We lived in North Pacific Beach for over 3 years and absolutely loved it. Good surf, great people, and awesome food make up this classic low-key beach town.
*indicates places with more than one location in SD. Check out our Ultimate San Diego Restaurant Guide for the best eats in every neighborhood.
Taco Surf – Their sign says “best burrito in the US” and they aren’t lying! This place is no frills with surfboards on the ceiling and water served from an orange rubbermaid cooler. Do the create your own burrito and you are in for a treat. Be sure to add hash browns and smother it in salsa verde.
Kono’s Cafe*– Cheap, delicious breakfast meets the beach! Kono’s always has a long line around the block but it is worth it. With paper plates and a cash only menu, Kono’s is low frills but you can’t beat the ocean views. Make sure you walk across the street to their beach patio. (It is a little hidden.)
Baked Bear* – Create your own ice cream sandwiches. Enough said. The line wrapped around the block is proof that it’s worth the hype. Located beside the Crystal Pier, Baked Bear is the perfect spot to cool down after a PB beach day. Insider Tip: Ask them to heat up your ice cream sandwich.
Duck Dive– Duck Dive is steps from the beach and is such a fun place for boozy brunch, late night dancing, or football Sundays. Friday happy hour is the best with half off appetizers and cocktails. And it is home to my all time favorite drink in the world, the Take Me to Mexico. It’s a house made watermelon and jalapeño infused tequila! If you’re feeling crazy, hop across the street to everyone’s favorite dive, Thrusters.
Turquoise Bar Europa – This one was right across the street for our house. It has a very European vibe and the tapas and paella are great. The drinks and service are sub-par but the best part is there is always live music. Insider Tip: Local blues legend Tomcat Courtney plays every Wednesday. He is 88 years young and croons with the best of ’em.
Pacific Beach Fish Shop – Fish Shop has some of the best fish tacos in San Diego! Pick your fish from the case and choose how you want it prepared. I recommend two tacos and some clam chowder. There is always a line especially on Thursday which is oyster night, but it is totally worth it. Insider Tip: It’s BYOB for wine. Run across the street to CVS and pick up a bottle.
PB Shore Club – A PB institution, Shore Club is the ultimate beach dive bar. They recently added a deck which is the perfect spot to watch sunset over the boardwalk. You have to try their signature drink, the Redbull Vodka Slushie. I recommend the tropical version.
Ambrogio 15 – This pizza place is super authentic and delicous. The owners are from Milan and even flew in their pizza oven from Italy!
Costa Brava – Come for the tapas, stay for the happy hour. It’s unassuming location will have you thinking twice but once inside you’ll swear you’re in Barcelona eating patatas bravas and sipping sangria.
Iron Pig Alehouse – Being from Georgia we know a thing or two about BBQ. I was even a sever at two BBQ restaurants! SoCal struggles to compete with the South but when we found Iron Pig we were hooked. The portions are huge and you can smell the smoker from the street. Unlike most BBQ restaurants, Iron Pig is a young and trendy scene. Try one of their delicious local craft beers and order the smoked wings as an appetizer, they are the best I’ve ever had!
Amazona Acai Cafe – Look no further for authentic acai and homemade coxinha. This place is delicious. It was previously located on our street and we had to limit ourselves from going too much! The service is unparalleled and the Brazilian owner, Luis, is a great guy.
Mr. Frostie – Established in 1949, this classic ice cream joint is a local favorite. Take the family and try some timeless frozen treats.
Better Buzz* – Singlehandedly the best coffee shop in Pacific Beach, Better Buzz is the sober scene PB needed. Perfect for studying, working, or catching up with friends, the coffee is yummy and the aesthetics are pleasing. Snag a spot on the swing seat with their “best drink ever” or play some corn hole while sipping a lavender black tea latte. Only cons: it is often too crowded and the food is overpriced and subpar.
The Patio* – Grant would eat here everyday if I let him! Their brunch is THE BEST! Surrounded by succulents, this gorgeous restaurant does not feel like the rest of PB. It is super dog-friendly, so much so that you get discounts on brunch drinks if you bring a pooch! The chilaquiles and pork belly benedict are our favorites. Make a reservation on OpenTable and request an outdoor table on the name-worthy patio.
Oscars Mexican Seafood*- These tacos are SO delicious and they’ve got the Yelp reviews to prove it. Try the surf and turf taco and ceviche and you will be in sublime food heaven. Insider Tip: Use ALL the sauces.
The Mad Beet – Although it is slightly less authentic than Amazona, The Mad Beet has to-die-for acai bowls. They also have an extensive smoothie and juice menu. Their chalkboard menu and rap music make for a fun atmosphere. The best part is everything has “punny” names such as beyoncai, bob marleaf, wiz kale-leafa, and the granolling stones.
Moonshine Beach*- This line dancing bar may seem out of place with the beach scene but it is a lot of fun and always packed! Trade your bikini for boots and head to the this modern honkey tonk on lively Garnet Avenue. From live music and line dancing inside to lawn games and an extensive tequila bar outside, there is something for everyone.
Poke Chop – Poke bowls, or basically deconstructed sushi, are all the rage and little restaurants are popping up all over. This one is our favorite!
JRDN – A little more upscale than the rest of PB, JRDN is hotel Tower 23’s restaurant and it has a great happy hour. Go at sunset and get the mussels for a perfect date night or girls’ dinner.
The Grass Skirt – Unassumingly located in a strip mall, this speakeasy style tiki bar will transport you back in time to Hawaii. The food leaves a lot to be desired but the tropical drinks served in pineapples are so fun!
El Prez – Formerly BeachWood, this modern Mexican restaurant is perfect for tacos and tequila! It’s definitely a younger rowdy crowd but the sunset views are amazing.
The Menu – With more of a breakfast than brunch vibe, The Menu is low-key with great food. They’ve been serving breakfast classics for decades in Crown Point. The decor is retro including local maps which showcase PB’s history.
Tap Room – Tap Room is famous for its namesake collection of beers but the food is incredible too. Their pizza and sandwiches are way better than your traditional bar food.
Barrel Republic* – This bar has such a fun concept. When you arrive you link your credit card to a wristband and then you walk around to try dozens of self serve beer. They also have free popcorn and board games!
For more information on Southern California, grab this Lonely Planet guide book.