With its endless sun and oceanfront location, as well as strong influences from Mexico, San Diego offers plenty of dining options—from flaky fish tacos in house-made tortillas to chef-driven menus featuring hyper-local ingredients presented elegant surroundings, and capped with a California sunset view.
For an easy first night in San Diego, head to Old Town for classic margaritas and Mexican food served with a side of mariachi music. Try the gooey cheesy chile rellenos at the always-lively Old Town Mexican Café. The Gaslamp Quarter in downtown has trendy eateries; sample farm-to-table dishes at celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s Searsucker restaurant. Or go retro with a flaky favorite from San Diego Chicken Pie Shop, a San Diego tradition since 1938. Further up the coast in classy La Jolla, try Chef Malarkey’s Herringbone, with oversize wicker chairs and a live olive tree centrepiece. Also in La Jolla, take in wraparound ocean views at George’s At The Cove, where Chef Trey Foshee presents a California Modern tasting menu that focuses on hyper-local, ultra-fresh ingredients. For an unforgettable experience, put your order in Chef Foshee’s capable hands with the TBL3 experience: each thrilling dish is custom designed that day based on what’s freshest and in season. At The Marine Room, also in La Jolla, Chef Bernard Guillas serves up memorable creations with an equally unforgettable view: the restaurant is literally perched atop a seawall foundation, right on the ocean’s edge. Sit here in a winter storm, sipping a craft cocktail, for a truly wild experience.
Gastropubs and craft breweries are a big deal in the San Diego region. The North Park neighborhood, on the north side of Balboa Park, has standouts serving great food and local beers; local favorites include always buzzing Urban Solace and The Smoking Goat. In Carlsbad, relax post-Legoland California with a Blackball Belgian IPA paired with ahi sliders at expansive Karl Strauss Brewing Company. It’s one of the pioneers of the region’s explosive boom in craft breweries (more than 140 breweries dot the county). Experience them on guided tours, such as the fun and informative Brew Hop—you not only taste great beers but you learn the history behind them. And you don’t have to drive.