This is a reposting from September 2011 as I head down for a visit with friends this upcoming weekend...
Sunny San Diego...how we love it here! I know, I know...everyone loves it here but we have a sentimental attachment since we lived in Pacific Beach for 3 years right after college, got engaged and got married here. We were young, poor, in love and on our own starting to define what our life together would look like for the first time. Incredibly happy memories filled with sand, sun & way too much drinking with good friends.
So all of this nostalgia means that our visits to San Diego tend to be a little different than our typical Gastronomic Globe Trotting. Instead of trying to track down the latest and greatest restaurant or looking for an authentic "taste of place" we tend to just stick to our old haunts (mostly in/near Pacific Beach) and hang out with friends. That being said, a lot of our old haunts are the perfect taste of San Diego to us (and pretty darn cheap since we were so poor!) so I think you'll enjoy some of our favorites when you're in town as well:
Zanzibar - I love the vibe of this place. If I ever opened up my own place I would want it to have a similar feel. Food is great too, homemade and healthy. I really like their omelets and pastries.
Taco Surf - Great breakfast burritos...but huge! Make sure to get the homef-ries inside.
Kono's - This is a long time PB favorite...always a line out the door. Great breakfast burritos here as well, but make sure to try to get a table across the boardwalk so you can sit over the ocean once your breakfast arrives. Perfect start to the day!
Pacific Bean - this place has AMAZING Mochas...and I'm not even a mocha fan normally. But here they have so many different kindsand they are so delicious that I'm kind of obsessed. Be prepared though, it's like dessert in a cup. Not healthy, but oh so good. My favorite is the peanut butter cup...they even use freshly made chocolate whip cream on it :)
South Beach Bar & Grille - This is in Ocean Beach, but honestly has the best fish tacos ever. And they have a million to choose from. They're so over-filled and messy with great hot sauce. The oyster taco is my favorite. Yummm-my!
Kabuki Sushi- I honestly have no idea if this place stands the test of time, it's been a while. But when we lived in SD we loved it...good affordable sushi that came around on little boats (cheesy, but fun). We actually had their sushi at our wedding.
Lahaina's - while they don't have a happy hour special, this is the only bar on the beach in PB. It's so fun to hang out on the patio, grab a pitcher of beers with friends and watch the shenanigans on the beach and boardwalk. Great place to watch the sunset too...but it does get crowded and pretty rowdy!
PB Bar & Grille - This is known as the best happy hour in PB...cheap, strong drinks and good appetizer specials. Lots of TVs to watch the games while still sitting outside too.
PB Ale House - This is a relatively newer spot, but it has a great roof-top deck to watch the sunset while enjoying their local brews and appetizers at a discount. A more classed-up happy hour if you will.
Cantina - Technically this is called Isabel's Cantina, but I never knew that until I just looked it up online so I'm still calling it Cantina. Fantastic & unique Latin/Asian fusion cuisine. The Buddha Bowl is our fave for dinner and the Coconut French Toast is to die for at brunch
Surfside Sushi - honestly everything is good here...good quality, somewhat unique and affordable sushi right in the heart of PB.
Forever Fondue - this was one of our first "fancy" dates when we lived in SD and were young and poor, but we had such great memories there over the years that we actually ended up having our rehearsal dinner here! Much better than the large chain fondue places, and really nice for a romantic & interactive night out.
Cafe Sevilla - this was our go-to place when we went out downtown. Great tapas, sangria and a really fun atmosphere.
Open Bar - I don't know why I love this place so much, I just do. They have a Jager-ater, free popcorn and a patio...I guess that about does it for me!
Cass Street Bar & Grille - any bar with shuffle board has my vote. Super mellow vibe and good food too (breakfast is popular here)...one of the few places we don't feel too old in PB!
Longboard's - we've always loved this bar, but since we've left San Diego it decided to go and become a New England sport's bar...so now we love it even more! Good fun vibe here...great place to end the night since it's right across the street from Hoboken Pizza (below).
LATE NIGHT SNACKS:
Hoboken Pizza - oh, Hoboken. How many times have I loved this pizza at 2am? Such a great place to end the night. You have to get the "My Way" white slice of pizza....so delicious.
Any little Mexican stand!- my favorite late night "snack" to soak up the alcohol and prevent my hangover? A bean & cheese burrito with sour cream and hot sauce for dipping along with a nice big horchata to drink. Mmmm, mmmm!
So get out there and start your gourmet globe trotting in San Diego. Lot's of great food to go along with all of that fun in the sun you'll have!