By Patricia Doherty
February 01, 2020
Marion Botella/Courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority

A trip to San Diego usually involves a beach, nightlife, favorite museums, and perhaps a baseball game, bike ride, amusement park, or harbor cruise. There’s much to see and do, but for some visitors, San Diego’s food scene is the main attraction. Close to the ocean and the southern border, San Diego boasts a variety of places to enjoy fresh seafood and authentic Mexican food. Restaurants featuring cuisines including Italian, Asian, American, and more are abundant, as are craft breweries and wineries. Cideries are joining the local beverage producers too.

Every neighborhood offers a range of dining spots whether for hearty breakfasts, casual meals, or fine dining experiences. Chefs with notable credentials are settling in San Diego, creating new and different options for foodies and anyone who appreciates a great meal. Taking advantage of San Diego’s ideal weather, many restaurants offer outdoor and rooftop dining.

While it’s impossible to list all the outstanding eateries in San Diego, we’ve made a good effort at providing some ideas of where to find great food and drink in this exceptional dining destination. Whether you’re a visitor or a (lucky) local exploring a new neighborhood, we hope our suggestions will lead you to some awesome eating adventures.

Courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority

Downtown and Gaslamp District

Grant Grill at the iconic U.S. Grant Hotel is an elegant fine-dining restaurant serving quality menu options and classic cocktails in a stunning Art Deco setting.

Rustic Root serves American cuisine with a modern touch and a menu of locally sourced meats, produce, and seafood along with craft cocktails. Dinner or weekend brunch on their rooftop with skyline views is a delight.

Provisional Kitchen Cafe & Mercantile at the Pendry San Diego is a casual eatery serving a great brunch as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their menu includes steak, seafood, pasta, and wood-fired pizza in a warm, stylish atmosphere.

Huntress and Lumi by Michelin-starred Chef Akira Back are both set to open soon, so plan to be one of the first to enjoy the award-winning chef’s latest creations. Huntress, a contemporary steakhouse, will offer dry-aged beef and a collection of Japanese whiskies. Lumi will feature Japanese fare, shared plates, sushi, and an extensive selection of sake presented in an exciting rooftop setting with fire pits and DJ beats.

Fans of craft brew will want to visit Resident Brewing Co. for one of their pale ales, IPAs, or a peach-based beer. Find it inside The Local Eatery & Drinking Hole.

JTran Photos/Courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority

Little Italy

Herb & Wood’s extensive menu includes seafood, meat, salads, vegetables, pasta, toasts, wood-fired pizza, craft cocktails, and a dessert menu that might tempt you to start there first. Brunch is also a treat at this popular spot.

Civico 1845 serves traditional southern Italian dishes, and its expansive menu includes a great selection of cheeses and cured meats as well as a separate vegan menu. Lunch and dinner served, and there’s an outdoor patio for al fresco dining.

Ironside Fish and Oyster’s menu of shellfish, finfish, chowders, small plates, big platters, lobster, cocktails, beer, and wine make this a popular spot. Weekday happy hours too.

Juniper and Ivy’s imaginative food is based on seasonal local ingredients and the creativity of its team of chefs. Set in a renovated warehouse, the atmosphere is relaxed and the dishes are tasty and beautifully presented.

Little Italy Food Hall, located in the Piazza della Famiglia, is the place for beer, wine, and cocktails while you decide whether to dine on pizza, tacos, pasta, Asian dumplings, or lobster. You’ll want Bobboi’s Natural Gelato for dessert, so your next decision is which of their delicious flavors to choose.

Ballast Point brews an extensive selection of beers and offers dining on its patio, cabana, or indoors where you can watch brewers at work. If your preferences run to wine or cocktails, Little Italy has tasting rooms, pubs, wine bars, cantinas, and of course, pizza to enjoy along with your beverage.

La Jolla

A.R. Valentien at the Lodge at Torrey Pines serves regional cuisine overlooking the 18th hole of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and the California coast. The elegant craftsman-style dining room and exceptional service make it perfect for a special dinner.

Whisknladle serves brunch, lunch, dinner, and cocktails, describing their cuisine as “elevated comfort food” based on local season ingredients. Their menus include seafood, salads, pastas, and tempting desserts.

Cody’s offers a breakfast menu that includes French toast, blueberry pancakes, chilaquiles, crab cake Benedict, omelets, and more served on their ocean view patio. Come for lunch and you can still choose one of their breakfast options or take advantage of their weekday Happy Hour.

Puesto serves authentic Mexican food in traditional Mexico City style with organic handmade tortillas, award winning tacos, and cocktails, mezcal, craft beers, and wines from Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe.

Westfield UTC is both a shopping and dining destination with gardens, landscaped plazas, al fresco patio dining, and an extensive choice of restaurants including favorites like Din Tai Fung, Great Maple, Shake Shack, Sweetfin Poke, The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar, and many more.

La Jolla’s cafes, restaurants, cocktail lounges, and boutiques along with coastal views and ocean breezes make strolling through the village to find your own favorites a perfect way to spend a day.

Haley Hill/Courtesy of Smoking Goat

North Park

Louisiana Purchase brings diners all the best of Creole and Cajun classics like gumbo, po’boys, crawfish, catfish, collard greens, and Southern flavors along with cocktails and unique shareable punches. Come for Happy Hour, dinner, or weekend brunch.

The Smoking Goat is an intimate French bistro style spot with an enthusiastic following who love the baked brie and duck fat truffle fries served during Happy Hour. The dinner appetizers and entrees include seafood, steak, and lamb with seasonal additions and an extensive wine list.

Shank and Bone serves traditional and modern Vietnamese dishes including a selection of pho, a rich broth with spices, herbs, and choice of additions. Spring rolls, bowls, rice dishes, and banh mi sandwiches on baguettes are among their specialties.

Splash Wine Lounge and Bistro is the place for a selection of wines by the glass or bottle, local brews, appetizers, and flatbreads made as you wish. Self-serve wine machines offer more than 100 tasting choices.

Bivouac Ciderworks serves appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and snacks in a casual atmosphere. It’s the place to learn about ciders and try a few if you’re new to the growing cider trend.

Courtesy of Farmer's Bottega

Mission Hills

Farmers Bottega serves traditional Italian dishes with a focus on organic, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The atmosphere is vintage, with the rustic feel of a farmhouse. Come for weekend brunch, daily (and all day Tuesday) Happy Hour.

Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill is the place for fresh local seafood, tacos, sandwiches, salads, soups, oysters, and sashimi — all straight from the nearby seas.

The Red Door’s hand-crafted pastas include bucatini, pappardelle, gnocchi, and more, each with the perfect sauce. Add to that salads, flatbreads, seafood, and a tempting list of entrees.

Harley Gray Kitchen & Bar serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as weekend brunch. Weekly specials include Maine lobster Thursdays, Taco Tuesdays, Prime Rib Fridays, and Southern Fried Chicken on Saturdays.

Courtesy of Barrio Dog

Barrio Logan

Salud! Come for the tacos and street food style offerings at this popular dining spot, and enjoy breakfast, veggie specials, and the “not tacos” menu that includes fries, ceviche, and nachos. Visit for Happy Hour specials on weekdays.

Barrio Dogg is open all day and serves high quality 100% Angus beef organic hot dogs embellished in Chicago style, TJ style, Asian, Cuban, German, and more. Side dishes, desserts, and local beers complete a hearty meal.

Thorn Barrio Logan, Border X Brewing, and Attitude Brewing serve a variety of their products for beer fans. At Attitude Brewing, a full menu of appetizers, burgers, wraps, and desserts is available.

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