During the day San Diego has an abundance of activities to keep you busy. When the sun goes down, though, what should you do? Stop searching for ideas and follow this helpful guide to things to do in San Diego at night.

Downtown San Diego Gaslamp sign over moving traffic

Downtown San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter is one of my favorite areas in San Diego. Mostly because the restaurants, lounges, shops, theaters, galleries, and nightclubs are a thriving scene year-round. Start the night by dining at one of the more than 50 restaurants. As San Diego is the craft brew capital of the world, I recommend eating at Hopping PigBarleymash, or Union Kitchen and Tap. All three offer delicious food and super suds. Afterwards, hit up the thriving nightlife scene. If you want to dance the night away, go to FLUXX or Moonshine Flats. Alternatively, rooftop lounges like Altitude Sky Lounge and Lounge Six let you relax under the stars. For a good laugh, go to a show at The American Comedy Co.

Baseball Game

PETCO Park, home to the San Diego Padres, is located right next to the Gaslamp Quarter in East Village. So, you can easily experience the scene their while also taking in a baseball game. In fact, less than one block from the park is Half-Door House Brewing Company. It serves craft brews in a cozy house-like setting. Sit on the porch for views of the park.

Moving on to the game itself, a night watching the boys of summer play America’s game is always a good time in my opinion. Petco Park’s lively atmosphere is enhanced by its top notch food and beverage choices. Where else can you get a pulled pork sandwich from Phil’s Barbeque and a beer from Stone Brewing Co.? Nowhere. And that’s exactly why you should go.

San Diego Basic Bar

Basic in the East Village

Local Bars

Vacations are always better when you go off the beaten path, and experience the city as the locals do. This is why I love checking out the local bars of a town. You get a real sense of the neighborhood and culture. This especially rings true at local bars in San Diego, where each section of the city has a distinct feel all its own.

East Village

Basic: Located in the heart of East Village in Downtown San Diego, simplicity and urban style converge atBASIC Urban Kitchen + Bar.

Noble Experiment: This swanky speakeasy tucked behind a secret door in The Neighborhood eatery serves craft cocktails.

Gaslamp Quarter

Barleymash: Sports TV & DJs accompany visits to this mod spot, known for craft beer, bourbon & flatbread pizzas.

Prohibition: Stylish red-hued haunt has a 1930s vibe & features live music & seasonally inspired craft cocktails.

La Puerta: Chill Mexican spot offers signature drinks & tequila alongside family recipes, plus DJs after hours.

Little Italy

The Waterfront: This 1933 institution outlasted the waterfront but still draws crowds with pub grub and happy hour.

North Park

Seven Grand Whiskey Bar: Stylish whiskey lounge offers an extensive bourbon menu, craft beers and dark wood-lined interiors.

True North Tavern: Casual bar food and drinks star at this tavern with a lively dance floor plus plenty of TVs.

Pacific Beach

The Local P.B.: Casual neighborhood hangout for pub grub, a rotating selection of craft beers on tap and happy hour.

Tavern at the Beach: Lively mainstay draws crowds indoors or on the coveted patio for beers, bar grub and dancing at night.

Parq

Parq Nightclub

Dance Clubs

If you’re itching’ to bust a move, you’re in luck the dance club San Diego is legit. Whether you want to go all out or just need to let off some steam on the dance floor, San Diego’s got you covered.

For the luxe life, visit these dance clubs. Famous DJs, million dollar sound systems, go-go dancers, and laser light shows will make you think you’re in Las Vegas rather than San Diego.

FLUXX: Celeb-friendly club draws a stylish crowd with a pulsing dance floor, big-name DJs and bottle service.

Parq: Farm-to-table eats in a funky setting complete with rollup garage doors and a working tunnel.

Float at Hardrock Hotel: Hard Rock Hotel San Diego offers the hottest dining and nightlife in San Diego, including FLOAT  which is set atop the Hotel overlooking the Gaslamp Quarter.

AD Nightclub: Upscale nightclub specializing in hip-hop & electronic dance music, with name DJs and bottle service.

For a more low-key night, dance clubs in Pacific Beach and North Park are the best. Even so, you’ll also find danceworthy digs in downtown San Diego.

Avenue: This bar features a variety of mixologist-created craft cocktails, fresh squeezed juices and custom flavors. It draws a younger crowd, with college-age kids often hanging out here.

The Air Conditioned Lounge: An under-the-rader hotspot geared towards locals with a hot mix of music and drinks in a totally cool environment.

U-31: Club draws a party crowd for DJs, cocktails, bottle service, sports TV on Sundays, burgers and more.

Old Globe Theater FB RSZ

The Old Globe Theater/Facebook

Entertainment

It doesn’t matter if you want to go to the theater or a rockin’ concert; you won’t be let down in San Diego. The true variety of entertainment options means you’ll never be bored.

Moonlight Stage: Plays host to everything from classic plays to one-man shows and comedians.

Old Globe Theater: Shakespeare plays and traveling theater shows are the main attraction at the Old Globe Theater.

Humphreys by the Bay Concerts: With a location on Shelter Island, this seaside spot is the hottest place to see concerts by mainstream headliners and class favorites.

As you can see, things to do in San Diego at night supply all the elements of a good time. All that’s missing is you!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

The Gaslamp Quarter is one of my favorite areas in San Diego. The restaurants, lounges, shops, theaters, galleries, and nightclubs can keep me busy year-round. There is always excitement in the air, and its proximity to the Convention Center and Petco Park means that many people from all walks of life frequent the streets of the historic district.

A Rich History
As you walk down 5th Ave., make sure to look up and notice the beautiful Victorian-era buildings that line the street. The 16½ blocks of the Gaslamp are adorned with over 90 registered historic buildings, making the overall vibe of the neighborhood rich and quaint. The buildings date back to the 1870s, and I often wonder what the walls would say if they could speak. The area used to be home to San Diego’s first port, catering to American sailors from the East Coast who were anticipating the arrival into San Diego since it was the first American and English-speaking port they saw in over 100 days! The area used to be littered with opium dens, saloons, gambling parlors and brothels, making it one of the largest red light districts of the West. If you’re interested in the scandalous details of the Gaslamp Quarter history, I would suggest joining a tour. Brothels, Bites and Booze is a tour I created out of the love and respect I have for the neighborhood. It’s a walking, history and food tasting tour that introduces some fascinating stories of the past and four local restaurants.

So Many Restaurants, So Little Time
There are over 100 bars and restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter, which means there is something for everybody when it comes to dining out. Looking for fine dining? Check out Osetra Fish House, where wine angels that hang from the ceiling try to snatch your bottle from the iconic wine wall. Or head over to Bice Ristorante: an Italian restaurant that is known for their very special cheese bar! If you’re a gastro-pub type of person, you can get some delicious food and local craft beer at the Hopping Pig, Barleymash, or Union Kitchen and Tap. And for the swanky and trendy individuals, order up sushi and Asian-inspired dishes at Bang Bang as you listen to electronic beats pouring out of the speakers. Searsucker is another trendy spot. Stop in here for the Peter Rabbit cocktail and Pork Butt with whisky sour apples and bacon emulsion.

Night Time in the Gaslamp Quarter
After satisfying your appetite, you may want to indulge in some of the many nightlife activities such as going to a comedy show at The American Comedy Co., snacking on home-made cupcakes at Heavenly Cupcake, or dancing the night away at FLUXX or Moonshine Flats. With so many things to do within a few blocks, it’s easy to see why so many people come here for birthday celebrations, bachelor/ette parties, and weekend fun.

Under the Stars
If you love the San Diego weather, visit one of the popular rooftop lounges for some fresh air and marvelous views. Altitude Sky Lounge is the highest rooftop lounge, located on the 27th floor of the Marriott Gaslamp. Lounge Six is a popular rooftop for the locals, and Rooftop600 at the Andaz has day beds and DJs at night.

Daytime Fun
If you decide to visit during the day, make sure to head into Café 21 for a mind-blowing brunch of tiramisu pancakes or a lamb sausage cast iron omelet and one of the best Bloody Marys you’ll ever have. Once your belly is nice and full, burn off your meal as you shop along 5th Avenue, where you’ll find an array of unique boutiques and specialty shops. If you’re not in the shopping mood, browse the many art galleries of the area. My personal favorites are the Chuck Jones Gallery and Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts.

Can’t Miss Annual Events
Since the Gaslamp Quarter is such an iconic district in San Diego, many annual events happen throughout the year. A couple of notable events are Halloween in the Gaslamp and the Holiday Pet Parade, but be sure to check the events calendar at Gaslamp.org for a full list of what’s going on. Sporting events such as the Padre’s Opening Game Day and Super Bowl always draw large groups of people to the bars in the area, and the Convention Center hosts shows such as the San Diego Auto Show and Comic Con, which liven up the Gaslamp Quarter as the attendees partake in all of what the district has to offer.

San Diego has so much more than beautiful beaches and perfect weather, and the Gaslamp Quarter represents the history and flavor of the city. It’s constantly changing and growing, so be sure to set aside some time to explore this area when you’re in town.

Find out more about the Brothels, Bites & Booze Tour »
Bianca is a San Diego native and prides herself on knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company, So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she helps you make the most out of your time, money and energy in San Diego.

It’s no secret dining in San Diego is top notch. From upscale restaurants to signature spots, the culinary scene in San Diego is brimming with flavor. During San Diego Restaurant Week, held January 17-24, 2016, you can experience some of the best food this SoCal city has to offer all at discount prices.

san diego restaurant week 2

“Eight Days of Dining” features over 180 restaurants with prix-fix menus. These special menus have unbeatable prices you won’t find any other time during the year. Foodies will rejoice at all of the available options, including specially priced menus for both lunch and dinner. Best of all, San Diego Restaurant Week two-course lunches start at only $10 and three-cruse dinner’s start at only $20.

A few of the San Diego Restaurant Week dining choices include:

100 Wines Kitchen
Avant
Café Athena
Cucina Enoteca Del Mar
Fig Tree Café
Firenze Trattoria
Marine Room
Nobu San Diego
Osetra Fish House
Searsucker San Diego
The Prado at Balboa Park
The Red Door
The Smoking Goat
The Westgate Room
Union Kitchen & Tap

Be advised San Diego Restaurant is extremely popular so reservations are recommended. Walk-ins are welcome, though.

At prices like these, it’s an ideal time to try new San Diego restaurants as well as dine at establishments you love but can’t always afford. Plus, restaurant week features on Saturday and two Sundays so you can treat someone special in your life to a rich date night that will be nice to both your stomach and wallet.


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

This topic lies near and dear to my heart because I love restaurants and their happy hours. I love them so much, that I decided to start a passion project showcasing different happy hours in San Diego. It’s called Happy Hour Bee: Bee because that’s my nickname, and because bees tend to buzz around from flower to flower, in this case…restaurants. It’s so difficult to choose who has the best one, but here are my top picks in some of my favorite neighborhoods.

Beer ThinkstockPhotos-464401802

Little Italy

Prep Kitchen

Prep Kitchen

Prep Kitchen
Daily 3-6pm, late night on Fri and Sat 10pm-12am
$5 tapas, select beer, craft cocktails, wine, and sangria
This upstairs restaurant is a local favorite with great craft cocktails and tasty food. The ambiance at Prep Kitchen is inviting, and the deals are incredible!

Queenstown
Mon-Fri 3pm-6pm
$8 flights – Wine, Beer, Sangria
$3 sliders
This cute restaurant was opened in a historic craftsman home, and serves up New Zealand flavors with a local twist. Queenstown has a great been and wine selection!

Bracero FB_RSZ

Bracero Cocina/Facebook

Bracero
Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm
$2 off cocktails and wine
$3 tacos
This is one of the newest additions to the Little Italy restaurant scene, and is currently the talk of the town. Bracero Cocina serves unique Mexican flavors, and tasty tacos.

Gaslamp Quarter

Café Sevilla
Happy Hour Sunday – Friday from 5PM – 7PM! Happy Hour on the entire menu – $5 off items $12 and over. $3 off items $11 and under. $5 off wine (bottles only).

The Field FB

The Field/Facebook

Meze
Happy Hour Sunday-Friday 3pm-6pm and Mon-Thurs 10-11pm
$3-$5 select appetizers, $3 Greek Lager, $4 wells and drafts
$5 House wines, $6 premium cocktails
This is a sexy Greek Fusion restaurant near Petco Park, which makes it a perfect stop before heading to the Padre’s game. I love their Greek Tacos!

The Field
Happy Hour All Day!
Happy Hour – Open – 7pm
Appetizers $2.75-$8, $5 Draft, $5.50 Craft Draft
$3.5 Well Cocktails, $4 House Wine, $4 Irish coffee
This authentic Irish Pub will make you forget you’re in Southern California. Every single item in this venue has been imported from Ireland, lending an authentic experience.

Coronado

Candelas

Candelas

Candelas
Every Day Happy Hour – 11am-10pm
Deals on select menu items.
Examples: $3.50 – Cup of Bean Cream Soup, $5.50 – Esalada Caesar , $8.50 – Carnitas Tacos (3)
This Mexican fusion restaurant sits on the Bay at Ferry Landing offering visitors incredible views of the San Diego skyline. I love taking the Ferry, and coming to Candelas for happy hour.

Stake
Happy Hour Daily 4:30-6:30
1/2 Bar Appetizers
$1 Oysters
$7 select glasses of wine, $5 select craft beer, $10 Stake Cocktails, $10 Stake Martinis
As the island’s only steakhouse, Stake offers guests old world service with a modern environment and taste. They have a beautiful patio on the second floor where they have live music on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Stake FB

Stake/Facebook

Leroy’s
Happy Hour 4pm-6pm Daily & 10-Close (Friday and Saturday)
$5 Craft Drafts, $2 off Cocktails, $2 off Well Drinks, $5 select Glasses of Wine
Leroy’s is a casual chic restaurant known for their craft beer selection, fresh ingredients, and location. If you hang out in Coronado, this place is tough to miss. It’s one of the more popular spots in Coronado.

La Jolla

Nine-Ten

Nine-Ten

Nine-Ten
Happy Hour Monday -Friday, from 3:30-6:30pm
$5 House Red & White Wines, $2 off all Beer, $8 Bartender’s Whim Cocktail, 1/2 off bar menu items
This restaurant has good food, friendly staff, and many locals come here for happy hour.

Catania
Happy Hour Monday-Friday 3-6pm
$5 Select Craft Cocktails, $5 Red & White Wines, $5 Glasses of Sangria & $25 Sangria Pitchers, $5 Beer, $5 Select Appetizers
Catania is one of the newest additions to the La Jolla dining scene, but the spirit of this restaurant has been around for quite some time. This restaurant group continues to amaze locals with great food and drinks. This specific one has great ocean views, and is surrounded by great shops.

Harbor Island

Coasterra

Coasterra

Coasterra
Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 3:30-5:30
(Tequila Lounge and Patio Only)
$5 Draft Beer, $7 Signature Cocktails, $7 House Red or White Wine
$7 Appetizers
This restaurant is brand, spanking new, and was built by a local company for a whopping $15 million! It’s beautiful, the view is unparalleled, and the food hits home for many San Diegans, since it’s Mexican! Go to Coasterra!

Pacific Beach

Tower 23 San Diego

Tower 23 Hotel/Facebook

Tower 23/Jordn Restaurant
Happy Hour Monday-Friday, 4-7pm
$3 Beers, $4 House Wines, $3 Well Cocktails
$3 Off Small Plates includes
Amongst the beachgoers, day-partiers, and tourists, you’ll find a local favorite within the Tower 23 Hotel.

Now, all of these wonderful options should get you excited and happy for happy hour in San Diego! It’s just another thing to look forward to while you’re visiting my town. Feel free to watch my videos at Happy Hour Bee. Have fun, and always drink responsibly.


Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.

San Diego is a melting pot of ethnicities, tastes, colors, and neighborhoods.  You know you can find food worth talking about for years and trips to come–you just need to know where to look.  I’m a huge fan of food, culture and the people behind each dish and restaurant, and the overall experience available.  It’s such a big part of travel.  If you’re looking for uniquely authentic Italian food, this directory will help you find the best Italian restaurants in San Diego by the neighborhoods they are found in.

Little Italy

Situated on the Northwest side of Downtown, this former Italian fishing neighborhood was home to thousands of Italians during the height of the tuna fishing industry which ended in the late 1960s.  Since then, the I-5 freeway was built, dissecting the neighborhood and breaking up the community.  Since the early 2000s, however, the area has seen a huge rebirth, and now there are many new Italian restaurants with some classic favorites.  These are my favorites in the area:

Bencotto FB

Fresh tagliatelle and Bencotto sauce
Photo Credit: Bencotto/Facebook

Bencotto – This restaurant is owned by a young, Italian couple who have a passion for the traditional way of cooking food: using high quality ingredients and producing dishes that are simple, yet delicious.  The interior of the restaurant has a very modern look and feel, which parallels perfectly with Guido and Valentina’s contemporary lifestyle.

Po Pazzo – As the area’s only steak house, this neighborhood favorite features exceptional dishes like the Sicilian Style Bone-in Ribeye, and any steak can be prepared “Sinatra style,”which means that it comes with a killer sauce of sautéed tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions.  Order an appetizer and a pasta to share before the main event, which is any of the steaks at Po Pazzo.

Coronado

Just across the San Diego Bay sits San Diego’s pseudo-island, which is home to the Navy Base, million dollar homes and views, a huge beach, and The Hotel Del Coronado–San Diego’s iconic Victorian beachside resort. While the dining scene is small, there is a great Italian spot you must check out!

Vongole Bordelaise

Vongole Bordelaise
Photo Credit: Primavera Ristorante

Primavera Ristorante – Chef Pepe Vega brings flavors from Northern Italy to sunny Coronado.  This fine dining establishment has been a classic favorite in the neighborhood for years, and is known for their Osso Bucco dish.  Everything is fresh, flavorful, and the romantic ambiance is perfect for a celebratory dinner of any type.

Hillcrest

This area is just up the hill from Downtown San Diego and Balboa Park, which is a great area for dinner after a day of exploration at the museums at the Park or the San Diego Zoo.

Cotoletta alla Parmegiana

Cotoletta alla Parmegiana
Photo Credit: Piacere Mio/Facebook

Arrivederci – This restaurant is small, intimate, and will automatically make you feel as if you’ve teleported to Italy.  Most of the servers have Italian accents, and the tables are closely situated.  It’s not too fancyor formal, so this place is perfect for a family dinner.  The black linguini (squid ink linguini) with seafood and cream sauce is incredible!

South Park

Just east of Downtown and Balboa Park, you’ll find a quaint residential area that is home to many young families, beer lovers, and food aficionados.  That’s why this area is starting to get some recognition for their new restaurants.

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita
Photo Credit: Buona Forchetta/Facebook

Piacere Mio – This authentic Italian restaurant has some incredible dishes at reasonable prices.  The ambiance is cozy, and it feels as though someone’s Italian grandmother is in the kitchen whipping up all of the delicious masterpieces served..This restaurants lets you be the chef, allowing you to choose your favorite pasta and pair it with your favorite sauce.

Buona Forchetta – This adorable pizzeria has recently been attracting crowds, so don’t come here expecting to be seated right away.  Their pizza dough is incredibly flakey and light, and their specialty daily pasta is always on point.  They have a large dog-friendly patio (total bonus for when traveling with pets), and a small dining room inside.  One thing to note is that they do not take reservations, so make sure to come prepared to wait up to an hour.

Every time I write about the best San Diego restaurants, I get a crazy craving to go out and eat!  Now that I’ve refreshed my memory for the best restaurants, I’ve got some decisions to make.  No more talking for this girl, and no more reading for you.  Let’s go eat!  Buon Appetito!  Ciao!


Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.
Roberto's Carne Asada Burrito

Roberto’s Carne Asada Burrito

When in SoCal, do as the locals do and stop by a burrito shop for a quick foodie fix. With Mexico just a short drive away, San Diego has become a hotspot for authentic, fresh south-of-the-border flavors. When you’re craving a burrito, though, there are a few places that really standout. The necessary ingredients for success: low prices, giant servings and taste-bud-pleasing, hold-this-with-two-hands meals. Who serves the best burrito in San Diego? Prepare to be hungry as I point out some of the best San Diego restaurants to get your burrito fix.

Roberto’s Taco Shop
Serving quality Mexican food to San Diegans for over 50 years, Roberto’s is a mainstay for many locals. It’s easy for visitors to overlook the small, non-descript restaurants. However, there are six locations in San Diego alone and many more throughout the greater San Diego region so there’s no need to go out of your way for a bite. Every location seems to have a different vibe, but generally you can look for a sombrero-topped amigo and the scrolling name of “Roberto’s” on the sign. You’ll know that’s the place. The menu covers everything under the Southern California sun; choose from combination platters, tacos, enchiladas, tostados, chimichangas and more. For burritos, you can’t beat the carne asada burrito. Hand-rolled on a homemade tortilla, it’s chockfull of perfectly seasoned carne asada and topped with loads of guacamole (no extra charge!) and fresh pico. It’s simple but oh-so-good. I dare you to finish it all! You can even order a horchata—a cinnamon, vanilla rice drink—to compliminet your meal. It sounds unusual bit it’s a nice, sweet juxtaposition to the burrito’s flavor profile.

Santana's Carne Asada Burrito

Santana’s Carne Asada Burrito

Burritos Santana’s
If burrito is in the name, you know they’re a specialty. At Burritos Santana’s the menu has over 10 burrito combinations, ranging from shrimp burritos with achiote sauce to a chile relleno burrito rolled with beans, rice and sour cream. There’s even a California burrito piled with your choice or chicken or carne asada, with fries, salsa and cheese. Yes, you read right—fries. This San Diego classic is giant as it’s stuffed to the seams with ingredients. It starts with a layer of finely chopped asada, then the middle is loaded with fresh fries, topped with mounds of cheese and mixed with fresh salsa for an extra kick. It’s a flavorful punch in the mouth. And people can’t seem to get enough. Santana’s menu is rather massive, though, so feel free to try out the other options. Notable mentions: flying saucer tostada, carne asada nachos, carne asada burrito, Buenos Dias breakfast burrito and carnitas tacos. It’s all so good I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Carne Asada Fries

Carne Asada Fries
Photo Credit: Eric Molina/flickr

Lolita’s Taco Shop
Lolita’s Taco Shop has earned a top-notch reputation during their over 30 years of serving quality Mexican food. With multiple locations throughout the greater San Diego region, it’s easy to find a location nearby. I usually find myself at the Kearney Mesa establishment, which is consistently busy due to its cult following. If you plan to eat around lunch, be prepared for a bit of a line. The wait it worth it, though! Even though lines can be a pain, they certainly speak to the demand for this award-winning food. This is the first place I ever tried carne asada French fries, and they’re hands-down still the best I’ve ever had. Crispy, fresh fries are topped with carne asada, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar and cojita cheese, this spin on nachos is like a carne asada open-faced burrito. Word on the street Lolita’s started this style of fries—all the more reason for theirs to be the best. Of course, you’ve got to try the burritos too. The Monster, topped with carne asada, beans, rice, cheddar, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream & salsa Mexicana, is a behemoth of a meal while the Tijuana puts a seafood spin on the burrito staple. Lolita’s breakfast is great too—try the breakfast quesadilla. The chorizo and egg burrito is so good they serve it all day.

Eat at any of these restaurants to be served some of the best burritos in San Diego. Bring your appetite—you’ll need it!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

San Diego was once considered the “Tuna Capitol of the World”, and while we don’t fish nearly as much tuna from off our coasts any longer, we still have many fishing boats bringing in fresh fish daily. You will want to visit a seafood restaurant at least once while you’re in town. Here is a list of my favorite seafood restaurants in San Diego in no particular order.

Ceviche at Karinas

Ceviche at Karinas

Karina’s Mexican Seafood
Mexican seafood doesn’t only involve fish tacos. Karina’s is known for their large variety of fresh ceviches (a seafood salsa marinated in lime juice and chilies, typically eaten with tortilla chips), and Mexican cuisine favorites prepared with fresh fish and shellfish. Check out their newest location in Downtown just blocks away from the Symphony.

Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar
This beautiful restaurant in Little Italy is designed like a train station of the 1920’s, and has been acclaimed for it’s unique seafood dishes. The menu is created fresh daily, and has offered patrons whole fish dishes, and a lobster roll with brown butter mayonnaise.

El Pescador Sandwich

El Pescador Sandwich

El Pescador
This La Jolla seafood market has been selling fresh fish in San Diego since the 1970s, and has recently moved to a larger location across the street to accommodate the line of people waiting to buy their delicious prepared dishes and retail options. I love their sandwiches and the cioppino!

The Marine Room
This fine-dining establishment on the La Jolla Shores beach is where I come with my boyfriend when we have a celebration. The dishes are so delicately prepared, that you’ll forget you’re at a restaurant. You’ll think you’ve teleported to an art museum. Aside from the beautiful plating techniques, the food is outstanding!

The Fishery

The Fishery

The Fishery
This neighborhood restaurant/market is situated in the quite streets of the north side of Pacific Beach. Their ocean-to-table theme offers patrons some of the freshest fish in town. Check out their Tuesday Tastings for a pre fix menu prepared with only the freshest, and locally sourced ingredients for only $40 for a 3-course meal!

Now that you’ve got some great ideas for where to go for flavors from under the sea, you’ve got to go try them! You can thank me later!


Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.

One thing that I love about being an independent tour guide is the fact that I’m not tied to an office or specific area in San Diego during the day. That means, the county is my oyster when it comes to picking out exactly what I want for lunch. Whether it’s the ambiance, or a specific genre of food, or even ease and convenience, there are many places to choose from for a great lunch experience. Here are my top 10 picks for the best lunch in San Diego.

Lunch with a View

Seared Ahi Stack at C Level

Seared Ahi Stack at C-Level

C-Level Lounge
This restaurant is amongst my favorite places to come for lunch. It’s situated on the southern tip of Harbor Island near the airport and Downtown San Diego, making it an easy stop when you first land in the city. The views of the city skyline, the Navy airport, and the Bay are worth the wait, but the cherry on top is how delicious the food is.

My top menu picks: The Blackened Fish Tacos, Rosemary and Shallot-rubbed Lamb Sandwich, Seared Ahi Stack

Doner Fries at Amplified AleWorks

Doner Fries at Amplified AleWorks
Photo Credit: Amplified AleWorks/Facebook

Amplified Aleworks
The casual restaurant is located in Pacific Beach, and serves up incredible Mediterranean-infused dishes. In addition, they brew their own beer and serve other craft beers from around the world. You get a view of the beach, and a casual picnic-seating area where you can mingle with old and new friends under the San Diego sunshine.

My top menu picks: Doner Fries with Herb Marinated Chicken, Doner Kebab Sandwich on Pita with Lamb

The Med

The Med

The Med at La Valencia Hotel
Within the iconic La Jolla hotel often referred to as The Pink Lady, you’ll find a newly remodeled restaurant that serves incredible food paired with views of a lush garden, sparkling pool, and the Pacific Ocean. I would encourage siting on the Ocean Terrace for the best views and photo opts.

My top menu picks: Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad, Cubano, and the Baja Fish Tacos.

Pacific Coast Grill

Pacific Coast Grill

Pacific Coast Grill
On the popular drive up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH/101), you’ll find a popular restaurant that sits on the beach in between Solana Beach and Encinitas. If you sit outside, you’re only obstacle between your toes in the sand and your table is a short wall and protective boulers. This is as close to a San Diego beach you can get with a cocktail in hand.

My top menu picks: Lobster and Crab Guacamole, The Local Wrap, Filet Mignon Sliders

Quick and Healthy

Photo Credit: The Kebab Shop/Facebook

Photo Credit: The Kebab Shop/Facebook

The Kebab Shop
The local eatery has boomed in recent years, and now boasts 8 locations in the San Diego area. With awards like winning San Diego Magazine’s Best Restaurant for Middle Eastern food in 2014, it’s no wonder why I have to have it once a week! It’s casual and healthy, making a great option for those who want to get in, fuel up, and get on with their day.

My top pick: Hands down…the Salmon Doner Kebab with Spicy Hummus.

Photo Credit: Tender Greens/Facebook

Photo Credit: Tender Greens/Facebook

Tender Greens
This healthy cafeteria invites patrons down a line of fresh, colorful, and delicious lunch options. The line may look long during lunch hours, but it goes fast as you choose from the extensive menu. As you go through the line, you watch your lunch being assembled right in front of your eyes. Just be sure on what you want because you may be tempted to change your mind midway through.

My top menu picks: Chipotle BBQ Chicken Salad, Roasted Roma Tomato Soup, Herb Brushed Albacore

Appetizers at Saffron

Appetizers at Saffron

Saffron
The owner of this Thai restaurant has been recognized for her skills in the kitchen by ABC news, Martha Stewart, San Diego Magazine, and many more publications. Her dishes involve fresh ingredients, and are packed with complex, and bright flavors. The walk up counter has you order with the cashier, making it a casual and quick restaurant experience.

My top menu picks: Salad Rolls with Shrimp and Peanut Sauce, Saffron Thai Grilled Chicken, Pad-see-ewe with chicken

Outdoor Seating with Good Food and Beer

Photo Credit: Stone Brewing Liberty Station/Facebook

Photo Credit: Stone Brewing Liberty Station/Facebook

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
This restaurant sits in the heart of Liberty Station, a historic Naval Training Station just west of the airport, and is one of the largest breweries with a full restaurant in San Diego. You can sit in the garden equipped with ponds and stone and steel fountains as you eat and sip on the potent beers of Stone.

My top menu picks: Pulled Wild Boar and Pork Sandwich, Stone BBQ Duck Tacos

Queenstown burger

Queenstown Burger at Queenstown

Queenstown
Within the historic craftsman home in Little Italy, you’ll find a whimsically decorated establishment serving up some of the best beer and burgers in town. Sit on the porch or patio with Fido, or enjoy the interior design within the small house’s walls.

My top menu picks: Bare Lil’ Lamb Burger, Queenstown Burger

Food Trucks

Photo Credit: Curbside Bites/Facebook

Photo Credit: Curbside Bites/Facebook

Curbside Bites in Downtown
Every Wednesday from 11am-3pm, you’ll find about 5-7 San Diego food trucks parked just south of Little Italy on B Street between India and Colombia. You can get an array of tasty treats in one location from passionate chefs who are proud to broaden your tastes to their eclectic masterpieces.

I really enjoy eating, and restaurant dining is necessary when you’re on vacation. I am proud to offer this list of my top picks for lunch in San Diego, and I hope you decide to visit at least one of these establishments! Bon appetite!


Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.

When you think of San Diego food, barbeque might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Get ready to change your thinking, though, as there are some finger-licking, lip-smacking good restaurants serving BBQ in San Diego. One of the best is Phil’s BBQ. The raved-about, slathered-with-sauce selections Phil’s BBQ menu entices locals and visitors alike. So much so, that people happily wait in line to get a taste of this award-winning barbeque.

When you visit Phil’s BBQ San Diego, there will most likely be a wait. Luckily, Phil’s is used to the crowds and handles them fairly efficiently. Several menus are posted outside, including a large, hanging menu. Use these to help you choose your order before you get to the counter. Once you’re at the order area, you should be ready to do just that – order. Deciding might not be easy, but the menu is focused and doesn’t bother with items that aren’t barbeque-focused.

IMG_6521What should you order? Everyone has a favorite at this highly rated restaurant. My two picks: The fall-off-the-bone Babyback Ribs and BBQ Broham sandwich. The ribs are just the right amount if smoky, and are slathered in a don’t-want-to-waste-a-drop sauce. The BBQ Broham sandwich has pork that is seasoned and char-grilled, then topped with a bed of cole slaw and BBQ sauce on chewy bun. Speaking of the sauce, it’s a real standout blending sweet and spicy flavors. It’s no wonder the recipe is a secret. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

IMG_6530Portion sizes are huge, and when you add sides like potato salad and baked beans you have a picnic fit for a king. Of course, crispy fries are available as a side but skip those. Order the Colossal Onion Rings instead. A small order (small being relative) easily feeds two people. The onions these rings are made from must be huge, as I’ve never see bigger. The coating is lightly crispy too, and not too deep fried to take away the onion flavor. Then, there’s the ranch dressing on the side. Delicious! The farm-fresh flavor made me dunk my rings again and again. And again. It was that good.

IMG_6531As this is San Diego, a good selection of craft beer like Ballast Point and Lagunitas is on tap, too. A smaller bar area is first come, first serve. Usually you can snag a seat here pretty easily. Plus, you can order off the full menu. If you just want to eat, you can still add a beer to your meal. Phil’s knows nothing chases BBQ down better than a cold beer.

Keep in mind seating at Phil’s BBQ is bit run amok. You are seated by a hostess, but rather find an open table after ordering. As the restaurant is rather large, finding a seat is generally not a problem. Keep the atrium seats in mind, as they fill up the slowest. Even though Phil’s is a bit of a self-service joint – you get your own drinks and pick up your own food – the service was still good. Wait staff checked on my meal continually, and brought anything I needed to make my meal better.

If you don’t have time to wait in line at Phil’s BBQ, opt for the take out line. This line moves very fast and makes it easy for you to enjoy the deliciousness of this San Diego BBQ restaurant.

Make sure you visit Phils BBQ San Diego to see what West Coast barbeque is all about!


Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting San Diego to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

As an entertainer myself, I love watching a good show and seeing people’s passions unfold on stage. It’s remarkable to watch live talent, and witness the art of performance at plays, musicals, and comedy clubs. San Diego entertainment features a variety of places to catch a live show. Use my list to help you plan your night out at the theater.

San Diego Comedy Clubs

They say laughing is good for you. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. I love laughing, and I get my fix at these San Diego comedy clubs.

American Comedy Co.

The American Comedy Co.
Photo Credit: The American Comedy Co.

The Comedy Store (La Jolla)

Since the 70s, this club has seen acts from Robin Williams, David Letterman, and many other famous comedians. The shows are offered Wednesday- Sunday, and the club is located in the heart of La Jolla, making it a perfect place for a fun night out.

The American Comedy Co. (Gaslamp Quarter)

This underground club was opened just a couple of years ago, and is situated in the basement of a historic brick building, giving it a big city vibe. The comedians that have gigged here are both famous and up and coming, and in case you’re interested in taking a leap at comic stardom, Wednesday nights are open mic night,. They also have a full menu.

National Comedy Theatre

National Comedy Theatre
Photo Credit: National Comedy Theatre

National Comedy Theater (Mission Hills)

If improv comedy is more your speed, you’ll love this club. The teams are hilarious, and engage audience suggestion and input on what they will be improvising on. It is more of like a competition on what team is better at improvising, and the audience is the judge. The theater has a set of teams that performs every Thursday-Sunday, so this wouldn’t be a typical stand up comedy experience.

San Diego Theaters

I grew up singing and dancing, and there is nothing more satisfying than watching a great act at a beautiful theater. San Diego has some amazing talent, not to mention some great theaters. Here is a list of my favorites.

Balboa Theater

Balboa Theater

Balboa Theater (Gaslamp Quarter)

This historic theater is known for bringing unique and cultural musical to San Diego. Looking at the calendar now, they have a Celtic music performance, Abba Mania, and the Australian Bee Gees lined-up. The historic theater is gorgeous, and is located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.

Lyceum Theater (Gaslamp Quarter)

The Repertory Theater group calls the Lyceum Theater home, and their shows are known to be a little more racy than the typical play. The topics are controversial, cultural, sexy, and intimate, making their shows extremely unique. The theater is small, which allows for some audience interaction and an intimate watching experience.

San Diego Civic Theater

San Diego Civic Theatre
Photo Credit: San Diego Civic Theatre

Civic Theater (Gaslamp Quarter)

The Civic is where San Diegans go to see big name Broadway Shows. I’ve personally seen The Lion King, Evita, Rent, and Foot Loose here. The shows are seasonal, so you’ll want to make sure to come during the season. You can also catch several ballets throughout the year at this venue.

La Jolla Playhouse (La Jolla)

This local theater group has received various Tony Awards as well as landed big stage placements on Broadway. They enlighten audiences with artistic productions that are both intimate and entertaining. The last show I saw here was Side Ways (like the wine movie), and my date and I were rolling on the floor with laughter.

I don’t think San Diego gets enough credit for its performing arts and entertainment venues. When you come into town, please be sure to pay a visit to one of these venues. You’re sure to be entertained! Have fun!


Bianca is a San Diego native, and prides herself on her knowledge of her city. As a professional tour guide, she offers food and drink tasting tours through her company: So Diego Tours. With 8 years in the tourism industry, she brings you updates on how to make the most out of your time, money and energy in her city.