Features Opinion

Restaurant Rave: A Rambunctious Review of San Diego’s Classiest Cuisine

Let’s face it — the Point Loma Nazarene University cafeteria is far too often mediocre. Chances are, your last meal came from there. Was it nourishing? Arguably. Was it appetizing? Potentially. 

In San Diego county, one of the most diverse and exciting parts of California, you can discover an abundance of delicious food from all over the world. Should you have the chance to explore the county, it would certainly be wise to expand your palate beyond cafeteria food — it might be a lovely reward!

Without further ado, let’s explore some of San Diego county’s classiest cuisine.

  1. Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern 

Luke: Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern was one of the first restaurants that I visited when I was a first-year student at PLNU. My family had taken me out to dinner during my first semester, and Shelter Island was the perfect place to enjoy a savory meal.

On Shelter Island, the restaurant sits directly in front of the marina, where you can watch sailboats catching wind in the distance. With indoor and outdoor seating, it has an open and welcoming atmosphere. Large glass windows offer guests a clear view of the marina, so even if you are inside, you can still enjoy the outdoor scenery. 

Everything from the music to the service creates an excellent dining experience. The interior design flawlessly combines rustic and modern, fitting the restaurant’s coastal location. The menu consists of classic American food, including a variety of appetizing burgers and sandwiches, as well as salads, soups and fresh seafood. 

I ordered their beer battered fish and chips, which did not disappoint. In addition to this, I shared a seafood special with my dad; although I cannot remember what type of fish it was, I remember that its texture and flavor exceeded that of most seafood plates that I have had in the past.

For anyone seeking to enjoy a nice dinner while watching a sunset by the ocean, I highly recommend Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern. You can find Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern at 4990 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92106.

  1. Sushi Lounge

Grant: I never really ate sushi until recently, but I can say with absolute certainty that this is the best sushi place I have ever eaten at. The wait for a table was about 5 minutes, so it was not too bad.

The restaurant seemed lively, but it was not overly crowded. The hostess and wait staff were very friendly, and they gave great menu recommendations. Our waiter recommended their citrus chili yellowtail sashimi, which was delicious; I also ordered a rainbow roll. I went with my mom and she ordered the Chuck Norris roll; she reported it too was delicious.

Luke: As a lifelong sushi enthusiast, I can confidently claim that Sushi Lounge prepares some of the freshest and highest-quality sushi that you will ever taste; the difference is profound. I have eaten many satisfactory rainbow rolls, but Sushi Lounge’s is arguably the best, both in terms of flavor and presentation. 

Their menu lists numerous sushi rolls and also includes a variety of bento boxes, salads, bowls, combos and specials. The restaurant has a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere that enhances the overall experience.

Because of its close proximity to PLNU’s campus, Sushi Lounge is the ideal place to order a roll or two. You can find Sushi Lounge at 1304 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92106.

  1. Ortiz’s Taco Shop

Luke: Are you looking for a decent burrito in Point Loma? Ortiz’s Taco Shop will exceed your expectations (though Adalberto’s hits the spot too). There is not anything too remarkable about its location, but the food unquestionably compensates for that.

Grant: I will always go for their California burrito — it is phenomenal! As a self-declared foodie, I love to try new things, but I will never deviate from their California burrito; it is just that good.

The restaurant is small, and there is not a lot of seating, so I recommend taking it to go and eating it outside at a park. As the fries in the burrito tend to make my mouth dry, an ice-cold Jarritos compliments the meal nicely. 

Luke: Despite having an appetite for almost anything imaginable, I am rather selective when it comes to burritos, especially California burritos; Ortiz’s Taco Shop is one of the few places that does the carne asada, fries, pico de gallo, cheese and guacamole just right. Two of my favorite aspects of the restaurant are its friendly service and its consistent quality.

When you are in the mood for a good burrito, there are some reliable options nearby, but the legendary Ortiz’s Taco Shop reigns supreme. You can find Ortiz’s Taco Shop at 3704 Voltaire Street, San Diego, CA 92107.

  1. Rakiraki Ramen

Luke: How can a classic ramen house not belong to our list? A colorful combination of flavorful ingredients creates the irresistible Japanese soup beloved by all. 

Grant: It is loud, and it is always crowded. Surely that is a sign that it tastes good!

Luke: If a ramen house isn’t usually busy, should you not be concerned? 

Grant: My friend Valentina Montes recommended that I go to Rakiraki Ramen, so I went for the first time in September last year. The first thing that I noticed was how crowded it was. This immediately reassured me that I was in for a treat. Although it took about half an hour to be seated (and an additional 10–15 minutes for the chefs to prepare our food), it was well worth the wait. 

I ordered the Black Edition ramen, which contains handcrafted noodles with hakata tonkotsu broth and aburi chicken. The broth was very rich and flavorful, and the bowl was so big that I took half of it home as leftovers. The restaurant provides both indoor and outdoor seating; because it is such a popular restaurant, you are almost shoulder-to-shoulder with other tables, which is no problem because it adds to the atmosphere.

When you are finished with your meal, there is a dessert place across the street called Somisomi. If you are ever in Convoy, you should definitely check it out!

Luke: In addition to this, the owner of Rakiraki Ramen, Junya Watanabe, is originally from Tokyo, Japan; can authenticity really come into question? You can find Rakiraki Ramen at 4646 Convoy Street #102-A, San Diego, CA 92111.

  1. Ketch Grill and Taps

Luke: Another charming restaurant on Shelter Island, Ketch Grill and Taps ought to catch the attention of anyone with a taste for seafood. With an open balcony that overlooks the marina, the cool breeze from the ocean and the scent of saltwater enhance your dining experience. 

The restaurant additionally provides indoor seating for those who prefer to remain inside, but the indoor space is relatively open, which is an essential part of its atmosphere. Although the restaurant primarily serves seafood, there are several alternatives, including sandwiches, salads and side dishes.

I celebrated my nineteenth birthday with my parents at Ketch Grill and Taps, where I ordered their IPA battered fish and chips, which were a fantastic combination of salty and flavorful. We additionally shared fresh ceviche as an appetizer, and it was phenomenal. Lastly, to finish the meal, I enjoyed a rich ice cream dessert — I was absolutely stuffed, but I could not complain about the taste!

Seafood that comes from the ocean sitting right before your eyes is as good as it gets. You can find Ketch Grill and Taps at 2614 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92106.

Written By: Luke Spencer and Grant Solomon