San Diego is a city filled with diverse food options. From Mexican to Italian to seafood, there is something for every palette. But when it comes to lunch, where should you go?
Whether you're a local or a tourist, finding the best lunch restaurants can be overwhelming. That's why we've narrowed down some of the top lunch spots in San Diego.
First, let's talk about what makes a great lunch spot. It's not just about the food, but also the atmosphere, price, and location.
A good lunch spot should be easy to get to, have quick service, and offer a variety of options. It should also have a comfortable setting where you can relax and enjoy your meal without feeling rushed.
San Diego has plenty of great lunch spots that meet all of these criteria. Whether you're in the mood for a sandwich, salad, or something more unique, there is a restaurant for you.
And while there are plenty of chain restaurants to choose from, we've focused on local spots that offer something special.
So, without further ado, let's dive into some of the best lunch restaurants in San Diego.
From casual to upscale, there is something for everyone on this list. Get ready to tantalize your taste buds and discover some new favorites.
1. Hodad's Downtown
Hodad's Downtown is a quirky burger spot that serves up some of the best burgers in town.
The portions are huge, and the toppings are fresh and flavorful.
The frings, a combination of onion rings and fries, is a must-try.
The staff is friendly and efficient, and the atmosphere is upbeat and casual. It's definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.
2. Bud & Rob's New Orleans Bistro
Bud & Rob's New Orleans Bistro is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine. The restaurant's intimate and quaint atmosphere is perfect for a lunch or dinner date.
The menu boasts a variety of mouth-watering dishes, including the Louisiana Chicken on Penne, Shrimp & Grits, and Jambalaya Pasta.
The customer service is top-notch, ensuring that every guest feels welcome and satisfied. Although the restaurant is small, the food is worth the wait.
Don't miss out on the chance to try the Taste of New Orleans and the beignets – they are simply delicious.
3. The Taco Stand
The Taco Stand is a must-visit for anyone who loves Mexican food. This lunch restaurant serves incredibly good tacos and burritos with a variety of options available.
The made-to-order tortillas are thick and spongy, and the salsa bar offers a great selection of salsas. The Mar y Tierra burrito is a standout dish that is highly recommended.
While the wait for food can be long, the quality and quantity of the food make it worth the wait. The restaurant has limited seating, so it's best to get your food to go.
The staff is friendly and the overall experience is great. If you're in the mood for authentic Mexican food, The Taco Stand is the place to go.
4. Ironside Fish & Oyster
Ironside Fish & Oyster is a must-visit restaurant for seafood lovers. The restaurant offers a great selection of oysters and seafood dishes that are both fresh and delicious.
The atmosphere is cozy and romantic, with sea decorations that add a unique touch to the place.
The bar is well-stocked with a great variety of cocktails, wines, and beers. The service is top-notch, making the dining experience even more enjoyable.
If you are looking for a great seafood restaurant with a great atmosphere and excellent service, Ironside Fish & Oyster is the place to be.
5. Empanada Kitchen
Empanada Kitchen is a bright and cheery Argentinian restaurant that specializes in handmade empanadas.
With a variety of options to choose from, there's always something for everyone. Although the decoration could be better, the friendly service more than makes up for it.
The empanadas are hearty, nutritious, and reasonably priced. The chicken, beef, and goat cheese empanadas are all delicious.
The spicy chimichurri sauce adds a nice kick to the flavors. If you're in the area and looking for a quick bite, Empanada Kitchen is definitely worth a visit.
6. Mister A's
Mister A's offers a stunning view of the city and excellent service. The presentation of the food is impeccable, and the taste is priceless.
The salmon dish can be curated to be dairy-free, and the extensive wine list complements the meal. The bar food is average, but the cocktails are unique and well-mixed.
The lamb chops and duck are must-try dishes, and the desserts are delicious. The outdoor seating offers a great view of the skyline, but reservations are needed for it.
Mister A's is perfect for special occasions and impressing guests with its upscale American cuisine.
7. Queenstown Public House
If you're looking for a lunch spot with a great beer selection, delicious food, and friendly staff, then Queenstown Public House is a must-visit.
The menu offers a good selection of tasty dishes, including burgers, fries, and NZ-style items. The staff is super friendly and accommodating.
The outdoor patio is a cute and comfortable spot to enjoy your meal. Prices are a bit high, but the portions are generous and worth it.
The only downside is that some dishes are cooked in chili oil, so make sure to ask your waiter first. Don't miss out on this whimsical New Zealand-themed restaurant and beer bar!
8. The Crack Shack – Little Italy
The Crack Shack – Little Italy is a hip hangout for chicken and egg dishes.
They offer delicious crispy chicken sandwiches and phenomenal malt fries. The outdoor seating is stylish and the full bar is a plus.
The customer service is great and the staff is friendly. The bocce court is a fun addition.
The Crack Shack – Little Italy is a must-visit for anyone craving fried chicken.
9. Lucky's Lunch Counter
Lucky's Lunch Counter is a retro diner serving classic American breakfast and lunch.
The menu is extensive, and the food quality is above average.
The staff is friendly and professional, and the service is quick. The outdoor seating is a bonus, and the prices are reasonable.
Highly recommended for anyone looking for a no-frills brunch or lunch spot.
10. The Red Door
The Red Door is a refined yet homey eatery that serves upscale American comfort fare made with garden-fresh produce.
The restaurant offers a great selection of Italian and European cuisine, as well as a wine bar. Guests can enjoy their meals in a cozy and intimate setting, with attentive service from the friendly staff.
The menu features a variety of delicious dishes, including Beef Wellington, Lamb Shank, Chicken Parmigian, and Lobster Ravioli.
The restaurant also offers vegan options and accommodates dietary restrictions. The Red Door is a great place to enjoy a delicious lunch with friends or family.
Trust is a modern, inviting restaurant that serves seasonally driven New American fare.
The culinary excellence of their food and service is personified in every dish.
Trust offers small plates with plenty of vegetarian options, making it a great choice for groups with different dietary needs.
The outdoor seating area is spacious and dog-friendly. Trust is a must-visit restaurant for anyone looking for a delicious and unique dining experience.
12. The Smoking Goat Restaurant
The Smoking Goat Restaurant is a must-visit for foodies looking for a unique dining experience.
The French-American bistro serves up a seasonal menu with a country-chic ambiance that will transport you to a different time and place. From escargot to swordfish, their dishes are bursting with flavor and beautifully presented.
The staff is attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable about the menu. Don't forget to save room for the goat cheese cheesecake, a must-try dessert that will leave you wanting more.
Whether you're looking for a date night spot or a place to catch up with friends, The Smoking Goat Restaurant is the perfect choice.
13. The Mission / East Village
The Mission / East Village is a popular fusion eatery serving up Asian-Latin dishes with an international twist.
The portions are huge, and the ingredients are fresh, resulting in flavorful and interesting food. The staff is friendly and accommodating, offering gluten-free and vegetarian options.
The outdoor patio is a great spot to enjoy the San Diego weather. While the service can be slow at times, the wait is worth it for the delicious food.
The Mission / East Village is a must-try for anyone looking for a unique dining experience in the city.
14. Taste of Denmark
Looking for authentic Danish lunch entrees in town, look no further than Taste of Denmark.
This quaint and unassuming restaurant serves up a small but impressive menu of traditional Danish dishes made with fresh and quality ingredients.
The staff are incredibly friendly and attentive, making for a welcoming dining experience. Don't miss out on the delicious rye bread and homemade mayo.
If you're looking for something different and unique, this place packs a surprising flavor punch.
15. Lola 55 Tacos & Cocktails
Lola 55 Tacos & Cocktails is a trendy Mexican restaurant that serves unique gourmet tacos and craft cocktails.
The atmosphere is bright and relaxed, with an industrial-chic decor. The menu offers creative twists on traditional tacos, with options for vegans and vegetarians.
The sauces are especially good and the drinks are fun. The service is friendly and competent. The pork belly taco is packed with flavor and the El Nino drink is insane.
The prices are a bit high, but the food is worth it. Lola 55 Tacos & Cocktails is a buzzy site that lives up to the hype.