San Diego, California’s second-largest city, boasts a rich culinary tradition. It’s home to almost 7,000 eating establishments, ranging from casual spots to fine dining restaurants, perfect to visit after a day roaming around one of the 15 museums and beautiful gardens the city has to offer.
San Diego’s proximity to Mexico is a great influence on both its cuisine and its culture – try a San Diego taco and you’ll soon understand why. Almost all fine dining cuisine in California is made of fresh and local ingredients, inspired by deep Mexican roots.
Elite Traveler has collated the five best restaurants in San Diego.
Lumi is captained by celebrity chef Akira Back, who crafted an energetic and visionary menu focused on Japanese traditional dishes. The Michelin-starred chef also manages Las Vegas’s famous Yellowtail in the Bellagio Hotel, and his experience is especially noticeable in the flavor and quality of the ingredients prepared.
The views of the Californian city, especially the Gaslamp Quarter, pair beautifully with the modern and sleek aesthetic of Lumi, characterized by pops of color and contemporary design elements.
Each meal can be accompanied by Akira Back‘s signature sake, unique to the establishment. From the Akira Back pizza, topped with tuna, serrano, truffle oil and tomato, to the sushi omakase option, Lumi will stun its guests with a large variety of the finest seafood.
Atop a high-rise building in the Bankers Hill neighborhood of San Diego, Mister A’s is recognised as a premiere fine dining establishment in the city. It offers its guests an impeccable view of the city’s skyline and San Diego Bay while being surrounded by elegant, pared-back decor and an inviting atmosphere.
Offering a blend of American and French cuisine, Mister A’s executive Chef Stephane Voitwinkler infuses his ideas throughout the menu. King oyster mushroom risotto, king salmon Wellington and a wide variety of prime beef cuts are only some of the offerings.
With a rooftop patio and a quiet, secluded lounge, the diners can enjoy their dinner or drink undisturbed.
California’s first and only three Michelin-starred restaurant is Addison, located in the heart of San Diego. Its chef, William Bradley, aims to celebrate Californian cuisine by embracing the finest ingredients found across the state.
The dining establishment offers its guests a ten-course tasting menu which changes seasonally, starting at $365 per person. Diners can also make a special booking for private events, either in the 1,580-square-foot private dining room or at the intimate Chef’s Table room, which only is available to up to 12 guests.
From cocktails in the lounge to suggestive views on the terrace, Addison is the perfect restaurant for a true San Diego fine dining experience.
Juniper & Ivy
“We want to start a conversation about the way we gather, share and experience food. About ingredients and what they’re capable of from farm, to chef, to table. About how food moves our culture forward,” Juniper & Ivy’s website states.
Indeed, all items on the menu are based on the farm-to-table concept, being hand-selected and seasonal and brought in by local farmers and fishermen every morning. There is a fixed $80 four-course menu with either a $45 or $70 wine pairing. Dishes available at Juniper & Ivy include dry-aged duck breast and tuna Wellington.
This establishment was founded by Michael Rosen, with James Beard Nominated Chef Anthony Wells guiding the kitchen. The eatery is located in a once-abandoned warehouse which has been now transformed into an open-dining social space, surrounded by a welcoming and elegant patio.
Soichi is another Michelin-starred restaurant in San Diego, one of four to be precise. This establishment offers authentic Japanese Omakase experiences, starting at $150 per person, respecting tradition and flavors characteristic of the cuisine but also carrying the unique touch of chef Soichi Kadoya.
The journey includes a fully customised meal set for every guest, alongside Omotenashi-deep-rooted Japanese hospitality, which means wholeheartedly looking after guests and diners.
Apart from the set Omakase menu, there are some specials to choose from too. For instance, the Chirashi bowl which, for $60, offers the guest traditional and fresh sashimi of toro, tuna, kohada, salmon, scallop, ikura and tamago on top of freshly made fluffy sushi rice.