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Where to Eat in Chula Vista

From Brazilian beers to crispy carnitas

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While many see Chula Vista as just a halfway point between downtown and Tijuana or as a basic suburban sprawl, area residents and those in the know are fully aware that South Bay’s largest city holds a treasure-trove of great eateries to discover.

Want to get to know Chula Vista? Start with any of our picks.

Note: map points are listed geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Romesco

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The Mexican-Mediterranean eatery, originally conceived by Tijuana superstar chef Javier Plascencia, continues to excel in delivering cuisine inspired by old world techniques and Baja ingredients. The relatively new brunch menu is full of modern takes on Mexican breakfast staples, but the tableside dinner platters like the fideo seco and original Tijuana Caesar salad call back to the cordial service of decades past.

Romesco

Novo Brazil Brewing

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Eastlake’s first ever craft brewery might have a relatively short history, but has upped the ante every step of the way. At their taproom, you can still find the crisp, Brazil-inspired lagers which put Novo Brazil on the map, along with their take on newer trends like sours and hazy IPAs. They have also launched a new line of hard kombucha and landed Tacos La Central as a full time food vendor on their front patio. 

Bar Sin Nombre

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With a sizeable beer list focused on craft brews, this “nameless” Downtown Chula Vista watering hole is a must for any beer geeks looking for a hard-to-find pour. Bar Sin Nombre’s program regularly features smaller standout brewers from across the U.S. on its 40-tap setup. Sours by Colorado brewers Crooked Stave and imperial stouts by Sacramento-based Moksa are among the latest guests to this establishment. Local food truck Corazon de Torta supplies eats on select nights.

GrindHouse

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As one of the pioneers of Third Avenue’s revival, GrindHouse has lead the way with its all-day concept featuring coffee, food, and beer. The sandwich lineup is strong with its killer cubanos and gooey tuna melts, which perfectly pair with any tall can in stock. The coffee program features Coava and Modern Times beans for their caffeine bomb of a cold brew and perfectly sweet Mexican mocha. 

Anthem Chula Vista

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While creative mixology and self-described “weird” coffee have made co-tenants Brew Bar a popular Third Avenue stop, the all-day vegan eats by Anthem also get constant the love they deserve during business hours. The plant-based menu includes a combination of  vegetables and surprisingly savory dishes made with seitan, jackfruit, tofu, and other meat alternatives. 

Mario A. Cortez

Talavera Azul

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Arriving to Third Avenue over 10 years ago, Talavera Azul has been a constant favorite since opening. Known for their fresh cafe de olla and an outstanding lineup of Tijuana-style breakfast dishes, deciding on a single item can be a tough choice. Chilaquiles, omelettes, and machaca —  all accompanied by tortillas, beans and Tijuana diced potatoes — are among the most popular items. 

Mario A. Cortez

Tacos El Gordo

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Arguably the most famous taqueria on both sides of the border, Tacos El Gordo has been a Chula Vista landmark since the Tijuana-based taco institution opened its first San Diego location on H Street in the late 1990s. Now operating out of a much larger location, you can expect the same great tacos, stuffed with your choice of  carne asada, adobada, cabeza, suadero, or tripa, as well as long lines at night. 

Frutas 100% Natural

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Chopped produce and green smoothies aren’t the only menu items at this fruteria. Frutas features a wide variety of Mexican snacks, frozen treats, and quick meals ranging from breakfast sandwiches to lunch salads. The popular tortas are generously stuffed with your choice of meat and the classic fixings.

Hogetsu Bakery

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A long time tenant on the corner of Oxford and Third, this hidden Japanese dessert shop specializes in mochi and traditional tea cakes. While the interior is small, every stop can be a unique experience, with different mochi flavors and pastries being available as the husband-and-wife decide to make them. Be sure to visit early to secure your favorite treat before it sells out. 

Magboo Candy

Izakaya Naruto

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While this intimate strip mall hangout captures the real feel of izakaya-style pubs, its most popular menu items lean more toward a border-Japanese mashup. The Chula Vista ”phomen” is a crossover between chicken broth and pho, but with enough lime and chili pepper to remind you of local Mexican influence. The maximalist Abre La Boca Mucho roll (“open your mouth wide”, in Spanish) is a tempura shrimp roll topped with spicy crab and extra shrimp, perfect for munching out or sharing over Sapporos.

Carnitas Las Michoacanas

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There is no part of the pig that goes uneaten at this no frills eatery dedicated to the Michoacan way of frying pork. While you can get your carnitas stuffed inside tortas and tacos, or atop the tostada especial, digging into a mixed third-pound order, accompanied by a variety of traditional sides and tortillas, is the only way of truly experiencing every crispy cut. 

La Moreliana

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This panaderia bakes small trays of traditional breads and unique items, like sweet rolls with jalapeños and manteconchas — a butter muffin base with a concha baked on top. Pick up your favorites before they run out for the day. Tijuana-style hot dogs are also available Thursday through Sunday afternoons in front of the shop. 

Mexipino Craft

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In a move celebrating their shared heritage and the coming together of the South Bay’s two largest immigrant groups, owners Roger Buhain and Richard Corpus successfully blend Mexican and FiIlipino influences at their breakfast restaurant. The marquee Mexipino hash scrambles spicy chicken, queso fresco, ube, and longanisa, and comes with your choice of pandesal or tortillas on the side. Menu items like spam chorizo sandwiches on concha bread and fried chicken adobo with waffles are as delicious as they are surprising on first sight. 

El Cacho

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Of all of the mariscos establishments which have named themselves in allusion to Tijuana’s famous Marisqueria La Cacho, this seafood truck might be the only one which can actually match its namesake -- which explains the crowds all week long. The broad menu of tacos and tostadas, all named after the Mexican cities inspiring each respective item, has something for everyone. Standouts include the Taco Culichi, with grilled shrimp and poblano sauce, and the classic Gobernador taco. 

El Tio Pepe

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Operating out of a food truck on the corner of Hilltop and Main, El Tio Pepe’s first outpost north of the border delivers a faithful recreation of the torta ahogada — bolillo salado rolls stuffed with carnitas and soaked in a chile de arbol and sauce— which has made Pepe Plascencia’s Tijuana and Rosarito outlets a hit. Other items include tacos and quesadillas loaded with the same carnitas packed into tortas and piping-hot birria. 

Fernandez Restaurant

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A Sunday morning must for many South Bay residents, brothers Miguel Angel and Jorge Fernandez have cooked their perennially in-demand birria since 2006. With a recipe which calls for simmering beef overnight in a proprietary blend of arbol chilies and spices, the end product yields a soft meat in a rich, spicy broth. Ask for tatemado style to crisp up your meat on the grill. 

Romesco

Romesco

The Mexican-Mediterranean eatery, originally conceived by Tijuana superstar chef Javier Plascencia, continues to excel in delivering cuisine inspired by old world techniques and Baja ingredients. The relatively new brunch menu is full of modern takes on Mexican breakfast staples, but the tableside dinner platters like the fideo seco and original Tijuana Caesar salad call back to the cordial service of decades past.

Romesco

Novo Brazil Brewing

Eastlake’s first ever craft brewery might have a relatively short history, but has upped the ante every step of the way. At their taproom, you can still find the crisp, Brazil-inspired lagers which put Novo Brazil on the map, along with their take on newer trends like sours and hazy IPAs. They have also launched a new line of hard kombucha and landed Tacos La Central as a full time food vendor on their front patio. 

Bar Sin Nombre

With a sizeable beer list focused on craft brews, this “nameless” Downtown Chula Vista watering hole is a must for any beer geeks looking for a hard-to-find pour. Bar Sin Nombre’s program regularly features smaller standout brewers from across the U.S. on its 40-tap setup. Sours by Colorado brewers Crooked Stave and imperial stouts by Sacramento-based Moksa are among the latest guests to this establishment. Local food truck Corazon de Torta supplies eats on select nights.

GrindHouse

As one of the pioneers of Third Avenue’s revival, GrindHouse has lead the way with its all-day concept featuring coffee, food, and beer. The sandwich lineup is strong with its killer cubanos and gooey tuna melts, which perfectly pair with any tall can in stock. The coffee program features Coava and Modern Times beans for their caffeine bomb of a cold brew and perfectly sweet Mexican mocha. 

Anthem Chula Vista

Mario A. Cortez

While creative mixology and self-described “weird” coffee have made co-tenants Brew Bar a popular Third Avenue stop, the all-day vegan eats by Anthem also get constant the love they deserve during business hours. The plant-based menu includes a combination of  vegetables and surprisingly savory dishes made with seitan, jackfruit, tofu, and other meat alternatives. 

Mario A. Cortez

Talavera Azul

Mario A. Cortez

Arriving to Third Avenue over 10 years ago, Talavera Azul has been a constant favorite since opening. Known for their fresh cafe de olla and an outstanding lineup of Tijuana-style breakfast dishes, deciding on a single item can be a tough choice. Chilaquiles, omelettes, and machaca —  all accompanied by tortillas, beans and Tijuana diced potatoes — are among the most popular items. 

Mario A. Cortez

Tacos El Gordo

Arguably the most famous taqueria on both sides of the border, Tacos El Gordo has been a Chula Vista landmark since the Tijuana-based taco institution opened its first San Diego location on H Street in the late 1990s. Now operating out of a much larger location, you can expect the same great tacos, stuffed with your choice of  carne asada, adobada, cabeza, suadero, or tripa, as well as long lines at night. 

Frutas 100% Natural

Chopped produce and green smoothies aren’t the only menu items at this fruteria. Frutas features a wide variety of Mexican snacks, frozen treats, and quick meals ranging from breakfast sandwiches to lunch salads. The popular tortas are generously stuffed with your choice of meat and the classic fixings.

Hogetsu Bakery

Magboo Candy

A long time tenant on the corner of Oxford and Third, this hidden Japanese dessert shop specializes in mochi and traditional tea cakes. While the interior is small, every stop can be a unique experience, with different mochi flavors and pastries being available as the husband-and-wife decide to make them. Be sure to visit early to secure your favorite treat before it sells out. 

Magboo Candy

Izakaya Naruto

While this intimate strip mall hangout captures the real feel of izakaya-style pubs, its most popular menu items lean more toward a border-Japanese mashup. The Chula Vista ”phomen” is a crossover between chicken broth and pho, but with enough lime and chili pepper to remind you of local Mexican influence. The maximalist Abre La Boca Mucho roll (“open your mouth wide”, in Spanish) is a tempura shrimp roll topped with spicy crab and extra shrimp, perfect for munching out or sharing over Sapporos.

Carnitas Las Michoacanas

There is no part of the pig that goes uneaten at this no frills eatery dedicated to the Michoacan way of frying pork. While you can get your carnitas stuffed inside tortas and tacos, or atop the tostada especial, digging into a mixed third-pound order, accompanied by a variety of traditional sides and tortillas, is the only way of truly experiencing every crispy cut. 

La Moreliana

This panaderia bakes small trays of traditional breads and unique items, like sweet rolls with jalapeños and manteconchas — a butter muffin base with a concha baked on top. Pick up your favorites before they run out for the day. Tijuana-style hot dogs are also available Thursday through Sunday afternoons in front of the shop. 

Mexipino Craft

In a move celebrating their shared heritage and the coming together of the South Bay’s two largest immigrant groups, owners Roger Buhain and Richard Corpus successfully blend Mexican and FiIlipino influences at their breakfast restaurant. The marquee Mexipino hash scrambles spicy chicken, queso fresco, ube, and longanisa, and comes with your choice of pandesal or tortillas on the side. Menu items like spam chorizo sandwiches on concha bread and fried chicken adobo with waffles are as delicious as they are surprising on first sight. 

El Cacho