San Diego Magazine

Exploring Convoy: San Diego’s Asian Restaurant Row

San Diego’s Convoy Street runs through the central neighborhood of Kearny Mesa. Strip malls packed with restaurants whose signs—in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and other Asian languages—bear the names of some of the best eateries in town. Popular favorites among locals include Shabu Shabu, Tofu House, and dim sum at Emerald restaurant. But excellent ramen, poke, bulgogi, dumplings, pastries, and desserts aren’t the only reasons to come to Convoy—there’s also karaoke, arcade games, and bliss-out sessions at Korean spas.

Facing East Noodle and Bar

Where: 4647 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
No matter how delicious the Chinese and Taiwanese dishes at this restaurant—including things like braised roasted duck noodle soup, pork and chive dumplings, and foie gras pork boa—they’ll never be what the place is known for. Not as long as they continue serving their “Freakshakes,” anyway. Milkshakes born to be shared and lavishly topped with donuts, sprinkles, peanut butter pretzels, and sea urchin cotton candy (take a moment to wrap your head around that one) have a way of stealing all the attention.

Phuong Trang

Where: 4170 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
Arrive early at this uber-popular, family-friendly restaurant serving nearly 250 traditional and inventive Vietnamese dishes. Copious fresh vegetables and herbs compliment meats at this eatery that started in one family’s kitchen and first grew into a restaurant in Linda Vista in 1988.

Village North

Where: 4428 Convoy St #330, San Diego, CA 92111
San Diego’s Asian food scene is dominated by Vietnamese, Japanese, and Thai eateries, with Korean, and Cambodian eateries making notable appearances. Chinese-food lovers have a harder time finding their bliss, though Village North, a relative newcomer, makes that much easier with its hot pot, taro root desserts, and pigs’ feet.

Tsuruhashi

Where: 3904 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
You get to be the chef at this Japanese barbecue joint. The grill-your-own style (which takes place at an in-table grill) is similar to the Korean barbecue probably more familiar to American diners, but marinades are more miso-heavy.

Pokirrito

Where: 4646 Convoy St #101-A, San Diego, CA 92111
Choose your albacore tuna, octopus, or salmon poke over rice, greens, or in a rice and seaweed wrap that resembles a tortilla (hence the name, a portmanteau of “poke” and “burrito”). Then customize your seafood and base with all manner of toppings familiar to poke lovers: furikake, masago, tempura flakes, and even Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

Hive

Where: 4428 Convoy St #100, San Diego, CA 92111
No single term could describe this 20,000-square-foot restaurant, bar, nightclub, and arcade equipped with 14 private karaoke rooms. Work up an appetite playing pool or air hockey, or burn off dinner by dancing the night away. The Korean-influenced menu sports everything from fried rice and nachos to pork belly burgers, oysters, and sous vide steak. The drink list is as expansive as the establishment itself, with a dizzying array of barrel-aged cocktails, tiki cocktails, 50 draft beers, and a lengthy litany of liquor. And let’s not forget the karaoke rooms, where six people can rock the mic for $40 per hour.

Iceskimo

Where: 4609 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
Dessert is easily as much fun as dinner in Convoy. Save some room for Iceskimo’s Taiwanese shaved ice—a style somewhere between ice cream and Hawaiian shaved ice. The handmade ice blocks in flavors like Black Sesame and Matcha Green are shaved down and then topped with tantalizing extras like Nutella, lychee, Bananas Foster, and oolong milk tea.

Blush Desserts

Where: 4817 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
Ice cream macaron sandwiches, churros, Vietnamese iced coffee, stuffed cookies—all of them wildly inventive and eminently Instagram-able—are the name of the game at this Asian bakery with hints of French patisseries.

Yu Spa

Where: 3927 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
Escape from the busy cityscape by popping into this jjimjilbang, or Korean spa, complete with a Himalayan salt sauna room, a red clay sauna room, an ice room, dry sauna, and steam sauna. Reservations aren’t necessary but recommended for massages or body scrubs. And you won’t even need to leave the premises for Korean food! Just pop into their restaurant, serving spicy kimchi pork stew, bibimbap, bulgogi, and more.

Shabu Shabu House

Where: 4646 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111
Shabu shabu is a style of Japanese food in which the individual cooks their vegetable and selection of meat in a pot of boiling water. Although it seems simplistic in nature, the flavor lies in the succulent dipping sauces. Shabu Shabu literally translates to “swish-swish” because the meat is swished in the boiling water, which can be cooked from medium-rare to well-done.

Emerald Chinese Cuisine

Where: 3709 Convoy Street #101, San Diego, California 92111
This popular eatery is inspired by the owner’s frequent travels to Asia learning about trends in design and dining. If you’re seeking authentic dim sum, you’ll be pleased to know it’s served all day long. Their menu is expansive and includes Chinese regional cuisine, healthy alternatives, and seasonal favorites.

Tofu House

Where: 4646 Convoy St #116, San Diego, CA 92111
Experience the wonders of a bubbling hot-stone pot with so many options to choose from. Whether you’re seeking beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu, your meal is steaming with flavor. Don’t miss out on a local favorite in San Diego.

Convoy District Desserts – One Bright Idea

San Diego Magazine

4 Pop-Up Dinner Series to Check Out in San Diego

Pop-up dinners are—you guessed it—popping up just about everywhere. These foodie events range from educational to esoteric. Whatever their focus, they put out some seriously delicious eats. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

Like Cats and Dogs: Meet the San Diego Zoo’s Most Unlikely Pairs

Forget what you might have heard about cats and dogs being natural enemies—at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park they’re getting along famously. Just look at the friendship between Ruuxa, a male cheetah, and Raina, a domestic dog. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

Exploring San Diego’s Hottest ‘Hoods: East Village

Downtown’s East Village neighborhood is home to 130 blocks of restaurants, bars, boutiques, hotels, the city’s main library, a baseball stadium, and countless other notable sights. With so much packed into one of the most urban parts of town, it can be tough to choose. Let us help you find a few things to do, see, eat, and drink to get started. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

Train to Table: Digging into San Diego’s Food Scene by Rail

Whether rolling along the beach on the Coaster or around the city on the trolley system, riding San Diego’s rails is a great way to get to know the city. And no matter where you stop off, you’ve got immediate access to the region’s world famous culinary and craft beer scene. Pick a stop, any stop. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

7 Go-To Spots for a Tiki Cocktail in San Diego

Tiki culture is all about escapism—the food, the drinks, and the decor are all attempts to re-create some fantastical tropical island that never actually existed. This is also why tiki cocktails are so potent, designed to help ease you to into a festive state of mind. San Diego is embracing the tiki culture with a new generation of bartenders celebrating that rich tradition. Here’s a roundup of San Diego’s hot tiki bars and other spots where you can find a perfectly tropical cocktail. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

Exploring San Diego’s Hottest ‘Hoods: Bird Rock/La Jolla Blvd

Bird Rock

Nestled along San Diego’s Pacific Coast is Bird Rock, a quirky but laid-back neighborhood known for beautiful ocean views, independent boutiques, and cozy cafes. Visitors and locals can easily stroll from one end of La Jolla Boulevard (Bird Rock’s main drag) to the other, making it the perfect destination for out-of-towners to explore unique mom-and-pop shops. No matter when you decide to visit Bird Rock, its casual culture mixed with upscale atmosphere means you should pack both your swim trunks and a sport coat or heels.

Eating & Drinking

No visit to Bird Rock is complete without a pilgrimage to Bird Rock Coffee Roasters, one of the most highly acclaimed roasters in the country. Grab a pastry and pour over before snagging a spot on one of the open window benches—there isn’t a better spot to people watch. For lunch, try Cafe Vahik, Seaside Surf Cafe, Don Bravo Grill & Cantina, or Wheat & Water for a wood-fired pizza and pint of local craft beer.

For something a little stronger, head to Beaumont’s. This eclectic eatery serves food all day, but it’s the live music and craft cocktails that attract the crowds. Nearby Pacific Beach caters to those who seek a late-night social scene, as most of Bird Rock beds down by midnight. Ocean views are best atop the new Waterbar restaurant, but tiki cocktail fans will go gaga for The Grass Skirt.

Outdoor Activities

Biking is a popular Bird Rock pastime. Hop on the local bike path for an easy ride through the heart of the ‘hood. For a challenge, surfing at Windansea Beach is a picturesque but advanced surf spot. Use caution – the offshore reefs make for good waves, but bad wipeouts. When in doubt, just bring a camera to document the gorgeous scenery.

Another nearby Instagram gem is La Jolla Cove. This protected nook is home to herds of seals, pelicans, and other sea life. Get a closer look at the local marine life in a kayak or paddleboard (rentals are available).

La Jolla Culture

Cute shops line the length of La Jolla Boulevard. Mimi & Red, a local boutique specializing in millennial women’s fashion, is one of the most popular stops in Bird Rock. Just down the street, Bird Rock Surf Shop caters to the surfing crowd. There are also plenty of art galleries featuring the work of local and national artists. After you’ve had your fill of shopping, take a load off at one of La Jolla’s numerous spas like The Bird Rock Massage Studio, Birdie Day Spa, Lucky Ocean Spa, or Decorum Lash Bar & Spa. From facials to full body massages, there’s something relaxing for everyone.

San Diego Magazine

8 New San Diego Restaurants to Try in 2018

San Diego has world-class mainstay restaurants, like Mister A’s, George’s, and Addison. But new blood is good for the restaurant scene’s circulatory system. Here are eight restaurants that have made a significant impact since opening in recent months. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

Where to Explore San Diego’s Art Scene during Museum Month

San Diego’s local art scene is thriving more than ever. World-class museums abound across the county. As do independent galleries, unique pop-ups, and outdoor installations that can be enjoyed year-round, thanks to our perfect climate. February is Macy’s Museum Month in San Diego, which means you can enjoy half off admission to more than 40 local museums. When you’re looking for inspiration, it’s easy to enjoy the bounty of artistry right here in these creative-minded ‘hoods. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

6 Fun Fitness Activities to Enjoy in San Diego

SUP Yoga - 6 Fun Fitness Activities to Enjoy in San Diego

Hikers, bikers, and yogis rejoice. Whether you’re trying to stay in shape during your vacation or just in the mood to try something new, in a fitness-focused town like San Diego, there’s surely something for everyone.

1. SUP Yoga

Get out of the studio and try SUP yoga. Short for stand-up paddleboard, SUP combines two of our favorite low-impact workouts, and you can’t beat that ocean breeze. Anchor your board and focus on balance, or get comfortable with getting wet. Stoked Yogi offers classes in Mission Bay and Carlsbad Lagoon, which you can book in advance. Near Mission Beach? Sign up for a Bliss Paddle Yoga class. Or set up a SUP Yoga workshop in San Diego or Mission bays with Paddle into Fitness.

2. Running

Running is the perfect vacation workout. Get your heart pumping and enjoy some of San Diego’s best scenery along the way. And really, all you need to pack is a pair of sneakers. So lace up those running shoes and hit the road. Check out these popular routes:

The Embarcadero
Check out relics from the city’s long maritime history, cruise ships, and yachts as you jog along San Diego Bay and perhaps take a detour through Waterfront Park or Seaport Village.

Mission Bay
This flat, nearly 12-mile loop takes you past stretches of gorgeous shoreline, Fiesta Island Park, the Bahia Resort, and two wildlife preserves.

Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs offers some of the best ocean views in town. This path will take you along the rocky cliffs from Ocean Beach to Sunset Cliffs Park. Not tired yet? Continue along the looping trails of Sunset Cliffs Park.

Lake Murray
Take this flat trail in La Mesa around the reservoir to the dam gate, then turn around and head back for a roughly 6-mile run.

Pacific Beach Boardwalk
Navigate your way through walkers, bikers, and rollerbladers on this paved oceanfront run. Or wait for low tide and run along the sand above the crashing waves.

3. Triathlon

San Diego is the birthplace of the modern triathlon, so if you’re up for the grueling run-swim-bike race, sign up for one of the many held at various locations around town. Check out what’s coming up in the San Diego Triathlon Series and others around San Diego County online.

4. Hiking

So many trails, so little time. Whether you’re seeking an adventure in the rolling mountains of East County or a cliff-side excursion high above the Pacific Ocean, trails in San Diego range from family-friendly beginner to expert-level terrain for the seasoned pro. Here are some of our San Diego favorites:

Cowles Mountain, Mission Trails Regional Park
The highest peak in San Diego
3 miles, moderate

Torrey Pines State Beach, La Jolla
Accessible off Torrey Pines Road
3 miles, moderate

Balboa Park
65 miles of trails, easy

Mount Woodson Trail, Poway
Accessible via state Route 67 and Mount Woodson Road. Get an Instagram shot at Potato Chip Rock!
6.4 miles, difficult

Pacific Crest Trail segment, Mount Laguna
Accessible via Sunrise Highway
4 miles, moderate

Palomar Observatory Trail, Cleveland National Forest
Off Canfield Road
4 miles, easy

The Slot, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
2 miles, easy

Stonewall Peak, Julian
Off state Route 79
4 miles, moderate

Three Sisters Falls, Cleveland National Forest
Accessible via Boulder Creek Road
4 miles, difficult

5. Biking

Whether on a mountain bike or beach cruiser, alone or in a group, there’s a ride here for you. With over 260 days of sunshine and hundreds of miles of trails, there’s no reason not to go for a spin. Rent a bike from SoCal Bike (328 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside), Pedego San Diego (900 Bayfront Court, downtown), or cruise around on a DecoBike, which can be picked up and returned to more than 180 stations around town. Look for green bike lanes throughout San Diego for a safe, protected lane for riding.

6. Kayaking

Tone those guns and explore San Diego’s waters while you’re at it. Kayaks are available for rent at various locations along the coast. Kayak tours are also a great way to sneak in a workout while you take in scenic ocean views. Book a tour at La Jolla Kayak (2199 Avenida de la Playa), or rent a kayak from the Mission Bay Aquatic Center (1001 Santa Clara Place).