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A hand holds three tacos.
Three tacos from Tacotarian.
Tacotarian

The Hottest Restaurants in San Diego, August 2022

The latest lineup includes a vegan taco spot and a neighborhood wine bar

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Three tacos from Tacotarian.
| Tacotarian

More often than not, tipsters, readers, friends and family of Eater have one question: Where should I eat right now? And while the restaurant industry is still being affected by the pandemic, new restaurants continue to persevere and are managing to open their doors to diners eager to get back to dining out.

Note: map points are not ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Valle Restaurant

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Chef Roberto Alcocer of the Valle de Guadalupe’s acclaimed Malva Cocina de Baja California has transported a taste of the region to Oceanside where his first stateside restaurant anchors the Mission Pacific hotel. Offering a four-course tasting menu as well as an a la carte option, the fine-dining restaurant features dishes straight from Malva’s menu, made with ingredients from Baja and Southern California. A new wine dinners series features prominent winemakers from the Valle.

A long banquette flanked by plants with a painting of the Valle de Guadalupe hanging on the wall behind it.
Dining room at Valle.
Kimberly Motos

Chef William Eick’s fine dining take on modern Japanese cuisine, which started as a pop-up before opening in its own intimate space in Oceanside’s Tremont District, spotlights progressive dishes that combine Japanese technique with Southern California ingredients.

A matcha ice cream waffle on a large dish.
A dessert course at Matsu.
Matsu

Founding chef Claudette Zepeda’s deeply personal menu reflects the diversity of food the chef has discovered while living and cooking in her hometown of San Diego, with highlights like the crispy dan dan pastry and a lamb shank in pasilla curry. Zepeda has stepped away from the kitchen but will continue to collaborate with executive chef Ananda Bareño.

A circular pastry filled with seasoned ground meat in a sesame sauce.
Dan Dan pastry at Vaga.
Kimberly Motos

Waverly

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The first North County project for the group behind nighttime hot spots Kettner Exchange and the Grass Skirt, Waverly is a more relaxed restaurant that gives chef Brian Redizkowski the chance to create a daytime-focused menu that includes brunch plates, rice bowls, salads, and sandwiches.

Sky Deck

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Del Mar Highlands Town Center’s multi-restaurant collective spans a beer deck and central craft cocktail bar called Understory, plus other self-contained outposts from local favorites like Ambrogio15 (which introduced new pizzas and other dishes from a Michein-starred chef), KiinThai, and Le Parfait Paris as well as Bay Area transplant Marufuku Ramen.

Milano City of Gold pizza (Burrata, Saffron Bechamel, Breaded Veal Eye of Round Milanese Style, Bone Marrow, Raw Filet Mignon Tartare, Gremolata, 24k Gold Leaf).
Milano City of Gold pizza.
Ambrogio15

Haidilao Hotpot San Diego

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Reservations are recommended for this highly-anticipated restaurant that recently landed at Westfield UTC. As China’s largest high-end hot pot chain, Haidilao is known for its attentive service and thoughtful extras, including wireless phone charging at tables and protective aprons and bags for keeping diners’ clothes and smartphones tidy. Its tomato and spicy Sichuan hot pot are the most popular, but you can try up to four broths per tabletop.

Qin West Noodle

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Still drawing lines at peak meal times, this fast-casual Chinese transplant from the LA area landed at Westfield UTC bearing a quick-service menu that does serviceable versions of stir-fried classics, including chicken chow mein and beef fried rice, but excels more in its noodle-based regional specialties. Highlights range from noodles tossed with beef shank, pickled cabbage, peanuts, and lily flowers to cold dressed noodles with cucumber, and a beef noodle soup that can be customized with various noodle shapes.

People eating inside a modern restaurant.
Qin West Noodle UTC.
Candice Woo

Sandpiper Wood Fired Grill & Oysters

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The George’s at the Cove team has replaced Galaxy Taco with a relaxed, upscale restaurant that brings fresh oysters to La Jolla Shores along with a flexible menu that includes wood-grilled meats like California squab, prime rib, and double-cut pork chops and accompanying sides.

A cocktail bar with an undersea mural on the back wall. Crave Imagery

Shancheng Lameizi

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The fanciest hot pot restaurant in San Diego is part of well-known brand that has been operating in China for more than two decades. Open daily for lunch and dinner, its specialty is spicy and numbing Sichuan hot pot, although milder broths are offered. Don’t miss the complimentary desserts, including freshly-fried sesame balls.

Tabletop hot pot with two different broths and plates of sliced meat. Candice Woo

Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger - Pacific Beach

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Chef Steve Brown’s largest restaurant yet brings together a wagyu beef butcher shop, burgers, and a steakhouse experience in an expansive space in Pacific Beach. The recently-remodeled restaurant and bar now offers upscale dinner service (including his wagyu tasting menu) along with brunch.

Large patio filled with chairs and tables with a red sunshade overhead.
Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger
J.Dixx Photography

Wormwood

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Celebrating absinthe and the spirit’s romantic history, this charming bistro and cocktail bar is earning early acclaim for its thoughtful menu, based on French classics refreshed with unexpected flavors and regional ingredients from Southern California and Baja.

A blue plate of sliced raw seafood in a chile sauce.
Scallop, octopus and kanpachi aguachile.
Arlene Ibarra

Tacotarian

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Vegans and meat-eaters alike are embracing Tacotarian, the third vegan restaurant to occupy the space on 30th Street. The transplant from Las Vegas, where it’s considered one of the city’s top taco spots, is best known for its meatless takes on barbacoa, al pastor, and carne asada.

A hand holds three tacos. Tacotarian

Wolf In The Woods

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Its Mission Hills neighbors are thrilled that this long-awaited restaurant has finally opened. The cozy, wine-focused space features a New Mexican-inspired design and serves an eclectic menu of snacks and tapas from executive chef Carmine Lopez (Great Maple) that includes yellowtail aguachile, harissa octopus, and citrus-cured salmon.

Verbena Kitchen

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Veteran local chef Ronnie Schwandt’s first solo restaurant serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday as well as Sunday brunch. The cozy North Park spot’s current seasonal menu includes an ever-changing farmer’s market salad, Peruvian shrimp ceviche, and housemade cavatelli pasta with braised duck.

A tall creamy cocktail next to a plate of French toast with syrup being poured on top. Verbena Kitchen

Grand Ole BBQ Y Asado

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After three years away, Grand Ole BBQ’s original spot in North Park is back and more grand than ever; the soaring space now features a larger patio along with an indoor dining area and bar. In addition to its accomplished Texas-style barbecue (and Argentine specialties on Sundays), the restaurant has expanded its menu to include more vegan options, sides, and desserts.

A casual dining room filled with picnic tables. Kimberly Motos

ARTIFACT at Mingei

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The stunning renovation of the Mingei Museum includes sleek and modern new restaurant from well-established hospitality group behind Cucina Urbana. Situated among the museum’s collection, Artifact offers a transportive menu that spans the globe, with beautifully-presented dishes and accomplished cocktails. A new dinner experience, featuring a three course prix fixe menu or a la carte items is now offered on Thursday and Friday evenings.

A sleek and modern restaurant dining room and cocktail bar. Kimberly Motos

Juan Jasper Kitchen & Wine

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Golden Hill is grateful for this new addition, a cozy 20-seat wine bar opened by the owners of the neighboring butcher shop. The kitchem frequently rotates its offerings, often running daily specials, via a menu that leans towards comfort food and the classics with dishes like fried oysters, Salisbury steak, beef Stroganoff, and sausages made next door.

Kingfisher

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This stylish restaurant and bar is a welcome addition to Golden Hill, serving equally accomplished food and drinks inside a gleaming and elegant space. With classic Vietnamese cuisine as a starting point, the plates have been modernized by executive chef Jonathan Bautista while Asian flavors serve as inspiration for David Tye’s skillful cocktails.

A colorful dish of vegetables in curry sauce.
Sunchoke curry.
Kingfisher

Sovereign Thai Cuisine

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Located at the edge of Fault Line Park in the East Village, this Asian restaurant brings attention to Issan cuisine, the traditional food of the Thailand’s northeastern region. With partners that include alums of Thai Papaya and Sab-E-Lee, two local Thai standouts, its menu includes lesser-seen dishes like Thai-style fried chicken as well as curries, noodles, and more.

A plate of larb garnished with mint, chilies, and green onions at Sovereign Thai. Sovereign Thai/Facebook

Market on 8th

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South Bay’s thrilling food hall holds a diverse collection of cuisines, offering everything from Filipino, Thai, and Indonesian food to Southern barbecue. Built to service the local community and draw interested diners to downtown National City, the public market also houses a beer garden and tap station from Novo Brazil Brewing.

Exterior of building with Market on 8th sign. Kimberly Motos

Valle Restaurant

A long banquette flanked by plants with a painting of the Valle de Guadalupe hanging on the wall behind it.
Dining room at Valle.
Kimberly Motos

Chef Roberto Alcocer of the Valle de Guadalupe’s acclaimed Malva Cocina de Baja California has transported a taste of the region to Oceanside where his first stateside restaurant anchors the Mission Pacific hotel. Offering a four-course tasting menu as well as an a la carte option, the fine-dining restaurant features dishes straight from Malva’s menu, made with ingredients from Baja and Southern California. A new wine dinners series features prominent winemakers from the Valle.

A long banquette flanked by plants with a painting of the Valle de Guadalupe hanging on the wall behind it.
Dining room at Valle.
Kimberly Motos

Matsu

A matcha ice cream waffle on a large dish.
A dessert course at Matsu.
Matsu

Chef William Eick’s fine dining take on modern Japanese cuisine, which started as a pop-up before opening in its own intimate space in Oceanside’s Tremont District, spotlights progressive dishes that combine Japanese technique with Southern California ingredients.

A matcha ice cream waffle on a large dish.
A dessert course at Matsu.
Matsu

Vaga

A circular pastry filled with seasoned ground meat in a sesame sauce.
Dan Dan pastry at Vaga.
Kimberly Motos

Founding chef Claudette Zepeda’s deeply personal menu reflects the diversity of food the chef has discovered while living and cooking in her hometown of San Diego, with highlights like the crispy dan dan pastry and a lamb shank in pasilla curry. Zepeda has stepped away from the kitchen but will continue to collaborate with executive chef Ananda Bareño.

A circular pastry filled with seasoned ground meat in a sesame sauce.
Dan Dan pastry at Vaga.
Kimberly Motos

Waverly

The first North County project for the group behind nighttime hot spots Kettner Exchange and the Grass Skirt, Waverly is a more relaxed restaurant that gives chef Brian Redizkowski the chance to create a daytime-focused menu that includes brunch plates, rice bowls, salads, and sandwiches.

Sky Deck

Milano City of Gold pizza (Burrata, Saffron Bechamel, Breaded Veal Eye of Round Milanese Style, Bone Marrow, Raw Filet Mignon Tartare, Gremolata, 24k Gold Leaf).
Milano City of Gold pizza.
Ambrogio15

Del Mar Highlands Town Center’s multi-restaurant collective spans a beer deck and central craft cocktail bar called Understory, plus other self-contained outposts from local favorites like Ambrogio15 (which introduced new pizzas and other dishes from a Michein-starred chef), KiinThai, and Le Parfait Paris as well as Bay Area transplant Marufuku Ramen.

Milano City of Gold pizza (Burrata, Saffron Bechamel, Breaded Veal Eye of Round Milanese Style, Bone Marrow, Raw Filet Mignon Tartare, Gremolata, 24k Gold Leaf).
Milano City of Gold pizza.
Ambrogio15

Haidilao Hotpot San Diego

Reservations are recommended for this highly-anticipated restaurant that recently landed at Westfield UTC. As China’s largest high-end hot pot chain, Haidilao is known for its attentive service and thoughtful extras, including wireless phone charging at tables and protective aprons and bags for keeping diners’ clothes and smartphones tidy. Its tomato and spicy Sichuan hot pot are the most popular, but you can try up to four broths per tabletop.

Qin West Noodle

People eating inside a modern restaurant.
Qin West Noodle UTC.
Candice Woo

Still drawing lines at peak meal times, this fast-casual Chinese transplant from the LA area landed at Westfield UTC bearing a quick-service menu that does serviceable versions of stir-fried classics, including chicken chow mein and beef fried rice, but excels more in its noodle-based regional specialties. Highlights range from noodles tossed with beef shank, pickled cabbage, peanuts, and lily flowers to cold dressed noodles with cucumber, and a beef noodle soup that can be customized with various noodle shapes.

People eating inside a modern restaurant.
Qin West Noodle UTC.
Candice Woo

Sandpiper Wood Fired Grill & Oysters

A cocktail bar with an undersea mural on the back wall. Crave Imagery

The George’s at the Cove team has replaced Galaxy Taco with a relaxed, upscale restaurant that brings fresh oysters to La Jolla Shores along with a flexible menu that includes wood-grilled meats like California squab, prime rib, and double-cut pork chops and accompanying sides.

A cocktail bar with an undersea mural on the back wall. Crave Imagery

Shancheng Lameizi

Tabletop hot pot with two different broths and plates of sliced meat. Candice Woo

The fanciest hot pot restaurant in San Diego is part of well-known brand that has been operating in China for more than two decades. Open daily for lunch and dinner, its specialty is spicy and numbing Sichuan hot pot, although milder broths are offered. Don’t miss the complimentary desserts, including freshly-fried sesame balls.

Tabletop hot pot with two different broths and plates of sliced meat. Candice Woo

Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger - Pacific Beach

Large patio filled with chairs and tables with a red sunshade overhead.
Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger
J.Dixx Photography

Chef Steve Brown’s largest restaurant yet brings together a wagyu beef butcher shop, burgers, and a steakhouse experience in an expansive space in Pacific Beach. The recently-remodeled restaurant and bar now offers upscale dinner service (including his wagyu tasting menu) along with brunch.

Large patio filled with chairs and tables with a red sunshade overhead.
Swagyu Chop Shop & Burger
J.Dixx Photography

Wormwood

A blue plate of sliced raw seafood in a chile sauce.
Scallop, octopus and kanpachi aguachile.
Arlene Ibarra

Celebrating absinthe and the spirit’s romantic history, this charming bistro and cocktail bar is earning early acclaim for its thoughtful menu, based on French classics refreshed with unexpected flavors and regional ingredients from Southern California and Baja.

A blue plate of sliced raw seafood in a chile sauce.
Scallop, octopus and kanpachi aguachile.
Arlene Ibarra

Tacotarian

A hand holds three tacos. Tacotarian

Vegans and meat-eaters alike are embracing Tacotarian, the third vegan restaurant to occupy the space on 30th Street. The transplant from Las Vegas, where it’s considered one of the city’s top taco spots, is best known for its meatless takes on barbacoa, al pastor, and carne asada.

A hand holds three tacos. Tacotarian

Wolf In The Woods

Its Mission Hills neighbors are thrilled that this long-awaited restaurant has finally opened. The cozy, wine-focused space features a New Mexican-inspired design and serves an eclectic menu of snacks and tapas from executive chef Carmine Lopez (Great Maple) that includes yellowtail aguachile, harissa octopus, and citrus-cured salmon.