As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. We've already covered the 2014's restaurant standbys and top newcomers and seen the year summed up in one word. Now, our panel shares their pick for the best neighborhood to eat in.
Q: What was the best dining neighborhood in 2014?
Erin Jackson, city editor, DiningOut San Diego: It has to be Little Italy. There's so much energy and enthusiasm pouring into the neighborhood, and it's only going to get more exciting next year.
Michele Parente, dining and lifestyle reporter, Union-Tribune: Really? Little Italy! Nowhere else is even close.
Marcie Rothman, FoodBuzzSD: Little Italy.
Barbarella Fokos, contributor, San Diego Reader: Little Italy.
Omar Passons, eat.drink.give.go.: It's fun to talk in terms of neighborhoods, but I have some trouble with that. The 30th Street corridor spans three neighborhoods, arguably four, but I feel a similar spirit at Alchemy, Brabant, Waypoint or even Jayne's. Little Italy has really done a great job of attracting interesting restaurants and has the population density to support beautiful spaces. Until the other parts of San Diego's urban core realize that allowing for more people creates really cool opportunities for great food, the places that understand it will be on top. I hate parking in Little Italy, but who cares. That's what feet/bikes/buses/Lyft are for. Little Italy edges out 30th Street Corridor for these reasons.
Troy Johnson, restaurant critic, San Diego Magazine: Little Italy. By a country mile. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to go against the grain. You go Downtown to show off your wealth/augmented curvy parts. You go to Little Italy to eat.
Darlene Horn, city editor, Zagat San Diego: Convoy area
Amy T. Granite, food writer, DiscoverSD: Well, it’s happened: North Park is finally living up to the hype from years of untimely praise. Heavy-hitting newcomers like the North Parker development, City Tacos, and Streetcar are setting the bar high for restaurants to come. 2014 also saw the arrival of Venissimo Cheese. Along with several breweries (Mike Hess, Belching Beaver, Thorn Street, Poor House and the brand new Fall Brewing Company); popular places to linger (Alexander’s, Urban Solace, Waypoint Public, Tiger! Tiger!); pizza styles from around the world (Lefty’s, Caffe Calabria, URBN, Sicilian Thing, Tribute Pizza, Luigi); and Crazee Burger (ultimately responsible for San Diego’s strange affection for exotic burgers), North Park finally eats like a dining destination.
Michael Gardiner, restaurant critic, San Diego CityBeat: North Park, though Little Italy’s entered the charts (again), this time with a bullet.
Frank Sabatini Jr., restaurant critic, San Diego Community News Network, and contributing writer, Pacific San Diego Magazine: South Park -- if only for Buona Forchetta and nearby Piacere Mio Ristorante, both of which have restored by faith in local Italian restaurants.
Caron Golden, San Diego Foodstuff: I think that ship has sailed. All of San Diego seems to have become a culinary playground—except Tierrasanta, where I live. It remains a culinary desert.