Best Restaurants 2019
Posted on March 1, 2019
Culinary Artistry It is often said that we eat with our eyes first. Such is certainly the case with “perfect bites” expertly crafted by the renowned chefs of Addison, Born & Raised, El Jardín, The Marine Room, and Nine-Ten — all Best Restaurant 2019 winners. Congratulations to all who earned Ranch & Coast’s Readers’ Choice and Editors’ Picks honors.
Jackie Bryant, Brandon Hernández, Deanna Murphy, Mia S. Park | Photography by Vincent Knakal
Local resto scene and Top Chef veteran Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins celebrates regional Mexican recipes wrested from abuelitas from Tijuana to the Yucatan at Liberty Station’s El Jardín, where a regularly-changing menu includes rarely-seen items like tlacoyos and totopos plus her fresh takes on birria (mahi mahi), carnitas (tuna), barbacoa (lamb), and more. 2885 Perry Rd., San Diego (Point Loma), 619.795.2322, eljardinrestaurantbar.com B.H.
Death by Tequila
White-linen sensibility is applied within fun, casual environs at
Death by Tequila, a newcomer to the 101 where traditional, much-beloved Baja flavors are introduced anew via exotic riffs on Mexican street corn, tacos, guacamole (lobster, pepita, pineapple-chipotle), and even flan, all devised by Top Chef alum Angelo Sosa. 569 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, 760.782.2240, deathbytequila.com B.H.
Jeune et Jolie
The latest opening from the crew who brought Campfire to Carlsbad, Jeune et Jolie opened just down the block in December 2018. In French, the name means, “young and beautiful,” which matches the vibe — muted pastels and a mid-century interior style complement a menu of artfully reimagined classic French dishes and drinks. An all-natural wine list unlike any other in town rounds out the experience. 2659 State St., Carlsbad, 760.637.5266, jeune-jolie.com J.B.
Javier’s La Jolla
New to the dining scene in Westfield UTC is Javier’s, offering authentic Mexican specialties in a stunning environment. Petermax Design, in collaboration with Dodd Mitchell, created an 11,000-square-foot resort oasis complete with oversized leather booths and more than 750 candles throughout. The stacked arch entry is inspired by hillside Greek towns, with natural materials including the custom hand laid mosaic floors of more than two million stones. 4301 La Jolla Village Dr., Ste. 1000, San Diego (UTC), 858.200.2222, javiers-cantina.com M.P.
Delighting the palates of diners for more than 25 years with inspired Italian fare, Piatti is proof positive that the best restaurants will endure even as the trendier spots eventually go by the wayside. Yes, it is a chain, but that doesn’t make every delectable bite any less authentic due to the talents of executive chef Pepe Ccapatinta, whose name is synonymous with the La Jolla Shores mainstay, and an al fresco dinner on the patio is unrivaled in its starlit charm. 2182 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, 858.454.1589, lajolla.piatti.com D.M.
Born & Raised
Designed to the nines by Paul Basile for timeless appeal, this $6.5 million, two-story steakhouse is acclaimed for its extensive tableside service carts and signature dry-aging room helmed by Two Michelin-starred chef and partner Jason McLeod. With nods to the mid-century and art deco eras, the Little Italy restaurant includes supple leather booths in a brass-detailed dining room, and a 45-foot cocktail bar. A rooftop level with panoramic views offers a second cocktail bar and a garden-inspired outdoor dining area. 1909 India St., San Diego, 619.202.4577, bornandraisedsteak.com M.P.
Named after famed architect Addison Mizner, who was inspired by the decorative arts of Spain, Portugal, Venice and Morocco, Addison welcomes guests with iron and glass doorways trimmed with 22-karat gold. Once inside, the 80-seat dining room features Venetian plaster walls in warm, yellow hues, stone flooring, graceful arches, wrought iron light fixtures, and four limestone fireplaces throughout. Led by Executive Chef William Bradley, Addison is Southern California’s only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant. 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, San Diego (Carmel Valley), 858.314.1900, addisondelmar.com M.P.
Opening this spring, Huntress is the newest culinary concept from RMD Group. Led by Executive Chef James Montejano, who has plated at the Michelin-starred Michael Mina in San Francisco, the multi-level restaurant will offer fine steaks and seafood dishes complemented by an expansive beverage program with an array of Japanese whisky featuring more than 60 rare bottles. 366 Fifth Ave., San Diego, 619.955.5750, huntresssteak.com M.P.
Hotel del Coronado is opening a new restaurant in the location that housed 1500 Ocean for 13 years. Serea will offer an upscale sea-to-table experience highlighting the best of the region. The menu will be helmed by Clique Hospitality executive chef and partner JoJo Ruiz. Slated to debut this summer, Serea is the first of several restaurants at The Del that will undergo transformation over the next three years. 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, sereasandiego.com M.P.
Herb & Sea
The Puffer Malarkey Collective’s Herb & Sea in coastal Encinitas will occupy a 1920s art deco building undergoing a renovation that will preserve the exterior historical architectural elements. With a custom oyster and raw bar, the menu stems from Brian Malarkey’s love of the coast, while the design takes inspiration from a lighthouse in Pemaquid Point, Maine, a favorite place from Christopher Puffer’s childhood. Slated to open this summer. 131 D St., Encinitas, herbandsea.com M.P.
The collaboration of award-winning chef Michael Mina and cookbook author Ayesha Curry has mouths watering for this impending opening in One Paseo, which will feature a globally-influenced menu heavy on grilled fare complemented by seasonal cocktails and local brews. It’s the third edition of International Smoke after the Bay Area original and a Houston location, and the first Mina Group restaurant to make a home in San Diego. 3275 Del Mar Heights Rd., San Diego (Del Mar Heights), internationalsmoke.com D.M.
New Brewery: Gravity Heights
This year, the restaurateur behind Whisknladle,
Arturo Kassel, opened Gravity Heights, a modern, indoor-outdoor brewpub. In doing so, he brought AleSmith Brewing’s founder, Skip Virgilio, out of retirement. The result is an expansive selection of drinkable, flavorful beers spanning a wide breadth of styles that pair nicely with an enticing food menu. 9920 Pacific Heights Blvd., San Diego (Sorrento Mesa), 858.283.8206, gravityheights.com B.H.
New Beer Style: Burning Beard Brewing
Like hops but hate the bitterness and heaviness of IPAs? Try a “brut IPA.” Brewed with an enzyme that obliterates excess sugars, leading to an extra-dry IPA that goes down as easy as Bud Light, it’s taken the craft world by storm, and the best local iteration is “Brutality” from Burning Beard Brewing. 785 Vernon Way, El Cajon, 619.456.9185, burningbeardbrewing.com B.H.
Brewpub: Bagby Beer Co.
Jeff Bagby, the award-winningest brewer in U.S. history, lends his name and brewing knowledge to Bagby Beer Co., a beer Mecca featuring over 20 house ales and lagers at a time. The sprawling, two-story venue also hosts epic festivals including BagbyFest (beer, wine, cocktails, food) and Brewbies, benefiting the Keep-A-Breast Foundation. 601 S. Coast Hwy, Oceanside, 760.270.9075, bagbybeer.com B.H.
IPAs: Societe Brewing
The Coachman has won gold at the country’s foremost brewing competition twice. The Pupil is the reigning champion of the Union-Tribune’s IPA competition. The Roustabout took top honors at the country’s preeminent Double IPA competition. All these standouts are brewed (along with numerous other cult-favorite hop bombs) by Societe Brewing. 8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego (Kearny Mesa), 858.598.5409, societebrewing.com B.H.
Lagers: Eppig Brewing
The “Natural Bridge” series of Germanic lagers, which includes an award-winning Vienna-style lager, light-yet-flavorful rice lager, bready festbier, and dry, roasty Schwarzbier (black lager) have fueled small, three-year-old interest Eppig Brewing’s rise to prominence, enabling it to acquire a large, game-changing brewery in Vista, which will open later this year. Waterfront Biergarten: 2817 Dickens St., Point Loma; Brewery & Tasting Room: 3502 El Cajon Blvd., Ste. C, North Park; eppigbrewing.com B.H.
Barrel-Aged Beers: The Lost Abbey
From the boisterous, raspberry-rich Framboise de Amorosa and “Veritas” line of tantalizing fruited and funky sour ales to inky, spirit-laced stouts and strong ales, no local brewery can match the oak-aging expertise of The Lost Abbey, which is considered one of the best fermentation operations in the entire country. Brewery & Tasting Room: 155 Mata Way, #104, San Marcos; The Confessional Tasting Room: 2007 San Elijo Ave., Cardiff-by-the-Sea, lostabbey.com B.H.
1. Uni Spaghetti: 100% semolina spaghetti, uni butter, madeira reduction, chile oil, cured egg yolk, and chives by Born & Raised’s Executive Chef Jason McLeod
2. Wood-Grilled Rib Eye with broccolini, peas, charred serranos and frijoles aligot by El Jardin’s Executive Chef Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins
3. Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly, baby carrots, swiss chard, plantains, black-eyed peas, spicy jellies, and sweet potato purée by Nine-Ten’s Executive Chef Jason Knibb
4. Smoked Salmon Rillettes, toasted fennel, and caviar by Addison’s Executive Chef William Bradley
Best Restaurants 2019
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Double Eagle Steakhouse
Happy Hour Drinks
Herb & Wood
Solace & the Moonlight Lounge
Happy Hour Eats
Oceana Coastal Kitchen
Al Fresco Dining
George’s Ocean Terrace
Place to Take Out-Of-Town Guests
Date Night Spot
Italiana & Seafood
Cardiff & Carlsbad, cicciottis.com
San Diego Tradition
Old Town Mexican Café
The Marine Room
Waters Fine Foods & Catering
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Donovan’s Steak & Chop House
Downtown & La Jolla, donovanssteakhouse.com
The Fish Market
Ironside Fish & Oyster
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RoVino Rotisserie + Wine
Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub
Del Mar & Little Italy, davantienoteca.com
Officine Buona Forchetta
Multiple locations, officinebuonaforchetta.com
Casa de Bandini
Fidel’s Little Mexico
Craft & Commerce
Herb & Wood
Multiple locations, breakfastrepubic.com
Hash House A Go Go
Board & Brew
Multiple locations, boardandbrew.com
Goodonya Organic Eatery
Farmer & The Seahorse
Born and Raised
Pacific Coast Grill
The Crack Shack
Encinitas & Little Italy, crackshack.com
- Sake Poached Bay Scallop by The Marine Room’s Executive Chef Bernard Guillas
- Vanilla Infused Maine Lobster, Trout Pearls, Saffron Cream, Lemon Myrtle Oil by The Marine Room’s Executive Chef Bernard Guillas
- Freshly Cut Prime Filet, capers, cornichons, shallots, worcestershire, whole grain mustard, lemon, quail egg yolk, fresh horseradish, fine herbs, herbed aioli, house-made toasted brioche by Born & Raised’s Executive Chef Jason McLeod
El Jardín: Photo by James Tran Javiers La Jolla: Photo by Snaptaste Huntress: Photo by Erick Diaz Perfect bites and Born & Raised: Photography by Vincent Knakal