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Restaurant Pros Name San Diego’s Best Dining Neighborhoods

What neighborhood is the top dining destination?

Herb & Sea
Haley Hill Photography

As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2019 by surveying local food writers (including our own staff) on various restaurant-related topics, and we’re publishing their responses in these final days of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below.

Today’s question: What is San Diego’s best dining neighborhood?

Ian Anderson, San Diego Reader: I’ve always envied those privileged enough to live in Encinitas, but consoled myself that they didn’t eat as well as we do down south. Now I’m forced to wonder. Suddenly I look down the Coast Highway and see a Buona Forchetta, Herb & Sea, City Tacos, Plumeria Vegetarian, a Modern Times vegan restaurant; even a Crack Shack nearby. It’s like half the places I lorded over them went ahead and moved in. Never mind it already had one of my favorite new restaurants of 2018, ChiKo. Even Leucadia’s starting to have a sneaky good options. But you still don’t have Las Cuatro Milpas Encinitas! You hear that?

Keri Bridgwater, Eater: Encinitas is putting itself on the destination dining map, thanks to restaurants like Death by Tequila, Valentina, and now Herb & Sea.

Candice Woo, Eater: Kearny Mesa is king, and 2019 was the year that the neighborhood really solidified its place on the throne, with homegrown home runs from Realm of the 52 Remedies and Woomiok and out-of-town giants including H Mart and Bonchon attracting even more crowds to the area. But Mira Mesa and National City could be serious contenders in the foreseeable future.

Caron Golden, San Diego Foodstuff: I’m still going to stick with Convoy District. I love that Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and other Asian cuisines sit cheek by jowl in this neighborhood.

Frank Sabatini, San Diego Community News Group: The Convoy District continues its rise while Little Italy and Liberty Station remain steady draws for county-wide locals, and out-of-towners especially.

Michele Parente, San Diego Union-Tribune: I know I should say the mind-blowing Convoy, but I’m sticking with Little Italy, in the wake of Morning Glory’s opening and the addition of Semola and Bobboi to the Little Italy Food Hall. Any neighborhood that houses Born & Raised, Herb & Wood and The Crack Shack cannot be denied the title.

Josh Kopelman, DiningOutSD: Little Italy.

Beth Demmon, San Diego Magazine beer columnist: For 2019 specifically, Little Italy. There is so much innovation and excitement going on there that it’s about to burst at the seams with culinary creativity. Personally, I think Convoy District has always been the best all-around neighborhood for eating and drinking, but North County is certainly giving the rest of the region a run for its money. (It’s the area to watch in 2020, although South Bay is quietly picking up steam as well.)

Michael Gardiner, San Diego CityBeat: Mira Mesa. For years, the Convoy has been San Diego’s Asiatown dining district. Now, Mira Mesa is giving it a run for its money. With Sichuan City, Taste of Hunan, Gaya Gaya and more, Mira Mesa shed its reputation as just having good Indian food with some Vietnamese thrown in.