San Diego's Best Restaurants 2022 | Food + Drink | – San Diego Magazine

Wolfie’s Carousel Bar
Pan Roasted Local Halibut with wild mushrooms, green garlic puree, spring vegetables, and shaved radish at Nine-Ten
Cafe Gratitude
Yellowtail in Israeli sauce at Callie
Zucchini taco at City Tacos
Sticky buns at Cardellino
Et Voila
Beef tartare at Kingfisher
Raised by Wolves
Ube pandesal at White Rice
Carruth Cellars
Herb & Wood
Mr. Birria
Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub

Wolfie’s Carousel Bar
Overall Specific Cuisines | Specific Dishes | Ambience Drinks
Ever walk into a restaurant or bar and get that feeling that it’s exactly the place you need at that exact moment in time? That’s how I feel when I look at the cover of this year’s “Best Restaurants” issue. We’ve tempered our joy for a while now. But nothing is tepid or restrained about Wolfie’s Carousel Bar. Nothing is cautious about a slowly turning carousel that includes a fully stocked bar and ice cubes engraved with pole ponies. It makes me want to stay awhile in the awe of a room that’s actively trying to enchant me; to curate a light buzz, cavort with strangers, loosen the propers.
The comeback has not been swift. Starts and stops. It sometimes feels as if we’re rebuilding Maslow’s pyramid of human needs. And now we’re at the third level: love and belonging. Core to that is connecting, being part of a group, forming relationships. Humanity doesn’t peak without its gatherings.
And—all deference to places of worship and sports teams—restaurants and bars are the gravitational force that pulls us together on the day-to-day. I’ve been naming San Diego Magazine’s critic’s picks for 13 years now, and this year they lean to the spaces that facilitate the gatherings. For “Best Restaurant: Fancy,” Callie chef Travis Swikard has built a beachhead for San Diego farmers and ranchers, fishers, foragers, and foodmakers. I believe the San Diego native and former right-hand of legendary French chef Daniel Boulud will have the city’s next Michelin star. For “Best of the Best: Casual,” it’s hard to explain how much Monarch transformed Del Mar.
Ube pandesal at White Rice
They took one of San Diego’s most prized and frustrating spaces (the location is dreamy, the original design a nightmare) and blew it wide open. I’m not sure they possess a single wall or window. And now it’s a teeming epicenter, a whole community reforming on its rooftop.
In North Park, a vital gathering spot has regained footing at Awash—where the strong Ethiopian community near El Cajon Boulevard can get berbere and injera and other hard-to-find ingredients for cooking the country’s famed dishes. My “Best New Restaurant,” Matsu, is what happens when a chef puts his life savings into honoring his lifelong fascination with Japanese cuisine and culture.
There are a couple hundred ways San Diego shines in this list. A city without Cross Street’s fried chicken sandwich is no place to raise a child. A city without Menya Ultra’s ramen slurps with less vigor and joy in its heart. A city without White Rice’s ube pandesal is less delicious and less purple.
As I always say, this list isn’t about dominating or apexing. For my part, I’m merely pointing at places that really captured me this year. We cover food and drink culture extensively every day at digital SDM. Every day, we poke our heads into new kitchens. But this issue, especially, lets us spend a couple months making restaurants and bars the absolute center of our universe. I urge you to make your own list. Go gather.
Yellowtail in Israeli sauce at Callie
Critic’s Pick: Callie 
Readers’ Pick: Callie
Runner-Up: Animae 
Critic’s Pick: Monarch Ocean Pub 
Readers’ Pick: The Kebab Shop 
Runner-Up: Cori Pastificio 
Critic’s Pick: Matsu 
Readers’ Pick: Wormwood 
Runner-Up: Seneca Trattoria 
Critic’s Pick: Travis Swikard  
Readers’ Pick: Travis Swikard  
Runner-Up: Brad Wise 
Critic’s Pick: Solare  
Readers’ Pick: Solare 
Runner-Up: Animae 
Pan Roasted Local Halibut with wild mushrooms, green garlic puree, spring vegetables, and shaved radish at Nine-Ten
Critic’s Pick: Addison 
Readers’ Pick: (TIE) Vaga & Nine-Ten  
Runner-Up: A.R. Valentien 
Critic’s Pick: Indulge
Readers’ Pick: The Wild Thyme 
Runner-Up: Bekker’s Catering 
Critic’s Pick: Deckman’s  
Readers’ Pick: Oryx Capital  
Runner-Up: Deckman’s
Critic’s Pick: City Tacos  
Readers’ Pick: The Kebab Shop  
Runner-Up: The Taco Stand 
Cafe Gratitude
Critic’s Pick: Café Gratitude  
Readers’ Pick: Parakeet Café  
Runner-Up: Pacifica Del Mar 
Critic’s Pick: Kindred 
Readers’ Pick: The Plot 
Runner-Up: Kindred 
Critic’s Pick: Maya’s Cookies 
Readers’ Pick: Casa Ocho 
Runner-Up: Milonga Empanadas 
Critic’s Pick: Provisional Kitchen 
Readers’ Pick: Sunny Side Kitchen 
Runner-Up: Parakeet Café 
Sticky buns at Cardellino
Critic’s Pick: Morning Glory 
Readers’ Pick: Cardellino  
Runner-Up: Morning Glory 
Critic’s Pick: Wayfarer 
Readers’ Pick: Izola 
Runner-Up: Le Parfait Paris 
Critic’s Pick Serea 
Readers’ Pick: Pacifica Del Mar  
Runner-Up: Ironside 
Critic’s Pick: Rare Society 
Readers’ Pick: Rare Society 
Runner-Up: Cowboy Star 
Critic’s Pick: Le Parfait Paris 
Readers’ Pick: Le Parfait Paris 
Runner-Up: Extraordinary Desserts 
Critic’s Pick: Grand Ole BBQ
Readers’ Pick: Grand Ole BBQ  
Runner-Up: Phil’s BBQ 
Critic’s Pick: Animae  
Readers’ Pick: Animae 
Runner-Up: Glass Box 
Critic’s Pick: Caribbean Taste  
Readers’ Pick: Miss B’s Coconut Club  
Runner-Up: Island Spice 
Critic’s Pick: Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon 
Readers’ Pick: Zen Modern Asian Bistro 
Runner-Up: Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon 
Critic’s Pick: Awash  
Readers’ Pick: Muzita Abyssinian Bistro  
Runner-Up: Awash
Critic’s Pick: White Rice 
Readers’ Pick: White Rice 
Runner-Up: Starfish 
Et Voila
Critic’s Pick: Jeune et Jolie 
Readers’ Pick: Et Voilà  
Runner-Up: Parc Bistro-Brasserie 
Critic’s Pick: Mezé  
Readers’ Pick: Olympic Cafe  
Runner-Up: Mezé
Critic’s Pick: Himalayan Cuisine 
Readers’ Pick: Himalayan Cuisine
Runner-Up: Taste of the Himalayas 
Critic’s Pick: Catania 
Readers’ Pick: Solare  
Runner-Up: Amalfi Cucina Italiana 
Critic’s Pick: Matsu  
Readers’ Pick: Soichi 
Runner-Up: Matsu 
Critic’s Pick: Woomiok  
Readers’ Pick: Chiko 
Runner-Up: Manna Heaven BBQ 
Critic’s Pick: Callie
Readers’ Pick: Callie 
Runner-Up: Aladdin
Critic’s Pick: Valle  
Readers’ Pick: Puesto 
Runner-Up: Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro 
Critic’s Pick: Tahini  
Readers’ Pick: Shawarma Guys  
Runner-Up: Sahara Taste of the Middle East 
Critic’s Pick: Panca
Readers’ Pick: Panca  
Runner-Up: Q’ero 
Critic’s Pick: Flying Pig  
Readers’ Pick: Bud’s Louisiana Café  
Runner-Up: Louisiana Purchase 
Critic’s Pick: Cafe Sevilla  
Readers’ Pick: Cafe Sevilla
Runner-Up: Costa Brava 
Critic’s Pick: The Original Sab-E-Lee  
Readers’ Pick: Bahn Thai  
Runner-Up: Supannee House of Thai 
Beef tartare at Kingfisher
Critic’s Pick: Kingfisher  
Readers’ Pick: Shank & Bône  
Runner-Up: Kingfisher 
Critic’s Pick: Devil’s Dozen  
Readers’ Pick: Broad Street Dough  
Runner-Up: Devil’s Dozen 
Critic’s Pick: An’s Dry Cleaning  
Readers’ Pick: Wynston’s  
Runner-Up: Stella Jean’s 
Critic’s Pick: Shank & Bône  
Readers’ Pick: OB Noodle House  
Runner-Up: Phuong Trang 
Critic’s Pick: Menya Ultra
Readers’ Pick: Menya Ultra  
Runner-Up: Tajima 
Critic’s Pick: OB Noodle House  
Readers’ Pick: Dirty Birds  
Runner-Up: Epic Wings 
Critic’s Pick: Cross Street  
Readers’ Pick: The Crack Shack  
Runner-Up: Popeye’s 
Critic’s Pick: The Taco Stand  
Readers’ Pick: The Taco Stand 
Runner-Up: Lolita’s 
Critic’s Pick: La Puerta 
Readers’ Pick: La Puerta  
Runner-Up: Miguel’s Cocina 
Mr. Birria
Critic’s Pick: Cocina de Barrio  
Readers’ Pick: Tuétano Taquería  
Runner-Up: Mr. Birria 
Critic’s Pick: Ali’s Chicken & Waffles  
Readers’ Pick: The Kebab Shop  
Runner-Up: Barrio Dogg 
Critic’s Pick: It’s Raw 
Readers’ Pick: PB Poke House 
Runner-Up: Poki One N Half
Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub
Critic’s Pick: Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub  
Readers’ Pick: Sushi Ota  
Runner-Up: Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub  
Critic’s Pick: Lola 55  
Readers’ Pick: Pacifica Del Mar  
Runner-Up: Rubio’s 
Zucchini taco at City Tacos
Critic’s Pick: Puesto  
Readers’ Pick: Puesto
Runner-Up: City Tacos 
Critic’s Pick: The Wise Ox
Readers’ Pick: RoVino the Foodery  
Runner-Up: The Wise Ox 
Critic’s Pick: Buona Forchetta 
Readers’ Pick: Amalfi 
Runner-Up: Sisters 
Critic’s Pick: Starlite 
Readers’ Pick: The Friendly
Runner-Up: Rocky’s Crown Pub 
Critic’s Pick: Wolfie’s Carousel Bar 
Readers’ Pick: Madison 
Runner-Up: Animae 
Critic’s Pick: Little Lion Café
Readers’ Pick: Madison 
Runner-Up: Understory 
Critic’s Pick: The Grill at The Lodge at Torrey Pines 
Readers’ Pick: Gravity Heights 
Runner-Up: Trattoria Don Pietro  
Critic’s Pick: The Dog Society 
Readers’ Pick: Pacifica Breeze Café  
Runner-Up: Sisters Pizza 
Critic’s Pick: Corvette Diner 
Readers’ Pick: Corvette Diner
Runner-Up: Flap Your Jacks 
Herb & Wood
Critic’s Pick: Herb & Wood
Readers’ Pick: Herb & Wood  
Runner-Up: Little Italy Food Hall 
Critic’s Pick: Grand Ole BBQ 
Readers’ Pick: Barrio Dogg  
Runner-Up: Puesto 
Critic’s Pick: Vaga 
Readers’ Pick: Coasterra  
Runner-Up: George’s at the Cove 
Critic’s Pick: Mister A’s 
Readers’ Pick: Mister A’s  
Runner-Up: The Nolen 
Critic’s Pick: The Leucadian Bar  
Readers’ Pick: Waterfront  
Runner-Up: Aero Club 
Critic’s Pick: Hash House A Go Go 
Readers’ Pick: Great Maple  
Runner-Up: Miss B’s Coconut Club 
Critic’s Pick: Cantina Mayahuel  
Readers’ Pick: Casa de Pico  
Runner-Up: Cantina Mayahuel 
Critic’s Pick: The Rose
Readers’ Pick: Gianni Buonomo  
Runner-Up: Charlie & Echo 
Critic’s Pick: Stone Brewing Liberty Station
Readers’ Pick: Gravity Heights 
Runner-Up: Stone Brewing 
Readers’ Pick: Bivouac Ciderworks 
Critic’s Pick: Cafe Virtuoso 
Readers’ Pick: Por Vida Café & Galería  
Runner-Up: Heartwork Coffee 
Raised by Wolves
Critic’s Pick: Raised by Wolves  
Readers’ Pick: Understory  
Runner-Up: Polite Provisions 
Critic’s Pick: Skrewball 
Readers’ Pick: Pacific Coast Spirits  
Runner-Up: You & Yours 
Critic’s Pick: Mujeres Brew House  
Readers’ Pick: Hopnonymous  
Runner-Up: AleSmith 
Critic’s Pick: Embolden  
Readers’ Pick: South O  
Runner-Up: Rouleur 
Carruth Cellars
Critic’s Pick: Carruth Cellars  
Readers’ Pick: Gianni Buonomo  
Runner-Up: Charlie & Echo 
Critic’s Pick: Solare 
Readers’ Pick: Solare 
Runner-Up: Cafe Sevilla 
Critic’s Pick: Parakeet Juicery  
Readers’ Pick: Parakeet Juicery 
Runner-Up: Choice Juicery 
*Bivouac won the readers’ poll for Best Brewpub… but they’re a cidery. So we’re giving them a shout-out with their own category.


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