clock menu more-arrow no yes

Here Are 11 of San Diego's Most Definitive Meat Dishes

View as Map

We're kicking off The Five Days of Meat with a rundown of some of San Diego's most iconic meat dishes. From longtime favorites to instant classics, this list represents some of the best expressions of meat on a plate that can be found locally.

Suggestions came in from Eater readers, friends of Eater, and Eater's own in-house meat lovers and run the gamut from raw beef to burgers, pork ribs and chicken soup.

Do yourself a solid this week and use The Five Days of Meat map as an eating guide for your very own protein-a-palooza. And add your ultimate meat dishes in the comments!

[Sab-E-Lee's Koy Nua/mmm-yoso's Flickr]


Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Aqui es Texcoco

Copy Link
1043 Broadway Ste 108
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(619) 427-4045
Visit Website
Specialist in barbacoa-style lamb, this Chula Vista eatery is revered for its savory barbecue platters and tacos featuring every cut of the animal, from lean and rib meat to tripe; go for the gusto and get a lamb head to share.

2. Juniper & Ivy

Copy Link
2228 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(858) 481-3666
Visit Website
The menu at this restaurant of the moment changes day to day, but a dish that's become a staple (with good reason) is their carne cruda asada, a crusty slab of toast slathered generously with cotija cheese and jalapeno-spiked beef tartare, topped with a parade of sunny-side up quail eggs.

3. Carnitas' Snack Shack

Copy Link
2632 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 294-7675
Visit Website
Carnitas' Snack Shack knows a thing or two about meat, just ask the crowds that line up for their pork and beef-centric creations. The signature sandwich, The Triple Threat is a dangerously delicious combo of pulled pork, applewood-smoked bacon and a pork schniztel.

4. Coop's West Texas BBQ

Copy Link
2625 Lemon Grove Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945
(619) 589-0478
Visit Website
Owner Brad Cooper is a pro at smoking everything from brisket to chicken and hot links, but his pork rib tips, the juicy, meaty and cartilaginous ends of each slab, might just be the best thing to eat at this West Texas BBQ joint. On Tuesdays, a pound of tips goes for $9.99.

5. A.R. Valentien

Copy Link
11480 N Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 777-6635
Visit Website
Perfection on a plate might just be this farm-to-table temple's charcuterie platter, which holds a slice each of expertly executed chicken liver pâté, short rib terrine and duck and pistachio pâté, plus accompanying housemade sauces and pickles.

6. Hodad's

Copy Link
5010 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 224-4623
Visit Website
Guy Fieri made the lines here longer than ever, but locals still swear by the iconic bacon cheeseburger with its crisp bacon patty, which you can get at the OG Ocean Beach location or at their downtown and Petco Park outposts.

7. Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop

Copy Link
640 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 450-5880
Visit Website
A full-service butcher shop that hand-cuts steaks helps separate this East Village steakhouse from the pack but Eater readers say that the bison burger, available at lunch, is the standout. The house-ground bison patty is topped with white cheddar, roasted Anaheim peppers and cumin mayo.

8. Lourdes Mexican Food

Copy Link
650 S Escondido Blvd
Escondido, CA 92025
(760) 746-1141
Visit Website
Eater readers swear that the homemade chicken soup, loaded with rice, avocado and cilantro, will cure whatever ails you. This Mexican family-owned eatery, with two locations in Escondido and an outpost in Cardiff, sells hundreds of bowls of the soup each day.

9. Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar

Copy Link
910 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 964-5400
Visit Website
Executive chef Jason Knibb's signature dish, his Jamaican jerk pork, helped introduce molecular cookery to San Diego diners and showed how it can elevate the dish when done thoughtfully. The thin sheets of spicy pepper gelatin that melt over crispy cubes of pork belly help to temper the richness of the meat.

10. CUCINA urbana

Copy Link
505 Laurel St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222
Visit Website
Readers raved about the short rib pappardelle and the bucatini all'amatriciana at this popular Italian-inspired eatery, but dish that everyone holds dearest to their hearts in the giant meatball, a shareable red sauced sphere that's a must-order meat addition for the table.

11. The Original Sab-E-Lee

Copy Link
2405 Ulric St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 650-6868
Visit Website
There's a lot to get addicted to at this Linda Vista gem (with outposts in Santee and Rancho Penasquitos), but no dish is as hard to quit as their koy nua, or raw spicy beef, a fiery mix of beef "cooked" in lime juice with texture from raw onions, garlic and nubbins of roasted rice powder.

1. Aqui es Texcoco

1043 Broadway Ste 108, Chula Vista, CA 91911
Specialist in barbacoa-style lamb, this Chula Vista eatery is revered for its savory barbecue platters and tacos featuring every cut of the animal, from lean and rib meat to tripe; go for the gusto and get a lamb head to share.
1043 Broadway Ste 108
Chula Vista, CA 91911

2. Juniper & Ivy

2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
The menu at this restaurant of the moment changes day to day, but a dish that's become a staple (with good reason) is their carne cruda asada, a crusty slab of toast slathered generously with cotija cheese and jalapeno-spiked beef tartare, topped with a parade of sunny-side up quail eggs.
2228 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

3. Carnitas' Snack Shack

2632 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
Carnitas' Snack Shack knows a thing or two about meat, just ask the crowds that line up for their pork and beef-centric creations. The signature sandwich, The Triple Threat is a dangerously delicious combo of pulled pork, applewood-smoked bacon and a pork schniztel.
2632 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

4. Coop's West Texas BBQ

2625 Lemon Grove Ave, Lemon Grove, CA 91945
Owner Brad Cooper is a pro at smoking everything from brisket to chicken and hot links, but his pork rib tips, the juicy, meaty and cartilaginous ends of each slab, might just be the best thing to eat at this West Texas BBQ joint. On Tuesdays, a pound of tips goes for $9.99.
2625 Lemon Grove Ave
Lemon Grove, CA 91945

5. A.R. Valentien

11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Perfection on a plate might just be this farm-to-table temple's charcuterie platter, which holds a slice each of expertly executed chicken liver pâté, short rib terrine and duck and pistachio pâté, plus accompanying housemade sauces and pickles.
11480 N Torrey Pines Rd
La Jolla, CA 92037

6. Hodad's

5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107
Guy Fieri made the lines here longer than ever, but locals still swear by the iconic bacon cheeseburger with its crisp bacon patty, which you can get at the OG Ocean Beach location or at their downtown and Petco Park outposts.
5010 Newport Ave
San Diego, CA 92107

7. Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop

640 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
A full-service butcher shop that hand-cuts steaks helps separate this East Village steakhouse from the pack but Eater readers say that the bison burger, available at lunch, is the standout. The house-ground bison patty is topped with white cheddar, roasted Anaheim peppers and cumin mayo.
640 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

8. Lourdes Mexican Food

650 S Escondido Blvd, Escondido, CA 92025
Eater readers swear that the homemade chicken soup, loaded with rice, avocado and cilantro, will cure whatever ails you. This Mexican family-owned eatery, with two locations in Escondido and an outpost in Cardiff, sells hundreds of bowls of the soup each day.
650 S Escondido Blvd
Escondido, CA 92025

9. Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar

910 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Executive chef Jason Knibb's signature dish, his Jamaican jerk pork, helped introduce molecular cookery to San Diego diners and showed how it can elevate the dish when done thoughtfully. The thin sheets of spicy pepper gelatin that melt over crispy cubes of pork belly help to temper the richness of the meat.
910 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037

10. CUCINA urbana

505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92101
Readers raved about the short rib pappardelle and the bucatini all'amatriciana at this popular Italian-inspired eatery, but dish that everyone holds dearest to their hearts in the giant meatball, a shareable red sauced sphere that's a must-order meat addition for the table.
505 Laurel St
San Diego, CA 92101

11. The Original Sab-E-Lee

2405 Ulric St, San Diego, CA 92111
There's a lot to get addicted to at this Linda Vista gem (with outposts in Santee and Rancho Penasquitos), but no dish is as hard to quit as their koy nua, or raw spicy beef, a fiery mix of beef "cooked" in lime juice with texture from raw onions, garlic and nubbins of roasted rice powder.
2405 Ulric St
San Diego, CA 92111

Related Maps