With breathtaking beaches, a world-renowned zoo and a host of critically acclaimed museums, it’s no wonder San Diego consistently ranks as one of America’s top vacation destinations. While San Diego’s reputation as a family-friendly city is well-known, the place that calls itself “America’s Finest City” is increasingly being recognized as a buzzworthy dining destination. From fresh seafood to south-of-the-border classics, San Diego’s diverse dining scene offers something for everyone. Just one more reason AABB members are excited to attend the 2017 Annual Meeting, to be held Oct. 7-10. Here are a few of the restaurants recommended by Eater San Diego that we are looking forward to visiting while we’re in town.
1047 Fifth Ave, 92101
Unsure where to kick off your culinary tour of San Diego? Look no further than your hotel. Curadero offers soulful, coastal Mexican street food in the Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego, one of AABB’s host hotels. Curadero serves up classic Mexican dishes like carne asada, elotes, chilaquiles and carnitas, as well as a crudo (raw) bar stocked with fresh fish from Baja California. The bar serves more than 80 types of tequila and signature cocktails based around mezcal and Mexican spirits.
Grabbing a late-night bite? The Arriba Room, located on Curadero’s second floor, has a walk-up taco window, vintage arcade games, foosball and margaritas on draught to entertain you and your friends from 9:00 pm – 1:00 am, Thursday through Saturday.
1250 Prospect Street, 92037
No trip to San Diego would be complete without a trip to La Jolla. The Hake, located just steps from famous La Jolla Bay, offers a locally sourced menu inspired by the flavors of Latin America, Eastern Asia and India. The menu includes specialties like Indian spiced acorn squash, pan seared opah and Wagyu skirt steak in a chipotle barbeque sauce. The recently renovated restaurant offers diners the best seat San Diego has to offer—uninterrupted, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. You’ll need to call a cab or rent a car to enjoy these views, however; La Jolla is 30 minutes by car from the San Diego Convention Center.
Mona Lisa Italian Restaurant
2061 India St, 92101
Mona Lisa Italian Restaurant is proof that if it’s not broken, you don’t need to fix it. The Brunetto family has been serving up classic Italian dishes at this charming, old school deli since 1956. The restaurant, a 10-minute drive from the San Diego Convention Center, offers a wide selection of pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches during lunch and dinner alongside a nice variety of Italian and Californian wines. After your meal, swing next door to the market to pick up Italian cheeses, wines, meats, olives, freshly baked bread and hard-to-find Italian imports.
777 G St, 92101
San Diegans joke that the burgers at Neighborhood, a staple of San Diego’s East Village dining scene, are so good that you won’t even need condiments (which is good, as they are not offered). This hip joint, a quick 15-minute walk from the San Diego Convention Center, serves up craft brews, cocktails and a seasonal menu full of fresh takes on classic bar foods. Fill up on shaved brussels sprouts, curry-roasted cauliflower, dirty chorizo fries, jalapeno mac and cheese or one of Neighborhood’s famous burgers. The prices will leave both your stomach and your wallet full.
After your meal, get in on one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets by planning a visit to Noble Experiment, Neighborhood’s in-house speakeasy. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time; handcrafted cocktails and a mysterious atmosphere mean that this trendy watering hole fills up quickly.
1503 30th Street, 92101
San Diego has plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans, but none are as fun or quirky as Kindred. This hip cocktail den, a 15-minute cab ride from the San Diego Convention Center, serves up a contemporary, all-vegan menu and well-crafted drinks with a death metal soundtrack. Chef-driven plates like banana bread French toast and Memphis BBQ jackfruit will leave even the carnivores happy. After your visit, take a swing through San Diego’s sprawling Balboa Park to explore the famed San Diego Zoo; it’s only three blocks away.