You know about San Diego’s amazing weather, gorgeous shoreline and diverse neighborhoods but do you know about its food? Besides just being a pretty city, San Diego boasts a thriving food scene featuring international cuisine, award-winning beers, and great seafood.
Hungry yet? Here’s where to go for not-to-miss dishes and sips in America’s Finest City.
With California right in the name, you might think you can find this anywhere in the Golden State but San Diego is the only region that gets it right. Packed with marinated carne asada, guacamole, cheese and sour cream, the defining elements of this popular handheld are the crisp French fries—all rolled into a flour tortilla.
You’ll find it in just about any San Diego taqueria but for a first taste, check out any one of Lolita’s four locations, Lucha Libre Taco Shop for its campy Mexican wrestling vibe or the long-standing Roberto’s with a whopping 15 locations throughout the county.
You can trace this dish’s origins south of the border but San Diego made this seafaring taco featuring fish, cabbage and a squeeze of lime an iconic dish. Those wanting to taste their way through diverse offerings should start with homegrown Rubio’s. Afterward, head over to Oscar’s Mexican Seafood or The Fish Shop, each boasting three locations, as starting points for exploring more options throughout the county.
This citrus-cured dish is king when it comes to fresh seafood and San Diego is the place to get the full experience. In Mission Hills, you can find Karina’s Ceviches & More serving its signature ceviche incorporating shrimp, cucumber, avocado and cilantro in a spicy serrano chili sauce. It’ll be hard to settle on just one at Tostadas North Park so save room for a few variations like the one featuring scallops, octopus, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, avocado and chipotle sauce gracing a crisp tortilla shell.
You can also pick up fantastic ceviche on the way to the beach at PB Fish Shop in Pacific Beach.
Beer is huge in San Diego and at last count, the county was swelling at more than 190 breweries and tasting rooms. Stone Brewing Company is the biggest of the locally based brewers with several gorgeous locations serving a large selection of brews. For unconventional sips, head to Mira Mesa for Pure Project, a globally inspired brewery that incorporates unique ingredients like hibiscus, strawberries and even peanut butter and banana. Also not to miss is Del Mar’s Viewpoint Brewing and its beer-focused restaurant. It’s only one sample of the city’s bright newcomers.
Celeb chef Anthony Bourdain once claimed the uni from San Diego was the best in the world but don’t take his word for it when you can taste it for yourself. Catalina Offshore Products sells locally caught sea urchin alongside sashimi grade fish that you can prep at home. Or skip the work and head straight to Davanti Enoteca for the king crab and uni carbonara incorporating squid ink pasta (available only at the Del Mar location). Experience uni nigiri in all its glory at Pacific Beach’s Sushi Ota where it’s available a la carte.
See also: The Best Restaurants in Coronado
Darlene Horn is a San Diego-based freelance writer and designer who has contributed to Zagat San Diego, BizBash, Mission Publishing Group, Nescafe, and Active.com. You can find her documenting her favorite food spots on Instagram as @DarleneEats.