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    Where to eat in San Diego: guide to the best restaurants in the city

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    Martí Micolau

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    Are you visiting the city of San Diego and, taken among the thousands of attractions to visit, haven't you thought about where to eat? Then this guide may be for you. Starting from the most important areas of the city, you will find advice on those restaurants that are worth considering to get to know the culinary offer of the area.


    • Where to eat in San Diego's Old Town
    • Eat a stone's throw from the sea
      • The shoreline near San Diego
      • The San Diego shoreline: Marina Embarcadero, Harbor Island, Coronado and more
    • Where to eat in Gaslamp Quarter
    • Where to eat in Little Italy
    • Where to eat in Balboa Park

    Where to eat in San Diego's Old Town

    If you want to breathe the historic air of the city and eat typical Mexican products, visiting the Old Town of San Diego is one of the things to do absolutely!

    The business card of the Coyote Cafe they are handmade tortillas in front of your eyes and in generous portions. The restaurant is also very successful among the locals who crowd it, especially during rush hour. Open for both lunch and dinner.

    A valid alternative is to have lunch at kings house, the main restaurant within the Kings Festival shopping area, where everything is Mexican themed. Or, for something faster, to the neighbor Barra Saloon. In front of the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Old Town, however, you will find the Hungry’s Kitchen & Tap, a youthful place where you can eat simple dishes at not too high prices.

    house of kings
    Barra Saloon
    Hungry’s Kitchen & Tap

    Guadalajara House is one of the best known and most popular restaurants in the Old Town. Located in a characteristic building, also in this case among the most successful dishes are the homemade tortillas which helped to decree it in 2010 as the Best Mexican Restaurant by the California Restaurant Association's. The agave it is a place with a decidedly particular atmosphere, how can we fail to notice the huge collection of tequila bottles that are displayed on the restaurant shelves? A real museum. It is not a purely aesthetic choice: in fact El Agave is known for making more than two thousand different brands of the famous Mexican drink available to its customers.

    Eat a stone's throw from the sea

    When planning a California itinerary, you cannot fail to visit its beautiful coastline. The beaches of San Diego are certainly not far behind and, if you find yourself traveling this area with your rental car, here are some tips on where to eat near the sea. For those who want to leave the car parked, instead, you can take a look at our guide on how to get around San Diego by public transport.

    The shoreline near San Diego

    Views of the Pacific Ocean and good food are what we find in Carlsbad from religious's (3290 Carlsbad Blvd.) with Californian cuisine for lunch, dinner and brunch (on weekends). Happy hour runs from Monday to Friday from 16 to 19 pm, while at the weekend it is always a party from 11.30 to 19. Knowing that the town of Encinitas is home to Swami Beach, immortalized by Beach Boys, not far from the coast we travel from Swami's Cafe (1163 S. Coast Hwy 101). Here you can enjoy omelets, pancakes, waffles and toast but also salads, sandwiches and dishes with an international touch such as fish taco, rice and vegetables, all flavored with curry in a casual setting with wood.

    Al ristorante Pacific of the Sea (1555 Camino del Mar) in the locality of Del Mar you can enjoy fresh local dishes in a hospitable environment overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Among the many options on the menu, caesar salad, filet mignon and grilled swordfish are very popular. In La Jolla, Crab Catcher (1298 Prospect St.) specializes in local seafood. Crustaceans are the most expensive dishes, but also the most popular. The restaurant, open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekend, has a beautiful setting on top of a cliff, an added value. Every day from 15 to 19 pm it is time for happy hour while on Fridays and Saturdays there is live music. If you want more advice on this particular destination, read our article entirely dedicated to La Jolla.

    The San Diego shoreline: Marina Embarcadero, Harbor Island, Coronado and more

    The central area of ​​the Marina district is full of restaurants and bars. Among the most characteristic we remember the San Diego Pier Cafe: the dishes are almost all based on fish and the prices are not the cheapest, but the real value of this restaurant lies in the location. Located on a wooden stilt house, it is definitely a suggestive place to dine, especially at sunset. Not far away and no less characteristic is theHarbor House Restaurant. Here, too, the fish dishes are tasty and the sea view is guaranteed.

    Harbor House Restaurant
    San Diego Pier Cafe

    Nell’area dell’Pier we recommend the Top of the Market (750 N. Harbor Dr.), considered one of the finest restaurants in the city with a view that sweeps from Point Loma to the Coronado Bridge. It is known for its high quality dishes, including Pacific swordfish, Alaskan halibut, clam chowder and lobster pasta. To finish with a flourish, there is no shortage of desserts such as vanilla panna cotta with pistachios and creme bruleé. From Monday to Friday it is happy hour time from 16 to 18 pm.

    Su Harbor island (an artificial peninsula between Shelter Island and downtown) we point out Island prime (880 Harbor Island Dr.). Some courses have high prices but there are also moderately priced dishes such as crab cake, giant white prawns, a nice assortment of cheeses, potatoes au gratin with melted cheese and fresh herbs, ham wrapped with asparagus and balsamic vinegar. You can choose to eat inside or on the patio where you can better appreciate the ocean view and the panorama over the city. Smart-casual clothing is recommended. You can decide whether to park with a valet at a cost of $ 7 or to park your car yourself.

    Shelter Island is a recreation area near Point Loma, in San Diego Bay, connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land; here people come to enjoy the exotic, Hawaiian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine of the Bali Hai Restaurant (2230 Shelter Island Dr.). Specialties are coconut shrimp, sesame salmon, smoked tuna sandwich, orange lobster, lamb Pad Thai (lime, veggies, noodles and tamarind sauce). There is no shortage of desserts such as hazelnut cheesecake, strawberry mousse and Tropical Island Bomb (coconut, mango, passion fruit, white chocolate and tropical fruit sauce). Happy hour takes place from Monday to Friday from 15 to 18 pm while on Sunday in the late morning it is time for brunch. From the restaurant, the view sweeps across the San Diego Bay.

    There are several restaurants in the Coronado Peninsula at the best known hotel, the Hotel del Coronado (1500 Orange Avenue). Here are a few.

    • 1500 Ocean: open for dinner with a beautiful ocean view
    • Sheerwater: at breakfast, lunch and dinner with meat, fish and salads in the company of the sea and the sunset
    • Eno: for lunch and dinner, indoors, or at the outdoor fireplace with pizza cooked in a wood oven
    • Crown Room Brunch: where Sunday brunch is held in an elegant restaurant with touches of dark wood
    • Sun Deck: ideal for cocktails and small catering on a terrace surrounded by braziers.

    Ad Imperial Beach, at the Pier South Hotel (800 Seacoast Dr.), we recommend the be 180 with a casual setting and ocean views. The food is good, the prices are low. The menu offers shrimp cocktails, filet mignon, loster roll but, if desired, there is also a classic cheeseburger.

    Where to eat in Gaslamp Quarter

    Fame and tourism have contributed to the birth of many local e restaurants in the district of Gaslamp, each with its own particular atmosphere. Morton Steakhouse (285 J. St.) is a restaurant of the chain of the same name born in Chicago in 1978. In a refined setting distributed between various rooms and the bar, you can dine from 17 to 23 with excellent dishes of beef, pork and lamb but also an excellent lobster broth (bisque), many other delicious proposals and a series of desserts that tempt not only the sweet tooth: creme brulee, cheesecake, double chocolate mousse, bread pudding with white chocolate and pecans.

    The Old Spaghetti Factory (275 5th Ave.) already from the name highlights his predilection for pasta: spaghetti with tomato and meatballs, baked lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, but there are other good dishes, such as fillet and a healthy salad with shrimps. Try the cheesecake with strawberry puree. In this mid-priced restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, the setting is captivating: soft lights, antique chandeliers, painted lamps, decorations and above all the presence of a tram carriage in the center of the main hall, inside which you can eat. . Once a month the Murder Mystery Dinner is a two-hour entertainment that accompanies a three-course dinner with a murder case to solve, all for $ 60.

    The chain House of Blues (1055 5th Ave.) is known for its live music and 11am Sunday brunch accompanied by gospel music. On the official website you can check out the musical events. Except on Mondays, here you can eat at affordable prices from 16 to 22 pm, on Fridays and Saturdays until 23 pm. Try the specialties of the south-east, gumbo, jambalaya, Cajun pasta and also tasty dishes like barbeque green beans and sweet bread. with corn with jalapeno and cheese. Less tasty but delicious is the pulled pork sandwich. For dessert, let yourself be tempted by the key lime pie, a typical Florida cake.

    The Gaslamp district is definitely interesting in the evening, with lights and the movida on the premises, some open late into the night. Whiskey Girl (702 5th Ave.) has a country twist: I recommend tasting chicken wings with salsa, caesar salad with grilled chicken, pizza and sandwiches. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner every day, breakfast on weekends and brunch on Sundays. Live music can be heard from Monday to Friday and those who love sports can sit at the bar and enjoy a game on TV. Here children are welcome: for them there is the kid menu, but after 19 and until 2 in the morning entry is allowed only to those over 21 years of age.
    The similar name can make it confuse with the Whiskey House (420 3rdAve.), Which is instead famous for holding the Guinness Book of Records for the largest number of types of whiskey served.

    On the 22nd floor of the Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, theAltitude Sky Lounge (660 K St.) is a popular hotel terrace bar with a splendid panoramic view, DJ entertainment, furniture and braziers for cooler evenings but also to create a nice atmosphere. The restaurant, open from 17.30 pm to 1.30 am, requires smart-casual clothing; medium priced beers, wine, cocktails, appetizers and sandwiches are served. Henry's Pub (618 5th Ave.) specializes in American cuisine at particularly low prices. Crispy shrimps, vanilla waffles and berries with whipped cream are very popular. Brunch is served on Sundays.

    Where to eat in Little Italy

    For Little Italy, it's really hard to make a choice. Here the neighborhood is all about restaurants, as Italian cuisine is a must throughout the United States. Those who feel homesick during their stay in San Diego usually go to India Street and choose based on their personal impression; you do not always fall well and at the same time you need to remember that, as happens in all America, in these restaurants Spanish food is often adapted to the local taste. For a selection of recommended restaurants in this area, I refer you to our article on Little Italy in San Diego.

    Where to eat in Balboa Park

    The immense San Diego park, a real green lung of the city, it is certainly an essential stop for those who want to visit the city. Zoos, botanical gardens, museums and historic buildings will satisfy your curiosity and, if after a long walk, you want to find somewhere in the area where you can refresh yourself, you can read our in-depth study dedicated to Balboa Park in San Diego.

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