LUNCH + DINNER
THE CRACK SHACK
Located in Little Italy - The Crack Shack is an amazing spot for all your fried chicken dreams to come true! They offer a variety of chicken sandwiches, meals, and bowls as well as fries, deviled eggs, and biscuits! They also have a full bar, complete with frosé!
Barleymash, also on my recommendations for nightlife here, has a menu full of delicious items - including my favorite, fried pickles! They also have flatbreads, loaded fries, and a variety of "macs". As far as drinks go, I highly recommend the watermelon margarita (pictured below).
CLOAK & PETAL
Located in Little Italy - I was first drawn to Cloak & Petal because of the unique decor - a beautiful cherry blossom tree surrounding the bar, with Biggie Smalls and Tupac art scattered about.
THE SUGAR FACTORY
Located in Downtown, The Sugar Factory has a movie theater and a huge dining room. Fun fish bowl drinks infused with candy and a menu full of American eats.
THE TACO STAND
Multiple locations in San Diego. They are known for their handmade tortillas and their made from scratch guac and salsa! My favorite taco on their menu is the Al Pastor.
THE BLIND BURRO
Located Downtown, right near Petco Park. I tried their classic house margarita and the nachos which were to die for.. I'll definitely be back to have them again.
Located in Westfield UTC and is a great spot for Mexican cuisine in a beautiful setting. Javier's is one of the best designed restaurants I've ever seen! The one downside is that they do not have happy hour specials - I still highly recommend it though!
Located in the Flower Hill Mall, not only does Flower Child have yummy food, but amazing decor as well! Their menu has a variety of options - including many vegan and vegetarian options! My favorite is the Mother Earth bowl with salmon. Their mac & cheese is also BOMB and they have a bunch of delicious lemonades!
Buona Forchetta has 3 locations - Encinitas, Liberty Station, and South Park. I would eat here everyday if I could. I love their gnocchi and their pizza. I cannot recommend this place enough - SO delicious!
GRUB BURGER BAR
Located in Carmel Mountain, If you love burgers, you NEED to go to Grub Burger Bar. Everything I've tried has been super yummy. PLUS, they have alcoholic milkshakes!!
North Italia has a few different locations in town (Del Mar and Fashion Valley). I really love the pizza, the artichoke, and the garlic bread! They also have really cute decor.
Rustic Root is an amazing place for both food and drinks! There is an indoor dining room, but I prefer the rooftop bar. Their mac and cheese is one of the best I've ever had (and I've had a lotttt of mac & cheese in my life!). There was good music and a busy bar all night!
Located in Mission Beach, at Belmont Park. Cannonball has great views, especially at sunset and live music certain nights of the week.
A few locations in town, this is a unique spot for ramen. This was my first time having ramen, I enjoyed it but my favorite part was the cat cups that the cocktails come in!
Located right on the beach in Del Mar. Poseidon has fresh seafood and a beautiful atmosphere, especially at sunset.
CARNITAS SNACK SHACK
Located Downtown right on the water. This is an open-air bar/restaurant with a variety of food and drinks - including loaded carnitas fries and margaritas
BANKER'S HILL BAR
Located in Banker's Hill. Their menu is described as Rustic American Cuisine - think sliders, pulled pork, deviled eggs, and truffle fries!
Several locations in town - modern Mexican cuisine. They have bowls, tacos, quesadillas, and delicious drinks!
DEATH BY TEQUILA
Located in Encinitas, I loved this spot! They have a guacamole flight and some of the best tacos I've had!
JEUNE ET JOLIE
Located in Carlsbad. A beautifully decorated restaurant with a menu full of French cuisine, different specials each week, and an absinthe drip (my first time trying absinthe!)
Located in Hillcrest. I absolutely LOVE Italian food so I was really excited when this spot opened! I went to their opening event and tried their gnocchi (my fave- to die for), cannoli, charcuterie, and some of their fancy drinks! This is a super cute spot for girl's night out or date night.
If you're looking for yummy fish tacos, you need to check out Mitch's seafood. They are located in Point Loma and have a great outdoor deck (right on the water). I decided to take mine over to Shelter Island for a picnic.
Located in Old Town, if you love queso as much as I do - you NEED to go to Fred's. Their queso is my absolute fave. They also have great tacos and margaritas!
This is a newer spot located in North Park. I really loved everything I tried but particularly the lamb chops and the crispy rice balls.
Located in Seaport Village, this is a newer spot. I loved the burger and fries. Plus, it's a great place to sit outside and look at the gorgeous views of the bay.
Two words: Margarita flights. Really that's all I need in order to go try a place. Luckily, the food at Barrio Star is delicious too!
Located in Del Mar, this is one of my new favorites! Every thing I tried was absolutely delicious and the restaurant has a large outdoor, open air balcony. Fun fact: all the honey that they use is from the chef's beehive on his property.
Duke's has one of the best views for a restaurant in La Jolla. There is rootfop dining area which has a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. Duke's has a Hawaiian-inspired menu and colorful, delicious drinks.
FUNKY FRIES & BURGERS
A few locations in San Diego. I found Funky Fries and Burgers on Instagram and immediately knew I needed to try it out! They have some crazy combinations for burgers, fries, and desserts! I had the buffalo chicken blue cheese fries.
Multiple locations in San Diego. My favorite item on the menu is definitely their crispy chicken sliders that have mashed potatoes on them! They also have fried mac & cheese balls and corn dog lollipops.
LUCHA LIBRE TACO SHOP
A few locations in San Diego (Mission Hills & North Park). Lucha Libre translates as "free fighting" which is a type of wrestling that the owners grew up watching. The restaurant is adorned in fighting decor. I really enjoyed the tacos I tried and I would recommend going here even just to look at the decor!
SODA & SWINE
Multiple locations in San Diego. Soda and Swine has two of my favorite things: sliders and mac & cheese. They also have alcoholic slushies.
Stone Brewing has multiple locations in San Diego, but I visited the one at Liberty Station. They have multiple bars, indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a bocce ball court. I'm not a fan of beer so I had some "co-scouts" with me to test them out and let me know which ones were good! The beers they tried/recommend are the Grapefruit Slam IPA, Stone Jilted Kiwi, Tropic of Thunder Lager, and the Resilience IPA (proceeds going to the wildfire relief in California - in collaboration with Sierra Nevada) . I personally tried the rosé (of course) and the brown butter gnocchi which I HIGHLY recommend!! So delicious.
BLANCO TACOS + TEQUILA
Located at Fashion Valley. This is a great spot for, well, tacos and tequila! My faves are the blackberry clementine margarita and the warm queso dip.
Located in the Gaslamp, Bang Bang is the perfect spot for dinner and drinks or a fun night out. It is a sushi restaurant that turns into a club later in the evening. They have a Ryan Gosling themed bathroom - AMAZING!
Located in Downtown. Two words: TEQUILA FLIGHT. They have super cute decor and an amazing mural on the wall outside - perfect for some instagram pictures.
MR MOTO PIZZA
There are five Mr Moto locations around town: Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Point Loma, North Park, and Ocean Beach. It's a great spot for a cute date night or a late night slice!
LORNA'S ITALIAN KITCHEN
Lorna's Italian Kitchen has been open in UTC since 1988! Their food is spectacular - from the charcuterie board, to the bruschetta, to the different pastas I loved everything I tried (my personal favorite was the gnocchi, of course)! I also loved the feel of the restaurant - it has super cute decor and just makes you feel like you're at home.
Located in Old Town - they make their own tortillas and have margaritas as big as your head. They have some of my favorite Mexican food in town!
Located in La Jolla, right by the beach. One of my very favorite spots for pizza in town. They also serve other Italian dishes, but I always pick pizza and wine!
TRUE FOOD KITCHEN
A few locations in town, True Food has a bunch of yummy and healthy options. They also come out with delicious seasonal menus.
Located in Liberty Station, right across from the Public Market. El Jardin has a beautifully decorated patio area, delicious drinks, and guacamole flights!
Located in La Jolla. Great spot for sushi - close to the beach and other shops and restaurants.
Located in North Park - love this location. They serve craft beer and food with seasonal options.
Located in North Park - offers a menu inspired by New Orleans. Many fun drink options like one that comes with pop rocks and one that comes in a skull with dry ice!
Located in Sorrento Mesa. They only serve beer and wine (no hard alcohol), but their food is bomb. They also have a great outdoor bar and a patio with games, like corn hole. My burger looked so good I forgot to take a picture before I ate it (!!!!) but, I will definitely be back!
Located in Carmel Valley. This is a great spot for bar food and sports. They have two outdoor areas - with games and firepits plus bar and booth seating.
Located in Little Italy. This is a vegan ramen and sushi spot. I was nervous about trying vegan sushi but it was surprisingly tasty! My favorite items were Karaage and the 'Bad Liar' roll.
Located in Encinitas, Goodonya is a great spot for healthy, organic eats. Their menu consists of various salads, sandwiches, wraps, bowls, and coffee!
NOT NOT TACOS
Located in Little Italy Food Hall - Not Not Tacos is a unique spot with all different types of tacos! My favorite one is the Sam's cheeseburger taco and the drive thru tots are a must!!
I am honestly kind of obsessed with Grater Greens - they have bowls and salads with a huge selection of toppings. I went a bit wild with my toppings and I regret nothing.
This is a super cool speakeasy downtown with incredible views. They have their own rooftop garden where they grow many ingredients used in their dishes and drinks (how cool?!) I definitely recommend going at sunset for a stellar experience.
They have one location in Little Italy and one near Balboa. I went during COVID so we had to sit outside but the inside looked gorgeous. The food was delicious and I loved the Aperol spritz.
Located in Downtown. I specifically went there for the blueberry gnocchi and it may be the best gnocchi I've ever had!! I would HIGHLY recommend this spot. The lobster ravioli is also a must.