I've been getting so many emails and messages on instagram lately about places to dine in San Diego, so I figured it was time to share a little guide to all my favorite restaurants! When I moved back to San Diego from LA last year, I knew I'd seriously miss my go-to spots and all the variety that LA had to offer. But I have to say, we're pretty lucky here with a ton of awesome options (tons of healthy ones and lots of amazing spots for your weekend treat meals), and it's super exciting to see some of my favorite LA restaurants making their way down here too! I'll make sure to keep this list current and updated as I continue discovering all the local gems, but definitely follow along on my instagram story highlights ("SD spots") too so you can see the latest and greatest and learn some little tips for ordering healthy meals!
Coffee Spots / Smoothie Bars:
Lofty Coffee - while this is definitely a perfect place to grab a quick coffee, my motivation to head to Lofty is always their super simple but delicious breakfasts. I always order their "artisan bread & eggs" with a bunch of sides - their gluten-free bread is made from scratch and is my absolute FAVE. So I usually go for 2 eggs, gf bread, a side of avocado, and a side of arugula salad (left photo). Everything is fresh, clean, and so yummy. A new menu item that I'm loving for lunch is their Superfood Bowl (plus 2 eggs) with sauteed cauliflower cooked in ghee, red cabbage, avocado, spinach, and crispy chickpeas (right photo).
Communal Coffee - this North Park coffee shop is a total gem and is actually a flower shop and coffee shop in one. Needless to say, it's super cute in there. I'm always looking for a change of scenery from working from home and this place is super comfortable and perfect for posting up with the laptop for a few hours! There's definitely some yummy menu options for a quick bite too (photo above).
Holy Matcha - obviously can't skip the most instagrammable place in SD! For anyone who's been to Alfred tea in LA, it's a very similar vibe. Pink and green palm print wallpaper and all the matcha lattes and treats you're heart desires!
For smoothies: Can't go wrong with Beaming (love the Lisa's Lean & Green, no yacon syrup), Choice Juicery, and Vitality Tap!
Brunch & Lunch:
Parakeet Cafe - so many healthy options for breakfast and lunch, and a few decadent ones if you're looking for a treat (that cacao waffle!). I'm a huge fan of their roasted beet salad, raw zucchini noodle salad, and mushroom toast! It's also a cute place to stop for just a matcha or turmeric tea if you need a little pick-me-up.
Claire's on Cedros - if anyone needs us (me, Mitch, or Penny) on a Saturday or Sunday morning, chances are you can find us at Claire's (or Lofty Coffee, above)! The food is amazing, they're super dog-friendly, and they focus on sustainability (from their construction to the way they run the restaurant) which is pretty awesome! My order every single time is the green scramble (no cheese), side of greens, and upgrade the toast for a multi-grain pancake. BEST pancake you'll have, I promise! Sometimes Mitch and I will split the pancake, and other times, I just can't share it :). Tip - call ahead and put your name on the waitlist!
GoodOnYa - if you're looking for a healthy scramble with a paleo tortilla, or giant salad filled with all the goods, or a bulletproof latte or "golden matcha" with coconut milk, this organic, beachy restaurant is going to be your go-to! They're now open for dinner and even serve organic wine, beer, and cocktails (haven't been for dinner yet, but I'm sure it's great!).
Sweetfin - this was one of the places that I was SO sad to miss when I moved from LA, but then the best thing ever happened - it opened in San Diego! AND another location is opening in Del Mar next year! No other poke place compares to Sweetfin. Their quality, taste, and menu options can't be beat. My go-to order is the yuzu salmon bowl with a base of 1/2 kale salad, 1/2 kelp noodles, plus seaweed, cucumbers, and avocado. A MUST for a delicious lunch!
Nectarine Grove - just opened in Leucadia and offering tons of healthy options and dishes to satisfy all of your cravings in an *upgraded* way, which you know I love! I'm talking pizza (paleo crust!), tacos, burgers (grass-fed beef!), and waffles. All the beverage trends are on the menu too - butter coffee, bone broth, and smoothies!
Thyme in the Ranch: a super local gem and the ultimate spot for a ladies lunch. This restaurant is probably the most charming spot you can find - it's in downtown Rancho Santa Fe which is super quaint, and it looks like a little cottage that's surrounded by a beautiful garden. You can just taste the love they put into their food - the salads are huge and filled with amazing ingredients and their baked goods are insane (definitely a TREAT). I usually go for the Tuna Tomato Scoop (above, left), the Special Salad which always has seasonal fruit (above, right), or the Cobb salad with a few modifications.
True Food Kitchen - a tried and true casual sit-down spot for a healthy meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner!).
Flowerchild - cute, quick, casual, and healthy (same owner as True Foods, no surprise)! Love their kale salad and avocado toast.
Lazy Acres - it may be strange to put a grocery store on this list, but if you need a quick & healthy lunch or snack, this is a perfect place to go! They have an amazing salad bar, poke bar, taco bar, prepared foods, and literally every healthy brand you could ever want to find. Thank goodness I don't live too close to this market, otherwise I'd spend all my money on expensive chocolate bars and coconut yogurts (actually, wait, that does sounds like me)!
Mendocino Farms - if you need a quick salad on your lunch break, this is the spot! I pick up from here at least once a week! I can't get enough of their Mama Chen's Chinese Chicken Salad (no wontons) and the "Healthiest Side Salad Ever".
George's at the Cove: This spot is right on the La Jolla cove and it's one of the best views you can find! Make sure you sit upstairs, outside. Delicious salads, fish tacos, ceviche, and cocktails. Would be the perfect place to go at sunset for an appetizer and drink!
Pony Room at Rancho Valencia - Rancho Valencia is definitely one of the most beautiful, luxurious hotels in San Diego, and it happens to be a couple minutes from us, so we love to go there for a delicious dinner! I'm a huge fan of their kale salad with salmon and their Surf & Turf lettuce cups (lobster & steak). Super fresh and satisfying! I also love coming here for breakfast or lunch, and huge plus that it's dog-friendly (they even have a doggie menu!).
Cucina Enoteca - a really fun spot for a weekend "treat meal". The mushroom pizza is to die for, the giant meatball is delish, the the salads are fab! Oh and I can't forget about their Tequila Mule - my favorite cocktail!
Pacific Coast Grill - you could really go here for any meal, but I love going right at sunset for dinner since it's right on the beach. I love their ahi poke tower (I always sub cucumber slices for the wontons) and the sesame-crusted ahi with coconut forbidden rice is delish!! Their patio is also dog-friendly (can you tell this is important to me? ha!) and you can order a great healthy meal for your pup, too!
Birdseye Kitchen - super casual Thai restaurant with good-quality ingredients. This is a trusty Sunday night spot for us to get a quick dinner - I love their chicken satay and peanut sauce and the yellow curry bowl.
Fish Shop or Fish 101 - really casual beachy spots where you can order super fresh fish (just a grilled fillet, fish tacos, or ceviche) with any of your favorite sides! I couldn't choose between the two restaurants - both are great and pretty similar vibes, but I do know that Fish Shop is BYOB with just $5 corkage, so that's huge!
Ken Sushi - probably the best sushi spot I've found in San Diego! Close second would be Hane Sushi.
Juniper & Ivy - a great, trendy spot downtown with an awesome menu. Same owner as Crack Shack, which is right next door, and is super casual and fun - open-air, picnic tables, lawn bowling, and chicken sandwiches.
Eddie V's - the perfect spot for a special occasion - steaks, fish, etc. My family always celebrates birthdays here so it has a special place in my heart!
Market - another amazing place for a special occasion or date night. Since the dining room is kind of fancy, we prefer to sit in the bar which is a bit more casual and offers a sushi menu, plus all the faves from the regular restaurant. Everything here is incredible - their soups, the grapefruit and avocado salad (so fresh!), halibut (my order), steak & short rib duo (Mitch's order), and drinks!
Piatti - definitely one of my favorite spots for dinner. They have a really pretty patio outside - a great date spot that feels charming and neighborhood-y. When you sit down, they bring over warm bread and this garlicky, herby olive oil and balsamic dip that's the most addicting thing ever. I can't resist their pizzas or cauliflower cakes!
Viewpoint Brewery - such a fun spot in Del Mar with communal tables, fire pits, delicious food (even some healthy options!), and a good selection of wine & beer. Dog friendly too!
Pressed Juicery Freeze - definitely one of my favorite "guilt-free" desserts. Pressed Juicery in La Jolla and Carlsbad both serve Freeze, which is basically like a soft serve made from super simple ingredients like almonds, dates, vanilla bean, and salt (that's literally all that's in their Vanilla flavor!). I love topping the vanilla with almond butter drizzle and cacao drizzle! SO yummy.
Healthy Creations - this little hole in the wall in a shopping center doesn't look like much, but they have some really amazing desserts (paleo, gluten-free options!). They also sell paleo frozen toaster waffles that are like grown-up Eggo's (amazing!) and have a delicious lunch menu too!
Bobboi Natural Gelato - worth the splurge! This gelato comes pretty close to comparing to the gelato we fell in love with in Italy, which says a lot! They also have some dairy-free options. This is right in La Jolla, so you could make a lovely day out of going to George's at the Cove and then walking down to Bobboi for gelato!
If I missed one of your favorites, please let me know in the comments below! I'm always looking for new spots to add to the list!
July 28th, 2016
June 23, 2017
Lindsay is a Holistic Nutritionist who lives for a great meal, a beautiful farmers market, daily matcha lattes, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Weeknight Bite is Lindsay's happy place where her nutrition practice, simple recipes, and wellness tips come together to inspire you to live a healthy, balanced life.