Food & Drink

San Diego's 9 Most Underappreciated Restaurants

Published On 04/27/2015 Published On 04/27/2015
BLUE SMOKE
Erin Jackson/Thrillist
SARA NORRIS/THRILLIST
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
BLUE SMOKE
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
Talavera Azul
ERIN JACKSON/THRILLIST
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1. Osteria Panevino 722 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (Gaslamp Quarter)

Osteria Panevino is a friendly, approachable Italian spot with a slew of tempting items, including house-made spinach ravioli in creamy pesto sauce, and braised veal osso bucco over saffron risotto.

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2. Magnolia Tap and Kitchen 624 E St, San Diego, CA 92101 (East Village)

Southern food with a California twist in Downtown San Diego.

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3. 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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4. Hanna’s Gourmet 2864 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 (University Heights)

This multi-national kitchen in University Heights features dishes from France, Morocco, India, and beyond. Hanna's started as a catering company, but due to high demand a brick and mortar space was created to serve dinner and brunch five days a week. The menu is constantly changing to highlight different regions, and family-style dinners are offered periodically for a fixed price.

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5. Blue Smoke Sushi Lounge 7007 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92108 (Mission Valley)

High-quality rolls, robata items, bento boxes, and all manner of teriyaki-glazed meats round out the robust menu at this reasonably priced sushi spot in Fashion Valley Mall. Don’t leave without ordering something with pork, like the grilled pork belly skewer or the Wave Hog: a Japanese-Californian fusion roll with pork belly, pickled red onion, garlic chips, pomegranate foam, and a crisp chicharron "surfboard."

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6. Sundara 1774 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

Ocean Beach might not be the first destination that springs to mind for belly warming Indian fare, but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Sundara, along with a decent selection of craft brews and a shortlist of cocktails, like rum mango lassis. The friendly vibe in the snug interior or covered back patio is much more appealing than the over-dressed spaces slinging tepid fare in the Gaslamp Quarter or even the casual, hole-in-the-wall spots in Miramar. Two tips: "medium" is all the spice you’ll need, and at least one order of garlic naan is an absolute must.

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7. Talavera Azul 365 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910 (Chula Vista)

Hearty, affordable breakfast and lunch dishes are the main order of business at this cozy Mexican restaurant in Downtown Chula Vista. Sopes piled with chorizo, or righteous chilaquiles bathed in green, red, mole, or chipotle cream sauce are a must. If you love your coffee super-sweet, a bottomless cup of café de la olla with cinnamon will get your motor running.

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8. Venga Venga 2015 Birch Rd, San Diego, CA 91915 (Chula Vista)

Pair Mexican comfort food with 100 tequilas & mezcals behind the bar (all of which are also comforting), add in guac prepared tableside and a large patio outfitted with firepits, and you've got Venga Venga. They host a bottomless brunch on the weekends with unlimited breakfast tacos and shareable small plates, plus unlimited access to the brunch bar stocked with micheladas, Bloody Marias, margaritas, and mimosas.