In my humble opinion, food is hands down one of the most important aspects when it comes to planning travel. I don’t know about you, but before I book any holiday, I do extensive research as to where I plan to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That is why knowing the best places to dine is essential before any trip.
As a San Diego native myself, this San Diego food guide is all you need to ensure you dine at some of the city’s finest spots. From popular well-known establishments to local holes in the wall, this guide has it all!
Located just 20 minutes from the border of Mexico, San Diego is famous for its incredible Mexican cuisine. Arguably the most authentic in the United States, there are plenty of delicious restaurants in San Diego.
Definitely a hole in the wall and a local secret. I grew up eating at this spot once a week as a kid. Located on Washington Street, El Cuervo serves up some of the most authentic Mexican food in the city.
Another local joint, Kotija is always a place I stop at when I am home in Del Mar. The burritos here are massive and they offer an incredible array of dishes. From tacos, soups, even chile rellenos they’ve got it all!
This gourmet taco shop is famous in San Diego. With its vibrant pink interior, it is decorated to the nines to emulate the Luche Libre Mexcian ring fighting culture. If you go try their Surfin’ California Burrito it’s to die for!
Robertos has a few locations around San Diego which is a testament to how delicious it is. It’s my personal favourite for burritos. Their locations are close to the beach so it’s the perfect spot to stop if you are hungry for a beach day snack!
A MUST for tacos! This place also has a number of locations around the city and you can almost guarantee there will be a long line out the front door. The tacos here are outstanding and well worth the wait.
This spot has been featured on a number of Food Network shows and is well known for their incredible homemade chips.
Death by Tequila
A bit more upscale than the rest, this spot is not as popular for their food, however, their cocktails are out of this world. While I personally prefer more authentic Mexican food myself, it is still a great option if you’re looking for more of an upscale experience. Their tequila menu is endless!
Traditional American & Coastal Restaurants
Zel’s Del Mar
MY FAMILY RESTAURANT! My dad and stepmom own and run it, if you visit tell them we sent you. Of course I have to put my family’s restaurant on this list. I grew up working here myself and the entire staff is like a second family to me. A lot of blood sweat and tears went into creating this place and I personally love the food. We also have live music on the weekends and it is definitely a great place to visit if you are in San Diego.
A really delicious restaurant in North County San Diego. This place prides itself on cooking with open fire flame and utilizing local ingredients hence the name. You can even roast marshmallows at the dinner table!
Born and Raised
This high-end steak and cocktail bar has such a vibe. As soon as you walk in, you feel as though you’ve entered one of Great Gatsby’s parties. The glitzy decor and ambience of this restaurant is incredible and worth a visit if you want a fancy meal.
Herb & Wood
An incredible take on Mediterranean cuisine, the food here is delicious. Owned by a world-famous chef, Brian Malarkey, the attention to detail and use of sustainable ingredients is apparent.
Juniper and Ivy
Located inside an old abandoned warehouse, Juniper and Ivy is a popular restaurant in Little Italy. They are constantly rotating their menu, almost weekly to fit with seasonal ingredients available.
Great food, even better cocktails! This is such a hip bar in South Park and I always love popping in for a drink. If you enjoy craft cocktails, definitely stop into this trendy spot.
Board N’ Brew
This quick grab and go restaurant is my absolute favourite for sandwiches in San Diego. Their “secret sauce” is a must if you order anything be sure to ask for it on the side. My personal favourite is the Chicken Club, but you really can’t go wrong with any of their options.
Ironside Fish & Oyster
Arguably one of my favourite restaurants in all of San Diego, if you are a seafood lover, you must make reservations at this place. Their rotational oyster menu is phenomenal and the ambience itself is just stunning.
Another wonderful seafood restaurant in La Jolla. I absolutely love this restaurant for date night because the inside is just beautiful, especially at night. Live olive trees and twinkle lights light up the interior making it a romantic setting for two.
If you are on the hunt for some of the most authentic Asian food restaurants in the county, I suggest you take a drive inland to the Convoy District. This area is famous for its wide variety of Asian cuisine. It has dozens of ramen joints, authentic Chinese food, dumplings, and so many incredible asian markets.
This is a helpful link for all of the best places to consider if you visit the Convoy District.
Underbelly is one of George’s favourite spots for ramen in San Diego. They have really delicious toppings and options for vegetarians as well. It is a very hip ramen spot in the heart of Little Italy, a must-visit for any ramen lovers out there.
This is a really fun noodle house and sake bar in OB. We love going here for a nice bowl of warm noodles and drinks.
Although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, Sushi Ota is famous for its sushi. The quality of fish here is great and it’s really delicious.
Another wonderful sushi restaurant in Del Mar. Not only is the sushi phenomenal, but the views of the ocean are outstanding. High-quality fish and fresh-caught specials are always expected here!
After travelling around Thailand for nearly 4 months, I can be very particular about my Thai food. But, Bangkok Bay in Solana Beach has some of the most authentic and delicious Thai food around. Everything on this menu is tasty!
My favourite Italian food in San Diego! There are a number of locations, therefore you know it’s a winner. The portions and quality of food are outstanding. If you go I recommend you order their pizza, calamari, and one of their seasonal pasta dishes! My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
This is a super cute Italian restaurant located in Point Loma. The food here is always great and the ambience is even better. Check out their Instagram and you’ll know what I mean!
This is my favourite Italian spot in La Jolla. They have an intimate outdoor patio decorated with fairy lights making it the ultimate location for a date night, or dinner with your family.
This Urban Kitchen Group restaurant is always a safe bet when in San Diego. With multiple locations around the county, the food here is always delicious and there is a wide variety for all types of eaters.
Blue Ribbon Pizza
If you are craving authentic wood fire pizza, you have to try Blue Ribbon in Encinitas. The pizzas here are comparable to the ones you can get on the streets of Rome. They are pretty incredible!
Snooze is such a fun restaurant to visit for a boozy brunch. If you like pancakes, definitely try their delicious pancake flight!
Guaranteed to be a line out the door at this place for brunch! They have the best fresh doughnuts I have ever had and incredible bloody marys too!
This is the newest and hippest brunch spot in San Diego. Located in Little Italy, the bright pink interior and ambience of this spot is incredible. Be sure to make reservations here as it is the talk of the town at the moment!
To read more about San Diego, click here to find A Local’s Ultimate Guide to San Diego! It is the perfect blog to help you plan your visit.
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