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Travelling with a baby and toddler means saying good-bye to long, drawn out meals in fancy restaurants. We still want delicious food, but we also want places that allow us to get take-away, provide menu options our kids will enjoy or a fast dining experience. We aren’t overly concerned about them providing high chairs (though it is a good indicator of “family friendly”) or change tables, since we typically bring this portable travel high chair and a change mat.
These restaurants, with the exception of one, are found in the Mission Beach area where we stayed in a rented beach house.
On this trip, we made the decision to spend our time out enjoying the city rather than sitting in restaurants, so we had breakfast and dinners at our beach house, then would have lunch closer to home before putting the kids down for a nap.
Breakfast served all day? That’s usually a winner in our books.
Their extensive breakfast and lunch menus (which are both served all day) make it easy to make everyone happy. When we arrived mid-afternoon on our first day, we were tired and hungry. We had to wait to get into our rental house and we really didn’t have any interest in sitting in a restaurant.
We were happy to find Olive Café which provided us the perfect take-away meal to have an impromptu picnic on the beach. As our toddler gets pickier by the day (does this happen to all toddlers? She used to eat so well…), it makes life a little easier when you can put a cheese quesadilla in front of her.
Rosaria Pizza was located within a 2 minute walk from our beach house and with the good reviews, it made a perfect lunch option on a day when we were back putting the kids down for a nap.
We actually never did try their pizza, even after eating there twice. Not found on their online menu, but listed on the menu inside, was their Nam Dip (the same idea as a beef dip, but with Vietnamese grilled pork and other complimentary ingredients). It was so good, I had it both times! My husband had the Meatball Sub the first day, which he also spoke very highly of.
As far as being family friendly, pizza is usually a winner plus they have outdoor seating which is always nice and relaxed for family dining. Especially given the potential mess and noise level of kids!
Our first full day in San Diego, we ventured out to La Jolla to see the sea lions. We had planned on having lunch at Cody’s after having read recommendations online about their lobster roll.
Unfortunately, it was graduation weekend and the wait to get in was 45 minutes. This didn’t sound like a lot of fun with a baby and toddler. We didn’t have a plan B, but a parking attendant at a fancy restaurant (always ask a local!) recommended a taco restaurant a few blocks off the tourist track called Puesto.
Although this a bit of a higher-end taco place, with many creative & gourmet tacos on offer, it retains a family friendly feel to it. The staff were very accommodating with our stroller and happily helped move it to an out-of-the-way location for us and a high chair was also provided. The best part, they even recommended alternatives and modifications to the menu options that would be better suited for our toddler. Actually, that’s not the best part. The best part was the tacos. Award winning for sure! We highly recommend going for the “mix & match”. It was hard to pick a favourite, but the Filet Mignon was a top contender!
Cheesy Express is a counter-serve restaurant with limited seating that is located across the street from the Mission Beach Boardwalk. This is the perfect place to have a quick but extremely satisfying lunch. Trust me, you won’t leave hungry! I would even go so far as to say this was the epitome of non-fancy delicious food! We tried the BBQ N Mac and the JD’s Melt. After sharing both, we both agreed the JD’s Melt was the one we would go back for. The prices are very reasonable and they even have a kids’ meal.
This small no-frills taco shop is a convenient stop for anyone enjoying a day at the beach. After reading the rave reviews it gets on TripAdvisor, we had to give it a try. It does have some seating both indoor and out. The food is fast, inexpensive and large serving sizes – all very good points when you are eating out with kids. We definitely enjoyed our fish tacos, but I would not claim this to be the best meal I had while eating out in San Diego.
THE MISSION RESTAURANT
With three locations in San Diego, this restaurant was named one of the top 25 best breakfast spots in the country by USA Today. Given the line-ups out the door, they are obviously serving up what people want.
As I would expect with a breakfast spot, they were happy to accommodate our kids and a high chair for our little guy was available. Breakfast menus typically make it pretty easy to find a toddler approved meal.
They didn’t have a kids menu, but they were quick to offer a smaller version of the pancake order for us. As for our meals, we immediately gravitated to the Latino Breakfast Plates on the menu. We would recommend going this route. We enjoyed the Rancheros Verde and the Mission Chilaquiles.