The Required: San Diego

The Required: San Diego

A definitive guide to San Diego's tried and trues, as chosen by over 5000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

August 6, 2020
The Required: San Diego

The Required: San Diego

A definitive guide to San Diego's tried and trues, as chosen by over 5000+ of the nation's top chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, & other food and beverage pros.

August 6, 2020

Hello, San Diego. Welcome to The Required club.

The Required is our expert version of a "best list," comprised of the stand-out restaurants that have garnered the all-time most recommendations from our expert community. That's 5000+ all-star chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, and more–no black box of food editor committees or user surveys, just plain, crave-able cred.

Read on to plan your next trip—or just to be sure you've checked all the boxes on your home turf. 

Born and Raised

The Story: Consortium Holdings, a SD based restaurant group known for being ahead of the curve when it comes to market trends, spent $6.5 million and three years opening Born and Raised, an old school steakhouse with few contemporary twists. Set in a 1930’s building in Little Italy, its 10,000 square foot dining room was done to the nines by the masterminds at local design and architecture firm Basile Studios. Walnut wood columns bloom at the ceiling in the shape of Angel’s Trumpets, fat-stacks-of-cash green marble slabs top the bar, and the custom leather banquettes are smooth as Born and Raised’s house-made butter. 

What to Eat: Sides of dry-aged beef hang on display in Michelin starred Chef Jason Mcleod’s kitchen like suits in Al Capone’s walk-in closet. Choose your favorite cut of steak (for us, that’s ribeye), or the succulent Duck L’Orange. If you’re looking for a floorshow, whole hearts of romaine Caesar salads, Chef Diane, and even Manhattan cocktails are prepared tableside on carts.

What to Drink: You know the steakhouse drill: classic cocktails, like Rob Roys or Martinis before dinner, and red wine with. 

The Vibe: The opulence of 1930’s gangsters meets the live for today excesses of 1990s gangster rappers–– as referenced by the larger than life black and white portraits of legends like Eazy E and ODB (RIP) that hang on the walls. Rose gold lighting makes everyone and everything incredibly photogenic, so dress and groom accordingly. 

When to Go: Momentous occasions–– a promotion at work, your shady uncle leaving you beaucoup bucks in an offshore account, or simply being in San Diego all come to mind. Reservations are recommended, or you can try your luck at the bar.

Born And Raised
Hot Spot
Little Italy, San Diego
$$$$, Outdoor Seating, Modern, Full Bar, Steakhouse
3 Recommendations

Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken

The Story: An international chain founded in South Korea, Bonchon specializes in made to order Korean style super crispy twice-fried chicken wings, drumsticks, and strips. Their San Diego location manages to hold their own in the Pan-Asian culinary strip mall wonderland that is Kearny Mesa’s Convoy Street. 

What to Eat: Pick your favorite cut of bird on offer, then your glaze: spicy, soy garlic, sweet crunch or as our experts point out, you can make orders “half and half” to eliminate any flavor FOMO. Their Bibimbap bowls, and sides like pickled radish and Kimchi coleslaw all get high marks from our Experts. 

What to Drink: Go for one of the many local microbrews they have on offer to help cool down overheated tongues. 

The Vibe: A simple sit down joint, ideal for a casual lunch or weekend night mid-game snack.  

When to Go: There can be a bit of a line around that seeming universal dinner hour at 7 p.m. Instead try to catch them between 3-6 p.m. for weekday Happy Hour specials. 

Manila Sunset Grille

The Story: Manila Sunset Grille was first established in Southern California in 1985. The popularity of this eatery, which specializes in regional, hard-to-find-outside of the Philippines dishes, has remained a comfort food favorite for over 30 years now. Their San Diego location, in Century City, even withstands the scrutiny of their toughest customers: other Filipino-Americans. 

What to Eat: Our Experts rave about Manila Sunset’s Lechon: fried and braised fatty pork, skin on. Their fresh Lumpia Rolls and Pancit Malabon– Rice Noodles pan fried with Sunset Sauce, Shrimp, Egg, Veggies and topped with Chicharones, also hit the spot. This place is also known for their specialty desserts like Bibingkang Galapong (a custardy concoction, somewhere between a coconut rice pudding and cake), which is traditionally found in church plazas and roadside stalls in the Philippines during the Christmas season. 

What to Drink: Soft drinks or water. 

The Vibe: Thatched tropical fiber chairs and counter service give this place a laid back, family feel. 

When to Go: Open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, this is a great spot to treat yourself and your crew while out running errands, or grab take out on your way to an evening spent chilling on someone’s back patio.

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