Fun Places To Eat In San Diego

San Diego has a fun food scene, with a lively mix of great restaurants, craft breweries, and cool speakeasies and tiki bars.

The dining scene here is all about laid-back vibes and chefs and restaurant owners who are genuinely passionate about what they do.

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?

Here are 20 fun places to eat in San Diego. This list steers clear of touristy eating spots that overpromise and underdeliver.

Taking a food tour is one of the best ways to get to know the local food scene. Or, try a brewery tour and visit some of the many great craft brew joints in San Diego. 🍺

Ballast Point

stacked beer cans
Cans of Big Eye IPA are stacked at Ballast Point brewery in San Diego, California. Photo credit

Speaking of beer, 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.

You’ll need a cup of coffee in the morning visiting some of these places. Luckily, San Diego has some great coffee shops that will entice you to get out of bed in the morning.

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.

Little Lion

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). 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.

OB Noodle

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

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 hidden gem in Normal Heights. It manages to stay off the grid while offering a unique and robust tap list. You’ll find top-notch local beer in almost every beer category.

Point Loma Fish Shop

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. It has $1.25 oysters every Thursday. They also serve some of the freshest fish tacos and seafood you can find in San Diego. It’s the perfect place to experience a quintessential San Diego fish shop.

Mothership

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 in August 2022. Mothership was designed and built by the renowned tiki bar creator, Ignacio ‘Notch’ Gonzalez. It resembles a spaceship nestled within a cave-like setting, where you feel like you’re under a night sky filled 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.

La Puerta

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. This includes artisanal and top-shelf premium tequila, as well as mezcal for agave lovers.

Their drink menu features spicy margaritas like ‘Bark at the Moon,’ which was named one of America’s best Margaritas by Travel & Leisure, and ‘Pop Sugar’s Spicy Margarita in The Country.

Fortunate Son

This trendy restaurant is situated between Normal Heights and North Park. It serves delicious American Chinese cuisine in a setting adorned with antique Chinese decor. The atmosphere feels like a Chinatown eatery nestled 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.

Farmers Market

Vegetables on display in the Little Italy Mercato farmer’s market in San Diego, California.

On any given day of the week, you’ll find a farmers market in one of San Diego’s colorful neighborhoods. You can enjoy browsing through various food and artisan vendors. For example, you can explore the urban and hipster farmers market in Northpark or visit the charming, sophisticated neighborhood of Little Italy. There, you can buy fresh-cut flowers and artisanal finds. Afterward, you can stop by for some of the best Italian food that San Diego has to offer. View the calendar here for a list of the farmer’s markets by neighborhood.

False Idol

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.This San Diego speakeasy bar is Known as one of the best. It’s a place where you’ll find lovers, friends, and family enjoying potent tiki drinks. These drinks are made with premium, imported rum, ensuring everyone has a great time.

The Grass Skirt

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.

Raised By Wolves

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.

The Lot

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.

Juniper and Ivy

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

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 – Portside Pier

Seaport Village is a perfect place to take a stroll as you gaze out into the San Diego bay. This place is famous for its waterfront gift shops, live music, and performers. You can enjoy a variety of eateries here, offering fresh catch of the day seafood straight from the fishermen. They also serve 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 Beer Garden

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.

Kilowatt

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.

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Author

  • I am a mom of 2 who travels a lot for work (I work in the event/conference/tradeshow industry). I grew up  and currently live in Northern California.