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Readers’ Choice: Ranch & Coast’s Best Restaurants 2021

The 2021 list of your picks celebrates the survivors, thrivers, and the brave debuts that shape San Diego’s culinary identity

Published

In a watershed year that’s easily presented the restaurant industry with its greatest challenges ever, the public stepped in when their beloved dining destinations needed them most. As restaurants adapted to meet guidelines and ensure safety for employees and patrons, diners masked up, took it to-go in record numbers, and ate al fresco in parking lots. For many establishments that were able to withstand all that the pandemic brought, the bond between a restaurant and its devoted patronage was a key component. 

So, it’s no surprise that this year, voting in our annual Best Restaurants Readers’ Choice Poll hit an all-time high — if ever there were a time to sing the praises of our favorite spots, this is it! Touching all corners of San Diego, with names you know by heart as well as newcomers that are destined to join them in short order, the 2021 list of your picks (and a handful of our own) celebrates the survivors, thrivers, and the brave debuts that shape San Diego’s culinary identity. For the full list of Best Restaurants 2021 Editors’ Picks, click here.


Alfresco Pivot
Winners:

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa 858.756.1123, ranchovalencia.com
Cesarina 619.226.6222, cesarinarestaurant.com
Finalist: Casa De Bandini 760.634.3443, casadebandini.com
Finalist: Herb & Sea 760.704.8300, herbandsea.com
Finalist: Jeune et Jolie 760.637.5266, jeune-jolie.com

Outdoor Views
Winners:

The Poseidon Restaurant 858.755.9345, poseidonrestaurant.com
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood eddiev.com
Finalist: The Med 855.818.6887, lavalencia.com
Finalist: Serea Coastal Cuisine 619.435.6611, sereasandiego.com
Finalist: Portside Pier 619.719.4960, portofsandiego.org

Outdoor Date Night
Winners:
Pacifica Del Mar 858.792.0476, pacificadelmar.com
Piatti 858.454.1589, lajolla.piatti.com
Finalist: Coasterra 619.814.1300, cohnrestaurants.com/coasterra
Finalist: Mermaids & Cowboys 858.999.0205, mermaidscowboys.com
Finalist: Viewpoint Brewing Company 858.356.9346, viewpointbrewing.com

Solo Dining Outdoors
Winners:
The Med 855.818.6887, lavalencia.com
Morada
858.381.8289, theinnatrsf.com
Finalist: City Tacos citytacossd.com
Finalist: WestBrew Del Mar 858.369.0177, westbrew.com
Finalist: Tocaya Organica 858.386.1030, tocayaorganica.com

Take Out
Winners:
Buona Forchetta buonaforchettanc.com, buonaforchettasd.com
Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza sammyspizza.com
Finalist: The Grill at Torrey Pines 858.777.6641, lodgetorreypines.com/the-grill
Finalist: Casa De Bandini 760.634.3443, casadebandini.com
Finalist: Harumama Teriyaki & Bao 760.637.5737, harumamasd.com

Meal Kits
Winners:
The Fish Market 858.755.2277, thefishmarket.com
Ranch 45 858.461.0092, ranch45.com
Finalist: Cucina Enoteca Del Mar 858.704.4500, urbankitchengroup.com
Finalist: Red O Taste of Mexico 858.291.8360, redorestaurant.com
Finalist: Healthy Creations Kitchen 760.815.0204, healthycreations.com

Curbside Pickup
Winners:
Dolce 858.832.1518, dolcersf.com
Pacifica Del Mar 858.792.0476, pacificadelmar.com
Finalist: Farmer’s Bottega 619.458.9929, farmersbottega.com
Finalist: Viewpoint Brewing Company 858.356.9346, viewpointbrewing.com
Finalist: Panini Kabob Grill paninikabobgrill.com

Frontline Feeding Programs
Winners:
Feed the Fight SD bit.ly/feedthefightsd
Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza sammyspizza.com
Finalist: Fuel the Frontline San Diego fuelthefrontlinesandiego.com
Finalist: Americana Restaurant 858.794.6838, americanarestaurant.com

New Restaurant
Winners:

Monarch Ocean Pub 858.925.6047, monarchdelmar.com
The Waverly 760.230.1682, thewaverly.com
Finalist: Arlo 619.908.5058, arlosandiego.com
Finalist: Villaggio Ristorante, Del Mar 858.755.0000, villaggiodelmar.com
Finalist: Cardellino 619.600.5311, cardellinosd.com

Place to Take Out-Of-Town Guests
Winners:
The Marine Room 858.459.7222, marineroom.com
Pacific Coast Grill 760.479.0721, pacificcoastgrill.com
Finalist: The Poseidon Restaurant 858.755.9345, poseidonrestaurant.com
Finalist: Mister A’s 619.239.1377, asrestaurant.com
Finalist: Serea Coastal Cuisine 619.435.6611, sereasandiego.com

San Diego Tradition
Winners:
Mister A’s 619.239.1377, asrestaurant.com
El Indio Mexican Restaurant and Catering 619.299.0333, elindiosandiego.net
Finalist: Red Tracton’s Restaurant 858.755.6600
Finalist: DZ Akins 619.265.0218, dzakinsdeli.com 
Finalist: Manhattan of La Jolla 858.459.0700, manhattanoflajolla.com

Date Night Spot
Winners:
Mille Fleurs 858.756.3085, millefleurs.com
Addison Restaurant 858.314.1900, addisondelmar.com
Finalist: Il Fornaio ilfornaio.com
Finalist: Valentina Restaurant 760.943.6686, restaurantvalentina.com

Special Occasion
Winners:
Market Restaurant + Bar 858.523.0007, marketdelmar.com
A.R. Valentien 858.777.6635, lodgetorreypines.com/ar-valentien
Finalist: The Marine Room 858.459.7222, marineroom.com
Finalist: Fort Oak 619.722.3398, fortoaksd.com
Finalist: The Med 855.818.6887, lavalencia.com

Ambience
Mermaids & Cowboys 858.999.0205, mermaidscowboys.com
Lumi 619.329.5864, lumirooftop.com
Finalist: Madison 619.269.6566, madisononpark.com
Finalist: Mille Fleurs 858.756.3085, millefleurs.com

Hotel Restaurant
Winners:
Veladora 858.759.6246, ranchovalencia.com
Nine-Ten Restaurant & Bar 858.964.5400, nine-ten.com
Finalist: A.R. Valentien 858.777.6635, lodgetorreypines.com/ar-valentien
Finalist: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse 619.272.5060, delfriscos.com
Finalist: Morada 858.381.8289, theinnatrsf.com

Restaurant Bar
Winners:
The Pony Room 858.759.6246, ranchovalencia.com
Cucina Enoteca Del Mar 858.704.4500, urbankitchengroup.com
Finalist: The Wine Bar by The Winery Restaurant 858.230.7404, thewinerylajolla.com
Finalist: Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa 760.448.1234, hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/california/park-hyatt-aviara-resort/sanpa
Finalist: Mille Fleurs 858.756.3085, millefleurs.com

Culinary Innovation
Winners:
Addison Restaurant 858.314.1900, addisondelmar.com
Animae 619.432.1225, animaesd.com
Finalist: Cloak & Petal 619.501.5505, cloakandpetal.com
Finalist: Mermaids & Cowboys 858.999.0205, mermaidscowboys.com
Finalist: Nine-Ten Restaurant & Bar 858.964.5400, nine-ten.com

Steak
Winners:
Born and Raised 619.202.4577, bornandraisedsteak.com
Red Tracton’s Restaurant 858.755.6600
Finalist: Bull & Bourbon Steakhouse 619.659.3374, bullandbourbon.com
Finalist: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse 619.272.5060, delfriscos.com
Finalist: Huntress 619.329.4868, huntresssteak.com

Seafood
Winners:
Ironside Fish & Oyster 619.269.3033, ironsidefishandoyster.com
Serea Coastal Cuisine 619.435.6611, sereasandiego.com
Finalist: Brigantine brigantine.com
Finalist: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood eddiev.com
Finalist: Truluck’s trulucks.com

American Cuisine
Winners:
George’s at the Cove 858.454.4244, georgesatthecove.com
Trust Restaurant 619.795.6901, trustrestaurantsd.com
Finalist: Market Restaurant + Bar 858.523.0007, marketdelmar.com
Finalist: Union Kitchen & Tap 760.230.2337
Finalist: Eddie V’s Prime Seafood eddiev.com

French Cuisine
Winners: 
Pamplemousse Grille 858.792.9090, pgrille.com
Mille Fleurs 858.756.3085, millefleurs.com
Finalist: Bleu Bohème 619.255.4167, bleuboheme.com
Finalist: Bistro du Marché by Tapenade 858.551.7500, bistrodumarche.net
Finalist: L’Atelier de Paris 760.452.6500, latelierdeparis.com

Italian Cuisine
Winners:
Buona Forchetta buonaforchettanc.com, buonaforchettasd.com
Firenze Trattoria 760.944.9000, firenzetrattoria.com
Finalist: Bencotto 619.450.4786, lovebencotto.com
Finalist: North Italia northitalia.com
Finalist: Monello 619.501.0030, lovemonello.com

Chinese Cuisine
Winners:
Chin’s Szechwan govisitchins.com
Double Happiness 858.481.8584, doublehappinessca.com
Finalist: Del Mar Rendezvous 858.755.2669, dmrendezvous.com
Finalist: Chin’s Gourmet chinsgourmet.com

Greek Cuisine
Winners:
Luna Grill lunagrill.com
Spiro’s Mediterranean Cuisine 858.352.6588, spiroscuisine.com
Finalist: Del Mar Seaside Grill by Alborz 858.461.1010, delmarseasidegrill.com
Finalist: Panini Kabob Grill paninikabobgrill.com

Indian Cuisine
Winners:
Royal India royalindia.com
Himalayan Kitchen 760.436.8669, himalayankitchensandiego.com
Finalist: Tandoori Palace 760.753.1309, tandooripalacesd.com
Finalist: India Palace Banquet & Catering 619.294.8886

Thai Cuisine
Winners:
Bahn Thai bahnthai.net
Bangkok Bay Thai Restaurant 858.792.2427, bangkok-bay.com
Finalist: Birdseye Kitchen 760.479.0488, birdseyekitchen.com
Finalist: Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant myplumeria.com

Japanese Cuisine
Himitsu 858.263.4463, himitsusd.com
Samurai Japanese Restaurant 858.481.0032, samuraijapaneserestaurant.com
Finalist: Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar 760.434.4959, blueoceansushibar.com
Finalist: Shimbashi Izakaya 858.523.0479, shimbashiizakaya.com
Finalist: Tajima tajimasandiego.com

Mexican Cuisine
Winners:
Casa de Bandini 760.634.3443, casadebandini.com
Fidel’s Little Mexico 858.755.5292, fidelslittlemexico.com
Finalist: El Cruce+241 619.349.2389, elcrucechulavista.com
Finalist:  Red O Taste of Mexico 858.291.8360, redorestaurant.com
Finalist: Tony’s Jacal 858.755.2274, tonysjacalsd.com

BBQ
Winners:
Cardiff Seaside Market 760.753.5445, seasidemarket.com
Phil’s BBQ philsbbq.net
Finalist: Coop’s West Texas BBQ & Catering 619.589.0478, coopbbq.com
Finalist: The Smoking Gun 619.233.3836, thesmokinggun.com

Sushi
Winners:
Sushi Ota 858.270.5670, sushiota.com
Shimbashi Izakaya 858.523.0479, shimbashiizakaya.com
Finalist: Cloak & Petal 619.501.5505, cloakandpetal.com
Finalist: Ken Sushi Workshop 858.793.1200
Finalist: Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub 760.271.0531, seabasstropub.com

Tacos
Winners:
The Taco Stand letstaco.com
City Tacos citytacossd.com
Finalist: Casa De Bandini 760.634.3443, casadebandini.com
Finalist: Las Cuatro Milpas 619.234.4460, las-cuatro-milpas.com
Finalist: Red O Taste of Mexico 858.291.8360, redorestaurant.com

Pizza
Winners:
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto realcheesepizza.com
Pizza Port pizzaport.com
Finalist: Buona Forchetta buonaforchettanc.com, buonaforchettasd.com
Finalist: Monello 619.501.0030, lovemonello.com
Finalist: Flippin Pizza flippinpizza.com

Draft Selection
Winners:
Viewpoint Brewing Company 858.356.9346, viewpointbrewing.com
Draft Republic cohnrestaurants.com/draftrepublic
Finalist: Mermaids & Cowboys 858.999.0205, mermaidscowboys.com
Finalist: Original 40 Brewing Company 619.255.7380, original40brewing.com

Wine List
Winners:
The 3rd Corner Wine Shop & Bistro 760.942.2104, the3rdcorner.com
Nine-Ten Restaurant & Bar 858.964.5400, nine-ten.com
Finalist: Addison Restaurant 858.314.1900, addisondelmar.com
Finalist: Beeside Balcony 858.481.9889, beesidebalcony.com
Finalist: Cork & Knife 858.703.1484, corknknife.com

Craft Cocktails
Winners:
The Pony Room 858.759.6246, ranchovalencia.com
Monarch Ocean Pub 858.925.6047, monarchdelmar.com
Finalist: Craft & Commerce 619.269.2202, craft-commerce.com
Finalist: Fort Oak 619.722.3398, fortoaksd.com
Finalist: You & Yours Distilling Co. 619.955.8755, youandyours.com

Margarita
Winners:
Casa De Bandini 760.634.3443, casadebandini.com
Javier’s 858.200.2222, javiers-cantina.com
Finalist: Puesto eatpuesto.com
Finalist: En Fuego Cantina & Grill 858.792.6551, enfuegocantina.com
Finalist: The Duck Dive 858.273.3825, theduckdive.com

Dessert
Winners:
Thyme in the Ranch 858.759.0747, thymeintheranch.com
L’Atelier de Paris 760.452.6500, latelierdeparis.com
Finalist: Et Voilà! French Bistro 619.209.7759, etvoilabistro.com
Finalist: Terzo Bakery & Café 619.691.6357

Ice Cream Shop
Winners:
Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream handelsicecream.com
Salt & Straw saltandstraw.com
Finalist: JoJo’s Creamery 760.487.5937, jojoscreamery.com
Finalist: Mr. Trustee Creamery 619.259.5544

Baked Goods
Winners:
VG Donut & Bakery 760.753.2400, vgbakery.com
Prager Brothers Artisan Breads pragerbrotheres.co
Finalist: L’Atelier de Paris 760.452.6500, latelierdeparis.com
Finalist: Grants Market 619.231.0524, grantsmarket.com
Finalist: Patisserie Melanie 619.677.2132, patisseriemelanie.com

Coffee Shop
Winners:
Better Buzz Coffee Roasters betterbuzzcoffee.com
Pannikin Coffee & Tea pannikincoffeeandtea.com
Finalist: Bird Rock Coffee Roasters birdrockcoffee.com
Finalist: Lofty Coffee Company loftycoffee.com
Finalist: Spill the Beans Coffee and Bagels 619.233.3836, spillthebeanssd.com

Breakfast
Winners:
Breakfast Republic breakfastrepublic.com
The Cottage La Jolla 858.454.8409, cottagelajolla.com
Finalist: Americana Restaurant 858.794.6838, americanarestaurant.com
Finalist: T’s Café 858.755.7642, tscafe101.com
Finalist: Shorehouse Kitchen shorehousekitchen.com

Brunch
Winners:
Morning Glory 619.629.0302, morningglorybreakfast.com
Toast Gastrobrunch 760.438.1212, toastgastrobrunch.com
Finalist: Trust Restaurant 619.795.6901, trustrestaurantsd.com
Finalist: Oceana Coastal Kitchen 858.539.8635, catamaranresort.com/oceana-coastal-kitchen 
Finalist: Huntress 619.329.4868, huntresssteak.com

Business Lunch
Winners:
The Winery La Jolla 858.230.7404, thewinerylajolla.co
Red O Taste of Mexico 858.291.8360, redorestaurant.com
Finalist: Veladora 858.759.6246, ranchovalencia.com
Finalist: Piatti 858.454.1589, lajolla.piatti.com

Catering
Winners:
Pamplemousse Grille 858.792.9090, pgrille.com
Waters Fine Foods 619.276.9336, waterscatering.com
Finalist: The Wild Thyme Company Catering & Events 858.527.0226, thewildthymecompany.com
Finalist: Grater Greens 619.539.7598, gratergreens.com

Sandwich Place
Winners:
Board & Brew boardandbrew.com
Jersey Mike’s Subs jerseymikes.com
Finalist: Cheese Shop 858.459.3921, cheeseshoplajolla.com
Finalist: Grater Grilled Cheese gratergrilledcheese.com

Vegetarian/Vegan/Gluten-Free Option
Winners:
Flower Child 858.314.6818, iamaflowerchild.com
Plumeria Vegetarian Restaurant myplumeria.com
Finalist: Goodonya Organic Eatery 858.264.8550, goodonyaorganic.com
Finalist Del Mar Rendezvous 858.755.2669, dmrendezvous.com
Finalist: Eve Encinitas 760.230.2560, eveveganeats.com

Family-Friendly
Winners:
Las Olas lasolasmex.com
Fish Shop thefishshops.com
Finalist: Casa De Bandini 760.634.3443, casadebandini.com
Finalist: Harumama Teriyaki & Bao 760.637.5737, harumamasd.com

Specialty Gourmet Shop
Winners:
Cardiff Seaside Market 760.753.5445, seasidemarket.com
The Butchery 858.345.1524, butcherymeats.com
Finalist: Tip Top Meats 760.438.2620, tiptopmeats.com
Finalist: Ranch 45 858.461.0092, ranch45.com
Finalist: RoVino The Foodery 619.310.6421, rovinothefoodery.com

Farmers Market
Winners:
Little Italy Mercato littleitalysd.com/events/mercato
Rancho Santa Fe Farmers Market ranchosantafefarmersmarket.com
Finalist: Leucadia Farmers Market leucadiafarmersmarket.com
Finalist: Del Mar Farmers Market delmarfarmersmarket.org
Finalist: La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market lajollamarket.com

Featured Photo Market Restaurant + Bar
Image Credits Photo by Vincent Knakal

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