San Diego

Thoughts on experiences I've done, places I've eaten.

I've been to San Diego twice in 5 years, the last trip being just a few days ago. Here are some things I've done, with some thoughts on whether I recommend them or want to do them again.


Tacos El Gordo

This is downtown in East Village / Gaslamp Quarter. Cheap, "authentic" tacos with some of the best al pastor and lengua I've ever had.

Recommend: Yes

Beshock Ramen

This is downtown in East Village. The ramen we had (vegan, tan tan) were very ok. Their sake collection looks nice though.

Recommend: Yes if you're interested in sake and affordable sushi, No for ramen

Jeff's Beach Burgers

This is in La Jolla. Fries were amaing. Burger was good, though overstuffed. Service was notably very warm. Interested in the shake...

Recommend: Yes if you have a big appetite and are in the area

Nishiki Ramen

This is somewhat downtown in Hillcrest. In my top 10 ramen of all time. I got the smoke bomb black, interested in other ramen. Restored my faith in good, not-gamey chashu.

Recommend: YES

HiroNori Ramen

Same thing as Nishiki Ramen, in Hillcrest. Amazing!!!

Recommend: YES

Lucky's Lunch Counter

In Gaslamp Quarter downtown, next to Petco Park. Open for breakfast and lunch, serving both all day from 7 a.m. Warm and fast service. Had the yummiest breakfast burrito I've ever had. Also fried chicken sandwich, jalapeno melt, and fries that weren't overly greasy or heavy! Can get cold in the winter since it's all outdoor or open-window.

Recommend: Yes

Broken Yolk

In Gaslamp Quarter downtown. Its noteworthy features are its open from 6 a.m. and has plenty of indoor seating. Food was very ok, coffee was good.

Recommend: No, unless it's your only option early in the morning

The Blind Burro

This is downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter, close to Petco Park and Lucky's. Sorry, their tacos are overpriced and mediocre. Their flautas are alright. But their churros are surprisingly light and pleasant, served with a good sauce.

Recommend: No, except for the churros

Juniper & Ivy

This is downtown in Little Italy. I went here both times I was in San Diego. To this day it serves the best roast duck I've ever hard. It is pricey and definitely requires reservations.

Recommend: YES


Sunset Cliffs: Nature Cave and Gaia's Gate Hike

Found this on AirBnb. Felt otherworldly. Incredibly beautiful. Guide was passionate and caring: Once in a lifetime experience for me. I wouldn't do it again since it's a bit precarious, and the location is hard to get to (and leave from) without a car.

Recommend: Yes | Do it again: No

Snorkeling in Mission Bay with a Biologist

Found this on AirBnb and Viator.  Was fun and educational! Saw lots of different sea creatures that I wouldn't have been able to find on my own. I wouldn't do this again, at least in the colder months, because getting a thick wetsuit to rent was a hassle.

Recommend: Yes | Do it again: No

Kayaking in La Jolla

Found this on AirBnb. It was very OK. Tour guides were nice but not my kind of people. It was advertised to go into the caves, but we didn't because it was too dangerous. This was noted as a possibility in the description. I appreciate the concern for safety. I did not appreciate the guides hiding that decision towards the end of the tour, outright admitting, "We didn't want to tell you but..." Yeesh, I'd rather you all be transparent earlier in the tour. Were you afraid of cancellations? It just felt deceptive and unprofessional. Without the cave experience, it was literally just kayaking into an open ocean. There was some pelicon and sea lion activity, but I wasn't really into it. The guides tried to tell stories and fun facts, but sometimes it was hard to hear them because we were a big group that had to spread out, and they didn't have any voice-amplifying equipment.

I've done kayaking before in other places. This was probably my least enjoyable kayaking experience. Maybe it's the company (Everyday California) or the guides that day, but I wouldn't do this again or recommend it.

Recommend: No | Do it again: No

Rock climbing in Mission Trails Park

AirBnb. This was a fun experience! Was with a small and lively group, too. I would only do this if you have a car. Beginning and intermediate friendly: the group with me had never done rock climbing before, and they still were able to get to the top. At the time I was probably an advanced beginner / intermediate climber. :)

Recommend: Yes | Do it again: No

San Diego Zoo

This is downtown in Balboa Park. What a huge and nice park! We went there 5 years ago when it was raining, and we still had a fun experience. We saw pandas, red pandas, elephants, snakes, primates, etc.

Recommend: Yes | Do it again: Yes

Salk Institute Architectural Tour (Self-Guided)

Heard about this from a friend. This is a neat place to go if you have a half hour or so to burn. I spent an hour there, just sitting and drinking ube cold brew (wat!!). It is famous for is world-renowned scientific research and incredibly surreal, thoughtful architecture designed to optimize for interdisciplinary collaboration and environmental sustainability. It's $10 for guests to wander in, weekdays until 4 p.m.

Recommend: Yes | Do it again: Yes, if you're in the area and want to chill somewhere unique

Juniper Slot Canyons Hike

Found this on AirBnb. The guide was alright, though the experience was pretty cool and felt otherworldly. You start off at the popular Torrey Pines Glider Port, so if you're interested in hang gliding you can also swing that.

Recommend: Yes | Do it again: No

Balboa Park

This is a must. It's huge. I haven't been through all of it yet. It contains the San Diego Zoo and several museums, as well as the Spanish Village.

Recommend: Yes | Do it again: Yes