A foodie road trip through San Diego and surrounds
It can be tempting to pigeonhole San Diego as a surfers’ city, but there’s so much more to this beachy part of California, discovers Zac de Silva.
While the city is known for its beach culture, surfers aren’t the only ones who can enjoy San Diego. A bourgeoning culinary scene has cropped up in the city and its surrounds, making it a foodie heaven. Combine the food with some stunning coastal highways, and you’ve got yourself one epic road trip. While this is doable in one day (depending on the size of your stomach), it could easily be extended further north to Los Angeles for a multi-day adventure.
Begin your day with a visit to San Diego Prestige , where you’ll be able to choose from a huge fleet of luxury cars. Actually, a visit isn’t compulsory: vehicle deliveries and pickups within San Diego County are included in the rental rate. Live out your racing dreams in a high-performance sports car, enjoy a classy Rolls Royce experience, or take in the San Diego coastline in an American icon: the choice is yours. Once you’ve picked up your vehicle of choice, it’s time to hit the road.
The best start to your day
Heading north out of San Diego, you’ll pass Mission Bay, where water lovers will be able to do everything from stand-up paddleboarding to sailing and jet skiing. And if that’s not your cup of tea, be sure to drop by on the way back and take in the sunset at Sunset Cliffs: a 27.5-hectare nature reserve with some of the best ocean views you’ll find around.
Your first food destination is Caroline’s Seaside Cafe by Giuseppe for a healthy California-style breakfast. Located on campus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (one of the world’s oldest and most established centres for ocean research), the menu at Caroline’s focuses on organic and sustainable sources and uses hormone-free meats and poultry. While you’re munching away on a bagel or the cafe’s signature French toast, admire the views over the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier and the rolling surf of Scripps Beach.
While you’re on campus at Scripps, it is worthwhile spending some time in the Birch Aquarium, where you’ll be able to see a fantastic collection of sharks, fish, seahorses and even a rescued loggerhead sea turtle. This is another great spot to visit on your return journey as well, as the aquarium offers exclusive sunset tours of the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier.
As much as you may like to, you can’t look at fish forever, so it’s back on the road and off to your next food destination. Viewpoint Brewing Co. serves up good food and great beer in a communal setting. There’s plenty to choose from on the menu, but grabbing a share plate might be your best option (remember you’ll need to pace your food consumption). You’ve got plenty of options here, including cheese and charcuterie, pork belly and ceviche. To drink, there are 20 different beers on tap, including a number that are brewed in-house and a selection from less-distributed breweries.
One of the worlds best surf towns
Your next stop is Encinitas. This town is about 10 minutes’ drive north of Viewpoint and was named by National Geographic as one of the world’s 20 best surf towns. Before you get to the food here, make sure you take a look in the quirky boutiques of Encinitas’ 100-plus-year-old downtown shopping district.
Once you’re done shopping, you’ve got a couple of options for afternoon tea. If you’re just after a coffee, tea or light snack then drop in at Pannikin Coffee & Tea. Located in the Santa Fe Railroad Station (which was built in 1888), you can expect freshly roasted coffee, fine imported tea and freshly baked goods. But if you’re after something more substantial, Buona Forchetta serves up gourmet Neapolitan-style pizzas and northern Italian meals. Alternatively, head to Swami’s Cafe 101, where you’ll find classic SoCal surfer meals: everything from tasty acai bowls and smoothies to fish tacos, wraps and salads.
Once you’ve finished eating, take a stroll through San Diego Botanic Garden to help the food go down. Over 15 hectares of exhibits you’ll see 5,000 different species of plants, including the USA’s largest collection of bamboo groves.
From Encinitas, we’re off to the city of Carlsbad. Once again, you have two options for food here. The first is Campfire, a restaurant that serves up wood fired American fare amid fun camping décor (and yes, the open fire will keep you toasty warm). The other option is Jeune et Jolie, a charming Art Deco-inspired French restaurant built around an open kitchen.
As the day winds to a close, and your stomach begins to protest, there’s one more stop to make. Head to Oceanside, San Diego’s northernmost beach town, to sample the Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub’s imaginative take on classic sushi and sashimi dishes.
Once the last morsel of fish and the last grain of rice have gone down, head back to San Diego. While you’ve been stopping and starting all day as you head from place to place, now’s your chance to really enjoy that luxury car – time to put some miles on those tires!