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What is the hands down best restaurant in San Diego?

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What, in your opinion, is the single best restaurant in San Diego where money is no object? My inclination is to go with Addison's in Del Mar but I know there are a number of other contenders out there and, honestly, I don't often eat at the highest end places so I could use some advice. I'm looking for a table for two, exquisite food, and the classiest atmosphere possible. Which restaurant has the best game in town when you don't have to worry about the cost?

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  1. It really depends what cuisines you are looking for. When I go to a restaurant I do it to taste a certain type of food. Also do you look for tasting menus (I prefer to contact the restaurants before hand to get some of the menu stuff etc.) or a la carte ?

    1. If you're looking for the classiest atmosphere possible, you'd do well at the Addison. I know they want to be recognized by the Michelin guide. Service is excellent and so is the food. I also like Mille Fleurs, although people will debate this reco. I’ve eaten there several times and have never been disappointed. Are either of these hands down the best? I don't know but if they aren’t, they’re pretty darn close. 9/10 is something else to look into as well as the Marine Room. I have to also put Mister A's on this list. Not for the food but for the atmosphere and view, it's also one of the most recognizable SD establishments.

      If you want something intimate with excellent food but not necessarily a sports jacket and tie atmosphere, I recommend the Farm House.

      -----
      Farm House Cafe
      2121 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116

      Marine Room Restaurant
      2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

      Mille Fleurs
      6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Sante Fe, CA 92067

      Mister A's Restaurant
      2550 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

      1. "What, in your opinion, is the single best restaurant in San Diego where money is no object? "

        Interesting question. There really aren't a lot of places in San Diego that fit that bill.

        Common thinking would suggest Addison.

        I don't think san diego really delivers very well in that category. San Diego does the cheaper eats way better than the fine dining.

        My suggestion honestly is if "money is no object" fly to SF. Or Vegas.

        Only adds an hour to your travel time and you are going to get a way better meal and experience for the money spent.

        11 Replies
        1. re: stevewag23

          He isn't asking "which restaurant is world class" or anything. Flying somewhere for dinner? C'mon, that is very pretentious and snobbish.

          Anyway, I would also say Addison is a go-to of course. Marine Room may not be the most refined but the waves are a definite score. I have had better luck at Bertrand's (hasn't failed me yet) than Mister A's oddly enough although it isn't quite the same scene.
          I haven't been to AR Valentin but some co-workers loved it, on here the reviews seem mixed.

          -----
          Marine Room Restaurant
          2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

          Mister A's Restaurant
          2550 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

          1. re: MrKrispy

            I too get a bit frustrated with these types of responses. No offense to stevewag23 or honkman, but the OP did not ask how many restaurants in San Diego would be considered the best of the best, they did not ask if San Diego did better in the cheap eats category, and did not ask where to fly for your best dinner. This is a simple fun question that if you don't have an answer to, you should just not reply. IMO one of the best is Roseville in Point Loma. I also find myself going back to Cafe Chloe and Cowboy Star. I still have not yet been to Addison or MIlle Fluers, but was not overly impressed with Mister A's. The view and restaurant were gorgeous, no doubt, but other than the bisque, the food was good, not great.

            -----
            Cafe Chloe
            721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

            Point Loma Cafe
            4856 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

            Mister A's Restaurant
            2550 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

            Roseville
            1125 Rosecrans Steet, San Diego, CA 92106

            1. re: sdnosh

              sdnosh,

              No offense to you either (or the following restaurants) but Roseville, Cafe Chloe, and Cowboy Star don't really come to mind when someone says "money no object".

              I like cafe chloe a lot (although I hate their early hours), but really its just a good solid everyday type spot.

              It may seem like I am being crazy for suggesting to fly to SF, but look at it realistically: 1 hour time, $25. (Hell, you could spend more time an money going to a restaurant within san diego).

              If my best friend asked me the same question as the poster, I would give him the same advice.

              Just keeping it real with my advice and opinion.

              You don't want me to lie, do you?

              -----
              Cafe Chloe
              721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

              Roseville
              1125 Rosecrans Steet, San Diego, CA 92106

              1. re: stevewag23

                what is the point of responding like that to someone that specifically asked to dine IN SAN DIEGO? If you don't want to recommend anything don't thread crap (and no round trip flight to SF or Vegas is $25 total, get real).

                Regardless, I agree the above places sdnosh mentioned aren't exactly classy.
                I haven't been to 1600 Ocean or some of the North County places, so hopefully someone can chime in with a few more ideas. I was extremely happy with our meal at Market, but have only been there once.

                1. re: MrKrispy

                  Just giving my opinion and trying to help.

                  Like I said, it is the same advice if my best friend would ask me.

                  I don't say you are giving bad suggestions when you say Mr. A's or 1600 Ocean. (Two places in my opinion that would be a disappointment for "single best restaurant in San Diego where money is no object").

                  "and no round trip flight to SF or Vegas is $25 total, get real)."

                  Never said it was.

                  $25 one way.

                  -----
                  Mille Fleurs
                  6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Sante Fe, CA 92067

                  1. re: stevewag23

                    Mille Fleurs is great and they have lowered the prices on most of the items on their menu. You got to try their clear heirloom tomato soup, they have it once in a while.

                    My last visit to Addison was fantastic. I would give them the nod.

                    -----
                    Mille Fleurs
                    6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Sante Fe, CA 92067

                    1. re: 4wino

                      My wife absolutely loved that soup. I liked it, but I guess that makes two people who noticed.

                2. re: stevewag23

                  Well to put it in perspective, it's easy for my wife and I to go to Addison's and have a babysitter. It would be a poor use of time (and also irresponsible) to fly to SF. Believe me I love a lot of places in SF, but none are worth flying to. Not even Gary Danko's.

                  It's not a question of money, but time and comfort. Being on a plane for 1 hour and back is exactly why we don't do it.

                3. re: sdnosh

                  Here. Here. I'm with sdnosh on this one.

                  1. re: thirtyeyes

                    "Here. Here. I'm with sdnosh on this one."

                    What does that mean?

                    That you would rather tell someone from out of town that restaurants that are not exceptional like cafe chloe, cowboy star and roseville are great?

                    I think this kind of attitude hurts san diego more than helps it.

                    Either way, I respect your opinion, unlike most people on here.

                    1. re: stevewag23

                      stevewag,

                      I understand where you're coming from when you compare SD restaurants to those in other cities. The sheer number of restaurants here is unimpressive for a "major" city, and accordingly, the number of restaurants that stand up to those of other cities is equally sub-par. And the highest-end restaurants here really do not seem to hold a candle to those in cities like LA or NY, or Chicago (which I recently went to and was impressed with).

                      That being said, since the OP specifically mentioned dining in SD, I think we have to consider relative quality within SD only. Otherwise we're just going off-topic.

            2. best restaurant where $$ is no object, exquisite food in the classiest atmosphere possible? Addison hits all three.

              Market comes close but the atmosphere is much livelier and more casual than Addison.
              Nine-Ten is in a lower league (but still good food) than Addison. Mille Fleurs and The Marine Room's food feels "dated" to me. Cafe Chloe is great, but it's casual bistro dining.

              -----
              Cafe Chloe
              721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

              Marine Room Restaurant
              2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037

              Mille Fleurs
              6009 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Sante Fe, CA 92067

              28 Replies
              1. re: daantaat

                Since Addison costs similar (tasting menu) to Providence, Spago, Melisse in LA would you say that the quality is comparable to them (2 star Michelin) ? Addison is on my list for some time but based on reviews, blogs and their menu which sounds not terrible interesting for that price I am always a little bit hesistant to go and I am aloways interested to hear more opinions. I am also surprised that you even compare Market to Addison which is overrated IMO and wouldn't get even one Michelin star (compared to other one star Michelin restaurants in LA). Overall I found the food at Nine-Ten even better than at Market.

                1. re: honkman

                  "Addison is on my list for some time but based on reviews, blogs and their menu which sounds not terrible interesting for that price I am always a little bit hesistant to go"

                  Yeah.

                  And seriously, who wants to go to rancho wherever?

                  1. re: stevewag23

                    "And seriously, who wants to go to rancho wherever?"

                    Rancho whereever? Addison?

                    You need to get around more, Steve. The proper vernacular for that part of town is the Carmel Crunch.

                    1. re: RB Hound

                      Carmel Crunch...mmm, sounds like an awesome dessert!

                      I have relatives out in that area that I visit fairly regularly; not to hijack this thread or anything but can you recommend any other good (not necessarily fancy or expensive) places out in that area?

                      1. re: Piglet

                        there's not much in Del Mar and Carmel Valley in the "good, moderately priced" range. Pacifica Breeze Cafe and Americana in Del Mar are decent. Rendevouz in Del Mar is fusion Chinese and is decent, but we'd rather head south to Convoy for cheaper and "real Asian.

                        Cavaillon is technically in Santaluz and they are good, but are on the high side of "moderately priced."

                        We usually end up at Souplantation or Sammy's Woodfired Pizza if we stay in the Carmel Valley area.

                        1. re: daantaat

                          I forgot about Sammy's--I went there once and was pretty impressed; much better than the generic mall food I expected from that location! And thanks for your other suggestions, too.

                    2. re: stevewag23

                      I have not been to Addison either, for some of the same reasons...location and price. I have heard consistently good things about it so I would like to try it. Although I agree that you can't compare a meal here to LA or SF, I also agree that some of the better places that I have eaten in SD are the ethnic, small, off the beaten path places. I have generally been unimpressed by the higher end options in SD. That being said, some of the dishes at Market are very good and they have a great wine list. I would consider El Biz but it is a bit stuffy and I have not been there since they got a new chef. I would definitely stay away from Mr. A's. Yes, they have a great view but I was not impressed with the food. We had a very good meal at Roseville but I would not put it in the best of SD. Although it is not a typical "high end" if you want to have a great meal and get some wonderful food, I would suggest a wine dinner at Wine Vault & Bistro. Another place that is not discussed much here and I have not been but want to try is Wine Sellar & Brasserie. Any thoughts?

                      -----
                      Roseville
                      1125 Rosecrans Steet, San Diego, CA 92106

                      1. re: sdaints

                        Wine Sellar & Brasserie is great food and wine.

                        Terrible location and atmosphere.

                        1. re: stevewag23

                          Unfortunately Steve, the food has gone down hill a little bit. I ate there not too long ago and had a 5 course meal. There were a couple interesting dishes and combinations but overall it fell flat. I'd visit there once a week when I worked in UTC and it isn't the same for sure. Location is definitely out of the way but it isn't a party type resturant imo, so atmosphere is negligable. Service is very good.

                          1. re: mjill

                            Sad to hear.

                            I was really impressed by there food when I went. But it was like 5 years ago.

                            "so atmosphere is negligable"

                            I remember celing tiles in the place that you would see in some corporate crappy office.

                            1. re: stevewag23

                              Steve, the chef, manager, maitre D and a server from WS&B have left and opened their own in Carlsabad. The name of the new place is Paon. I went there a couple of months back and thought it was excellent.

                        2. re: sdaints

                          "Although I agree that you can't compare a meal here to LA or SF, ...."

                          I heard this point so often when talking about high(er) end restaurants in San Diego (especially on this board) and I simply don't understand it. People tend to set different standards for different cities. Why ? If I pay $140 for a chef's tasting menu at Addison it should be as good as a similar tasting menu at Sapgo, Providence, Cyrus etc. for a similar price. Or do people pay in San Diego with different money than in LA, SF or LV ? And this criteria (at least for me) is not only valid for highest end restaurant but also cheaper restaurants like for examples market, Roseville, Cafe Chloe etc.

                          -----
                          Cafe Chloe
                          721 9th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

                          Roseville
                          1125 Rosecrans Steet, San Diego, CA 92106

                          1. re: honkman

                            I think it might be wiser to visit a place first and form your own opinion of it before trying to compare it to other well known establishments and bash it. A lot of people on this board throw around critiques without ever tasting a spoon of food from a particular establishment for themselves. I find this to be a fairly large joke that people might pay attention to these opinions.

                            Addison is very good. I've eaten at Spago several times, very good but it doesn't hold a candle to a place like Joel Robuchon in Vegas or NY, I've visited the Vegas location. There is always a bigger baddie on the block yet cost of product is still the same no matter what city you are in for the most part. That's why you are see similar price point ranges. Are Truffles cheaper in SD than they are anywhere else? What about Duck, diver scallops or prime beef? Why would the menu price reflect anything different than in SD vs say LA if they're using similar product? You're argument doesn't hold much water imo when you actually sit down and do the math.

                            1. re: mjill

                              I don't think you have read what I wrote. I wasn't judging Addison but I was asking how it compares to other restaurants of similar price point. And I don't understand your second paragraph - So why is it wrong to compare prices between high end places (especially if costs of products (and work) are often very comparable (since they often use the same vendors/sources). And your point of comparing Spago to Robouchon supports my point - Robouchon is much better but it also costs about twice as much.

                              1. re: honkman

                                I suggest you go re-read your earlier posts. You did say you've never eaten at the Addison and are basing your opinion on what you have heard from others or read off a blog. So, to me, you really don't have a point of reference to compare Addison to Spago, or Cyrus or whatever.

                                It costs actually more than twice as much ($450) but at Robuchon you're paying for A) the name and B) the additional 4 courses. You also see gold leaf on everything at Robuchon. It's not wrong to compare prices but what you are saying is an 8 course meal in SD isn't worth the same as an 8 course meal in LA at the same price. Basically you're boiling over into quality and price and IMO since you haven't eaten at the Addison, you don't really know firsthand about the quality so you really can’t comment on price. But aside from all this, there are plenty, PLENTY of places in town that offer 5 and 8 course menus that are very reasonable on price and delicious. Cowboy Star is a good example since its name has been brought up – Venison carpaccio, Fois gras 2 ways, fried chicken style sweet breads, buffalo and a dessert for $60. That’s a heck of a deal and having eaten it last week, it was delicious.

                                I think what you might be missing here is the costs of the products that go into those dishes at a place like Addison or Spago are the same across the board. A truffle for example in SD costs basically the same in LA. Menu pricing is based on a food cost percentage which takes into account payroll, rent, ect with very little tacked on for ego. This is why you would see a similar price point for two different meals that are utilizing the same types of products. This is all prior to service, which the Addison does table side. You don’t see that too often because it’s expensive to do. There are a few things going on at the Addison besides food that warrants the higher end price. Hopefully this made sense.

                                1. re: mjill

                                  I think we have to disagree on several points - At a certain level of restaurants (especially in bigger cities) you expect everywhere a certain, similar level of quality in terms of food and service. The costs for the products and service will be comparable between those restaurants. Since I have eaten multiple times at Spago, Providence, Cyrus etc. which have comparable prices for similar tasting menus I do have a reference point to compare Addison in terms of service and food quality. (In the end it is the question I ask other people so that I can compare Addison to my reference points, if people would say Addison is a two star Michelin restaurant). Table side service happens also at other restaurants and isn't specific to Addison. I would be curious to hear which "few things going on at the Addison besides food that warrants the higher end price"

                            2. re: honkman

                              I think this is a good point and explains peoples opinions.

                              When I give an opinion on a restaurant in san diego, I compare it to restaurants I have been to around the world that are similar (cost, cuisine, style etc).

                              Hence many of my comments are called "negative".

                              I don't cut san diego any slack just because it is in san diego.

                              1. re: honkman

                                Agreed with honkman here. It would be so easy to bash Spago and Providence by naming a better place in France and Italy (I can name a dozen). Why is it so hard to enjoy your food where you can? I don't drive to LA to eat and regret not flying to Europe. It's inane.

                                1. re: royaljester

                                  "Why is it so hard to enjoy your food where you can?" - It's not a problem to enjoy food in SD. There are certain cuisines in SD which you can enjoy but there are also other cuisines somebody likes which are simply not even average in SD, e.g. Italian, seafood-focused places, more experimental places etc. were you have to travel outside of SD to enjoy it. And even certain cuisines are only representated with one or two good examples, e.g. bistro-style french (and I don't want to go every time to the same restaurant for one cuisine). Depending on which cuisines you personally prefer you might be quite happy with what SD has to offer but others will be very disappointed.

                          2. re: honkman

                            I cannot comment on Providence, Spago, Melisse b/c I have not been there and trying to do so would be would be idiotic. I do not rely on Michelin stars to guide my palate, not to say that I do not appreciate a Michelin starred place. I've been to Market many times over the years and have been happy with my food. No uneveness between courses. The several times that I've been to Addison left me very satisified and feeling pampered, if that can be used to describe a meal.

                            1. re: honkman

                              Our dinner at Addison actually cost *more* than dinner at Providence in L.A. And if you're going to do that comparison, Providence wins without breaking a sweat. (I haven't written a review of Addison, but I review Providence here: http://indirectheat.blogspot.com/2009...).

                              I tend to agree with stevewag23, if money really is no object, then don't eat in SD. That said, if you really must must must stay local, I'd go with Addison. Though I'll disagree with stevewag23 on Las Vegas. My few high end dinners there were very disappointing.

                              1. re: Indirect Heat

                                Well, I know I always like to fly to France when I have a special occasion, but I don't imagine that that advice is particularly useful for the rest of the board.

                                1. re: thirtyeyes

                                  LA and SF are not as far away as France and easily accessible from SD and both cities have multiple restaurants which are on the same level as the best restaurants in France,

                                  1. re: honkman

                                    Honkman--it seems like you eat out a decent bit in LA (and maybe SF). I have tried a few restaurants in both cities but am looking for some more to check out on future trips. Other than Providence, which I would definitely like to try, what else do you recommend? It doesn't have to be only high end. I am just looking for places with great food and worth a trip. If this gets moved, then maybe you can post it on the LA board.

                                    1. re: sdaints

                                      Seconded.

                                      1. re: sdaints

                                        There are quite a lot of outstanding places but if you would have to choose only one place beside Providence (which is also much cheaper) I would highly, highly recommend Bistro LQ (and go for the full tasting menu). Incredible creative cooking for an unbeatable price:

                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/667995

                                        1. re: honkman

                                          I just read through their menus, wow. And think about that price - you could easily spend more here and get much less.

                                2. re: honkman

                                  Hear, hear....

                              2. A. R. Valentin. Consistently the best for eight years. That alone is an accomplishment. Where did Ruth Riechl eat when she just came through SD? The ARV. IT's one of the few places in SD that gets high praise from sophisticated media across the US.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pickypicky

                                  Agreed. They do.

                                  And for their wine list.

                                2. Addison's at the Grand Del Mar
                                  Sky Room at La Valencia but it's been awhile
                                  Marine Room at a extreme high tide and sit at table 24 or booth 64
                                  Mille Fleurs..never had a bad meal and love the Country French setting
                                  Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge..get a private cabana outside
                                  Grant Grill at the US Grant Hotel and stay in one of their lovely suites for the weekend

                                  If money really is no object, I love to fly to Vegas and stay at the Wynn and dine at Alex..

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    "Sky Room at La Valencia but it's been awhile"

                                    That's is a good one. I always forget about it.

                                    And Alex is pretty mindblowing.

                                  2. Hi, Everyone. We've had to delete some postings that mentioned no restaurants in San Diego, at all. Please tip oerdin to the best San Diego has to offer, as you know it. Thanks very much.

                                    1. oerdin..
                                      have you picked a place and where?
                                      curious beach chick wants to know..
                                      ; )

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                        What about the new Blanca? It got rave reviews in the UT but some I've spoken to say it's confused and the service is not so great. It was supposed to be so wonderful with a new chef from NYC.

                                      2. I don't go to sushi restaurants that often, but I've heard that SD does have some truly good places here. Kaito? Shirahama? I've been to Sushi Ota and wasn't terribly impressed, but it seems to get mentioned as a top choice around the county. I've also heard from my Japanese friends who really know their Japanese food that The Surfside in PB is really good. But that may or may not be a value bet; I don't remember.

                                        So can anyone stand up for one of these places as worthy, or close to worthy, of being the best restaurant in SD when money is no object? I think they might get extra points because of the sheer variety of stuff you can order. A dozen different orders of sashimi sounds fantastic, but I couldn't get through two entrees at any Western restaurant.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: RTee

                                          Go to Kaito. You'll be happy, promise. (And you can bring beer, if you like good beer w/ your sushi)

                                          1. re: RTee

                                            Yes, SD has some truly good sushi places that don't hide behind bling and frou frou fanfare. Kaito is excellent, no frills decor but it's truly outstanding w/ the freshness and laid back atmosphere. No frozen fish. Morita only serves what is fresh and seasonal. If you search for "Kaito," you'll pull up lots of posts.

                                            We have not been to Shirahama, but the board consensus is that it is a close 2nd to Kaito. The ding appears to be that if you aren't Japanese and/or Japanese speaking, you have to "earn your stripes" and go several times to prove your mettle. Kaito is definitely not of that ilk.

                                            1. re: daantaat

                                              Kaito was my best meal of 2009 in San Diego.

                                            2. re: RTee

                                              RTee: Trust your own palate with regards to Ota, then take that same palate to both Kaito and Shirahama. Because if you don't you'll be left only to imagine just how tall the summit of Sushi can be in San Diego, and that would be a shame.

                                              Sure there are many lesser hills all more or less at middling elevations, and you'll map out the taller amongst those in due time. And of course you'll inevitably run across and dip down into the dark valleys where the so-called Sushi bars are a dime a dozen and worth no more. But here your palate will be your guide as it will protest and send you back up to the safety of the hilltops.

                                              But you've heard of that place called Kaito and Shirahama, and heard that it may reach heights even taller than these hills. Well rather than just stay in the hills and imagine the mountains above, go see for yourself and experience them in all of their glory; take in and live in their view.

                                              From that high vantage point all of what you knew before will literally be seen with new eyes. What you thought were once the heights will now look rather flat, with the same tired and travelled roads connecting them all. And even if you were to climb back down you will never lose your bearings ever again as you will forever know from where you came.

                                              And one thing I can guarantee: once you've reached the summit you'll forever want to return. The magic of it all is that with every new visit the scenery is never the same, and the thrill never goes away. For the one who never thought that San Diego has seasons, go visit the very summit of Sushi in San Diego and you'll experience all 24 Sekki - the 24 seasons of the Japanese calendar.

                                              1. re: cgfan

                                                Wow that was one heck of a reply! Thanks cgfan, for the story and the recs. Also, I think you should write fortune cookie fortunes, even if you have to use both sides of the paper.

                                                1. re: RTee

                                                  Thanks RTee... You must be talking really big fortune cookies, right? (Or perhaps the first cookie with a microfiche fortune?)

                                                  BTW would love to hear your review if you do ever make it out to one of the recs...

                                            3. Like a lot of people have said, it has to be Addisons

                                              1. George's Cali Kitchen is going there. Will post some notes after Feb 14, but I have tasted the menu and it is excellent.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: 4wino

                                                  Went to George's Cal Modern a month ago and it was spectacular with spot on service, George himself making the rounds. Other places right up there: A.R. Valentien, Tapenade and Market.

                                                2. A.R. Valentin was the first place to come to mind. The food is outstanding and the atmosphere is just wonderful.