Where to Eat and Drink in San Diego

31 Oct 2018

Best known for its beautiful beaches, lush green parks and world-famous zoo, there’s a reason they call San Diego ‘America’s Finest City’. But it’s not just the weather that appeals to visitors and locals alike. In recent years, this laid-back surfer’s retreat has also earned its stripes as a foodie’s paradise with a thriving artisan food scene, to-die-for Mexican cuisine and some incredible micro-breweries popping up all over the city. In just a few short days, I fell in love with everything San Diego has to offer. Here are my recommendations for how to sample the city’s best bites (and booze).

Galaxy Taco

You don’t have to look hard to find incredible Mexican food in San Diego. Situated just 20 miles from the border at Tijuana, it’s no surprise that a touch of Mexican influence can be seen in every corner of the city - especially when it comes to dining options. In my opinion, you won’t find better eats than at trendy La Jolla outpost Galaxy Taco. Step through the door of this unassuming street food spot and you’ll be transported to a vibrant Mexican wonderland adorned with brightly coloured signage and a myriad of intricate calavera skull murals. The friendly staff, bustling atmosphere and inventive menu combine for a one-of-a-kind experience. I was hooked after my first mouthful of guacamole! Come for the delicious pick ‘n’ mix taco menu - the avocado tacos were insanely delicious - and stay for the fun ambience and creative drinks like the refreshing lavender margarita.

Café 222

A local breakfast favourite situated in the downtown Gaslamp district, this diner-cum-cafe is famous for its fluffy waffles, mouth-watering pancakes and indulgent french toast combos - peanut butter and banana anyone?! Boasting a large menu of typical breakfast items alongside some more indulgent options, I opted for a huge stack of the orange and pecan pancakes which were amazing, but I could have devoured every single meal that came out of the kitchen. Beware, portions are huge so come hungry!

Karl Strauss Brewing Co

There is nothing quite like the combination of an ice-cold beer and a beautiful sunset, and it could be for his very reason that San Diego has carved out a niche for itself in the micro-brewery business. There are hundreds of micro-breweries all over the city offering the latest in inventive brews, from hoppy IPAs to fruity Belgian wheats. Karl Strauss is the godfather of craft beer and if you visit any one of his 11 locations in Southern California you’ll be in for an education in what it takes to make a good pint. We visited the La Jolla location and whilst it may look like your typical sports bar from the outside, it actually doubles up as an impressive beer tasting room and restaurant. Pull up a seat at the bar and let your bartender pour you a flight or two to help you decide on your favourite.

Isola’s

Little Italy is a vibrant area of the city boasting some of the best restaurants in SoCal - from upscale eateries to rustic tavernas. My favourite of the bunch is pizza restaurant Isola’s. Serving up artisan wood fired pizzas in a casual setting, this local favourite combines fresh ingredients with simple flavours for pizza that really packs a punch. I loved the prosciutto cotto di fungi washed down with a chilled glass of prosecco.

Georges @ the Cove

La Jolla Cove is an upscale area of San Diego with a whole host of fancy seafood and steak dining options on offer. This rooftop bar is my favourite place for pre-dinner cocktails and it’s perfect if you’re looking for a romantic date night experience. The buzzy bar was clearly very popular with tourists and locals alike, as waiters were zipping around serving up drinks and dishes all evening. Situated in the most beautiful spot overlooking the ocean with stunning views over the water, it’s the dreamiest place to unwind with a local beer or chilled glass of Californian wine as you watch the sun set.

Clayton’s

Coronado Island is home to the Hotel Del Coronado (made famous by the 1950’s Marilyn Monroe comedy classic Some Like It Hot). A playground for the rich and famous, this beautiful Southern California haven is made up of tree-lined streets and perfectly manicured lawns, but the pristine Coronado beach is the main attraction - so perfect that it looks like it was plucked straight out of a Hollywood movie set. Continuing the Hollywood theme is retro diner Clayton’s. Decked out in red leather booths and jukeboxes, it wouldn’t look out of place in Grease, especially as the servers all sport traditional diner uniforms you only see in the movies. This fun, friendly little joint serves up all your traditional fare from malted milkshakes to cheeseburgers. I opted for the so-good-it-should-be-illegal grilled cheese sandwich which was an ooey, gooey taste sensation. A San Diego institution which is not to be missed!


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Carlie Mesquitta

I'm Carlie, a travel blogger with a love of surfing, sitcoms and snacking. Usually planning my next trip to America! Find me at www.carliediem.com.