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15 Essential San Diego Lunch Restaurants

Grab-and-go, fast-casual, power spots & more

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With so many lunch spots on offer in San Diego, knowing what you want to eat when the clock nears noon is not always an easy decision to make. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a long leisurely repast with friends, a more formal business pow-wow or simply looking to grab a quick bite before heading back to the office, we’ve rounded up 15 essential cafes, restaurants and neighborhood eateries to visit for your midday meal.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Artisan Bento

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2505 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(616) 231-0700
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Japanese-inspired and customizable bentō boxes make a perfect health-focused fast casual lunch option. Popular choice miso salmon ($11.50) comes with miso and mirin-cured salmon, two onigiri rice balls, small salad, and miso soup with an optional extra side of lotus root or seaweed glazed with sesame seeds. Other protein options include chicken skewers, ginger pork, sashimi, and mushroom tofu.

2. Supernatural Sea To Sandwich

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7094 Miramar Rd #105
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 831-7835
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SuperNatural's menu of seven "sea-to-sandwich" signatures - ranging from the garlic-shrimp Siren to the bacon and scallop-stuffed Neptune, plus "sinister" subs like Korean steak iteration Chimera – make it one of the fastest and tastiest lunch stops in Miramar. Sides include togarashi shrimp chips and a creamy scallop bacon chowder.

3. Homestyle Hawaiian

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7524 Mesa College Dr
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 571-5828
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Tuck into well-priced hearty Hawaiian dishes at this popular homegrown mini-chain, which also boasts locations in Chula Vista and the Sports Arena. Plate lunches start at $7 and include steamed rice and macaroni salad; don't miss the slow-roasted Kalua pig, lava chicken and spam masubi.

4. True Food Kitchen

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7007 Friars Rd Ste 394
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 810-2929
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In addition to sandwiches, salads (Mediterranean quinoa, seared albacore) and pizzas (Brussels sprout & wild mushroom, house-made chicken sausage), you’ll find perfectly portioned entrees, including a pan roasted chicken and Scottish steelhead salmon on the menu at this health-conscious café. Stay refreshed with tonics, teas and sodas like the Honey Bee Ginger Beer or enjoy a lunchtime tipple with a Citrus Skinny Margarita

5. ¡SALUD!

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2196 Logan Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
(619) 255-3856
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Art, food and culture collide at this Barrio Logan hotspot, where "new traditional" hand-pressed tortilla tacos cost each $2.50 and come stuffed with everything from carne asada to carnitas, birria, fried fish and sautéed veggies. Count on sides like frijoles del olla, Mexican street corn, plus beers, aguas and mixed drinks like the hooch horchata.

6. Bahn Thai

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4646 Park Blvd #3
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 299-6363
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This intimate Thai eatery tucked along Park Boulevard serves up generous portions of popular dishes like Tom Yum soup, papaya salad, drunken noodles and pineapple fried rice to a busy lunchtime crowd (pro tip: avoid the rush and stop by after 3 p.m. when things quiet down).

7. Iron Pig Alehouse

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1520 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 412-4299
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Iron Pig’s lunch special costs $7.99 for half a large sandwich, side of your choosing and a pickle (the pulled pork on brioche with slow smoked beans is a great option), plus a $4 beer from around 15 off the happy hour list. The smoked taco trio ($9.99) and smoked brisket ‘mansalad’ are also noteworthy menu mentions.

8. The French Gourmet

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960 Turquoise St
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 224-9961
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Served daily until 3 p.m. lunch at this European-style bistro, bakery and wine shop comprises sophisticated Gallic delicacies like soupe a l’oignon gratinée and house specialty pâté sampler. There’s the obligatory salade Niçoise, plus lunch entrees ranging from steak pommes frites and seafood crêpes to a Mediterranean Cornish game hen.

9. Cafe Gratitude

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1980 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 736-5077
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Going vegan has never looked so good. Current seasonal specials at this 100 percent plant-based eatery include raw Mexican lasagna “Fabulous”, the “Brilliant” coconut ceviche and “Kansha” chilled ramen noodles. Long-standing menu faves include the “Humble” curry bowl and “Inspired” asparagus risotto. There are pressed juices, smoothies, milkshakes and housemade spritzers too if you’re leaning more towards a liquid lunch.

10. NaPizza

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1040 University Ave (Attn: Basia)
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 546-8300
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For a quick, tasty meal the “happy belly combo” deal at Napizza hits the spot: double up on a more than generously sized slice of gourmet pie (the porcini truffle mushroom is a must), balance your single slice with a salad, or do the half sub/soup plus a fountain drink for $11. Add $4 if you’d prefer a draft beer or house wine. Save room for some delicious dolci too, specifically a fresh, housemade cannoli.

11. Dobson's Bar & Restaurant

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965 Broadway Cir
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-6771
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Reservations are recommended at this decades-old power lunch spot in the Gaslamp, famed for it’s continental flair and welcoming ambiance. In addition to the eatery's signature mussel bisque you can also fill up on gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads for around $8-$14. Larger entrées include wild mushroom risotto and a petite filet mignon.

12. CUCINA enoteca Del Mar

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2730 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 704-4500
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Treat yourself to an upscale Italian lunchtime feast at this Flower Hill mainstay. There’s stuffed fried squash blossoms, gourmet pizzas, pasta selections and salads, plus min ‘vasi’ mason jars filled with everything from smoked trout to creamy burrata. Beverage wise, refreshers come 0-proof or alcohol included, along with local craft brews and a wide selection of Italian wines by the glass or bottle.

13. Crack Shack

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2266 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 795-3299
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Just shy of its one-year anniversary, most days come lunchtime there’s still a good-sized line at Richard Blais’ casual chicken and egg concept. Folks flock here for the signature sandwiches including perennial favorite Coop Deville stuffed with fried chicken and pickled Fresno chilies, kimchi-seasoned deviled eggs, togarashi chicken lollipops, Mexican poutine and more.

14. Carnitas' Snack Shack

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2632 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 294-7675
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Hanis Cavin wildly popular counter-service spot is revered for its pork sandwiches and craft beer. While the menu changes daily their signature triple threat pork sandwich, shack fries and carnitas tacos are probably its three most famous features.

15. Tender Greens

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2400 Historic Decatur Rd
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 226-6254
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This casual cafeteria-style chain serves up a wide selection of globally influenced sandwiches and salads using locally sourced ingredients. Chicken, steak, fish or falafel can all be made into a sandwich, hot plate or simple salad ($11.50), and served up with plant-based side and rustic soups ($5+).

1. Artisan Bento

2505 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Japanese-inspired and customizable bentō boxes make a perfect health-focused fast casual lunch option. Popular choice miso salmon ($11.50) comes with miso and mirin-cured salmon, two onigiri rice balls, small salad, and miso soup with an optional extra side of lotus root or seaweed glazed with sesame seeds. Other protein options include chicken skewers, ginger pork, sashimi, and mushroom tofu.
2505 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103

2. Supernatural Sea To Sandwich

7094 Miramar Rd #105, San Diego, CA 92121
SuperNatural's menu of seven "sea-to-sandwich" signatures - ranging from the garlic-shrimp Siren to the bacon and scallop-stuffed Neptune, plus "sinister" subs like Korean steak iteration Chimera – make it one of the fastest and tastiest lunch stops in Miramar. Sides include togarashi shrimp chips and a creamy scallop bacon chowder.
7094 Miramar Rd #105
San Diego, CA 92121

3. Homestyle Hawaiian

7524 Mesa College Dr, San Diego, CA 92111
Tuck into well-priced hearty Hawaiian dishes at this popular homegrown mini-chain, which also boasts locations in Chula Vista and the Sports Arena. Plate lunches start at $7 and include steamed rice and macaroni salad; don't miss the slow-roasted Kalua pig, lava chicken and spam masubi.
7524 Mesa College Dr
San Diego, CA 92111

4. True Food Kitchen

7007 Friars Rd Ste 394, San Diego, CA 92108
In addition to sandwiches, salads (Mediterranean quinoa, seared albacore) and pizzas (Brussels sprout & wild mushroom, house-made chicken sausage), you’ll find perfectly portioned entrees, including a pan roasted chicken and Scottish steelhead salmon on the menu at this health-conscious café. Stay refreshed with tonics, teas and sodas like the Honey Bee Ginger Beer or enjoy a lunchtime tipple with a Citrus Skinny Margarita
7007 Friars Rd Ste 394
San Diego, CA 92108

5. ¡SALUD!

2196 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Art, food and culture collide at this Barrio Logan hotspot, where "new traditional" hand-pressed tortilla tacos cost each $2.50 and come stuffed with everything from carne asada to carnitas, birria, fried fish and sautéed veggies. Count on sides like frijoles del olla, Mexican street corn, plus beers, aguas and mixed drinks like the hooch horchata.
2196 Logan Ave
San Diego, CA 92113

6. Bahn Thai

4646 Park Blvd #3, San Diego, CA 92116
This intimate Thai eatery tucked along Park Boulevard serves up generous portions of popular dishes like Tom Yum soup, papaya salad, drunken noodles and pineapple fried rice to a busy lunchtime crowd (pro tip: avoid the rush and stop by after 3 p.m. when things quiet down).
4646 Park Blvd #3
San Diego, CA 92116

7. Iron Pig Alehouse

1520 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109
Iron Pig’s lunch special costs $7.99 for half a large sandwich, side of your choosing and a pickle (the pulled pork on brioche with slow smoked beans is a great option), plus a $4 beer from around 15 off the happy hour list. The smoked taco trio ($9.99) and smoked brisket ‘mansalad’ are also noteworthy menu mentions.
1520 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109

8. The French Gourmet

960 Turquoise St, San Diego, CA 92109
Served daily until 3 p.m. lunch at this European-style bistro, bakery and wine shop comprises sophisticated Gallic delicacies like soupe a l’oignon gratinée and house specialty pâté sampler. There’s the obligatory salade Niçoise, plus lunch entrees ranging from steak pommes frites and seafood crêpes to a Mediterranean Cornish game hen.
960 Turquoise St
San Diego, CA 92109

9. Cafe Gratitude

1980 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Going vegan has never looked so good. Current seasonal specials at this 100 percent plant-based eatery include raw Mexican lasagna “Fabulous”, the “Brilliant” coconut ceviche and “Kansha” chilled ramen noodles. Long-standing menu faves include the “Humble” curry bowl and “Inspired” asparagus risotto. There are pressed juices, smoothies, milkshakes and housemade spritzers too if you’re leaning more towards a liquid lunch.
1980 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

10. NaPizza

1040 University Ave (Attn: Basia), San Diego, CA 92103
For a quick, tasty meal the “happy belly combo” deal at Napizza hits the spot: double up on a more than generously sized slice of gourmet pie (the porcini truffle mushroom is a must), balance your single slice with a salad, or do the half sub/soup plus a fountain drink for $11. Add $4 if you’d prefer a draft beer or house wine. Save room for some delicious dolci too, specifically a fresh, housemade cannoli.
1040 University Ave (Attn: Basia)
San Diego, CA 92103

11. Dobson's Bar & Restaurant

965 Broadway Cir, San Diego, CA 92101
Reservations are recommended at this decades-old power lunch spot in the Gaslamp, famed for it’s continental flair and welcoming ambiance. In addition to the eatery's signature mussel bisque you can also fill up on gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads for around $8-$14. Larger entrées include wild mushroom risotto and a petite filet mignon.
965 Broadway Cir
San Diego, CA 92101

12. CUCINA enoteca Del Mar

2730 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014
Treat yourself to an upscale Italian lunchtime feast at this Flower Hill mainstay. There’s stuffed fried squash blossoms, gourmet pizzas, pasta selections and salads, plus min ‘vasi’ mason jars filled with everything from smoked trout to creamy burrata. Beverage wise, refreshers come 0-proof or alcohol included, along with local craft brews and a wide selection of Italian wines by the glass or bottle.
2730 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014

13. Crack Shack

2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Just shy of its one-year anniversary, most days come lunchtime there’s still a good-sized line at Richard Blais’ casual chicken and egg concept. Folks flock here for the signature sandwiches including perennial favorite Coop Deville stuffed with fried chicken and pickled Fresno chilies, kimchi-seasoned deviled eggs, togarashi chicken lollipops, Mexican poutine and more.
2266 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

14. Carnitas' Snack Shack

2632 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104
Hanis Cavin wildly popular counter-service spot is revered for its pork sandwiches and craft beer. While the menu changes daily their signature triple threat pork sandwich, shack fries and carnitas tacos are probably its three most famous features.
2632 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92104

15. Tender Greens

2400 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
This casual cafeteria-style chain serves up a wide selection of globally influenced sandwiches and salads using locally sourced ingredients. Chicken, steak, fish or falafel can all be made into a sandwich, hot plate or simple salad ($11.50), and served up with plant-based side and rustic soups ($5+).
2400 Historic Decatur Rd
San Diego, CA 92106

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