Erin Jackson, Thrillist: Brunch at Bracero. I knew going in that it was going to be great, but I wasn't prepared for exactly how delicious the food would be. Even items that looked fairly straightforward (like the fruit plate and French toast) were so expertly conceptualized and executed that they rightfully live up to their designation as "signatures".
Troy Johnson, San Diego Magazine: Market in Del Mar. It’s not new. It’s not buzzy. It’s Carl Schroeder. Just a dude who’s been cooking here in San Diego for a bazillion years (actually, he’s still pretty young and RSF cougars still pant in his general direction) and has been nominated for James Beard Awards. But did one of those million-course tastings with Carl and holy god. I was reminded that new, buzzy restaurants aren’t the only good restaurants in the world. I was reminded that being this good for this long should be a headline in big, bold font.
Michael Gardiner, San Diego CityBeat: I had a number of very, very good restaurant meals in 2016 but several of them were at the same place: the Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub in Oceanside. Davin Waite’s food is endlessly interesting and never the same on this trip as the one before or the one to come. It’s sushi that isn’t sushi, high end that’s casual and always firing on more cylinders than you can count.
Keri Bridgwater, Eater: Cucina Sorella.
Michelle Dederko, PACIFIC Magazine: This isn’t from the flashiest restaurant in town, but this year I discovered my perfect bowl of ramen at Izakaya Kanpai in Clairemont Mesa. Their tonkotsu was the first bowl of ramen I could finish in entirety under 10 minutes without ever coming up for air. I found myself dreaming of it constantly and going out of my way to slurp up the pork broth.
Candice Woo, Eater: I’ve been lucky enough to have been fed so well this year by a culinary pros in both San Diego and Baja. It makes me hopeful about our developing food community, as chefs continue to create and innovate to help raise our region’s profile. I’m always looking forward to my next best meal.
Frank Sabatini, Jr., San Diego Community News Network: It was a hodge-podge of well-executed international dishes consumed in one sitting at Red Card Café in Bay Park: Argentinean empanadas filled with beef and green olives; char sui pork buns with ginger aioli; a Cubano sandwich using lemonade-brined pork shoulder; and house-made basil linguine with almond pesto, which particularly sent me over the moon.
Josh Kopelman, DiningOut: Trust Restaurant.
Michele Parente, San Diego Union-Tribune: Sorry, not in San Diego. My best meals were at Roscioli in Rome, Del Posto in New York, Georgie, at the Montage Beverly Hills and the Adobe food truck at Adobe Guadalupe, in the Valle. Closer to home, it was at Ponsaty’s, Herb & Wood and Herb & Eatery.