Amarin Thai Restaurant: Thai – 3843 Richmond St, San Diego, CA 92103 – http://www.amarinthaisandiego.com/
Excellent food. I don’t think you can go wrong with anything. It’s a nicer sit-down restaurant, entrees about $10, great place to take visitors. There is also a fast-food version up in Mira Mesa, but it is not as good as the main restaurant.
Ashoka the Great: Indian – 9474 Black Mountain Rd, Ste G, San Diego, CA 92126 – http://www.indianfoodsandiego.com/
They have especially great vegetarian dishes, even for a meat-lover. Try their various curries; DON’T bother with the bland buffet.
Ba Ren Szechuan: Chinese – 4957 Diane Ave, San Diego, CA 92117 –
Authentic Szechuan food, with flavors (and spiciness levels!) unlike any other Chinese place; try the Stir-Fried Dry Beef and the Fish Boiled in Spicy Sauce.
Big Kitchen: American – 3003 Grape St, San Diego, CA 92102 – http://www.bigkitchencafe.com/
Go see Judy The Beauty in this South Park favorite if you want a great atmosphere and great people (I swear the the people who work there never left the 60s) with an inexpensive menu. (They were mentioned on Food Network.) The breakfasts are unbelievable, and you should always upgrade to the coffee cake. (It’s like having dessert for breakfast.) If you go on the weekend, expect to wait a while. If you get there before ten o’clock, though, you can skip the long wait. This is also a good starter place for a day at Balboa Park and the zoo since it’s only about an 8 minute drive to there after you fill up on food. Be warned, though, they only take cash, no plastic.
Broken Yolk Cafe: American – 1815 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 – http://www.thebrokenyolkcafe.com/
This was the first (breakfast) restaurant other than Denny’s/Coco’s that I went to here in SD. The food is relatively cheap for how much you get. I definitely recommend getting an omelet. The best time to go is on a weekday, since you might wait up to three hours on the weekends. If you have a group (or at just hungry), they have a dozen egg omelet. If you finish it by yourself in a hour, you get it for free.
Bronx Pizza: Italian – 111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 – http://www.bronxpizza.com/
I tried this place my first year here in San Diego. At the time, I had never had New York pizza and wasn’t terribly impressed. However, I will say that the pizza there was quite authentic. (I have since gone to New York and had pizza in west Queens.) I would recommend the Porko. As a heads up, they only take cash there, so make sure to hit the ATM beforehand. (If memory serves, there are a few within two blocks or so.)
China Max Seafood Restaurant: Chinese – 4698 Convoy St # C101, San Diego, CA 92111 – http://www.chinamaxsandiego.com/
Fancier Chinese restaurant and a bit more expensive than Dede. They serve dim sum seven days a week that is pretty good for lunch.
Chipotle: Mexican – 8657 Villa La Jolla Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037 – http://www.chipotle.com/
Big burritos for cheap. What else is there to say? While this is a national chain, it is still pretty good eats.
Chopstix: Japanese – 4633 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111 –
A great place for Ramen. The food here is pretty inexpensive, and quite tasty.
Costa Brava: Spanish – 1653 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 – http://www.costabravasd.com/
An excellent restaurant featuring a massive selection of classic Spanish Tapas as well as main dishes. The restaurant has covered outdoor seating as well as a cozy bar.
Dede’s Teajuice City: Chinese – 4647 Convoy St #101C, San Diego, CA 92111 –
This is a small Chinese restaurant that serves a lot of spicy Chinese food. Also we like the fish slices with crispy rice and the clay pot dishes.
Don Carlos Taco Shop: Mexican – 737 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037 – http://www.eataburrito.com/
One of the better taco shops in town. They have a wide variety of delicious Mexican food (including tamales) for reasonable prices. They are also a short walk from the water.
Dumpling Inn: Chinese – 4619 Convoy St. #F San Diego, CA 92111 –
Some of the best Chinese food in town, specializing in food from the northeast of China. Be sure to arrive early though; the restaurant is quite small, and is almost always full. Ask for the homemade noodles.
Extraordinary Desserts: Dessert – 2929 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 – http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com/
This is a tiny little place in Hillcrest which serves dessert and coffee, but even though they only serve dessert, there will be a solid twenty minute line on Friday and Saturday nights to place an order. There is a another location in Little Italy, located at 1430 Union Street that has an even larger selection of desserts. Now, to call the desserts at Extraordinary Desserts decadent would be a gross understatement. I would say the best way to enjoy this place would be to go out for appetizers and drinks with a few friends in Hillcrest, maybe at Kemo Sabe on 5th, skip dinner altogether, and then go to share a selection of desserts from this place.
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto: Italian – 962 Garnet Ave. San Diego, CA 92109 – http://www.realcheesepizza.com/
A family-owned chain of Italian restaurants all throughout San Diego county. (See their website for other locations.) The food is pretty good for the price and I have not found a dish I have not enjoyed.
George’s Ocean Terrace: American – 1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037 – http://www.georgesatthecove.com/
George’s is a 3-story establishment in the swank La Jolla Cove Area. There is George’s at the Cove, which is a VERY nice 5-star restaurant in the lower level, a bar in the middle, and the Ocean Terrace on the top. The Ocean Terrace is still a very nice outdoor restaurant, and about 1/2 the price of the Cove. I have been many times, and the food is always excellent, the service is great, and the ocean views spectacular. It gets busy in the evening, and you should make reservations, but get there early anyway, and enjoy a martini and an appetizer in the bar downstairs (also great ocean views).
Golden Spoon: Dessert – Inside Ralph’s, 8677 Villa La Jolla Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037 – http://www.goldenspoon.com/
I was skeptical at first that frozen yogurt would taste like ice cream. I was wrong. The frozen yogurt is incredible, and only has 17 calories per ounce. I recommend peanut butter or a coffee flavor. You can sample the flavors before you make your selection. Some times the line can get to be 10-15 minutes. You can find coupons in the dollar stretcher that is passed out at the start of each quarter, which normally has a 2-for-1.
Gringo’s Cantina: Mexican – 4474 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 – http://www.gringoscantina.com/
Slightly more upscale Mexican eatery with an abundant tequila selection, LARGE margaritas, and excellent free cheese dip for your chips.
Hodad’s: American – 5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107 –
The only Zagat rated place in Ocean Beach, this is definitely worth a trip. The burgers are good, and should be ordered with bacon (you will be given a patty of bacon on top of your burger), the shakes are huge and excellent, and the onion rings are astounding (skip the fries and head straight to rings). Definitely fast prior to dining.
In-N-Out Burger: American – 2910 Damon Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 – http://www.in-n-out.com/
The menu is simple (burger, fries and shakes), but they are incredible. You will always see a line in the drive through. If you have never been to the West Coast before, you should try this chain.
Jack’s Thai Spices: Thai – 1768 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109 –
I knew the chef, Jack, at another location, Pattaya Thai Cuisine, on top of Mount Solidad. This was the first, and best, Thai food that I have ever had. Period. If you like coconut, I would recommend one of the curries. Be warned, though, Jack tends to make the dishes a bit spicy. When ordering, you can specify the spice level (0 to 10, with 3 being a medium). I enjoy a 2. If you go above a 6, you run the risk that you will only taste hot after a while. Also, make sure to ask for ‘Authentic’ when ordering your dishes. Otherwise, the dish may be not be exactly what you had in mind, as Jack tends to cater to the masses (who happen to be white).
Jasmine Seafood Restaurant: Chinese – 4609 Convoy St. San Diego, CA 92111 – http://www.jasmineseafood.com/
A good place for Dim Sum (served daily), though it can be a bit expensive. It can be a little crowded on weekends.
Lefty’s Chicago Pizza: Italian – 3448 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 – http://leftyspizza.com/
They have the best Chicago-style pizza in San Diego.
Mama Testa: Mexican – 1417A University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 – http://www.mamatestataqueria.com/
They have a variety of great tacos, and it’s worth going just for the salsa bar; try the Yucatecos and the Mojados de Carne. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, the Muchos Machos tacos are delicious. A must if you’re looking for a taco place in Hillcrest.
Mariposa Ice Cream: Dessert – 3450 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116 – http://www.mariposaicecream.com/
Best Homemade Ice Cream in San Diego. They offer many flavors to choose from. Try their Cookies and Mint, Butter Finger, or Banana Walnut ice cream. Their flavors are on the traditional side, but delicious.
Mariscos German Taco Truck: Mexican – 3504 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 –
Finding this Taco Truck can be a bit tricky, but it’s usually parked in Normal Heights at the above address. They have delicious and different seafood tacos than any taco shop in San Diego; try the Gobernador and the Marlyn tacos.
Niban Japanese Restaurant: Japanese – 7081 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111 –
This is a nice little Japanese restaurant that serves sushi and lots of Japanese bentos. Also pretty inexpensive for Japanese food, usually under $10. The specials are often in the $6-7 range. You order at the cashier and then they bring the food to you. There are often lines waiting to get in in the evening.
Papalulu’s Restaurant: American – 2168 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037 –
A cute outdoor coffee and lunch place down in the Shores area. Good escape from UCSD, but not too far.
Phil’s Barbeque: American – 3750 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 – http://www.philsbbq.net/
The place moved from its old location in Hillcrest. This is the best barbeque that I have had, but I have never been to Texas or Memphis, or St. Louis. The meat falls off of the bones and the food is relatively inexpensive, considering what you get. The wait can be a bit long if there is anything going on at the Sports Arena. Other than that, you should be eating within twenty minutes of getting there.
Pizzeria Luigi: Italian – 1137 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102 – http://www.pizzerialuigi.com/
They have the best New York-style pizza in San Diego; the great crust is kind of a cross between New York and New Haven’s styles.
Restorante Arrivederci: Italian – 3845 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103 – http://ristorante-arrivederci.com/
Best Italian food in Hillcrest. They’ve got some great sauces. Try the Rigatoni Piccanti or the Farfalle with salmon.
Rocky’s Crown Pub: American – 3786 Ingraham St, San Diego, CA 92109 –
A classic institution in Pacific Beach. The best burger San Diego has to offer. In fact, that is the only item on the menu. Caveats: 1) The wait will be long. 2) The bartenders are playfully rude at times. 3) People know it’s good so seating will be limited. However, this is all offset by the quality of the burger and the great atmosphere.
Sab E Lee: Thai – 2405 Ulric St, San Diego, CA 92111 – http://www.sab-e-lee.webs.com/
A hole in the wall with very authentic Thai food; it has different items on the menu than most Thai places. One of the best hidden gems and quite possibly the best Thai food in San Diego. It’s located in Linda Vista, just north of Fashion Valley. Make sure to try the Larb and the Pad See Ew. It’s pretty spicy!
Saffron: Thai – 3731 India St, San Diego, CA 92103 – http://www.saffronsandiego.com/
This place has awesome Asian food, mostly Thai, and all of their dipping sauces are awesome. Get a main dish and also help yourself to some of their Spring rolls, which are pretty bomb, for an appetizer.
Spices Thai Cafe: Thai – 6785 Mira Mesa Blvd, Ste 143, San Diego, CA 92121 – http://www.spicesthaisandiego.com/
Best Thai place in Mira Mesa. Go for the Curry Noodles, but be warned that it’ll be spicier than you expect – no, EVEN spicier!
Super Cocina: Mexican – 3627 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 –
They have something like 200 dishes in their repertoire, from all different regions of Mexico; each day they have about 20 available. When you walk in, they will immediately offer you samples of all the dishes and sauces they have that day, from which you can then choose one or two. Not everything is great, but they make a lot of things you can’t find elsewhere.
Surati Farsan Mart: Indian – 9494 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126 – http://www.suratifarsan.com/
All vegetarian, and all from different parts of India than most Indian restaurants; try the Mysore Masala Dosa and the Petish. They also have many tasty Indian sweets.
Swami’s Cafe: American – 1163 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024 – http://www.swamis.signonsandiego.com/
This place really has a San Diego feel to it. It’s a great little surfer hangout right across from Swami’s Point on Highway 101. Swami’s has very healthy food, as well as all of the typical breakfast/lunch fair. This is a great place for delicious, cheap food and they have a very good selection of smoothies and coffee. This was the first place that I ever saw a watermelon smoothie that was made from real watermelons.
Taco Surf Taco Shop: Mexican – 4657 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 –
Your standard all-purpose taco shop. In this reviewer’s opinion, this is the best Mexican food to be had in Pacific Beach.
Tadashi Sushi: Japanese – 1277 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037 – http://www.tadashisushi.signonsandiego.com/home.html
This place is located in La Jolla Cove as well, and the sushi is pretty tasty, although Sushi Ota in Mission Bay has the bast sushi in SD. I like Tadashi because the quality is good for the price, and the other stuff, like their katsu and teriyaki, is good too. Also, if you can handle it, there is an all-you-can-eat sushi/ appetizer bar for about $30, where they will make all the sushi and gyoza you can put down as you order it.
The Cottage: American – 7702 Fay Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037 – http://www.cottagelajolla.com/
A great place for brunch, they also serve dinner in the summer months. They have some of the best French Toast on the planet.
The Linkery: American – 3794 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104 – http://www.thelinkery.com/
Located in North Park, the Linkery is upscale and creative, with funky ideas like bacon in their ice cream sandwiches and fried eggs on their burgers.
Urban Solace: New American Comfort Food – 3823 30th St San Diego, CA 92104 – http://www.urbansolace.net/
This restaurant takes a unique perspective on classic dishes. If you like meatloaf, then their version of it will knock your socks off. Not cheap, but not overly expensive either.
Volare Restaurant: Italian – 3528 Barnett Ave, San Diego, CA 92110 –
This is a small Italian restaurant with great Linguine Pescatore for under $8. The food is great and the prices are amazing.
World Famous: American – 711 Pacific Beach Dr, San Diego, CA 92109 – http://www.worldfamous.signonsandiego.com/
An excellent location for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or any other conceivable combination of food and drink. World Famous sits directly on the beach boardwalk and has great happy hours featuring appetizer/drink specials, etc.