Eating Photo of El Camino

Published on February 2nd, 2014 | by Liz Babiak


My 3 Favourite Restaurants in San Diego

I turned 30 this November (finally!!) and decided to tack on a weekend trip to San Diego following a San Franciscan adventure for work. Since Hubs was with me and we’d been to San Francisco before, I wanted to experience a different part of California and had heard the San Diego scene was a great one. And while it didn’t disappoint, it’s no surprise that some of my favourite parts of the trip centre around food. Here’s a recap our my favourite restaurants in San Diego — although I know this list would be a lot longer if we’d had more time to eat out.

1. El Camino

On Friday night we headed to Little Italy for some Mexi-Cali taste sensations. Given the evening’s earlier rain, we managed to score a table on their heated patio and settled in for some munchies. Hub had a pint and, given Baby Babiak’s growing presence, I chugged a few muddled strawberry lemonades (yum!).

While deciding on our mains, we pounded back the tortilla chips and salsai (that’s salsa plural, right?) that our server had dropped off. They were definitely more than pico de gallo and some corn chips — looking back, I think they were an offering from the Mexican gods. There was a creamy and spicy red salsa, an addicting cilantro salsa, a chipotle aioli-ish dip, and one other. I’m honestly still dreaming about the cilantro salsa — it was creamy and almost refreshing. The chips were fresh and warm, too. Ah, heaven.

Fully obsessed now with the chips, we ordered their nachos which were epic — baked on a bed of stewed black beans so dipping was built right in. Loaded with cheese and salsa fresco on the side, I really have no idea how we ate that much. But we kept going, next with tacos — Hubs had the Camaron Asado and I chowed down on the Carne Asado. We both agreed that the tacos were a bit bland, but everything leading up to that course was just perfect. Maybe we were just too full…

2. Phil’s BBQ
Photo of Phil's BBQ

It’s hard to ignore an average rating of 4.5 stars from 6,500+ reviews on Yelp, so we cruised to the Point Loma location for dinner on Saturday. If we’d been in Ottawa, there’s no way I would have waited in line outside for almost an hour and a half in our weather. But given the refreshing sweater-temps, I was happy to be a part of the growing line that was nearly palpitating with the excitement of scoring some BBQ grub.

As with many Cali establishments, you order everything up front, then grab a table and wait for your noms (I love this style of service and am glad it’s finally catching on in Ottawa). We dove in with an order of their Colossal Onion Rings but, of course, we were there for the ribs.  Hubs went with the baby back ribs (sides: brown beans and potato salad), and I went with the beefy ribs (sides: potato and pasta salads — both epic and almost show-stealers).

The smoky, saucy, fall-off-the-bone ribs that one would expect from an award-winning BBQ joint didn’t disappoint. I felt a little bit like Fred Flinstone eating beef ribs the size of my fists, and naturally we couldn’t finish everything. Bonus BBQ leftovers!

3. Whisknladle

In our house, Sunday morning breakfast/brunch really sets the tone for the day, and we wanted to start our last day in San Diego with a culinary conquest before heading for a stroll on the beach. Enter Whisknladle, a simple-but-savvy bistro in La Jolla that stole my heart and tickled my tastebuds.

I’m always impressed with an innovative cocktail menu and was quite jealous of Hubs’ London Burning bevvie — gin, jalapeño, avocado and lime, beautifully blended. I settled for a refreshing virgin lime margarita, then hemmed-and-hawed over my main course.

Hubs ordered the pork hash and quite frankly I don’t remember it because I was too enthralled with my steak and eggs. Simple, I know, but I’m a sucker for a flatiron steak and Whisknladle did it up right with nice eggs and pico de gallo. It wasn’t just steak and eggs—it was the perfect brunch for the beginning of a perfect day. (And extra points to our server for pointing us in the direction of Mission Beach for a memorable, sandy stroll.)

Photo credits: El Camino, Phil’s BBQ, Whisknlade

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About the Author

has four super-powers: cooking, creating, communicating, and obsessing. She's a traveller, storyteller, and wannabe gangsta who's almost always hungry. New mama to #BabyBabiak (aka Everest).

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