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San Diego’s Eater Awards Winners 2018

The restaurants, bars, and chefs that made the city run wild this year

After nearly a week of intense reader voting, today we announce the winners of the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs, restaurants, and bars that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past twelve months.

Here now are the people and establishments that have taken the San Diego food world by storm. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor’s choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy along with feature coverage on Eater in the coming year.

Chef of the Year

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, El Jardin

Courtesy photo

Zepeda-Wilkins is used to the spotlight, having survived two grueling seasons on ‘Top Chef’, but her biggest stage to-date is El Jardin in Liberty Station, a partnership with Rise & Shine Restaurant Group. After toiling tirelessly in several local kitchens, this is a full-circle moment for a chef who is getting national notice for her “matriarchal” perspective on running a restaurant and earning acclaim for a menu that is equally informed by years of cooking with her family in Mexico and time spent traveling and discovering world cuisines.

Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Danilo “DJ” Tangalin, Bivouac Ciderworks

Restaurant of the Year

Dija Mara


Joining the tight-knit and ever-growing culinary community of Oceanside last fall, Dija Mara made a sizable impression, earning a reputation that continues to grow for its downright revelatory dishes. The neighborhood, not to mention the greater San Diego food world, has wholly embraced the compact and friendly restaurant, which consistently draws crowds for the modern Southeast Asian cuisine created by chef Ryan Costanza, who relocated here after a high-profile positions in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Bivouac Ciderworks

Design of the Year

Raised by Wolves

Haley Hill Photography

Iconoclastic hospitality group CH Projects chose quite an unlikely location — a mall — for its latest project, but the unusual setting didn’t stop the team, including longtime design partner Paul Basile, from putting together an eclectic and romantic stunner that stacks up against its previous award-winning creations. The one-of-a-kind concept, which combines a bottle shop and a cocktail bar, shows that retail can still hold an element of mystery and surprise.

Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Nolita Hall

Casual Restaurant of the Year

Lola 55

Sam Wells

In a town inundated by tacos, Lola 55 has dominated the conversation since its summer opening in the East Village. With a structure set up for success and the intention to become a serious contender in the fast-casual market, the eatery is banking on a crave-worthy menu from executive chef Drew Bent, made using carefully-sourced ingredients, to put them well above the pack.

Casual Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Little Italy Food Hall

Bar and Food Combo of the Year

Bivouac Ciderworks

A bar and restaurant. Haley Hill Photography

Touching down in the middle of craft beer country — 30th Street in North Park — Bivouac brought a welcome new beverage to the scene, creating food-friendly ciders that are a hit in the tasting room and have recently begun to be featured at other local bars and restaurants. The handsome spot is a triple threat, pairing the ciders with a playful and tasty menu that highlights the Filipino heritage of chef Danilo “DJ” Tanaglin and a notable cocktail program that gets creative with fruit-based spirits.

Bar and Food Combo of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Fernside

Coming Attractions

Here Are Five New Restaurants Coming to San Diego

Eater Inside

Bivouac Ciderworks Invites You Into Its Immersive Choose Your Own Adventure Lodge

Eater Inside

Your Two Favorite Bartenders Have Opened a Cocktail Bar in North Park