experiences, many point to the City of Angels. And don’t get us wrong—Los Angeles is undoubtedly an epicenter for marvelous eats. But, it turns out LA isn’t the only West Coast city with a burgeoning culinary scene. It’s sister down south, San Diego, may be known for its fish tacos and craft beer (and surfer bros with unkempt hair), but don’t be fooled by its laid-back reputation. With a host of phenomenal chefs and renowned restaurateurs, “America’s Finest City” continues to shape Southern California’s culinary landscape with its avant-garde approach. From a Roman-style rooftop restaurant to a revolving cocktail bar that resembles a carousel, we proudly present the hottest spots to dine in San Diego. Coolest Restaurants San Diego

 

Valle

Located in Oceanside’s all-new Mission Pacific Hotel, Valle features authentic Valle de Guadalupe cuisine with dishes ranging from upscale to surf-casual. Chef Roberto Alcocer’s vision for this waterfront venue was artfully brought to life, offering guests a seafood-focused, farm-to-table dining experience like no other. Patrons can expect everything from flavor-forward cocktails like the Hecate (mezcal, Cointreau, beet juice and fresh lemon) to plates like the Taco de Abulon—an artful presentation of Baja farmed abalone, nixtamalized corn tortilla, fermented habanero and roasted cauliflower. In terms of decor, Alcocer says, “I could take you all the way through the restaurant and tell you where the inspiration came from—the copper bar, the archway, the paintings, the art on the walls—they’re all Valle de Guadalupe-inspired.”

Location: Oceanside

Coolest Restaurants San Diego

Ember & Rye

As part of its $50-million renovation that took place last year, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa recently added three dining concepts—one of them being new signature restaurant Ember & Rye. This sleek steakhouse concept was created in collaboration with Chef Richard Blais, which he likens to a “not-your-parents’ country club-meets-modern steakhouse.” Highlights of the restaurant include a well-stocked whiskey library, an open-air terrace with views of the Aviara Golf Course, an outdoor grilling station, fire pits and an enticing menu of vintage steaks, fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables. And with the meats prepared over an open, wood-fired flame, even the snootiest of carnivores are sure to love Ember & Rye.

Location: Carlsbad

 

Adelaide

Credit: L’Auberge

If you’re dining in San Diego, you want ocean views. Adelaide at L’Auberge Del Mar has you covered with beautiful scenery in an upscale yet unpretentious setting. Take a seat in the restaurant’s plush chairs as you overlook the waves and the property’s pool. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here with an emphasis on sustainable seafood. Feel that cool, salty breeze as you sip your chardonnay and snack on plates like ahi poke, Italian burrata, beef tartare and crispy Pacific octopus. With an elevated approach to coastal California dining and ocean views that’ll sweep you off your feet, it’s safe to say Adelaide does not disappoint.

Local Insight: Aside from sustainable seafood, Adelaide also serves breakfast starting at 7 a.m. every day. Guests can enjoy everything from fluffy buttermilk pancakes to chilaquiles and vegan overnight oats.

Location: Del Mar

Coolest Restaurants San Diego

Westerly Public House

Photography By: Robert Miller

Inspired by the similarities of sunny San Diego and the eastern coast of Australia, Westerly Public House is the place to head for quality coffee, craft cocktails and fresh cuisine. The interior is coastal-cool, oozing laid-back beach vibes. As far as the food, start with the Bloonin’ Mushrooms before moving on to the lamb ragu and finishing the evening off with a sweet butterscotch pot de creme. Located at The Monsaraz San Diego in Point Loma, this all-new, Aussie-inspired restaurant is the perfect spot for a casual open-air meal before exploring all that San Diego has to offer.

Local Insight: With a variety of events on the calendar—from trivia nights to DJ brunches—locals will love the sense of community at this Point Loma hotspot. Be sure to follow @westerlypublichouse on Instagram to see what events are coming up! 

Location: Point Loma

 

Callie

Greek for “the most beautiful,” Callie offers a stunning setting to enjoy bold Mediterranean dishes created by Chef Travis Swikard. The dining room draws inspiration from Chef Swikard’s  skateboarding memories around San Diego, and the bar is undoubtedly reminiscent of a perfect California wave. The warm tones make it a welcoming East Village destination for a feel-good night out. Try the avocado labneh, Japanese kanpachi, harissa grilled lamb chops and aleppo chicken for a burst of delightful flavors. Pro tip: check out the Dali Room, a sophisticated private dining area that accommodates up to 18 guests, for a five-course Mediterranean dinner experience.

Location: East Village

Coolest Restaurants San Diego

Seneca Trattoria

Credit: CH Projects

As you step into the elevator and head straight up to the 19th floor of the InterContinental San Diego, it’s quite unexpected what you’ll find. Open the double doors and step into a Roman trattoria that overlooks both the ocean and San Diego skyline. Sit in the dining room, which transports you to an old-school yet elevated Italian cruise ship, or out on the open-air rooftop under the striped green and white awning surrounded by plants and pops of pink. The tableside mozzarella is a must, along with the Calabrian sausage pizza, bucatini cacio e pepe and an espresso martini. The attention to detail throughout Seneca is immaculate—it’s a culinary adventure you won’t soon forget.

Local Insight: Located just above Seneca sits an exclusive, members-only rooftop club called The Reading Club. Available to just 400 members (who will have to apply), this posh venue features space for meetings and meditation, a library and listening room, plus pool and gym access.

Location: Downtown San Diego

 

Wolfie’s Carousel Bar

Marrying Parisian glamour and French Quarter fare, Wolfie’s Carousel Bar in Little Italy is the cocktail experience of the century. Fantasy and fun come to life at this 2,500-square-foot restaurant and bar—the latest project by husband-and-wife duo Mauricio and Gillian Couturier. With one step inside, guests are transported to a whimsical wonderland that closely resembles the mystique of Hotel Monteleone’s famous Carousel Bar & Lounge in New Orleans. And while the restaurant itself is a feat of engineering, the retro merry-go-round cocktail bar in the center has proven to be the real draw. Making a full rotation every 14 minutes, Wolfie’s Carousel allows guests to sip back, relax and enjoy the ride of their lives.

Location: Little Italy

Coolest Restaurants San Diego

Camino Riviera

@localemag Camino Rivera #sandiego #littleitaly #indiastreet #sd #localemagazine 🎥: By Locale Social Contributor @trendyspotsofsocal ♬ Man O To – Original Mix – NU

From the owners of Kettner Exchange and The Grass Skirt comes Camino Riviera—a restaurant reminiscent of the tropical Caribbean coastline. A revamp of its predecessor, El Camino, Camino Riviera boasts a refreshed space filled with bohemian furnishings, sultry lighting and Tulum-inspired decor. This indoor-outdoor restaurant celebrates the Yucatán coastline, paying homage to the region’s artistry and architecture. And with Corporate Executive Chef Brian Redzikowski at the helm, guests can expect a menu as fuego as the ambiance. Dishes range from roasted bone marrow and pork “quesa birra” bao to hamachi ceviche with avocado, tomato, radish, squid ink chicharron and yuzu pepper. Camino Riviera is not only a palate-pleaser, it’s a feast for all the senses.

Location: Little Italy

Breakfast & Bubbles

In search of a trendy spot for brunch? Breakfast & Bubbles, located on the edge of University Heights and Hillcrest, is sure to cure your cravings and keep your ‘Gram lookin sharp! From beverage offerings like flights of prosecco to dishes like the Oreo French toast and short-rib eggs Benedict, you’re sure to fall in love with this hip new breakfast spot. And when we say ‘Grammable, we mean it. Breakfast & Bubbles has been given a decidedly pink makeover—complete with playful pops of green, draping florals and plush velvet seating. Stop in for their all-day champagne breakfast with the girls, which features dishes like pink deviled eggs, salmon caviar blini and marinated beet salmon toast.

Location: Hillcrest

Coolest Restaurants San Diego

Arlo

In August of last year, Mission Valley welcomed Arlo—a fresh culinary concept at the Town and Country Resort that celebrates the culture and lifestyle of sunny San Diego. Spearheaded by Chef Josh Mouzakes, Arlo boasts a laid-back, breezy ambiance, highlighted by swaying palms, a sweeping patio and a giant outdoor fireplace. Diners can expect an assortment of creative, wood-fired dishes, including chickpea fries with harissa aioli, grilled pork belly, Baja-inspired ramen, chai parsnip soup and more.

Location: Mission Valley

Coolest Restaurants San Diego

The Invigatorium

@localemag The Invigatorium #sandiego #coffeeshop #gaslamp #localemagazine #ronaldmcdonald 🎥: by Locale Contributor @trendyspotsofsocal ♬ originalljud – S U P E R M O D E L S

The Invigatorium—a collaboration between Modern Times Beer and Consortium Holdings—is an out-of-this-world coffee bar in San Diego’s East Village. Here, a wall of Post-it Note art depicts a fire-breathing Godzilla while a life-size velociraptor behind the bar peers down at patrons. The Invigatorium is the name, and outlandish is the game. And as far as the java goes, you can expect classic espresso drinks and pour-over service of Modern Times’ rotating single-origin coffees. There’s also cold brew on tap! 

Location: East Village

 

The Plot

Plant-based is in, and The Plot in the up-and-coming city of Oceanside is a must-stop if you’re in search of a farm-to-table meal. With an exclusively plant-packed menu and a zero-waste ethos, this all-day restaurant is dedicated to “making badass food with plants.” The Plot recently announced a partnership with reVessel, a sustainable food-storage solution, to eliminate wasteful take-out packaging. The restaurant proudly offers guests reusable, toxin-free and eco-friendly containers, along with a simple swap process!

Location: Oceanside

 

About the author

Taylor is a graduate from the University of Southern California with a degree in journalism. She is our Los Angeles and Orange County editor. You can find her dining at a new restaurant, in the ocean or planning her next adventure. Say hello!

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