Old Town: Birthplace of California Is Famous for Mexican Food and More

Old Town is one of San Diego's most popular attractions. Between shopping and exploring the state park area, you might get hungry or need a place to stop for a refreshing drink. Truth be told, Old Town is full of Mexican restaurants that get a little bit of a bad rap for being touristy and not authentic enough, but don't let that dissuade you.

If you ask a local what their favorite restaurant in Old Town is, you'll usually hear two answers. One is Cafe Coyote, where most dishes are made from scratch daily at the restaurant. The margarita/tequila selection is plentiful while the patio provides excellent people watching. The other is Old Town Mexican Cafe and Cantina for its delicious margaritas and carnitas. Both have tortilla ladies making delicious handmade tortillas as guests watch. Be advised that both places can get busy during peak times.

There are a handful of restaurants offering other cuisine choices. One is Sushi Tadokoro which is widely regarded as offering the very best sushi and sashimi in San Diego. Harney Sushi is also a popular option.

Should you like to indulge in a fish-bowl-sized margarita or the thousands of tequilas on offer, skip driving. The trolley stops in Old Town and there is, of course, Uber.



Barra Barra Saloon is a period saloon that is part of Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town State Historic Park. The furnishings and menu represent the merging of Mexico with American traditions in the mid-1800s. The cozy ambiance is akin to a ranch home...  Read More

Jack & Giulio's Italian Restaurant


Jack & Guilio's Italian Restaurant used to be located in Pacific Beach and has been in business since 1961. In addition to a nice list of Italian wines, they are famous for their scampi recipe in addition to homemade pastas, veal, poultry,...  Read More

Casa Guadalajara


Old Town is among San Diego's top tourist stops, and all those visitors need to eat somewhere. Mexican restaurants are obviously popular, and Casa Guadalajara in Bazaar del Mundo ranks near the top of the list. Tortillas made in-house, great...  Read More



Casa de Reyes feels like its own little village with plenty of seating as well as a small entertainment area and shops lining the restaurant's courtyard. It's a great place to enjoy a margarita al fresco. Guests rave about the carnitas, tamales,...  Read More



Miguel's is a popular Mexican restaurant chain in San Diego that's famous for their amazing jalapeno cream sauce that arrives shortly after being seated, in addition to chips, salsa, and pickled vegetables. The restaurant has made a name for...  Read More



The Old Town Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant's full-service restaurant and bar are open 7 days a week for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The American grill, seafood and Mexican inspired favorites range from overstuffed chili rellenos to a...  Read More

Old Town Mexican Cafe and Cantina


Old Town is one of San Diego's top attractions, and all the restaurants in the area are nearly always packed. OTMC has a bit of an edge over the competition: the "tortilla ladies" who make over 7000 tortillas every day, strolling mariachis, and...  Read More



Not only is Harney Sushi a favorite of San Diego locals for sushi, they are pioneering the local, sustainable fish movement to ensure that customers are only eating the very best (no fish fraud here). Needless to say sashimi is a popular order,...  Read More

Cafe Coyote
Photo courtesy of Henri Louis Hirschfeld


From tortillas to tamales to salsa, Coyote Cafe makes everything from scratch every day on the premises. Start the day with a Breakfast Margarita, chilaquiles, menudo, or a chile relleno omelette. For lunch, try the chile verde, a quesadilla,...  Read More



Sushi Tadokoro serves up traditional Edo-mae-style sushi in Old Town. The venue is small and intimate, quite like sushi restaurants in Japan, and guests may feel temporarily transported when dining here. Delivery of some seafood from Japan is...  Read More


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie