Craft & Commerce

Let’s start off strong with one of the trendiest restaurants on San Diego’s hip Little Italy scene. Craft & Commerce is an industrial-chic gastropub complete with exposed brick walls, dim lighting, and an intimate yet lively ambiance. The menu leans towards new American cuisine with heavy influences from local California ingredients and global culinary traditions. Indulge in decadent shared plates like the artichoke fritters with lemon-garlic aioli, coal-roasted umami mushrooms, or the twice-cooked beef cheek with creamy polenta and chimichurri sauce. Of course, you’d be remiss to not order from Craft & Commerce’s impressive craft cocktail menu with house specialties like their signature Whiskey Smash or unique takes on classics like the Basil Daisy.

Address: 675 W Beech St, San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: (619) 269-2828

El Agave

You can’t fully experience San Diego’s culture without a stop at one of their phenomenal Mexican restaurants. El Agave is a family-owned establishment that’s been serving the Old Town neighborhood for over 20 years. It’s nearly impossible to go wrong with anything on El Agave’s extensive menu, but you’d be foolish to not try their famous handmade tamales or tacos al pastor, slow-roasted pork shoulder served in warm corn tortillas with grilled pineapple and classic toppings. Satisfy that thirst for an ice-cold cerveza or one of their premium tequila cocktails like a bold margarita or smoky mezcal-spiked Paloma. Bonus: El Agave opens as early as 6am to offer hungry patrons an expansive Mexican breakfast menu!

Address: 2304 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110

Phone: (619) 232-8756

Ironside Fish & Oyster

With such a prime location along the Pacific Ocean, San Diego delivers on its seafood game. For a quintessential SoCal seafood experience, head to the charming neighborhood of Little Italy and post up at Ironside Fish & Oyster. This trendy oyster bar and fish house is all about serving the freshest, highest quality catches of the day in creative, flavorful preparations while pairing them with superb wines and craft beers. From the raw bar, dive into fresh oysters (both East and West Coast varieties are offered) or chilled shrimp cocktail while supping on a pint of local beer. Heartier appetites will fall for the fish and chips, Ironside’s signature lobster roll, or the daily rotation of locally-sourced whole fish cooked to perfection over a wood-fired grill.

Address: 1654 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: (619) 269-3033

The Taco Stand

Look, we’d never try to convince you to bypass San Diego’s incredible upscale dining scene. But even the city’s top chefs and foodies agree that The Taco Stand is one of the can’t-miss spots for authentic Mexican street food done right. This no-frills, always-packed restaurant chain with locations across San Diego County takes the humble street taco and elevates it with fresh ingredients and true Baja-inspired recipes. Favorites include the Baja-style crispy battered fish taco, “poker” made with marinated Carne asada, Baja-style shrimp, and even tasty vegetarian options like beer-battered cactus with cabbage and Jack cheese. Embrace the casual vibe, frequent visits from the taco truck roaming the lot, and don’t skip out on a scratch-made agua fresca to complete your taco feast.

Phone: (858) 831-4477

Juniper & Ivy

San Diego has steadily established itself as a culinary leader on the West Coast with cutting-edge restaurants dishing up creative American fare. Experience this modern culinary renaissance at Juniper & Ivy, a stylish Little Italy hotspot from acclaimed Chef Richard Blais. The industrial-chic space and open kitchen set the stage for exciting, innovative shared plates with signature smoky and woodsy flavors. Standouts range from the yellowfin tuna tartare to the oak-grilled beef ribeye, but Juniper & Ivy is perhaps best known for its addictive side dishes like the bacon and egg clouds, duck confit poutine fries, and trencher bread with bacon jam. Don’t sleep on the delightfully whimsical desserts either — we’re talking house-made doughnuts with crème anglaise and a decadent almond butter budino. Pair it all with Juniper & Ivy’s thoughtful cocktail program and you’ve got one of the best representations of San Diego’s thriving culinary talent.

Address: 2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: (619) 269-9036

Sushi Ota

When talking about the best sushi spots in San Diego, Sushi Ota is a name that always tops the list. This humble, unassuming restaurant in the Pacific Beach neighborhood has been serving sublime, traditional nigiri-style sushi for over 25 years. The compact space has minimal decor, allowing you to truly focus on each delicately crafted bite of fish selected daily from the finest markets. Owner and head chef Otafuku Nakazawa established Sushi Ota after training under legendary sushi masters in Japan. Today, he carries on the cherished Edomae tradition with an omakase-style experience of 17-18 courses showcasing his impeccable skills. From perfectly aged bluefin tuna to creamy Santa Barbara sea urchin, a meal at Sushi Ota is as much about the art of sushi as it is about the freshest ingredients from both local and Japanese waters.

Address: 4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109

Phone: (858) 270-5670


Rounding out our guide is a showcase of how San Diego takes “casual dining” to an art form. Campfire in Carlsbad is a laidback, indoor-outdoor restaurant that embraces SoCal living. At heart, this is an elevated take on camping cuisine, smoking and grilling everything from meats to vegetables over open wood-fired pits. The irresistible smoky aromas kick off the experience before you ever take your first bite. Once seated, dig into platters of fall-off-the-bone St. Louis ribs, tri-tip charred for a perfect crust, or chili-lime sweet potato fries. On chillier San Diego evenings, cozy up around the outdoor fire pits with a campfire old fashioned cocktail and s’mores churro (you read that right). Campfire hits that sweet spot for families and big groups looking for a memorable yet relaxed meal in an ambiance that could only exist in laid-back Southern California.

Address: 2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008

Phone: (760) 637-5121

Reserve Your Private Shuttle to San Diego’s Best Eateries

After reading through this list of San Diego’s must-visit restaurants, we bet you’re ready to start eating your way across the city. But large groups know all too well the hassles of finding parking, mapping out routes, and ensuring everyone arrives at the same place on time, all while navigating unfamiliar territory. Skip those headaches and let Party Bus San Diego handle your transportation! With a charter bus rental from Party Bus San Diego, you’ll have your own private shuttle to whisk your group directly to the doorstep of San Diego’s top eateries. From a compact 18-passenger minibus rental to a full 56-passenger motorcoach, we’ll match you with the perfect vehicle for your crew. Your personal team, a local expert on San Diego, will keep your group together as you bounce between hot spots while you sit back and sample the city’s finest food and drinks to your heart’s content. Ready to book your dream culinary tour through San Diego? Give Party Bus San Diego at (213) 354-7161 today!