35 Delicious San Diego Restaurants For Your Bucket List

San Diego Food Guide

As many of you know this little slice on the internet use to be a travel blog and while I have rebranded I still want to provide you with inspiration to help you get your foot out the door and your hearts exploring this amazing world of ours. I would like to introduce you to a new series featuring 35 amazing restaurants in wonderful cities all across the United States. While I have been to a bunch of amazing places I have not been everywhere so I have enlisted a group of amazing women and travelers to help me create this series for you! Each month we will feature a new list and I hope it gives you some inspiration to plan your next getaway. Be sure to check out last months post by my intern Emily on 35 Resturants In Chicago for Your Bucket List! If you would like to be apart of the series please email me at hello@alexandriadrake.com

35 Delicious San Diego Restaurants For Your Bucket List

Originally from outside of Boston, MA, Jocelyn has spent the last 10 years living in San Diego, CA. While she works full time in marketing at a software company, her true passion is traveling and running her travel blog, A Side of Sunsets, with her boyfriend. Together, the two of them make travel a priority and visit new countries every year. They love to immerse themselves in new cultures and try new foods. But – when they aren’t traveling they enjoy eating their way through San Diego – trying new restaurants and visiting their favorites time and time again.

Over the 10 years that Jocelyn has lived in San Diego the restaurant scene has exploded! While Mexican and seafood is always present, there are plenty of other cuisines to enjoy while you visit America’s Finest City!

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  1. Amplified Ale Works (Pacific Beach, $$) – a casual spot close to the beach, Amplified is a brewpub with middle eastern food. Come in for a tasty beer (or wine) and grab anything from a salad to naan pizza to doner fries!
  2. Cucina Urbana (Banker’s Hill, $$) – delicious Italian food with a great (and not expensive) wine list and different specials most nights. They also have sister restaurants in the Kensington neighborhood (Cucina Sorella) and in Del Mar (Cucina Enoteca).
  3. Kettner Exchange (Little Italy, $$) – handcrafted cocktails and a yummy American menu. Indoor and outdoor seating – perfect for grabbing a couple of drinks, shared plates, or a full meal. Great for brunch too! They also have great options for special events.
  4. Herb & Wood (Little Italy, $$$) – Chef Brian Malarkey’s newest creation in San Diego. The restaurant is quite large, with rustic decor, wood-fired dishes, and old-school cocktails. Don’t forget to check out Herb & Eatery next door for a casual lunch!
  5. Juniper & Ivy (Little Italy, $$$) – another new American restaurant in the Little Italy, Juniper & Ivy serves inventive dishes and great cocktails.
  6. Puesto (Seaport, La Jolla, $$) – this is not only a delicious spot but makes it an easy lunch or dinner stop if you’re touring around San Diego. I honestly love all of their tacos, and they have lots of yummy tequila and mezcal drinks to wash them down with. While the food is well priced, swing by for dinner on Taco Tuesday and grab some tacos for $2.50 each.
  7. PB Fish Shop (Pacific Beach, $$) – as the name might allude to, we’re talking about fish tacos here. Pick your fish, your marinade and your style (salads, sandwiches, and plates are also available), grab a beer and enjoy indoor or outdoor seating. My favorite things to order are the TKO Taco and the Fish Shop Shrimp. Tip: while they sell wine there, you can also BYOW as well! And if you like oysters, they sell them for $1 each starting at 4 pm until they run out! Lastly, this place is so good, they opened a second location in Encinitas.
  8. Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle (Seaport, $) – a super casual spot on a dock in the seaport district, order a handmade sausage or burger and a beer and enjoy the view. If you’re a lover of the elusive beer Pliny the Elder, this place typically has it on draft.
  9. Prepkitchen (Little Italy, La Jolla, Del Mar, $$) – A favorite of ours for brunch as well as dinner and drinks. If you head there for brunch they have your classic mimosas and bloody mary’s, but the rest of their drink menu is definitely worth exploring. Pair your chilaquiles with some ricotta donut holes for the table and enjoy!
  10. Mister A’s (Banker’s Hill, $$$$) – time to get dressed, enjoy a killer view over the bay and downtown San Diego, and wonderful French-American food.
  11. Bo-beau (Ocean Beach, Hillcrest, La Mesa, $$) – A little French bistro that originated in an unassuming part of Ocean Beach, order a glass of red wine, brussels and mussels. There are plenty of other delicious items on the menu as well – but those items are a must!
  12. Breakfast Republic (North Park, Encinitas, Liberty Station, Carmel Valley, East Village, $$) – this place is so popular they’ve already opened numerous locations in San Diego. The wait can be long, but, hopefully, you’re able to grab a tasty cocktail while you wait. The entire menu is mouthwatering to me, so I don’t think you can really go wrong. I’d recommend going with a few people so you can try different things, and what’s an order or Oreo pancakes between friends?
  13. Hodad’s (Ocean Beach, Gaslamp, $) – burgers! Delicious burgers and the milkshakes aren’t half bad either! Depending on when you head to the OB location, be prepared for a wait!
  14. Wonderland (Ocean Beach, $$) – located on the second floor, this relaxed bar is full of windows overlooking the ocean and the OB Pier. They have a variety of yummy bar food and drinks and different specials throughout the week.
  15. JRDN, Tower 23 (Pacific Beach, $$$) – delicious Bloody Mary’s at brunch, a great happy hour, and perfect sunset views, JRDN is located right on the boardwalk and on the first floor of the Tower 23 hotel. Another great spot for mussels and brussels!
  16. Herringbone (La Jolla, $$$) – another Brian Malarkey spot, this restaurant focuses more on seafood in a cool warehouse location in La Jolla. Stop by during their oyster hour, or for weekend brunch ($25 unlimited Rose!)
  17. Pisco Rotisserie (Liberty Station, $$) – a newer restaurant, this Peruvian spot has ample outdoor seating and much of their food comes with an Asian flair. Don’t miss out on a churro for dessert (with chocolate ice cream!) and of course a Pisco Sour with dinner.
  18. Great Maple (Hillcrest, $$) – this is one of those few popular brunch spots I’ve found that actually takes reservations – major bonus. But their food is great too! Start with an order of beignets and then choose an entree – I’m a fan of their scramble melts. Then head over to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market!
  19. Cafe 21 (Gaslamp, University Heights, $$) – Two words: mimosa flights. If that doesn’t start your brunch off right, they have a variety of delicious omelets and crepes!
  20. South Beach Bar & Grill – (Ocean Beach, $$) another fish taco spot next to another beach. Head to Ocean Beach and grab some grilled or fried tacos. The lobster taco here is one of my favorites. Check their website for a variety of daily specials.
  21. Stone Brewery (Liberty Station, Escondido, $$) – there are tons of great breweries in San Diego, but if you’re looking for one with a larger food menu and great atmosphere, Stone Brewery has you covered. They also have wine and non-Stone Brewery beers as well.
  22. George’s by the Cove (La Jolla, $$-$$$$) – George’s is a 3-for-1 spot. The rooftop terrace is a great place for lunch or drinks, sunshine, and a great view. Level2 continues to casual vibe inside with lunch, dinner, and creative cocktails. Then head down to California Modern, where things get a little fancier and tasting menus are available. Whatever you decide, you can’t go wrong!
  23. Liberty Public Market (Liberty Station, $$) – can’t decide what you want? Head to the Liberty Public Market (located right next to Stone Brewery) where there are a variety of eateries, specialty food vendors, and bars. There’s limited seating inside but a nice grassy patio area outside with tables and adirondock chairs.
  24. Shanghai Saloon/Dumpling Inn (Kearny Mesa, $$) – if you’re searching for Asian food, the Kearny Mesa area is the place to go! Our favorite spot is Shanghai Saloon, located in an unassuming strip mall (as most spots are in this area) but full of delicious dumplings, drinks, and classic Chinese dishes.
  25. 25.Crack Shack (Little Italy, $$) – a fun outdoor eatery, this place features the chicken and egg concept. Grab a friend chicken sandwich, a drink, play some bocce, and enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather!
  26. Ironside Fish & Oyster (Little Italy, $$) – the name probably already gave it way, but only come to Ironside if you love love love seafood – located in a warehouse in the middle of the Little Italy, this place will fulfill your seafood cravings.
  27. Tamarindo Latin Kitchen & Bar (North Park, $$) – an emphasis on Mexican food and drinks with a self-serve salsa bar, this spot is great for a casual dinner in the middle of North Park.
  28. The Grass Skirt (Pacific Beach, $$) – a Polynesian spot close to the beach, head here for small plates and tiki-style drinks. The drinks come pretty sweet, so if that’s not your style there is plenty of beer and wine to order!
  29. Urban Solace (North Park, $$) – comfort food that’s great for brunch or dinner. From fried green tomatoes to duck confit, this place has something for everyone. If you’re closer to Encinitas, visit their sister restaurant, Solace by the Moonlight.
  30. The Smoking Goat (North Park, $$) – this French-American restaurant gives off a farmhouse vibe, order anything from foie gras and escargot to bouillabaisse and steak frites.
  31. Trust (Hillcrest, $$) – another New American spot that’s great for brunch or dinner. Dinner is all about small plates and brunch, well make sure you order a sticky bun for the table!
  32. Tender Greens (Liberty Station, UTC, Gaslamp, Mission Valley, $$) – looking for something healthy? Stop by tender greens for a salad, sandwich, or soup!
  33. Soda & Swine (Liberty Station, North Park, $$) – who doesn’t love meatballs?! Choose from a variety of meatball flavors, whether you want a slider, submarine, or skillet, and whatever sides you want!
  34. The Patio on Lamont (Pacific Beach, $$) – another great spot for brunch, happy hour, or dinner. They serve small and large plates and have a great selection of cocktails. In another neighborhood? Check out The Patio on Goldfinch in Mission Hills or Fireside by the Patio in Liberty Station, and Harvest in East Village.
  35. Bencotto (Little Italy, $$) – an Italian restaurant in Little Italy! While there are many there, this is my favorite. Artisanal eats and handmade pasta, stop by for dinner. It can get busy though, so their sister restaurant, Monello, is right next door and another great option!
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San Diego Food Guide

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