San Diego is a city of diverse cultures, stunning beaches, and of course, delicious food. As a local, I have had the pleasure of trying out some of the best lunch spots scattered throughout the city.
From cozy cafes to lively restaurants, San Diego has it all. Whether you're in the mood for Mexican, Italian, or Vietnamese cuisine, the city has something to offer for all taste buds.
I have compiled a list of my top picks for the best lunch spots in San Diego. These eateries have been chosen based on their unique flavors, quality of food, and exceptional service.
Whether you're a tourist visiting the city or a local looking for new places to try, this list is sure to satisfy your hunger.
San Diego is known for its love of tacos, and you'll find some of the best in the city. Whether you prefer traditional street-style tacos or gourmet twists on the classic dish, there's a spot for you.
But tacos aren't the only thing the city has to offer. You'll find everything from fresh seafood to hearty sandwiches, all made with locally sourced ingredients.
So, let's dive into the best lunch spots in San Diego.
Get ready to indulge in some of the most delicious food the city has to offer.
Cesarina is a must-visit Italian restaurant for anyone in the mood for fresh, homemade pasta.
The dishes are bursting with flavor, and the staff is friendly and attentive. The atmosphere is cozy and charming, with whimsical touches that add to the experience.
The complimentary focaccia bread is baked fresh and is a delicious start to any meal. The tiramisu is a must-try and is assembled tableside.
The prices are reasonable, and it's best to make a reservation in advance. Cesarina is a great spot for a date night or a family dinner.
2. Hodad's Downtown
Hodad's Downtown is a must-visit spot for burger lovers. The burgers are stacked high with fresh ingredients and bursting with flavor.
The Blue Jay Burger is a crowd favorite and the chocolate milkshake is a must-try.
The staff is friendly and the service is quick. The quirky decor adds to the fun atmosphere.
Be prepared for large portions and long lines, but it's worth the wait.
3. Parkhouse Eatery
Parkhouse Eatery is a cozy little restaurant that offers modern American comfort cuisine.
The food is packed with flavors and unique twists on traditional favorites. The service is friendly and accommodating, making for a pleasant dining experience.
The outdoor patio is a great spot to enjoy a meal on a nice day. Prices are a bit on the high side, but the quality of the food makes it worth it.
If you're looking for a casual spot to enjoy some delicious food, Parkhouse Eatery is definitely worth a visit.
4. Bud & Rob's New Orleans Bistro
Bud & Rob's New Orleans Bistro is a must-visit for anyone looking for authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine. The restaurant's intimate and quaint atmosphere is perfect for a quick lunch or a date night.
The menu offers a great selection of dishes, including pulled pork sandwich, Shrimp & Grits, and Jambalaya Pasta.
The customer service is excellent, and the staff is friendly and attentive. Although the restaurant has limited seating, it is worth the wait or better yet, order takeout.
The vintage NOLA posters add to the ambiance of the place. The restaurant is perfect for anyone who loves to experience the taste of New Orleans in San Diego.
5. The Taco Stand
The Taco Stand serves up incredibly good Mexican food with fresh ingredients and amazing flavor. Their steak taco is a must-try, according to one satisfied customer.
They offer a good selection of tacos with a decent amount of seating inside and outside. The quantity is plentiful and the price is reasonable.
However, the popularity of the place means that the wait can be long. The house-made tortillas are thick and spongy, and the Mar y Tierra burrito is a fan favorite.
The salsa bar has a lot of really good sauces to choose from. A great spot for a quick bite of delicious traditional Mexican fare.
6. Ironside Fish & Oyster
Ironside Fish & Oyster is a seafood restaurant and bar that offers fresh and delicious seafood dishes.
The restaurant has a quirky, nautical design with an ample bar that offers great cocktails.
The menu includes a variety of seafood options, including oysters, clams, ceviche, and shrimp tacos. The service is excellent, and the atmosphere is cozy and welcoming.
Ironside Fish & Oyster is a great spot for seafood lovers looking for a fun and unique dining experience.
7. Empanada Kitchen
Empanada Kitchen is a cheery stop for Argentinian cooking.
The bright counter-serve outpost specializes in handmade empanadas, which are hearty and nutritious for a reasonable price. With plenty of different options, there's always one to like.
While the decoration could be better, the friendly service makes up for it.
The spicy beef and mushroom cheese empanadas are great, and the chimichurri is a must-try. With take-out available, this spot is perfect for a quick bite.
8. Mister A's
Mister A's offers stunning views and impeccable service. The food presentation is impressive and the taste is unforgettable.
The menu is extensive and the chef is accommodating for dietary needs.
The outdoor seating area is perfect for a special occasion and the heat lamps keep guests comfortable.
The wine list is extensive and the desserts are delicious. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a memorable dining experience.
9. Great Maple – Hillcrest
Great Maple – Hillcrest is a contemporary restaurant that serves elevated comfort food with seasonal ingredients in a casual setting.
The menu contains many classics and has something for everyone. The service is amazing, even in the middle of the morning rush. The portions are large and shareable, and the food is delicious.
The coffee is fresh, and the maple bacon doughnuts are a local specialty and a must-try. The atmosphere is quaint and friendly, and there is outdoor seating available with heaters when it's sunny.
Reservations are recommended, and the parking is limited but worth the trip. Great Maple – Hillcrest is a worthy brunch experience if you're feeling like splurging.
10. Queenstown Public House
Queenstown Public House is a whimsical New Zealand-themed pub that serves upscale bar fare and an extensive selection of draft beers.
The staff is friendly and attentive, and the food is delicious.
The menu offers a variety of options, including gluten-free choices, and the portions are generous.
The atmosphere is unique and charming, with rustic decor that adds to the overall experience. Prices are a bit on the higher side, but the quality of the food and service make it worth it.
11. The Crack Shack – Little Italy
The Crack Shack – Little Italy is a hip lunch spot with delicious fried chicken and a full bar.
The Fire Bird Sandwich is a must-try, with toppings that complement the juicy chicken well.
The fries are also a standout, well-seasoned and cooked to perfection.
The outdoor seating area is family-friendly and there are plenty of options for seating. The Crack Shack is a great choice for a casual lunch or dinner.
12. Lucky's Lunch Counter
Lucky's Lunch Counter is a retro-style diner that serves classic American breakfast and lunch.
The menu is extensive, and the food quality is above average. The service is quick, and the staff is friendly and professional.
The portions are large, and the prices are reasonable. The restaurant is conveniently located near a ballpark, and there is outdoor seating available.
Lucky's Lunch Counter is a great spot for a quick and delicious meal.
13. The Red Door
The Red Door is a refined yet cozy eatery serving up upscale American comfort food made with fresh produce from their garden.
Their menu includes a variety of options for all dietary restrictions. The staff is friendly and provides top-notch customer service.
The owner/chef personally greets guests and checks in on their experience. The atmosphere is perfect for a date night or a casual lunch with friends.
Highly recommended for those looking for delicious food and a memorable dining experience.
InsideOUT is a modern bar and restaurant with a unique atrium. The menu features California and Mediterranean-inspired dishes and drinks.
The atmosphere is lively and includes a pool. The food is amazing and always Instagram ready. The Dauphinoise Potatoes are a must-try.
The service is on point and the staff are fun and friendly. Though the menu is limited, what they do, they do very well. The ambiance is exactly what you would expect from a trendy spot.
It's a great place to spend a long time eating a meal. InsideOUT is definitely worth the cost and a perfect spot for a night out.
Trust is a must-visit spot for anyone in search of culinary excellence. This lunch spot offers a seasonally driven New American menu that is sure to satisfy any palate.
With a wide range of small plates and vegetarian options, Trust provides something for everyone.
The inviting and well-appointed space creates the perfect ambiance for a relaxing lunch or an intimate dinner.
The cocktails and wine selection are equally impressive and complement the food perfectly. Don't miss out on a chance to experience Trust's modern take on New American fare.