arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

A Creative Culinary Epicenter

Hip, original and innovative eats

San Diego's one-of-a-kind vibes bring chefs from all over the world to create inspiring dishes in California's Beach City. 

Chefs are drawn to San Diego for more than its perfect weather and unbeatable beaches–its innovative atmosphere has turned it into a hotbed for culinary creativity where chefs are encouraged to experiment. Today, local chefs are elevating their dishes to include both local ingredients and influences and the far-off flavors of their cultures and upbringing. With a year-round growing season and a thriving local fishing fleet, eating in San Diego was craft before craft was cool.

Saffron Thai

Owner Su Mei Yu—a regular at local San Diego farms like Chino Farm—combines the freshest local ingredients from the San Diego region with traditional recipes and preparations from her Thai upbringing. After immigrating to San Diego as a teen, Yu opened the hole-in-the-wall Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken in the Mission Hills neighborhood. The local spot is famous  for its Thai Grilled Chicken dishes served with Cambodian salad, jasmine rice and tons of flavor. 

Il Dandy

In the kitchen at this Banker’s Hill restaurant, you’ll find father-son duo Antonio and Luca Abruzzino, both honored with Michelin Stars for their namesake restaurant in Calabria, Italy. They joined with friends and local restaurateurs in San Diego to bring the unique ingredients and techniques from their homeland to Southern California where, like in Southern Italy, both seafood and rich produce are abundant. Primarily sourcing from longtime Pacific Beach-fishing-family the Saraspes, standout dishes include spot prawns with house made citrus salt, pork belly with cherry red wine sauce, an Estiva Salad with tomatoes and seared yellowtail and a rotating menu of seasonal pizza and pasta.

Lola 55

With velvet sofas, turquoise and brass accents and soaring loft ceilings in East Village, Lola 55 doesn’t feel like the average San Diego taco spot. And it’s not. Owner Frank Vizcarra indulged his true passion for local, sustainable food by opening a small shop named after his mom where the ingredients from his native Mexico work in tandem with local produce on a flavor-packed, budget-conscious menu. Taco standouts include mesquite chicken with chicharrones and peanut salsa macha; spicy smoked fish (local catch with jalapeño, bacon, citrus soy, red mustard frill, crema and Carolina Reaper salsa). To boot, there are several vegan options like rainbow cauliflower with eggplant bacon, avocado mousse, almonds, golden raisins, morita dulce salsa.

OB Noodle House

Born in Cambodia by way of China, chef Steven Yeng draws inspiration from a variety of cultures at his locally loved OB Noodle House. Folks flock to Ocean Beach for his creative Asian-fusion dishes, as well as a classic giant bowl of pho. Foodies at the Food Network and other top culinary publications have featured the San Diego hotspot on national food television shows and magazines. The success of the original OB Noodle House spawned a second location a few blocks away, and Yeng is continuing to expand the funky beach neighborhood’s food scene with other bars and restaurants.

Barrio Dogg

The evolution of classic, comforting street food achieves its final form at this Barrio Logan mainstay, serving up elevated hot dogs, fries and delectable desserts. With a focus on community and culture, the Barrio Dogg team is committed to serving traditional Mexican flavors (cactus fruit, chile con carne, cotija) alongside creative fusion-inspired dishes, such as El Samurai, which includes hoisin BBQ, Siracha and wasabi sesame seeds, and La Havana, an homage to the classic Cubano sandwich. The diverse flavors that make up the menu are an accurate representation of the culturally flourishing neighborhood the restaurant calls home.

Pop Pie Co.

Executive Chef Gan Suebsarakham draws inspiration from his Thai upbringing, as well as his travels around the world to create his eclectic menu found at Pop Pie Co. in University Heights. Flavors of Asia, Australia, Europe and right here in San Diego are featured on the menu composed of both sweet and savory pies. Feeling adventurous? Head Down Under and sample the famed Aussie Meat Pie, Vegemite included. If your sweet tooth needs to be addressed, the classic Apple Crumble offering comes with a unique twist – orange zest and a secret blend of spices.


Looking for more fun things to do? From where to shop, eat and play to what's happening around town, the Visitor Planning Guide is your roadmap to San Diego fun. 

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you

Accommodation

Stay Cool in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter!

San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter
Valid: Mar 12 - ongoing

Stay Cool in the heart of the city, surrounded by restaurants, nightlife & shopping. We’re 90 steps from PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres. And don’t miss ALTITUDE Sky Lounge...

Accommodation

Family Travel Savings in San Diego

The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
Valid: Jan 28 - ongoing

Bring the kids to downtown San Diego and enjoy a 25-percent discount on a second hotel room (connecting room, if available!). Plus kids 12 and under eat free with adults! From now to June 30, 2020,...

Accommodation

Rise & Shine Breakfast

Fairmont Grand Del Mar
Valid: Jan 24 - ongoing

Awaken to grand luxury — and San Diego sunshine — at triple Five-Star Fairmont Grand Del Mar. Enjoy breakfast on a picturesque terrace before basking poolside, hiking and horseback riding...

Events to check out

Event

Comic-Con International: San Diego

Jul 23 - Jul 26, 2020

Comic-Con International is the largest comics and pop culture event in the United States, attracting thousands of artists, celebrities and fans of comic books, movie memorabilia and all things related...

Event

Supergirl Surf Pro

Aug 14 - Aug 16, 2020

The world’s top professional female surfers are back in Oceanside, CA for the 13th Supergirl Surf Pro, a 3-day event August 14-16, 2020. The weekend will be jam-packed with world-class...

Event

2020 Annual Over The Line Tournament

Jul 11 - Jul 19, 2020

The Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) is calling all players, beach-goers, and sports enthusiasts to the biggest summer event in San Diego!

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China FlagChinaGermany FlagGermanyGreat Britain FlagGreat BritainJapan FlagJapanMexico FlagMexicoKorea FlagKoreaSwitzerland FlagSwitzerlandBrazil FlagBrazilFrance FlagFranceAustralia FlagAustraliaCanada FlagCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish