We are on our way back from one my my favorite places on earth: San Diego. I absolutely love Southern California and the weather and the beaches that come with it. I love it even more that it’s so easy to find gluten-free and paleo restaurants there and a simple Yelp search will bring up so many choices, which made me extremely happy.
As someone with food sensitivities, I completely understand when people find it difficult to travel because of their food restrictions. However, with simple preparation and research, I have learned over the years how to navigate my gluten-free and dairy-free eating with ease. There were many restaurants I wanted to try in San Diego, but here are some of the things we ate and the restaurants we went to during our short 4-day trip!
While we love to try out new restaurants while traveling, we try to start the day with a home cooked breakfast. I just feel better fueling up with something healthy and nourishing, and I never feel as good eating at a restaurant as I do at home. As soon as we landed, we found a Whole Foods and stocked up on eggs, bacon, vegetables, cold brew, and snacks for the entire stay.
This is why I love staying at an Airbnb with a full kitchen. It helps so much to get energized for the day with a healthy home cooked breakfast, so we can do all the fun activities without feeling tired or having digestive issues. Having health issues can really ruin the trip!
Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
I first came to Oscar’s Mexican Seafood 2 years ago when I visited San Diego, and I’ve been dreaming about the tacos here since. I can honestly say these are the best tacos I’ve ever had (and I eat a lot of tacos!). The fish are so, so fresh, and the meat tacos are amazing as well. I ordered the surf and turf taco and the smoked fish taco. C got the skirt steak taco and taco especial, which came with smoked fish, shrimp, and scallops.
Hōm Korean Kitchen
When I first heard that there’s a Chipotle-style Korean food spot in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego (there’s also one in San Jose!) called Hōm Korean Kitchen, I KNEW I had to go!
There are also other extras and side items that you can get, which all looked and sounded delicious. C and I both enjoyed our meals, and as a Korean, the flavors were more authentic than I expected, although the meat marinades were a bit on a sweet side. Nevertheless, we really liked our food overall and it’s a budget-friendly place I would definitely come back to!
Oh, Ceviche House… What a wonderful place this is. If you like ceviche, raw fish, and sushi, this place is a must. I especially love that it’s a small hole-in-the-wall with maybe enough seats for 6 parties. The food is so fresh and so good, and almost everything is gluten-free.
S&M Sausage and Meats
A meat lover’s paradise, S&M Sausage & Meat offers delicious sausages, meat boards, and mouth-watering appetizers. If you tell them you are gluten-free, they bring you a gluten-free menu which has a variety of choices that I loved.
There were so many items we wanted to try but we went with the bacon deviled eggs (omg, SO GOOD) and broccolini for the appetizer. For our main, we each got a sausage (mine on a lettuce wrap) which was HUGE. My sausage was called Lavendar Apri-quack and it contained duck, pork, lavender, and apricot as its main ingredients. I was a bit nervous about whether I would like it, but I ended up loving every part of its unique flavor! C got the Pineapple Portuguese, a pork sausage and enjoyed it as well.
True Food Kitchen
We stopped at True Food Kitchen after hiking up Cowles Mountain, so we were quite hungry. I didn’t realize that this was a national chain and was quite excited when I learned that! The menu is quite extensive from pizzas, sandwiches, salads, soups, and more, and they are very gluten-free friendly and those items are clearly marked on the menu.
I really wanted some kind of gluten-free sandwich, and was eyeing the Smoked Turkey Wrap even though it wasn’t marked gluten-free on the menu. I decided to ask the server if they have gluten-free bread and she told me they do have gluten-free pita! I think it’s always important to ask questions to your server if you want to make substitutions, and most of the time, they are happy to help! C got a pizza (gluten and all, that lucky man!) and he thought it was just okay even though he was suuuuper excited for it as you can see.
We went to Café 21 on our last night in San Diego and it did not disappoint! I love that they only use organic and local ingredients, and so many of their menu items are gluten-free friendly. I was actually most excited to try this out this place out of all the restaurants on our wish list and I’m so glad it fulfilled my expectations.
Snooze AM Eatery
Our last meal in San Diego! We actually tried to eat at Snooze AM Eatery on a Saturday but the wait was almost an hour, so we came back on Monday right before leaving for the airport to come home. The wait was 20 minutes on a Monday! So it HAD to be good. This place is also a chain in the west coast (there are also locations in Texas) and it’s a breakfast and lunch spot with rave reviews on Yelp.
They have awesome gluten-free options from pancakes, eggs benedict, French toast, and bread. I was soooo excited while browsing through the menu! What was also amazing was that the server let us know as soon as we sat down that everything is customizable and flexible so feel free to ask any questions. This made me feel comfortable right away.
I ended up ordering the Havana Daydreaming sandwich on a gluten-free toast, which came with pork, shaved ham, homemade pickles and a sunny side egg, and I ended loving every bite of it! C ordered the corned beef hash and thought it was delicious as well.
The best part? They gave us complimentary sweet potato pancakes which were gluten-free, SO fluffy, and were topped with candied pecans and ginger butter. I’m not a sweets person but these pancakes were amazing! I can’t rave enough about their customer service.
As you can see, we ate pretty dang well in San Diego, and I actually didn’t have any digestive issues on this trip! I think that was also because I was so happy and relaxed being in one of my favorite places. I also couldn’t believe how reasonably everything was priced even when they seemed to have used good quality ingredients. I love that the city I love so much has such amazing food as well.
What are you favorite food spots in San Diego?