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Editors’ Picks: Best Restaurants 2022

Our editors share their selects for the best places to dine covering a multitude of cuisines, neighborhoods, and destinations for different occasions

Views from Amalfi Cucina Italiana restaurant over Lake San Marcos
Published

The restaurants and chefs that make up the diverse San Diego dining scene have returned to (mostly) business as usual, with illuminated open signs, full menus, indoor dining, and even seized opportunities to make bold debuts.

Click here to view the Readers’ Choice: Best Restaurants 2022.


Going Global: Artifact at Mingei

Located at Mingei International Museum on El Prado in Balboa Park, Artifact offers inventive, adventurous, international fusion cuisine inspired by ancient methods, spices, and botanicals. Just like the museum in which it is housed, Artifact explores the world, offering snacks, dumplings, salads, bowls, and plates ranging from lamb kibbeh to Chiang Mai chicken curry. Its “Artifact at Night” menu recently featured Isan craft cooking of Northeastern Thailand; this month, taste Spanish fare. Artifact is the latest addition to the Urban Kitchen Group’s family of Cucina restaurants from Tracy Borkum and Executive Chef Tim Kolanko. Jeff Armstrong is Artifact’s chef de cuisine. The restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, and for dinner on Thursday and Friday from 5 to 8:30pm. 619.704.7523, mingei.org

Jeff Armstrong, Tracy Borkum, and Tim Kolanko
Jeff Armstrong, Tracy Borkum, and Tim Kolanko, Artifact
at Mingei

Vegan Italian: Civicos 1845

Yes, you read that right. Little Italy’s Civico 1845 recently unveiled a revamped vegan menu featuring the latest flavors and techniques in vegan Italian cuisine. Owner and chef Pietro Gallo’s newest creations are inspired by his collaborations with Matteo Febbraio, one of Italy’s most celebrated vegan Italian chefs, with standouts including the Lasagna (homemade lasagna, Beyond Italian ragù, sautéed wild mushrooms, and Italian béchamel sauce) and the Polenta (round polenta with braised artichoke, black garlic foam, shiitake mushrooms, seitan, and vegan demi-glace). Of course, there are plenty of options for the vegan diners’ non-vegan companions, and the traditional menu includes highlights like seared salmon, braised beef cheeks, and fried calamari that guarantee everyone at the table leaves happy. A robust wine list, cocktails, mocktails, an aperol spritz selection, and draft beers round out the delectable offerings. 619.431.5990, civico1845.com

Civico 1845
Civico 1845

Picture Perfect: Harumama

When it comes to cute, Harumama is an easy winner. A recently opened Encinitas location (joining the chain’s La Jolla, Carlsbad, and Little Italy spots) makes it even easier to get your hands on their Insta-famous character buns. And yes, they’re adorable, but they’re more than just a pretty face. The savory variety are a delicious complement to the rest of the menu, the highlight of which (we think) is the ramen list, offering an assortment of broths, proteins, and spiciness levels, all heaped with delicious, fresh ingredients and served piping hot. Finish things off with a Bunny bun, warm with gooey Nutella inside — but of course, you’ll want to snap a photo first. harumamasd.com

Harumama
Harumama

Community Mainstay: Dolce

Dolce is a cherished neighborhood favorite — a cozy spot where families and friends come to share stories over a glass of wine and a great meal featuring only the freshest ingredients. One of our editorial team’s go-to dishes is the Bibb Lettuce salad. Add the Atlantic Salmon Filet and it’s a perfect post-workout meal. Equally impressive as the quality of the cuisine is the restaurant’s dedication to supporting community causes. Countless charitable events have had the good fortune of having Dolce’s support as a generous culinary partner and even sometimes the host, making fundraising all the more enjoyable.  858.832.1518, dolcersf.com

Dolce
Dolce

The Great Escape: Amalfi Cucina Italiana

Remember thinking Lake San Marcos was a sleepy little retirement haven in North County? Tell that to Amalfi Cucina Italiana, whose sleek, modern dining room buzzes with people who know this is where to go for incredible dishes that deserve all the praise but come with zero percent ego. This really, truly authentic Italian hotspot strives to bring the divine cuisine of the Amalfi Coast to our little corner of the world, but by doing so, it also manages to transport diners far away at the same time. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls, plus additional outdoor seating, offer views of the lake beyond and, we don’t kid here, you just might glimpse a bona fide gondolier cruising by to round out the Italian tableau. As for top picks from the menu, the pizzas are the stars (having a world champion pizza chef in the kitchen will do that), but the pastas more than hold their own, so you’ll just have to visit more than once to decide which one best elicits memories — or dreams — of that picturesque Italian coastline. 760.653.3230, amalficucinaitaliana.com

Amalfi Cucina Italiana
Amalfi Cucina Italiana

Culinary Artistry: Andrew Spurgin

Renowned chef Andrew Spurgin creates bespoke events with personalized styling, menu design, catering, and more. He has designed more than 9,000 parties and menus during his career and has overseen the production of events honoring dignitaries for the past three decades. Photographed here is The Tommyhawk & Duck Fat Potato Mille-Feuille, fondly named as an homage to his swordfish source, Tommy Gomes of Tunaville Market and Grocery, who Spurgin describes as “the local fishmonger at the vanguard of sustainability here in San Diego and beyond.” Spurgin slow cooked the tomahawk cut of swordfish in the oven, grilled it over binchō-tan charcoal, covered the coals with fresh rosemary to smoke, and covered the Tommyhawk in a light rosemary oil (swordfish likes rosemary, he advises). “Shamelessly, I deep fried it in beef tallow, oops!” he confesses, adding, “The potatoes are layers upon layers of Yukon gold potatoes with duck fat and sel gris, threatened with the beef tallow fry!” Follow Spurgin on Instagram for culinary inspiration, a few tricks of the trade, and occasional recipes. @andrewspurgin, andrewspurgin.com

Plated food from Andrew Spurgin
The Tommyhawk & Duck Fat Potato Mille-Feuille, Andrew Spurgin

A Clean Commitment: Goodonya Organic Eatery

“Once you learn how much our food [supply] is processed, and about all the shenanigans that go on in this industry, you can’t help but change,” says Kris Buchanan, owner of Goodonya Organic Eatery in Encinitas. The former Olympian took charge of her own health after developing Hashimoto’s disease in 2007. “I went back to school for holistic nutrition and developed a much more holistic outlook on what I put in, and on, my body,” she explains. The knowledge Buchanan gained is exemplified at Goodonya, which serves up delicious nature-inspired organic fare. The adjacent gift shop houses a carefully curated array of offerings including Hydrate, Goodonya’s certified organic electrolyte powder, as well as 100 percent grass-fed collagen peptides, coconut milk powder, cashew milk powder, matcha protein, and the list goes on. What’s more, Goodonya’s wine club sources wines from boutique vineyards that have been practicing sustainable farming for generations. “We source only truly natural wine with minimal intervention and every glass we sell has less than a gram of sugar,” says Buchanan. Insider tip: Book the wine lounge for your next private event. 858.264.8550, goodonyaorganic.com

Portrait of Kris Buchanan in Goodonya Organic Eatery
Kris Buchanan, Goodonya Organic Eatery

Ultimate Luxury: Petrossian at Tiffany

Bringing a touch of Paris to South Coast Plaza, Petrossian at Tiffany offers a five-star dining experience with a champagne and caviar-inspired menu. Executive Chef Carlos Cabrera masterfully unites the art of caviar with the Tiffany & Co. tradition of excellence, with highlights including Tiffany Caviar Tasting, featuring the finest selections of Shassetra, Ossetra, and Kaluga caviar paired with the restaurant’s signature cocktail, the Tiffany Caviartini. The café continues the legacy of quality for Petrossian that began when two brothers moved to France and distributed caviar from the sturgeons of the bountiful Caspian Sea. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm; reservations can be made on OpenTable. 714.540.5330

Petrossian at Tiffany
Petrossian at Tiffany
Featured Photo Amalfi Cucina Italiana
Image Credits Petrossian at Tiffany: Courtesy; All other photography by Vincent Knakal

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