25+ Trendy Restaurants in San Diego & How to Get There
It’s no surprise that San Diego is one of the best food destinations in the country. From Michelin restaurants to being ranked among the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities in America 2022, you’ll find plenty of trendy restaurants in San Diego to choose from. San Diego GoCar Tours are by far the best way to get around to all of the different areas to sample and enjoy the local cuisine!
You already know it’s time to plan your next trip here. But, where should you eat when you arrive? In a city of 1.4 million people, the options are truly endless. So, we’ve curated the can’t-miss list of the top 25+ trendy restaurants in San Diego that every visitor needs to try.
If you have your dates planned, make your reservations early, these places fill up quickly. Get ready for some of the best food in San Diego!
Gaslamp Quarter Trendy Restaurants in San Diego
San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is one of the most popular areas to dine out, and for good reason. This 16-block district is home to over 200 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Whether you’re looking for a trendy spot for date night or a place to enjoy a meal before heading out for a night on the town, the Gaslamp Quarter has you covered.
If you’re up for a foodie adventure, why not book a Gaslamp Quarter GoCar Tour and have a full day of sightseeing and delicious food?
Trendy Restaurants in San Diego with Small Bites
Cafe 21 Gaslamp
Best for: breakfast and brunch
Location: 802 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, United States
Cafe 21 Gaslamp Restaurant in San Diego is truly a unique culinary experience. The restaurant is on a mission to revolutionize how their guests experience food.
All of the dishes are made from scratch and served in small plates to allow guests to sample more of the menu. Additionally, Cafe 21 caters to all tastes and dietary requirements, offering an extensive selection of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options.
The indulgent eatery is also renowned for their signature breads and homemade fruit-infused sangrias are particularly popular for those visiting for a late brunch. Cafe 21 is the perfect place for a fresh and innovative dining experience.
Tip: San Diego can get tricky to move around in, but there are a few key Tips for Getting Around San Diego as a Tourist. A really fun way is to rent a San Diego GoCar!
These nifty three-wheel drives are best to avoid any traffic, secure easy parking and see the city with a self-guided audio tour while you make your way to the restaurant!
Best for: rooftop dining
Location: 453 Sixth Ave #7007, San Diego, CA 92101
From light snacks to refreshing drinks, this rooftop bar and lounge has something for everyone. Whether you’re searching for a space to relax after a long day or to enjoy a night out with friends, The Nolen San Diego is the perfect spot.
Located on the 14th floor of the Courtyard Gaslamp, the open-air lounge provides stunning views of Petco Park and the Coronado Bridge. Guests can enjoy a variety of classic cocktails while taking in the beauty of America’s Finest City.
If you haven’t had enough of the views from the restaurant, why not take a self-guided tour of Coronado Island the next day!
Cafe Sevilla of San Diego
Best for: Spanish cuisin
Location: 353 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Cafe Sevilla is bringing the taste of Spain to San Diego with their tapas bar, restaurant, and nightclub. With its authentic Spanish ambiance and extensive menu of delicious dishes, guests will be transported to an entirely different world.
What’s more, Cafe Sevilla offers something for everyone throughout the week. From live Latin music seven nights a week to flamenco dinner shows on weekends, salsa dance classes, and happy hour – there’s always something to enjoy here!
Whether you’re planning a romantic evening out or a lively night with friends, Cafe Sevilla is sure to impress.
Trendy restaurants in San Diego with Asian Cuisine
Best for: dinner and a party
Location: 526 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101
Bang Bang is a renowned Asian-fusion restaurant in San Diego that has been a city staple since 2013. Recently re-opening its doors under new ownership, Bang Bang has updated its iconic restaurant and has redesigned its nightlife experience. Its signature style, which is true to traditional and contemporary Asian culture, provides guests with an unforgettable experience.
The restaurant offers a unique blend of Asian cuisine, all of which is made with the freshest ingredients. It boasts one of the coolest atmospheres!
Lively and vibrant, this hip restaurant is sure to provide a night full of fun and memories. If you’re looking for an exciting and truly unique dining experience, Bang Bang is the perfect place to go.
Best for: dining, drinking and socializing
Location: 366 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Michelin-starred chef Akira Back is the mastermind behind Las Vegas’ leading Japanese restaurant, Yellowtail in the Bellagio. His namesake restaurants have garnered acclaim from Beverly Hills to Bangkok, and his latest venture: Lumi by Akira Back is no different.
With its unique menu items that span the globe and its carefully crafted flavors, it’s easy to see why this restaurant has gained so much praise since its opening.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening out or a fun night with friends and family, Lumi by Akira Back offers something for everyone.
Trendy Restaurants in San Diego with All-American Diner Food
Best for: big plates, full bellies
Location: 628 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
If you’re looking for a fun and friendly grillroom to enjoy while visiting the Gaslamp District, then look no further. This hidden gem is perfect for solo travelers or groups alike, with professional staff that go out of their way to make sure everyone feels welcome.
The atmosphere and music are upbeat and lively, making it easy to have a great time. There’s something on the menu for everyone, including those on special diets. The Hangover burger is especially popular among keto-lovers- it’s definitely worth a try!
So if you haven’t already chosen your evening destination yet or are traveling alone, this place should be at the top of your list. Go check it out!
Trendy Restaurants in San Diego with Mexican Cuisine
Karina’s Cantina Gaslamp
Best for: Mexican seafood
Location: 755 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Karina’s is a truly unique dining experience in San Diego. The moment you walk into the restaurant, you’re immersed in Mexican culture and hospitality.
You can find Mexico’s history, colors, music, and exquisite aromas throughout the establishment. Traditional Mexican figures, art pieces, and specially commissioned portraits of Frida Khalo are on display to set the tone for an unforgettable meal.
Karina’s was founded on the idea of providing traditional-style family cuisine with an extra touch of passion from its founding family – making everyone feel like part of their extended familia!
Best for: Late night bites
Location: 560 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
La Puerta is the perfect place to get your taco and tequila fix. The restaurant is known for its delicious street tacos, which pair perfectly with a freshly-squeezed margarita (no mixes at La Puerta!).
La Puerta offers over 100 different types of 100% blue agave tequilas, complete with tasting notes to help you choose the perfect one.
The restaurant also offers an unbeatable happy hour from 3:00pm-7:00pm daily, featuring 1/2 drinks and appetizers like their famous carne asada fries. Around 3:00pm the local musicians start playing and La Puerta transforms into a playground for anyone 21 years or older. Plus, their kitchen stays open until 1:00am if you’re looking for a late-night snack!
Old Town Trendy Restaurants in San Diego
Old Town San Diego is a must-see for any visitor. This area is full of historic buildings, Mexican flair, and, of course, trendy restaurants. From farm-to-table dining to top taco spots, here are some of the best places to eat in Old Town.
Trendy Restaurants in San Diego Old Town with Asian Cuisine
Best for: sustainable sushi
Location: 3964 Harney St, San Diego, CA 92110
For a truly unique sushi experience, Harney Sushi in San Diego is the place to go. Award-winning and sustainably sourced, their cuisine is as fresh and imaginative as you could ask for.
Whether you’re spending some alone time with your partner or an evening out with a group, guests will enjoy the fusion of fine dining service and knowledge with beaming personality and style.
Harney Sushi also offers a private VIP booth for those special occasions. With over 30 gourmet specialty rolls to indulge in, each created by local loyalists- it truly is the ultimate San Diego Sushi experience.
Plan ahead: If you’re coming for a few days, make sure you set up a San Diego Itinerary! This will help you make the most of your trip.
J&T Thai Street Food
Best for: Thai street food
Location: 5259 Linda Vista Rd, San Diego, CA 92110
Are you looking for a tasty and affordable Thai lunch spot? Look no further than the popular Thai lunch counter off Morena Boulevard and just a stone’s throw away from the USD campus.
This small restaurant may not have the most luxurious design, but its charm makes up for it. Plus, its prices are more than reasonable given the quality of cuisine served here.
Trendy Restaurants in San Diego with All-American Food
Hungry’s Kitchen & Tap
Best for: Something other than Mexican in Old Town
Location: 2547 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
For a truly American dining experience, there’s no better place to go than Hungry’s Kitchen & Tap. With its modern take on classic American comfort food with a Southern California twist and live music, you can expect the ultimate night out.
There’s something for everyone at this local spot, no matter the craving – from cocktails to local beer on tap. Plus, don’t forget to check out their great happy hour and daily specials. Stop by today and see why people are raving about this one-of-a-kind restaurant!
Hip and Trendy Restaurants with Mexican Cuisine
Best for: 364 days a year Mexican
Location: 2461 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
For over 30 years, Cafe Coyote has been the premier destination in San Diego for Mexican food and fun! Located in the heart of Old Town’s Historic Walking District, this beloved restaurant offers a festive atmosphere and friendly staff that will make you feel right at home.
The menu is full of delicious options to choose from, including classic Mexican dishes such as tacos, tamales, enchiladas, and more. The margaritas here are particularly popular and have been known to be some of the best in town!
If you want a quick bite or a seated meal, Cafe Coyote is sure to please.
Best for: Rooftop Dining
Location: 4105 Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92110
For a festive and memorable experience, Casa Guadalajara in Old Town San Diego is the trendiest place to be. With its vibrant colors and rich culture, you’ll be wowed by this gem of a restaurant.
Not only that, but Casa Guadalajara also offers live Mariachi performers and an extensive menu of authentic Mexican cuisine.
Whether you are looking for a spot to celebrate your wedding, quinceañera, graduation or birthday party – Casa Guadalajara has hosted them all and will put together a unique experience just for you!
Best for: Rooftop Dining
Location: 4016 Wallace St, San Diego, CA 92110
Step back in time and experience Barra Barra Saloon, located at the north end of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The saloon’s menu is a perfect reflection of the merger of Mexican and American cultures in the mid-1800s, giving guests an intriguing dining experience that is sure to impress.
Barra Barra Saloon offers more than just your typical saloon fare – it provides an Old World Mexican culinary journey with traditional Mexican dishes made from recipes that span generations.
Whether you’re looking for a unique dining experience or simply want to sample some classic Mexican dishes, Barra Barra Saloon won’t disappoint.
Uptown Trendy Restaurants in San Diego
Just north of downtown San Diego and Balboa Park is the trendy Uptown neighborhood. This area is home to some of the city’s best shopping, nightlife, and, of course, the hottest restaurants.
Best for: brunch
Location: 3752 Park Blvd. Suite 105C, San Diego, CA 92103
Great weekends usually include a long lazy brunch. In San Diego, pair your mimosas with innovative dishes at this hip and trendy spot.
On Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm, Trust is the place to be. Their impeccable service and great menu will tempt weekend warriors with smoked salmon, mac & cheese, sticky buns, and more mouthwatering fare.
If you can’t make it in the mornings, you’re in luck, because they are now open for dinner and drinks.
Best for: the view
Location: 2550 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Earlier this year, Mister A’s was a hot topic after being bought over and shut down – luckily only for renovations! And, we have to say, the wait was worth it! Mister A’s boasts one of the best views in San Diego from their 12th floor restaurant, and the new improvements really make the most of it.
The restaurant welcomes foodies but photography buffs will also enjoy the expansive vista of the San Diego skyline and the Pacific Ocean.
Whether you eat outside on the rooftop or indoors, make sure you dress to impress because a business casual dress code is enforced. With the ever changing scenery beneath your feet, you may just be tempted to stay all day long!
Celebrations: Mister A’s is well known as the spot to be for any of the major holidays. So, if you’re coming for Easter, St Patricks, or Christmas – make a reservation here! Also, if you need to do last minute gift shopping, check out our San Diego Experiences Gift Guide for a not so traditional list of gifts.
Hash House A Go Go
Best for: perfect for sharing
Location: 3628 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
If you’re looking for an over-the-top breakfast experience, look no further than Hash House. The portions here are absolutely massive, so come hungry. And be prepared to share – you’ll never be able to finish one of these dishes on your own.
This is the perfect spot to bring visitors from out of town – they’ll be talking about their meal here for years to come.
Harbour Island Trendy Restaurants in San Diego
Harbour Island is a man-made island in San Diego Bay, and it’s home to some of the city’s best restaurants. From waterfront seafood spots to upscale steakhouses, here are some of the best places to eat on Harbour Island.
C Level Lounge
Best for: a waterfront fine dining experience
This eatery quickly cemented itself as one of the most trendy restaurants in San Diego because they pair well-cooked food with iconic harbor views.
C Level Lounge sits on stilts over the San Diego Bay and offers relaxing views of the skyline and Coronado.
Seafood dominates the menu here and the extensive wine and cocktail lists round out a perfect night at this popular spot in San Diego.
South Park San Diego Trendy Restaurants
San Diego’s South Park neighborhood is home to a few hidden gems, but if you’re in the area for a night, don’t miss our top choice.
Best for: good food
Location: 3001 Beech St., San Diego, CA 92102
No visit to the city is complete without a stop at this San Diego staple. Buona Forchetta lives by a simple motto: “Keeping it fresco, semplice e delizioso! (fresh, simple and delicious!)”
For authentic Italian cuisine and wood fired pizzas, this trendy restaurant in South Park is the place to be. Dine in a relaxed atmosphere under romantic lighting and make sure you don’t miss the house-made wine and delectable desserts.
Little Italy San Diego Trendy Restaurants
If you’re looking for a great meal, head to San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. This charming area is full of cool restaurants, from casual trattorias to upscale dining experiences. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Little Italy.
Born & Raised
Best for: the perfect Instagram pic
Location: 1909 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
If you didn’t take a picture of your night out, did you even go at all? Head to this photogenic steakhouse to try one of the best trendy restaurants in San Diego while also getting that perfect shot for the ‘gram.
Born & Raised took three years and more than six million dollars to go from idea to reality in San Diego. Once you step inside, you’ll see why. This classic steakhouse features velvet chairs, generous booths, a well-stocked bar, stunning chandeliers and plenty of marble and gold – just wait till you see the toilet!
Reminiscent of the 1920’s, the only thing better than their classic vibe is the restaurant’s mouthwatering dinner menu.
The Crack Shack
Best for: a crowd pleaser
Location: 2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Fried chicken, happy hour, outdoor seating… What’s not to love at this trendy restaurant in San Diego? The Crack Shack has been making headlines since it debuted in Little Italy in 2015 and multiple locations have already popped up around the state due to the restaurant’s immediate success.
Herb & Wood
Best for: cocktail lovers
Location: 2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Herb & Wood is run by famed chef Brian Malarkey, a Top Chef finalist and Food Network regular. The restaurant has been named one of America’s “10 Best Restaurants by USA Today” along with numerous accolades from Zagat, Eater, and the New York Times.
Make a reservation if you’re looking for open spaces, natural light, flowing greenery and of course: food re-imaging in a modern, ingredient-forward style. Though this restaurant charms with a casual chic atmosphere, the cocktails still manage to steal the spotlight.
Ballast Point Brewing Company
Image Source: Ballast Point Brewing Company
Best for: beer lovers
Location: 9045 Carroll Way, San Diego, CA 92121
Did you know there are almost 200 craft breweries in San Diego? The craft beer scene has exploded in the city and many brewpubs have incorporated cool restaurants as well.
San Diego Magazine taste tested the top names in the city and named the Ballast Point Fathom IPA as one of the 15 best beers in San Diego. This is great to see, especially after Ballast Point Brewery was acquired by Constellation Brands in 2015. So, good news, they’re still producing the same quality you’ve come to know and love.
Try it at their trendy location in Little Italy or head to Ballast Point Brewery in Miramar where you can enjoy dinner on the outdoor patio and an informative brewery tour as well.
Hip & Trendy Restaurants San Diego Kearny Mesa Area
Kearny Mesa is one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods, and it’s also home to some seriously cool restaurants. From Vietnamese pho to Mexican street tacos, there’s something for everyone in Kearny Mesa. If you’re looking for the trendiest place to eat in this vibrant neighborhood, we’ve got you covered.
Hidden Fish Sushi
Image Source: Hidden Fish Sushi
Best for: an exclusive experience
Location: 4764 Convoy St. Ste A, San Diego, CA. 92111
The trendiest places are always hard to get into, but this exclusive pick in San Diego raises the stakes.
Hidden Fish is a 12-seat restaurant that serves sushi omakase, meaning the menu is up to the chef. They offer only two options to guests: the Ala Carte tasting menu or an 18-piece 90 minute complete Omakase experience.
With fish sourced directly from some of the worlds most well-known seafood markets – including Japan’s renowned Toyosu Fish Market. You really can’t go wrong.
Downtown San Diego Trendy Restaurants
Downtown San Diego is a great place to find some of the top restaurants in San Diego. Whether you’re craving Asian fusion, seafood, or something else entirely, you’ll find it downtown. Here are some of our favorite places to eat in this historic neighborhood.
Best for: a budget-friendly night out
Location: 1290 F Street, San Diego, CA
It’s no secret that hitting the most trendy restaurants in San Diego can also put a serious dent in your wallet. For the budget-conscious food lover, we have a solution.
Lola 55 is a colorful and bright Mexican eatery that delivers big flavors every day of the week. The prices may be low here, but the dishes won’t leave you disappointed. With tacos starting at only $4.75 each, this is bound to become your go-to spot for years to come.
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Don’t Miss These 25+ Trendy Restaurants in San Diego
Being on trend is never easy. In fact, the trendiest restaurants in San Diego change constantly!
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on this list, the San Diego Eater uses a heat map to discover the most visited restaurant in the city every month so you can stay in the know and keep up with what’s hot right now in San Diego.
This city has staked its claim as one of the best foodie destinations in America and travelers are visiting from around the world. While you’re here, explore San Diego with the immersive Go Car guided tours to see the city in a unique and fun way. Whether you’re into shopping, history, or just the essential San Diego sites, these Go Car and scooter tours will take you there.
Work up an appetite and then top off a perfect day with a visit to only the trendiest restaurants in San Diego. Go Car does the planning for you, so you can simply choose your tour and join us today!