I am thoroughly relishing the personal challenge I set for myself in 2024, as I explore new and enjoyable activities while continuing my quest to discover the best dining spots in San Diego. By intertwining these two objectives, I am gaining a deeper understanding of the city I call home, fostering a growing affection with each new revelation. Having documented the culinary scene in San Diego for over a year, I find myself continually enthralled by the endless array of restaurants to explore. I am honored to share my favorite monthly finds with you, enabling you to join my journey of embracing a vibrant and gastronomic lifestyle in America’s Finest City while also encouraging you to sign up for new experiences beyond those found on a menu.

Moe’s (Mission Beach)

Finding this sexy steak house was a big win for me, I’ll certainly be revisiting it many times in the future. As you enter, the first room boasts a large bar, filled with customers sipping cocktails and nibbling on appetizers. The real highlight of the space, however, is the main dining room, dimmed perfectly to set a romantic mood, and uses the incorporation of leather chairs and banquette seating to set the tone. I’ve added Moe’s to my list of San Diego bragging rights that I often reference when we have out-of-town guests.

pros: seductive space, delicious food, professional staff

cons: none

must order: their smokey old-fashioned, filet mignon and lobster tail (which is wonderfully soft and buttery), and any of their decadent desserts

insideOUT (Hillcrest)

I’ve been trying to snatch an impossible reservation during one of their revolving pop-up installations for over a year. When the restaurant transforms into one of its highly anticipated, short-lived themes, don’t even bother trying to book a table, I suggest you attempt walking in. Defeated by OpenTable, I decided to give this joint a chance when it wasn’t dressed to impress and I liked it even in its simplicity stage. The expansive outdoor space has unique water and fire features and many little nooks for private seating. The music was pumping adding to a sort of clubby vibe and the food was enjoyable but not something to write home about. Come here for the fun vibe and ambiance, not a stellar meal.

pro: 18+ policy so you never have to worry about little children running around, lively and amusing outdoor environment, attracts a good-looking gay male crowd

cons: reservations are impossible when they have a pop-up installment; the arancini balls are not good

must order: the strawberry mocktail is well-prepared – refreshing and not too sweet; the chips and dip with caramelized red onion, charred green onion, crumbled fried onion rings & sour cream served with housemade malt vinegar potato chips; the grilled salmon with lemon basil orzo, confit cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, spinach, green garlic purĆ©e

Desserts by Clement (Pacific Beach)

Chef Clement was a finalist on season nine of the Food Networks Spring Baking Championship and we have him right here in San Diego! Sunlight pours into his cozy, modern French patisserie that serves decadent pastries and hearty sandwiches throughout the day. It’s a great space to work off your laptop as you sip a latte and indulge in delicious baked goods. I had a hard time choosing so I ordered practically every macaron and mini-cake on the menu! (see left photo). It’s a hard life committed to research when you write about food – rest assured I am thoroughly committed!

pros: private parking lot makes parking a breeze, great natural lighting, nice place to plant yourself for a couple of hours to work remotely

cons: none

must order: the caramel and hazelnut macarons were my favorite along with the coconut mini cake (dark chocolate mousse, hazelnut praline, and chocolate shortbread) and the pink lady mini cake (whipped ganache with pistachio crumbs, strawberry jelly, shortbread)

Books and Records (Bankers Hill)

From start to finish we loved everything about this lively local favorite that dishes out delicious American cuisine. The service was spot-on, the craft cocktails were unique and made with high-quality ingredients, and the food was flavorful throughout each bite.

pros: live music wednesdays through sundays, lots of vegetarian options, fantastic service

cons: none

must order: the charred cabbage (over an artichoke purƩe), the tuna crudo (kimchi-pineapple aioli, candied jalapeƱo, pickled ginger, lemongrass oil, and the deconstructed lava cake (top right photo) which is an absolute must

Specialty ProduceĀ (Middletown)

This gem of a place falls under both the “food” and “fun” categories! Checking out this unique supermarket is an experience in itself. I have never seen such a stunning and abundant display of rare and exotic produce. My favorite room is “the farmer’s market” where you can find every kind of mushroom species, dozens of varieties of edible flowers, and loads of unique veggies. However, the back area, which we almost missed because we thought it was an employees-only zone, is fully stocked with practically every fruit and vegetable possible. My occasional Sunday visits to my local farmer’s market have been replaced by this incredible grocery store that has exposed me to produce I have never heard of, seen, or tasted. We left with packed boxes of fruits, most we had never tried, and as soon as we got home the whole family gathered around the kitchen excitedly awaiting to taste the next new fruit we purchased. Visiting this shop is truly memorable!

pros: the staff members are extremely passionate and knowledgeable; it sells a wide range of seasonal produce with many items that you likely have never heard of or tasted; it is clean, spacious, and visually stimulating; they deliver

,cons: you must put on surgical gloves before entering; some of the rooms are very cold (bring a jacket)

must order: grab a staff member and ask them to point out some of the unique produce they have in stock and to make suggestions and of course, grab those cotton candy grapes if there are any left

Total Raptor eXperience (Torrey Pines Glider Port)

Ever been curious about birds of prey? If so, this is the experience for you! Our tour guides Andrea and Antonella filled us with facts about these fascinating creatures. We had two hours of personal time with Reggie, an eleven-year-old falcon, and Logan, a three-year-old hawk. I highly recommend spending your afternoon watching these birds in action with gorgeous views overlooking the cliffs of La Jolla as hand gliders soar through the sky.

pros: a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with birds of prey; leave with chock full of knowledge and a great understanding of them

cons: watching them eat quail brains may not be for everyone

inside tips: book a private class for more interactions with the birds and more time to ask the many questions that you’ll have

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