San Diego, US: Best places to eat – chef Travis Swikard's picks

THE EXPERT: TRAVIS SWIKARD

This award-winning chef and San Diego native was culinary director for the renowned French chef Daniel Boulud in New York before he headed back to his hometown to establish his own concept restaurant, expected to open mid-2019. See sandiego.org

BREAKFAST

Growing up in San Diego, one of my favourite pastimes is waking up early to surf at a popular beach spot called Old Man's at Tourmaline. After surfing, my go-to breakfast is an Octopus a la Plancha burrito from Don Bravo Grill & Cantina in La Jolla (5504 La Jolla Boulevard). After being in the cold water, getting a fresh, hot burrito is the ultimate breakfast. The burrito is filled with grilled octopus, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese. The restaurant also makes really awesome hot sauces, such as a smoky chile de arbol salsa.

LUNCH

I've been to In-N-Out Burger too many times to count since I've moved back to San Diego from New York City. My go-to, cheat-meal lunch pick is a Double-Double Animal Style burger, which evokes nostalgic feelings for me. While I don't eat much fast food, being able to see the burger made in front of you with fresh ingredients makes you feel good about the product. See in-n-out.com

PRE-DINNER SNACK

On a beautiful San Diego day, there is no better place to be than at Island Prime on Harbor Island, overlooking the city skyline and the neighbouring island of Coronado. The restaurant itself rests on stilts above the San Diego Bay. My pick for a pre-dinner bite with friends would be Island Prime's Seafood Tower, stacked high with the sustainable shrimp and oysters. I love pairing this with a nice bottle of champagne if I'm celebrating. See cohnrestaurants.com

DINNER

At the newly opened Jeune et Jolie in the scenic North County San Diego city of Carlsbad, chef Andrew Bachelier is crafting some really creative French nouvelle cuisine. Generally, I try to keep my diet seafood and vegetable oriented. That being said, whenever I go to a new restaurant, I try to order a vegetable dish to see if it's as delicious as the rest of the menu. At Jeune et Jolie, my dish of choice is the "Aubergine" prepared with eggplant, sunflower miso, winter blossom and green curry. The vegetarian dish is really flavourful and spotlights chef Bachelier's talent. See jeune-jolie.com

AFTER-DINNER DRINK

The rooftop bar at Born and Raised in San Diego's Little Italy neighbourhood is my go-to spot for after-dinner cocktails. Up on the top of the swanky steakhouse, you get that touch of urban life amid the hustle and bustle of the busy street below. The restaurant is a see-and-be-seen spot, great for people watching. In summer, I'll order a Negroni and just enjoy the rooftop views. Otherwise, I'll order a Boulevardier cocktail. See bornandraisedsteak.com

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