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Hey Finches, I’m Katie Schwarz, and I’m back to give you the scoop on where to eat in San Diego. This has been a difficult post to write for 2 reasons: 1) There is a ridiculous amount of good food here. 2) I’m not good at choosing favorites. It’s a weird quirk of mine, so I’m switching it up a bit. I’m going to stick with fun and lower-budget options. That way you have some money left to spend on wanderlust home decor goodies from Paper Finch. Cause you’ll want to commemorate your time here. It’s a great place to visit!
So, in no particular order, here are my top 5 places to eat in San Diego. Without spending an arm and a leg. You’ll need those to get around since parking can be tricky in a big city.
A quick note about San Diego. The city and surrounding cities cover a pretty large area. San Diego itself is split up into neighborhoods, and they all have their own unique vibes. I’ll note the neighborhood or area and give you a head’s up if it is outside of San Diego proper, like a nearby city.
You’ve heard of Farm to Table, but SuperNatural Sandwiches is all about #seatosandwich. They focus on local and sustainable seafood + locally sourced ingredients when possible to make delicious sandwiches. I can’t rave enough about this place. Seriously the only negative I have is that the giant octopus painted on the wall near the bathroom creeps out my toddler. It’s been consistently great every time we’ve gone.
If you love scallops and ordering like an insider, get the Venus. It’s not on the menu anymore, but is my fave! You’ll be rewarded with a delicious scallop and grilled cheese sandwich. I get it without the aioli because I can’t have most mayo (allergies are annoying). But it’s still amazing. And in case you are wondering, I’m allergic to high fructose corn syrup. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it’s difficult to avoid. But the bread at this sandwich joint is from a local bakery and HFCS-free! Score!
There are locations in Little Italy, Pacific Beach, and Miramar.
Bonus tip: Do yourself a favor and grab a Cravory cookie from the counter when you check out. They are also local and SO YUMMY.
You can check them out on IG here: @sprntrlsandwich
Like many people, I’m a fan of a good burger. But it can be difficult for me to find one that I can actually eat since I have that annoying high fructose corn syrup allergy. Breads and condiments are two of the most common places to find it. Which is one of the reasons I love Burger Lounge.
This mostly California chain also has several locations, and is a fun and green take on the classic burger joint. No HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) to be found. In fact, they pride themselves on serving grass fed beef, sustainable cod, organic cheese, fresh baked buns, and all sorts of delightful ingredients.
Make no mistake, this isn’t a typical fast food burger chain. But they are pretty quick, which is perfect for grabbing a wholesome and delish bite before you hit your next adventure.
Their San Diego locations can be found in Del Sur/4S Ranch, Gaslamp District, Hillcrest, Kinsington, and Little Italy. The following locations aren’t in San Diego proper, but are close enough: Carlsbad, Coronado (perfect break from the beach), Del Mar, and La Jolla.
You can find them on Instagram @burgerlounge
If you’re looking for a dessert spot for a nice afternoon snack, The Baked Bear is what you want. It’s sure to make the grown-ups and kids happy. Unless you let the kids eat too much sugar. In that case, take advantage of the usually nice SoCal weather and run them around a bit before you get back to your day or leave for your next stop.
The Baked Bear is all about amazingly Instagram-able ice cream sandwiches. Made with homemade cookies of course. In fact, I will often opt for a cookie (or 2!) instead of ice cream.
These gargantuan ice cream sandwiches are great for sharing if you’re into that sort of thing. Or you can simply grab a cup or cone of your favorite ice cream flavor. There’s pretty much a cookie or ice cream flavor to make everyone in the family happy.
My personal favorite is a Snickerdoodle cookie and Espresso ice cream sandwich. Go ahead and take them up on the offer to warm it up. The cookies will feel like they are right out of the oven. If you are a sweet coffee person, give this combo a try. It’s amazing!
Or you could always opt for one of the more photogenic creations. You really can’t go wrong.
San Diego is the birthplace of this, now multi-state chain. You can find them here in Carmel Mountain, Carmel Valley, Petco Park, and Pacific Beach.
As a military family we move around alot. And we always make sure to find a fave breakfast place. The hubby and I are the kind of people who are down for breakfast any time of day. Breakfast Republic fits the bill for a favorite breakfast spot especially well. With sweet and savory options, there’s something for everyone.
A couple of dishes to check out: they have a yummy selection of benedicts, and the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes are kind of amazing. Also, bacon lovers take notice! Their Jurassic Pork is this lovely little dish made with thick cut bacon that’s been marinated and baked with paprika and brown sugar. And yes, it’s as wonderful as it sounds.
They also have a nice variety of rotating beers on tap. Which might sound strange for a breakfast restaurant. But San Diego is the micro brewery capital of the world. There are some amazing breweries around here. There will be something for every kind of beer drinker. I would recommend ordering a flight so you can taste more than one. And still taste your breakfast.
You might be noticing a trend here. Successful restaurants tend to expand into micro or mini chains even if they stay local. So, there are several locations to choose from with Breakfast Republic: North Park, Liberty Station (this one is close enough to airport if you want to hit it on your way in or out), East Village, Ocean Beach, Carmel Valley, and Pacific Beach. There is also a location in the nearby city of Encinitas.
You can find them on Instagram @breakfastrepublic.
I already mentioned that San Diego is the micro brewery capital of the world. This next place is our favorite brewery. But it’s not actually in San Diego, you’ll have to drive north on the 15 (or Interstate 15 for the non-west-coasters) to Temecula to Garage Brewing Co. And there are some interesting things to do, so you could easily make an afternoon of it. Housed in the unassuming building, you’ll find a fun build-your-own-pizza restaurant, the bar, and the brewery. We usually go for Saturday lunch, and it’s definitely family friendly.
If you’re kids are like mine, they’ll probably order something predictable. But I like to switch things up and get creative. You can select your sauce and choose from over 63 toppings to make it your own. My kids usually enjoy watching their lunch bake in the super large pizza oven. They also have gluten free and cauliflower crust available as well.
As for the beer, I’m not really a beer drinker. Except in San Diego. Because there are so many unique and fun options available. They have their core brews and several seasonal and limited release options. There’s pretty much something for every taste. If you aren’t usually a beer drinker, you might like one of their fruity brews. I really love the limited release, Raspberry Twist. But sadly it won’t be around much longer.
This one is just a single location in Temecula, but you can find their beers on tap and in cans/bottles all around San Diego.
You can find them on Instagram @garagebrewco
I just can’t wrap this up and not give you a couple of taco picks. San Diego has its own flavor of Mexican food. And at the heart of this unique fusion is the street taco. You will find them at every price point and in every neighborhood. Really, where to eat tacos here is a post in itself. And a often debated topic.
So, I’m just going to quickly list our favorites. My husband really likes Lucha Libre. It has a really unique vibe with a larger than life Mexican wrestler theme. For seafood tacos, we love TJ Oyster Bar. Growing up in Texas did not prepare me for San Diego fish tacos. So good! And for the ultimate street style taco, you’ll want to head to Tacos El Gordo. Now this dive isn’t fancy. But the tacos are authentic Tijuana style and oh so good.
And that’s a wrap. Five (plus a couple of bonuses) of our favorite places to eat in San Diego. Hit me up on Instagram @bykatieschwarz if you’re planning a trip. I’d love to hear from you!
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