Explore San Diego

10 Must-Try San Diego Restaurants

From fine dining to Mexican cuisine with a side of bay views, these restaurants should be on your S.D. dining hit list.


Sitting around an open fire with friends is even better when there’s good food and drinks to enjoy together. This is the spark of inspiration for Campfire. The 6,000-square-foot, indoor/outdoor restaurant lives up to its name, featuring a stunning “campground” outfitted with communal wood dining tables, a custom 12-foot hearth, fire pits and an actual teepee outside. The market-driven, seasonal menu focuses on dishes made from primitive, live-fire cooking methods—using wood, charcoal and embers. Think grilled T-bone steak, smoked chicken, whole fish preparations and roasted vegetables. Rotating cocktails range from shareable growlers and stiff classics, to fire-tinged, smoky infusions with names like Roasted Beets and Charred Cactus. And for dessert: s’mores. L (Tu-F), D (Tu-Su), Br (Sa-Su). 2725 State St., Carlsbad, 760.637.5121

1500 Ocean

Ocean at the Hotel del Coronado showcases fresh California coastal cuisine with a delicious ocean view. The menu features seasonal culinary offerings sourced locally, coupled with wines from across the region. Start with a craft cocktail at the Sunset Bar, then dine on the oceanfront terrace, in the contemporary dining room or private dining cabanas. D (Tu-Sa). 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.522.8490


This fine restaurant overlooking the rolling green golf course at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar features contemporary French cuisine intricately fused with Mediterranean flavors. Dinner entrées change seasonally, as executive chef William Bradley—a James Beard “Rising Star Chef” nominee and Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef—uses the finest and freshest ingredients available. Pair your meal with a glass of vin from the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning wine list, which includes more than 3,500 labels. D (Tu-Sa). 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Del Mar, 858.314.1900

Buona Forchetta

The wood-fired oven named "Sofia" takes center stage at this cozy corner eatery known for its authentic Neapolitan pizza, house-made pastas and salads. Save room for classic Italian desserts like tiramisu, panna cotta and cannoli. D (nightly), L (W-Su). 3001 Beech St., South Park, 619.381.4844


The Cohn Restaurant Group’s bayfront Mexican restaurant and lounge features a massive waterfront dining deck offering unrivaled panoramas of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline. The menu of regional Mexican cuisine highlights local, seasonal ingredients, from ahi tuna tostadas and grilled lobster and jumbo prawns, to guacamole prepared tableside and enchiladas. An agave-focused cocktail menu includes more than 100 tequilas and a dozen mezcal infusions. L, D (daily). 880 Harbor Island Drive, Harbor Island, 619.814.1300

Herb & Wood

Dine on savory wood-fired dishes and sip old-school cocktails inside Brian Malarkey’s sprawling warehouse-turned-chic hotspot. Delights include roasted branzino and braised beef belly, washed down with the Bourbon & Berries cocktail. D (Tu-Su). 2210 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.955.8495

Juniper & Ivy

Top Chef star Richard Blais oversees the modern Cali-American menu loaded with artisanal dishes at this popular “it” spot. Start with the buttermilk biscuit with smoked butter. Then choose from a selection of raw seafood, pastas and small plates in addition to seasonal, rotating mains such as Prime rib and local chicken served with English pea gnocchi. A fun and ambitious cocktail menu features rare concoctions. D (nightly). 2228 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy, 619.269.9036

Mister A’s

One of the most exciting places to eat in San Diego, Mister A’s sits 12 stories up, with sweeping views that stretch from Tijuana to Orange County. Watch jetliners bob their way down to the runway at Lindbergh Field airport and enjoy some of the best food served anywhere. Add excellent service and even the most jaded diner will be impressed. Br (Su), L (M-F), D (nightly). 2550 Fifth Ave., 12th floor, Bankers Hill, 619.239.1377

Mille Fleurs

Mille Fleurs is one of San Diego’s top special-occasion restaurants. At this out-of-the-way location in tony Rancho Santa Fe, you’ll find elegant haute cuisine in a setting of unparalleled grace. Jovial owner Bertrand Hug has been in the business forever and has risen to the top of his game. The menu of spectacular French California fare changes daily depending on what’s freshly available at nearby Chino Farms. L (Th-F), D (nightly). 6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.756.3085

Urban Solace

Enjoy owner/chef Matt Gordon's new American comfort food in low-lit modern ambiance. The upscale comfort-food menu is warm to the core with its cheese biscuits with orange-honey butter, steamed black mussels, and “Not Your Momma's Meatloaf” made with ground lamb and pork and served with brown butter mash. L, D (daily); B (Sa); Br (Su). 3823 30th St., North Park, 619.295.6464

Article by Sarah Daoust, adapted from WHERE San Diego magazine for SoCalPulse. Reprinted with permission.