2003 Best of

Eating San Diego Readers' Picks

Eating San Diego Readers' Picks

Best Dining Atmosphere

Café Sevilla

Amid the rich colors and textures of coastal Spain, Café Sevilla takes diners on a fiesta with authentic cuisine and lavish dinner shows. Sevilla also has locations in Carlsbad and Riverside-all three locations offer salsa dancing lessons and Latin dance-club nights. 555 4th Ave. 619-233-5979. www.cafesevilla.com

Best Bagels

Einstein Brothers Bagels

An Einstein Brothers bagel is a quick and inexpensive staple of the San Diego morning. For lunch, try the turkey Reuben or a grilled panini. At least 10 locations in San Diego. www.einsteinbros.com

Honorable Mention

Influx Café featuring Big City Bagels

1948 Broadway. 619-255-9470.

Best Bakery

Bread and Cie

What do you do with a 10,000-pound French oven? Bread and Cie bakes delicate pastries, brownies and muffins. But the bakery is best known for its European peasant breads like black olive loaf and its Black Forest ham sandwiches. 350 University Ave. 619-683-9322.

Best BBQ

Phil's Barbecue

Phil's permeates the air in Mission Hills with barbecue spice, luring dozens of unsuspecting meat-eaters to the doors, eager and salivating. 4030 Goldfinch St., 619-688-0559.

Honorable Mention

Stan's Be Back Barbeque

901 E Street, 619-6965.6262

Best Breakfast

The Mission

Five words: Indo Chine Double Happiness Bowl. Sure, it's a lunch item, but any place that comes up such a wonderful name has to know what it's doing when it comes to breakfast. 2801 University Ave. 619-220-8992.

Honorable Mention

Hash House A-Go-Go

3628 Fifth Ave. 619-298-4646.

Best Burger


Hodad's knows that when we're talking about an all-American burger, bigger is better, and Little E says, "Hey, man-that burger's huuuge." 5010 Newport Ave. 619-224-4623.

Honorable Mention

Rocky's Crown Pub

3786 Ingraham St., 858-273-9140

Best Business Lunch

The Prado

Impress those out-of-town clients with the Spanish architecture and fabulous bar to put the Four Seasons to shame. 1549 El Prado. 619-557.9441. www.pradobalboa.com

Best Cheap Eats

Chicken Pie Shop

Anytime you see a conglomeration of tasty foods wrapped in flour, the outcome is not only good, but also cheap (see: burritos). Mom would be proud-savin' cash and eating your veggies. 2633 El Cajon Blvd. 619-295-0156.

Best Fast Food

In-N-Out Burger

Fast food? Yes, but unlike those other chains that use some of the same compounds found in cardboard, In-N-Out Burger boasts 100 percent pure beef burgers. At least 10 locations in San Diego County. www.in-n-out.com

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang's

P.F. Chang's practices the Chinese principles of fan and t'sai to create a harmonious blend of taste, texture and aroma. 7077 Friars Road. 619-260-8484. www.pfchangs.com

Best Deli

DZ Akins

You can't fit your mouth around the sandwiches at DZ Akins, a favorite eatery of, among other luminaries, Congressman Bob Filner. In the words of one DZ fanatic, "The rye bread alone tastes like it was delivered from New Jersey-the generous heaps of warm pastrami and cold deli mustard put you on Ludlow Street, looking for Katz's deli." 6930 Alvarado Road. 619-265-0218.

Best Donuts

Krispy Kreme

With at least five locations in San Diego, Krispy Kreme is the new standard of fried bread with holes. www.krispykreme.com

Best Greasy Spoon

Brian's American Eatery

One diner referred to Brian's breakfast dishes as "creative and unusual." They also have eats for veg-heads. 1451 Washington St. 619-296-8268.

Best Coffeehouse

Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge

Sit and have a jumbo cup of the organic and enjoy the crowd, or go for that caramel almond mocha... ooooooh. 2906 University Ave. 619-688-9845. www.clairedelune.com

Honorable Mention


1128 25th St. 619-230-0272

Best Ice Cream

Cold Stone Creamery

Cold Stone takes its name from a 1980s method of making ice cream in which fresh ingredients are folded into the ice cream over a zero-degree stone. 1010 University Ave. 619-296-5075.

Honorable Mention

Gelato Vero

3753 India St. 619-295-9269

Best Indian Restaurant

Star of India

The only words on the menu that you'll understand are chicken and garlic, but if you point to anything, you will pick something you like. Second location in PB. 423 F St. 619-234-8000.


Best Italian Restaurant


Some might call it quaint, others would just call it small, but whatever their semantic preference might be, all agree that Arrivederci is authentic Italian. 3845 4th Ave., 619-299-6282.

Best Sushi

Ono Sushi & Pacific Spice

Sushi bars are the Gen X after-work alternative to tired bars, and Ono Sushi is the hippest of the hip Asian fusion cafes. 1236 University Ave. 619-298-0616

Honorable Mention

Sushi Deli

810 Broadway. 619-232-1001.

Best Mexican Take Out

La Posta

It's after-hours at La Posta and the line is infinite with people who have spilled out of the bars and want a little something to soak up the alcohol before they hit the hay. 3980 3rd Ave. 619-295-8982.

Best Mexican Sit Down

Casa de Bandini

Another famous Old Town restaurant, Casa De Bandini would fit in with the best of Puerto Nuevo-authentic Mexican fare, strumming mariachis, a bubbling fountain and a lazy patio to enjoy a late-evening dinner. 2660 Calhoun St. 619-297-8211. www.bazzardelmundo.com

Honorable Mention


4474 Mission Blvd. 858-490-2877

Best Pizza by the Slice

Bronx Pizza

Bronx Pizza won the voters poll by a landslide with its New York-style, thin-crust pizza. 111 Washington Ave. 619-291-3341.

Best Pizza

Woodstock's Pizza

It's hard to find a good jukebox, like the one Woodstock's has, at a pizza joint. But SDSU students also go for the goods: a choice of garlic, tomato barbeque, pesto or red sauces. 6548 El Cajon Blvd. 619-265-0999.

Best Seafood

Anthony's Fish Grotto

Anthony's has three locations in San Diego, plus the fine-dining spot, Anthony's Star of the Sea. The downtown grotto is right on the bay and dinners are available in lunch portions. 1360 N. Harbor Drive. 619-232-5103.

Best Smoothie

Jamba Juice

The art of the smoothie is perfected and distributed for everyone to enjoy. Wherever you are in San Diego, there is a Jamba Juice nearby. www.jambajuice.com

Best Soul Food

Huffman's Barbecue

Louisiana Creole, crab, ham, catfish, ribs-if you've never had soul food, Huffman's will bring you in gently, but you'll learn real fast what it's all about. 5039 Imperial Ave. 619-264-3115.

Best Steak House

Donovan's Steak & Chop House

If a Donovan's filet mignon knew what other restaurants were serving, it would take offense at the term "steak." A glass of wine from the lengthy list and a 10-ounce, and it seems there is no greater luxury in the world. 4340 La Jolla Village Drive. 858-450-6666.

Best Brunch

El Torito Mexican Restaurant

El Torito is a chain, but the house chef at each location infuses the cuisine with a local flavor. Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 8910 Villa La Jolla Drive. 858-453-4115. www.eltorito.com

Best Thai

Lotus Thai Bistro

The atmosphere is soothing, the yellow curry is sharp and the chicken and spinach in peanut sauce can't be beat. 3761 6th Ave. 619-299-8272

Best Vegetarian

Pokez Mexican Restaurant

Pokez is the family vegetarian restaurant; the thing is, everyone is family, from industrial hip to tattooed punk and business casual. 947 E St. 619-702-7160.

Best New Restaurant

Yard House

Nearly 150 beers on tap, but this is not your father's corner dive-Yard House pours fine and familiar beers for the martini-drinking set. 1023 4th Ave. 619-233-9273.

Best Overall Restaurant

Parallel 33

The globe's 33rd parallel is considered the most exotic line on the grid, running across Morocco, Lebanon, China, Japan and India. The menu at Parallel 33 draws from the multitude of dishes from these very countries. 741 Washington St., 619-260-0033.