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Cream of the Crop: The Best of San Diego

Whether you’re looking for a great cocktail, a place to watch a game, or new home decor, you can’t go wrong by visiting these prior “Best of San Diego” winners.



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BEST MIDDLE EASTERN 2015

Alforon

The recipient of two Critic’s Choice awards from San Diego Magazine, Alforon embraces the originality of its Lebanese heritage in its food preparation, innovative style, unique flavors, and appetizing presentations, remaining true to the origin of their Lebanese Mediterranean cuisine, using imported Lebanese spices and herbs. Alforon is a must try and as authentic as they come. Listed #25 on Yelp’s Top 100 US Restaurants.
5965 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115 | 619-269-9904

 

BEST MAKEOVER 2016

AVANT

AVANT draws on the very best of wine country dining, culinary exploration, and leisurely socializing—moving it forward with a modern California mindset. The culinary team delights with vibrant dishes, embracing foraged, farmed, hunted, and fished ingredients. The venue emphasizes unpretentious dining and approachable cuisine paired with classic cocktails, local craft beer, and limited-production wines.
17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr, San Diego, CA 92128 | 858-675-8550

 

BEST BUSINESS LUNCH WITH A VIEW 2016

Bali Hai Restaurant

A San Diego staple that has been serving up Polynesian cuisine and classic tiki cocktails for over 60 years. With breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and bay, it’s the perfect bayfront dining experience. Enjoy lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch, happy hour Monday–Friday, and live music offered up in the lounge three days a week. Paradise awaits you at Bali Hai Restaurant!
2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106 | 619-222-1181

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST CHEAP EATS 2017

Bao Beach

With a focus on the bao, a Chinese steamed bun sandwich, Bao Beach showcases Asian-inspired street food by way of Mission Beach.
3735 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 | 858-381-0033

 

Critic’s Pick
BEST COFFEE 2017

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is proud to have put specialty, direct trade coffee on the map in San Diego. We engage in direct trade relationships at origin, and proudly serve exceptional coffee, prepared with precision and the utmost respect for those who produced it.
5627 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037; 2295 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101; 1270 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST INDIAN 2017

Bombay

Since its establishment in 1988 on Hillcrest’s Restaurant Row, award-winning chef Ashley Popat has been serving quality interpretations of classic Indian dishes and daring new ventures into uncharted culinary territories. The unique space offers visitors the choice to observe passersby on the street or enjoy Bollywood movies and a dramatic indoor waterfall.
3960 Fifth Ave, San Diego CA 92103 | 619-297-7777

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST LATE NIGHT 2017

Brian’s 24

Thank you San Diego Magazine Readers for your votes!! Family owned & operated, Brian’s 24 is downtown San Diego’s only fullservice, 24-hour restaurant, best known for its buttermilk hotcakes and chicken and waffles. However, with more than 200 items on the menu, everyone is sure to find something to love. Portions are big, so go hungry.
828 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 | 619-702-8410

 

BEST FISH TACO 2014

Brigantine

Since 1969, the Brigantine has served quality, San Diego–style surf and turf with a friendly beach-town vibe. Whether it’s the famous grilled swordfish or freshly shucked oysters, custom cocktails or local craft beer, “The Brig” is always there with a taste of the best of San Diego. They aim to make first-timers feel like regulars, and consider regulars part of the family.
Coronado, Point Loma, La Mesa, Escondido, Del Mar, Poway, BRIG HQ, Imperial Beach (Coming Soon)

 

Runner-Up
BEST MEXICAN 2017

Café Coyote

For over 25 years Café Coyote has remained one of San Diego’s landmark restaurants located in the heart of historic Old Town. A friendly staff, loyal patrons, delicious Mexican food, and a festive atmosphere have contributed to Café Coyote being voted Runner-Up Best Margarita and one of San Diego’s Best Mexican Restaurants 15 years in a row!
2461 San Diego Ave., San Diego, CA 92110 | 619-291-4695

 

BEST ECO-INVENTION 2016

CleverMade SnapBasket Cooler

Collapsible, colorful and cool. The spacesaving, yet structured SnapBasket Cooler keeps iced beverages cold for 36 hours and folds flat in a snap, so you can store it anywhere.

SnapBasket Cooler is perfect for a long day at La Jolla Shores, a picnic at Balboa Park or camping at Cuyamaca!
6102 Innovation Way, Carlsbad, CA 92009 | 760-814-3577

 

Critic's Pick
BEST SPANISH CUISINE 2017

Cueva Bar

Since opening its doors in 2010, Cueva Bar has grown from a edgling restaurant into a thriving eatery. Winner for Best Empanadas in 2012, this neighborhood gem has an eclectic menu that includes meat, seafood, vegan and gluten-free options, while specializing in tapas that pair well with craft beers and delectable wines.
2123 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116 | 619-269-6612

 

BEST BABYSITTER ALTERNATIVE 2016

Elite Gymnastics

This family-owned gym has provided highquality gymnastics to students for 18 years. Want to get your child into gymnastics, or compete on a national level? They have a class for you! Your child will learn a healthy lifestyle, self-confidence, work ethic, respect, discipline, balance, friendship, compassion, and more!
1817 John Towers Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92020 | 619-993-8766

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANT 2017

The Godfather Restaurant

Located in Kearny Mesa, the Balistreri family invites you to celebrate the Italian tradition of gourmet cuisine, fine wine and entertainment, since 1967. Zagat rated as one of the top 25 Italian restaurants in the nation, offering Northern and Southern Italian dishes including pastas, fresh fish, and premium steaks.
7878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, 92111 | 858-560-1747

 

Critic’s Pick
BEST BLOODY MARY 2017

Great Maple

Great Maple is a Johnny Rivera creation featuring award winning bloody marys, doughnuts, fresh pies, seasonal plates, and, of course, brunch and dinner.
1451 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 | 619-255-2282

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST VEGETARIAN/VEGAN 2017

Harvest by the Patio

Harvest by The Patio is a fast-casual eatery that serves health-conscious California comfort food and inventive cocktails crafted from locally sourced ingredients.
369 Tenth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 | 619-541-8301

 

BEST TAKEOUT/ FAST SERVICE 2017

The Kebab Shop

This family-run business has been a city staple since 2007. With roots from Holland and Germany, The Kebab Shop introduced us to döner-kebabs and has now spread all throughout San Diego. Expect long lines during peak times, but it’s definitely the spot if you want to impress your friends.
Multiple San Diego Locations

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST DESSERTS 2017

Le Parfait

Bringing an authentic Parisian experience to the Gaslamp. Enjoy a latte and pastries in the morning and come back for a glass of wine and plentiful appetizers and desserts in the evening, all enjoyed from our indoor café or outdoor patio. Make sure you don’t miss our weekend brunch!
555 G St, San Diego, CA 92101 | 619-245-4457

 

BEST BURRITO 2016

Lolita’s at the Park

From award-winning burritos to nationally highlighted carne asada fries, Lolita’s prides itself in selling quality, fresh Mexican food for over 30 years. A former hole-in-the-wall taco shop now turned fast-casual dining, Lolita’s invites you to join us at any of our six locations throughout San Diego County to enjoy burritos, tacos, tortas, and many other specialty dishes. Beer at select locations.
Multiple San Diego Locations | 619-269-6055

 

BEST GIFT BOUTIQUE 2015

Make Good

Founded in 2010, Make Good provides 100 percent locally sourced, handcrafted home goods, art, jewelry, gifts, and accessories by over 100 artisans from San Diego and Tijuana. Together with the best curated selection of designer resale clothing in San Diego, Make Good is the best way to “support local” in San Diego.
2207 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92104 | 619-563-4600

 

Runner-Up
BEST PHO 2017

Mignon Pho and Seafood

Mignon Pho and Seafood brings together the traditional flavors of Vietnamese cuisine with a modern twist. Using locally sourced fresh ingredients, aromatic spices, and family-owned recipes, your mind will journey to the flavorful aromas along the bustling streets of Vietnam with every bite.
3860 Convoy St. Ste. 116, San Diego, CA 92111 | 858-278-0699

 

BEST CHIPS AND SALSA 2017

Miguel’s Cocina

Voted best chips and salsa four years in a row, Miguel’s has long been a favorite of San Diego Magazine readers. Their commitment to artisanal ingredients must have something to do with it, from fresh tortillas and salsas to crispy chips made daily on-site. Over three decades and seven locations, Miguel’s has become a treasured San Diego tradition for locals and visitors alike.
4S Ranch, Coronado, Old Town Carlsbad, Eastlake, Point Loma

 

BEST OUTDOOR THEATRE 2009

Moonlight Amphitheatre

The Moonlight Amphitheatre has been a summertime destination for 37 years, with its Broadway-quality musicals and outdoor ambience. Bring your own picnic, or enjoy preshow dining at the Artisan Café. Coming up is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece Sunset Boulevard in August, and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights in September.
1200 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista, CA 92084 | 760-724-2110

 

BEST INTENSE WORKOUT 2017

Orangetheory Fitness

A group personal training workout broken into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training. Led by skilled personal trainers, each class uses a variety of equipment including treadmills, rowing machines, TRX and free weights. The result is the Orange Effect—more energy, visible toning, and extra calorie burn for up to 36 hours.
12 locations in San Diego

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST HAPPY HOUR 2017

The Patio on Lamont

Featuring classic California cuisine, The Patio on Lamont is a cozy eatery in scenic Pacific Beach, where you (and your pet) always feel at home.
4445 Lamont Street, San Diego, CA 92109 | 858-412-4648

 

BEST TACO 2017

Puesto

Puesto interprets the most-loved Mexican staple with handmade maíz azul stone-ground tortillas, sustainable meats and seafood, slow-cooked guisados, and scratch salsas. In artisanal spaces, street food is reimagined with authentic flavors and a nod to Mexico City’s cosmopolitan palate.
789 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, 92101 | 619-233-8880
1026 Wall Street, La Jolla, 92037 | 858-454-1260

 

Readers’ Pick Runner-Up
BEST PANCAKES 2016

Richard Walker’s Pancake House

In business since 1948, the Walker family has been serving the best breakfasts for over 60 years. Enjoy our award-winning apple pancake or any of more than 100 other delicious creations. From scratch, fresh, made to order, this is Richard Walker’s Pancake House.
909 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037 | 858-459-8800
520 Front St., San Diego, CA 92101 | 619-231-7777

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST NEW RESTAURANT 2017

Rovino Rotisserie + Wine

Located in Little Italy, Rovino features “Italy-to-table” Sicilian and Northern Italian cuisine based on traditional recipes. All meats are hormone free, pastas and sauces are homemade daily, and Rovino supports local growers. Enjoy an extensive Italian wine list, craft beers. Open for lunch and dinner, weekday happy hour, with breakfast served on Sundays.
2034 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, 92101 | 619-269-9341

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST INDULGENT EATS 2017

Saska’s Steakhouse

Located in Mission Beach, Saska’s is San Diego’s Original Steakhouse, proudly serving quality cocktails and hand-cut steaks in a swanky dining atmosphere since 1951.
3768 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 | 858-488-7311

 

BEST ONE-STOP SHOP 2017

Sea + Wander

Sea + Wander boutique offers a unique mix of city edge and beach chic to even the most discerning clientele. Located in the heart of Cardiff, the shop stocks hip, versatile indie clothing for women and children, darling “giftables”, eco-friendly toys, and lust-worthy jewelry.
154 Aberdeen Dr, Cardiff, CA 92007 | 760-487-5788

 

BEST UNDISCOVERED VINEYARD 2015

SHADOW MOUNTAIN VINEYARDS

Seven decade San Diego County vineyards and winery, producing award winning wines from grapes growing on our 3rd generation estate. Located 8 miles north of Warner Springs on historic Highway 79, in the north central part of the county. Scenic views high lite the natural beauty of our location. Bring a picnic to enjoy your wine beverage on our wonderful patio.
34680 Highway 79, Warner Springs, CA 92086 | 760-782-0778

 

BEST NATURE EXPERIENCE 2016

Sky Falconry

Glove-up and free fly a bird of prey in the San Diego mountains or the sea cliffs of La Jolla. Learn about the ancient art of falconry, raptor biology and conservation in a hands-on adventure you’ll never forget. Offering Intro Classes, Hawk Walks, and Private Experiences. A bucket-list must!
595 Anderson Rd, Alpine, CA 91901 | 619-722-0092

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST CHEF 2017

Solare

Experience Solare: Authentic Southern Italian restaurant with Executive Chef Accursio Lotà designing and creating an incredible farm-to-table menu for you. A full bar, Readers’ Pick for Best Wine Bar, craft cocktails, wine room, patio dining, and so much more. Come experience Solare right here in Liberty Station.
2820 Roosevelt Rd, San Diego, CA 92106 | 619-270-9670

 

BEST REDO OF AN OLD STAPLE 2013

Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Located on Harbor Island, minutes from downtown, featuring a local-seafood-driven menu, unique craft beers on tap, and epic views of the San Diego skyline. Famous for their Champagne Sunday Brunch, monthly beer events, and seasonal menus, this waterfront dining experience is the perfect escape for a business lunch, or dinner with family and friends.
2150 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, 92101 | 619-291-9110

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST WINE BAR 2017

Village Vino

Wine Bar | Restaurant | Retail

Nestled in San Diego’s Kensington neighborhood, voted Readers’ Pick Best Wine List and Best Wine Bar in the city for the past four years. Great food and service. Ideal location to discover unique and highly rated wine varietals from small, family-owned boutique wineries from around the globe.
4095 Adams Avenue, San Diego, 92116 | 619-546-8466

 

BEST CATERER 2017

Waters Fine Catering

For 30 years you have wisely chosen Waters to create innovative corporate events, spectacular weddings, and memorable holiday gatherings. We provide exceptional cuisine, original event design, and signature beverage service, curated just for you. For a little taste, come visit our new Waters Fine Foods Cafe located in La Jolla at 7441 Girard Ave.
619-276-8803

 

Readers’ Pick
BEST KID FRIENDLY RESTAURANT 2017

Waypoint Public

This award-winning, family-friendly gastropub is a dining destination where all are welcome. Waypoint Public serves elevated gastropub fare using fresh, high-quality ingredients, paired with excellent beers and wines, while providing genuine hospitality in a lively, open space.
3794 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104 | 619-255-8778
16480 Paseo Del Sur, San Diego, CA 92127 | 858-312-8398

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