Unsure where San Diego's in-the-know crowd is eating and drinking? It's easy to spot lines out the door, but some underlying trends are harder to see.
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp and SafeGraph, a dataset of commercial points of interest and their visitor patterns, to deduce which local businesses have been on the tips of diners' tongues this month.
To find out who made the list, we first 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. Then we analyzed foot traffic data from SafeGraph to validate the trends.
Read on to see which spots are extra cool right now.
The Yasai by Rakiraki
Open since mid-November, this sushi bar and vegan spot, which offers ramen and more, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as "Sushi Bars" on Yelp.
Citywide, such restaurants saw a median 1.1% increase in new reviews over the past month. The Yasai by Rakiraki only recently appeared on Yelp, but while many new businesses struggle to gain reviews, it has seen strong initial popularity.
Located at 4646 Convoy St. (between Opportunity Road and Dagget Street) in Kearny Mesa, The Yasai by Rakiraki is open from 5 p.m.–11 p.m. Monday-Friday and from noon–11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Simsim Outstanding Shawarma
Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Carmel Mountain's Simsim Outstanding Shawarma, the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and halal spot is a hot topic, according to Yelp review data.
While businesses categorized as "Mediterranean" on Yelp saw a median 1.4% increase in new reviews over the past month, Simsim Outstanding Shawarma appeared on Yelp relatively recently. Many new businesses struggle to gain reviews, but it has seen a surge of interest.
Intrigued so far? Here's more about the business from its Yelp history section: "The heart of our business is to provide our guests authentic Middle-Eastern cuisine in a modern and upbeat atmosphere by focusing on fresh, high-quality, chef-inspired food made from scratch."
If you're curious about menu specialties, they include "chef-crafted Middle Eastern shawarma wraps, kebabs, bowls, fresh salads and falafel made from scratch daily" — that's also from its page on Yelp.
Open at 11640 Carmel Mountain Road, Suite 124, since mid-November, Simsim Outstanding Shawarma is open from 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Carmel Valley's Pacific Social is also making waves. Open since early November at 6025 Village Way, the New American and breakfast/brunch spot is relatively new to Yelp, but has seen a surge of new reviews, while all businesses tagged "American (New)" on Yelp saw an increase of 0.8% for new reviews in the past month.
Specialties on Pacific Social's menu include chicken pot pie, pan-seared salmon and prime manger steak. Its pies are a popular dessert, coming in such varieties as key lime, s'mores, spiced apple and triple berry (shown).
Over the past month, it's maintained a healthy four-star rating among Yelpers.
Pacific Social is open from 3 p.m.–9 p.m. on Monday, 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. on Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.–9 p.m. on Sunday.
Rancho Bernardo's Tacos Asadero is the city's buzziest Mexican spot by the numbers.
The eatery, which opened at 15721 Bernardo Heights Parkway (between Avenida Villaha and Calle Pueblito) in late October, is still relatively new to Yelp but has seen a surge of new reviews. Meanwhile, the median new review count for the Yelp category "Mexican" was up 1.3% over the past month.
It's not the only trending outlier in that category: Tamales Brenda's has seen a 55.3% increase in reviews.
In addition to five different types of tacos, Tacos Asadero offers burritos, cheese quesadillas and mulitas.
The restaurant is open from 10 a.m.–9 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.–8 p.m. on Sunday.