People don’t realize how amazing and diverse the food scene is in San Diego. It is the kind of city where you can randomly choose a restaurant and you know it’s going to be pretty good if not amazing. With that said below are my absolute favorites. From cheap and fast to hip and luxurious, it’s all delicious.
Pasta Espresso – Pacific Beach
This place has been has been serving locals for 30 years. It is bare bones, unstylish and never busy, but it has the best “fast food pasta” I have ever had in my life. For under $12, you get garlic bread, a quality fresh side salad, and a mix of different pastas and sauces of your choosing.
Livingston’s – Ocean Beach
San Diego is famous among its locals for “California Burritos” and taco shops. The California Burrito was born in San Diego during the 80’s. It involves carne or pollo asado, cheese, guacamole and, the key ingredient, french fries. Some taco shops add their spin to it by adding pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream or substituting chopped potatoes for the french fries. I have had many favorite taco shops, but my current favorite is Livingston’s in Ocean Beach. It is quite literally a hole in the wall. It has a large sign inside that says best California Burrito in the city, and I am going to agree, but competition is fierce. Once you have a San Diego style burrito, California or otherwise, you will notice how rare it is in the world.
Public Market – Liberty Station
Liberty Station is a family friendly hangout swarmed with locals. It has a fancy movie theater, local favorite boutiques like Pigment, and the best part, the Public Market. The market has stalls with everything from Thai and Ramen to burgers, wings, fresh meats, desserts, oysters, and a beer garden with scores of local SD brews. Public markets are seen all over the world, but is relatively new for San Diego.
Herb & Wood – Little Italy
Herb & Wood is probably the coolest restaurant in San Diego. The vibe and crowd is eclectic, the food delicious and the decor perfection. It also puts you at the top of Little Italy, four blocks from the bustling Piazza della Famiglia. I recommend the Oxtail Gnocchi and I don’t even like gnocchi, it is that good. If you want drinks before or after your meal, the bar and lounge area is great for crowd watching and chit chat. Want to have drinks in the vicinity, but you’re on a budget? There is a very affordable market/cafe connected to the restaurant called Herb & Eatery Market. You can buy a bottle of wine at grocery store prices and drink it right there in the cafe without a corkage fee. It is the best deal in town. I recommend the bottle of Avissi Prosecco ($14).
Buon Appetito – Little Italy
Buon Appetito is my favorite of all the amazing restaurants in Little Italy. It is cozy, filled with Italians and the food is scrumptious. I love the farfalle con pollo affumicato (smoked). I don’t love smoky meats, so I sub out the smoked chicken for grilled chicken and recommend piling on their fresh parmesan cheese. They have no issue with substitutions. They will even make you an alfredo sauce even though it is not on the menu.
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