May 15, 2024

The Best Places to Eat in San Diego, According to Locals.

Visiting San Diego and looking for some great local suggestions on where to eat?

I’ve lived here for more than 20 years, and while I definitely have my favorites (see #1 and #5), I wanted to see what other locals had to say.

So I surveyed over 800 people who call San Diego home, and distilled all the various answers down to a few restaurants and themes that kept recurring.

To see what restaurants are most beloved by locals, keep reading below.

And while you’re visiting, don’t forget to commemorate your time in San Diego with beautiful family photographs that you’ll treasure for a lifetime. Just click on the “Home” link above to explore why I’m awesome.



A woman wearing a long red dress holds her twin toddler daughters' hands while walking toward the shoreline of the beach in Del Mar, California.


1) Casa Guadalajara

First, a quick note: San Diego’s fabulous Mexican food is not to be missed, and it would be a real shame if you didn’t have some (or a lot) of it while you’re here – it’s as much a part of our culture, history, and essence as the beach and the weather are. You do hole-in-the-wall (more on that below), or gourmet, it doesn’t matter – just don’t miss it.

Our family’s personal favorite Mexican place (that isn’t a taco shop) is Casa Guadalajara. It’s the one we take every visitor to and commemorate multiple birthdays at, the one we celebrated at after our baby’s baptism, the one I meet my friends at when they just need to talk. My husband and I even held our wedding reception here! The sentiment runs deep for this brightly colored, festive, loud and crowded place with the fountains, strolling mariachis, and double margaritas (just me?).

And yes, the food is dependably delicious. And since about half of the patrons I see during any given visit are Hispanic, I’m assuming it’s also pretty authentic.

And please, in the name of all that is holy, do not miss out on their fresh handmade flour tortillas. You will never look at a tortilla the same again.

Casa Guadalajara is located very centrally, right next to San Diego’s historic Old Town State Park. They don’t take reservations, but the wait seems to go pretty fast, and it’s worth it. They can be found at


2) The Convoy District

Not a restaurant, but an area of town, known as one of the largest Pan-Asian districts in the United States. It’s also known as where you go for the best Asian food in San Diego.

So if you’re in the mood for Asian food and want to visit a local favorite in this extremely local (hint: not touristy) area, here are a few local favorites you can’t go wrong at: Shan Xi Magic Kitchen, Tasty Noodle House, Shanghai Saloon, Pho Duyen Mai, Spicy City, Mekong Cuisine, Yakitori Yokohama, Dumpling Inn… I could go on, but I won’t.

For more about this interesting district, go here:


3) Las Cuatro Milpas:

I’ve never actually been here, but apparently I need to go, based on all the raving fans.

Located in another one of San Diego’s colorful ethnic neighborhoods, Barrio Logan (worth a visit on its own), it’s been in business since 1933, and is a storied landmark on the San Diego Mexican food scene.

It’s open only until 3pm every day, so keep it at the top of your “place to have breakfast or lunch” list. And true to every amazing hole in the wall place that’s ever existed, they’re cash only.

Find out more about Las Cuatro Milpas here:


4. Point Loma Seafoods

Another favorite that kept popping up was this place, located just perfectly for San Diego visitors – on San Diego Bay, with beautiful views of the bay and downtown San Diego (trust me, it’s lovely, and oh-so-San Diego).

Not just a restaurant, they process (and serve!) some of the freshest fish brought in by our local fishermen, and have a variety of fish and shellfish imported from around the world.

I once came here in January, straight from the airport after a long visit to a cold and dark winter state. I grabbed a fish sandwich and headed out back to the docks, where I sat down and ate with the warm sun beating on my back, watching the bobbing boats and listening to the seagulls overhead. And for the first time in my long residency, I thought… “Ok, I get it now, San Diego.”

Find out more about Point Loma Seafoods here:


5. Our Taco Shops

San Diego’s taco shops are just a part of our essence – and I don’t think you can truly experience San Diego without sitting down at one and stuffing a burrito in your mouth.

The more hole-in-the-wall, the tackier the fluorescent lighting, the harder the chipped orange booth benches, the better. They have all the atmosphere of a jail processing room, just less inviting.

But when you hold that huge, full, warm, floury burrito in your hands and see the little crispy roasted spots where it was laid on the grill before it was stuffed with some delicious mixture, you’ll know you’re in the right place.

Some strong suggestions on what to order: the iconic California burrito, a carne asada burrito, or (and my personal favorite), a bean and cheese burrito. But really, if something looks or sounds good, it probably will be, so just go for it.

I’m not going to recommend a particular taco shop here, because I don’t know where in town you’re staying, but I will say that any taco shop with a name ending in “-bertos” tends to be a safe bet.



If you need anymore local suggestions on the best of San Diego, I’ve written a few things to help you out:

Here’s my suggestion on a fun San Diego family activity (that isn’t the zoo or Sea World):

Here’s my suggestion on a favorite beach for families (and family photos!) in San Diego:


Have a wonderful time in our fabulous San Diego!