Where To Eat In San Diego

Known for its rich history, cultural diversity, and prime location along the Southern California coast, San Diego also happens to be one of the most productive agricultural areas in the entire country, generating loads of avocados, citrus, tomatoes, eggs, and tons of other farm-grown fares (via Britannica). When all of these advantageous elements converge, what we're left with is a thriving, cutting-edge culinary utopia with some truly exciting restaurants that offer mouth-watering menus from various cuisines all across the globe.

In fact, when WalletHub conducted a study to find the best food scene cities in America, San Diego made it into the top 10. With so many different restaurants to choose from, narrowing them all down can feel a bit daunting. Whether you're looking for some top-notch Italian food, Japanese ramen, or a fun brewpub to camp out at for some grub, we've got you covered. Here are some of the best places to eat in San Diego.

Swagyu Chop Shop & Burgers

With a handful of locations — including a spot at the southern tip of San Diego Bay — Swagyu Burgers & Chop Shop was launched by Chef Steve Brown, who attended Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Los Angeles. Specializing in wagyu beef (succulent cuts of beef thoroughly streaked with delicate marbling from a special breed of cattle), Swagyu is a hybrid operation that's part high-end butcher shop and part restaurant. By offering burgers and skewers, Swagyu smartly makes its luxurious beef financially accessible to more diners, and the results from the kitchen are nothing short of glorious.

According to San Diego Reader, the smashed-style burgers at Swagyu are made with a blend of Japanese, Australian, and American wagyu beef. This blend is served for a handful of burgers on the menu, including a signature burger with homemade pickles, secret sauce, and American cheese on a brioche bun. Note: you can load up to four quarter-pound smashed burger patties on Swagyu's signature burgers. There are also some specialty burgers on the menu that include a few surprising twists, like the "el swagador" burger that comes with a wagyu smashed burger patty, smoked onions, tender pork belly, and pickled serrano peppers.

French fry lovers are bound to rejoice when they taste Swagyu's crispy interpretation of the dish, which submerges chunks of cubed potatoes in liquid nitrogen before getting immersed in the deep fryer. The end result: french fries with a perfectly crunchy shell and a delightfully soft, puffy center.

The Godfather

When it comes to Italian food, The Godfather is at the top of its game. Founded by Chef Isidoro Balistreri — a native Italian born near Palermo, Sicily — The Godfather has been selected as one of the best restaurants in the country for its authentic menu offerings and cozy atmosphere (via Business Insider). Some diners have claimed that The Godfather is cooking up some of the most outstanding Italian food in San Diego, raving about its shrimp linguine, wine, and homemade desserts.

It's easy to see why The Godfather has become such a beloved spot. The restaurant has an impressive lunch menu that's reasonably priced considering how fresh and high-quality the food is. There are plenty of delicious dishes for under 20 bucks, such as spaghetti bolognese, eggplant parmigiana, and Sicilian paninis loaded with cured meats or veal cutlets. The Godfather also boasts a solid wine list that mostly includes selections from Italy and California. Did we mention that the restaurant also features live music from its longtime pianist by the bar? Between its top-notch food, tasty wine selection, and charming live piano, The Godfather is a haven of delicious fare and good times that's totally worth checking out when you're in the mood for an authentic Italian meal.

Tuétano Taqueria

The fact that tuétano is a Spanish word that translates to "bone marrow" should give you a clue that this taqueria has a few delicious tricks up its sleeve (via San Diego Magazine). As the name suggests, one of the major allures of Tuétano Taqueria is its famous bone marrow birria taco that comes with a freshly roasted bone along with a little spoon to scoop out the marrow and top your taco as you wish. The combination proves transcendent: the inherent creaminess of the bone marrow coats the birria in a buttery sheen of savory fat, infusing the taco with a luxurious texture and a deeper, richer flavor. Beyond the amazing taste, bone marrow is also loaded with collagen, which helps with joint function and skin health, as noted by Healthline.

Another reason to visit: the tortillas are made to order. It should come as no surprise that Tuétano Taqueria has been praised by Michelin Guide for its tasty creations and generous portions — all offered for a reasonable price. If you're in the mood for tacos, quesadillas, or tortas, do yourself a favor and swing by Tuétano Taqueria to experience some of the very best in the area. 

Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen

Owner and executive chef Junya Watanabe was born in Tokyo and trained beside some of the most renowned ramen chefs in Japan before opening up the doors to Rakiraki Ramen & Tsukemen in 2012. Since then, diners have raved about the amazing broth and torched toppings in its delicious, steaming bowls of ramen, with plenty claiming it's the best around. Offering ramen, sushi, curry, and rice bowls, Rakiraki Ramen's eclectic menu goes out of its way to offer slam dunks of flavor in each section to please diners with varying tastes. Of course, the real star of the show here is ramen.

While the classic ramen section of the menu at Rakiraki features enticing ingredients such as handcrafted noodles, garlic chips, pickled eggs, and five-spice soy sauce, the special ramen section ventures into more innovative territory with braised oxtail, curry, and beef short ribs. It's no wonder diners rave about the food at Rakiraki, declaring that you can't lose no matter what you choose since everything's so good.

Breakfast & Bubbles

Breakfast & Bubbles might not be the kind of place you go to eat at on a regular basis, since it has a chic, celebratory vibe that's best suited for special gatherings. But when you're in party mode and you want to kick off the day with a luxurious bang, you'd be hard-pressed to find a brunch spot more fun, colorful, and delicious. Plenty of diners have given this spot high marks for its aesthetics and tasty offerings, like the breakfast Cali burrito that comes with bacon, scrambled eggs, avocado, french fries, green onions, creme fraiche, and mozzarella on a homemade tortilla. For a dish to share with your crew, there's the savory board that includes a special selection of cheeses and cured meats chosen by the chef, deviled eggs, and crostini.

Oreo-stuffed french toast, caviar benedict, and a steak and eggs plate with roasted potatoes — the menu at Breakfast & Bubbles offers a wide range of decadent dishes to please a variety of budgets and palates. When it comes to booze, there's plenty to choose from there too, with drinks like pineapple blood orange mimosas, specialty cocktails, and of course, bottles of wine and champagne. Bottom line: if you're on the prowl for a solid daytime buzz and tasty brunch grub in a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of Insta-worthy photo ops, Breakfast & Bubbles is the place to be.


When you have a craving for authentic Korean barbecue, Taegukgi is one of your best bets in San Diego. Widely praised for its generous portions, Taegukgi has become well-known for its all-you-can-eat buffet that runs all day, every day. For a fixed price, you can fill up on an assortment of tasty choices that include premium rib eye, shrimp, pork jowl, and sirloin. The great thing about Taegukgi is that it authentically embraces the way a traditional Korean barbecue restaurant truly feels in its native land: communal and beautifully boisterous. The charred scent of marinated meats grilled tableside hovers like a lovely fog, while the soothing sizzle of pork belly sparks like delicious white noise in the background. It's easy to close your eyes here, take a deep breath, and feel like you've been magically teleported into a mom-and-pop barbecue shop along some narrow alley on the outer edges of the rushed streets of Korea.

Everything on the menu — including the cucumber kimchi, beef bulgogi, and perfectly puffy bowls of steamed egg along with sesame oil dipping sauces and flavored soju — is well-executed and blissfully delicious. The restaurant also offers some of its own signature cocktails with tequila, rum, vodka, and soju. All things considered, Taegukgi offers up some truly tasty Korean food, and grilling at the table together is bound to be a blast.

The Fish Market

Don't let The Fish Market's name fool you. Apt as the title may be (considering its fresh offerings from the sea), the restaurant still conjures up an elegant atmosphere with beautiful views and eye-catching plates of fresh seafood like ahi poke bowls and succulently seared scallops (via The Fish Market). Located on the waterfront in downtown San Diego, diners also tend to rave about the fish and chips, insisting that The Fish Market makes the best they've ever had. It should come as no surprise — you can't go wrong with fresh Atlantic cod battered with blond beer fried to a golden brown.

Smoked fish, crab spinach artichoke dip, rockfish ceviche with lime and coconut milk, wild Bering Sea king crab legs — The Fish Market offers all this and more on its expansive, well-curated menu. There's also no shortage of drink options, with plenty of margaritas, craft beer, sangria, wines, and mocktails to choose from. Did we mention that all of the desserts at The Fish Market are made from scratch? Finish your meal by scoring yourself a slice of homemade key lime pie while you watch the water and feel a little slice of heaven.

Angry Pete's

Angry Pete's operates out of Desi's Bar & Grill and specializes in Detroit-style pizza. For those unaware, Detroit-style pizza is a unique style of pizza that's renowned for being baked in a rectangular steel pan that's loaded to the brim with toppings and cheese. As the cheese melts along the sides and corners of the pizza in the steel pan, the edges bake into a crispy ridge of buttery cheese that lines the entire perimeter of the pie. The end result is heavenly: a square slice that's perfectly soft and chewy on the inside, yet lined with a crispy, cheesy exterior. If you ask us, Detroit-style pizza doesn't get nearly enough attention for the culinary triumph it truly is, unjustly eclipsed by the looming presence of the more dominant styles from New York and Chicago. Luckily for us, Angry Pete's is doing what it can to spread the good word and rectify this injustice, one amazing pie at a time.

Widely praised for its deliciousness, some diners have fallen so deeply in love with Angry Pete's impressively cheesy squares of Detroit-style pie that they've contemplated relocating to San Diego. While you can get a classic slice with cheese and pepperoni, Angry Pete's menu also explores more experimental territory to delicious effect. Case in point: the flamin' hot Cheeto street corn pizza with ingredients like Tapatio crema and guajillo chili powder. If you're in the mood for some killer pizza, Angry Pete's won't let you down.


With a menu expertly honed by chef Raj Mutti, Curryosity offers an assortment of traditional curry dishes along with some inventive, contemporary twists. While you can feast on classic, savory dishes like paneer and butter chicken, you can also venture into more imaginative territory like chicken tikka poutine and curry mac and cheese. As its name suggests, the restaurant embraces an underlying eagerness to explore — and that same sense of curiosity colors the menu with some intriguing and delicious fare.

Some diners love the food at Curryosity so much that they claim it's the best Indian food they've ever had. Others recommend the green coconut chicken, praising its tastiness and generous portion. Curryosity also bakes all of its bread to order in its tandoori oven, ensuring naan that's perfectly fresh with just the right amount of subtle char. The restaurant even mixes up some original signature dessert cocktails to help wash it all down, with offerings that include a mango mousse with vodka and masala chai infused with soju. At the end of the day, Curryosity delivers on its promise to deliver mouth-watering Indian food with some creative revelations along the way.

Phil's BBQ

Even though it's located far beyond the realm of the Deep South, Phil's BBQ has been whipping up succulent classic barbecue dishes in San Diego since 1998 (via Phil's BBQ). Specializing in mesquite-grilled meats, the menu at Phil's offers plenty of popular favorites: racks of baby back ribs, barbecue chicken, signature sandwiches, and classic sides like homemade cornbread and onion rings. Phil's has earned a reputation for its ribs, which some say are the best San Diego has to offer. Others assure that it's worth the wait if there's a line, raving about the massive portions.

Phil's is also praised for having a family-friendly set-up and consistently great service (via Fundiego Family). But it tends to be the signature sandwiches that get a lot of attention here. There's the barbecue broham, which comes with pulled pork that gets charred on the grill before getting topped with barbecue sauce and coleslaw. Another hit is the el toro that includes grilled tri-tip and barbecue sauce — a sandwich so popular that it was featured on Travel Channel's "Best Sandwich in America" with Adam Richman. If you're in San Diego but craving a taste of some comforting barbecue, Phil's is happy to take you in and hook you up with your fix.

Harney Sushi

With its gourmet rolls and cozy, upscale ambiance, Harney Sushi made a big splash when it opened up in 2001 (via Harney's Sushi). Since then, the restaurant has gone on to win multiple awards, being recognized by San Diego Magazine among other outlets for its delicious creations. While Harney's menu offers traditional Japanese dishes like sashimi and nigiri, the kitchen's talents might shine brightest in its selection of unique specialties

One highlight is the orange crush roll, featuring salmon, thin lemon slices, spicy tuna, cream cheese, shrimp tempura, and a spicy ponzu sauce. Another favorite is the Chuck Norris roll, which comes with spicy krab meat, shrimp tempura, and avocado topped with fresh slices of pink tuna. The specialty nigiri section of the menu is also worth exploring — especially the "moon dance" that comes with seabream, miso butterscotch, pickled blackberries, vanilla salt, and chopped shiso. It's innovative dishes like this that put Harney Sushi on the map and guarantee that a pitstop for lunch or dinner will be time and money well spent. Did we mention that Harney Sushi also makes sure to source its seafood sustainably?

Ballast Point

If you're searching for a fun spot to camp out for solid grub and unique beers to wash it all down with, Ballast Point might be just the place you're looking for. A brewery initially formed by a modest group of craft beer enthusiasts with big dreams, Ballast Point has evolved into an impressive operation since its inception in 1996 (via Ballast Point). Even though Ballast Point's passion lies in its beer, one look at its food menu proves that there's an equal devotion to pumping out some top-notch pub grub.

If you're with a group, there are plenty of plates to share like chicken wings with truffle-infused buffalo sauce, pretzel bites with beer cheese, and mango shrimp ceviche with serrano peppers and tortilla chips. Entrees mostly revolve around loaded sandwiches and juicy burgers — one of the most intriguing being the al pastor chicken sandwich with grilled pineapple and chili peppers. If you're feeling extra ravenous, there's also a decadent pork belly macaroni and cheese that's bound to knock your socks off. Plenty of diners rave about the exceptionally delicious food at Ballast Point and report enjoying the ambiance for hours. When it comes to the beer menu, there's an equally amazing lineup. Spiced chai porter, a citrusy blood orange IPA, and bourbon barrel-aged coffee-flavored beers await you. Great views, fresh brews, and the creative fare will keep you coming back for more.