Food & Drink

8 San Diego Restaurants That Should Be Chains

Published On 04/08/2015 Published On 04/08/2015
SARA NORRIS/Thrillist

When it comes to beloved restaurants, more of a good thing is always a... good thing. San Diego diners are lucky enough to have a handful of sister locations of favorite spots in the works, including Bruxie, which is due to open its second San Diego location in Horton Park this fall; Lucha Libre, which will unleash its extraordinary California burritos in North Park this summer; and Soda & Swine, which will stretch out into new digs in Liberty Station in April.

Not to be too pushy, but we’ve got a few other places in mind that ought to spawn a second location:

Sicilian Thing

North Park
If you’re not already hooked on the Sicilian- and New York-style pies here, it’s probably because you live outside of the double-threat pizza shop’s fairly generous delivery zone, which includes North Park, South Park, University Heights, and Normal Heights. Sure, it’s worth the drive to score a slice of Barack-Oli-Ricotta and a corner slice of Sicilian-style Meatda ($9 on Thursdays, with a draft beer), but we think it’s high time for Paulie and co. to unveil another location, ideally Downtown (where there’s slice shops aplenty, but only a handful have any real game).

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Big Front Door

North Park
BFD’s menu of oversized sandwiches (made with carved meats roasted on-site -- not cold cuts), plus creative salads, cookies, and a fridge stocked with beer, wine, and craft sodas is such a proven winner that we’re sure a second location would thrive, no matter where it was to spring up.
 

OB Smoothie Bar & Sub Express 

Ocean Beach
This no-frills sandwich shop slings a tasty assortment of subs and arguably the best acai bowl in San Diego, made with acai purée blended with your choice of soy milk or apple juice (the better option). It’s exactly what you want on a sunny day at the beach, but driving (and parking) in OB on days like that means contending with hundreds of other people who had the exact same idea. A secondary location a bit farther afield would be welcome. Obviously, the name would have to be different, but that’s a minor detail.

City Tacos

City Tacos

North Park
San Diego has no shortage of taco shops, but we definitely need another City Tacos... or even two more. Imaginative fillings, like shrimp battered in a serrano-tempura batter, adobo-rubbed mahi mahi, and pork tenderloin with a spicy, sweet, and sour demi-glace have been attracting repeat customers since the shop opened last spring. (It also helps that all nine tacos are priced at $3.50 apiece.)

Blind Lady Ale House

Blind Lady Ale House

Normal Heights
Primo pies and an excellent selection of pints are the main draws at this Normal Heights haunt that has been named one of America’s 100 best beer bars by DRAFT magazine for the last five years running. We’re due for a sequel, and even have a location in mind: the recently vacated digs of Pizzeria Mozza, in The Headquarters. How awesome would that be? (Answer: so awesome.)
 

Devine Pastabilities

Midway
Locals love the toasted, hollowed-out garlic rolls stuffed with pasta here, but we’re confident a second shop amid the breweries and bars of North Park would make loyal carb-loading connoisseurs even happier.

Alforon

Alforon

Rolando
Flat bread "pizzas"; other-worldly hummus; and warm, crumbly falafel are just some of the treasures you’ll find at this family-run Mediterranean-Lebanese restaurant that has handily attracted praise from intrepid foodies, despite being located in Rolando, an area of town best described as "somewhat close to SDSU." A second location would be right at home in Hillcrest.

Sara Norris/Thrillist

Great Maple

Hillcrest
If the insanely long wait on weekend mornings at this trendy spot in Hillcrest is any indication, San Diegans love them some brunch. A second location would fill up with diners hungry for maple bacon donuts, brioche French toast logs, and scramble melts, no problem.

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Sicilian Thing Pizza 4046 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

Sicilian-style pizza is a rare breed in San Diego, and nobody does it better than this longstanding shop in North Park. Don’t be fooled by the modest digs: aside from perfecting the namesake style, it also does a bang-up job on New York-style pies. Not sure what to order? The Sicilian-style Almost Lasagna, named one of the eight best pizzas in the city, is a great pick. Daily specials encourage mid-week pizza consumption, while everyday prices are so reasonable that it makes sense to order one pie of each style and plan on lots of leftovers.

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2. BFD 4135 Park Blvd, University Heights, CA 92103 (University Heights)

BFD stands for Big Front Door, which is the name of this local deli that serves up an array of freshly prepared dishes that can include soups, salads and sandwiches made-to-order. There's also an in-house specialty wine and craft beer shop that specializes in smaller-scale producers, so you can get your drink on while you wait for your grub.

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3. OB Smoothie Bar & Sub Express 5001 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

This no-frills sandwich shop slings a tasty assortment of subs and arguably the best acai bowl in San Diego, made with acai purée blended with your choice of soy milk or apple juice (the better option).

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4. City Tacos 3028 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

Imaginative fillings, like shrimp battered in a serrano-tempura batter, adobo-rubbed mahi mahi, and pork tenderloin with a spicy, sweet, and sour demi-glace have been attracting repeat customers since the shop opened. (It also helps that all nine tacos are priced at $3.50 apiece.)

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5. Blind Lady Ale House 3416 Adams Ave, Normal Heights, CA 92116 (Normal Heights)

Normal Heights' Blind Lady Ale House scores with its thin crust pies and great beer selection from local and nationally renowed craft brewers. Stop in for a beer flight or an insanely cheap and insanely good $10 Margherita pie. For something a little bit fancier, cheese-heaped quattro formaggi and meat lovers' pies topped with house-made sausage and chorizo hit the spot.

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6. Devine Pastabilities 3545 Midway Dr, San Diego, CA 92110

Locals love the toasted, hollowed-out garlic rolls stuffed with pasta at this Midway joint.

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7. Alforon 5965 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115

Flat bread "pizzas"; other-worldly hummus; and warm, crumbly falafel are just some of the treasures you’ll find at this family-run Mediterranean-Lebanese restaurant that has handily attracted praise from intrepid foodies.

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8. Great Maple 1451 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 (University Heights)

Not just a common compliment among syrup makers, Great Maple's a fancied-up '60s diner with a bit of European flair, coming at you from the guys who brought you Hash House a-Go-Go and The Tractor Room. This East Village spot offers extensive menu lineups, from brunch through dinner. Make a reservation if you can, because this place is constantly busy.

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