My endless pursuit of great food in San Diego comes with several rewards: discovering new restaurants that I love, gathering with friends over delicious food that we experience together for the first time, sharing my favorite findings with my awesome readers, and giving my high heels purpose beyond collecting dust in my closet. I’m not sure when my love affair with food began but if I had to guess it would be in my grandmother’s kitchen. Grandma always filled her pots with delicious homemade concoctions and her home always smelled safe and inviting. Since my early twenties, I began dabbling with cooking, often trying (successfully) to recreate her recipes. Her cooking sparked my foodie interest leading me to love creating meals in my kitchen and enjoying the creativity that others pump out of their kitchens even more. So here I am, a couple of decades later, fully immersed in biting into as many restaurants as I can looking for those moments where the combinations of ingredients perfectly line up and instantly etch memories in my mind. This month, I stumbled upon some wonderful findings that I am thrilled to share with you so you can start making some reservations and memories too!

Et Voila (North Park)

This French bistro is a newcomer to my list of best restaurants in San Diego. Here you’ll find traditional French cuisine brilliantly prepared in a cozy, casual ambiance with extremely reasonable prices for the quality and mastery of the perfectly prepared dishes.

pros: every dish ordered was outstanding, wonderful service, great cocktails

cons: none

must order: ravioli aux champignons, croustillant chaud de reblochun (warm and crispy phyllo dough, reblochon cheese, honey reduction), black pearl kaluga cavair with blinis and all the goodies, bouef bourguignon traditionnel , souffle, and creme brulee

Juniper & Ivy (Little Italy)

This month I celebrated my third visit to this San Diego institution carefully selecting it as the place where we’d impress our recent out-of-town guests. Because the chef relies on locally sourced ingredients, the menu constantly changes to highlight the freshest ingredients available on a given day. The formerly abandoned warehouse has been transformed into a chic, modern dining space with an open kitchen and eye-catching banquette seating to tie the room.

pros: lively ambiance with a creative menu that changes often

cons: none

must order: there is an outstanding off-the-menu “inn-n-haute burger” that only in-the-know patrons know about – the burger must be pre-ordered a day in advance by calling the restaurant. Otherwise, the menu changes regularly

The Mission (North Park)

I can’t remember the last time I ordered a milkshake, especially one that cost only $8. I love this unassuming diner in North Park. Customers vary from families with young children to hung-over twenty-year-olds who haven’t gone to bed yet, you’ll see ladies wearing Prada and goth teens all in one space.

pros: great people watching, very reasonable prices, delicious breakfast dishes

cons: they don’t take reservations

must order: mocha chip milkshake and the rancheros verdes (fresh flour tortillas with eggs over medium, tomatoes, scallions, black beans, cheese, and roasted chile verde sauce)

Aldea (La Jolla)

This La Jolla newbie has some kinks to work out but it has lots of potential. The interior instantly caught my attention- a swanky coastal vibe in an ultra-modern setting. The menu is also enticing, but the kitchen hasn’t mastered the flavors in the colorful dishes that come beautifully presented. For now, give them some time to work things out but in the meantime grab a seat at the bar and order a well-crafted cocktail.

pros: beautiful aesthetics, delicious cocktails, spot-on service

cons: food is not at the level that is expected

must order: sunflower cocktail (evoo, washed mezcal, flower syrup, lime, xtabentun rinse)

King of Thai Cuisine (La Jolla)

A charming, authentic Thai restaurant is a new addition to the row of restaurants on Girard Avenue. Dinner here appeased my craving for good Thai cuisine and I’m thrilled to have a new go-to place when I get my next itch for Thai food.

pros: inexpensive, quaint interior with an unpretentious patio, large menu

cons: the cream cheese wontons are not filled enough and are overly fried

must order: the vegetable spring rolls, yellow curry, and vegetable fried rice along with a side of the three homemade hot sauces that range in heat

Valentina (Encinitas)

A new brunch favorite of mine, Valentina wowed me with each bite. The owners’ trips to Spain and the Mediterranean inspire most of the dishes in this cozy neighborhood bistro. Washing down each bite with a homemade sangria is a perfect combination!

pros: outstanding, unique brunch menu

cons: the drink menu is limited to wine, and they add a 5% surcharge to the bill

must order: the chimichurri steak sandwich (baguette, garlic aioli, flat iron steak, chimichurri, sliced red onions) and the savory dutch baby pancake with smoked steelhead, cherry tomatoes, creme fraiche, and freaky leaks

Coachella (Indigo, CA)

As a reminder, when we rang in the new year, I set a challenge to immerse in a unique experience in, or near, San Diego each month. My fun activity for April was bucket-list-worthy fun. Coachella is only a two-and-a-half-hour drive from San Diego and is a festival that every San Diegan must enjoy at least once. Click HERE for a full description of this month’s extra fun adventures in the Coachella Valley.

pros: set your soul free and dance the days away with the tunes of incredible artists while expressing yourself however you wish

cons: lots of walking and high temperatures in the afternoon

tips: splurge on VIP parking and ticket entrance, take the time to see the art installations at various times of the day as the lighting changes them drastically, make a list of “must-see” artists from the line-up, and then let the beats in the desert dictate the rest of your day

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