Hey ma! The meatloaf, we want it now! The meatloaf! What is she doing? I never know what she's doing back there. – Wedding Crashers
You don’t have to be still living in your mother’s basement to remember the distinct taste and smell of a home cooked meal. Spaghetti, fried chicken, matzo ball soup, mashed potatoes, meatloaf and mac and cheese; these are a few of the most beloved comfort foods in American culture. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, when we smell buttermilk biscuits baking in the oven, the oh-so-familiar aroma takes us right back to the dining room table alongside mom and dad, circa fifth grade. These warm, hearty dishes comfort us with rich flavors and fond memories, and for that, we often crave them as soon as the first fall chill arrives.
From “Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf” and Fried Green Tomatoes, to Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings and Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, celebrate the fall season by indulging in comfort foods at San Diego restaurants.
“Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf” & Fried Green Tomatoes at Urban Solace
Urban Solace serves a playful menu of New American Comfort Food in a casual-cool setting in the heart of North Park’s emerging Restaurant Row. Not to be confused with regular old meatloaf, Chef Matt Gordon’s “Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf” is a flavor-packed house recipe made with ground lamb, bacon, figs, pine nuts, feta cheese and fig jus. Before you dig in to your comforting entrée, start with the Fried Green Tomatoes, a revived classic served with spicy herb puree, whipped goat cheese and crème fraiche.
Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese at Devilicious Food Truck
For a taste of contemporary comfort food served curbside-style, track down the Devilicious Food Truck for lunch or dinner on the go. Owner Dyann Manning’s popular food truck serves a small yet mighty selection of comfort food with a twist. And we’re not the only ones to take notice; Delivious was featured on The Great Food Truck Race. On a gloomy afternoon, pull over and order the Butter Poached Lobster Grilled Cheese, a signature sandwich made with lobster, melted cheeses, caramelized onion and oven roasted roma tomatoes with herbs on sourdough bread. For a seasonal lunch break, opt for the Oktoberfest Dark Beer Brat. (pictured: Lobster Grilled Cheese)
Albondigas Meatball Stew at Neighborhood
Neighborhood may be known for hearty, ketchup-free burgers, but the lunch menu’s soup bowls deserve some serious recognition. One particular bowl is not to be overlooked, the Albondigas, also known as giant meatball stew served with a selection of vegetables and potatoes in a light broth. More comforting lunchtime dishes include White Bean Chili, Curried Corn Bisque, and the classic, Roasted Tomato Soup served with a grilled cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg. For an extra boost on a cold afternoon, order a seasonal craft beer.
Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings at R Gang Eatery
This beloved Hillcrest neighborhood joint boasts contemporary takes on comfort classics, and diet-conscious diners are warned to enter at their own risk. Our top choice is Chef Rich Sweeney’s Chicken ‘n Dumplings, featuring braised chicken and sweet potato stuffed inside buttermilk dumplings, covered in a sweet potato gravy with caramelized pearl onions, celery, carrots and more chicken. More must-try comfort cuisine includes Shrimp 'n' Grits, Tuna Noodle Casserole, and R Gang’s traditional tater tots served with chipotle and ranch.
Tavern Chicken ‘n’ Waffles at West Coast Tavern
West Coast Tavern is a modern remake of a historic North Park building, now serving new takes on comforting culinary traditions on University Avenue. Our go-to tapas-style dish is Tavern Chicken ‘n’ Waffle, a plate of natural Jidori chicken tender over a fried crisp bacon waffle, topped with maple syrup. More comforting menu highlights include the Chicken Pot Pie and Mac ‘n’ Cheese du Jour, a chef’s creation that changes daily.
Fried Chicken at Craft & Commerce
Craft & Commerce is more than just another restaurant and bar, it’s a project in social engineering that invites locals to escape tech-driven modern society and engage in real human interaction. This Little Italy hotspot is adorned in classic literature and even plays books on tape in the restroom. But most locals frequent C&C for the quality comfort food. Our pick is the Fried Chicken with buttermilk slaw, garlic green beans, fingerling potato and red chili vinegar. Mac 'n' Cheese, Buttermilk Biscuits and Mini Corn Dogs are also popular menu items.
Turkey Meatloaf & Cornbread Muffins at The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar
The Red Door is a popular neighborhood restaurant in Mission Hills that describes its culinary vision as where familiar comfort cuisine meets modern interpretation. Translation: perfect fall food for local foodies. Warm up with Red Door’s Turkey Meatloaf, a signature comfort dish served with mac n’ cheese, fresh vegetables and house made BBQ sauce. And you must start with the Chef’s Signature Cornbread Muffins, made with fresh summer corn, mild green chili and aged white cheddar cheese, served with homemade rosemary honey butter.
Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto
There’s a reason people line up down the block to bring home a fresh pie from Filippi’s Pizza Grotto in Little Italy. It’s that good. Pizza is one of the ultimate comfort foods and we all have a style and flavor combination that reminds us of home. You can’t go wrong with a Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza – simple, predictable, delicious. Filippi’s also offers a selection of spaghetti, ravioli and lasagna dishes, completing the ultimate comforting Italian feast.
Classic California Burrito at Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop
Anyone who grew up in San Diego, or has lived in the area for a significant amount of time, knows that our city cooks up some of the best Mexican food in the world. Specifically, there are very few places outside of San Diego where we can order a legitimate California Burrito. Lucha Libre is a go-to eatery for straight-up Cali burritos served the way they should be. The Classic California Burrito is filled with fresh French fries, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo and carne asada. Add way too much guacamole and hot sauce, and enjoy.
Famous Mish-Mosh Soup at Milton’s Restaurant & Delicatessen
Simple and timeless, a great bowl of homemade soup warms the soul and fills the stomach. Milton’s Deli in Del Mar is one of the best local restaurants for delicious soups and hearty sandwiches on housemade breads. The Famous Mish-Mosh Soup is a meal in itself, made with chicken broth, chicken, noodles, carrots, matzo ball and kreplach. More options include the Old-Fashioned Chicken Soup, Split Pea Soup, and Turkey Chili.
Craving some comforting sweets? Drool over the best San Diego dessert shops