People are always asking me for restaurant recommendations, so I’ve compiled a running list of some favorites around the country and the world. I’ll continue to update, so check back for more – and share your favorites with me on social media.
San Diego and Coronado, CA
- Sushi Ota: Hidden in an unassuming strip mall, Sushi Ota is a local gem. Our go-to for sushi in San Diego. By far the best omakase I’ve had – try to reserve one of the four omakase spots at the sushi bar in front of Yukito Ota himself. He is an artist in the truest sense of the word. And a complete delight, saying goodbye personally to many guests who have come to know and love him. Yes, sushi costs more than your average meal, but the prices here are actually quite reasonable for the quality.
- Searsucker: Downtown restaurant from Brian Malarkey, we dig the unique menu items at Searsucker (we are rarely organized enough for a reservation days in advance, so we sidle up to the lovely outdoor bar tables for dinner no problem). Fun tip – lunchtime is counter service; and the prices and food are fantastic. (There’s also a Del Mar Searsucker)
- Extraordinary Desserts: A lovely restaurant and bakery making some of the most beautiful sugary creations ever. And rich, dark coffee. Always packed late-night. Also a great place to order cakes for special occasions (we served their cakes for our 10-year anniversary vow renewal reception).
- Hotel Del Coronado: A great spot for walking around, beach-going, or people-watching. Lunch at Sheerwater on the outside patio on a beautiful day is worth the extra splurge, or grab a (still-pricey) burger on the deck overlooking the pool and beach (live music sometimes!). Their pizza restaurant (Eno Pizzeria) has a nice array of thin-crust pizza options, including perhaps the best gluten-free pizza we’ve had.
- Juniper & Ivy – This local joint in Little Italy is giving us NYC-level cuisine at San Diego prices (cheap valet parking? Yes, please!) Unpretentious, creative, but not weird, Juniper & Ivy should be on every gourmand’s “to-do” list in San Diego. Full disclosure: I’m friends with uber-smart chef Richard Blais, and his fine character and super personality should only make you want to visit even more.
- The Headquarters at Seaport District: A new favorite place for the family! The former headquarters to the San Diego Police Department now offers an exciting variety of shopping, dining and entertainment options including one of our favorites: a taco feast at Puesto. A fun tip: This is a place where you want to go the bathroom because right outside they have everything from a holding cell to police badges and handcuffs, so the kids (and parents!) will have a blast taking photos there.
- Puesto – Best tacos in San Diego in my opinion. The girls LOVE watching the tortillas being made, and the staff is always so nice to them.
And a few food markets…
- Catalina Offshore Products: Both wholesale and retail, this is the best place for high-quality, fresh, and local seafood and fish. They also have special events and food demonstrations in the walk-in fish market. Note: this is a true fish market, so closed-toed shoes are required.
- Rancho Fresco in Barrio Logan – I love this tiny market because it reminds me of the Mexican markets I would frequent as a child. I go for the marinated meats, and that amazing tamale stand outside; the guy selling his family’s tamales couldn’t be lovelier!
- Northgate Market (Barrio Logan) – This Mexican supermarket is just huge! My girls love to come with me to shop for fresh tortillas and salsas because we stop in the hot food section and have lunch. Both the meat and produce departments are extensive, so I can do much of my weekly shopping here, in addition to getting my Mexican feast goodies. The bakery is well-stocked with Mexican breads, pastries, and tres leches cakes in various forms.
- Angelina Tearoom (on Rue de Rivoli): Not only a Paris legend, but also where I had my Bridal Luncheon a week before my wedding. They have the best hot chocolate too!
- L’As du Falafel: If you can find a better meal on the planet for 8 bucks, I’d be floored. (email me)
- Frenchie’s: Farm-to-table philosophy, and the menu is under 50Euros a person! Wow. My fav. Plus, I have chef Greg Marchand’s outstanding cookbook (but it’s only in French).
- Bove’s: Bove’s is a third-generation family-run Italian restaurant in Burlington, VT (where I went to college). After over 70 years of cooking, they’ve perfected the Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic sauce – and it’ll satisfy any garlic craving. I raved about it on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
- Frontera Grill: With Rick Bayless at the helm, how could anything go wrong.
- Giordano’s: Living on a student budget, we went regularly for half priced pizza on Mondays. My fav? The spinach-stuffed pizza.
- Babe’s Fried Chicken (Roanoke): Here is the menu – fried chicken or chicken fried steak. Enough said, right?
- Snooty Pig: This breakfast joint is the first place we regularly took our four children, back when they were babies and most restaurants would probably have shunned us. Not the Snooty Pig – they welcome my babies, and the waitresses would help the girls touch the flying pig paper sculpture mobile hanging from the ceiling. Great huge muffins, but even better local flavor.
- Cafe Juanita: Run by delightful and super creative Holly Smith (remember her from “The Next Iron Chef?”), this is my first choice for special meal (read: special meal prices).
- Lola: How does Thomas Douglass make me love a doughnut THIS MUCH?