Where to Dine on your Family Vacation in San Diego
San Diego is famed for both its seafood, such as fish cakes (pictured above), and California Mexican cuisine. (Chicago Tribune/James F. Quinn)
Hometown of the fish taco, San Diego is famed for both its seafood and California Mexican cuisine. The Gaslamp Quarter overflows with restaurants, many of them Italian.
But many of these are aimed at grownups and prices can sometimes be prohibitive for families. Likewise, many of the waterfront eateries around San Diego Harbor are overpriced, underwhelming in culinary terms and perhaps best avoided.
Better to check out some of the Mexican cafes in Old Town, the moderately priced Asian eateries around Convoy Street in the Kearny Mesa neighborhood, or the surfer dude hangouts of shore communities like Pacific Beach, Coronado and Encinitas.
• Corvette Diner
A longtime favorite with local kids, this lively Hillcrest restaurant sports a distinctive 1950's theme including old-time rock-n-roll, waitresses in poodle skirts and beehive hairdos and a genuine red Corvette in the dining room. The classic American eats include burgers, onion rings, chicken pot pie, sloppy Joes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, root beer floats and banana splits.
Future Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau of the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots is the inspiration behind this cavernous Mission Valley eatery. Giant TV screen, football memorabilia, sports souvenir shop, live radio broadcasts and football-shaped dining area are among the attractions. The kid's menu includes chicken dinosaurs, corn dogs, junior shrimp and mac & cheese.
• Old Town Café
Eat indoors in old wooden booths or on the breezy patio of this popular Mexican restaurant in the oldest part of San Diego. Women in traditional Mexican garb make around 7,000 tortillas a day in the glass-enclosed kitchen area. While the menu has many spicy Mexican dishes, there's also plenty of kid-friendly food, like cheese enchiladas and bean burritos.
• Buca di Beppo
That rare Gaslamp restaurant with a family slant, this classic Italian eatery at the corner of Sixth and G streets includes heaping portions of pasta, salad and garlic bread that can be shared by the whole family. Call to reserve one of the two kitchen booths, where kids can watch all that food being made.
• Teri Café
This casual eatery in Oceanside and Kearney Mesa (off Convoy Street) is a great introduction for kids to several different types of Japanese food including teriyaki, sushi and tempura, as well as udon noodles and ramen dishes. The décor blends Hawaiian island and California surfer chic. If you're still hungry after your meal, head next door to a frozen yogurt parlor for dessert.