Top 12 Restaurants in San Diego for Out-Of-Towners

Top 12 Restaurants in San Diego for Out-Of-Towners!

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Impress out-of-towners by showing off San Diego’s gourmet lifestyle with‘s restaurant recommendations. Keep in mind, Food Smackdown only reviews the best burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, wings and food trucks.

San Diego is home to gorgeous beaches, exciting attractions, and enticing shopping, all sprinkled with that laid-back beach lifestyle that makes it such a hot spot on the travel radar. With so many activities on the to-do list, don’t let choosing a place to eat slow down the pace. Food Smackdown has compiled the following comprehensive guide to the best family friendly eateries for out-of-town guests (close to nearby attractions) using their E.A.T.S. rating system (that’s economics, atmosphere, taste, and service).

Hodad's - Ocean Beach California1. Hodad’s. When spending the day at Ocean Beach enjoying the surf and the sun, stop by Hodad’s Burgers for a casual lunch of fantastic fare. The menu is packed with unique burgers that are overflowing with toppings. Taking a bite from their Single Bacon Cheeseburger may be a challenge due to its large portions, but it’s well worth the effort. Wash it down with a thick and fruity strawberry shake and don’t forget to thank the servers for their speedy and attentive service.

George's at the Cove - La Jolla California2. George’s at the Cove. Take a guided kayak tour and explore La Jolla’s seven sea caves and barking harbor seals and sea lions then enjoy downtown La Jolla while dining at George’s at the Cove. This upscale restaurant and bar features a menu that fluctuates with the season and a staff that always keeps the water glasses full. Take in breathtaking ocean views while nibbling on juicy burgers, crisp fries, and fresh salads created by renowned chef Trey Foshee.

Hash House a Go Go - San Diego California3. Hash House a Go Go. Fuel up in the morning at Hash House a Go Go, and then explore one of the many nearby attractions including Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, or the San Diego Museum of Man. While they serve food around the clock, don’t skip out on their breakfast dishes. Toasty potatoes are topped with eggs and a truck load of fresh ingredients from roasted chicken or meatloaf, to asparagus, garlic, and smoked mozzarella. Its modern decor is softened by a down-home feel that meshes well with their comfort food offerings.

Searsucker - San Diego California4. Searsucker. When playing in the Gaslamp district or Petco Park, head on over to Searsucker for an amazing burger in an inviting space. Exposed wood beams and modern furniture mesh well with their New American Classic cuisine. The menu ranges from mouth-watering burgers like the Two-Hand with swiss gruyere cheese and onion jam, to sandwiches, salads, and dessert. Pair dinner with local craft beers, cocktails, or one of their many wines from around the world.

Pizza Port - Carlsbad California5. Pizza Port. Make a plan to throw back a pint and dig into gourmet pizzas at Pizza Port in Carlsbad or Solana Beach. Both areas boast some of the most family-friendly beaches and California style shopping areas, and are home to the Pizza Port brewery chain. The restaurant features picnic tables and surf town decor that’s fun and relaxed for kids and parents. Indulge with the Carlsbad, a pizza laden with pesto, sun dried tomatoes and chicken, while the kids have a slice of pepperoni and cheese.

The Cottage - La Jolla California6. The Cottage. Don’t forget to plan a trip to The Cottage in downtown La Jolla for a bite of breakfast or lunch. This cozy restaurant is a great place settle in and relish a plate of French toast stuffed with strawberry compote and Mascarpone cheese and a frothy cappuccino. For lunch, why not bask in the sunshine on the garden patio while digging into a 1/2 lb burger and potato salad?

STACKED - San Diego California7. STACKED. No trip to San Diego would be complete without a stop at the Fashion Valley Mall. Spend the day shopping and noshing at Stacked. This super hip pub has jumped on the iPad craze, and has equipped each table with a tablet for ordering the perfectly customized meal. Create your dream plate by selecting toppings, condiments, cheeses, and buns for a burger that is well built. Pair it with a side of fresh fries that comes with a choice of dipping sauces.

Basic Urban Kitchen and Bar - San Diego California8. Basic Urban Kitchen & Bar. Basic Urban Kitchen & Bar in the Gaslamp district is a delicious stop when sightseeing at the USS Midway Museum or the San Diego Convention Center. Their menu features rustic pizzas with unusual flavor combinations in an urban warehouse meets sports bar atmosphere. They are known for New Haven, Connecticut-style thin crust, brick oven pizzas that are a hit with locals and visitors alike. For a unique meal, sample the strange yet tasty combination of mashed potatoes and bacon on pizza.

Bronx Pizza - San Diego California9. Bronx Pizza. If the search is on for a delicious and quick meal in the Hillcrest area, stop by Bronx Pizza. It’s one of the most popular pizza places in San Diego, known for their New York style thin crust and cool Bronx, New York theme. Photographs of famous athletes and boxers adorn the walls, and a case full of fresh gourmet pieces stares customers down, daring them to take a bite. Pepperoni pizza connoisseurs should watch out as Bronx’s slice puts other restaurants’ to shame.

Slaters 50 50 - Point Loma California10. Slater’s 50/50. After touring The Maritime Museum of San Diego or seeing the breathtaking views from Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma, Slater’s 50/50 would be the perfect place to grab a burger. It has a sports bar atmosphere that’s still family friendly. For a reasonable price guests can design their own gourmet burger or order one of their already stacked ones like the Peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger or 50/50 burger made with half bacon and beef. Don’t forget to pair it with their incredible appetizers half off at happy hour!

Beach Break Cafe - Oceanside California11. Beach Break Café. Oceanside is home to surf competitions, strand strolling, and the Beach Break Cafe. This relaxed restaurant boasts a beach atmosphere of surfing pictures and paraphernalia. Open from 7am-2pm, this is a fun stop for breakfast or lunch, and they even have a take-out option that’s perfect for a picnic on the beach. Try out the Beach Break Burger for a taste of California. It features a 1/3 lb. beef patty, crispy bacon, avocado, American cheese and veggies, and is paired with lightly seasoned fries.

MIHO Gastrotruck - San Diego California12. San Diego Food Trucks. Be sure to visit a gourmet San Diego food truck or two while you’re in town. Food trucks are one of the fastest growing trends in the food industry and there are no signs of the mobile restaurant craze slowing down. A few of the most popular trucks that have helped pioneer San Diego’s food truck movement are MIHO Gastrotruck, Devilicious, Sweet Treats and Tabe BBQ.

Food SmackdownFood SmackdownABOUT FOOD SMACKDOWN: When the battle over where to eat lunch heats up, consult the website that has Southern California buzzing. is the only place to get honest, good-eats advice about the best places to dine on burgers, pizza, sandwiches, wings and food trucks. Founded by foodie, food photographer, and consultant Steve Carlson, known as a “famous food critic” by San Diego locals, Food Smackdown revolves around his personal experiences in some of the most highly recommended joints to small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Food Smackdown puts a wealth of delectable knowledge right at the fingertips of SoCal’s populace, so there’s never another dining fiasco. The site features reviews that include mouth-watering photos, directions and pricing, atmosphere and service ratings, and of course how it all adds up on the taste buds.

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  1. kiki says:

    Searsucker has HORRIBLE service 90% of the time. I would never send out-of-towners there. Good food, could be a great vibe, but service is so hit-n-miss.

  2. Whitney says:

    I cannot believe you didn’t mention Burger Lounge! So delicious! I’m a HUGE Basic Pizza fan. YUM! Surprised Pizza Port made the list. NINE-TEN should also be mentioned. The BEST fancy meal in town. :)

    • steve says:

      Trying to keep it to a top 12 is tough but this is the list and I’m sticking to it:) Burger Lounge…NINE-TEN…Agree…Those are great suggestions!

  3. Lauranne says:

    In my humble opinion, MIHO should definitely be bumped to the top of the list. :)

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