Seeing that I have spend the better part of a decade here in San Diego, I felt that I should compile a list of my favorite places to go and get food. This list is by no means exhaustive. I am always looking for more places, so if you have a suggestion that I haven't mentioned, send me an e-mail and I'll check it out.
- Broken Yolk Cafe - (1815 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach, CA 92109) - http://www.sdro.com/brokenyolk/
This was the first (breakfast) restaurant other than Denny's/Coco's that I went to here in SD. The food is relatively cheap for how much you get. I definitely recommend getting an omelet. The best time to go is on a weekday, since you might wait up to three hours on the weekends. If you have a group (or at just hungry), they have a dozen egg omelet. If you finish it by yourself in a hour, you get it for free.
- Big Kitchen Cafe - (3003 Grape St, San Diego, CA 92102) - http://www.bigkitchencafe.com/
Go see Judy The Beauty in this South Park favorite if you want a great atmosphere and great people (I swear the the people who work there never left the 60s) with an inexpensive menu. (They were mentioned on Food Network.) The breakfasts are unbelievable, and you should always upgrade to the coffee cake. (It's like having dessert for breakfast.) If you go on the weekend, expect to wait a while. If you get there before ten o'clock, though, you can skip the long wait. This is also a good starter place for a day at Balboa Park and the zoo since it's only about an 8 minute drive to there after you fill up on food. Be warned, though, they only take cash, no plastic.
- Swami's Cafe - (1163 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024) - http://www.swamis.signonsandiego.com/
This place really has a San Diego feel to it. It's a great little surfer hangout right across from Swami's Point on Highway 101. Swami's has very healthy food, as well as all of the typical breakfast/lunch fair. This is a great place for delicious, cheap food and they have a very good selection of smoothies and coffee. This was the first place that I ever saw a watermelon smoothie that was made from real watermelons.
- Phil's Barbeque - (3750 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109) - http://www.philsbbq.net/
The place moved from its old location in Hillcrest. This is the best barbeque that I have had, but I have never been to Texas or Memphis, or St. Louis. The meat falls off of the bones and the food is relatively inexpensive, considering what you get. The wait can be a bit long if there is anything going on at the Sports Arena. Other than that, you should be eating within twenty minutes of getting there.
- Todai's - (2828 Camino Del Rio South, San Diego, CA 92108) - http://www.todaisandiego.com/
Todai's is a sushi and seafood buffet. Dinner can be a bit expensive (~$26/person), but you get access to a lot of food. Come with an appetite and you can down sixty dollars' worth of food in no time at all. Also, if you are curious about different types of sushi, they offer close to fifty different types, varying from no fish, cooked fish and raw fish. They have other Asian food besides sushi, but the sushi is the main draw.
- Roy's - (8670 Genesee Avenue, San Diego, CA 92122) - http://www.roysrestaurant.com/
This is a dressy restaurant with some pricey food. The service was outstanding. My glass was refilled without my noticing. The food was what you would expect from a high-end restaurant. The portions were moderate, but the food was delicious. Make reservations, though.
- Sammy's Woodfired Pizza - (8650 Genesee Avenue, San Diego, CA 92122) - http://www.sammyspizza.com/
They are known for their pizza and are like California Pizza Kitchen, but with better tasting food (in my opinion).
- Bronx Pizza - (111 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103) - http://www.bronxpizza.com/
I tried this place my first year here in San Diego. At the time, I had never had New York pizza and wasn't terribly impressed. However, I will say that the pizza there was quite authentic. (I have since gone to New York and had pizza in west Queens.) I would recommend the Porko. As a heads up, they only take cash there, so make sure to hit the ATM beforehand. (If memory serves, there are a few within two blocks or so.)
- Extraordinary Desserts - (2929 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103) - http://www.extraordinarydesserts.com/
This is a tiny little place in Hillcrest (but there is another location in Little Italy, but I haven't been there) which serves dessert and coffee. Even though they only serve dessert, there will be a solid twenty minute line (or longer) on Friday and Saturday nights to place an order. Now, to call the desserts at Extraordinary Desserts decadent would be a gross understatement. Go with a group and share a selection of desserts.
- Golden Spoon - (Inside Ralph's, 8677 Villa La Jolla Dr, San Diego, CA 92037) - http://www.goldenspoon.com/
I was skeptical at first that frozen yogurt would taste like ice cream. I was wrong. The frozen yogurt is incredible, and only has 17 calories per ounce. I recommend peanut butter or a coffee flavor. You can sample the flavors before you make your selection. Some times the line can get to be 10-15 minutes. You can find coupons in the dollar stretcher that is passed out at the start of each quarter, which normally has a 2-for-1.
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