San Diego’s city fathers and mothers (not to mention planners) are keen on telling us that ours is a “City of Neighborhoods.” They lied when they said it, and they lie now. San Diego is not a city of neighborhoods, never was, and cannot be for many reasons: Southern California sprawl, lack of walkability, housing prices. There’s more, but we’ll get on with it.
That’s not to say San Diego — both City and County — doesn’t have some great neighborhoods. La Jolla, Oceanside, Hillcrest, and La Mesa are examples of these. But to say the boring suburbanity of East Del Mar, the anonymity of Nestor, or the vast vanilla that is Clairemont make them “great neighborhoods” would require a wholesale redefinition of the word “neighborhood.”
But there’s one way San Diego neighborhoods — whether or not “great” — express their character: their dining scene. Here are the top 10 San Diego dining neighborhoods, plus some honorable mentions.