Credit: Briley Pizzelanti

12 Restaurants in San Diego Serving Up the Best Southern Soul Food

From Fried Chicken to Shrimp and Grits, These Restaurants Know a Thing or Two About Southern Cooking

Comfort is all about whatever gives you that warm, familiar feeling, and our favorite kind undoubtedly arrives in the form of food. We’re rounding up San Diego’s best spots for Southern comfort food, from Creole and Cajun to soul and even SoCal-inspired takes, all authentically established by chefs bringing their recipes right from home. Whether in search of seafood, fried chicken, classic jambalaya or even just a quality beignet, let a meal made with love bring you the feeling you’re in search of. Take your goods to-go or stay a while—either way, Southern hospitality will have you feeling right at home.

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Chef Budda Blasian Soul Food Truck

Best Southern Food San Diego
Credit: Chef Budda Blasian Soul Food

A good meal does more than feed the stomach—it’s good for the soul. Stop by the Chef Budda Blasian Soul Food Truck for a slice of Southern comfort without all the fluff!  Find authentic jumbo shrimp dishes, fried chicken, wings, catfish and more—and you don’t have to pick just one. Order combo No. 5 and pick two meats with two sides: choose from Cajun fries, steamed rice, mac and cheese and more. Find them popping up at different locations, Tuesday through Saturday from 4-9 p.m. Check their Instagram bio for updates on current location, and you can also book the truck to cater your next event (30-person minimum).

Location: North Park area


Louisiana Purchase

Credit: Kambria Fischer

Authentic Southern cuisine to its core, esteemed Louisiana Purchase has been placed perfectly on North Park’s Louisiana Street. Experience bold Bayou bites straight from New Orleans that are crafted by the native of the land of Mardi Gras himself, Executive Chef Quinnton Austin. Stop by for a late lunch or dinner and go for the classic jambalaya or branch out with something new like the battered gator tail bites, and complete it with a coconut margarita or Strong Island Iced Tea. Their all-new brunch service just launched as well and offers chicken and waffles! 

Location: North Park



Surf + Soul Spot

Dine through the soul of the sea at Surf & Soul Spot, offering top-tier Southern takeout with a SoCal flair. They offer differing menus depending on the day of the week, with a surf-inspired selection Monday through Wednesday from 11 7 p.m. and a Southern-focused “soul” menu Friday and Saturday from noon until they’re sold out! On their surf menu, find favorites like the lobster roll and the salt-and-pepper salmon sandwich, and their soul menu serves up wings and fried catfish fillets. We’d recommend stopping by more than once to try all the goods.

Location: La Mesa


Bud’s Louisiana Cafe

Born with the mission of serving authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine in a New Orleans manner, Bud’s Louisiana Cafe has spread across the U.S. since opening its first establishment in 1979. The San Diego location is nestled in Kearny Mesa and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual atmosphere; this place is all about the plates. Start with the seafood bisque, then go for the Taste of New Orleans: crawfish etouffee and rice with your choice of fried soft shell crab or fried or blackened catfish, complete with housemade tartar sauce—and don’t miss the beignets. 

Location: Kearny Mesa



Bowlegged BBQ

Best Southern Food San Diego
Credit: Jordan Stance

Boasting high-quality meats and BBQ delights, Bowlegged BBQ is all about American classics done right. Whatever your BBQ meat of choice, they’ve got it—and they’re cooking it to perfection. Choose from racks of ribs, brisket plates and sandwiches, chicken, hot links, tri tips, and more, and pair your choice with classic sides like baked beans, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and yams. Authentic from plate to patio, their picnic table-style outdoor space gives the feel of a family BBQ, so all you’ve got to do is show up with your best people.

Location: Mount Hope


Sunnyboy Biscuit Co

Nothing says comfort quite like a biscuit. especially when that biscuit is holding another Southern delight in between. Sunnyboy Biscuit Co is the perfect spot to pop in for savory or sweet with a side of caffeine, open from 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily. Keep it simple with a single biscuit and espresso shot or try one of their biscuit sandwiches like the Sunny B’ Sausage sandwich—filled with sausage, cheesy egg and real maple syrup. For the afternoon crowd, fried chicken biscuit sandwiches are also available! If a biscuit can hold it, they can do it.

Location: Hillcrest


Ali’s Chicken & Waffles

When the chicken and waffles craving hits, there’s no escaping until you’re satisfied. Find a simple menu packed with items that hit the spot every time at Ali’s Chicken & Waffles! It’s Southern with a little SoCal twist: find multiple chicken sandwich options or chicken and waffle combos all day long, or switch it up with their “soulcal” specials. We recommend the Ali’s Fries: french fries loaded with diced fried chicken or shrimp and corn pico, drizzled with chipotle mayo and a touch of cilantro. Satisfy your craving for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Location: City Heights + Downtown


Bankhead Mississippi Style Cooking

M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I – am hungry just thinking about it. Bankhead Mississippi Style Cooking fires up fresh to-go orders with a full-service dinner menu daily, offering dinner plates like pork ribs, ham, turkey, BBQ beef, fried chicken, snapper fillets and more. Got a midday craving? Stop by for their lunch special and choose from tilapia or catfish nuggets with a side of fries and a drink, available weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. With roots tracing back generations to Belzoni County, Mississippi, and three generations of culinary delights, the Bankhead family truly made their American dream a reality.

Location: Spring Valley


Felix’s BBQ With Soul

A homestyle hospitality dream come true, Felix’s BBQ With Soul began for Felix Berry with a career in restaurant management and bottling his original BBQ sauce. It later became a beacon of BBQ to honor a close friend. Find classics like collard greens and green beans sitting aside gumbos and fried chicken fired up every time of day, whether your craving creeps up at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Order one of their beloved po’boy sandwiches or an always satisfying rack of ribs in their casual, diner-like atmosphere—and don’t forget the hush puppies.

Location: Oceanside


N&N Creole Soul Kitchen

Loaded Louisiana plates await at N&N Creole Soul Kitchen in Imperial Beach, a New Orleans-inspired eatery home to classic Louisiana fare and Southern favorites. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, their extensive Creole soul menu covers all the bases with seafood boils, po’boys, pasta and even bread pudding. Order online and prepare for an evening of Creole on the couch. Be sure to try their famed Southern California covered and smothered smoked turkey legs and authentic Maryland crab cakes while you’re there! And as always, the fluffy beignets.

Location: Imperial Beach



Shotcaller Street Soul Food

Fuel up on food that feeds the soul at Shotcaller Street Soul Food. Located in South San Diego in Lincoln Park, their menu mixes the best parts of street-style food with the best of Southern comforts. Their hot link TJ dogs are reminiscent of Mexico-style street dogs, and their shrimp po’boys are about as classically Southern as it gets. The surf and turf loaded fries are a perfect mix: fries, grilled onions and white cheese sauce feels like quick street food with the Southern sophistication of blackened shrimp and steak.

Location: Lincoln Park


Bayou Kitchen (FKA Bud & Rob’s)

Bask in the brilliance of bayou-style cuisine at Bayou Kitchen (FKA Bud & Rod’s), located downtown just outside of Petco Park. Sit down and stay a while in their cozy, brick-lined interior that paints a picture of Southern comfort as your taste buds are taken on a whole journey. Try the loaded pasta jambalaya or New Orleans BBQ shrimp po’boy drizzled with Worcestershire and spicy BBQ sauces. Paired with a beer, cider or bottle of wine, you’re in for an evening of Southern excellence feeling right at home.

Location: East Village

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.

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​Currently based in San Diego, ​Kambria Fischer is a lifestyle photo​grapher known for her impactful​, authentic​ ​imagery​ of lifestyle brands, food, ​people and travel.​​ ​​She holds a ​BA in Journalism​ and Public Relations​​ from CSULB and has an accomplished professional background in the hospitality and tourism industries. You can find Kambria hiking or playing beach volleyball on the weekends and eating tacos almost any night of the week.
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