The sunny shores of San Diego have an easy-breezy vibe about them and this is reflected in absolutely everything. The relaxed atmosphere perfectly meshes with fine luxuries – and the result is a one-of-a-kind escape in North America. This is also reflected in the food, of course, which draws inspiration from many cultures and influences, but whatever the influence is, the Californian twist gives a final sun-kissed touch to everything. This results in restaurants in San Diego having a unique modern flair, which is still deeply rooted in tradition and love for the familiar – think steak houses, indulgent breakfasts and the freshest seafood you can imagine. The following are five of the finest restaurants in San Diego that all reflect the diversity, a unique approach to hospitality and dining, and complete devotion to remarkable food.
You have to kick your day off just right – and in San Diego, you can do it in complete style. If you’re here to enjoy the buzz of the city and prefer to head out for your morning coffee and nibbles, then there’s no place better than the chic Morning Glory in Little Italy. And when we say chic – it certainly rings true. Sure, it might have a heavy dose of millennial Instagram cool injected into the interiors but it’s done so well and so beautifully that it’s impossible to overlook how mesmerizing this place actually is.
The design is very much 21st century yet Art Deco-inspired with candy floss pink plush velvet furnishings, rose gold accents and beautifully-tiled floors. The interior is the right amount of eccentric before it starts feeling overwhelming and that’s how we love it. It’s rich, it’s luxurious, and oh so special! Food-wise, alongside classics like eggs Benedict, French toast, classic flapjacks, and your regular American breakfast, you can also enjoy some fantastic world flavors, such as a spicy and flavorsome Shakshuka from the Middle East, Georgian Khachapuri or Japanese omelet sando. Veggie options aren’t forgotten, too, and there are some fantastic pick-me-up drinks like a variety of regular coffees and even turmeric and matcha lattes.
Born and Raised
Think of every word describing “luxury” and it will be appropriate to use when speaking about Born and Raised. From the moment you step through the doors, you know you’re in a place which is all about opulent grandeur and high-end dinners. Luxurious details are generously plastered everywhere you look and it feels just right. Green marbled tabletops go so well with cushioned leather booths and brass details everywhere.
This high-end stake-house also delivers on the promise of an excellent meal. Dry-aged beauties like bone-in ribeye, T-bone, porterhouse and tomahawk steaks await you, while there are some classics like filet, NY steak and prime rib of beef, served with Yorkshire pudding and potato puree. Indulge with adding a blue cheese crust and Butter poached lobster. In a place like this, you can easily expect caviar tableside service or choose a steak sampler option if you’re not sure of what it is you want exactly or simply want to try out a variety. Expect the finest mixology in the form of fantastic cocktails or stick with classics like an old fashioned.
Ironside Fish & Oyster
We’ve finally made it into the seafood section and it couldn’t be better than Ironside Fish & Oyster. Finding it’s home in a renovated warehouse, this refreshing and indulgent seafood restaurant offers plenty of nautical accents, freshness galore and some of the best cocktails in town. The restaurant also is proud to have a Michelin-starred chef steering the ship so you know it’s going to be above and beyond.
The menu changes daily – and that’s what you want in a truly fine seafood restaurant. After all, you want it fresh, so you can expect, of course, an abundance of oysters, chilled Maine lobster, rockfish ceviche, clam chowder and a beautiful mix of everything on a variety of Ironside platters. Local catch changes regularly but it’s always impeccably fresh and so very delicious. The drinks menu is equally satisfying with a huge variety of wines and beers to choose from and there’s a finetuned selection of cocktails here which will cater to every taste and preference. This restaurant is perfect for a laid-back dinner and long conversations into the night with a group of friends – the San Diego way.
Oaky smoky flavors cooked in the finest wood-fired traditions bring you food that is both innovative and nostalgic. You don’t have to go looking far to find familiar comforts but it’s not always easy finding them in a fine setting and beautifully presented. Here at Fort Oak, it’s all of the above and more. The restaurant is located in an old renovated Ford dealership in Mission Hills. When the restaurant was being renovated, the entire building facade had to be removed so that a crane could lower chef Brad Wise’s 7,000-pound grill inside.
That’s certainly something, right? It gives you a good idea of how seriously grilling is taken here. That said, this isn’t a brutalist style old-school grill house. It’s beautiful, it’s delicate, but it’s equally protein-driven. When the timeless tradition of cooking meat over live fire meets the exquisite aesthetics of the 21st century, you get something that is embodied in Fort Oak so well – it’s a dining experience within itself. Especially, since the launch of the restaurant’s Chef’s Counter Experience where you can get a bird’s eye view of the dishes being cooked in front of you.
Bringing the finest Calabrian dishes and the cooking tradition from Southern Italy to San Diego, Il Dandy is a collaboration between a father and son duo Antonio and Luca Abbruzzino, who each earned a Michelin star in their native Calabria, Italy. In the spacious and light dining space adorned with beautiful design details resembling Art Deco time (think plush emerald green velvet chairs with geometric and super sleek golden metal legs, and stunning light fixtures) diners can enjoy casual modern Italian cuisine that is still deeply rooted in tradition.
Honoring provenance, heritage, tradition and the simplicity of ingredients which are the hallmarks of contemporary Italian cuisine, the restaurant excellently showcases this kindred connection to Calabria in the salty air and fresh seafood offered by the southern California coast. Through new horizons of flavor, Il Dandy offers a sophisticated passage into the harmony of Mediterranean cuisine. Enjoy tuna paired with buffalo mozzarella and red beet gnocchi with wild boar ragu. A variety of pastas, pizzas, and risottos is, of course, also available and it is all topped off with fine wine pairings.