San Diego’s Best Restaurants 2018

Best Ethiopian
Readers’ Pick: Muzita Abyssinian Bistro

More than 7,000 readers voted in our annual poll—and the results are in! Dig into the 260 winners defining San Diego’s food scene in 2018.

A Word From Food Editor Troy Johnson

It was a year of drastic change.

After a few years of looking wan and corpulent, the mall (specifically Westfield UTC) became one of the hottest culinary meccas in town. Yes, the food and drink scene around India Street continued to do what bunnies do, but it’s now so overstuffed with bars and restaurants that upstarts have started skipping Little Italy for more underserved fringes like Imperial Beach, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, La Mesa, and Carlsbad. Vegetarian and vegan food rose from the compost to flourish, as even diehard carnivorous chefs embraced the art of plant-based cooking. With the rise in minimum wage, the restaurant server became an endangered species, replaced with counter service and kiosks and tablets. Costs, and the usual blinding speed of modern American life, led to the rise of “quick service” restaurants. Everyone seems to want to become “the Chipotle of X,” which is not necessarily a bad thing.

The good news is our options have never been more plentiful. The bad news is that getting lunch from a robot is an impending reality. Humans are being phased out of what has long been the most social sector of the American marketplace: the dinner table and bar.

Fear not. There are those who’ve joined the resistance. Like Born & Raised. In the height of fast-casualization, the owners went ahead and built a $6.5 million steakhouse with tableside service that encourages guests to socialize and linger. The other welcome news is the booming healthy gourmet food scene. From Plant Power creating the first vegan drive-thru to a second True Food Kitchen, this time in UTC, we’re finally able to eat out without buying new pants.

San Diego was late to the food revolution. And now that we’re a decade-plus into our own culinary proliferation, food people are getting older and having kids. No longer sequestered to gaudy, anti-food emporiums like Chuck E. Cheese’s, those who’ve chosen reproduction have safe havens for the entire coven at suburban places like Waypoint Public and Landon’s Gourmet Kitchen. In 2018, I think we’ll see more restaurants realize taste buds don’t die during childbirth.

So, rise, suburbs. Awaken from your chain-gruel slumber. Dinner, and lunch and breakfast and happy hour, is served.