Want the inside word on San Diego's most talked-about local spots?
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to deduce which restaurants have been getting extra attention this month.
To find out who made the list, we looked at San Diego businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.
Read on to see which spots are on a hot streak, right now.
Natural Style Chicken
Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Hillcrest's Natural Style Chicken, the chicken and Korean restaurant/bar is a hot topic, according to Yelp review data.
While businesses categorized as "Bars" on Yelp saw a median 1.5 % increase in new reviews over the past month, Natural Style Chicken bagged a 26% increase in new reviews within that time frame, maintaining a healthy four-star rating. It significantly outperformed the previous month by gaining 2.9 times more reviews than expected based on its past performance.
This is the restaurant's second locale; the first debuted in Point Loma in 1979. Open at 501 University Ave. (between 6th Ave and Brant Street) since last December, the eatery specializes in barbecue-style dishes including rotisserie chicken, beef teriyaki and Korean-style bulgogi. The menu also features shrimp tacos, kimchi fried rice, sweet chili mushrooms and crunchy cauliflower.
Penelopes Mexican Food
Rolando's Penelopes Mexican Food is also making waves. Open since April at 7102 El Cajon Blvd. (between 72nd and 71st streets), the Mexican spot has seen a 30.3% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 2% for all businesses tagged "Mexican" on Yelp.
Penelopes Mexican Food offers breakfast plates and burritos, alongside tacos, tortas, quesadillas, enchiladas and a variety of seafood. Desserts like churros and flan are also on offer. Over the past month, it's maintained a superior 4.5-star rating among Yelpers.
Park West's Il Dandy is currently on the upswing in the Italian category on Yelp.
While businesses categorized as "Italian" on Yelp saw a median 1.7% increase in new reviews over the past month, this Italian and modern European spot increased its new reviews by 32.9% — and kept its rating consistent at four stars.
Open for business at 2550 Fifth Ave., Suite 120 since May, the restaurant's menu features such dishes as ravioli di pasta kina (beef cheek ragù, caciocavallo foam, cured egg yolk and lemon) and cavatelli di grano arso (burnt wheat pasta, rabbit ragù, hazelnut and truffle). A variety of wines, draft beers and cocktails like the Allora, with brandy, Cardamaro, apricot and lemon, are also on offer.
Salt & Straw
Finally, is Carmel Valley's Salt & Straw on your radar? According to Yelp review data, the ice cream/sorbet spot is getting plenty of attention.
While businesses categorized as "Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt" on Yelp increased their media new review count by 3.3% over the past month, Salt & Straw nabbed a 36% increase in reviews within that time frame, maintaining a strong 4.5-star rating.
Open since March at 3705 Caminito Court, Suite 0580, Salt & Straw is a scoop shop with a featured ice cream lineup that changes monthly. August offerings include carrot cake batter and praline hazelnuts; green fennel and maple; and tomato and strawberry sorbet. The chain also offers ice cream floats, sundaes and milkshakes.