The Calories Don’t Count at These Foodie Hotspots
Some people count calories, while others don’t bother with the practice at all. Regardless of your feelings on these tiny invisible monsters, there’s always occasions in which they must be ignored for the sake of your dining experience. And if you’re even a smidge familiar with the dynamic San Diego foodie scene, you know there are a handful of restaurants and dishes worth ditching your diet for. With that said, we present eight culinary hotspots where the food is so good, you won’t regret the splurge.
Must Order: Guido Burger
If you’re in Ocean Beach or Downtown, Hodad’s must be paid a visit—it’s unspoken local law. Get your burger fix and then some at this San Diego staple serving up classic and specialty burgers, thick potato fries and delicious milkshakes. If their iconic license plate and sticker decor doesn’t first catch your eye, the familiar scent of sizzling burgers will draw you in. Famously featured in Guy Fieri’s hit show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” Hodad’s has since created the fan-favorite Guido Burger in his name–it’s topped with pastrami, ketchup, pickles, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and spicy brown mustard.
Locations: Ocean Beach, Downtown San Diego
Must Order: Big Poppa Tart
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No sweet tooth can be satisfied without a little rule breaking, and no place does it better than San Diego’s Donut Bar. Pop in and try the Big Poppa Tart Donut: a square donut filled with an actual Pop Tart! Weighing in at over a pound, this doubly-delectable donut is a knock of nostalgia and a nice morning treat-yo’self-moment that’ll sweeten a Sunday stroll. Explore the vivid colors of donut creativity with vegan and classic options also available!
Locations: Downtown San Diego, Pacific Beach, Chula Vista and Temecula
Cardiff Seaside Market
Must Order: Whiskey Crack Sandwich
It’s not what you think—every SD local knows when there’s talk of crack, there’s quality sandwiches nearby. Cardiff Seaside Market’s world-famous tri-tip is known as “Cardiff Crack” and is often served in sandwiches, burritos and bowls. If it’s your first time, go for their Whiskey Crack Sandwich, stuffed with grilled Original Crack Tri Tip, whiskey peppercorn sauce, crumbled blue cheese, pickled onion and arugula on a ciabatta bun. It’s juicy; it’s fresh; and it’s addicting. Local Insight: if you’re down south to catch a Padres game, Cardiff Crack is now also available at Petco Park!
Atypical Waffle Company
Must Order: Chicken Nugs & Waffles
Don’t be chicken. Challenge the standard at Atypical Waffle Company in North Park! If you’re just wandering in, you better like waffles—that’s all they’ve got, but they do it really well. Every waffle they serve is a 300-year-old Belgian waffle recipe with a two-day, slow-rise process and a whole lot of heart, soul and science. Okay, so they do have a little more than waffles—try the Chicken Nugs and Waffles: three waffles served with seasoned chicken breast fritters, chives, candied bacon bits and spicy aioli. We’re not drooling, you are…
Location: North Park6/18
Ironside Fish & Oyster
Must Order: Chowder Fries
Send it down to sea level at Ironside Fish & Oyster, Little Italy’s romantically nautical oyster and seafood bar. When they say it’s all fresh from the sea, they mean it: their menu changes every day based on mother nature’s selection! Your favorite beers, wines and cocktails are always in season, however. Pop in for happy hour and take advantage of $1 oysters from 3-5 p.m., then stay a while and chow down on their fan-favorite Chowder Fries–a deliciously creamy mix of pork, potato and clam poured over piping hot french fries.
Location: Little Italy
Must Order: Ice Cream Nachos
Any visit to Coronado Island calls for a stop at MooTime Creamery. Find all of the classic options for even the simplest of cravings, from vanilla and chocolate ice cream all the way to flavors for the ultra-adventurous, such as apple pie and Nutella banana. But it doesn’t stop at scoops of ice cream—they even offer a nacho option! You heard that right–order the ice cream nachos: waffle cone bits topped with two scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, marshmallow cream and powdered sugar.
Prince St Pizza San Diego
Must Order: Naughty Pie
There’s a newbie on the block, and it’s serving up Sicilian-style pizza. Pop into Prince St Pizza, San Diego’s newest spot for a slice of pie! Located in the bustling Gaslamp Quarter, this ‘za shop serves classic square slices like the spicy pepperoni (with an optional side of honey)! Pop in for a midday snack or some late-night grub, and be sure to try the Naughty Pie, which is proudly topped with spicy vodka sauce, spicy pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and honey. This is a diet-ditch effort, after all!
Location: Gaslamp Quarter
Must Order: Souffle Pancakes
Not every morning is glorious and glamorous, but that can easily be turned around with a visit to Morning Glory. This Little Italy hot spot has been buzzing from open to close since it opened its doors in 2019! Put your name down and patiently wait for your seat in the elegant-yet-funky atmosphere filled with cushy pink booths and iridescent decor. Sip on a crafty drink as you wait for your order of the iconic Souffle Pancakes. Unlike any pancake you’ve had before, these extremely fluffy, airy pancakes are as delicious as they are Instagrammable.
Location: Little Italy
Jaclyn is a sunshine chasing San Diego native with an extensive writing background. When she isn’t word-smithing, you can find her playing beach volleyball, skating the boardwalk, or on a rooftop enjoying a drink in the sunshine with her pals.