San Diego’s restaurant week took the city by storm as local eateries served up their most popular dishes for discounted prices. This year, the UCSD Spoon staff explored the city’s best restaurant week offerings. Here’s a list of our favorites for both lunch and dinner.
The Lunch Favorites
Kanda Thai is decorated with calm hues of browns and purples to signify a sophisticated scenery of what presumes to be an upper-class mansion in Thailand. Each table contains a cute orchid inside a vase. Simple, classy, elegant. The servers are very kind and always check up on you to make sure everything is going smoothly.
For the price of $10, they give huge portion sizes and provide soup as an appetizer. Pad thai enthusiasts will love the tangyness and the sweet tamarind flavor that perfectly complements the noodles of this famous dish.
Puesto is cute, upscale taqueria that is dishing out some of the most flavorful tacos in La Jolla. For a $15 lunch special during Restaurant Week, they offered a choice of three tacos, a small appetizer, and a small frozen horchata. We went with the lamb barbacoa, chicken verde, and carnitas, and each taco was filled with meaty goodness.
Be prepared to get messy when the juicy meat starts falling out of their tiny tortillas. If you thought guacamole was indulgent enough on its own, Puesto amps your expectations even higher by adding shards of parmesan cheese.
Sausage and meat, hilariously labeled S&M, is a one-of-a-kind, meat-lovers paradise situated in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. They serve up house-made bacon glazed in honey or topped with Parmesan and garlic and have a sausage listing that includes an alligator andouille for the adventurous spirits of the world.
The pineapple Portuguese sausage topped with caramelized onions was heaven on a bun and the Parmesan rosemary garlic bacon revolutionized our idea of good bacon. S&M is a must-try, even without the Restaurant Week pricing.
With a great oceanside view, Il Fornaio Del Mar is the place to go for an affordable Italian fine dining experience. The $20 lunch deal offered an appetizer and a main dish. The caprese calda was a great starter, as the grilled tomato and mozzarella cheese were in a perfect balance with each other. The ratio was great and the flavors of the juicy tomato and cheese just melted in your mouth.
As a pasta-lover, the pennoni alla vodka is the dish to choose. The large pasta tubes with the vodka-cream-tomato sauce and grana padana cheese were full of flavor and did not disappoint this pasta fan.
Nestled near the breathtaking Del Mar shores, Cucina Enoteca serves up high-quality Italian food in a rustic atmosphere. For a $20 lunch during Restaurant Week, Cucina Enoteca offered a choice of an appetizer and an entree. Of the choices for an entree, we chose the boar ragu and polenta board, which was well-presented and packed with buttery, fall-off-the-bone flavor.
The Dinner Favorites
Located in Cardiff by the Sea, this restaurant is a hidden gem if there ever was one. Dining with an ocean view never tasted so good and the three panel windows overlooking the coastline are a testament to that.
The $20 Restaurant Week special gave you the option to pick between four appetizers, main dishes, and two desserts. Their lobster bisque was not only full of flavor, but was very filling and the lamb shank is a must-get if you like your meat practically sliding off the bone.
For the chocolate lovers out there, you’ll be happy to hear that both the lava cake and tiramisu are the perfect cherry on top of a savory meal. Visit Cicciotti’s for great food complemented by wonderful service and delightful food.
Located in Mission Hills of San Diego, this New American/Italian restaurant boasts a farm-to-table initiative that is certainly reflected in the quality of their food. The $30 Restaurant Week menu offered choices of an appetizer, entree, and a dessert.
The burrata appetizer was a very pleasant surprise, as the subtle sweetness of the burrata paired well with the salt and umami of the prosciutto, as well as with the sweet and tangy fig jam and balsamic reduction. The kurobuta pork chop was succulent and tender without being drowned in seasoning or sauces, allowing the meat itself to truly shine.
Brockton Villa is quaint American restaurant located right along the coastline of La Jolla Cove. Best known for their brunch options, Brockton Villa offers numerous seafood dishes on their dinner menus. For Restaurant Week, the menu included an appetizer, entree, and dessert.
The crab stack combined the richness of a fresh crab salad topped with mashed avocado with the refreshing flavors of a berry sauce. Brockton Villa’s famous toast, a popular brunch offering, was on their dessert menu during Restaurant Week and deserves its recognition as their most popular menu option.
Whisknladle is located in La Jolla and is a romantic, candle-lit-dinner type of American restaurant. For a $40 dinner during Restaurant Week, Whisknladle provided a choice of an appetizer, an entree and a dessert.
The flank steak was a perfectly cooked medium-rare and the salted caramel boudino was a sweet and salty way to end the night. Most importantly, Whisknladle was a bang for our buck—the restaurant week promotion cut the price in half.
The Wellington is tucked away in the Mission Hills of San Diego and is a fairly small restaurant that shares a kitchen with the neighboring Red Door Restaurant. The steakhouse exudes class as the décor is coupled with a chandelier and mirrors that create the illusion of space.
The martini came as we ordered it (dry), and we loved how the tangy olives contributed to another layer of complexity. The star of the show was obviously the Wellington, and it was exquisite. The puff pastry was crispy and fragrant, while the mushroom duxelle was rich without overpowering the tender and exactly medium-rare filet.
Even during Restaurant Week, the Wellington is a bit costly, but if we ever feel the urge to splurge, this would be the place.
When it comes to Restaurant Week deals, you really can’t go wrong with Fogo de Chao. At $40 dollars, you get 8 out of the 16 cuts of meat available, along with unlimited access to the salad bar (which already feels like a buffet in and of itself, with smoked salmon, fist-sized balls of mozzarella, rice and beans, and various pasta salads), Brazilian side dishes served throughout your meal, and 3 choices of dessert to finish.
Servers carry huge racks of meat on a stick, stopping at your convenience to replenish your plate. The ambiance of the restaurant is classy, but leans towards a more laid-back and casual vibe. The waiters and servers are friendly and engaging, even laughing along with you as you moan in pain and cradle your near-exploding food baby by the end of the meal.
Ever since Michael Gardiner, food writer for the San Diego City Beat, voted Bracero as his top restaurant newcomer of 2015, we’ve waited for a chance to personally investigate this modern Mexican restaurant in Little Italy. Restaurant Week presented itself as an enticing opportunity as the $45 dinner included a starter, choice of either two small hot plates or one entrée, and a choice of dessert.
All food was easily shareable, and our table of four split two orders comfortably. The wood grilled octopus was smoky and firm on the outside while perfectly moist on the inside. The bone marrow and shrimp sopes was rich in both texture and flavor.