Posted on February 26, 2020
Our annual collection of must-visit dining destinations around town returns, featuring beloved treasures, fabulous newcomers, a Michelin star, and more. Readers and Ranch & Coast editors come to the table with picks for every occasion, palate, and preference from nearly every corner of San Diego. Dive in here for a taste of what’s on everyone’s list — and what could be next on your own. By Jackie Bryant, Deanna Murphy, and Mia Park
For our Best Restaurants 2020: Readers’ Choice Winners, click here.
Restaurant of the Year: Addison
It would be a crime to not list Carmel Valley’s Addison as one of the best — if not the best — restaurants in San Diego, let alone Southern California. The only restaurant in the greater San Diego area to receive a Michelin star in 2019’s California Guide, Addison is led by Executive Chef William Bradley, a San Diego native who continues to direct his team with an eye for quality, one of the best wine programs in the state, and meticulously crafted haute French cuisine. The restaurant recently re-opened following a short closing after the holiday season, which brought the team a new wine director and a restaurant renovation. addisondelmar.com J.B.
Celebrating the Sea: The Marine Room
For more than 75 years, The Marine Room has dazzled diners with its upscale coastal cuisine. Helmed by Maître Cuisiniers de France and award-winning Chef Bernard Guillas since 1994, the restaurant offers innovative cuisine, unparalleled ocean views, and oftentimes dramatic displays of waves crashing against the glass, adding flair to an already impeccable dining experience. High tide breakfasts take place this month on March 7-8. marineroom.com M.P.
Rancho Santa Fe Icon: Mille Fleurs
Since its opening in 1985, Mille Fleurs has remained a cherished staple within the community. Under the direction of accomplished restaurateur Bertrand Hug, the restaurant maintains its loyal clientele thanks to superior service and a deliciously consistent menu. So consistent, in fact, that the Maine Lobster Salad with papaya, grapefruit, avocado, and lemon emulsion photographed here is one of the many outstanding dishes that have been offered since the restaurant first opened 35 years ago. millefleurs.com M.P.
Restaurateur/Chef Extraordinaire: Brian Malarkey
Brian Malarkey’s on-air credits are long, appearing as both contestant and judge on TV’s most popular cooking shows and networks as well as regular gigs on network morning shows. But despite being easily one of the most recognizable names and faces on the San Diego culinary scene, Malarkey is not just a celebrity chef. His numerous restaurants here and throughout Southern California — Animae, Herb & Wood, Herb & Sea, Farmer & the Seahorse, to name just a few — receive ongoing acclaim for marrying eye-catching décor with top-notch kitchen talent to create a caché coveted by other restaurateurs. Top Chef All-Stars, which he competes on, premieres on March 19, because with Malarkey, there’s always more to come. D.M.
Most Endearing Dish: Pamplemousse Grille
Fans of Pamplemousse Grille have likely enjoyed Executive Chef/Owner Jeffrey Strauss’ Bananas Foster à la Luba. But what might not be as widely known is the origin of the delicious dessert. “Luba Johnston, who was a great friend of mine and the restaurant, asked me to make bananas foster one night for herself and her friends,” says Strauss. “She liked it so much that she asked me to put it on the menu, and no one could say no to Luba.” To honor his dear friend, Strauss named the dish after her. Though the restaurant is temporarily closed due to a fire last November, it plans to re-open in the spring. pgrille.com M.P.
Heavenly Steak: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
Located at historic Lane Field at the base of the InterContinental San Diego, Del Frisco’s specializes in hand-cut steaks and fresh seafood. The sleek, modern American steakhouse’s menu offers sharables such as the Seared Rare Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, Charred Octopus, and Stone Crab Claws. In the entrée department, the most delicious steak our team had in the last year is hands-down Del Frisco’s Wagyu Long-Bone Ribeye, which is truly a decadent, close-your-eyes-and-savor-every-single-bite experience. delfriscos.com M.P.
Changemaker: Matteo Cattaneo
The newest addition to the Buona Forchetta Family is Matteo. The all-day South Park restaurant is in the former Rebecca’s Coffee House spot, which was a beloved neighborhood haunt. It is only fitting, since it had to close due to a rent hike, that another revered South Park institution take its place. Matteo, named for the restaurant group’s owner, Matteo Cattaneo, supports area charities. All net profits from the breakfast and lunch restaurant will be donated to 501c3 nonprofits, with a focus on education and early childhood development. Matteo’s first nonprofit partner will be the Chavista Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, a longstanding local organization that creates leadership experiences for young students. buonaforchettasd.com/matteo J.B.
Conscious Restaurant: The Plot
It’s no small task to adopt a zero-waste ethos in the restaurant business. But, chat with co-owner Jessica Waite about this just-opened plant-based restaurant in Oceanside and it sounds almost easy. According to Waite, who co-owns The Plot with husband and executive chef Davin, by the first week of operation they had already eliminated 100 percent of waste destined for landfill. Composting, utilizing byproducts like pulp, leaves, roots, peels, and stems in recipes, and even watering the restaurant’s small garden with leftover water from table carafes are ways that The Plot embraces its mission with gusto. Still, a completely un-preachy approach to plant-based eating means all they serve is delicious food that’s been filling their seats with fans nightly since their February opening. theplotrestaurant.com D.M.
Photography by Vincent Knakal