Snacks in the Sun: Where to Eat in San Diego

Feast like a pro by the Pacific Ocean with these top spots around the city of San Diego. 

Photo By: Mandy Schaffer ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved OWNED - No Limitations on time/terms, territory or media as long as the images are only used in direct promotion of the related network(s), show and/or talent

Photo By: Mandy Schaffer ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved OWNED - No Limitations on time/terms, territory or media as long as the images are only used in direct promotion of the related network(s), show and/or talent

Photo By: Mandy Schaffer ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved OWNED - No Limitations on time/terms, territory or media as long as the images are only used in direct promotion of the related network(s), show and/or talent

Savor the Sun in San Diego

With sunshine and coastline, San Diego could easily be forgiven if it were a lazy food city, but it certainly is not. The city’s exceptional produce and proximity to Mexico mean excellent salads and burritos, but there is a rapidly expanding food scene in San Diego. Restaurants all over the city are pushing to make it a restaurant scene to beat, highlighting international cuisines, featuring renowned chefs, supporting local makers and more. Best of all, many offer outdoor dining options. Photography courtesy of The Crack Shack

Beach Eat: Swami’s

This daytime cafe with an expansive menu of very San Diegan eats has expanded to nine locations around the county, but the original is the one to beat. In fact, the whole chain is named for the surf spot located across the street from the Highway 101 Encinitas location. Sunday brunch typically means a line, but once diners make it to the counter to order, they’re rewarded with breakfast burritos, acai bowls or veggie hash, best eaten at one of the coveted outside tables. Coffee is self-serve and available to go; it's perfect to take on a stroll along the beach. Photography courtesy of Mandy Schaffer

Go to: Swami’s

Fast Casual: The Crack Shack

The team from Juniper & Ivy conceptualized and opened The Crack Shack in a former mechanic shop in Little Italy. The all-day menu is an homage to chicken and eggs, and the team aspires to push back against what it has deemed the disrespect of the two ingredients, from farm to table. Fried chicken is the way to go. Made with grain-fed chickens, it’s juicy and served with masterful sides like a bitey kale and kimchi coleslaw. Deviled eggs are taken from Grandma’s favorite to gastronomic masterpiece here, served with kimchi or chicken salad or served Baja style. The menu is accessible and affordable, there’s a bocce court, and there’s a full bar, so make an event of it. Photography courtesy of The Crack Shack

Go to: The Crack Shack

Pizza: Regents Pizzeria

When a pizza place imports ovens and dough mixers from Italy to ensure the best possible crust — one that perfectly balances chew and crunch — you know they mean business. Regents offers both Chicago- and New York-style pizza whole or by the slice. The Chicago-style Popeye is a deep-dish wonder with two layers of chewy dough and a cascade of artichoke hearts, ricotta and spinach. There are also burgers, salads and appetizers for those who want more than pizza. Pizzas may nod to far-flung cities, but in true San Diego fashion, Trilogy offers ample choices when it comes to local craft beer. Photography courtesy of Regents Pizzeria

Go to: Regents Pizzeria

Burritos: Roberto’s Mexican Food

San Diego’s proximity to Tijuana and wealth of cooks with considerable talent mean you can’t drive more than 10 minutes without hitting a good taco or burrito shop. Roberto’s Mexican Food has four locations in coastal North County. Its sister restaurant chain, Roberto’s Taco Shop, was San Diego’s first walk-up taco shop 50 years ago, and both Roberto’s chainlets have been in the family ever since. Carne asada anything is the way to go, but burritos, tacos and enchiladas of many varieties are served all day. The Del Mar location offers an ocean view, but all are uncompromising in quality. With a kids menu and options for most dietary requirements, it’s cheap eating for just about everyone. Photography courtesy of Mandy Schaffer

Go to: Roberto's Authentic Mexican Food

Fine Dining: Juniper & Ivy

There are no white tablecloths in this huge, high-ceilinged restaurant, but it’s unmistakably fine dining. Chef Richard Blais won Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars and trained at Chez Panisse and El Bulli, among other top-tier culinary temples. He and the rest of the team craft an ever-changing menu of uniquely Californian fine dining. Sharing is the way to go, with an a la carte menu that includes appetizers like foie gras twinkies and crab churros. Indulgent small plates play with seasonal produce, including baked Honeycrisp apples or barbecued carrots with jalapeno chimichurri, peanuts and apricot. Molecular gastronomic touches — foam potatoes or sous-vide wagyu — pepper the menu, rather than overwhelm it. This is fine dining that’s approachable and exciting. Photography courtesy of Mandy Schaffer

Go to: Juniper & Ivy

Steak: Cowboy Star

Walking inside Cowboy Star feels like entering an old west saloon if the saloon had a seriously classy makeover and the benefit of power tools. Diners sit among exposed beams and eat off white tablecloths, which are often spattered with meat juices by the end of each meal, since steak is the real focus. The decadent 35-day dry-aged rib eye is a standout, cut in-house like all steaks at the butcher shop. Housemade charcuterie and steak tartare start the menu, alongside roast mushrooms and steamed mussels. Eager diners should arrive early for half off signature cocktails during happy hour. Photography courtesy of Cowboy Star

Go to: Cowboy Star

Late Night: Soda & Swine

“Late night” in San Diego often means fast food or burrito drive-thrus, but not always. Soda & Swine’s original location in North Park sits next to Polite Provisions, a favorite local watering hole with cocktails on draft. First you choose your meat (or vegetarian option), which includes The Hog (chorizo with chipotle barbecue sauce and mozzarella) and The Hen (chicken with mushroom cream and provolone). Then add the protein to sliders, submarines, skillets or spaghetti. Friendly staffers sling comfort food until 1:30 a.m., seven nights a week. Lucky for those with a penchant for late-night burger eating outside of North Park, Soda & Swine has a second location at Liberty Station. Photography courtesy of Soda & Swine

Go to: Soda & Swine

Coffee Shop: Holsem Coffee

These days it seems a coffee shop needs to have certain things to be exceptional: multiple brewing methods, reliably good espresso, baked goods and a beautiful space for sipping (and likely computing). Holsem Coffee checks all the boxes. They roast their own beans, which are ethically sourced, to serve as part of a coffee menu that features traditional espresso-based drinks as well as specialty drinks, including a rose cappuccino. When it’s warm — essentially always — single-origin nitro cold brew is poured by smiling expert baristas. Come for the coffee; stay for the baked goods and vibe. Photography courtesy of Oui Will 

Go to: Holsem Coffee

Gastropub: Jayne’s Gastropub

Liverpool, England, native Jayne Battle and her husband, Jon, opened this North Park gem in 2007, and they have since racked up local awards for their atmosphere and burger. Unlike a regular British pub (public house), a gastropub is food-focused, often with more adventurous and plentiful menu offerings. On a (rare) rainy San Diego night, few dishes sound cozier than the Maple Leaf Farm duck breast, served with gnocchi, greens, mushrooms and a pomegranate reduction. Pub standards like fish and chips are also excellent options, pairing well with the requisite lager on draft or a glass from the eclectic wine list. Photography courtesy of Jayne’s Gastropub

Go to: Jayne's Gastropub Restaurant

Vegetarian: Trilogy Cafe

In addition to being 100 percent vegan and 100 percent organic, this La Jolla rooftop cafe is unique in its sunny, breezy location. The view from this near-the-beach, fourth-story rooftop is nothing to sneeze at, particularly because the cafe shares space with Trilogy Sanctuary, a rooftop aerial yoga studio. Juices, cold brew, and kombucha can be ordered in the cafe or on comfortable couches by the yoga silks. Eggplant bacon — which actually tastes as smoky as real bacon — is worth adding to any of the creative raw, hot or cold dishes, and it is especially delicious on the portobello tacos with cashew sour cream. Photos courtesy of Trilogy Cafe

Go to: Trilogy Cafe

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