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August 30, 2017

30 Places Where We Love to Eat

Marcela Gracia

Keeping up with Studio E Architects’ 30th anniversary series, we have selected our most-loved places to satisfy our palettes. We asked everybody to list their favorite places to eat in San Diego and we ended up with 30 great places to get a bite; all unique and delicious! Whether you are looking for a San Diego food institution, food with a view, or a culinary cultural experience look no further. And now to delight your taste buds, here are our "30 Places Where We Love to Eat"! 

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[1] Grand Ole BBQ

Great Texas BBQ with an open patio. The patio is equipped with stacks of wood and their smokers right out front. Take any of their delicious BBQ and pair it with their Peruvian white beans and potato salad.

-Vince Rosato

[2] Bankers Hill Restaurant

Two words:  Butterscotch Pudding.  Of course, dinner and drinks are just as good.  Get a seat on the patio if you can!  

-Kirsten Blakeman

[3] The Turf Supper Club

Take one step through the entry door and you are instantly transported to the early ‘50’s when dim lighting, large pieces of raw meat and liquor in fancy glasses ruled.  Get a Ribeye Delmonico and an Esquire and thank me later.

-Nate Vandermeulen

[4] Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

As an ice-cream lover, I’m always on the hunt for the best ice-cream, but always full after a couple bites. This Hawaiian Ice-cream shop has ice-cream flights with bite-size cones, so the portions are just right!  Hardest part about coming? Choosing what to have! 

-Marta Navarro

[5] Mucha Fruta

This is the place to go when I can't go accross the border and I’m in need of fruta con chile. So many (spicy) options, so little time.

-Marcela Gracia

[6] Mona Lisa Italian Foods

Walking distance from the office. I had the best “prosciutto crudo” ever in San Diego, and I am very picky about prosciutto! 

-Vittoria Molinaro


Affectionately called “Johnny Be Hungry” because who knows how it’s pronounced, this place feels like my childhood growing up with hippy parents. The soups, curries and of course Neatloaf, are amazing. 

-Mathilda Bialk

[8] Cantina Mayahuel

If you ever want traditional Mexican food without crossing the border, then head over to Cantina. Their menu may be small but there is something for everyone.  Oh, and did I mention the Wall of tequila?  Drink it on the rocks or in their fresh margaritas (no fruity blended drinks here).  All the tequila comes from small distilleries in Mexico many of which use traditional small batch processes, and is far better than any Patron you’ve ever had.

-Michelle Kessler

[9] Tasty Noodle House

Visiting the various Asian offerings along Convoy St. can be intimidating for those not travelling with a host versed in the etiquette of hot pot or dim sum but for an awesome alternative to your local Panda Express, try Tasty Noodle House (in the Pokirrito/Raki Raki shopping center. You know, the one with ten different Asian restaurants…and O’Briens.)

-Kevin Bussett

[10] Liberty Public Market

I love Liberty Station and eating at the Public Market is one of my favorite things to do here! You can try so many different foods (all of them are good, trust me) and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer on the patio outside.

-Vittoria Molinaro

[11] Caroline's Seaside Cafe

This casual lunch spot is a “hidden” gem!  Located on top of the beautiful Scripps Seaside Forum it has sweeping views of the ocean and a delicious menu by Giuseppe Ciuffa, the same chef-star behind Bottega Americano.

-Kirsten Blakeman

[12] Soda & Swine

Why would a vegetarian like this meatball spot? Because they make an awesome VeganBall! Served slider style with a side of pizza knots and a local brew – that loads you up for the day! I like the original Normal Heights spot best – is it inside? Is it outside? Go on a rainy day and you can sit by the fire and maybe feel a few raindrops on your face. Bonus – it is beside cocktail purveyor Polite Provisions. Come without the kids and you can order food in there alongside your stiff drink.

-Maxine Ward

[13] Costa Brava

In Spain, a way to measure how good food is, is by comparing it to your grandma’s. This hidden gem in PB makes the cut! Some of my favorites are ‘Pulpo a la Gallega’ (Octopus with olive oil + paprika) or ‘Croquetas de Jamón’ (Ibérico ham croquettes). It makes me feel like at home!

-Marta Navarro

[14] Urban Solace

A very cozy spot and just the right amount of fancy for special ocassions. Their specials are always delicious, and they have great vegetarian options. Their portions tend to be huge, perfect for sharing (or not).

-Marcela Gracia

[15] Et Voila

I’ll admit I’m not fluent in French, but I’m pretty sure the French translation of Et Voila is “Best damn food around”…  My advice, sit at the bar and ask Sammy their mixologist to make you something special.  If you make it in time for their happy hour you can get a great glass of French Bordeaux and some of the freshest mussels in town on the cheap.  Or try their traditional coq-au-vin or escargot.  And if you have room for dessert their red bell pepper sorbet is both the strangest and best thing to ever happen to a frozen treat…

-Michelle Kessler

[16] Nate's Garden Grill

This place has excellent food of course!  It feels like it’s off the beaten track, its tucked away in a canyon and located right next to an awesome nursery, even the parking lot is gravel for that crunchy parking experience.  Dogs are welcome on the patio, and there is usually live folk music.

-Per Erickson

[17] TJ Oyster Bar

I love everything about this place – the limited (but amazing) fresh seafood menu, the super affordable prices, the theater of the kitchen chaos which happens on the other side of the bar where you are seated and the cramped but friendly slot of space that the restaurant is stuffed into. Nothing from the exterior tells you that this is a place worthy of your attention…but don’t be fooled. Try the Fish Taco of course (99 cents each! Get 3!) the Smoked Tuna Taco, the 7 Seas Soup, and don’t leave without trying their crazy delicious Ceviche! Wow!

-John Sheehan

[18] Polite Provisions

This is a spot which I’ve found just recently! Polite Provisions is a speak-easy type of bar located on 30th street in North Park and has become one of my favorite spots to visit. This is a great spot to dress up a little bit with your friends, enjoy the diverse selection of beers and cocktails, and people watch. Another advantage… Soda and Swine is right next door, so you can have juicy pizza knots and dirty nachos delivered right to your table!

-Vera Yevteyev

[19] Raglan Public House

This has excellent sandwiches, favorites are the lamb, and the seared ahi.  Great open-air beach vibe, located in Ocean Beach just off the main drag.

-Per Erickson

[20] Point Loma Seafood 

This is a San Diego institution and deservedly so. Everything is fresh off the boat and delicious every time. Although the various fish plates are hard to resist, you must try their sandwiches at least once. And don’t miss the fish taquitos…the best I’ve had in San Diego.

-Eric Naslund

[21] Cafe Gratitude

They have a great vegetarian selection and the ambiance is the best. Their core philosophy is grounded in respect and love for our environment and ourselves, and it just feels good to be part of it!

-Marcela Gracia

[22] Super Cocina

It’s hard to choose one restaurant in City Heights but when I introduce noobs to the glories of University Ave., I usually start at the recently-remodeled-but-still-authentic Super Cocina near Cherokee Ave., whose cafeteria-style dishes from the heartland—usually stews—pack a deeper flavor than your typical California burrito (pro tip: don’t eat the bones.)

-Kevin Bussett

[23] Panama 66

After a day of touring museums, it’s the perfect place for some al fresco sampling of local craft brew right in the heart of Balboa Park.

-Kirsten Blakeman

[24] Saffron

An old favorite that’s been around forever and never disappoints. When feeling under the weather you must try the chicken noodle soup. 

-Mathilda Bialk

[25] Café Madeleine 

European-style bistro and cafe that has tasty paninis, crepes, croissants, quiche, and delicious coffee with sugar cubes!  Lovely decoration and great place to spend an afternoon reading and relaxing with your pup and a good cup of coffee.

-Marta Navarro

[26] The Monkey Paw

Any place created by Scot Blair is going to have great beers and The Paw sits at the top of the list.  The twist on this one is it was the first venue in his portfolio to make their own beer, which quickly started winning gold metals at beer festivals all over the world.  Add in a damn tasty cheesesteak and some waffle fries and you’ve got a solid afternoon/ night out. That it took over the former home of one of San Diego’s premier dive bars (The Jewel Box) only adds to the charm.

-Nate Vandermeulen

[27] Café Moto 

Really great coffee served without all the attitude in a funky/hip space in a local’s only neighborhood. They have a good selection of pastries to go with your java and somebody they know makes a daily variety of empanadas that are the pretty dang tasty. Ask them to heat it up for you! 

-John Sheehan

[28] Alexander’s 

Do not be fooled by the fanciness of the all white décor, this is one of the best pizza joints in San Diego.  Affordable with a touch of class.  Tip: try going on a Monday when they offer $6 pizzas and $1 bottled beer.

-Kirsten Blakeman

[29] The Living Room

The Living Room has been one of my favorite spots to frequent over the years. It’s a cute and intimate, European style bistro, filled with delicious desserts, sandwiches, and coffee. While you sit and enjoy your treats, you relax in comfortable armchairs with expansive views of the ocean. It consists of 2 levels, the first being the main café area, while the second floor acts as a social hookah lounge at night. People of all ages love to come here to socialize, work, and bask in the laidback, “indie” atmosphere. I’ve visited this spot since I was a kid with my parents, and to this day I love to come here to relax, catch up with friends or some reading, and enjoy their juicy turkey club sandwiches. 

-Vera Yevteyev

[30] Ranas

Rana’s is Mexican via Mexico City. The palette is similar to what we have come to know as Mexican food but the differences take one into delightful and unexpected places. There are many versions of Mole and their pecan sauce is not to be missed.

-Eric Naslund