A Bite of San Diego

San Diego is the envy of many for a number of reasons. Whether it is the ever pleasant weather, the draw of the sandy beaches, or perhaps the number of cultural sites, our city has no shortage of reasons to be proud. Aside from these, one aspect that outsiders look upon with particularly pronounced jealousy is the reputation we hold for excellent restaurants. This is a reputation that is owed greatly to the diverse convergence of cultures that San Diego was largely created by.

Chief among these cultures is almost certainly that of the Mexican variety. Due to the proximity of the city to Mexico as well as the history of the land itself, this is something that should come as little surprise. The quality of our Mexican food is particularly impressive when compared to that of other parts of the nation. The number of restaurants that contribute to this reputation is so great that even beginning to list them would be a futile effort.

That said, if a few of the greatest ones have to be named, TJ Oyster Bar and Lucha Libre certainly deserve recognition. For fans of Mexican food, these two places rank among the best. The unique culture of both places make them ideal stops for the younger crowd in San Diego.

For those who reside in or near La Mesa, two Mexican restaurants are widely recognized for different reasons: Casa De Pico and Azteca. Casa De Pico, in addition to serving good food, boasts a large venue and a festive atmosphere, all served by women clothed in traditional outfits. By contrast, Azteca takes the opposite approach. Located in the same building complex as a 7-Eleven, its hole in the wall appearance belies the quality of the food. It is neither a trendy nor flashy location, but frankly, it does not need to be since the food is so good.

However, the well-deserved reputation San Diego has for quality Mexican food should not overshadow the diverse spectrum of restaurants that have contributed to the city’s culinary scene. If one prefers Cuban cuisine, Havana Grill in the Clairemont area provides delicious styles of sandwiches pulled straight from the Caribbean.

Then again, perhaps what you fancy is a good, quality burger. If that is the case, just across the street features a car-themed burger joint called STP Bar-N-Grill, which serves its food amid an interior furnished by various automotive parts. Though virtually all the items on its menu are recommended, special attention ought to be given to the “Prius,” a burger that is arguably one of the best veggie burgers in the world.

If there is an issue with the mere handful of restaurants mentioned here, it is that they are spread all across the greater county area. For those who desire a more concentrated selection, Liberty Public Market has lunch and dinner, sweet and savory, all within a single indoor market. Here, one can stop at an Italian joint, while a friend can walk just a few feet away and order some crepes. This is to say nothing of the bakeries and bars also present within the complex. For those who find themselves near Point Loma, Liberty Public Market is sure to have something for everyone.

For others though, there are times when hunger takes a backseat to thirst. For those who find themselves in such a predicament, they will be thankful to know that San Diego is also renowned for its many breweries and bars. Those in Clairemont can make their way to Societe Brewing Co. for local craft beer. For baseball fans, Social Tap San Diego gives an envious and unobstructed view of Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Suffice it to say that whatever tastes one has, San Diego can almost certainly provide it.


Photo by Jay Wennington