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The Pioneer BBQ/Facebook

Where to Eat in La Mesa

This not-so-sleepy suburb offers everything from Himalayan food to barbecue

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Located just nine miles east of downtown San Diego, La Mesa is developing its own distinct dining scene. From within its city limits, diners can feast on Himalayan cuisine, dig into barbecued brisket or grab a tasty sandwich from a liquor store. Whether you’re an area resident or looking to find a new-to-you eating spot, check out these 14 restaurants in La Mesa as a starting point to discovery.

Disclaimer: This map should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still COVID-19 safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases, please visit the California Department of Health. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Cheers Deli & Liquor

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Don’t bypass this deli and liquor store combo because the fresh made sandwiches are a favorite of locals to grab a bite. There are the usual options like Italian submarines and meatball subs but pause to study the extensive menu for hidden gems like the Greek chicken. It’s a hot sandwich featuring marinated chicken, provolone and feta cheeses, black olives, cucumbers and garlic on a French roll.

Chainsaw sandwich
Darlene Alilain-Horn

The Pioneer

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Owners Willie DePascale and Chef Hanis Cavin knew what they were doing when they opened this restaurant back in 2018. Specializing in all things BBQ including smoked meats, burgers, and a variety of sides, this Lake Murray venue is the go-to place for residents to hang out and grab some grub. Don’t miss out on the Best Mac & Cheese featuring smoked gouda, white cheddar, Swiss, parmesan and cheddar panko crust with an option to add a BBQ meat of your choice.

The Pioneer BBQ/Facebook

Signature Thai Cusine - Thai Food Restaurant La Mesa

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La Mesa has a great spot for authentic Thai cuisine on Lake Murray Boulevard. Some menu standouts include popular dishes like drunken noodles and green curry, plus addictive specialities like pad prik Thai dum, a soft shell crab sautéed in garlic and black pepper sauce.

Signature Thai/Facebook

Brew Coffee Spot

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This La Mesa spot is a popular venue for meet ups and getting some work done. Since the pandemic the business has continued to support the community by hosting markets and live music nights in its parking lot. Community involvement aside, head in for coffee creations like Barista Ben’s Latte, a mojito in coffee form with hints of vanilla in each sip. The Brew Coffee Spot also sells coffee beans sourced from around the globe.

Brew Coffee Spot/Facebook

Banbu Sushi Bar & Grill

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Go here for gorgeously plated sushi and other Japanese dishes that mirror the restaurant’s chic furnishings. With its spacious outdoor dining options, it’s also been a popular spot during the pandemic. Standout rolls to try include The Ultimate Hamachi Roll and Poke Crisp.

Bambu Sushi Bar & Grill/Facebook

Bánh Mì Babe

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This newish spot is closer to the College Area but worth the drive for its inventive Vietnamese dishes and refreshing beverages. Those looking for something outside of the usual banh mi should order the Dip Mi Babe, your choice of any sandwich (like the filet mignon banh mi) but with the restaurant’s special broth for dipping.

Banh Mi Babe/Facebook

Himalayan Cuisine

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The local dining scene offers unique global flavors including this restaurant serving a mix of Indian, Nepalese and Himalayan cuisine. The menu features familiar dishes like vegetable samosas, chicken tikka masala and saag aloo, as well as lesser known ones such as Himalayan balti, a chicken and lamb dish cooked in a savory tomato sauce.

Chicken chili
Himalayan Cuisine/Facebook

La Mesa Bistro & Bakery

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This La Mesa institution is always packed on the weekends for brunch and is also a popular lunch destination because of its hearty portions. The extensive menu specializes in American classics plus specials like the açai pancakes or Baja shrimp omelette.

Ultimate veggie omelette
La Mesa Bistro & Bakery/Facebook

Terra American Bistro

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Owner and executive chef Jeff Rossman’s spot is one of San Diego’s first farm-to-table restaurants and since moving from Hillcrest to its location on El Cajon Boulevard, it’s been a popular area mainstay. The menu is labeled New American meaning you can find influences from all over, like their Nashville hot chicken sandwich and stuffed pork chops with chicken chorizo to bowls with Asian ingredients.

Terra American Bistro/Facebook

BO-beau kitchen + garden

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File this restaurant under date night options or places to impress because its industrial-chic interiors softened with lots of natural lighting is a stunner. The menu is California-French featuring everything from trout amandine to fig flatbread.

Fig flatbread
BO-beau kitchen + garden/Facebook

Surf Rider Pizza Co.

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This La Mesa pizzeria touts 18-inch East Coast-style pies as well as cheesesteaks and strombolis. All pies like the signature Surf Rider Pizza with roasted garlic, white sauce, gorgonzola cheese, roma tomatoes and basil, are sold whole or by the slice.

Surf Rider Pizza Co./Facebook

City Tacos

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North Park’s popular City Tacos found a home in La Mesa and it’s just as popular as the original location. Choose from traditional tacos like pollo asado, carnitas and carne asada or venture into more unique creations like the Mexicali taco featuring grilled arrachero, onions, poblanos, asarado cheese and mashed potatoes.

City Tacos/Facebook

Farmer's Table La Mesa

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When Farmer’s Table splashed onto the La Mesa scene in 2017, it marked the area as an up-and-coming dining destination. To this day, Farmer’s Table remains just as popular with residents for its woodfired pizzas and Italian-American dishes using locally sourced ingredients.

Lamb shank
Farmer’s Table La Mesa/Facebook

Carnitas Uruapan Mexican Food

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This family-owned-and-operated spot not only offers carnitas but also birria, beef and chicken served in enchiladas, tacos and burritos. Do what the regulars do and order the carnitas— they’re sold by weight and served with rice, beans and tortillas.

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Cheers Deli & Liquor

Chainsaw sandwich
Darlene Alilain-Horn

Don’t bypass this deli and liquor store combo because the fresh made sandwiches are a favorite of locals to grab a bite. There are the usual options like Italian submarines and meatball subs but pause to study the extensive menu for hidden gems like the Greek chicken. It’s a hot sandwich featuring marinated chicken, provolone and feta cheeses, black olives, cucumbers and garlic on a French roll.

Chainsaw sandwich
Darlene Alilain-Horn

The Pioneer

The Pioneer BBQ/Facebook

Owners Willie DePascale and Chef Hanis Cavin knew what they were doing when they opened this restaurant back in 2018. Specializing in all things BBQ including smoked meats, burgers, and a variety of sides, this Lake Murray venue is the go-to place for residents to hang out and grab some grub. Don’t miss out on the Best Mac & Cheese featuring smoked gouda, white cheddar, Swiss, parmesan and cheddar panko crust with an option to add a BBQ meat of your choice.

The Pioneer BBQ/Facebook

Signature Thai Cusine - Thai Food Restaurant La Mesa

Signature Thai/Facebook

La Mesa has a great spot for authentic Thai cuisine on Lake Murray Boulevard. Some menu standouts include popular dishes like drunken noodles and green curry, plus addictive specialities like pad prik Thai dum, a soft shell crab sautéed in garlic and black pepper sauce.

Signature Thai/Facebook

Brew Coffee Spot

Brew Coffee Spot/Facebook

This La Mesa spot is a popular venue for meet ups and getting some work done. Since the pandemic the business has continued to support the community by hosting markets and live music nights in its parking lot. Community involvement aside, head in for coffee creations like Barista Ben’s Latte, a mojito in coffee form with hints of vanilla in each sip. The Brew Coffee Spot also sells coffee beans sourced from around the globe.

Brew Coffee Spot/Facebook

Banbu Sushi Bar & Grill

Bambu Sushi Bar & Grill/Facebook

Go here for gorgeously plated sushi and other Japanese dishes that mirror the restaurant’s chic furnishings. With its spacious outdoor dining options, it’s also been a popular spot during the pandemic. Standout rolls to try include The Ultimate Hamachi Roll and Poke Crisp.

Bambu Sushi Bar & Grill/Facebook

Bánh Mì Babe

Banh Mi Babe/Facebook

This newish spot is closer to the College Area but worth the drive for its inventive Vietnamese dishes and refreshing beverages. Those looking for something outside of the usual banh mi should order the Dip Mi Babe, your choice of any sandwich (like the filet mignon banh mi) but with the restaurant’s special broth for dipping.

Banh Mi Babe/Facebook

Himalayan Cuisine

Chicken chili
Himalayan Cuisine/Facebook

The local dining scene offers unique global flavors including this restaurant serving a mix of Indian, Nepalese and Himalayan cuisine. The menu features familiar dishes like vegetable samosas, chicken tikka masala and saag aloo, as well as lesser known ones such as Himalayan balti, a chicken and lamb dish cooked in a savory tomato sauce.

Chicken chili
Himalayan Cuisine/Facebook

La Mesa Bistro & Bakery

Ultimate veggie omelette
La Mesa Bistro & Bakery/Facebook

This La Mesa institution is always packed on the weekends for brunch and is also a popular lunch destination because of its hearty portions. The extensive menu specializes in American classics plus specials like the açai pancakes or Baja shrimp omelette.

Ultimate veggie omelette
La Mesa Bistro & Bakery/Facebook

Terra American Bistro

Terra American Bistro/Facebook

Owner and executive chef Jeff Rossman’s spot is one of San Diego’s first farm-to-table restaurants and since moving from Hillcrest to its location on El Cajon Boulevard, it’s been a popular area mainstay. The menu is labeled New American meaning you can find influences from all over, like their Nashville hot chicken sandwich and stuffed pork chops with chicken chorizo to bowls with Asian ingredients.

Terra American Bistro/Facebook

BO-beau kitchen + garden

Fig flatbread
BO-beau kitchen + garden/Facebook

File this restaurant under date night options or places to impress because its industrial-chic interiors softened with lots of natural lighting is a stunner. The menu is California-French featuring everything from trout amandine to fig flatbread.

Fig flatbread
BO-beau kitchen + garden/Facebook

Surf Rider Pizza Co.

Surf Rider Pizza Co./Facebook

This La Mesa pizzeria touts 18-inch East Coast-style pies as well as cheesesteaks and strombolis. All pies like the signature Surf Rider Pizza with roasted garlic, white sauce, gorgonzola cheese, roma tomatoes and basil, are sold whole or by the slice.

Surf Rider Pizza Co./Facebook

City Tacos

City Tacos/Facebook

North Park’s popular City Tacos found a home in La Mesa and it’s just as popular as the original location. Choose from traditional tacos like pollo asado, carnitas and carne asada or venture into more unique creations like the Mexicali taco featuring grilled arrachero, onions, poblanos, asarado cheese and mashed potatoes.

City Tacos/Facebook

Farmer's Table La Mesa

Lamb shank
Farmer’s Table La Mesa/Facebook

When Farmer’s Table splashed onto the La Mesa scene in 2017, it marked the area as an up-and-coming dining destination. To this day, Farmer’s Table remains just as popular with residents for its woodfired pizzas and Italian-American dishes using locally sourced ingredients.

Lamb shank
Farmer’s Table La Mesa/Facebook

Carnitas Uruapan Mexican Food

This family-owned-and-operated spot not only offers carnitas but also birria, beef and chicken served in enchiladas, tacos and burritos. Do what the regulars do and order the carnitas— they’re sold by weight and served with rice, beans and tortillas.