It's been twelve months of digging into the San Diego food scene while sharing my favorite restaurant destinations with my loyal readers each month. An entire year has come and gone and my list of where to dine next continues to grow. This year has been an incredible journey of many meals shared with loved ones, making memories around a table filled with delicious food, and even better conversations. My family has now lived in San Diego for two years and four months, and somehow we never seem to be able to run out of things to do, places to explore, or eating establishments to visit. Officially, the honeymoon phase should be over, yet I continue to fall deeply in love with "America's Finest City". Perhaps in 2024 I can divert from highlighting great restaurants and focus on the unique experiences that this magical city offers... or both? Neither? Let me know what you, my awesome subscribers, would like to see more of in the upcoming year. In the meantime, take care of yourselves, love one another, and eat well!
Seneca Trattoria (Downtown)
I adore everything about this trendy Roman-influenced rooftop restaurant. The sultry scene exudes sophistication, making it an ideal spot for a Saturday night date spot.
pros: great ambiance, attentive wait staff, beautiful views
cons: downtown parking impossible (valet at the Intercontinental for $10)
must order: arancini and the bistecca alla fiorentina
Blue Whale (La Jolla)
I'm thrilled to have this adorable, new beach cafe in my backyard. Not only is the vibe extremely charming, but it also pumps out super creative breakfast and lunch items that are healthy.
pros: quaint, neighborhood eatery reminiscent of summers in New England and a unique menu filled with options that are good for your body
cons: order at the counter, gets very crowded on the weekends
must order: smoothie with mango, chamoy, and tajin and the breakfast bowl with hummus, farro, oyster mushrooms, crispy garlic chips, and goat cheese topped with a fried egg
Madison (University Heights)
Bustling, loud, and FUN, Madison is a great choice for a night on the town with friends. The menu serves flavorful Mediterranean fare amidst live music in a sleek setting.
pros: lively, great service, and solid food
cons: if you're sensitive to noise, this isn't the place for you
must order: the jumping cholla cocktail is outstanding (mezcal, pineapple, lime, jalapeno, foam, and black salt) and the waffle churro sticks for dessert
Pepino Pop Up (Windandsea)
Chef Sebastian has a stellar resume working in some of the best kitchens, including Eleven Madison Park in NYC. He is on a mission to open his first restaurant and while he hunts for the perfect space, he is operating out of "pop-up" kitchens. His most recent stint was out of a home in Windandsea. On the Saturday morning that I checked out Pepino, the line wrapped around the block. We waited one hour and fifteen minutes for our turn at the counter only to find out that one of the three savory menu options could not have the meat omitted. Needless to say, I was frustrated. I don't do lines, and I wouldn't wait in this line again, although the food was really good. Seeing the young, well-dressed, hip crowd linger and hearing the neighbors ask "What is happening in this house?" made the wait an entertaining experience.
pros: feel like you're "in the know" by signing up for the newsletter HERE to find out where Sebastian will be serving out of next
cons: long lines, limited menu (3 savory and 2 sweet options), weak cold brew
must order: brekky club sammy with sesame brioche, steamed egg, american cheese, arugula, tomato pepper jam, and dijonnaise and the apple cider coffee cake
Cori Pastificio Trattoria (North Park)
Romantic comes to mind when I think of this Sicilian trattoria that proudly serves freshly made pasta prepared each day. The heated patio is full of charm and so is an indoor table by the window, or better yet - snatch a seat at the marble counter and watch as the kitchen works its wonders.
pros: authentic Italian eatery serving delicious Italian fare
cons: a 4 % surcharge added to the bill
must order: the califano cocktail is divine (black pepper rum infusion, vermouth rosso, angostura, and smoked rosemary), the arancini, and the pistachio-encrusted sea bass
And that's a wrap 2023! If you'd like to review the year at a glance you can click on each month's featured restaurants below:
On my list for 2024: Solare, Dija Mara, Campfire, Ken Sushi, Sushi Gaga, Ricky Sushi, The Rose Wine Bar, Craft and Commerce, Room 50 six, Valle, Jeune et Jolie, Valentina, Hitokuchi, Young Blood, Polite Provisions Bar, Noble Experiment, Hane Sushi, Parc Bistro, Cowboy Star, Rare Society.