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Trust Restaurant
Trust Restaurant

The 38 Essential San Diego Restaurants, Fall 2017

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Trust Restaurant

Hello there, it's time to update the Eater 38, the answer to any question that begins with, "Can you recommend a restaurant...?" While the Eater Heatmap covers the newest and hottest eateries, this specially selected group covers much of the city, spans myriad cuisines, and aims to collectively satisfy all of your restaurant needs. Every few of months, Eater editors will be adding worthy restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible, or have stepped up their game; restaurants must be open at least six months to qualify for consideration.

This round, Menya Ramen, Et Voila and Cantina Mayahuel join the list.

Restaurants are listed from north to south. Map points are not ranked.

If your favorite restaurant isn't on list, send us a note nominating it for inclusion; we'll be posting updated versions of the Eater 38 map throughout the year.

For all the latest San Diego dining intel, subscribe to Eater San Diego's newsletter.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Cafe Chloe

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721 9th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-3242
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A small, cozy spot in the East Village with a menu of updated bistro classics and a beloved brunch that manages to be untrendy yet totally stylish.

2. Blind Lady Ale House

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3416 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 255-2491
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At this beacon in the Normal Heights neighborhood you'll find a quality lineup of beer, house-brewed and otherwise, and a local farm-driven menu of tasty pizzas and salads.

3. Carnitas' Snack Shack

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2632 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 294-7675
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The extreme popularity of this casual and friendly pork-centric eatery has spawned a North County outpost and another location in the works on the downtown waterfront.

4. Sushi Ota

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4529 Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 270-5670
Helmed by a venerable sushi master, the restaurant is unassuming, low-key and unquestionably authentic. Request a seat in owner Ota-san's section of the sushi bar.
Tea cup on the sushi bar at Sushi Ota

5. Wine Vault & Bistro

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3731 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-3939
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Tucked above India Street, this hidden gem features winemaker events, an ever-changing seasonal menu and prix fixe dinners that feel like a steal. Friday: $26, 3-courses; Saturday $39.50, 5-courses.

6. CUCINA urbana

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505 Laurel St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222
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Tables at this well-established Bankers Hill spot are still some of the most sought-after in town thanks to a shareable Italian-inspired menu that's both modern and familiar.
Dining room at Cucina Urbana

7. Starlite

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3175 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 358-9766
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Starlite helped to launch the local craft cocktail scene and is a haven for late night eaters who still want good food - the kitchen's open until midnight every night.
The bar at Starlite

8. A.R. Valentien

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11480 N Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 777-6635
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Temple to impeccably sourced farm-to-table cooking, the signature restaurant of The Lodge at Torrey Pines transcends hotel dining by a mile. Don't miss the Thursday night artisan table dinners.

9. Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar

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910 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 964-5400
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San Diego has several stellar hotel restaurants and this is one of them. Executive Jason Knibb is a favorite of both the food-obsessed and other local chefs for his precise and never pretentious California cuisine.

10. The Fishery

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5040 Cass St
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 272-9985
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At this local seafood distributor, market and restaurant in one, Paul Arias does right by his product; his Tuesday tasting menu is a good time to taste how.

11. Jayne's Gastropub

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4677 30th St
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 563-1011
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A real-deal gastropub with a British co-owner and a well-executed modern pub menu. The wine list is more interesting than most, cocktails too.

12. Whisknladle

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1044 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 551-7575
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The first offering from one of the city's dominant restaurant groups, this showcase for from-scratch cooking in the heart of downtown La Jolla has a casual ease and unpretentious approach to seasonal cuisine.

13. Market Restaurant & Bar

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3702 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 523-0007
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Chef/owner Carl Schroeder's (Michael Mina and Bradley Ogden) North County restaurant focuses on hyper-seasonal cooking style inspired by local farms including the nearby Alice Waters-endorsed Chino Farm.

14. Puesto

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789 W Harbor Dr
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 233-8880
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After scoring big at a number of recent food competitions, it's safe to say that Puesto has more to offer than just tacos, although they do those pretty well too.

15. Juniper & Ivy

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2228 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(858) 481-3666
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This restaurant from TV chef Richard Blais is firmly established itself as a San Diego contender in the national culinary scene, expanding palates and encouraging eaters to dine out more frequently to catch the ever-evolving menu.
Dining room at Juniper & Ivy

16. Ironside Fish & Oyster

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1654 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-3033
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One of CH Projects' more food-centered offerings, the restaurant's combination of well-prepared, pristine seafood and impeccably-made cocktails is pretty hard to beat.

17. Tiger!Tiger!

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3025 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 764-5475
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This might be San Diego's best example of a craft beer eatery, done without pretense. The food here more than measures up to the beer.

18. Buona Forchetta

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3001 Beech St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 381-4844
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Regulars rave about the char and chew of the oven-burnished crusts at this friendly and bustling South Park pizzeria, which also specializes in homemade pasta.

19. George's At The Cove

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1250 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-4244
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This three-floor oceanview stunner offers choose-your-own-adventure dining. Opt for the casual rooftop terrace, the craft cocktail-focused gastrobar, or the acclaimed fine dining restaurant that offers a top-shelf tasting menu. Executive chef/partner Trey Foshee, one of the city's most admired chefs, keeps each kitchen running on a high level.

20. Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop

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640 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 450-5880
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An in-house butcher shop, skilled mixologists and a non-stuffy vibe set this steakhouse apart from its expense account counterparts. Try for a seat at Victor Jimenez's chef's counter.

21. Urban Solace

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3823 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 295-6464
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Chef and owner Matt Gordon has established a loyal following for his unpretentious new American comfort food and popular Bluegrass Brunch.

22. Addison at The Grand Del Mar

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5200 Grand del Mar Way
San Diego, CA 92130
(858) 314-1900
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The signature restaurant at the Grand Del Mar is one of the splurge-worthy spots in town thanks to its executive chef William Bradley, who counts Thomas Keller as a mentor. The ever-changing tasting menu format combines French culinary style with innovative plating and peak seasonal ingredients.

23. Yakitori Taisho

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5185 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 752-0468
This cozy yakitori-only spot is under the same ownership as Yakitori Yakyudori but the meticulously grilled skewers served here are superior. The primary focus is on chicken, from grilled chicken skin to tender chicken meatballs and deconstructed chicken wings.

24. Kettner Exchange

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2001 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 255-2001
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Executive chef Brian Redzikowski shines brightest at his Chef's Table experience, when he can fully tap into his culinary depths. But, the well-trained chef's Asian-inflected a la carte menu is also consistently tasty and thoughtful. Food-focused folks may want to eschew KE's club-like weekends in favor of quieter weeknights.
The bar at Kettner Exchange

25. The Marine Room

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2000 Spindrift Dr
La Jolla, CA 92037
(866) 644-2351
Looking for beachside dining? Waves crash frequently on the windows of the La Jolla stalwart, cooking up a globally-influenced fine dining menu that has an emphasis on seafood.

26. Galaxy Taco

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2259 Avenida de La Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037
Getting national notice for a progressive program that hinges on its labor-intensive masa production — including a Eater Young Guns award for chef de cuisine Christine Rivera —Galaxy is fast becoming a leader in the new wave of modern Mexican eateries.

27. Crack Shack

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2266 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 795-3299
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This casual spin-off from Juniper & Ivy's culinary team has a foundation of fried chicken and fresh fare set in an appealing all-outdoor setting. Another location has opened in Encinitas and others are planned for beyond San Diego.

28. Herb & Wood

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2210 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
With local celeb chef Brian Malarkey at the helm, Herb & Wood is a stunning spot to see-and-be-seen, but it has also managed to become one of the city's top destinations for thoughtful yet accessible dining.

29. Trust Restaurant

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3752 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92103
A culinary bright spot in Hillcrest's worrisomely dimming food scene, this stylish independent restaurant is attracting the attention of the entire city thanks to a progressive menu from chef/co-owner Brad Wise and gracious service managed by co-owner Steve Schwob.

30. KINDRED

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1503 30th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 546-9653
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This South Park rebel makes its market with the rarely-seen pairing of top-notch craft cocktails with a chef-powered, vegan menu. Add a dose of seriously eye-catching design and you've got a winner.

31. Sushi Tadokoro

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2244 San Diego Ave Ste C
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 297-0298
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This temple of seafood in Old Town tops many sushi aficionados' lists for its adherence to traditional Japanese style and technique featuring well-crated nigiri sushi. The restaurant setting is spare, but there's fireworks on the plate. Reservations at the sushi bar are recommended.

32. Civico 1845

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1845 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 431-5990
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Perpetually packed, this friendly family-run restaurant keeps to Little Italy's Italian roots with its strong menu of Southern Italian seafood dishes made with local ingredients but also offers modern innovations on Italian classics using vegan and gluten-free ingredients.

33. Liberty Public Market

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2820 Historic Decatur Rd
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 487-9346
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Settled comfortably into its tenure in Liberty Station, the food hall and marketplace has found secure footing in the local food landscape both as a budding tourist destination and a hub for San Diegans.

34. Wrench And The Rodent

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1815 S Coast Hwy
Oceanside, CA 92054
(760) 271-0531
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A standout amongst Oceanside's burgeoning food culture, this cozy, unassuming spot showcases of chef/owner Davin Waite’s skill. Though his path veers from traditional sushi, Waite is uncompromising in his care for ingredients, especially seafood. From foraging to far out flavor innovations, the chef provides a uniquely local dining experience.

35. El Pescador Fish Market

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627 Pearl St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 456-2526
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A landmark and leader in La Jolla for over three decades, El Pescador market and eatery provides a window into San Diego's seafood bounty through its market and eatery with on-point grilled octopus, fish tacos and sandwiches. The original no-frills shop expanded into to a larger restaurant with a more extensive menu, but the friendly service and steadfast commitment to freshness remain unchanged.

36. Menya Ultra

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8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste M
San Diego, CA 92111
This Japanese transplant has already garnered national attention in its relatively short tenure in San Diego. Its masterful bowls of ramen are set apart by a signature tonkotsu broth that rich but not overly heavy and noodles made in-house that have near-perfect pull and chew. Expect to wait for a table during peak meal times.
Menya Ultra Ramen

37. Cantina Mayahuel

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2934 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 283-6292
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Ask members of local restaurant and bar industry where their favorite hangout is and this spot will likely be at the top of the list. Offering an unparalleled selection of agave spirits, it also serves up a tasty menu of regional Mexican dishes, including top-notch carnitas and mole.
Cantina Mayahuel

38. Et Voilà!

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3015 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
This neighborhood bistro has charm for days. The friendly bar and the comfortable dining room are a fine setting for French classics that include made-to-order sky-high souffles.
Dining room at Et Voila

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1. Cafe Chloe

721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
A small, cozy spot in the East Village with a menu of updated bistro classics and a beloved brunch that manages to be untrendy yet totally stylish.
721 9th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

2. Blind Lady Ale House

3416 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
At this beacon in the Normal Heights neighborhood you'll find a quality lineup of beer, house-brewed and otherwise, and a local farm-driven menu of tasty pizzas and salads.
3416 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116

3. Carnitas' Snack Shack

2632 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
The extreme popularity of this casual and friendly pork-centric eatery has spawned a North County outpost and another location in the works on the downtown waterfront.
2632 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

4. Sushi Ota

4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
Tea cup on the sushi bar at Sushi Ota
Helmed by a venerable sushi master, the restaurant is unassuming, low-key and unquestionably authentic. Request a seat in owner Ota-san's section of the sushi bar.
4529 Mission Bay Dr
San Diego, CA 92109

5. Wine Vault & Bistro

3731 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
Tucked above India Street, this hidden gem features winemaker events, an ever-changing seasonal menu and prix fixe dinners that feel like a steal. Friday: $26, 3-courses; Saturday $39.50, 5-courses.
3731 India St
San Diego, CA 92103

6. CUCINA urbana

505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101
Dining room at Cucina Urbana
Tables at this well-established Bankers Hill spot are still some of the most sought-after in town thanks to a shareable Italian-inspired menu that's both modern and familiar.
505 Laurel St
San Diego, CA 92101

7. Starlite

3175 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
The bar at Starlite
Starlite helped to launch the local craft cocktail scene and is a haven for late night eaters who still want good food - the kitchen's open until midnight every night.
3175 India St
San Diego, CA 92103