Before social pressures, we would just eat and tell others to eat wherever we always ate. These days, it seems, recommendations come skewed by hype (to which I too am not immune) when what we really should be sharing are the places we return to over and over even when no one is looking.
So, here is an un-scientifically compiled list of the restaurants I frequented in San Diego the most in 2019, which was totally inspired by this tweet:
Hands down one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego. I love about 90% of the menu and never hesitate to recommend it to anyone. While I rotate between many of the dishes, the Black Pepper Cashew Chicken—trimmed mushrooms battered and fried in “beef jerky” (my words) sauce served with always perfect rice—special (above) is almost always on my table.
There are only have a handful of restaurants that slay on every single visit. Pokez is one. Even on the off days, I’m still happy to be here. The kitchen harnesses San Diego Soy Dairy tofu to create fajitas, tofu/potato/mushroom burrito, tofu tortas and other favorites scatted throughout the menu.
I fell hard into the party pit of Donut Panic. Here, donuts are a fleeting moment of lightness, with an almost eggy crumb, deep fried to a crisp and dripping with glossy sugar glaze spiked with lavender, lemon, or maple syrup.
I know! But facts are facts and I eat here all the time. It’s close to my office, the black bean patty is filling, vegan options are clearly spelled out online (pdf) and there plenty of pickles to choose from (I get them all). I basically eat a pickle sandwich with a black bean patty accent.
Dining here shook my taste buds to life. The menu runs deep with chaat (Indian street food/snacks), mostly marked vegan, and a rotating menu of entrees often prepared vegan when possible. You can read just how much I love Sattvik place here.
I come here for one dish: The Banh Xeo. It’s a huge crispy rice flour, turmeric, and coconut crepe stuffed with beansprouts, tofu, and mushrooms. It’s meant to be neatly wrapped into lettuce leave and herbs but, in my hands, turns into an delicious mess. It’s perfect.
I don’t frequently post this one on Instagram because Poke UTC is so un-vegan-friendly. A plastic bowl comes piled high with brown rice, lettuce, sweet strips of inari tossed in spicy sauce, seaweed salad, jalapenos, onions, mashed avocado, pickled ginger and radish, edamame, horseradish, and cilantro for $11-ish. It’s essentially deconstructed sushi—a relative bargain to forgo the fancy rolling and cutting.
I am hooked on the burgers. The house made seitan patties fill me with protein under melted vegan cheese and a side of seasoned fries (or steamed kale). This is my favorite burger in San Diego by a lot—but here are my other favorites to peruse. Not into burgers? Nachos sub fries make for a brilliant meal.
This is must visit spot in San Diego for all my vegan friends… which is what brings me here frequently. I’ve never not ordered the Skewers on a dinner visit. The Memphis BBQ Sandwich is also a steady diner buddy while the Hashes for the Mashes warm me up at brunch.
You will find me here always, running around with a big tray of food for the volunteers. Snapping pictures then feeding them spreads like this while I pick at the scraps left behind. Favorites have included potato croquette and veganized chicken fingers. None of this would happen without the support of the San Diego vegan and vegan-curious community, so thank you so much for embracing this idea and allowing me and mostly Carly to bring it to life.