Though I can’t think of a San Diego restaurant that isn’t welcoming to families, the kid-friendly restaurants in San Diego on this list cater to them particularly well.

You’ll find menus from our most popular chefs with seasonal and regional dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Play areas and games entertain kids while adults sip craft cocktails or gourmet coffee within eyesight.

Most of these family restaurants are also located in popular tourist areas, making them convenient options for travelers visiting San Diego with kids. Rest assured that they are also beloved by locals.

1. Corvette Diner

Neighborhood: Liberty Station in Point Loma
Price Range: $$
Address: 2965 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
Phone: (619) 542-1476
Menu: Corvette Diner
Signature Dishes: Breakfast at Tiffany’s Burger and Sophie’s Spaghetti & Meatballs for the kids

A milkshake held up in front of a vintage car at Corvette Diner in San Diego.

This iconic ’50s-style diner has been one of the main go-to family restaurants in San Diego for more than a quarter-century. Disc Jockeys, balloon artists, magicians, and live entertainment frequent the diner on a weekly basis, but the main entertainment draw for kids and grown-ups alike is the 5,000-square-foot Gamers Garage.

Not your typical arcade, the Gamers Garage has over 60 games, including everything from the latest high-tech simulators to interactive pinball throwbacks. Servers line the restaurant corridors every hour on the hour with their infamous song and dance, encouraging kids and adults to get up and move to the music, creating a memorable and interactive experience. Corvette Diner’s Liberty Station location makes it a good stop after visiting Cabrillo National Monument.

2. Harumama Noodles + Buns

Neighborhood: La Jolla, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Little Italy & Ocean Beach
Price Range: $$
Address: See below
Menu: Harumama Noodles & Buns
Signature Dishes: Their sweet and savory buns and Poke Bowls

Character buns on a marble table with other Asian dishes at Harumama in San Diego.
Photo courtesy of Harumama

All ages love ordering the super-cute and mouthwatering character buns at Harumama Noodles + Buns. If your kids haven’t ventured into the world of dim sum or Japanese buns, they will surely be tempted to try these. Order sweet buns such as Nutella or savory buns like chicken, onion, and mozzarella. Keep an eye out for seasonal characters as the bun offerings do change.

The rest of the menu features mostly Japanese favorites mixed with a few Chinese and Korean dishes. The ramen bowls are another popular order, and the Crispy Chickie is a favorite. All five restaurants’ spectacular contemporary interior design is just as Instagram-worthy as the food. Each location also offers delivery via Doordash.

Tip: We also are big fans of the Flying Pig Ramen. If you get it delivered they separate the ingredients from the broth so it tastes nearly as good as in the restaurant.

Also featured in Best Restaurants in Little Italy San Diego and Best Restaurants in La Jolla

  • La Jolla: 1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037 / (858) 999-0323
  • Little Italy: 1901 Columbia Street, San Diego, CA 92101 / (619) 269-7122
  • Carlsbad: 2958 Madison Street, Carlsbad, CA 92008 / (760) 637-5039
  • Encinitas: 1460 Encinitas Blvd, Encinitas, CA 92024 / (760) 704-8858
  • Ocean Beach: 4741 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107 / (619) 269-3780

3. Campfire

Neighborhood: Carlsbad
Price Range: $$$
Address: 2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008; Phone: (760) 637-5121
Menu: Campfire
Signature Dishes: Koji-aged Ribeye and Smoked Brisket

The outdoor seating area at Campfire including the tipi kids' play area.
The Tipi and outdoor seating (Photo courtesy of Campfire)

Campfire was created to invoke the feeling you get when gathering around a (you guessed it) campfire with good friends and family alongside you. The menu features New American cuisine with wood-fired meat like rib-eye or fire-roasted octopus, in addition to the likes of coal-roasted cabbage with with smoked egg and anchovy. Pair it with a specialty cocktail or local brew.

Families love the kid-friendly San Diego restaurant’s casual nature. Kids take a break from adult conversation to go hang out in the outdoor tipi and play area. Grilled cheese and smaller portion meals grace the kids’ menu.

Of course, you can roast gourmet s’mores over the outdoor fire pits to really feel like you’re at a campfire.

Also featured in Best Carlsbad Restaurants

4. Draft Republic

Neighborhood: San Marcos & Carlsbad
Price Range: $$
Address: See below
Menu: Draft Republic
Signature Dishes: Draft Republic’s Pound O’Wings & Famous Sausage Sampler

Looking for a place where you can sit and grab a beer or handcrafted cocktail while the kids play in an adjacent play area? Nestled in the heart of San Marcos’s new North City complex, Draft Republic has you covered. This huge brewhouse has a big outdoor space with games like Giant Jenga and Connect Four, plus shuffleboard along the side by the entrance. There’s a mini stage, and they sometimes show movies in the summer.

Inside, there’s a small but great games arcade, and it even has a boutique 8-lane bowling alley for some serious family fun. Regarding food, the kids’ menu is pretty standard fare like chicken tenders, mac and cheese, fish and chips, and Spaghetti Noodles. The main bonus about this place for kids is definitely the variety of games offered, both inside and out.

  • San Marcos: 255 Redel Rd, San Marcos, CA 92078 / (760) 290-3520
  • Carlsbad: 5958 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92008 / (760) 448-4627

5. Pizza Port

Neighborhood: Carlsbad, Solana Beach, Ocean Beach, Imperial Beach, Bressi Ranch
Price Range: $$
Address: See below
Menu: Pizza Port
Signature Dishes: Various pizzas named after CA cities

I love the Monterey Pizza!

This large chain of popular pizza restaurants is definitely a favorite family restaurant in San Diego, and its renowned pizza and beer are well known among locals. Add to that easy bench seating, the casual vibe of all branches, and the fact that many branches have mini arcades for the kids to win toys, etc., and it’s a winning combo.

Try one of their great Original pizzas named after popular California cities, including many where they have locations, like the Carlsbad, Solana, and Ocean Beach. The Pesto Veggie Pizza is great, or go for the full monty with the Meet Extreme Meat that you can order with Pizza Port’s signature wholegrain beer crust. You can also custom-build your own pizza, and there are great munchies for the kids.

  • Carlsbad: 571 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008 / (760) 720–7007
  • Solana Beach: 135 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach, CA 90725 / (858) 481–7332
  • Ocean Beach: 1956 Bacon Street, Ocean Beach, CA 92107 / (619) 224–4700
  • Bressi Ranch: 2730 Gateway Road, Carlsbad, CA 92009 / (760) 707–1655
  • Imperial Beach: 204 Palm Ave, Imperial Beach, CA 91932 / (619) 373–1470

6. Kura Sushi

Neighborhood: Kearny Mesa
Price Range: $$
Address: 4609 Convoy St STE F, San Diego, CA 92111; Phone: (858) 715-4605
Menu: Kura Sushi
Signature Dishes: Their huge variety of rolls, nigiri, and ramen

Tuna nigiri sushi under domes travels across a conveyor belt at Kura Sushi in San Diego.
My daughter and her friends love this conveyor belt sushi, where you can win prizes

Sushi might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a family restaurant. However, if you were to ask my daughter and her friends what their favorite spot is right now, they would say Kura. It’s a gamified, revolving sushi restaurant where the more plates you empty, the happier the “ninja” is. You’ll receive a Bikkura Pon prize (a toy in a plastic capsule) for every 15 empty plates.

The sushi is not bad, but it’s not the best you’ll ever eat. There is also a regular menu with tempura, noodles, and other cooked dishes. Download the app to get on the waiting list in advance as Kura is nearly always busy unless you come in late in the afternoon before the dinner rush.

While one can order mochi ice cream, we suggest walking a few shops over to Iceskimo for outstanding Taiwanese shaved ice.

7. My Yard Live Beer Co.

Neighborhood: San Marcos
Price Range: $$
Address: 288 Rancheros Drive, San Marcos, CA 92069; Phone: (760) 798-0779
Menu: My Yard Live
Signature Dishes: House Smoked Turkey Hoagie and the Wowwie Burger

My Yard Live is about a five-minute drive from Draft Republic in San Marcos. It’s a great option for families with young children thanks to its big outdoor kids area featuring a large treehouse-style climbing structure. Other things for kids to scramble on or through are dotted around the backyard play area, and there’s a corn hole area for the grown-ups. The fun continues inside with a games arcade, air hockey, basketball, and a photo booth.

The whole place has a casual and family-friendly vibe, mostly bench seating inside and outside. You order food at the counter, but there can be a long line. Another snag is that some people leave their jackets on the table benches after eating to go off and play, which can be frustrating when you’re trying to get seated as there’s no host to help. I definitely recommend getting there early on a weekend evening to save waiting ages. My Yard Live has regular live music, and Karaoke every Thursday from 6 p.m.

8. Ruby’s Diner

Neighborhood: Carlsbad
Price Range: $$
Address: 5630 Paseo Del Norte 130 D, Carlsbad, CA 92008; (760) 931-7829
Menu: Ruby’s Diner
Signature Dishes: Ruby Burger with Cheese, RubyClub, and the RubySundae

This is a fantastic option for families, and the perfect location if you’re coming from the beach or you’re taking a break from shopping for bargains at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets. Situated on the outer edge of the Outlets, Ruby’s is a quintessential American diner with comfy booths, gaudy red and white decor, and a menu bursting with burgers, sandwiches, and shakes and malts. 

Everything about Ruby’s screams kids. From the large train track on the ceiling where you can watch miniature trains amble around above you to the TV screens playing movies in the back dining room to the great build-your-own cardboard cars handed to you when seated.

For dessert, you can get mini ice cream cones for the little ones or opt for a RubySundae or a banana split. There are lots of Ruby’s branches in OC and LA, but Carlsbad is the only San Diego branch since the Oceanside Pier location sadly shut down during the pandemic. The outlet’s location is definitely worth a visit, though.

9. Officine Buona Forchetta

Neighborhood: Liberty Station in Point Loma
Price Range: $$
Address: 2865 Sims Rd., San Diego, CA 92106
Phone: (619) 548-5770
Menu: Officine Buona Forchetta
Signature Dishes: Their range of award-winning Neapolitan-style pies

This multi-award-winning Italian restaurant set in the heart of the Liberty Station complex is a firm favorite with families. Known largely for their Neapolitan pies and pizzas, they also offer excellent entree options like handmade pastas and seafood specialties. Not surprisingly, the dessert menu is to die for!

The 2,600-square-foot space offers families plenty of space to spread out and relax while dining. It includes two large outdoor patios featuring a secure kids’ playground where children can play under the watchful eye of parents.

10. Crack Shack

Neighborhood: Little Italy & Encinitas
Price Range: $
Address: See below
Menu: Crack Shack
Signature Dishes: 

The giant chicken stands tall amid the outdoor seating at Crack Shack, a family-friendly restaurant in Little Italy San Diego.
The bocce ball court is next to the giant chicken (Photo courtesy of Crack Shack0

Crack Shack is one of San Diego’s most popular family-friendly restaurants for fried chicken on an otherworldly level. Celebrity Chef Richard Blais developed “Crack Spice” which is a proprietary blend of spices that he adds to locally raised, free-living, antibiotic-free chicken. Opt straight for the fried chicken with dipping sauces or one of the decadent sandwiches. If you’re on a gluten-free or vegetarian diet, do not fret, as there are Bowls, salads, and other options for you, too. For those who do eat chicken, the Power Bowl is amazing.

Kids usually order the chicken nuggets kids meal, and parents appreciate that it can come with a side of carrots. They can also opt for fries, and the meal includes a cookie and drink. Kids love the giant (it’s really enormous) chicken in the outdoor dining space in the Little Italy branch and it is the place where if they want to squeal, run a little, or play bocce ball, no one will mind. Order at the counter and grab a seat.

  • Little Italy: 2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101 / (619) 795-3299
  • Encinitas: 407 Encinitas Boulevard, Encinitas, CA, 92024 / (760) 230-2968

Also featured in Best Restaurants in Little Italy San Diego

11. Farmer & The Seahorse

Neighborhood: La Jolla
Price Range: $$
Address: 10996 Torreyana Rd Ste 240, San Diego, CA 92121; Phone: (858) 260 5400
Menu: Farmer & The Seahorse
Signature Dishes: Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich and Chilled Lobster Roll

Three sets of corn hole on the outdoor lawn at Farmer & The Seahorse.
Photo courtesy of Farmer & The Seahorse

Go to Chef Brian Malarkey’s Farmer & The Seahorse, located near the Torrey Pines Golf Course, to decompress with a mimosa or latte and let kids play on the outdoor lawn after breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch, and happy hour. Games at this kid-friendly San Diego restaurant are laid out during the day and can include hula-hoops, corn hole, and Frisbees.

You can build your own breakfast burrito, nosh on a lobster roll, sip excellent wine, and enjoy San Diego sunshine in what is still referred to as a hidden gem (though not so hidden to us, La Jollans — we love it).

The children’s menu items include a kids’ waffle, a cheeseburger, chicken tenders, or a quesadilla.  

12. Panama 66

Neighborhood: Balboa Park
Price Range: $$
Address: 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101; Phone: (619) 696 1966
Menu: Panama 66
Signature Dishes: Nutella and banana sandwiches for the kids and Wagyu Park Burger

My daughter walks through the sculpture garden at Panama 66, a kid-friendly San Diego restaurant in Balboa Park.
The back sculpture garden at Panama 66.

While there are multiple kid-friendly San Diego restaurants in Balboa Park, including grab-and-go fun cafes inside several museums, Panama 66 at the San Diego Museum of Art strikes a nice balance. Adults can relax in our sunshine with a glass of wine or craft beer while kids let off steam in the back sculpture garden.

It is an excellent place to take a break from sightseeing. I personally like the Green Goddess salad with seasonal veggies, but the pulled pork sandwich is popular. Kids have their own menu with the likes of Nutella banana sandwiches, and grilled cheese. During peak days, arrive on the early side of lunch to avoid a wait when ordering at the counter and to secure a table near the sculpture garden.

Note that the garden closes during some dates in March for annual grass maintenance, and kids are not allowed to touch the sculptures.

Also featured in Where to Eat and Drink in Balboa Park

13. Liberty Public Market

Neighborhood: Liberty Station in Point Loma
Price Range: $
Address: 2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego.
Menu: Liberty Public Market
Signature Dishes: Multiple great food vendors, including Wicked Maine Lobster, Rad Burger & Mama Made Thai

This fantastic food hall is fun for the whole family to wander around and pick their meal or sweet treat. It’s a great option for parents with picky eaters because you can all buy food from different vendors and sit together in the communal seating either inside or outside (where there is a kids’ play area). There’s every kind of cuisine you can think of, and it’s all reasonably priced.

The Market is a busy and fun place to peruse and peer at the amazing dessert options on display. The Mini Donut Company is a big hit with kids, and there are also a few fun gift shops and boutique-type places to check out.

14. PRK 101

Neighborhood: Carlsbad
Price Range: $$
Address: 3040 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008; Phone: (760) 434-2217
Menu: PRK 101
Signature Dishes: Loaded Potato Fries, Surf n Turf fries, and the PRK101 Burger

Kids play corn hole while guests hang out at picnic tables at Park 101 in Carlsbad's Garden Pub area.
Kids play corn hole in the Garden Pub (Photo courtesy of Park 101)

PRK 101 (renamed from Park 101) was designed as a community hangout where guests can spend time with friends and family without feeling rushed to dine and dash. The 8000-square-foot space spans multiple levels and is conveniently located in the Carlsbad Village area.

Families hang out in the Garden Pub outdoor patio area with games like Connect Four and corn hole on the turf. Dogs are welcome here, too. Those without kids typically head upstairs to the 21 and older lounge.

PRK 101 is mostly known for barbecued meats. They also serve California Coastal cuisine like shrimp tacos and have a deli where you can make your own ice cream sandwiches. Walk on in, as they don’t take reservations.

Also featured in Best Carlsbad Restaurants

15. Viewpoint Brewing Co. (Del Mar)

Neighborhood: Del Mar
Price Range: $$
Address: 2201 San Dieguito Dr., Suite D, Del Mar, CA 92014; Phone: (858) 356-9346
Menu: Viewpoint Brewing Co.
Signature Dishes: Beef Pot Pie and Harissa Cauliflower Tacos

Del Mar is a family-friendly community so it only makes sense that its first brewery welcomes kids and dogs, too. They even have Boozy Bones dog treats on hand. The former warehouse kept some industrial details and offers an indoor/outdoor space complete with a grassy area with corn hole and some swing seats that all ages love.

Home-brewed suds flow from over 20 taps and serve beer from lesser-known local breweries (in addition to wine). Our favorite things to order at this brewery and family restaurant in San Diego are the shared plates like the meatballs and pulled pork lettuce wraps. However, you won’t go wrong with the flatbread or adobada fries.

Seating is communal and first-come, first-served. Check their calendar to ensure it isn’t sold out on the day you’d like to come, as it’s a very popular spot for events (I attended one here recently and they did a really nice job).

16. Station Tavern & Burgers

Neighborhood: South Park
Price Range: $$
Address: 2204 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92104; Phone: (619) 255-0657
Menu: Station Tavern
Signature Dishes: Yardbird and Club Car sandwiches, TOTS!

A burger, tater tots, and pint of local beer on a picnic table with the gated play area in the background at Station Tavern, a kid-friendly restaurant in San Diego.
The play area WAS behind the fence, as shown here, but it is gone now.

Station Tavern is one of the original kid-friendly San Diego restaurants, and we loved going here when my daughter was small. It is indeed a casual spot that is popular with locals for a delicious burger, tater tots, and local beer. It also won a Grand Orchid Award for architecture by the San Diego Architectural Foundation for sustainable design and for preserving details honoring its former life as a trolley station between 1929 and 1948.

The dining space in the back feels like a backyard with multiple picnic tables for communal dining. While there is no longer a play area (it was sacrificed to add more seating), it’s still a popular neighborhood hangout for families and dog owners. It’s counter-order, and they do not take reservations.

Which family-friendly San Diego restaurants do your kids prefer?

See also: Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in San Diego

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Thanks for this awesome list. Heading to Waypoint this Sunday for brunch to celebrate the hubby’s birthday. My little guy, almost 2, is a grazer and we can never get him to stay still. This setting will be perfect!

  2. The Station in South Park has a small play area where kids can play while parents can grab a craft beer or cocktail. The burgers are equally delicious, offering options for the pickiest of little ones, too.

  3. We just finished a meal at Waypoint Public. Thank you so much for the suggestion! Awesome food, even better beer, and grandma and toddler are doing somersaults in the kid’s area.

  4. Thanks so much for this list! Heading down from Encinitas for staycation in La Jolla this weekend with the kids and was wondering about Beaumonts. Can’t wait to try it out!

  5. Visiting from Dallas with my husband, parents (70ish) and kids (8 & 10) and have loooooooved your recs! Found your site by chance and couldn’t be more pleased!!!! So far 2 for 2 and will hit more of these along the way! Thank you! (I let Cucina know I found them through you! 🙂