Best Restaurants In San Diego, California!
- Aug 31, 2017
- Category: Travel
Cafe 21On 5th Avenue, in the heart of the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego, Cafe 21 is everything you want a restaurant to be: upscale, approachable, delicious. You get the downtown vibe without the chaos. The interior design is of what dreams are made. The service is up there on my list of best. The owners, from Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea, have delivered worldly flavors to their guests’ tables for over a decade. A melting pot of sorts for international cuisines, those who work at their two locations—in Gaslamp and University Heights—have inspired many of the dishes on the menu. Committed to sourcing the best ingredients, Cafe 21 partners with Tom King Farms for organic produce and Hamilton Meats & Provisions for antibiotic-free and hormone-free meat. Europeans at heart, everything (of course!) is made in house, from scratch. We absolutely loved the food! Without question one of the best restaurants in San Diego! We ordered:
- Mixed Fries: Rice-flour battered eggplant, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms with avocado dip (pictured above)
- Vegetable Cabbage Rolls: Rice and veggies wrapped in cabbage—one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time!
- Whole Grilled Sea Bass: Beautifully prepared, but note that it’s an entire fish, bones and all, so be ready to eat cautiously.
- Pulse Salad: A mix of veggies and beans in a vinaigrette. Simple yet perfect! This ties with the cabbage rolls. My friend and I were obsessed. One of the best salads I’ve ever eaten.
- No-Flour Chocolate Cake: You know it’s fresh when they take 15 minutes to bake it when ordered!
Encinitas, a coastal town in North Country, seems to attract professionals and families on paths to self-betterment. This intention aligns with Eve, a vegan restaurant off Highway 101. It’s a safe space for people to gather and feel nourished, both with food and good vibes. In addition to the restaurant, they host over 70 events a month—speakers, conferences, bazaars. Their food—amazing! The tastes were sophisticated, leaving even a meat eater satisfied. I absolutely had to add it to my list of best restaurants in San Diego! We ate:
- Legendary Hero: A bowl of goodness! The brown rice and veggies doused in tahini dressing made my body so happy!
- Havana Affair: This bowl is all about the Cuban flavors, mixing mojo sauce and coconut-cilantro-lime brown rice, quinoa, yams, Cuban pickled slaw, and more. So delicious and dense.
- Strawberry Fields: A huge serving of greens, fennel, roasted brussels sprouts, and of course strawberries mixed in pumpkin mint dressing. So fresh!
Hundred ProofNew to University Heights (as of Summer 2017), Hundred Proof is what you want a neighborhood bar to be: relaxed yet refined. The staff are friendly, the drink list is extensive, the food is rich and savory, the seats are comfy. It’s essentially a dive bar without the grim. We loved the space, airy and open enough to vibe with others yet dark enough to feel intimate if on a date. Note that their food menu is definitely catered to the meat and cheese lover, so if that’s your jam, this is the place for you! We ordered:
- Shroom Pizza: Topped with wild mushrooms, garlic cloves, and ricotto, the pizza smelled delicious! I taste a mushroom and the garlic and my mouth exploded with happiness!
- Truffle Mushroom Mac ‘N’ Cheese: A creamy concoction of what your mom made but more gourmet with bone marrow in the middle.
- Hand-Cut Fries: Because I can never say no to fries! They were tasty! (For other vegan-friendly options, check out their beet hummus and Shishito peppers!)
Sipz Vegetarian Fusion CafeIn the heart of North Park, Sipz is a spin off traditional Asian cuisine, and in my opinion the best kind! Meat-free, the eatery serves up fresh, hearty, healthy vegetarian dishes. If you’re in the area, you must stop in! We ordered:
- Thai Curry: Thai curry dishes are a go-to for me and this one didn’t disappoint! We opted for all veggies, though you have the choice to add a “mock” meat or tufu. Pair it with brown rice!
- Lettuce Wrapz: Toss the stir-fry veggie blend into romaine lettuce and dip in peanut sauce.
- Guru Greens: A stir-fry just as the name suggests–full of greens! Really enjoyed the white sauce. Not as sweet as Asian sauces can be at times.
- Vegan Desserts: Though we were too stuffed for dessert, everything is homemade and looks delicious! If you’re going to satisfy your sweet tooth, vegan desserts are often a healthier option.
Trilogy SanctuaryTrilogy Sanctuary is a rooftop oasis for health-seekers wanting to come together for food, fitness, and fun. Overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean, the venue is inviting. The outdoor patio is set up for aerial yoga and live music, and the inside space is where customers line up to order savory, nutritiously dense, plant-based foods. The sense of community at Trilogy is strong, a gathering of all walks of life, all sharing one common intention: self-growth and acceptance, trying to heal, as they say, “from the inside out.” The dishes—many traditionally non-vegan dishes—are creatively prepared using meat and dairy substitutes, such as cashew cheese. As you stand in line to order, your mouth will literally water as you read through the menu and stare at the food sent out to tables. Everything looks so delicious choosing one or two dishes is merely impossible. Therefore I recommend either coming with a large group so you can taste test the entire menu or returning a few times! We ordered:
- Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash: This dish combined some of my favorites—pesto, portobello mushrooms, spaghetti squash—to mimic a hearty pasta dish without the heaviness yet still very rich in flavor.
- Enchiladas: Tortillas filled with fajita veggies over a bed of Mexican rice. So delicious! Particularly loved the mole sauce! (pictured above)
- Raw Brownie Sundae: Typically, I avoid desserts because of my milk allergy and the excessive amount of added preservatives, but this deliciousness is dairy free with simple, natural ingredients. If you’re a chocolate lover, leave room for this!
True Food KitchenWhoever claims healthy food can’t be delicious has never been to True Food Kitchen. Based off the Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid, their dishes are carefully crafted and only use “real” food—vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, meats, fish. None of the extras that often wreck havoc on our bodies. As their table pamphlet states, “They believe in simple dishes that minimize sugar, emphasize whole grain and lean meat, and never sacrifice taste.” Toting T-shirts that proclaim, “HONEST”, “TRUE”, and “FRESH”, the wait staff exude the energy you’d associate with those who live a healthy lifestyle. Eager to help and educate, we felt extremely pampered. Don’t let your assumptions get the best of you; True Food Kitchen serves up meat and fish dishes, satisfying all dietary preferences and restrictions. Head over to their Mission Valley location (where we ate) or this Fall (November 2017), check out their brand new spot in UTC at the Westfield Mall! We devoured:
- Torched Avocado: A mix of cucumber noodles, other veggies, and literally a torched avocado, this dish is on point!
- Ancient Grains: A colorful mix of grains (brown rice, quinoa, and barley) as well as roasted veggies (portobello mushrooms, sweet potatoes, snow peas, onions), accompanied with hemp seed sauce. So good!
- Grilled Fish Tacos: Your standard tacos with the works, including avocado, cilantro, and pickled onion!
- Flourless Chocolate Cake: With a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream on top! I was too stuffed to try this, but it looked tasty!
Urban PlatesUrban Plates has redefined fast food. Their rustic yet modern decor welcomes you to grab a tray and hop in line. Using the freshest ingredients, their chefs extract good, honest flavors. They avoid any kind of extra fat and extra salt to make your meal as nutritionally dense as possible. Their beef is grass-fed, their chicken is free-range, their fish is sustainable, their produce is locally grown. The team at Urban Plates are uber sensitive to food allergies and preferences, so every dish is carefully labeled and every customer can access a full list of ingredients at the front. Someone like I who has food allergies really appreciates that! You can literally SEE the food right in front of you being made so choosing what to order is way easier than reading a menu. The cafeteria-like setup offers 8 main sections: salads, cold side dishes, sandwiches, plates, hot side dishes, soups, desserts, and beverages. Every single thing I tried was mouthwatering.
- Local Mixed Beet: One of the tastiest, satisfying salads I’ve ever eaten! The dressing is exactly what you want salad dressing to be. And the portion is big!
- Habanero Mango BBQ Ribs: My friend (my meat-tester) devoured these! Though I’m not a meat eater, I could tell the ribs are super tender!
- Roasted Rosemary Potatoes: Hands down the best roasted potatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life. The end. You MUST get these!
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Turkey Bacon: My friend kept trying to convince me to try them. He loved ’em!
- Macaroni and Cheese: This dish is as it should be–simple and classic, just as my friend likes it. (I’m allergic to milk so I avoided this one.)
- Kelp Noodles with Tamari and Ginger: I could eat this dish every day. It is light and original with lots of fresh veggies!
- Rainbow Carrots & Golden Beets: Roasted to perfection, these are ideal for the non-veggie lover because they taste so good.
- Curry Tofu & Vegetable Soup: Having lived in Thailand and fallen in love with green curry , Urban Plates had me wanting more.
- Sweet Potato Red Curry Soup: Smooth and creamy, it really is the perfect fall soup.
- Chocolate Vanilla Layer Cake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, AND Chocolate Pudding: Obsessed with chocolate, my friend couldn’t get enough of all three of the desserts he ordered. He took home the leftovers and savored them over the next couple days.
Let’s just say we were very stuffed when we left! If you’re anywhere near one of Urban Plates’ 12 locations, definitely stop in for a meal!
Viewpoint Brewing Co.Opened in June 2017, Viewpoint Brewing Co. has quickly become the go-to spot for a relaxing yet energizing night out. Bustling with upbeat wait staff and customers, Del Mar’s first brewery isn’t just about the beer. The owner, executive chef, and brew master all have backgrounds in fine dining and were determined to translate that level of quality and detail into everything they serve: both food and drink. Intended to be a place to gather as a community, Viewpoint Brewing offers a casual dining experience, void of pretentiousness, while still serving up the highest quality, thoughtfully crafted dishes and beers. Come with friends or alone, you’ll surely meet people while drinking and eating at communal tables. Extra bonus, it’s dog-friendly. We ate:
- Charred Broccoli: To die for! Prepare your self for garlic and salt overload.
- Hand-cut Fries: Always a go-to for me…if they’re hand-cut.
- Watermelon & Feta Salad: So tasty and fresh. I am a huge fan of the fresh butter lettuce cups. (I got the feta on the side because I’m allergic to milk.)
- Beef Tartare: Aesthetically pleasing, this dish almost looked too beautiful to eat. My friend gave it a big thumbs up!
- Mussels & Nduja: Beautifully presented, even I (someone who has never eaten shellfish) thought it looked delivious!
Wheat & WaterDubbed a California coastal pizzeria, Wheat & Water is Bird Rock’s new favorite neighborhood eatery. Sit on the patio or relax inside; relish in the inviting, wood-heavy design. Chef Christian’s menu focuses on seafood, using all fresh ingredients. The restaurant is dog-friendly, and the owners and servers made our dining experience so pleasurable! We devoured:
- Brussels Sprouts & Potatoes: Brussels Sprouts have become a staple on almost every menu these days, but Wheat & Water has given it a facelift. The inclusion of roasted and flash-fried potatoes make this dish to die for! Sadly for me, after a couple bites I found out it had butter in it (I have a milk allergy), so I had to watch my friend eat the rest of it. But if you’re not allergic to milk, you MUST order this appetizer!
- Summer Citrus Salad: Mixed greens topped with avocado, citrus fruits, and a tasty vinaigrette. Light and fresh!
- Hand-Cut Fries: Some of the best I’ve eaten in a long time.
- Hamburger: Charbroiled beef stacked with smoked, roasted, and fresh veggies, it really did look as delicious as my friend said it was!