Food & Drink

An editor's guide to eating around town

Published On 05/03/2013 Published On 05/03/2013
Sara Norris, the Editor of Thrillist San Diego.
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1. Sushi Kuchi 4475 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

If you're feelin' the hankering for some quality sushi, you gotta head to Kuchi. Serving an array of both lunch and dinner entrees, their fresh fish, sushi and sashimi will envelope your taste buds but not your wallet.

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2. 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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3. Barnes BBQ 7820 Broadway, Lemon Grove, CA 91945

Cooking up real Southern food from scratch, Barnes Bar B Que's bringing "da South to ya mouth". Where else can you get fried or smothered chicken, smothered pork, BBQ hot sausages, corn bread, and other soul food favorites for only $.99 in SD?

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4. Carnitas' Snack Shack 2632 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

At Carnitas' Snack Shack, just about everything is influenced by pork, from the menu of bacon-heavy fare to the big black pig that sits atop the roof. In true southern California fashion, 100% of the seating is in an outdoor area out back that's shaded by umbrellas and wooden roofs. The space includes a spacious bar serving up wine, beer, and snacks (also pork-focused) like chicharrones and pork belly.

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5. Bencotto Italian Kitchen 750 W Fir St, San Diego, CA 92101 (Little Italy)

Bencotto sets the bar high for fine Italian food, even in the heart of Little Italy. The menu showcases pasta with an option that lets you choose your sauce and type, the latter of which includes fresh strands made with semolina or whole-wheat flour, filled varieties like spinach ravioli and gorgonzola gnocchi, and artisanal pasta that's slowly dried at a low-temperature until it achieves an al dente texture. The ambience is well suited for date night -- as are shared plates liked saffron risotto balls and burrata.

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6. Jasmine Seafood Restaurant 4609 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111 (Kearny Mesa)

Your run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurant this is not. Jasmine offers authentic Cantonese-style fare that would fit right in in the heart of Hong Kong in a hip Mesa East locale. Its extensive menu specializes in seafood (hence the name) but they also offer a diverse array of dishes to satisfy any taste for any meal of the day. Dim sum brunch makes Jasmine's a popular spot to hit up on weekends.

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7. Tony's Jacal 621 Valley Ave, Solana Beach, CA 92075 (Solana Beach)

This family-owned establishment has been serving up classic Mexican cuisine -- at a reasonable price -- since 1946. Whether you you want to tackle a hearty platter of turkey tacos or snack on some Texas Toothpicks (strips of jalapenos and onions, covered in batter and deep fried), this classic spot is muy bueno for all.

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8. Crazee Burger 2415 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110 (Old Town)

They don't call it "Crazee" for nothing. This joint serves up more than 30 different types of burgers ranging from the standard (fresh Angus and natural organic) to the adventurous (gator, kangaroo and wild boar). The knowledgeable staff will advise you should you try the latter.

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9. Bertrand at Mister A's 2550 5th Ave. , San Diego, CA 92103 (Bankers Hill)

Located on the 12th floor, over looking downtown and the ocean, there's a wrap-around balcony where you can enjoy the view along with your chicken liver pate and escargots de Bourgogne. SD being the land of flippy-floppies, you can get away with wearing pretty much anything anywhere you go, however this place has a dress code. Because it's classy like that.

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10. BO-beau Kitchen + Bar 4996 W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

It's low-lit, cozy, and romantic as hell with glowing candle chandeliers, and on Tuesdays they have a date night special with a specially priced food and wine paring for two.

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11. Searsucker 611 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

Created by Top Chef finalist Brian Malarkey, Searsucker is a 7,000 square-foot restaurant whose classic American fare is crafted from locally-obtained ingredients. The beer on tap is local too, and there's also a fine wine list and an assortment of signature cocktails on the drinks menu.

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12. Kitchen 4140 4140 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117 (Mission Valley)

Headed by Chef Kurt Metzger, this eatery offers 'ingredient-inspired' food across various menus, including comprehensive wine and beer lists to complement the versatile cuisine.

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13. Fig Tree Cafe 416 University Ave #100, San Diego, CA 92103 (Hillcrest)

Fig Tree Cafe in University Heights is a cozy cafe with sleek wooden and metal accents. It operates as an on-the-go concept during the day and transitions to a slower pace for dinner in the evening. There's an open kitchen so diners can observe the culinary action. There's patio seating if you'd rather enjoy the outdoors while savoring well-prepared Californian fare. They're open for brunch as well, serving classics like Eggs Benedict and and fruit with granola.

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14. Aqui Es Texcoco 1043 Broadway , Chula Vista, CA 91911 (Chula Vista)

Aqui es Texcoco's based in Tijuana but serves popular Barbacoan-style lamb alongside a selection of craft beer at this SD outpost.

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15. The Linkery 3794 30th St, san diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

The Linkery, as the name might suggest, takes pride in producing an encyclopedic variety of handmade sausages. Beyond just the links, however, this place turns out cured meats and a full food menu, and there's also a wicked selection of wine and bottled/draft beer.

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16. Phileas Foggs 11385 Poway Rd, #100, San Diego, CA 92128 (Poway)

Phileas Foggs of Scripps Ranch offers traditional British fare like fish and chips, shepherds pie and Irish stew, as well as English meat pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs. PF is best known, though, for its wings— try the spicy BBQ or garlic salt and pepper. Drinks options are equally solid: PF has well over 200 imported and craft beers and the 20 tap direct draw system has a high emphasis on local craft, specialty and one off production draft beers.

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17. Donut Bar 631 B St, San Diego, CA 92101

This Cortez Hill bakery is open from 7am to whenever they sell out, so get there early; you don't want to miss your chance at treats that have most of San Diego lining up outside the door. The menu changes daily but includes vegan and non-vegan options like buttermilk bites, Creme Brûlée donuts and Maple Bacon cinnamon rolls. Coffee and espresso drinks are also on order for when you do claim your spot first in line at 7am.

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18. The Fishery 5040 Cass St, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

The Fishery has some of the freshest seafood you can get in San Diego, serving everything from oysters on the half shell, ceviche, and sushi, to entrees like spaghetti with swordfish meatballs and bouillabaisse with Dungeness crab, shrimp, calamari, clams, mussels, fin fish, and saffron-tomato broth.

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19. Fat Sal's Deli 956 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

Opened by Jerry Ferrara (Turtle from Entourage) and a couple of his pals, Fat Sal's Deli serves hefty sandwiches like the eponymous Fat Sal: a behemoth stuffed with roast beef, mozzarella sticks (yes, the sticks), onion rings, fries, brown gravy, and mayo on a garlic roll.

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20. Starlite 3175 India St, San Diego, CA 92103 (Little Italy)

This cocktail bar and late-night dining spot satisfies with a seasonal menu that marries American and Mediterranean tastes. The phyllo strudel is glutted with gold potato, artichoke, spinach, onion, and feta, then mortared with layers of pastry that crumble as they make the treacherous journey from plate to mouth. Meanwhile, Starlite's brioche burger gets an extra-rich dose of flavor from a blanket of Gruyere cheese. Reservations are recommended -- especially if you're looking for a seat on the outdoor patio.