Credit: Huy Hoang

These 7 San Diego Restaurants Whisk You Away to International Destinations (Think Italy, Greece and Riviera Maya)

Could Your Culinary Passport Use Some Stamps?

For a city that is a destination itself, within San Diego lies escapes to several other tourist-loved locales. Among a lively restaurant scene are several themed restaurants decorated so well, we can’t guarantee you’ll remember what city you began in. Giving a new meaning to “dining destination,” these restaurants will transport you from the moment you walk in to the last sip of your scrumptious cocktail. Simply sit back, relax and allow your senses to take you away—no plane ticket necessary! Read on for seven of our favorite San Diego restaurants that’ll transport you to another country. San Diego International Restaurants



Transports you to: Riviera Maya/Yucatan

Set your watch to island time and snag a seat at CocoMaya, Little Italy’s newest tropical-inspired dining destination. Immediately transporting you to the Riviera Maya, this wide-open, modern-inspired venue is lined with lush greenery and woven pieces to properly set the scene for paradise. Inspired by the Latin American regions of the Caribbean Sea, you’ll find local produce and seafood served with a European influence and a hint of char; much of the menu is prepared by a coal-fired Josper oven! Pop in for a Caribbean-inspired brunch and order a Dutch Baby Pancake, or cruise in for a dinner of plant-based shareable plates and protein-based dishes like the porterhouse or swordfish. No matter what time of day you stop by, don’t forget to try a tropical cocktail; they even have a rum-infused Mayan Coffee for the early birds. Pro tip: trick everyone into thinking you’ve spontaneously landed in Yucatan and snap a pic on their Insta-worthy swings. The grand opening will take place summer 2022!

Location: Little Italy

San Diego International Restaurants


Transports you to: New Zealand

Credit: Dunedin

Prepare for a taste of New Zealand! Dunedin in North Park serves up delicious, hearty meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual setting, drawing inspiration from the beautiful land of the Kiwis. The casual indoor-outdoor atmosphere and lushly lined patio embodies the simple, communal and honest nature of New Zealand, making Dunedin the perfect place to kick back with your buddies and grab a pint at any time of day.

Location: North Park


Jeune et Jolie

Transports you to: France

Vive le France! Head up to Carlsbad for a quick trip to France at Jeune et Jolie, a culinary experience focused on celebrating the moment. And a moment it will be, indeed—this simple yet elegant dining space brings a soft pink vibe for a feeling of home, resulting in a restaurant that would be at home on the sidewalks of Paris. Jeune et Jolie’s French menu features a SoCal twist, boasting dishes like lamb tartare, mushroom tart and more. Reserve a pre-selected four-course experience or show off your spontaneous side with a casual walk-in. 

Location: Carlsbad

San Diego International Restaurants


Transports you to: Japan

Credit: Leo Cabal

Immerse yourself in Japanese culture and treat yourself to a 10-course omakase (chef-led) dining experience at Oceanside’s Matsu, complete with optional Wagyu and wine pairings. Skip the full day of travel it would require to get something this authentic and indulge in a chef-driven meal right in your own backyard! The intimate space is lined with only 48-seats, and a traditional Japanese menu was crafted using products straight from the source. Let the romantic, dimly lit interior and finely prepared foods jet you straight to Japan!

Location: Oceanside



The Waverly

Transports you to: Tulum

Credit: Kimberly Motos

Ready to experience Tulum in a room? The Waverly is a one-of-a-kind, bohemian-chic space located in Cardiff with a breezy, open-air feel. The mission when designing this laid-back yet elegant space was to bring the outdoors in—and with abundant space and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, it’s safe to say that you’ll feel like you’re on vacation. Dine among the tropical indoor palms and get a taste of the European-inspired cuisine. The whipped buttermilk ricotta or Skye Ocean Trout Ceviche can’t be beat.

Location: Cardiff

San Diego International Restaurants

Seneca Trattoria

Transports you to: Italy

Credit: CH Projects

Pack your bags–Italia awaits! In downtown San Diego lies a nautical Italian experience perched on top of the InterContinental hotel. Seneca Trattoria immediately sends you to the homestyle Italian restaurant of your dreams with an interior inspired by shipboard mess halls. The brassy finishes, green and white striped umbrellas and tabletop lamps give an elegant, retro feel to this sky-high restaurant. Enjoy classic Italian dishes, seafood and steak paired with a delicious cocktail for a nautical night abroad.

Location: Downtown San Diego



Transports you to: Greece

Credit: Lucianna McIntosh Photography

Head over to the bustling neighborhood of East Village for a gaze into Greece. With a name translating to “most beautiful,” Callie brings the dreamiest aspects of the Mediterranean straight to downtown. An old-world aesthetic meets modern materials and accents to create a space that combines the SoCal lifestyle with the laid-back vibe of the Mediterranean. The menu is dotted with delectable offerings like pasta, small plates and raw or cooked land and sea choices. Belly up to the bar underneath the arch, which is reminiscent of a wave frozen in time!

Location: East Village

+ posts

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.

Website | + posts

​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.
Visit her at




Related Content

Skip to content