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

Only in San Diego

Fabulous foodie finds unique to California's Beach City

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

San Diego’s prime location doesn’t just mean nearly 300 days of sunshine a year and beach time in the winter—its combination of geography, diverse topography, and a laid-back lifestyle have set the stage for culinary innovation, too. Dishes, drinks, and brands have started right here in San Diego thanks to the city’s unique characteristics.

From cross-border influences in food and craft beer to a Top Chef restaurant empire, here are a few culinary and beer icons born in San Diego:

Fish tacos

Better known as San Diego’s unofficial mascot, the fish taco is said to have debuted in San Diego in 1983 thanks to Ralph Rubio, co-founder of fast-casual Mexican chain Rubio’s. During a 1974 spring break trip to San Felipe on the Baja Peninsula, Rubio stumbled upon the simple, beach-perfect taco and wrote down a list of ingredients from his favorite vendor (rumored to be Taqueria Adriana). He held onto that recipe for seven years before opening his first restaurant, in Mission Beach. Now you can find various interpretations all over the city—from a gourmet riff at Galaxy Taco to the crowd-favorite TJ Oyster Bar in Bonita and the Mariscos Nine Seas food truck in South Park.

Crack Shack

Richard Blais rose to stardom on Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars, and when he chose to start his restaurant empire, he wanted the Pacific Ocean as his backyard. Blais debuted with his “left coast cookery” Juniper & Ivy in 2014, known for its beef tartare and Instagrammable yodel dessert. Next came Crack Shack, a wildly successful fast-casual eatery devoted to chicken and egg dishes like a two-hands-needed fried chicken sandwich. Since then, Crack Shack has expanded to Encinitas, Orange County, L.A., and Las Vegas with lines out the door.

California Burritos

Burritos are a San Diego staple, whether you’re re-fueling after surfing or taking in a sunset from Windansea Beach. But to make it next-level local, you order a California burrito. Who actually invented this San Diego specialty is a hotly debated subject—some say it’s Roberto’s—but the components are the same: carne asada, guacamole, cheese, and French fries wrapped in a flour tortilla. If you want to try a different spin, in addition to offering a classic California burrito, Lolita’s is famous for their carne aside fries—a mound of crisp French fries topped with carne asada, guacamole, sour cream, and cheddar and cotija cheeses.

Stone Brewing

There are more than 150 breweries (plus brew pubs and tastings rooms) in San Diego, but none have had a meteoric rise quite like Stone Brewing Co. Known for their bold, hoppy beers, Stone launched in 1996 with its sprawling location in Escondido that touts a one-acre beer garden, large patio, and a food menu that champions, local, organic ingredients. Beyond a second location in San Diego’s Liberty Station—which has a bocce court and summer move nights— they’ve expanded globally, too, and you can find Stone beers in Asia, Europe, Australia and more. But they keep their recipe close to home, working with fellow San Diego-bred biz White Labs, a yeast producer that consults many breweries like Stone.

Border X Brewing

It’s craft beer with a Mexican twist at San Diego’s only 100% Latino-owned brewery. Located in Barrio Logan, the city’s epicenter of Chicano culture, Border X shines with Mexican-flavored brews like the Horchata Golden Stout, Abuelita’s Chocolate Stout, and the Blood Saison. They also host events, like Taco Tuesday, cupcake and craft beer pairings, and lotería nights.

Chino Farm

Many cities have farm stands, but not all have ones that are beloved by chefs like Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck, and written about in The New Yorker. Fans like these have helped spread the world about this “vegetable shop” in Rancho Santa Fe whose roots date back to the early 1920s. Thanks to their microclimate-contained location five miles from the Pacific Ocean, Chino’s 45 acres burst with sweet corn, strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, and other seasonal goods. Around the city, you can find their produce at Wayfarer Bread & Pastry, Nine-Ten La Jolla, George's at the Cove, Mister A’s and Il Dandy.

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

Welcome Back To Island Palms Offer!

Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina
Valid: Jun 30 - ongoing

Brighter days are just around the corner, and we are sure you are eagerly awaiting your next escape. Plan ahead now that we are re-opened, with this special offer for travel dates from now through...

Accommodation

Dreaming Of The Days Inn Offer

Days Inn By Wyndham San Diego Hotel Circle
Valid: Jun 30 - ongoing

Dreaming of a lazy summer getaway or a reason to get out of the house? We've got you covered. With our Dreaming Of The Days offer, we've got rates from $69 including free nightly parking. When you're...

Accommodation

Getaway To Holiday Inn Bayside Offer

Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
Valid: Jun 30 - ongoing

Our Getaway Package is waiting for you when the time is right and you need a change of scenery! Book this package to include everything you need – a clean and comfortable room, daily breakfast,...

Events to check out

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

Bike the Bay

Aug 23, 2020

Experience Bike the Bay, a scenic bayside ride, and also enjoy a rare opportunity to ride over the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge.

Event

USA Ultimate National Championships

Oct 22 - Oct 25, 2020

The USA Ultimate National Championships represent the pinnacle of elite ultimate in North America and crowns champions in three divisions: men’s, mixed and women’s. 

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