San Diego features fantastic weather, miles of beautiful beaches, tons of sight-seeing opportunities and a variety of delicious food options. Given its proximity and past history with neighboring Mexico, it’s not surprising that San Diego is listed in the top 10 U.S. cities for Mexican restaurants. Below are five we would eat at any day of the week. If you are joining us for our San Diego event, I recommend these.
Old Town Mexican Cafe – Old Town, San Diego
Our first visit here was a Saturday for lunch. It was crowded, so we grabbed seats at the bar near the entrance, ordered margaritas, and glanced at the menu. There was a non-stop game of pat-a-cake behind us, (I thought, ‘wow, those women are keeping the kids entertained’). Only later did I realize the small army of women were hand-forming flour and corn tortillas to order and placing them directly on a stone surface set over an open flame to cook. The food is simple, authentic, and cooked to perfection. Coming from the east coast, fresh hand-made tortillas are not an everyday occurrence, so I was thrilled that when we returned to the same restaurant days later for a Pork Carnitas Hash breakfast, that fresh, hot, flour tortillas were part of the meal. Old Town Mexican Cafe is fun, entertaining, and great spot to get some authentic Mexican Cuisine.
Must Do! – Eat the homemade tortillas!
Old Town Mexican Cafe
2489 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
Fat Fish Cantinagrill – Pacific Beach, San Diego
EAT AT THE BAR! I repeat: Eat At The Bar. The specials are unbelievable. Monday night we grab bar stools as the east-coast-bubbly bartender greets us and starts listing tonight’s specials. “We have a lobster tail taco for $8, a seafood chopped salad that’s $6…” STOP! SOLD! We add a $10 bottle of Champagne (seriously, the whole bottle) and two Ketel One rocks. The total bill, including tip, was under $40. The food here is fresh and amazing, the service rocks, and it’s a pretty cool atmosphere. On “Taco Tuesdays” they offer $1.50 tacos, so get there early before the college kids take over. Fat Fish Cantinagrill has incredibly fresh seafood, house-made chips and salsas, a cool staff, and unreal bar specials.
Must Do! Eat at the bar, drink and food specials are unbeatable.
Fat Fish Cantinagrill
4474 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
Puesto – The Headquarters at Seaport
Strolling around the Seaport one morning, we spotted Puesto, checked out the menu and made a plan to return. A couple of nights later we made good on our commitment and headed to Puesto. The restaurant reminded us of a street festival along the water with bright artwork, industrial design, and just enough light to create a comfortable upscale setting. We were seated outdoor, ordered drinks, and started the difficult decision of what to order (our choice would have been one of everything). We both decided on 3 for $15 tacos. Each of the six tacos – Main lobster, fillet, lamb barbacoa, Ahi tuna, carnitas and potato soy chorizo – were perfectly seasoned, had their own toppings, and were delicious. My favorite: the lamb Barbacoa served on blue corn tortillas dressed with avocado foam and micro greens. It was sublime.
Must Do! Go after dark, the atmosphere festive.
Puesto – the Headquarters at Seaport
89 W Harbor Dr
San Diego, CA 92101
Casa de Reyes – Old Town San Diego
This place screams tourist trap. Casa de Reyes is big, bold, and almost Disney-like in atmosphere. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying authentic Mexican cuisine. We were plopped right in the center of this huge outdoor space and felt immediately like we were on holiday among the strolling musicians and festive decor. As a foodie, I totally sold out and ordered the combo fajitas. The fajitas came with chicken, steak, house-made tortillas, fried rice, refried beans, guacamole, plus all the trimmings and they did not disappoint. The food is basic Mexican and Tex-Mex, perfectly prepared, plentiful, and very good. On a side note: I ordered hot peppers, and the waiter returned – in a heavy accent, he laughed and said, “these are hot!” Turns out the kitchen sent Pequin peppers (the Scoval scale on these is 100,000 – the same as Habaneros and Scotch Bonnets). Casa de Reyes wins for the hottest peppers served to me.
Must Do! Be a tourist and enjoy the food here.
Casa de Reyes – Old Town San
2754 Calhoun St
San Diego, CA 92110
Taco Surf PB – Pacific Beach
I was solo looking for a place where the locals eat, the equivalent of a neighborhood pizza joint on the east coast. I stumbled on Taco Surf PB. The colorful space is filled with local construction workers and hanging surfboards everywhere. As a surfer and hard worker, I find this perfect. From behind the counter, the owner and staff are instantly friendly. I order fish tacos, not realizing there were choices (grouper or Mahi Mahi, grilled or fried)? The grilled Mahi Mahi tacos were made fresh topped with slaw and tomatoes, stuffed on corn tortillas and served over a huge heaping of rice and beans. I was amazed that the styrofoam plate could support the feast. Hearty plates, fresh fish, locals and reasonable prices make this a must try taco joint.
Must Do! Order the fish tacos!
Taco Surf PB
4657 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109