17 Best Restaurants in Santee, CA

Best Restaurants in Santee, CA

Welcome fellow foodies!

I want to take you through this culinary adventure, sharing my insights on some of the best restaurants in Santee, California.

Ready to dig in?

How this article was written: Our team first analyzed the scores and feedback across major platforms like Google Maps, Yelp, and Trip Advisor, considering not only the ratings but also the consistency of positive feedback. Following this, we conducted interviews with over 30 local residents who have been to these restaurants to gather authentic, first-hand experiences. You can read more about our research process here.

While this list showcases some remarkable restaurants, it's important to note there are many other exceptional dining establishments in Santee that are not featured here. Our aim is not just to guide you to popular eateries but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city's diverse culinary landscape for yourself.

Peter's Burgers and Taco

There's a spot in the city that I frequent, Peter's Burgers and Taco.

It's my go-to place after a long day of work.

I remember the first time I visited, I was drawn in by the aroma of grilled meat and the sight of fresh ingredients.

I decided to order the ceviche tostada and a shrimp taco - both of which I had heard rave reviews about.

As I took my first bite into the tostada, the tangy citrus flavor of the marinated fish mingled perfectly with the crunch of the tostada.

It was a delightful explosion of taste and texture in my mouth!

Next came the shrimp taco.

The shrimp was perfectly cooked, juicy, and tender, and the sauce added an extra kick that made it all the more satisfying.

I savored each bite, appreciating the balance of flavors that danced on my taste buds.

Peter’s Burgers and Taco · 9035 Mission Gorge Rd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Pepper Farm Deli

Oh, how I love my city, its hidden gems serving as an escape from the daily grind, and Pepper Farm Deli is one of them.

Nestled in our neighborhood, it has become my go-to spot for a hearty lunch or a quick snack.

They say heaven is in the details, and this is so true for Pepper Farm.

The place may be small, but it's clean and cozy, perfect for a relaxed meal.

Their menu is a delightful mix of sandwiches, wraps, salads, omelets, and smoothies, leaving you spoiled for choice.

Their Philly cheese steak sandwich is a class apart, possibly the best in the city.

Another personal favorite of mine is the London Broil BBQ sandwich.

As someone who was never fond of roast beef, this sandwich has changed my mind.

The beef is tender and flavorful and pairs perfectly with the freshness of their veggies.

Their cilantro lime salad is another dish that never fails to amaze me, easily amongst the best I've ever had.

A special mention to their lunch deal.

For just $7.99, you get a half sandwich, a drink, and a bag of chips.

I typically go for the 'Little Italy' toasted sandwich, a drink that seems more like a 20oz and a medium-sized bag of chips.

The sandwich is a stunner with bread toasted to perfection, generous amounts of meat, fresh veggies, and a perfectly balanced dressing.

I mean, how can you beat a 10/10 sandwich?

Every visit to Pepper Farm Deli reaffirms my belief that the best food comes from places where the love for the craft is apparent.

Pepper Farm Deli · 235 Town Center Pkwy H, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Delicatessenwinkel

Town & Country Wine and Spirits

Whenever I crave a good sandwich, I never fail to drop by Town & Country Wine and Spirits.

Trust me when I say they have the best deli in town.

The lady behind the counter crafts each sandwich with utmost care and perfection.

My personal favorite has to be the avocado sandwich.

It might sound simple, but the way they prepare it makes it a standout.

It’s honestly so good that I haven't even had the chance to try anything else yet.

The store isn’t just about sandwiches, though.

They stock a fantastic variety of beers, wines, and spirits.

Their beers are always ice-cold – perfect for a hot, sunny day (or, honestly, any day if you ask me).

It’s a great place to pick up a bottle of wine or a six-pack of your favorite beer.

Town & Country Wine and Spirits · 9266 Carlton Oaks Dr, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Slijterij

The Chicken Shop

Let me tell you about my new favorite hangout - The Chicken Shop.

It's a small, family-owned place that serves up some of the best-fried chicken I've ever tasted.

I swear, it's like biting into a piece of Southern grandma's cooking.

The fried chicken livers are to die for, cooked to perfection every single time.

But it's not just chicken at this joint.

The catfish nuggets are unbelievably flavorful - juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

My partner, a fries fanatic, was amazed by their Buffalo fries.

What's even better is how fast your food arrives.

We usually call in our order, and it's ready much faster than we expect.

Plus, there's a lovely dessert place just a couple of doors down.

The Chicken Shop is also pretty accessible.

There's disabled parking not too far from the place, and everything is conveniently located on one floor.

The Chicken Shop · 8929 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Sayulitas Mexican Food

Being a resident of San Diego, I'm always on the lookout for quality Mexican cuisine, and that's exactly what I found at Sayulitas Mexican Food.

Living close by, this charming little joint has become a regular haunt for my meals.

I remember my first time stepping foot into Sayulitas.

I was immediately taken in by the vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.

Even though the place is small, it's bustling with life, and the warm, friendly service immediately makes you feel right at home.

The extensive menu had me spoilt for choice.

I settled for their burrito and was blown away by the portion size.

It was so generous that I had enough for two full meals, and I can vouch that the leftover burrito tasted just as delightful the next day.

The authenticity of the flavors and the freshness of the ingredients were palpable in each bite.

Trust me, it easily ranks among the best burritos I've ever had.

On another visit, I tried their rolled tacos on a friend's recommendation, and boy, was it a hit!

Each crunchy bite was packed with flavor, making it an unforgettable culinary experience.

Parking can be a bit of a challenge, but that shouldn't deter you from visiting Sayulitas.

I found that there were additional parking spaces on the side, which were a bit more accessible.

And if you're a fan of Mexican Coca-Cola, you'll be delighted to know they offer it here.

Sayulitas Mexican Food · 10769 Woodside Ave #105, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Mexicaans restaurant

Estrada's Mexican Food

Every now and then, I find myself craving something hearty and spicy to hit the spot.

On such days, I find solace at Estrada's Mexican Food, a humble establishment located right here in the heart of our community.

This place is a treasure trove of flavors, offering an extensive menu of Mexican delights, from tacos and burritos to enchiladas and combination plates.

I still remember the first time I walked into Estrada's Mexican Food.

I was on my way to pick up some parts from Autobahn dismantling.

Intrigued by the buzzing energy, I decided to stop by.

The first bite I took of their burrito made me an instant fan.

It was huge, tightly wrapped, and the meat tasted freshly cooked.

I could tell it was not just refrigerated and heated up - the difference is always in the taste.

Having tried their mini birria tacos and mango habanero salsa, I can affirm that Estrada's is not afraid to experiment with flavors.

Yet, they strike the right balance, ensuring the salsa is not too hot but still packed with a punch.

Their carne asada fries have also become a favorite of mine.

Crispy fries mingled with tender and flavorful meat – it's worth every penny of the $10 plus the $1.50 for the side of sour cream.

The serving size is generous and leaves me satiated every time.

They are always pleasant and attentive, enhancing the whole dining experience.

Not to forget, Estrada's also offers catering services, which I found quite handy for hosting parties at home.

In a neighborhood filled with numerous taco shops, Estrada's stands out for its quality food that doesn't break the bank.

It's truly a testament to the vibrant and authentic flavors of Mexico.

Estrada’s Mexican Food · 8528 Magnolia Ave #107, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Mexicaans restaurant

Island Style Cafe

I swear, there's nothing quite like the Island Style Cafe ().

I've had my fair share of pupus and plate lunches around the city, but the Hawaiian-inflected grilled fare here is just on another level.

It's the kind of place where the food is served on paper plates, but don't let that fool you - the flavors here are absolutely top-notch.

Whether you're craving kalua pork with fried rice and green salad or Spicy Korean Chicken moco, Island Style's got it all.

The portions are generous, and the meat is always perfectly cooked.

Oh, and the sides - the Spam Musubi and the California Musubi are a must-try.

They even have this incredible Lilikoi Tea - I still have no idea what's in it, but I order it every time.

The best part of Island Style Cafe, though, has to be the people.

It's a no-frills kind of place, but that's why I love it.

Island Style Cafe · 9828 Magnolia Ave, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Hawaïaans restaurant

El Rancho

There's a little Mexican eatery in the city that has been my go-to spot for years.

It's called El Rancho, and it's one of those unassuming places that you'd easily drive past if you didn't know any better.

Let me tell you, this place serves some of the best tacos and burritos in the city!

I usually go for breakfast and sit outdoors.

They have both indoor and outdoor seating, but I prefer the latter.

It's a great way to start my day, enjoying my meal while basking in the morning sunshine.

One of my regular orders is their 7-mares soup.

If you're a seafood lover like me, you'll appreciate the variety of fish in this soup.

It's a flavorful concoction that never fails to satisfy my palate.

You have to try their burritos too.

I remember the first time I had their shrimp cocktail burrito.

It was so good it literally took my breath away!

I keep coming back just to try all the different burritos on their menu.

El Rancho · 8001 Mission Gorge Rd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Mexicaans restaurant

Pho Van 2

One of my go-to spots in El Cajon is undoubtedly Pho Van 2, a Vietnamese restaurant that never fails to serve up a satisfying meal.

Every time I swing by with my sister, we are reminded of the unique and authentic culinary experience that this place offers.

Unlike many other places, the pho here doesn't make you feel dehydrated after eating.

It's a refreshing yet flavorful bowl of goodness that I keep coming back for.

But the star of the show, in my opinion, is the grilled pork.

The authenticity and flavor of this dish are unmatched.

Pho Van 2 · 8790 Cuyamaca St suite k, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Vietnamees restaurant

Bad Hombres Good Mexican Food

I'm always on the hunt for the best local eateries, and I can confidently say that Bad Hombres Good Mexican Food hit the mark.

The heartwarming experience begins right at the entrance, where a fun, welcoming atmosphere invites you into this delicious Mexican food establishment.

On my first visit, I opted for the bad hombres burrito wrapped in a cheese quesadilla, and believe me, it was fantastic!

The second time around, I treated my family to the 2 red taco plate and potato rolled tacos.

The large portion sizes meant we had delicious leftovers to enjoy at home.

I've been there twice, and each time, the restaurant was immaculately clean.

The use of fans in the dining area to cool down customers from the warm outside temperature is a thoughtful touch.

If you're a seafood lover like I am, do not miss out on their Shrimp Burrito.

It was perfectly cooked, neither overdone nor undercooked.

I also can't wait to go back and try the street corn and the machacca tacos, which I've heard great things about.

This local eatery lives up to its motto of "Good Mexican Food".

Bad Hombres Good Mexican Food · 8918 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Phil's BBQ

One of the must-visit places in my hometown is Phil's BBQ, a casual eatery and bar that's known for its mesquite-barbecued baby back and beef ribs.

But that's not all— their sandwiches and sides are just as mouth-watering.

The first time I stepped into Phil's BBQ, I was immediately smitten with the smoky, savory aroma of barbecued chicken.

Once I tasted it, I was sold— the quality of the chicken was simply outstanding.

It's one of the best restaurants I've ever tried in my many years of living here.

What really stands out about Phil's BBQ, apart from the food, is the service.

It's a personal touch that only adds to the overall experience.

Now, I find myself going back to Phil's BBQ for their beef ribs.

They're just that good.

I spice things up a bit by adding some habanero hot sauce— it's the perfect kick.

For sides, I highly recommend the potato salad and fries.

Phil’s BBQ · 9816 Mission Gorge Rd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Barbecuerestaurant

Janet's Cafe and Deli

There's not a day that goes by without a visit to Janet's Cafe and Deli (Google Maps link).

Nestled in my neighborhood, this popular daytime cafe has become a part of my daily routine.

As soon as I walk in, I'm greeted by the soothing hum of friendly chatter, the aroma of coffee brewing, and the sight of delicious homestyle comfort eats.

On a regular morning, I'd settle into a quaint little corner inside.

But when the weather permits, I love to sit outside on the patio, soaking in the warmth of the sun.

Even during busy hours, the service is impressive.

One of my favorite dishes is their Greek Chicken Wrap, served with fresh, ripe fruits.

The balance of flavors in the wrap is simply divine, with fresh veggies, just the right amount of dressing, and succulent chicken.

But, if you're feeling indulgent, go for their Country Fried Steak & Eggs with house potatoes.

The steak is crispy, the potatoes are perfectly cooked, and the amount of gravy is generous.

Janet's Cafe and Deli is not just about the food, it's about the experience.

Evenings can be just as delightful, with exterior heaters ensuring comfort on colder nights.

Janet’s Cafe and Deli · 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Thai Thai

Living in this neighborhood has its perks, and one of them is the charming little Thai restaurant called Thai Thai.

It's this cozy little spot with a straightforward setting where you can enjoy Thai and Sushi standards along with your favorite beer or wine.

My first encounter with the place was memorable.

I was struck by the pleasant atmosphere, the fresh flowers, and the bowl of floating blossoms that greeted me right at the door.

The touch of Thai gods at the entrance was rather impressive.

And then there was the food!

I ordered some of their Thai offerings, and boy, they were excellent.

They left a mark on my taste buds that kept me coming back for more.

On my subsequent visits, I've also tried sushi, and it's equally delightful.

Speaking of delights, I was introduced to Thai tea on one of my visits, and it was a revelation.

I was given the option to choose the spiciness level on a scale of 1-10.

I went for a 4, and it delivered just the right kick.

The Pad Thai is another personal favorite.

Thai Thai · 10251-B, Mast Blvd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Thais restaurant

Riverwalk Grill

There's no place like the Riverwalk Grill.

This joint, run by the incomparable Joel, is truly a standout in our city.

Nestled within the park, it's more than just a place to grab a bite; it's a community staple here.

The seasonal specials at Riverwalk Grill never disappoint.

I remember once they served pickled onions on tacos, an unexpectedly appealing and delicious touch.

And while it's not a full-time restaurant, the Grill is a key part of our local events.

I recall last October when I couldn't make it to Oktoberfest, Riverwalk Grill brought the festivities to me.

My kids were at practice, and I found solace in the delectable combo of Samuel Adams Oktoberfest beer and bratwurst with fresh grilled onions and sauerkraut.

There's something for everyone here.

For those who crave some physical activity, the park offers a moderate walk - the loop around the park is half a mile long.

Riverwalk Grill · 550 Park Center Dr, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Restaurant

Mr. Birria

Let me tell you about a little gem I found in my neighborhood, a petite hangout spot called Mr. Birria that doles out some mouth-watering birria tacos, quesadillas, and carne asada.

It's a casual spot, perfect for a quick grab or a relaxed meal.

The service here is impressive, fast, and friendly, and they really make you feel welcome.

Orders are taken at the counter, and the food is served hot and quickly, you can almost smell the delicious aroma as your order reaches your table.

I tried their birria, and boy, were they tasty!

They also serve simple quesadillas, which are a hit among the kids.

The guacamole here has a hint of crema or sour cream, which might not be everyone's favorite, but the quality surely makes up for it.

They serve fresh-fried chips that are so addictive you can't stop munching on them.

Though they serve all of their food in takeout containers, they have both indoor and outdoor seating, making it a great option whether you're in a rush or in the mood to hang out.

Mr.Birria · 8926 Carlton Hills Blvd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Mexicaans restaurant

Ferny's Mexican Grill

Grabbing breakfast at Ferny's Mexican Grill has become part of my routine here in the neighborhood.

Nothing beats the sight of their charming little dining space with the cute fake flowers in the vases, bringing a homely feel to the place.

And the ladies there?

They run the place like a well-oiled machine, always serving up the most authentic Mexican food around.

Now, I've known about Ferny's for years, and everyone around here swears by their quality and unique offerings.

And, trust me, they've never fallen short of our high expectations.

Whether you want to start your day with an entrée of enchiladas, tacos, or their famous bacon breakfast burrito, Ferny's has got you covered.

And don't get me started on their mouth-watering Carne Asada fries - they're a whole meal in themselves!

And trust me, it's not just about the food.

There's a warmth in their service, a personal touch that makes every visit to Ferny's feel like a feast at a family friend's home.

Ferny’s Mexican Grill · 10320 Mission Gorge Rd, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Mexicaans restaurant

Board & Brew - Santee

Oh, what a delight it is to live so close to Board & Brew in Santee!

It's always a treat to grab a sandwich for lunch here.

I especially love the Turkey sandwich.

It's not an exaggeration to say it's the best in the area.

But my colleagues at work - they swear by the Veggie sandwich.

They say it's fresh and flavorful.

I decided to treat the team to lunch from Board & Brew the other day, and all the praises I heard solidified my belief that this place is a gem in our city.

My colleagues loved the freshness of the food and how it instantly brightened their mood.

Board & Brew - Santee · 214 Town Center Pkwy A-2, Santee, CA 92071, Verenigde Staten
★★★★★ · Broodjeswinkel

Final Thoughts

Being fortunate enough to live in Santee, I've had the pleasure of dining in many of the city's best eatery spots.

Their diverse menus ensured I never ran out of options.

There's a world of flavors waiting to be discovered in our beloved city.

So, here's to the delicious memories and to the many more meals to come!

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