Where to Dine in San Diego: Hillcrest

Looking for a place to eat in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego? Here are some suggestions for dining in this newly revived area of San Diego. Mind you, this isn't a "best" or "top" list, nor is it exclusively focused on fine dining. It's simply a subjective list of places to try while in this part of San Diego. Now, get out and eat!

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    Pizza is subjective and everyone has a favorite place, and pizza shops are a dime a dozen in every neighborhood. And then there's Bronx Pizza. If you're a fan of thin crust, New York-style pizza where they are called pies, look no further than this iconic take-out joint. These pies are commonly available by the slice: Cheese, Pepperoni, Porko, Mushroom, Pepperoni Mushroom, Bronx Deluxe, Veggie, Sausage, Primavera, Artichoke, Tomato Garlic, Eggplant, Pesto, Whitestone, Whitestone Spinach, Whitestone Mushroom, Whitestone Pepperoni. Cash only.


    111 Washington St (between 1st Ave & 3rd Ave)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    It's always busy and the portions are huge, and the parking sucks. But Hash House A Go Go is such an institution because it takes comfort food, tweaks it, and turns it on its head. Oh, and did I say the portions are huge? Flapjacks include flavors like Snickers, Butterscotch Almond, Apple Cinnamon, Mango Coconut, Strawberry Frosted Flake. There's also sage fried chicken, stuffed meatloaf, one pound stuffed burgers, and a slew of hashes like Mushroom, artichoke hearts, sundried tomato and fresh spinach hash.

    3628 5th Ave. (between Brookes Ave & Anderson Pl)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    The cinnamon rolls. And the turnovers. Oh, and the bread. All flaky, crusty, delicious. Bread & Cie is the city's most distinctive producer of artisan bread, supplying the bread to many local restaurants. In fact, if you've been dining out and have said, "Yummy bread," it was probably supplied by Bread & Cie. Baked seven days a week in a European stone hearth oven using age-old artisan bread making techniques. The sheer variety of bread and pastries make it worth visiting, but there are also soups, sandwiches, and salads on the menu. Order some coffee and pastries and imagine you're having a leisurely meal in Paris. Did I mention the cinnamon rolls?

    350 University Avenue (between 3rd Ave & Albatross St)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    Back in the day, Jimmy Wong's Golden Dragon was one of the few places besides Denny's where my college friends and I could find food late at night (or early morning). And it's still open until 3 a.m. every day. It's been renovated, a little more upscale and less tattered than my college days, but it still serves up good Chinese food. Oh, and the neon dragon sign out front is still one of the coolest ones in town.

    414 University Avenue (between 4th Ave & 5th Ave)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    Urban Mo's Bar & Grill used to be Hamburger Mary's. The name may have changed a few years back, but it's still the place to go in Hillcrest if you want to experience, shall we say, the gay atmosphere of the neighborhood. As the restaurant says, Urban Mo's is a hetero-friendly gay restaurant that makes the best hamburgers in San Diego, hands down. They're colorful. They're fun. They're the best time you'll have on any given afternoon, and an even better time in the evening. And they believe that cocktail glasses should be adorned with plastic farm animals. It all spells out fun, yes?

    308 University Ave (between 3rd Ave & 4th Ave)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    Every neighborhood should have a signature diner that has comfort food. Crest Cafe fits that niche perfectly for Hillcrest. The stalwart diner serves up a lineup of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, from burgers and homey comfort food ​to Mexican specialties. Not a greasy spoon diner, Crest Cafe is more of a relaxed and cozy place that serves up decent food at not too bad prices.

    425 Robinson Ave. (between 4th Ave & 5th Ave)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    Yakitori is the Japanese variation of the kabob. In Japan, the skewers served up are primarily chicken, and at Yakitori Yakyudori, they serve up along with grilled chicken they serve up a variety of meats such as pork and beef. By grilling items on skewers, fat and oil content is reduced but increases the juicy flavor. But it's not just your standard meat cut skewers they grill up - here you can get everything from chicken hearts and gizzards to beef tongue and even quail egg. 

    3739 6th Ave. (between Evans Pl & Pennsylvania Ave)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    These days, the only thing we associate with Afghanistan is the ongoing war tearing through the country. But it may be a surprise that it's the origin of some tasty dishes as well. Khyber Pass serves up the favorite dishes from the Near East, Turkey, Afghanistan, and India presented in a chic colorful ambiance. Enjoy the healthy, fresh ingredients blended with exotic spices created to excite your senses. The Nasery family opened the Khyber Pass Restaurant over 16 years ago after coming to the United States to escape the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    523 University Ave. (between 5th Ave & Brant St)
    San Diego, CA 92103

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    La Posta

    Every neighborhood has to have a taco shack, and Hillcrest has many, but one of the favorites is La Posta. If you're not looking for it, you'd probably miss it. Unless you're driving around late at night, looking for a place to get a carne asada burrito. Then you'll notice La Posta because there is always a late-night crowd seeking to satiate their after-hours munchies.

    3980 3rd Ave. (between University Ave & Washington St)
    San Diego, CA 92103
    (619) 295-8982

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    The Busalacchi family is the first family of Italian eateries in San Diego, with seven restaurants around the city.  And Busalacchi's Ristorante is the flagship dining room. Old school traditional Italian fine dining and service is what you'll find at Busalacchi's. It ain't a pizzeria - or Olive Garden, for that matter - but it ain't too pricey either.

    3683 5th Ave. (between Anderson Pl & Pennsylvania Ave)
    San Diego CA 92103
    (619) 298-0119

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    Terra is tucked away in the Uptown Retail District in Hillcrest. But it's worth seeking out because it's a relaxed casual eatery serving up some interesting dishes. Terra specializes in "The America's" cuisine and celebrates the best the ingredients earth can offer. Its seasonal menu reflects its ties to the freshest local & regional products available. Using the finest and freshest ingredients with the most unique presentation.

    1270 Cleveland Ave. (between Richmond St & Vermont St)
    San Diego, CA92103
    (619) 293-7088

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    Thai restaurants are like taco joints - everyone has their favorite one. Amarin Thai is a favorite of a lot of people and it's not the most obvious, situated on a side street in Hillcrest. But it serves up some authentic, fresh Thai food at very good prices. What more can you ask?

    3843 Richmond St (between Essex St & University Ave)
    San Diego, CA92103
    (619) 296-6056

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    La Pizzeria Arrivederci

    La Pizzeria Arrivederci is one of those places to go if you feel like pizza or straightforward Italian food and want to feel cool in an urban setting. Thin crust pizza, spaghetti bolognese, good wine - it's a good place to spend a leisurely meal when you don't have to be anywhere right away.

    3789 4th Ave (between Pennsylvania Ave & Robinson Ave)
    San Diego, CA 92103
    (619) 542-0293