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Insider Guide to San Diego Restaurants

Trey Foshee, the executive chef and partner at George’s at the Cove on the water in La Jolla, California, and an F&W Best New Chef 1998, has lived in San Diego for more than a decade. Here, he tells us where he likes to eat and drink when he’s off duty, and why the city is as great for food (especially tacos) as it is for catching waves.

Trey Foshee’s Favorite San Diego Restaurants

Favorite High-End Dining: Addison

In the Grand Del Mar resort, chef William Bradley creates modern French tasting menus with dishes like coffee-rubbed duck, and langoustines with parsley and caviar. “It’s definitely at the higher end of the spectrum, kind of French Laundry-ish, and a more formal environment: a lot of marble, a lot of wood,” says Foshee, who also praises the global wine list by Jesse Rodriguez, formerly of the French Laundry. addisondelmar.com

Best Classic Experience: Mille Fleurs

“This is one of the first restaurants I went to when I moved here,” says Foshee. “It’s one of the best in town: Pretty much anything chef Martin Woesle cooks is going to be good.” The German-born Woesle, who came to the French–Californian restaurant in 1985 after working in Germany and Hollywood, makes twice-daily trips to the nearby Chino Farm for ingredients he uses in dishes like green herb spaetzle gratin and sautéed quail salad with arugula and persimmon. millefleurs.com

Nine-Ten Restaurant
Photo courtesy of NINE-TEN Restaurant

Modern Californian: Nine-Ten

Chef Jason Knibb, who worked under Foshee at the Tree Room in Sundance, Utah, got his start cooking alongside Wolfgang Puck at Eureka. At this spot in the century-old Grande Colonial Hotel, he incorporates Asian influences into his seasonal California menu, as in tuna tartare dressed with shiso, nori salt and ponzu. nine-ten.com

Sandwich Specialist: Rubicon Deli

Massive sandwiches served on freshly baked whole loaves of bread are the raison d’être of this casual but sleek downtown sandwich shop, the third outpost of a Nevada-based company founded by Cheri Corsiglia in 1993. Meatballs, cold cuts, and Italian cheeses dominate the menu, and the signature sandwich is turkey with smoked gouda and pesto mayo. therubicondeli.com

Casual Italian: Cucina Urbana

Part trattoria, part wine shop, Cucina Urbana is known for lasagna and pizzas made with local ingredients like grilled asparagus and foraged mushrooms. “It’s big, busy and has a good vibe,” says Foshee. The wine shop offers an added boon for diners, who can select bottles there to accompany their meal. cucinaurbana.com

Best Brunch: Urban Solace

Matt Gordon “is the kind of chef who doesn’t cut any corners. For example, he doesn’t use anything with corn syrup—all of his sodas are natural—and he’s conscious of where he gets his meat,” says Foshee. Gordon specializes in upgraded comfort food, such as a Niman Ranch pork belly pie, and a fantastic brunch. “I love the eggs Benedict, which is served with braised pork belly instead of Canadian bacon,” says Foshee. urbansolace.net

Go-To Tacos: El Paisa Mexican Grill

“This is a traditional taqueria, and whenever I’m downtown I try to go there,” Foshee says of this brightly colored hole-in-the-wall. “There’s outdoor seating and they have really good tacos de lengua (tongue) and tacos de cabeza (head meat).” The restaurant, which has been open for more than 15 years, makes its own regular and mini tortillas for large and small tacos. elpaisamexicangrill.com

San Diego Bars

Mexican Happy Hour: El Camino Super Cocina Mexicana

Old-school video games, Day of the Dead decor and outdoor seating increase this cantina’s youthful appeal. “It’s a cool hipster bar that serves stuff like enchiladas, tacos and gorditas,” says Foshee. elcaminosd.com

Japanese Pub: Sake House Yu Me Ya

“Yu Me Ya is a really funky little Japanese sake and tapas place,” says Foshee. “It’s always packed and hard to get into.” The family-owned Yu Me Ya has a range of Japanese comfort food from takoyaki (fried octopus balls) to udon noodles. sakehouseyumeya.com

Cocktails and Late-Night Dining: Starlite Lounge

The cocktails are very good at this bar close to the airport, but so is the simple food, which is served until midnight. “They use lots of local ingredients and make things like house-made sausage and salami,” says Foshee. The space is also notable for its design, which features black leather booths and a sunken white bar reached through a hexagonal hallway. starlitesandiego.com

San Diego Shopping Picks

Design Haven: SoLo

SoLo is in Solana Beach’s Cedros Avenue Design District, and Foshee is a regular visitor: “The shop has everything from cookbooks and architecture books to antique flasks. It’s all really tasteful and cool.” solocedros.com

Surf Shops: Mitch’s Surf Shop and Bird’s Surf Shed

“I surf and paddleboard, and there are a couple places I like to go to for gear. Mitch’s—there are two of them—are kind of old-school surf shops. They have everything: surfboards, clothing, fins, you name it. Bird’s is the same kind of deal. Both give you a taste of ocean life in San Diego.” mitchssurfshop.com; birdssurfshed.com

Farmers’ Market: San Diego Public Market

“This opened downtown with lots of funding from Kickstarter. It’s a structured market, like our version of San Francisco’s Ferry Building, or the Pike Place Market, in Seattle. It has a farmers’ market and lots of different vendors selling things like bacon, seafood, coffee, cookies and prepared foods.” Vendors have included the Sustainable Pantry, a gluten-free bakery, and the Ocean Beach Seafood truck, which sells fish tacos and sandwiches. sandiegopublicmarket.com

Farmers’ Market with an Italian Accent: Little Italy Mercato

“The market on Saturdays is always a really good stop. You can cruise through and get a cup of coffee or stop at one of the food trucks there, and obviously there’s a local farmers’ market. And because it’s in Little Italy you can get a bite to eat in one of the local restaurants.” The market boasts more than 150 booths selling everything from dates and lavender to hummus and tamales. littleitalysd.com/mercato

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