8 Hottest Restaurants in San Diego

By Darlene Horn | March 3, 2014 By Darlene Horn  |  March 3, 2014

Over the last few months, La Jolla has gotten a formidable late-night eating place, Croce's is back, and Imperial Beach has entered the upscale dining world in a major way. Believe it or not, that's just the beginning. Here are the 8 Hottest New Restaurants that should be on every San Diego food lover's to-do list. 

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    La Jolla Brewing Company

    Why It’s Hot: The restaurant fills a new niche for the neighborhood: affordable, late-night dining alongside the best in locally made craft beer.
    Must Order: The duck egg rolls, served with peanut, sweet chile and soy dipping sauces ($12), wrap savory duck confit and herbed cream cheese into deep-fried wonton skins.
    Insider Tip: Dogs are welcome on the patio, complete with communal dining tables and open-pit fireplaces.

    7536 Fay Ave., La Jolla; 858-412-7715

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Encore Champagne Bar & Dining Room

    Why It’s Hot: San Diego’s only champagne-themed restaurant speaks the language of glamor but is relatively affordable if you're looking for an elegant downtown meal.
    Must Order: Chef Ryan Studebaker’s menu is built for bubbly, especially the salmon tartare with crème fraîche and crostini ($15).
    Insider Tip: While there’s a plethora of fabulous champagne cocktails to choose from, order the secret, off-menu "chocolate Negroni." 

    531 F St.; 619-255-5152

  • Photo by: Croce's Park West

    Croce’s Park West

    Why It’s Hot: Banker Hill’s newest restaurant resurrects the Gaslamp original - now with an open floor plan and cushy bar area. It's been a hot spot since day one.
    Must Order: Fans of the first location will find a lot of familiar items including the popular wild mushroom potato lasagna ($18) - slices of potato layered with smoked heirloom tomatoes, lemon ricotta, goat cheese and asparagus in a spicy tomato sauce.
    Insider Tip: The restaurant offers live entertainment and movie nights at a discounted price when you dine in the restaurant. Check the calendar for upcoming entertainment. 

    2760 Fifth Ave.; 619-233-4355

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Sea180 Coastal Tavern

    Why It’s Hot: Cohn Restaurant group brings a world-class, farm-to-table restaurant to unassuming Imperial Beach. Many of the menu's items are sourced from farms that are just down the road.
    Must Order: The huevos “diablos” duck eggs ($5) topped with crispy smoked ham are a slightly spicy, meaty take on the classic that fits into gluten-free and paleo diets. 
    Insider Tip: To make full use of the restaurant's stellar view and surrounding beach, try to visit when the weather is clear and sunny.

    800 Seacoast Dr.; 619-631-4949

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Betty’s Pie Whole Saloon

    Why It’s Hot: Owner and Elizabethan Desserts baker/mastermind Elizabeth Harris introduces the city to the world of pies in a cheeky, Western-themed restaurant.
    Must Order: The tempting selection of sweet pies are a knee-jerk reaction for pie lovers. But the savory pies - especially the “Get Along Lil’ Kielbasy” ($7.95 individual/$30 whole) filled with potatoes, mushrooms, spinach and chicken sausage - should not be overlooked.
    Insider Tip: Take home a family-sized unbaked pie at a discount price.

    155 Quail Garden Dr., Encinitas; 760-230-6781

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Blue Ocean Robata

    Why It’s Hot: Carlsbad finally has a contender for great sushi, Asian food and Japanese skewers. And it's all happening under one roof.
    Must Order: Anything from the robata grill is a surefire hit, especially the bacon-wrapped scallops ($7) served with hibiscus salt.
    Insider Tip: If you’re celebrating a special occasion, call ahead for show-stopping sparklers.

    2958 Madison St., Carlsbad; 760-434-4959

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Pizzeria Mozza

    Why It’s Hot: Mario Batali and company bring their signature pizzas to a historic city landmark.
    Must Order: We love their aromatic and earthy funghi misti ($17) pizza. For dessert, don’t pass up the housemade gelato and sorbetti ($10) in unique flavors like huckleberry and olive oil.
    Insider Tip: Unless you’re going to eat at off-peak hours, reservations are highly recommended.

    789 W. Harbor Dr.; 619-376-4353

  • Photo by: Darlene Horn

    Puesto at the Headquarters

    Why It’s Hot: This notable additional to The Headquarters is the sparkling, sophisticated sibling to the smaller, original La Jolla location. 
    Must Order: In addition to the original street-style tacos, this location’s expanded menu serves up full-size entrees with rice and beans. Don't miss the chicken mole with chili, cocoa and sesame sauce. 
    Insider Tip: Check out the location's weekly Taco Tuesday specials.

    789 W. Harbor Dr.; 619-233-8880

Places Mentioned

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Puesto at The Headquarters

Mexican Marina District
Food24 Decor24 Service21 Cost$26
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Food22 Decor23 Service17 Cost$53
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La Jolla Brewing Company

Brewpub La Jolla
Atmo.23 Decor21 Service22 CostI

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