Six San Diego restaurants make Yelp’s ‘Top 100’ list in the U.S.

Six San Diego restaurants make Yelp’s ‘Top 100’ list in the U.S.

Six San Diego County restaurants landed today on Yelp’s list of the Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. for 2019.

But unlike “best of” restaurant rankings found on many travel websites, chances are you may have never heard of these half-dozen spots. The small, family-run eateries are all new to the Yelp list this year. They are: Crafted Greens in El Cajon; Chuy’s Taco Shop in Rolando; Tahini in Kearny Mesa; Bud & Rob’s New Orleans Bistro in East Village; Pho Guys in Vista; and Empanada Kitchen in Downtown San Diego.

Introduced six years ago by Yelp, a crowd-sourced dining reviews website, the “Top 100” ranking is based on a data formula that looks at restaurants’ five-star ratings and reviews. Extra weight is given to up-and-coming neighborhood eateries which may not receive the same volume of business and reviews as larger, more-established restaurants.

Yelp officials wouldn’t comment on the local restaurants to make the list and interviews with the owners were off-limits to keep the list secret until this morning. But all six of these San Diego eateries serve niche or ethnic cuisine, many offer delivery service and all of them are ranked as “$$” on the site, meaning their meals are in the $30-and-under price range.

The No. 1 restaurant on this year’s Yelp “Top 100” list is Bangers & Brews in Bend, Ore. The 3-year-old family-run pub has just 569 Yelp reviews but virtually all of them are five stars and filled with exclamation points and capital letters extolling the restaurant’s personalized service and its house-made sausages made with duck, venison and wild boar.

Here’s a look at this year’s local listees and their rank on the list:

17. Crafted Greens: With 315 mostly five-star reviews, this artisan, vegetable-forward organic eatery is best known for its Grass Fed Steak Salad, according to Yelp diners. The Tender Greens-style restaurant serves salads, sandwiches, flatbreads and plates topped with choice of steak, free-range chicken, Cajun-seared ahi or wild-caught salmon. 745 Jamacha Road, El Cajon.

29. Chuy’s Taco Shop: Yelp voters have given Chuy’s 299 mostly five-star reviews. The top-selling menu item is Chuy’s Surf and Turf Cali Burrito. Yelp reviews praise the generous portions, friendly service and flexibility on custom orders. 6663 El Cajon Blvd., Suite G, Rolando.

69. Tahini: A pair of childhood friends gave up their careers as a lawyer and police officer to make the Middle Eastern food they grew up on. The result is 422 mostly five-star reviews. The concept started out as a farmers market booth in 2013 and in 2017 it moved into its first brick-and-mortar location. The Chipotle-style menu offers build-your-own falafel and shawarma pitas, bowls and salads. Tahini is no relation to the quick-service restaurant by the same name that closed in Pacific Beach in 2014. 9119 Clairemont Mesa Drive, Suite G, Kearny Mesa.

72. Bud & Rob’s New Orleans Bistro: Owner/chef Bud Deslatte specializes in the Creole/Cajun cuisine of his native New Orleans. It has 343 mostly five-star reviews from Yelp diners who praise most its A Taste of New Orleans, a fried soft-shell crab on crawfish etouffee and rice with house tartar sauce. 815 F St., East Village.

75. Pho Guys: With 316 mostly five-star reviews, this Vietnamese noodle restaurant offers both sit-down and drive-through service. It’s praised by Yelp voters for its ox tail pho and authentic Vietnamese tea drinks. 1876 Hacienda Drive, Vista.

94. Empanada Kitchen: Opened last spring, this restaurant specializes in handmade Argentine hand pies stuffed with meats, chicken or vegetables and house chimichurri sauce. Yelp reviewers, who’ve contributed 168 mostly five-star reviews, praise the restaurant’s mushroom-and-goat-cheese empanada. The business started out in 2016 with a booth at the La Jolla and North Park farmers markets. 819 C St., Downtown San Diego.