This past year I had the privilege of visiting San Diego, California twice. I had never been before. Now all of the sudden I had the opportunity to go twice. I fell in love… San Diego is just awesome. The weather, the laid-back atmosphere, the beaches, and the food… Man… I love it.
The first time I visited, it was with my pastor. There was a conference out that way, and he reached out to see if I wanted to go. You have to understand. I love to travel. When an adventure like this presents itself, it’s not likely that I am going to pass it up. Plus, it’s San Diego! I must confess, I wasn’t super familiar with San Diego, and so I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I didn’t know that when I visited, I wouldn’t want to leave… ever… However, that’s exactly what happened. In fact, when I booked my flight I made a mistake accidentally entering the wrong return date, and it wasn’t until I tried to check in for my return flight that I realized it. The return flight I booked didn’t leave for another month. I wondered if my wife might believe that Southwest refused to let me change the ticket… “I know it stinks dear. I wish there was something I could do, but don’t worry. A month isn’t that long. I’ll be home before you know it. Kiss the kids for me…” One thing I knew for sure… I had to go back. Fortunately for me, I would soon get the chance.
Every year our family alternates the way we do vacations. One year, our entire family will go somewhere together. The next year it will just be Lindsay and I. It just so happened, that 2019 was the year Lindsay and I planned to get away. Can I just say that one of my favorite things in life, if not my favorite, is getting away with my wife. Our life is crazy. I’m not kidding. In 2019, I published and began promoting two books, started two companies, worked with several clients in real estate, all while pastoring a small church plant and trying to be a husband to my wife and a father to our five children. My wife worked as a nanny to three kids, home schooled two of our kids, tried to keep up with our daughter, helped manage our household, and worked tirelessly in our church. We are intentional about making sure we get time together in small ways regularly, but getting away with her and just hanging out away from all the cares of life is my favorite. Well, since this was our year to get away together, I suggested San Diego, and that’s where we ended up going.
I will say, it was kind of funny because San Diego’s three hours behind us. So, here we are. We’re “free” in a sense. You’d expect it to be like this wild time where we slept in and stayed out late, and just painted the town! In reality, because of the time difference, and because we aren’t really night owls anyway, I think the latest we were out was 9:30PM! It was so cool though. The weather is Uhhhh-mazing! It’s like Hawaii, really. 70’s and 80’s everyday with a slight overcast and a nice breeze. And it wasn’t just San Diego. The whole area was awesome. We spent a day just driving up and down the coast. We went all the way up to Oceanside and walked the pier. We visited Carlsbad where watched dolphins playing off the coast and grabbed a bite to eat. It was great. One day, we took the train up to Anaheim and spent the day at Disneyland. In San Diego, we visited Balboa Park, walked around the Gas Lamp Quarter, walked up and down Mission Beach and La Jolla, where we hung out with the seals and sea lions, saw the views from Point Loma and more. We stayed at an Airbnb in San Diego. My awesome wife was able to score us a place for around $50 a night! It was super nice! We had such an awesome time, and the food… Oh. My. Goodness…
Let me tell you. San Diego is a killer food scene! Considering the point of this blog is food, you know this had to come up. When I try to imagine my favorite travel destinations, food weighs in heavily, and San Diego did not disappoint. Unfortunately, for all of you, I use an app that is no longer available called TV Diner to find the best spots. It’s like Google Maps, but for Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and Man Vs. Food. I open the app and it shows me all the food joints from those shows in my area. I can click on a place and it’ll tell me what items were featured on the show, etc. It’s my go to. I have a few other apps I use as well, but it’s always the first one I check, and there are several in San Diego.
So, where did we eat? I wouldn’t have time to tell you about all of them. So, I’ll just hit the highlights beginning with a place called The Mission. The Mission is a really cool little place right on Mission Beach. We had breakfast there, as you can see in the pics below. I can’t really remember what my wife got. I just remember my french toast being really good… We went there twice on our trip. Another place we visited for breakfast was this old fashioned diner called Harry’s, which happens to be La Jolla’s oldest diner. I got the corned beef hash with eggs and hash browns. Again, … I cannot recall what my wife ate… In fact, I can’t seem to remember what my wife got at any of these places… I know she was there! I guess I get food tunnel vision or something. I don’t know. The lunch and dinner items are my favorite. One place I visited on both trips was a place called the Crest Cafe. This is a small diner in the Hillcrest area. I learned that this place can be hit and miss. The first time I went, it was incredible. I got the butter burger… yeah, you read that right. Butter. Burger. Juicy, meaty, and buttery. What more could you ask for?! The second time around I revisited the burger option, which was still decent, but the creme brulee to follow was… questionable. I think my wife got french toast? I don’t know. I’ll tell you what I do know though. The porterhouse at Donovan’s on the south side of the Gas Lamp Quarter was incredible! Perfectly cooked, juicy, great service! If you’re a steak lover, then I highly recommend you stop in. Some of the other savory stops we really enjoyed were Spirito’s, which is a really good, old-fashioned Italian dive in Carlsbad known for its homemade ravioli, Kansas City Barbeque, where scenes from Top Gun were filmed, Knockout Pizza in Oceanside, and the Broken Yolk Cafe. For dessert I think Extraordinary Desserts takes the cake (pun totally intended). When they say extraordinary, they aren’t kidding either. This place was over the top! I don’t even know what all we got. I just know it was enough to put me in a sugar coma. Honestly, I am surprised I even remember any of the rest of the trip after that. I’m telling you the food is off the hook (do people still say that) in San Diego, but one place, for me, stood head and shoulders above the rest… kind of literally. Lucha Libre, this entirely ridiculous and over the top Gourmet Taco Shop was my all-time favorite! The entire theme is based on Mexican professional wrestling, which is fun. They even have a Champion’s table (don’t ask–I have no idea–I just know it’s roped off and cool) It’s awesome! I wish I had more pics, but, to my shame and embarrassment, I couldn’t stay away from this place. I ate there several times on both trips… Not several times between the two trips, several times on both trips… I have no self control. It was so good. My favorite thing there was the Steak Queso Taco. They grill the cheese crispy. Yeah, that’s right! They grill the CHEESE. The steak is soooo good and then they add avocado, some secret chipotle sauce, and queso enchilado (which I confess, I don’t really know what this is, and I don’t even care). If you visit San Diego, this place is a must!
And that’s about it. I am telling you. San Diego is like a little slice of paradise in so many ways, not the least of which is the food. If you get a chance to go, do it! You won’t regret it! If you don’t get a chance, make one. It’s awesome! It’s the first place that really began to rival my love for New York City, which I plan to write about next time.