For visitors who enjoy indulging in local foodie delights while on vacation, San Diego’s burgeoning culinary scene offers diverse flavors to savor. For those who also enjoy a good road trip, many of the city’s most notable restaurants and eateries can be found along scenic highways and neighborhood thoroughfares, making the journey as sweet as the destination.
Travelers ready for a tasty adventure should fill up the gas tank, turn on the GPS, and add these gastronomic itineraries as part of the ultimate San Diego road trip.
Dining with a View: Little Italy to Point Loma
Drive along scenic San Diego Bay for a day filled with delicious destinations.
- Beginning in San Diego’s buzziest neighborhood, Little Italy, guests can enjoy the most important meal of the day in style at Morning Glory, an all-breakfast hot spot known as much for its over-the-top décor as it is for its delectable Japanese-style souffle pancakes.
- Head northwest on Harbor Drive before taking a detour to the Liberty Station arts, dining and entertainment district, home to Liberty Public Market, San Diego’s first year-round food hall where visitors can get a taste of some of the region’s finest food purveyors.
- Also located at Liberty Station, Italian food fans will love Solare, an elegant eatery recently given “Bib Gourmand” status by Michelin for its fresh, seasonal and simple take on authentic Italian fare.
- Continue heading west to bayside Point Loma Seafoods, San Diego’s famous bustling fish market featuring fresh regional seafood like fried fish, sushi and crab cakes.
- End the day on Shelter Island with a sunset cocktail at Bali Hai, San Diego’s original tiki-style restaurant and home of a mighty strong Mai Tai (just make sure your designated driver enjoys a mocktail!), or a local craft beer at the quirky dockside Fathom Bistro, Bait & Tackle.
30th Street: San Diego’s Tastiest Boulevard
Connecting the neighborhoods of North Park and South Park, 30th Street features plenty of tasty spots to stop, from hip vegan cafes to decadent dessert shops.
- Rev up the day by the iconic North Park sign with a coffee at Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, known for their house-roasted French press, pour-over and cold-brew coffee, and gourmet vegan donuts from the deliciously decadent Nomad Donuts.
- Drive south to Atypical Waffle, discreetly tucked behind a laundromat, for sweet and savory Belgian waffles that wow in a welcoming outdoor patio setting.
- Nearby, the ever-popular Underbelly features the finest ramen bowls in town, like their signature Belly of the Beast Ramen featuring tonkotsu broth, soft boiled egg, oxtail dumplings and hoisin glazed short rib.
- Continue south to Del Sur Mexican Cantina in South Park, the go-to for classic Mexican comfort food with a creative healthy twist, like jackfruit tacos and veggie burritos.
- Just down the street, Eclipse Chocolate Bar & Bistro features a dazzling array of 100+ exotic handcrafted chocolate creations like chile hazelnut and lavender salted toffee bars.
- Motor a bit further south to Kindred, an offbeat vegan joint, for a delicious dinner surrounded by kitschy décor and a heavy metal soundtrack.
From Classic to Creative: Highway 101
Linking 21 miles of San Diego’s iconic beach communities, from La Jolla to Oceanside in the north, Historic Highway 101 provides a postcard-perfect backdrop to enjoy fab coastal eateries located on or just off the highway.
- Take in the breathtaking views of Scripps Pier and the sparkling Pacific from Caroline’s Seaside Café in La Jolla, serving up healthy and creative California cuisine.
- Cruise north to the waterfront Viewpoint Brewing Co., the first craft brewery in the seaside village of Del Mar, for gastropub fare and house brews in an industrial-chic setting.
- Continue north to Swami’s Café 101 in Encinitas for a classic SoCal surfer meal, from tasty acai bowls and smoothies to fish tacos, wraps and a cornucopia of salads.
- Also located in Encinitas, Buona Forchetta is primo for Neapolitan-style pies and northern Italian entrees in a casual indoor/alfresco setting.
- Steer north to Carlsbad, where Campfire serves up wood-fired American fare amid fun camping décor, and Jeune et Jolie shines as an Art Deco-inspired nouvelle French bistro.
- Wind down the day at San Diego’s northernmost beach town, Oceanside, for imaginative sushi at the Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, utilizing local and responsibly sourced ingredients.
A Tour through Asia (in San Diego): Convoy Street to Black Mountain Road
When it comes to culinary diversity, Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa offers diners a chance to sample nearly every style of Asian cuisine, from dim sum to ah-boong. Add a detour to Black Mountain Road to discover a cluster of authentic Indian restaurants.
- Beginning south on Convoy, fuel up at Emerald Chinese Cuisine, offering traditional dim sum with a focus on seafood, as well as their popular Peking duck carved tableside.
- Head north to Manna Korean BBQ for generous portions of table-grilled beef, chicken, pork and seafood, as well as delicious sides, like kimchi.
- Continue up the street to the fun interactive Kura Revolving Sushi Bar with its endless array of conveyor belt sushi, and then for a sweet treat, try an ah-boong (soft serve ice cream in a goldfish-shaped waffle cone) at Somi Somi across the street.
- Plan ahead if you want to dine at nearby Hidden Fish, an elevated and intimate all omakase sushi restaurant (San Diego’s first) with just a handful of exclusive seats.
- Serving brew pub bites with an Asian twist, neighboring Common Theory and its exotic Realm of the 52 Remedies speakeasy are a symbiotic cultural fusion of the owners’ Korean-Chinese-Mexican-American background.
- Hop on I-15 north and exit Miramar Road west to find the best Indian cuisine in the region along Black Mountain Road, home to Ashoka the Great, famous for their all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, vegetarian dishes at Chennai Tiffins, and homestyle Indian cooking at Punjabi Tandoor.
Get your motor running and find your smile in San Diego. For more information on San Diego’s offerings, including road trips, vibrant neighborhood food scenes, vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at www.sandiego.org.