Article •  San Diego, California, USA

14 Of The Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes In San Diego

Last Updated On: November 10, 2020


Nash and I decided during lockdown and the current work from home situation to use this opportunity to live in San Diego for a month.  Since we are all working from home, why not in a new city. So we rented an Airbnb and moved in with two of our friends. It is safe to say that it didn’t take long for San Diego to steal my heart. The people here are so friendly and laid back. The beaches are so soft beneath the feet and boast some of the most beautiful sunsets. San Diego is now easily one of my favorite places on the west coast. The city has something for everyone. With innovative and stylish restaurants popping up every month, it can be hard to stay on top of the game but don't worry we got you covered. We’ve scouted out all the best restaurants and most instagrammable cafes for every occasion, from romantic date nights and casual dinners with friends to rooftop hangs with your bestie. Find below the best restaurant recommendations and only dining guide you will need when visiting San Diego!

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14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

1. CESARINA

Point Loma

$$ • Casual-Classy

Italian Fusion

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Where Rome meets California. From the American style weekend brunch to the authentic Italian cuisine, Cesarina effortlessly provides the best of both worlds. Coming here will transfer you right back to the intimate restaurant you stumbled upon during your last vacation to the outskirts of Rome. This pasta oasis is also a dream for every vegan. Those handmade lasagnas and pasta that ever vegan craves, are here available with vegan cheese and meat-free sauce, which is pretty much unheard of at an Italian restaurant. Enjoy brunch, lunch, and dinner at the adorable outside patio located in the quiet neighborhood of Point Loma.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

2. Charles + Dinorah at The Pearl Hotel

Point Loma

$$ • Retro-Casual

International Cuisine

Happy Hour, Dinner

Charles + Dinorah is an intimate poolside restaurant carefully placed within the courtyard of The Pearl Hotel, located right in the center of Point Loma. Dine next to the pool or enjoy a drink at the bar. We had the privilege to not only dine at this retro boutique hotel but also stay here for a couple of days while exploring all that San Diego has to offer. You can watch our stories on Instagram here. Every Wednesday, the hotel offers a 3-course dinner and an outdoor movie experience, which is such a fun and unique way to spend a night with friends or a date. I can’t recommend this restaurant enough. The food, the ambiance, and the service are outstanding. My mouth waters only thinking about their Sticky Wings and Pearl Burger.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

3. Jimmy's Famous American Tavern

Point Loma

$$ • Casual

American Cuisine

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Jimmys Famous American Tavern is a family-owned restaurant boasting one of a kind San Diego marina views of the Americas Cup Harbor in Point Loma. Serving classic American fare within an inviting indoor-outdoor space, it really doesn't get much better than this. While you will most likely have to wait in line to be seated on a weekend, weekdays are surprisingly slow with front row seats to those uninterrupted views of the harbor, free for the taking. I would recommend combining your dining experience at Jimmy's Famous American Tavern with a fun whale watching excursion. Most companies start their tours right from the harbor, so grab a bite and then head out to sea.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

4. Morning Glory

Little Italy

$$ • Cute-Casual

American Fusion

Breakfast, Brunch

This strictly breakfast and brunch haven boasts green and pink checkered marble floors, a giant electric pink star above the bar, and a champagne vending machine. I should just stop here because all of the above is enough reason to give this place a try, but I do have a few more things to say. Morning Glory is truly a place that honors the spirit of the morning. Pink umbrellas line the second-floor open-air terrace, and can already be spotted from the street below. Once you walk up the stairs, you know you have come to the right place, and waiting in line for up to 2 hours doesn't seem ridiculous anymore. With its vibrant and flamboyant interior, it is almost everyone's first desire to snap a few Instagram worthy images before even paying any attention to the menu. The 3-inch puffy Japanese soufflé pancakes and fried rice with pork belly are the two most popular items on the menu and I too have to say that I would come back for those sinful tasty pancakes time and time again. The only downside is that the restaurant doesn’t take any reservations, so give yourself plenty of time to wander around Little Italy until your table is ready.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

5. Born and Raised

Little Italy

$$$$ • Fancy, Elegant

Upscale Steakhouse

Happy Hour, Dinner

Born and Raised is one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego, but it is not for every occasion. Dressed to impress, we came here to celebrate my 30th birthday. This upscale steakhouse is like something out of the Great Gatsby. Servers walk the floors in suits and sneakers, making sure their guests are well taken care of. The art-deco, wood laced interior of the main dining room combined with a six-tiered brass and crystal chandelier is bound to drop some jaws. But just wait until you head upstairs. The glamorous open-air rooftop adorned with flower-covered pillars and distant harbor views is the perfect place to enjoy the sunset while spoiling your taste buds. I think I have said enough, but try a steak of your choice and make sure to pair it with a variety of appetizers. Born and Raised doesn’t only offer a breathtaking interior and outstanding customer service but food that is cooked to perfection.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

6. Kindred

South Park

$$ • Casual, Cute

Bar-restaurant

Brunch (only on the weekends), Dinner

Kindred is by far the trendiest bar in San Diego, serving the most unexpected cuisine: All Vegan. I loved loved loved this restaurant. I have never seen a bar serve vegan food so effortlessly across brunch, lunch, and dinner. Located in one of the hippest parts of town, it is no surprise that this place is crowded no matter what day of the week, so be sure to make a reservation. South Park is one of my favorite neighborhoods and is the perfect place to end a fun afternoon. Start by getting a drink at Communal Coffee just down the road, boasting the cutest trailer coffee shop, and then browse through all the small shops in the area, before making your way to Kindred for craft cocktails and a scrumptious dinner.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

7. Communal Coffee

South Park

$$ • Casual, Cute

Coffee Trailer

Coffee & Light Meals

This popular coffee shop has more than one location, but I have to say that the Communal Coffee located in the enchanting neighborhood of South Park is my personal favorite. It isn't your typical brick and mortar coffee shop. They turn out tasty lattes and cappuccinos along with light bites, right from a small trailer. I would recommend bringing some extra time to meander through the cute stores and adjacent side streets here in South Park. Right across the street, you will find Thread + Seed, a carefully curated boutique, and around the corner is Gold Leaf, featuring thoughtful gifts & house goods. These are my to favorites in the area, but there are so many more within walking distance, so grab a drink and go explore.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

8. Holy Matcha San Diego

North Park

$$ • Casual, Cute

Teahouse

Tea & Light Bites

While the matcha is delicious, most people come to this tea shop to take a peek at the Instagram famous interior design. Adorned with pink velvet seats as well as brass and marble details, the cafe creates a one of a kind juxtaposition against the matcha green. Holy Matcha boasts a total of two locations, with their newest location downtown and the original cafe in the fun neighborhood of North Park. Nash and I stopped by in North Park for an iced lavender oat milk Matcha after getting our nails done at Leo Nails, the cutest nail salon located right next door. I have always loved matcha, so giving this little cafe a try was definitely on my to-do list while living in and exploring San Diego. Loaded with antioxidants and amino acids I am always happy to replace my regular coffee shop visits with an inflammation-reducing superfood drink. They don’t have much outdoor seating but enough to sit down and have a chat before continuing on with your day.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

9. One Door North

North Park

$$ • Casual, Outdoorsy

American Cuisine

BRUNCH (ONLY ON THE WEEKENDS), DINNER

The restaurant offers a casual dining experience in an urban setting. Imagine a rustic American menu featuring seasonal handcrafted dishes accompanied by craft cocktails and local beer. The location boasts a big outdoor patio, but my personal favorite place to sit is under the spacious safari tents pitched inside against the back wall. One Door North has brought the feeling of eating outside under the night sky into the urban jungle and has been quite successful with it. The farm to table restaurant sources all of the ingredients locally and emphasizes its love for the outdoors through the simple yet delicious American menu. Feast on mac and cheese, juicy burgers, and fresh-caught fish, but be sure to save room for dessert. End your night around the dinner table roasting your own smores over a tiny table fire.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

10. Cody's La Jolla

La Jolla

$$ • Casual

American Cuisine

Lunch, Brunch, Happy Hour

This is easily my favorite Brunch spot in all of San Diego due to its chic interior design, open-air seating, distant ocean views, outstanding food, and the kindest staff. Located in the beautiful neighborhood of La Jolla, Cody's boasts a delicious all-day breakfast and lunch menu along with a sunset happy hour. This popular restaurant is buzzing at any time of the day and since they only take large group reservations, be sure to plan in some extra time to wander down to the sea while you wait for your table to be ready. Choose between the open-air indoor dining room or out on the patio beneath the shade of the pink and white umbrellas. With incredible customer service, expect clever comfort food served with a side of spectacular ocean views and great people watching.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

11. Better Buzz

North Park

$ • Casual, Cute

Coffee Shop

Coffee & Light Bites

"Life is better buzzed." This is the motto of Better Buzz, a southern California small-batch coffee roaster. With over 14 locations, this is not your typical chain. Each spot has its own unique style and character. We only visited a few during our time in San Diego and out of those the La Jolla location is at the top of our list. The light and airy interior combining touches of pinks and muted blues pairs perfectly with their creative menu. From rose water lattes and their Best Drink Ever® to avocado toast and pink dragon smoothies, you may have to come back a few times to try them all.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

12. Parakeet Cafe

La Jolla

$ • Casual, Cute

Cafe

Coffee & Light Meals

Let’s meet at the Parakeet. This cafe takes great pride in sourcing local, high-quality ingredients to create their organic & wholesome drinks and meals. Popular amongst foodies, yogis, and the occasional Instagrammer looking for those unique patterned wallpapers, there are multiple locations throughout San Diego including La Jolla, Del Mar, Little Italy, and Coronado. La Jolla is my favorite. Sit and stay to eat your delicious meal or grab and go enjoy your drink by the ocean, just a quick 7 minutes on foot.

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

13. Great Maple

Hillcrest

$ • Casual

American Cuisine

Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner (Thurs-Sun)

Great Maple is a chic eatery, reminiscent of the 1950s. While the inside is currently closed due to COVID restrictions, you can enjoy the spacious outdoor patio under the sun. Using seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients, this local southern California chain serves flavorful comfort food with a twist. From sweet to savory, they have a way with food. Somehow they even made mushrooms taste incredible!

14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape

14. Lumi by Akira Back

La Jolla

$$$ • Hip - Fine Dining

Elevated Japanese Cuisine

Weekend Lunch, Dinner

Lumi is an eccentric, upscale restaurant and bar located in the heart of the lively Gaslamp district. While most people come here to experience the cuisine of the world-renowned celebrity chef Akira Back, the restaurant is also known for its classy rooftop vibes and sunsets. Serving innovative Japanese fare and sushi, get ready to let the 2-time Michelin-star chef Akira Back spoil your taste buds. If you are coming to San Diego only for a short visit make sure to book your table way in advance. The restaurant tends to book out quickly and might not have an available time slot until a week later.

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14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
14 Best Restaurants And Most Instagrammable Cafes San Diego | Bare Escape
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