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San Diego Restaurants

5200 Grand Del Mar Way
San Diego , California
Tel: 858 314 1900

Addison is a destination dining room for serious foodies. Located in the fancy Grand Del Mar resort, the decor looks like something out of an ornate Italian estate (brocade chairs, carved stone columns, Venetian plaster walls). The food, on the other hand, is surprisingly simple. Chef William Bradley's elegant Mediterranean dishes include smoked short rib with red pepper confiture, roasted rack of lamb with a balsamic reduction, and a sumptuous peanut butter and chocolate terrine.—Audrey Davidow

Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 6 to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 9 pm.

Café Chloe
721 9th Avenue
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 232 3242

Sitting proudly on a corner just down the street from the new PETCO ballpark, this tiny French spot, opened in December 2004, is the realization of the owners' dreams to create a neighborhood bistro that locals could call their own. Café Chloe serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. The menu is a cross between dainty cuisine and comfort food in modest, European-sized portions: an ahi niçoise plate, steak frites, smoked trout cakes, and a macaroni, pancetta, and Gorgonzola gratin (three-cheese macaroni). With a sea of bistro-style chairs and small round tables packed inside the dining room and spilling out onto the sidewalk, it can feel a bit cramped at dinnertime.

El Agave Tequileria
2304 San Diego Avenue
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 220 0692

If you're looking for bottomless baskets of chips and salsa and enchiladas swimming in cheese, look elsewhere. El Agave serves delicately and artistically prepared fine Mexican nouvelle cuisine (dinner for two will run upwards of $60). Ask for fresh corn tortillas for dipping with the rich and creamy Sopa de Cilantro, a fresh cilantro Mexico City soup. Moles are what they do best here—try the Mole Rosa de Taxco, pink cream sauce over a moist chicken breast. There's also a menu of more than 1,700 tequilas (the most extensive collection in the U.S.). Most are fine sipping tequilas, though, so it'd be a travesty to have one made into a blended margarita.

George's at the Cove
1250 Prospect Street
La Jolla
San Diego , California
Tel: 858 454 4244

Reopened in February 2007 after a gut renovation, the dining room (now called George's California Modern) at this three-level place set blissfully on the ocean is regarded by many as San Diego's best restaurant. Chef Trey Foshee was an enthusiastic pioneer of the move to patronize local farmers and producers, as evidenced by the freshness of his inventions such as Peking-style duck breast with ginger-coconut rice, sugar snap peas, and rhubarb-fennel salad. One floor up, the soigné George's Bar serves a full menu with its cocktails, while the casual Ocean Terrace bistro does ceviches, tacos, and "George's Signature Soup" (smoked chicken, broccoli, and black bean), followed by the likes of Thai curry, marinated skirt steak, and grilled mahimahi. At every level, it's an institution, but a worthy—verging on unmissable—one.

Las Olas
2655 South Coast Highway 101
Cardiff-by-the-Sea , California
Tel: 760 942 1860

Located across the street from the Pacific's crashing surf, this ultrapopular restaurant is aptly named—Las Olas means "the waves" in Spanish. It was founded in 1981 by a pair of surfers, and was one of the first restaurants to bring fish tacos to San Diego (now arguably the city's official entrée). They come either broiled or batter-fried (go with fried) and are served with guacamole, yogurt, salsa, and cabbage. There's also plenty of chips and salsa, decadent Mexican classics such as chile relleno burritos stuffed with cheese and charbroiled chicken, and a wide range of healthy selections. Las Olas is a favorite of locals and tourists alike, so it's always busy. Your best bet is to have a late dinner and take a stroll on the beach afterwards.

777 G Street
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 446 0002

Inventive upmarket twists on pub grub are the hallmark of this downtown gastropub. Deviled eggs get dressed up with pink salt and artichoke mousse, popcorn is flavored with truffle butter, and corn dogs come with chipotle aïoli. But devotees insist that burgers and beer are the only real choice: The menu offers a number of gourmet takes on the humble patty, including the Neighborhood Burger (with caramelized onion, Gruyère cheese, and pepper greens), the spicy Cajun burger (with pickled cucumber salad and jalapeño mayo), and the 777 (named for the eatery's East Village address), topped with baby spinach, plum tomato confit, and béarnaise sauce. The tap list, which includes over two dozen local, domestic and imported craft brews, is impressive and constantly evolving. If beer isn't your thing, try the "other malt," a frothy Tahitian vanilla bean milkshake thickened with bits of New York cheesecake.—Audrey Davidow

Open daily noon to midnight.

Point Loma Seafood
2805 Emerson Street
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 223 1109

Right on the waterfront near Shelter Island marina, Point Loma Seafoods has been a San Diego tradition since opening in 1963. Part fish market, part restaurant, when it's busy (pretty much every day) it can be a bit of a free-for-all. There's no waitstaff, so muscle your way toward the big glass cases of fish to order clam sandwiches, smoked fish salad, fried shrimp plates, and the like. When your food is up, eat on the picnic tables in their "dining room," or better yet, find a spot outside and watch the fish being brought up from the trawlers docked just outside the front door.

875 Prospect Street
La Jolla
San Diego , California
Tel: 858 551 5252

Chef Stephen Window, already beloved for bringing Asian-ish "tapas" to SoCal, further raised his restaurant's popularity with the unveiling of a full sushi bar in 2005. Try miso-marinated hamachi with shaved bonito or the Roppongi Roll of shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, spicy tuna, and black tobiko. At the main restaurant, those tapas still rule the roost: Polynesian crab stack with ginger-lime dressing; Chinese pot stickers and crispy onion rings with wasabi aïoli are perennial favorites. There are also bento boxes at lunchtime and bigger dishes at night, several of which are not remotely Asian (boneless beef short ribs with honey-mustard glaze and buttermilk mashed potatoes).

Hotel Photo
611 Fifth Avenue
Market Street
San Diego , California
Tel: 619 233 7327

The handsome Searsucker, a 7,000-square-foot space in the Gaslamp District, is filled with mismatched chairs, unfinished wood tables, rope chandeliers, and cowhides aplenty. The crowd is a combination of creatives, suits, and pre-partiers. San Diego celeb chef Brian Malarkey—one third of a dream team that includes boldface designer Thomas Schoos and local nightlife czar James Brennan—mans the exhibition kitchen and serves up SoCal dishes such as short ribs, goat cheese dumplings, and fig-flanked Baja scallops. Looking to class up the hair of the dog? The bourbon-loaded "man-mosa" served during Sunday brunch is a cure-all.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 2 pm, Thursdays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 6 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 6 to 11 pm, Saturdays 6 to 11 pm, and Sundays 9 am to 2 pm and 6 to 10 pm.

Hotel Photo
1044 Wall Street
La Jolla
San Diego , California
Tel: 858 952 1736

From cured salamis and hand-cut pastas to churned ice cream and fresh-fruit cocktails, just about everything at this laid-back star of La Jolla's dining scene is made in-house. Sourcing from the cream of local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, chef Ryan Johnston fills his menu with the best local ingredients: Our faves include the charcuterie (the duck prosciutto is addictive), the crispy chorizo date fritters, the charred bone marrow and buttermilk-fried sweetbreads, and the gnocchi in a brown-butter cream sauce. The vibe is friendly and unpretentious, with modern minimal decor (tall ceilings, spare walls, and low-hanging lightbulbs). Meals are served in cozy bowls perfect for sharing or rustically displayed on cutting boards with waxed paper.—Audrey Davidow

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 10 pm, and Sundays 10 am to 5 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.