Grab a quick bite to keep you going or celebrate a special occasion in style. Balboa Park restaurants offer an array of experiences all with a beautiful backdrop.
From coffee carts and tea pavilions to family-friendly fair to picturesque restaurants, Balboa Park has no shortage of eating and drinking options. With serene parks tucked away from the main thoroughfare, you can even settle down for an afternoon picnic and escape the world for a few hours.
Offering views of downtown, this outdoor patio at the San Diego Air and Space Museum features kid-friendly offerings of hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, salad and more. Enjoy your meal at a picnic table or covered cabana. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. San Diego Air & Space Museum admission is required.
Located in the Lost Forest zone in the heart of the San Diego Zoo, Albert’s offers open-air deck seating with full-service dining and bar with an extensive selection of craft beers, fine wines and exotic cocktails. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Zoo admission is required to access Albert’s Restaurant.
In a rush to see all Balboa Park has to offer? Cafe in the Park is a perfect place to grab a quick bite. From salads to sandwiches, soups, paninis, baked goods, smoothies and specialty coffees, Cafe in the Park has something for everyone and is conveniently located in the Casa del Balboa building between the San Diego History Center and the Museum of Photographic Art.
Looking for local coffee drinks and other delicacies? Café Mingei serves hot and iced espresso drinks made with coffee from beloved local roaster West Bean along with a selection of teas, gourmet hot chocolate and other refreshing beverages. Local bakeries like Cardamom and The Cravory provide a fresh, daily pastry selection, too.
Cravelogy is the perfect place to grab lunch or a snack while gazing at the iconic Balboa Park Bea Evenson Fountain. Located at the Fleet Science Center, Cravelogy’s menu includes salads, sandwiches, wraps, flatbread pizzas and paninis as well as fruit smoothies, frappés and specialty coffees. Admission to the Fleet is not required for a visit to Craveology.
Daniel’s Coffee cart offers coffee, drinks, teas, pastries and more to provide the needed pick me up for perusing work of the more than 200 artists who **** in the Spanish Village Art Center.
Located in the Federal Building, (formerly the San Diego Hall of Champions), the Home Plate Sports Café offers a wide variety of choices, including deli sandwiches, freshly grilled burgers, grilled paninis, delicious salads and wraps. Beer, wine and specialty coffee drinks are available to sip, while watching the latest games and sports stories on one of the large screen televisions. Make sure to finish your meal with a scrumptious bowl of gelato. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Lady Carolyn’s Pub is located right outside The Old Globe Theater and features a full bar and selection of soup, sandwiches and other tasty treats. The pub opens 90 minutes prior to curtain in the evening and one hour prior to showtime at matinee performances. Drinks may be pre-ordered before the show so they are ready for pick-up at intermission. Covered seating is available at the tables in the adjacent Stephen and Mary Birch Pavilion.
A local favorite, Panama 66 offers an open-air setting next to the San Diego Museum of Art’s Marcy S. May Sculpture Garden. From the team of the award-winning Blind Lady Ale House and Tiger! Tiger! Tavern, the focus is on locally sourced, hand-crafted food and drink, from salads and sandwiches to seasonal cocktails and more. The new bar features more than a dozen purely local craft beer taps and is Zagat-rated as one of the top beer bars in the country.
Located in the courtyard of the House of Hospitality across from the Balboa Park Visitors center, Prado Perk offers a selection of coffee drinks from local roaster Café Moto as well as teas and mini-milks for the kids and fresh baked pastries from The Prado.
The Flying Squirrel at The San Diego Natural History Museum serves brewed-to-order espresso drinks, fresh juices, wine and craft beer along with California casual fare, including salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, pastries and more. Enjoy ample seating in air-conditioned comfort in the Museum’s five-story, sky-lit atrium. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and until 8 p.m. on Fridays in the summer. The entrance is on the north side of the building by the giant fig tree.
An award-winning, full-service restaurant, The Prado is in the House of Hospitality and offers a charming indoor and outdoor dining experience. The unique décor blends the historical aspects of the House of Hospitality and whimsical accessories inspired by the park’s museum collections. The diverse cuisine includes an array of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and imaginative entrées. The lounge combines a lighter menu with a wide variety of margaritas, sangria, beer, wine and other beverages. Reservations are recommended. Hours for lunch are Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday after 5 p.m. There are extended lunch and dinner hours in the lounge.
Offering expansive views from the outdoor courtyard and deck, the café at the Japanese Friendship Garden serves traditional Japanese green tea, herbal and specialty teas as well as sushi, Japanese noodles, rice bowls, miso soup, salads and snacks.
Located in the WorldBeat Center, the WorldBeat Cafe offers a selection of healthy, natural and vegan dishes from Egyptian, African and Indigenous cultures. In addition to the Cafe, the center offer a host of multicultural programs including music, art, dance and special events including live music, poetry reading, theater, meditation workshops and more.
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