Rob and I went to San Diego last weekend for a wedding, so I did a lot of research and made a list of places to visit since we had never been. Of course my top priority was finding the best restaurants. Although we didn’t have time to try them all, we did have several scrumptious meals! San Diego has a fun culinary scene with a variety of fresh seafood and chic gastropubs. Gaslamp Quarter is full of trendy dining destinations and we also liked Little Italy, which has a bustling farmers’ market. We tend to stay within the $ to $$ range on Yelp, so the below restaurants are pretty affordable, but still delicious!
- Prepkitchen. I knew this was going to be a great restaurant when I walked in and saw the rustic chic décor. We went on a Saturday afternoon when they were still serving brunch, so I ordered the chilaquiles made with chipotle braised chicken, avocado, onion, queso fresco and over-medium eggs. It had great flavor! My friend ordered the poppy seed pancakes topped with strawberries, rhubarb whipped cream and almond crumble – it was unreal! With the fluffy pancakes and flavorful toppings, she definitely had the best order. They also offer a self-serve coffee and scone bar (pictured above), which I thought was a cute idea.
- Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. Rob and I love watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so we try to visit at least one of those restaurants when we go to a new city. Since we were in San Diego, we also wanted to take advantage of the fresh, local seafood. Blue Water did not disappoint! I loved the mini Calico Amber Ale beer-battered shrimp tacos. The portions are good-sized, too, so you definitely get your money’s worth.
- El Indio. This popular San Diego establishment catered the wedding, which made for a tasty fiesta! We enjoyed the mini chicken burritos, fish tacos and chips topped with guacamole. Next time we will try out the actual restaurant, too!
- The Fish Market. After touring the USS Midway, we were starving and looking to grab some grub right on the harbor. We came across this waterfront restaurant and had a savory lunch while sitting in the sun. It was pretty crowded, but we found a table on the deck with an amazing view of the water. We loved the baked crab & artichoke dip and king crab BLT.
- Werewolf. Before heading to the Padres game on the 4th of July we fueled up at this American pub with seared ahi soba noodles and some drinks. It’s a fun atmosphere with a great menu and within walking distance of the stadium.
- Taste and Thirst. This restaurant is divided into a bar and an eating area (hence taste AND thirst). When we stopped by, they were offering a 4th of July special, which was half off of all drinks. We are always down for a cheap drink! It’s a casual atmosphere with a tasty menu – hello, truffle fries!
- Shiku Sushi. Located in the heart of La Jolla, this tasty sushi restaurant has fresh seafood and unique rolls – we loved the soft shell crab. It was the perfect post-kayaking lunch.
- South Beach Bar & Grille. Great food and great deals! We enjoyed the Taco Tuesday specials – all tacos were $2.75 and much larger than I expected for that price. Great surfside dining!
- La Puerta. We visited this popular Mexican restaurant during happy hour on Taco Tuesday and the deals were amazing! The drinks and appetizers were half off, plus the street tacos were only $2 each. The Pastor with Adobo Pork, Pineapple, Guacamole and Pico de Gallo was my favorite. We also loved the margaritas and chips with guacamole!
- Half Door. I love restaurants that have good beer and upscale food. Rob and I shared a flight here and the Gimmick Ale (a white chocolate, peanut butter golden milk stout) was definitely my favorite! For dinner I had the ginger chicken lettuce wraps, which were okay, but Rob’s burger was amazing! I mean you can’t go wrong with truffle aoili. I also really liked the salted pretzel bites.
- Tribute Pizza. While we were exploring the North Park neighborhood it took us forever to decide where to go for dinner. We finally settled on this delicious pizza joint and it did not disappoint! We shared the Molto Autentico, which was made with crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlicky mushrooms, Calabrian chile fennel sausage, and house-smoked cheddar. It hit the spot!
- The Balboa Bar & Grill. This is more of a dive bar, but a local said their burgers were amazing so we decided to give it a try! The classic Balboa Burger was really good and I also loved the garlic fries, which came with a delicious dipping sauce.
- Frost Me. While looking for some waterfront attractions I came across Seaport Village, which is full of shops, restaurants and entertainment. I saw that there was a gourmet cupcake shop that had been a champion on Cupcake Wars, so I immediately added it to our to-do list. Located in the heart of the bustling village, the bakery has a long list of classic and specialty flavors. I tried mocha (pictured below), which was made with chocolate cake topped with a layer of chocolate ganache, espresso frosting and crushed espresso beans – delicious!
- Donut Bar. Before heading home we stopped for some sweet treats. The artisan doughnuts come in a variety of delicious flavors, such as salted caramel (pictured below), Nutella, red velvet and chocolate espresso. These doughnuts are HUGE. I thought they might be a little overpriced when I was looking up the flavors online, but these are at least three times as large as a typical grocery store cake doughnut. We were in a sugar coma on our drive home, but well worth it!
- Extraordinary Desserts. After dinner at The Balboa Bar & Grill we drove up the street to get dessert. The sweet treats here are beautiful! A little pricey, but you’re definitely paying for presentation. We have the cheesecake brownie, which was pretty good but I bet the decadent cakes are even better.
- Chocolat Cremerie. This was a local’s suggestion and I am so glad she recommended it! It’s kind of unassuming from the outside, but the gelato is AMAZING! They have crepes and other chocolate desserts as well, but I went with the dark chocolate gelato. It’s so rich and creamy! The salted caramel and chocolate Grand Marnier flavors were delicious too.
- Communal Coffee. This modern, eclectic coffee shop is super cute and has an amazing menu. I had the avocado toast and a rose vanilla latte. Both were delicious! There is also a gift/flower shop inside with a lot of fun items.
BARS AND BREWERIES
- Noble Experiment. This chic speakeasy is hidden inside Neighborhood, a gastropub located in Gaslamp. To get in you have to text a number to make reservation. Luckily, they were able to squeeze the eight of us in last-minute. After you walk through the secret entrance, you’ll find an intimate bar where they specialize in craft cocktails. I didn’t know what I wanted, so I told the bartender I liked wine. He made a delicious drink with fortified wine and strawberries. It was exactly what I wanted without even knowing.
- Ballast Point. I LOVED the beers we tried here. My favorite was the Orangedor, which was a porter that tasted and smelled like one of those chocolate oranges you see around Christmas. The Peppermint Porter was also really good, even though it sounds weird. The flights were a really good deal, too. You got three 4 oz. pours for $5.
- Stone Brewing World. We love Stone beers, so while we were in the area we decided to check out their brewing world and bistro. I loved the soft pretzels for an appetizer and my favorite beer was the chai spiced unicorn milk—so good! They also offer tours and there is a pretty outdoor garden where you can enjoy your brews.
- North Park Beer Co. This spacious brewery in North Park is the perfect place to sip on some beers and spend time with friends. We shared a flight and all of the beers were really good!
Where do you like to eat and drink in San Diego? I would love to hear your suggestions!