Leaving San Francisco sunny and shining was pretty hard to do, but we’ve swapped it out for somewhere even sunnier. We’re in San Diego – the heart of Southern California.
We love SD and have been here a few times before. The bars, beaches, weather and of course the access to amazing Mexican food. But this time we’ve got an even better reason to come to San Diego – our friends who live here have had a baby and we’ve come to meet her.
So apart from our catch-up with our lovely friends and their little girl, we’re all over the food scene here. We’re talking epic local tips on San Diego’s pizzas, burritos, breweries and buffalo wings, farmers’ markets, night life and mountainous nachos.
And because we’ve written a fair bit about SD before (and we’re relying on dodgy wifi while we’re travelling), we haven’t written too much about the photos in this week’s IG Ed. But remember, if you have any unanswered questions about any of the places we’re talking about, just comment on this post and we’ll give you more details. 🙂
Jim & Christina xx
Flying into San Diego is always awesome. If there’s anywhere you should make sure you’ve got a window seat, it’s SD. Planes have to fly in through the city! You feel like you’re going to hit buildings or land on the street. And if you want to get a real feel for it, just walk into town from Balboa Park and you’ll see the aeroplanes come in.
Even better, have a drink or a bite to eat in Little Italy. The planes come in so close there you can almost touch them.
Anyway, we’re super excited to be back in SoCal; we can’t wait to see our friends M and B, who had a little girl recently. We’ve been looking forward to catching up with these guys for ages.
What a welcome! It’s so hard to tell a food story with a picture, but the welcome cheese, wine and dips M and D have put out are so good (especially that giant goat’s cheese – love chevre), it marks the start of an excellent time here in southern California!
Best of all though is meeting our friends’ little girl ‘L’. She’s such a sweetheart. And although it’s only the first afternoon and she’s a bit nervous about us, we’re absolutely in love with our new adopted niece.
This is Ocean Beach. It’s San Diego’s alternative community hub where you’ll find everything from hacky sacking to surfing. There’s also a wealth of excellent food to be found here. Not to mention the people-watching.
Açai bowls have really hit a height here in Southern California. To the point that here in Ocean Beach there are places that specialise in them. Açai bowls are basically sweet smoothies in a bowl made with banana and dried powder of the açai berry, known for its detoxifying properties.
Our friend M (with little L) have taken us here to Tikki Port for their favourite açai bowls. It’s a first for me, but I’ve got to say this is such a delicious, filling food option.
Mike Hess Brewing is an absolute must for beer lovers coming to San Diego. Just make sure you’ve got an Uber nearby – their double IPA comes in around 10% ABV.
The craft beer scene in San Diego is amazing and even if you’re not into beer, I’ll bet you can find something you’d like here.
M and B are introducing us to a new place to eat tonight: Bronx Pizza. And just like NYC toppings are plentiful and unexpected, and the pizzas are huge. The one closest to us is a 50/50 – half pesto pizza with mozzarella and parmesan, half ‘Whitestone’ – mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta. Delicious!
This morning we’ve gone for a stroll around one of San Diego’s crown jewels – Balboa Park. The architecture, gardens and exhibits here are not to be missed.
We’ve walked on from Balboa Park all the way downtown. There’s some cool street art around and – being one of the city’s many night spots, it’s pretty quiet in the middle of the day.
This evening Christina and I have gone out to give our friends and their little girl a bit of space. They’ve had visitors pretty much non-stop for about a year now, so I’m pretty sure they need some time alone!
We’ve come down to another of our favourite spots in SD: San Diego Old Town. Here lives without shame one of my many guilty pleasures. The California Burrito.
Old Town is full of American style Mexican restaurants. It’s popular with locals and tourists alike and there aren’t many nights of the year when it’s not busy. We’ve sat down at Fred’s – an Old Town institution – to refuel.
The California Burrito is a monster burrito with a hidden secret in its delightful folds: french fries! A stroke of genius.
And check out the size of our vase-like margaritas. Gotta love America.
The sun’s out again today so we’ve all gone to the beach. Mission Beach in fact.
Mission Beach is one of the coolest beaches in San Diego. Bars and restaurants line the esplanade, the sand’s soft, the beach is deep and there’s always something going on.
We’re here in time for lunch, and there’s only really one place to come in Mission Beach: Draft.
They do a nachos that comes on a baking tray and takes at least 3 of you to finish it. They also do magnificent buffalo wings – but watch those tiny fingers; the sauce is pretty spicy. Little L can’t be dissuaded though and learns that she might still be a bit too young for this kind of heat!
Tonight we’re out with M and B to Little Italy to meet up with a few of their friends. We’ve all met up at the Crack Shack – a fried chicken place – right in the heart of Little Italy.
This place is super popular with the locals and does chicken like you’ve never had. We’re so impressed. Chicken oysters – kind of like chicken nuggets but miles better and a chicken poutine have us staggered. No wonder this place is called the Crack Shack. We’re totally addicted.
As if a shared plate of chicken oysters and a poutine – regardless of how delicious they are – are likely to sustain both of us on a big night out.
We’ve made our way from Little Italy to Hillcrest for a late night snack. And by snack, I mean California Burrito!
The food at La Posta de Acapulco – a little roadside takeaway joint – is perfect for our needs. And the Walgreens across the road sells one of my favourite SD beers. This is how it’s done.
Thanks to a tip from our Uber driver from the airport, Christina and I have headed south to Chula Vista. Less than 4 miles at its most southerly point from the Mexican border, Chula Vista draws huge influence from Mexico.
Our Uber driver’s tip was to visit Tacos el Gordo for the best, most authentic tacos this side of the border. It’s a weird, confusing set-up here – and we’ll have a more complete post later explaining how it works – but basically each section of the bar serves different dishes.
You line up for whatever you want to eat, then pay at the register like in a canteen.
Apparently, this is the traditional Tijuana style of taco that you’ll find nowhere else in San Diego. Tacos el Gordo, you have our attention.
Oceanaire in downtown San Diego is usually pretty pricy, but Sunday night happy hour at the bar offers some awesome discounts on some of the best seafood in the city.
This afternoon we’re in beautiful La Jolla (pronounced ‘La Hoya’ please) to check out the beach, the clifftop bars on the main street, which offer some of the best views over La Jolla Cove you’ll find, and – more importantly – the ice cream.
Bobboi does an amazing array of natural flavours and has lots of vegan options here too if you’re sensitive to dairy.
This morning we’re back at La Jolla – further north of the Cove – for a spot of breakfast. B works around here, so Caroline’s Seaside Cafe is the perfect place to get the day started.
There’s just time for a stroll along Scripps Beach before little L gets tired and we head home again. The beach here used to be much deeper and the sand whiter, but storms in the region sucked all the sand away and left the charcoal residues and lower level sand exposed.
It’s still a beautiful spot though and the pier makes a great punctuation in the coastline.
We hope you’ve enjoyed sharing the latest leg of our journey with us. From San Diego we now fly to Canada and visit our lovely friends in Toronto. We’ve only got a short time in town, but I’m sure we’ll pack it full enough to keep everyone busy.
Poutine and ice hockey, here we come!
Cheers – Jim & Christina xx