New & Hot Places

Hottest Restaurants in San Diego

San Diego's food scene is constantly evolving, with a slew of exciting new restaurants opening across the city. From a refreshing poke spot in Mission Valley to a Little Italy venue serving amazing Baja-inspired cuisine, these are the 10 restaurants lighting up the San Diego dining landscape right now.

Herb & Wood

NewNew AmericanLittle Italy
Chefs Shane McIntyre (ex Searsucker) and Brian Malarkey (Searsucker, Herringbone) present rustic wood-fired fare, plus pizza, housemade pastas and old-school cocktails at this upscale locale on the northern edge of Little Italy. Chic artwork and plush furnishings fill the expansive space that encompasses a cozy lounge, indoor-outdoor patio and an elegant dining room.

Must-order: Grilled Iberico pork “Secreto” with apple mostarda, pancetta and chile flakes

Insider tip: Ask for the off-the-menu Parker House rolls, brushed with chives, parsley, oregano and rosemary honey butter.

Barbusa

NewItalianLittle Italy
Modern Sicilian fare like handmade pasta and raw seafood specialties are served at this buzzy Little Italy spot with a dedicated crudo bar. The cozy, contemporary space features Pop Art, exposed-brick walls and a salumi display.

Must-order: Osso bucco ravioli

Insider tip: ​The restaurant currently serves lunch and dinner, but look for weekend brunch to come soon.

Carnitas' Snack Shack

NewFast FoodDowntown
"A pork-lover's dream come true", these "trendy" destinations specialize in "amazing", "original" porcine eats from "delish" carnitas and tacos to a "life-changing BLT" all made with "quality", "local" ingredients and backed by a "good selection of craft beers" and a full bar at the Embarcadero location; though lines can get “crazy”, the "fun, outdoor" settings (plus some indoor tables at the Del Mar outpost) compensate and "you can't beat the value."

Must-order: Triple Threat pork sandwich

Insider tip: Aside being the only location of the local chain to serve fish tacos, it also features a weekend brunch from 9–11 AM.

cucina SORELLA

NewItalianKensington
Handmade pasta and an assortment of creative small plates are served at this cozy Kensington locale by restaurateur Tracy Borkum (CUCINA urbana and CUCINA enoteca). The casual yet elegant space is accented with floral wallpaper, and also houses a retail boutique stocked with home decor items.

Must-order: Torchino pasta with seafood sausage

Insider tip: Happy hour is every day from 4–6 PM in the bar area featuring $5 spicy sausage “dogs,” grilled meatballs and more.

Breakfast Republic

NewBreakfastLiberty Station
These bright and quirky locales specialize in inventive breakfast fare like s’mores French toast, Vietnamese chicken wing bowls (plus specialty cocktails, beer flights and kombucha on tap) served until mid afternoon at the North Park location and into the evening at Liberty Station.

Must-order: Month-long specials like Breakfast Bone Marrow and banana bread pancakes

Insider tip: Unlike the North Park location that closes at 3 PM, this place extends its operating hours until 8 PM serving breakfast like pancakes, French toast and more for dinner.

Beerfish

NewSeafoodNorth Park
As the name might suggest, this causal, colorful counter in North Park specializes in seafood (think lobster rolls, clam chowder and oysters on the half shell) complimented by dozens of craft brews on draft.

Must-order: Clam toast

Insider tip: Visit the restaurant from 3–6 PM for $1 oyster specials.

The Crack Shack

BrunchLittle Italy
An all-day menu of chicken- and egg-based dishes – including fried chicken, chicken sandwiches and deviled eggs (plus a full bar) – are served at this corrugated-metal-clad Little Italy counter by the team behind Juniper & Ivy. Modern furnishings, a giant chicken sculpture and a bocce-ball court make the outdoor-only seating area hip and happening.

Must-order: Fried chicken, available in five or 10 pieces

Insider tip: Work off your meal by playing bocce ball in the adjoining courtyard.

Bracero Cocina

MexicanLittle Italy
The second U.S. restaurant from Tijuana chef Javier Plascencia (Romesco), this gleaming, two-story haunt in Little Italy offers modern interpretations of Mexican cuisine (think shrimp and bone marrow sopes), along with agave-based cocktails, craft beer and wines from both California and Baja. Contemporary design meets rustic decorative touches inside the artfully composed space, with a crudo bar, an open kitchen and a terrace.

Must-order: Albacore Two Ways (seared and tartare)

Insider tip: When making a reservation, ask for a seat on the first floor by the kitchen for a view of Javier Plascencia at work.

TRUST Restaurant

New AmericanHillcrest
Rustic, seasonally driven New American dishes, as well as local craft beer and artisanal wines, headline this inviting, modern Hillcrest space with an expansive outdoor patio.

Must-order: Grilled lamb meatballs

Insider tip: Arrive from 5–6 PM for $5 cocktail specials on the weekdays.

San Diego Poke Co.

NewSeafoodGrantville
Island-inspired poke bowls topped with zesty housemade sauces and featuring everything from spicy tuna to tofu (plus custom combinations) are served at this fast-casual counter in Mission Valley.

Must-order: Sweet and spicy salmon

Insider tip: The vendor continues its weekly farmer's market rounds.

Looking for a great place?

Find it faster with the new Zagat app

No thanksTry it!