Best Restaurants

Best Restaurants 2014

You’ll eat up this year’s list of winners in our annual Best Restaurants issue. From breweries to luxury destinations to patisseries to foreign fare, your voting voices were loud and clear about where you satisfy your need for great food and blissful times. Not to be left out of the fun, our editorial staff weighed in on our favorites as well, all of which results in a bountiful selection of edible excitement.

 

Al Fresco Dining
Morada

Enjoy lovingly prepared farm-to-table cuisine from The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe’s gardens and fertile grounds along with a stellar view straight down Paseo Delicias. 858.381.8289, theinnatrsf.com

 

Pacifica Del Mar

A vibrant sunset dazzles nightly over the westerly sea from Pacifica Del Mar’s top-story perch. 858.792.0476, pacificadelmar.com

 

 

Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests
Pacific Coast Grill

This two-story coastal stronghold serves up Asian-Cali fare along with sweeping views of one of San Diego’s greatest attractions — the Pacific Ocean. 760.479.0721, pacificcoastgrill.com

 

 

San Diego Landmark
The Prado

Balboa Park’s known for museums and international hospitality houses, but just as hospitable is The Prado restaurant. 619.557.9441, cohnrestaurants.com/theprado)

 

Hotel Del Coronado

There’s more to The Del than haunted rooms and beachfront ice skating, namely haute Mediterranean fare at the iconic hotel’s white linen, 1500 Ocean. 619.522.8490, hoteldel.com

 

 

First Date Spot
Mia Francesca

Woo that special-someone-to-be over (heart) warming Northern Italian specialties. 858.519.5055, miafrancesca.com

 

Sbicca

Enjoy eclectic, Euro-inspired (highly shareable) plates and a lively rooftop bustle matching the beat of two hopeful hearts at Del Mar proper’s Sbicca. 858.481.1001, sbiccadelmar.com

 

 

Special Occasion
Bertrand at Mister A’s

Toast a special night or accomplishment over bold-flavored gourmet dishes steeped in classic French technique at top-floor perch, Bertrand at Mister A’s. 619.239.1377, bertrandatmisteras.com

 

The Marine Room

Celebrate and watch the waves wash up to your table at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club’s venerable fine dining spot, The Marine Room. 858.459.7222, marineroom.com

 

 

Hotel Restaurant
Addison

The Grand Del Mar’s Addison collects as many stars and diamonds as industry groups can dole out behind inventive, luxe-tasting menus. 858.314.1900, addisondelmar.com

 

A.R. Valentien

Under the guidance of chef Jeff Jackson, A.R. Valentien proves that great ingredients and intelligent cooking are the framework for culinary longevity. 858.777.6635, arvalentien.com

 

Veladora

In the Ranch, stellar cuisine with a seasonal bent has Rancho Valencia’s Veladora hanging in the upper echelon. 858.756.1123, ranchovalencia.com

 

 

Daily Specialties
The Fish Market

The still-salty catch-of-the-day provides freshness that makes any daily offering worth taking an extremely safe gamble on at The Fish Market. 858.755.2277, thefishmarket.com

 

Giuseppe Restaurants

Opt for fresh salads, sandwiches and ’za at Giuseppe’s cafes in Balboa Park, La Jolla’s MCASD, and on the Scripps Institute of Oceanography campus in the Seaside Forum. 858.456.6427, giuseppecatering.com

 

 

Catering
Jeffrey Strauss

When it comes to special food for special events, it’s all about star power, and who better than chef Jeffrey Strauss from Solana Beach’s Pamplemousse Grille. 858.792.9090, pgrille.com

 

Waters Fine Foods & Catering

San Diegans seek the imaginative flavors and top-quality ingredients that also delight guests at Waters Fine Foods’ gourmet shops. 619.276.8803, waterscatering.com

 

 

Baked Goods
Bread & Cie

For legendary crispy-on-the-outside, dreamy-on-the-inside baguettes and other artisanal loaves, head to Hillcrest’s Bread & Cie. 619.683.9322, breadandcie.com

 

Thyme in the Ranch

Though a closely-guarded neighborhood secret, the fresh-made breads and sweet treats at RSF’s Thyme in the Ranch are worthy of praise. 858.759.0747, thymeintheranch.com

 

 

Desserts
Extraordinary Desserts

Confections don’t come any fancier than the eye- and palate-delighting cakes at Karen Krasne’s pair of desserteries. 619.294.7001, extraordinarydesserts.com

 

Truluck’s

Sweet treats are mammoth, sugary meals-in-themselves at La Jolla’s steak and seafood mainstay, Truluck’s. 858.453.2583, trulucks.com

 

 

Gluten-Free Offerings
Del Mar Rendezvous

Savor anything but thrown-together alternatives including chicken lettuce wraps, moo goo gai pan, and crabmeat mango salad at Del Mar Rendezvous. (858.755.2669, delmarrendezvous.com

 

True Food Kitchen

Red curry shrimp with sesame noodles and turkey lasagna at Fashion Valley’s True Food Kitchen are thoughtful, tasty offerings for gluten-intolerant patrons. 619.810.2929, foxrc.com/restaurants/true-food-kitchen

 

 

Best Kept Secret
Bellamy’s

Upscale plates by French master chef Patrick Ponsaty delight at Bellamy’s in Escondido. 760.747.5000, bellamysdining.com

 

Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro

In Bonita, Romesco’s “Baja-Med” offerings from celebrated Mexican gastronomist Javier Plascencia are well worth the trip. 619.475.8627, romescomexmed.com

 

Steak
Donovan’s Steak & Chop House

There are few things as savory as rich, seared, well-marbled cuts of beef simply seasoned and served straight up, so it’s not surprising that readers favor Donovan’s. 858.450.6666, donovanssteakhouse.com

 

Ruth’s Chris

Founded in 1965 in New Orleans, Ruth’s Chris Steak House now boasts over 135 locations worldwide that serve up the freshest and finest ingredients, like USDA Prime steaks. 858.755.1454, ruthschris.com

 

 

Seafood
Truluck’s

Hefty Florida stone crab claws imported fresh daily helped earn the Aventineâs Truluck’s a nod. (858.453.2583, trulucks.com

 

Eddie V’s

Prospect Street’s Eddie V’s (with a location set to open at The Headquarters) is revered for masterfully prepared seafood in a sophisticated environment. 858.459.5500, eddiev.com

 

The Hake

Also on Prospect, The Hake Kitchen & Bar takes a farm-to-table approach with its worldly, rustic seafood preparations. 858.454.1637, thehake.com

 

 

Charcuterie
Sea & Smoke

Duck salami and spicy chorizo set the tone for Sea & Smoke’s concise yet nicely varied artisanal program amplified by house-made pickles and condiments. 858.925.8212, seaandsmoke.com

 

Avant

Nobody cuts the mustard like Avant, where cured proteins benefit from house mustards served from a unique tap system. 858.675.8550, ranchobernardoinn.com/avant

 

 

Oysters
The Fish Market

Cocktail sauce and a squeeze of lemon is all it takes to accentuate the briny exquisiteness of the oysters at The Fish Market’s Del Mar and Marina District locations. (858.755.2277, thefishmarket.com

 

Herringbone

For seekers of gussied up bivalves, La Jolla’s Herringbone, with its distinctive tomatillo sauce, can’t be beat. (858.459.0221, herringboneeats.com

 

 

French Cuisine
Mille Fleurs

Classic Franco fare is the nom du jeu at RSF’s Mille Fleurs, where the service is as fine-tuned as the filet mignon in Cabernet sauce. 858.756.3085, millefleurs.com

 

Tapenade

Tapenade is the coq au vin and coquilles Saint Jacques-equipped tribute to chef Jean Michel-Diot’s homeland in The Jewel. 858.551.7500, tapenaderestaurant.com

 

Italian Cuisine
Solana Beach Crush

At Crush, delicious coastal-inspired Italian cuisine and a little (or a lot of) good vino never hurts. (858.481.2787, solanabeachcrush.com

 

Firenze Trattoria

Time-tested homemade pastas and sauces make for extreme deliciousness at Encinitas’ Firenze Trattoria. 760.944.9000, firenzetrattoria.com

 

Thai
Lotus Thai

Thai-ing one on is a pleasure at this pair of authentic eateries in Downtown and Hillcrest. 619.299.8272, lotusthaisd.com

 

Taste of Thai

There’s something extra special about green curry shrimp or crying tiger beef at Del Mar’s Taste of Thai — especially after a successful day at the races! (858.793.9695, tasteofthaisandiego.com

 

Chinese
Chin’s Szechwan

Since 1984, Chin’s has been serving traditional Szechwan and Mandarin cuisine at its five San Diego locations. (760.753.3903, govisitchins.com

 

Del Mar Rendezvous

It’s no surprise that the team behind Dumpling Inn turns out award-winning cuisine year after year at its Del Mar Plaza sister restaurant. 858.755.2669, delmarrendezvous.com

 

 

Sushi
Café Japengo

Ranch & Coast readers opt for nouveau rolls and Pacific Rim creations at Café Japengo. (858.450.3355, cafejapengo.com

 

Roppongi Restaurant & Sushi Bar

Named a “World’s Top Restaurant” by Zagat, Roppongi offers both innovative and traditional sushi selections. 858.551.5252, roppongiusa.com

 

Pasta
Solana Beach Crush

When Chico-based Crush opened a second outpost in Solana Beach, it brought the toothsome, delicious tagliatelle, linguine, and spaghetti that made it a star up north – and grandma’s famous meatball recipe! 858.481.2787, solanabeachcrush.com

 

Pizza
Bronx Pizza

The story of readers’ favorite pies is a tale of two cities. New York-style pizza makes for a great takeaway at Hillcrest’s Bronx Pizza. 619.291.3341, bronxpizza.com

 

Davanti Enoteca

Thin-crust Neapolitan layered with flavorful prosciutto di Parma, rapini and truffle oil awaits at Davanti Enoteca in Del Mar and Little Italy. 858.519.5060, davantidelmar.com

 

 

Soup
Del Mar Rendezvous

Usual suspects like hot-and-sour and egg drop share space with spicy lemongrass and noodle bowls on Del Mar Rendezvous’ robust soup list. (858.755.2669, www.delmarrendezvous.com)

 

Red Tracton’s

Few things are as comforting a pick-me-up as a cup of lobster bisque, French onion, or chicken soup at Del Mar’s Red Tracton’s. 858.755.6600, redtractonssteakhouse.com

 

 

Fast Casual
Luna Grill

With tender kebabs and earthy Mediterranean delivered in a quick-turnaround atmosphere, it’s no wonder Luna Grill is poised to open an eighth location to fulfill fans’ yens. 858.538.4555, lunagrill.com

 

Urban Plates

Urban Plates’ slow-cooked braises, hand-carved sandwiches, and fresh salads operate under the mantra: “farm to plate and won’t break the bank.” 858.509.1800, urbanplates.com

 

 

Burger
Smashburger

Denver-based Smashburger has been a smashing success with readers behind hardy, grass-fed beef. (858.461.4105, smashburger.com

 

The High Dive

One of the best singular burger experiences, the “Spicy Reed” — a jalapeño cream cheese-stuffed half-pounder with bacon and caramelized onions — can only be had at Bay Park’s The High Dive. (619.275.0460, highdivesd.com

 

California Cuisine
Market Restaurant + Bar

Nothing screams California like fresh local ingredients, and no one prepares those indigenous gems quite like James Beard Award-nominated Carl Schroeder. 858.523.0007, marketdelmar.com

 

George’s California Modern

Food & Wine honoree Trey Foshee is dedicated to perfecting the art of highly seasonal cuisine made from the freshest, local ingredients. 858.454.4244, georgesatthecove.com

 

 

Mexican
Casa de Bandini

Readers have a defined affinity for fishbowl margies, fresh salsa, and SoCal-style south-of-the-border fare, so when it comes time for sauce-slathered enchiladas or shell-busting tacos, they head to Casa de Bandini. 760.634.3443, casadebandini.com

 

Fidel’s Little Mexico

A perennial readers’ favorite, Fidel’s has been serving up delicious Mexican cuisine since 1956. 858.755.5292, fidelslittlemexico.com

 

Ceviche
Café Secret

There’s more to Peru than purple potatoes, and proof comes in a rainbow of oceanic South American-tinged ceviches at Café Secret in Del Mar. 858.792.0821, cafesecret.com

 

Casa Sol y Mar

Those seeking citrus-cured seafood have a lovely new outlet in the form of Del Mar Highlands’ Casa Sol y Mar. 858.792.4100, casasolymar.com

 

 

Craft Beer
Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

Last year, Ballast Point opened a tasting bar and kitchen featuring 50 of its beers at a time in Little Italy. 858.695.2739, ballastpoint.com 

 

Stone Brewing Co.

Also growing, Stone added a second bistro with tons of taps and an on-site brewery in Liberty Station, which just so happens to be SD’s largest restaurant. 619.269.2100, stoneworldbistro.com

 

Wine List
Addison

Fine dining standout Addison changed sommeliers, bringing in a Spago veteran, while keeping its incredible wine program on the upswing. 858.314.1900, addisondelmar.com

 

Delicias

Even with a plethora of changes, the Ranch’s Delicias has kept its cellar in stellar order. 858.756.8000, deliciasrestaurant.com

 

 

Specialty Cocktails
Pacifica Del Mar

It’s vodka – more than 200 varieties — that serves as the common thread for tasty sips at Pacifica Del Mar’s Ocean Bar. 858.792.0476, pacificadelmar.com

 

Searsucker

Brian Malarkey has mixologists pumping out produce-driven wonders like the Peter Rabbit with pickled Suzie’s Farms carrots at his pair of Searsucker restos. 858.369.5700, searsucker.com

 

 

Bar Scene
Union Kitchen & Tap

Whether it’s local brews or inventive craft cocktails like the tequila-laced Latin Manhattan, your thirst for a lively, convivial good time will be quenched. 760.230.2337, www.localunion101.com

 

 

Late Night Happy Hour
The 3rd Corner

Trying to call it a night can be challenging with steamed mussels, sliders galore, and all the reds and whites to pair with all of them. (760.942.2104, www.the3rdcorner.com)

 

 

Wine Bar
Solana Beach Crush

Go for walls lined with a cellar’s-worth of bottles leaning aptly to the Italian end of the vino spectrum at Solana Beach Crush (nothing like red sauce and a nice Sangiovese). 858.481.2787, solanabeachcrush.com

 

The Wine Pub

At The Wine Pub, enjoy a cozy glass or two among Point Lomans at a dog-friendly outdoor fire pit. 619.758.9325, thewinepubsd.com

 

 

Gastropub
Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen

Flying Pig soars above the competition with farm-to-table cuisine that’s perhaps better than any other eatery in its hometown of Oceanside. 760.453.2940, flyingpigpubkitchen.com

 

Urge Gastropub

Rancho Bernardo’s Urge sates longing for upscale pub grub and top notch craft beer. 858.673.8743, urgegastropub.com

 

 

Appetizers
Brooklyn Girl Eatery

With inventive starters like fried oyster sliders, bacon-wrapped Vietnamese meatballs, and a sumptuous duck and date salad, it’s easy to fill up early here. 619.296.4600, brooklyngirleatery.com

 

 

Kitchen 1540

L’Auberge Del Mar’s Kitchen 1540 offers sharable starters including hamachi sashimi, Berkshire pork belly, and artisan cheeses, which can be savored in the restaurant or al fresco in a private cabana. 858.793.6460, laubergedelmar.com

 

 

Breakfast
Snooze

Eye-opening day-starters like carrot cake pancakes and chilaquiles Benedict at Snooze make it worth venturing out in the early hours before your first cup of coffee. 619.500.3344, snoozeeatery.com

 

 

Coffee Spot
Pannikin Coffee & Tea

When the craving for world-class, deeply roasted, rich java sets in, readers go for more than the average Joe at the Pannikin’s trio of North County locales. 858.481.8007, pannikincoffeeandtea.com

 

 

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

The award-winning Bird Rock Roasters takes pride in sourcing some of the best coffee available, and pays a premium to farmers based on the quality of the cup. 858.551.1707, birdrockcoffee.com

 

 

Bloody Mary
T’s Café

There’s two schools when it comes to the drink that eats like a meal — the first is straightforward like the horseradish-spiked epitome at T’s Café in Solana Beach. 858.755.7642, www.tscafesolanabeach.com

 

The Tractor Room

On the other end of the spectrum, a Bloody can be garnished with a brunch’s worth of meats and pickled veg like the more gluttonous model served up at Hillcrest’s The Tractor Room. 619.543.1007, www.thetractorroom.com

 

Farmers Market
Little Italy Mercato

Aside from being more expansive than most neighborhood food bazaars, there’s just something incredible about strolling Little Italy with edibles in hand and meeting the area’s artisans and growers. 619.233.3901, littleitalymercato.com

 

 

Upscale Grocery Store
Cardiff Seaside Market

The desires of a county with a rapidly rising foodie population has led to greater food options. Since 1985, the family-owned Cardiff Seaside Market has been a leader in offering superior products and service. 760.753.5445, seasidemarket.com

 

Whole Foods

National chain Whole Foods provides a wide selection for everyday and splurging sprees. Its Del Mar location houses Trifecta Tavern, a casual setting with wine and a rotating selection of 24+ craft beers on tap. 858.436.9800, wholefoodsmarket.com

 

Major Market

Major Market in Fallbrook boasts gourmet selections in the obscure international category. 760.723.0857, majormarketgrocery.com

 

 

Sandwich Spot
Board & Brew

The mantra “less-filling” applies neither to the hefty sandwiches nor the craft beers. 858.481.1021, boardandbrew.com

 

Carnitas’ Snack Shack

All other sandwiches seem like diet food in comparison to the Triple Threat — schnitzel, bacon, and pulled pork — at Carnitas’ Snack Shack in North Park. 619.294.7675, carnitassnackshack.com

 

 

Vegetarian
True Food Kitchen

Even a simple starter of crudité is outstanding at this eatery, which forms the basis of its anti-inflammatory program around the world’s green, fibrous delights. 619.810.2929, foxrc.com/restaurants/true-food-kitchen

 

 

Healthy
Seasons 52

Smaller portions are forgivable with dishes as big on flavor as goat cheese ravioli and lamb T-bone chops, yet low on calories (under 475 each). 858.450.1252, seasons52.com

 

 

Dog-Friendly Spot
The Patio on Lamont Street

Canine owners and man’s best friend alike can people watch amid a wealth of Mediterranean options at Pacific Beach’s The Patio on Lamont Street. 858.412.4648, thepatioonlamont.com

 

 

New & Noteworthy
Cucina Enoteca

It’s no surprise fans of Italian hotspot Cucina Urbana are flocking to restaurateur Tracy Borkum’s offshoot at the Flower Hill Promenade. 858.704.4500, cucinaenoteca.com

 

Café La Rue

Little fanfare was needed for Café La Rue in La Jolla’s Pink Lady to earn a fast following, just otherworldly modern gastronomical wonder food. 858.551.3761, lavalencia.com/dining/cafe-la-rue

 

Brandon Hernández

 

 

Addison & Mille Fleurs: Photography by Vincent Knakal | Thyme in the Ranch, The Hake & Casa Sol y Mar: Photography by Evan Stefanko | Solana Beach Crush: Photo by Bob Stefanko | Casa de Bandini: Photo by Ted Walton | Snooze: Photo by Jess Purple Photography | Brooklyn Girl Eatery: Photo by Scott Basile | Carnitas Snack Shack: Photo by Chris Rove Costa, Food Styling by Lhasa Landry | Cucina Enoteca: Courtesy Photo