Actually, compiling this list of 42 San Diego Restaurants to Savor was difficult. It was difficult because I was limiting it to 42 (our new “branding” initiative for Toot Sweet 4 Two; 42 for “4 Two” – get it?). I could have easily listed 142 or 242, etc. That’s how many great restaurants are in San Diego. And, I got to enjoy a few of my favorites beginning January 3rd while playing tour guide to our dear friends from England!
The above photo collage features the lovely Alexandra (Ali for short) from London. You’ll learn more about her, her brother (Sam) and her boyfriend (Bert) over the next few days. Also in the photo collage above, you’ll see a very small picture of a group of us at Café Coyote in San Diego’s Old Town area. That picture includes Ali, Sam, Bert, my sister Gail, me, my niece Samantha and Samantha’s boyfriend, Justin. The rest of the small pictures are of food and drinks that we have had in various restaurants throughout San Diego County.
Yesterday was the beginning of Restaurant Week in San Diego County. For details on San Diego Restaurant Week and the participating restaurants, just click on any of these San Diego Restaurant Week links! San Diego Restaurant Week is the perfect time to try some of the restaurants on your restaurant bucket list because the participating restaurants agree to an affordable price for a prix fixe menu. Even though the menu is prix fixe, the participating restaurants offer several menu selections under the prix fixe price. But, fair warning, San Diego Restaurant Week is VERY popular, so you need to make reservations!
The beauty of San Diego Restaurant Week is that is it very affordable. Prices range from $10 to $40 and no restaurant is more than $40. The $40 ones are for dinner and dinner is usually 3-courses: an appetizer/salad, entrée and dessert.
This year, there are 198 restaurants participating in San Diego Restaurant Week. Of those 198, I have been to 25. So, here are my list of 25 and of course, you can discover the remaining 173 by visiting the San Diego Restaurant Week site. My list is in alphabetical order, so it is NOT listed by preferences. Please note that I am NOT a critic by nature, so my experience at all of these restaurants has been quite favorable. I don’t think I could ever be a good restaurant critic because:
- I’m not a negative person by nature, so if my experience was less than perfect, I’d be happy anyway because I got to go out!
- I love food and dining and there aren’t too many things I don’t like to eat except brussel sprouts and duck (a future story!)
- I’m pretty sure that my palate isn’t refined enough to discern the nuances and flavors in a recipe – I just know if it’s good, then it’s good!
But, I consider myself an SME (subject matter expert) because I like food! So, here are the 25 restaurants on the San Diego Restaurant Week list that I have had the pleasure of enjoying (I have included a link to their specific websites so that you can check them out yourself):
- 1500 Ocean
- 94th Aero Squadron
- Anthony’s Fish Grotto (they have two locations; I have been to the one on San Diego Bay)
- Bertrand @ Mister A’s
- Boathouse Restaurant
- Busalacchi’s A Modo Mio
- Buster’s Beach House and Longboard Bar
- Butcher Shop Steakhouse
- Café Coyote (we just went there with our English friends on January 5th; see picture above)
- Café Chloe
- Casa de Bandini
- Casa de Pico
- Crab Catcher
- Donovan’s (they have 2 locations; I have been to the one in La Jolla)
- Grant Grill
- Hornblower Cruises
- Indigo Grill
- Jake’s Del Mar
- Rockin’ Baja Lobster (they have multiple locations; I have been to the one in Old Town and the one in San Marcos)
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House (2 locations; I have been to the one in Del Mar)
- The Fish Market (this is Charlie’s absolute favorite restaurant and is located next to the USS Midway – they, too, have two locations)
- The Marine Room (my grandparents favorite restaurant; it has been a mainstay in the San Diego community for many, many years)
- The Prado
- Vigilucci’s (they have multiple locations; I have been to the one in Encinitas)
Now to round out this list, here’s a list of 17 restaurants not participating in San Diego Restaurant Week, but ones I have frequented and recommend. Please note that these are of various size (single family-owned operations to national chains) and various cuisines (Italian, Mexican, American, Chinese, Seafood, Sushi, Thai) as well as various price ranges. Again, in alphabetical order:
- Buca di Peppo
- Casa Guadalajara
- Chart House
- Chicken Pie Diner (we went there recently for Samantha’s birthday; see Chicken Pie Diner post for a review)
- Chin’s Szechwan
- Corvette Diner
- Hacienda de Vega (beautiful outdoor patio dining)
- Mandarin House
- Nordstrom’s Café
- Old Town Mexican Café
- RA Sushi Bar & Restaurant
- Saffron (my English guests and I got take-out after a day of beach combing and then went home to have dinner with Charlie)
- Sammy’s Woodfire Pizza
- Shakespeare Pub & Grille (while we were waiting for the Thai take-out at Saffron, we went upstairs and had drinks and appetizers)
- The Beach House (my English guests and I stopped for a drink and French fries while beach combing)
Let me state that this list is not meant to be all inclusive! I have lived in San Diego County for 37 years, so I’ve been to a few local area restaurants. So, this list of 42 is just the beginning of future lists to follow! But, if you are living in our area or visiting San Diego, this list is meant to give you a jumping off point for your culinary adventures in our County. Some of the restaurants listed are local and unique only to our area and some are part of national or regional chains. In any case, all of them are great places to visit for their own unique reasons, whether it’s fine dining, a family-friendly atmosphere or a focus on a certain cuisine. And, as you can tell by these pictures and Tiffany’s post, Winter Paradise, San Diego is a beautiful place to visit in January.
So, a message to Alexandra, Samuel and Bert: we have a lot of ground to cover – just in restaurants alone! You need to come back to San Diego sooner than later so that we can explore new adventures in food and other things together! Love you all (yes, American Auntie Carole has no reserved social boundaries when it comes to love) and love to all of our readers, too!
So readers, do you have a favorite San Diego County restaurant that you would like to add to my list? If so, just send us a comment!