Much more than “just” a beach town, San Diego prides itself on being able to provide an unassuming good time. San Diegans are keenly aware of its main attractions--sun, sand and surf — but know that there’s a lot more to the city than just hanging out at the beach, eating burritos. Hidden piano bars, world-class gas station tacos and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it brunch spots are just some of the dining quirks that make the city much more exciting to dine in than meets the eye.Read More
Discover San Diego’s Hidden Gems
1. Miss B's Coconut Club
Tucked into a cozy beachside nook in Mission Beach is Miss B’s Coconut Club, which serves tiki drinks in its special fleet of mugs that the bar has collected over the years. A special added twist is that both the food and drinks have a Caribbean and Cuban bent — bringing SoCal, the South Pacific and another tropical region under one roof. Grab an Elysian Brewing Company beer to bring in the PNW into the mix, too.
Hillcrest’s newest Italian restaurant looks like any old swanky joint from the outset. Once sat, however, guests are given waiters that pull double duty in the kitchen as chefs, giving diners a full service experience. Don’t order too much, though--during dinner service, staff pushing roving carts of aperitivo plates stop at each table to supplement the meal with a variety of off-the-cuff, delectable bites.
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3. El Pueblo
Cardiff, CA 92007
An unassuming Cardiff-by-the-Sea Valero gas station also plays home to El Pueblo, which serves some of the best food in North County. In particular, the carne asada tacos are the most popular. Another surprise is that El Pueblo is open 24 hours--a true rarity anywhere in San Diego county.
4. The Blind Burro
What could easily be mistaken for another rowdy near-Petco Park watering hole is in fact one of San Diego’s best taco spots, The Blind Burro. Pair your Elysian brew with Tijuana-style hot dogs, chicken tinga gorditas and Baja-style street tacos.
5. Red Fox Room and Steakhouse
Tucked into the side of the Lafayette Hotel in North Park is the Red Fox Steakhouse, which also features a lively piano bar that brings revelers from all over San Diego to its cozy singing area. Unsurprisingly, classic steakhouse fare is the move at Red Fox, but for a more casual vibe, sit at the bar with your Elysian beer and a burger to catch some tunes.
6. The Duck Dive
Though Pacific Beach is well-known for its bevy of bass-thumping bars that cater to a particularly young crowd, it’s less-known for its dining scene. Enter The Duck Dive, which is a sports bar that also manages to have good food, like a citrus-marinated filet mignon to pair with an Elysian Space Dust IPA.
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7. South Beach Bar & Grille
What looks like a dingy dive from the outside is exactly that at Ocean Beach’s South Beach Bar & Grill. Less obvious is the fact it serves some of San Diego’s best battered and fried fish tacos alongside a rotating tap list of quality San Diego craft beer.
8. The Grass Skirt
A Pacific Beach strip mall poke joint called Good Time Poke gives way to a speakeasy tiki wonderland called The Grass Skirt--all that’s needed is an escort through a fake freezer. The freezer gives way to a lava rock tunnel that empties into the dining room, where giant tiki men, tropical murals and lights and high-octane rum drinks take center stage.
9. Jake and Eggs
Housed in the popular Ocean Beach Indian restaurant Sundara, Jake & Eggs is the newer, lesser-known daytime iteration, serving breakfast and brunch from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday. Pro tip: make sure you go for the gut busting breakfast sandwich that is often on the specials menu, which comes with housemade sausage and special sauce.
Cute, neo-victorian decor and a vegan menu? Sounds like another SoCal health joint, right? Think again--South Park’s vegan headquarters is Kindred, which prides itself on playing metal in its open-air dining room while serving some of the most creative (and strong) cocktails San Diego has to offer.
11. Bushfire Kitchen
No ordinary burgers (or beer) here — this local and organic-focused restaurant makes gluten-free options, and even paleo options, their specialty. You’ll find free range chickens, American Heritage Duroc breed pork, and grass-fed beef on the menu, in addition to an expansive beer and wine list. Try the chicken-rib combo with your Elysian brew.