arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

Top Tables in the Neighborhood

Great Places to Eat and Drink

Close to the action in Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, and Balboa Park

Hillcrest has always loved good food. It could arguably be called San Diego’s first foodie neighborhood. Before the tide of craft breweries, artisanal doughnuts, and design-conscious bistros, this district offered a wide variety of tastes, cultures, and price points. Hillcrest—along with Balboa Park and Bankers Hill—still keeps things fresh and exciting, welcoming adventurous flavors from all corners of the world.

From San Diego staples to new kids on the block bound for distinction, these neighborhoods are filled with so many top restaurants, you may never get to them all. There’s no reason not to try, though! Restaurants of every genre fill cozy corner spots, high-ceilinged expanses, and mood-lit nooks—and finding the best is a worthy endeavor. Here are a few stars to point you in the right direction.

Panama 66

The columned courtyard setting in the center of Balboa Park makes even locals feel like they’re on vacation. Tucked between the Museum of Art and the sculpture garden, this casual eatery and bar offers house-made cocktails, salads, sandwiches, and weekend brunch. Live music jazzes up the atmosphere four nights a week, soft blankets are available for picnic-style lounging in the garden, and with the iconic California Tower as a dining companion, you can’t ask for a prettier view.

Location: 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101

Banker’s Hill Bar + Restaurant

This rustic space with a strong splash of class is as perfect for group brunch on Sundays as it is for intimate date nights. Fresh, local ingredients form the basis of the chef-described craft-cooking menu, and the cocktails know a little something about the word craft, too. From the wood and metal décor to the patio’s verdant living wall, this restaurant is a real charmer. Don’t leave without trying the signature deviled egg. (Hint: The Bloody Marys come with one, if you want to live big.)

Location: 2202 4th Ave, Bankers Hill, San Diego, CA 92101 

Cucina Urbana

Classic Italian blends seamlessly with laidback California modern at this beloved Bankers Hill eatery. The ingredients are top-notch, the preparation masterful, and the environment warm and welcoming. The extensive wine list is available at retail level, so when you find one you like, you can take a bottle to go.

Location: 505 Laurel St, Bankers Hill, San Diego, CA 92101

Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro

Cozy, romantic décor and Tagine comfort foods lend Kous Kous its allure. Chef Moumen Nouri blends memories of color, sound, and experience with the flavors of his native Morocco to tell stories through food. Great for groups, you can order a Moroccan Feast, which includes several shared dishes and is served with saffron rice, fresh Moroccan bread, and dessert.

Location: 3940 4th Avenue, Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103


With an open kitchen, big floor-to-ceiling windows, great service, and an expansive patio, it’s no surprise Trust quickly became a neighborhood favorite. Chef and owner Brad Wise ensures seasonal and local ingredients grace the menu, and the woodfire grill brings added flair and flavor to shared plates and entrees. Sip astonishingly good cocktails among the midcentury décor, and soak up the perfect pairing of style and substance.

Location: 3752 Park Blvd. Suite 105C, Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103

Better Buzz Coffee

The Valhalla of coffee houses, this large and meticulously designed space boasts high, exposed beam ceilings, crisp tile details, and warm lighting. From the round central counter to the mezzanine lounge, it will leave you buzzing from eye candy alone. They also happen to serve richly flavored cold brews and hot coffee drinks, grilled sandwiches, and an array of pastries.

Location: 801 University Ave, Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103

Hachi Ramen

Vegans, take note. Not only does Hachi serve four vegan ramen choices as regular offerings, nearly every part of their menu—from apps to seasonal plates—has at least one vegan option. Non-vegans will also find plenty to love in the Japan-by-way-of-California flavors. The light wood and tile-accented interior is simple but welcoming, and every plate and bowl is a feast for the eyes and the palate.

Location: 2505 5th Ave, Bankers Hill, San Diego, CA 92103

Amarin Thai

A tried-and-true little enclave in the midst of bustling Hillcrest, this tucked-away Thai restaurant is a perfect respite after a busy day. Their hotpot soups melt flavor across your tongue, and the aromatic curries are traditional and delicious. Pair dishes with a pick from the robust wine menu, and let the warm atmosphere work its magic. With remarkably reasonable prices, you’ll leave happy, too.

Location: 3843 Richmond St, Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103  

Two Seven Eight

The cocktails really shine at this Hillcrest heart-stealer, but the food will give you the warm and fuzzies, too. If you want to try locally distilled spirits, you’ll find the city’s largest variety under Two Seven Eight’s roof. On the rocks or shaken, swirled, and stirred, these liquors are crafted into creative concoctions with names like Warrior Queen. With seasonally inspired shared plates and a neighborly vibe, this Craftsman house-turned-restaurant makes both natives and visitors feel right at home.

BO-beau Kitchen + Caché and Libertad

Though BO-beau has four locations, none but Hillcrest’s come with two added bonuses. Craft cocktail bar Caché is a romantic speakeasy accessed via refrigerator door. Don’t let its threshold fool you, though. Inside is a sophisticated Paris-inspired dreamland filled with bonne temps and a little je ne sais quoi. Libertad doubles as a taco joint and charity—it functions as a non-profit that gives proceeds back to the community.

Location: 1027 University Ave, Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you


Grand Spa Getaway

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Valid: Jan 17 - ongoing

Experience San Diego's only Five-Star spa with a relaxing getaway for one or two.  Package Includes: Luxury overnight accommodations Two 60-minute spa treatments (choice of Therapeutic...


Tourism Discount

Fit City Adventures
Valid: Feb 19 - ongoing

Thanks for finding us here! Mention code "SDTA" when booking for a 10% discount on all services and packages. 


Spa Rejuvenation Package

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa
Valid: Jan 24 - ongoing

Rejuvenate and relax your mind and body with our Spa Rejuvenation Package. This package allows you to pamper yourself with your choice of one 50-minute massage or facial at Spa Brezza. Parking and...

Events to check out


San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Dec 27, 2019

Don't miss America's Finest Bowl Experience! This signature San Diego event annually showcases a thrilling game between some of college football’s most competitive conferences, the Big Ten and...


San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Dec 8 - Dec 15, 2019

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated sailing by the shores for all to see.


San Diego International Auto Show

Jan 1 - Jan 5, 2020

Where the cars are the stars! The San Diego International Auto Show features the widest variety of new vehicles under one roof.

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More





Follow Us


English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China FlagChinaGermany FlagGermanyGreat Britain FlagGreat BritainJapan FlagJapanMexico FlagMexicoKorea FlagKoreaSwitzerland FlagSwitzerlandBrazil FlagBrazilFrance FlagFranceAustralia FlagAustraliaCanada FlagCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish