SoCal, what’s to eat? San Diego in a Nut Shell


WRITTEN BY: Melissa Kahan

In the midst of work, school, and/or life’s obligations, finding time for even a quick vacation can be a feat. Maximize your food journey and minimize your wallet spending with a few worthy San Diego eats you can hit in a very short time. 

Where you’re eating it: The Crack Shack 

What you’re eating: A fried chicken sandwich

The Senor Croque, essentially a loose interpretation of a Croque Madam but with the addition of fried chicken and bacon on brioche, is the most popular choice. For all you spice lovers, the Firebird brings the perfect amount of heat and a solid slab of tender chicken. This casual yet composed outdoor eatery serving locally-sourced ingredients even has a full bar. It’s the perfect post-plane pick-me-up a mere 10 minutes from the airport.

Runner Up: The California Dip

Where you’re eating it: Breakfast Republic 

What you’re eating: A pancake flight

If you prefer French toast, a flight of the thick brioche slabs is an option, as well, especially considering the flavor options (can you say s’mores and banana split French toast?!) I can attest, however, that the immense flavors of each pancake option are attributed to some seriously considerate execution. From churro and pineapple upside down pancake flavors to bacon pancakes and mint chocolate chip-flavored, each totally works and tastes better than expected. Only a year in business and the crowds filing in after 7 a.m. every day of the week speak for themselves. Bonus for getting a side of the Jurassic Pork bacon.

Runner Up: The Shrimp and Ricotta Frittata

Where you’re eating it: Sandbar Sports Grill

What you’re eating: Fish tacos

Don’t shy away from the “sports grill” in the name: Sandbar has exceptional fish tacos, period. That can be the only thing you order, but take advantage by venturing to the upstairs seating area and enjoy people watching by the ocean at Mission Beach while the sun sets or for a casual lunch time option. Get the taco TKO style, and be prepared for a complete mouthful of one of the more flavorful, albeit perhaps not the most authentic-style, fish tacos. While you’re in the area, make it a two-for-one trip by strolling just across the parking lot through Belmont Park’s carnival attractions to the Sweet Shoppe for the largest two-scoop ice cream cone of your life.

Runner Up: Shrimp tacos

Where you’re eating it: Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

What you’re eating: Fisherman’s Torta

Yes, this is a recommendation for a seafood-filled torta, not taco. This is another establishment that the line out the door of this Pacific Beach hole-in-the-wall speaks for itself. That gives plenty of time to peruse the multiple smoked, grilled or fried fish options. The torta provides a unique means of marrying the freshness of spicy shrimp, scallops, smoked and grilled fish, with other typical taco ingredients, but in a crunchy, bready shell. Cover it in a generous helping of the sriracha and cilantro mayo-based sauces and order a side of shrimp and fish ceviche, and you have a solid California treat.

Runner Up: Surf and Turf Taco

Photo By: Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

Photo By: Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

Where you’re eating it: La Lucha Libre 

What you’re eating: A California Burrito

Aside from fresh seafood, this is just one of those hearty, California staples that you can enjoy any time of day or night, especially since the brightly-decorated spot is open until 2 a.m. The Surfin’ California burrito with seafood was featured on Man vs. Food, but you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true Classic California Burrito with probably the most important ingredient mixed in aside from the meat option: fries. Be prepared to be entertained while you dine in, as well, from wrestling matches flashing over the televisions to masks splashing color over the already vibrant walls.

Runner Up: Knockout Fries

The list could go on for pages, but for getting the most out of a quick jaunt through the eclectic, bustling southern California city, any listed option will surely not disappoint.

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