San Diego has a lively and diverse food landscape, with first-rate restaurants, craft breweries, and a creative speakeasy/ tiki bar scene.
San Diego’s laid-back dining scene with passionate chefs and restaurant owners who are passionate about their craft offers access to some of the top food and drink in the country.
This exciting beach city offers an incredible variety of food experiences, perfect for anyone who wants to have a fun, iconic and trend-setting San Diego dining experience!
Looking for inspiration on how to dazzle your partner with a magical and fun date night? Want to join a friend and need some new eating recommendations? We’ve got you covered.
Here are our picks for 20 fun places to eat in San Diego. This list steers clear of touristy eating spots that overpromise and underdeliver.
Let’s dive right in!
This San Diego staple has been supplying San Diego with craft brews since 1992 before it was a trend. The creators of the award-winning Sculpin IPA offer over 50 beers on tap. While you’re enjoying those beers, check out their globally-inspired menu featuring pub favorites like pretzel bites with beer cheese and truffle-infused buffalo wings.
Ballast Point is a gem and a top favorite among locals. It’s a fun spot to explore the historic neighborhood of Little Italy with a perfect view of the planes coming in from their outside patio.
This cozy beach cafe is a bit off the beaten path (quite literally since it’s on the edge of the sunset cliffs state park). It is a hidden gem of San Diego, sits the cozy beach cafe, Little Lion. With its charming, dainty, cozy vibe, this family-owned eatery has been serving up delicious California fresh locally sourced fare since 1977.
The menu features high-quality, seasonal ingredients that include vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options. Try their sweet potato breakfast tacos or Belgian potatoes, which are fried to perfection. This option is great for a day date during their famous brunch or a date night before taking in the sweeping views of Sunset cliffs sunset.
Nestled in the heart of Ocean Beach, this fun and lively Asian Fusion restaurant features Authentic Asian cooking under dim lighting and bumping music. They currently have two locations to choose from. Their original location on Cable Street is smaller, and their newer location on Niagara Avenue is more spacious.
Bonus tip: Visit their sister location, The Holding Company, a three-story serving up craft cocktails, live music, and an even livelier crowd.
Blind Lady Ale House is a no-frills beer and wood-fired pizza tavern. Most nights of the week you can expect to show up and be seated right away. It’s perfect for a low-key type of night that still feels like a change of scenery from the more popular breweries in the area.
Blind Lady Ale House is a Normal Heights gem that manages to stay off the grid while offering a unique and robust tap list with top-notch local beer in almost every beer category.
If you’re looking for delicious seafood in a fun and casual setting, Point Loma Fish Shop has got you covered. It’s the place to slurp up some salty oysters with a side of San Diego sunshine. It has plenty of open inside seating as well as an outside patio, where you can take in the Point Loma views. Boasting $1.25 oysters on Thursdays and serving up some of the freshest fish tacos and seafood San Diego has to offer, Point Loma Fish Shop is your one-stop shop for a quintessential San Diego fish shop.
Visit Mothership for a one-of-a-kind experience that is out of this world. This escapist bar and restaurant experience touched down in the South Park neighborhood as of August 2022. Designed and built by famed tiki bar creator Ignacio “Notch” Gonzalez, Mothership is designed to look like a spaceship in a cave-like environment under a night sky with shooting stars.
This bar is sure to leave you spinning. Enjoy a fine gin, vodka, or champagne cocktail in an elegant setting that revolves around Wolfie’s hand-built carousel. Teleport back to the 1800s while you enjoy an elegant feast and lush drinks. The west coast’s very own carousel bar experience boasts French bistro cuisine and Parisian-inspired cocktails.
Bask in the cool and groovy artistic vibes of Puerta. Nestled in the bustling downtown neighborhood of Gaslamp, Puerta is popular among locals as the go-to watering hole to grab a taco and margarita.
They offer daily happy hour from 3-5 pm every day on their entire bar, which includes artisanal and top shelf, premium tequila, and mezcal for agave lovers alike. Their drink menu includes spicy margaritas like bark at the moon named one of America’s best Margaritas by Travel & Leisure and Pop Sugar’s Spicy Margarita in The Country.
Located between Normal Heights and North Park, this trendy restaurant serves up delicious American Chinese cuisine surrounded by antique Chinese decor that transports you to what feels like a Chinatown eatery in San Diego’s hipster neighborhood.
Try their General Tso’s chicken veganized with cauliflower, or their crab rangoon made with fresh lump crab meat crafted. Enjoy Fortunate Son’s menu and cocktails from its neighboring speakeasy Polite Provisions on either spot’s patio. Takeout options are also available.
On any given day of the week, there is a farmers market going on in one of San Diego’s colorful neighborhoods. Enjoy browsing through the different food and artisan vendors. You can explore the urban and hipster farmers market in Northpark or the charming, sophisticated neighborhood of Little Italy, buy some fresh-cut flowers and artisanal finds, and later stop by to eat some of the best Italian food San Diego has to offer. View the calendar here for a list of the farmer’s markets by neighborhood.
False Idol is a tiki speakeasy hidden inside gastropub craft and commerce. An immersive and sensory experience, reservations get booked out pretty quickly, but walk-ins are always welcome. If there is a wait time, grab a bite to eat at Craft and Commerce while you wait for a table or a spot at the bar. Known as one of the best San Diego speakeasy bars, you can find lovers, friends, and family enjoying potent tiki drinks with premium, imported rum and happy times.
When looking for fun places to eat in San Diego, head to the Grass Skirt for another fun tiki experience.
The Grass Skirt, a San Diego hotspot, provides an amazing experience with its delicious Asian cuisine and craft libations. These can be paired perfectly with the live DJ on weekend nights, a free digital photo booth, and some of their fabulous drinks on fire!
The location is a secret but a fun adventure for those willing to find it.
Hint: Look for the tiki totem by the door.
Looking for things to do in San Diego in between all of the eating? Learn more about San Digeo’s neighborhoods and activities to get lost in.
Escape to the 19th century at this speakeasy that is only accessible through a revolving fireplace. It serves up craft cocktails that will indulge your taste buds in a blast to the past antique library that is mysterious and intriguing.
They don’t serve food, but it’s located inside the UTC La Jolla mall, so grab some dinner at Din Tei Fun or Javiers first. Then, head over for late-night drinks like the banana cream flip or tiramisu-tini, which make for a perfect nightcap.
Dinner and movies get taken to another level at this luxury cinema. The Lot offers premium dining and entertainment in Point Loma Liberty Station and La Jolla. Feel classy sipping on a glass of wine, and eating parm truffle fries while you lean back, relax and enjoy the show in their big comfy recliner chairs.
Once an abandoned warehouse, this airy and open conceptual restaurant features seasonal and gourmet New American fare. Juniper & Ivy is an award-winning fine dining experience and the place that comes to mind when you want to splurge or celebrate a special occasion in San Diego.
The food is sophisticated and creative. They are committed to only the freshest, seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and fishermen, and the chef-driven menu changes daily. Don’t leave without trying inventive cocktails or whimsical desserts like the chocolate Yodel.
Old Town is a State Historic Park and neighborhood with attractions that reflect its Mexican roots. Overflowing with craft shops, the neighborhood is surrounded by 1800s-era colonial-style buildings and vibrant Mexican restaurants that feature happy hours and strong margaritas. It is home to the historic Whaley Museum and other historical landmarks. Window shop with your gang while you eat a churro or freshly made tortilla from Cafe Coyote.
Seaport Village is a perfect place to take a stroll as you gaze out into the San Diego bay. It’s known for its many waterfront gift shops, live music, performers and eateries which feature fresh catch of the day seafood directly from the fisherman’s hands as well as pizza, ice cream and tacos.
The long and winding trail will take you along the marina filled with boats and sails and lead you directly to the waterside dining mecca portside pier. This easily makes our list of fun places to eat in San Diego.
Bonus tip: if you shop at one of the stores or dine at the restaurants, they will validate your parking.
Cafe Sevilla (for dancing and food)
This Spanish tapas restaurant and club is the go-to place in San Diego for dancing salsa, listening to live music, eating delicious tapas, and drinking fresh mojitos. It features live music on the weekends, flamenco shows and a nightclub downstairs.
Stone Brewing is another pioneering legend responsible for putting San Diego on the craft beer grid. Needing very little introduction, this brewing giant is the USA’s 9th largest brewery. Have a beer adventure at their flagship location in Escondido, which features an open-air patio and a one-acre beer garden. Easily one of our top fun places to eat in San Diego.
This small-batch brewery offers hand-crafted brews in a laid-back, artsy setting under cool lighting. Its main location is in Clairemont and their two satellite locations are in Oceanside and Ocean Beach. This brewery offers a creative and stimulating experience while you sip on a cold one and play some games.
With a bit of an arcade feel to it, giant games are scattered throughout the tasting room in addition to games that you can take back to your table to enjoy with your gang.
A bonus tip for the OB location: you are welcome to bring your outside food to enjoy with your brew.