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Why San Diego Is a Top “Foodie” City in America

December 1, 2022 By CityPASS

San Diego is consistently ranked as one of the top "foodie" cities in America, and it's not hard to see why. Ask any San Diego resident, and they'll tell you how much they love living in "America's finest city," where the sun never stops shining and the food scene keeps improving.

If it's been a while since you've visited San Diego, you'll want to plan a trip soon because you could spend an entire weekend on a food tour of San Diego's food trucks and restaurants and barely scratch the surface.

Keep reading to learn why San Diego's food scene is so well-respected, where the best places to eat in San Diego are, and how you can save money on all of San Diego's top experiences with CityPASS® tickets.

What Makes San Diego a Top 5 "Foodie" City?

San Diego is known for its near-perfect weather year-round and seemingly unending coastline, but more and more people are praising the city for its ever-evolving food scene.

While no single quality is responsible for catapulting San Diego into one of the top food spots in the country, the city's unique geography and demographics have worked together to make San Diego food some of the best in the country.

As a result of the constant sunshine, fresh local produce is plentiful year-round. While San Diego restaurants strive to create delicious, seasonal fare, the city is never short of fantastic fruits and vegetables. In addition, the city sits right along the Pacific Ocean, meaning fresh, local seafood is abundant.

San Diego Food Guide: Cuisine Options and Top Spots

San Diego is diverse, with minority communities accounting for more than half of the population. The city's dining options reflect this diversity, and the influences of varying regional cuisines make San Diego's food culture unique.

1. Mexican and Latin Cuisine

San Diego is located just 17 miles north of the US-Mexico border. The blending of the Baja-Med cuisine that hails from Mexico with California's traditional fare has been dubbed "Cali-Baja" cuisine.

If you're looking for excellent Mexican and Latin cuisine in San Diego, check out:

  • Galaxy Taco: Located in La Jolla, Galaxy Taco is one of the best places to eat in San Diego. If you're looking for excellent fish tacos and a wide selection of tequila, look no further!
  • Puerto La Boca: If you're in the mood for authentic Argentinian food, Puerto La Boca has some of the best-cooked meat offerings in the city (although the seafood is delicious, too!).
  • Puesto: With several spots around San Diego (and other areas of California), Puesto is one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city. Their Instagram features endless photos of stone-ground blue corn tortillas smothered in delicious fillings and sauces. If you're not a tortilla person, don't worry — their salads and plates are just as good.

2. Italian Food

San Diego is home to a large population of Italian people who settled in the city more than one hundred years ago and helped to turn it into one of the primary tuna fishing communities in the world. As a result, San Diego is home to America's largest Little Italy neighborhood, which spans nearly 50 square blocks of the city's downtown area.

Below are some of the best Italian restaurants in the city:

  • Catania: Serving Italian food with a view, Catania offers an incredible rotating menu of fresh, seasonal food and drinks.
  • Cesarina: If you're in the mood for authentic Italian pasta, Cesarina is the place.

3. Asian Cuisine

San Diego's Asian community makes up nearly 20% of the city's population and began with Chinese and Japanese immigrants moving to the area in the late 1800s.

There is currently a thriving Asian food scene in San Diego, including these local favorites:

  • Dumpling Inn & Shanghai Saloon: Offers a relaxed atmosphere and delicious Chinese comfort food; try the ready-made Xiao Long Bao.
  • Menya Ultra: This is it if you're in the mood for incredible Japanese ramen. Menya Ultra is one of San Diego locals' favorite restaurants.

4. Seafood and Sushi

San Diego has dozens of miles of coastline, which means there is never a shortage of seafood in the area. As a result, the city is home to some of the best seafood and sushi restaurants in the country, such as:

  • Sushi Ota: Although the restaurant is deceptively low-key, you'll find some of the city's freshest and most delicious fish at this sushi bar.
  • Himitsu: This intimate and upscale sushi spot offers exceptionally prepared fish and delicious sake.

5. African Cuisine

There are dozens of African restaurants scattered around San Diego. While only two local favorites made it onto this list, there is no shortage of diverse and delicious offerings of African food in the city.

  • Flavors of East Africa: With a few locations around San Diego, this restaurant provides consistently delicious East African food (try the coconut rice!).
  • Harar Ethiopian Restaurant: The perfect spot for meat lovers and vegetarians, Harar offers a casual vibe and incredible food.

Plan To Attend the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is one of the city's biggest food events. People visit from around the country to participate in this incredible culinary occasion.

The award-winning event usually runs for one week in mid-November. If you're interested in trying some of the best food and drink from the country's most talented purveyors, you won't want to miss the festival.

Head to an Incredible San Diego Attraction After Eating

One of the benefits of visiting and living in San Diego is that you can make plans far in advance, no matter what time of year it is, without having to give much thought to what the weather will be like.

After enjoying some San Diego eats, consider adventuring out and seeing more of what this sunny city has to offer. Work off your breakfast by walking around and observing the San Diego foodie scene, visit the San Diego Zoo, or take the kids to the LEGOLAND® California Resort.

Whatever you choose to do with your time in San Diego, you can save money on admission to the city's top attractions and theme parks with San Diego CityPASS® tickets.

San Diego Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in San Diego, we recommend finding lodging near San Diego's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

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