If you know me at all, you know palm trees speak to my soul!
When I was 21, my mom had just passed away and I was on the hunt to run away. So one night, I decided that I was going to up and move to Los Angeles the next day. My friends laughed and didn’t believe me. The next morning, I woke up, packed up my car, and headed out with no plan of where to stay or what I was going to do for work. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It shaped me. It taught me strength and self-sustainability. I had never felt more free and fearless. Even in the toughest times, I learned that no matter what, I would survive. So I’d say, any moment I am near a palm tree, it takes me back… back to freedom and curiosity, to limitless adventures without a fear in the world.
My husband and I are lucky enough to be one of those couples whose best friends fell in love. Our BFFs in couple form recently moved to San Diego. We knew we would be going to visit them, but we hadn’t really planned when. To say we are spontaneous would be an understatement, which you probably were thinking from my story above. So a few weeks ago, we called our besties and said “HEYYYY, WE’RE COMING YOUR WAY NEXT WEEK!” hahahaha. So without warning and without much planning, we headed to the land of palm trees, blue skies, and what we thought would be ten days of endless adventures. We drove through the night and were so loopy by the time we got there, but so ready to conquer this overdue vacation! Within 24hrs of being there, we thought we were coming down with some insane allergies. Those allergies turned out to be the flu. Our adventures turned into sleeping in and not starting our days until the afternoons. We tried to make the best of it though! So I am here to tell you about some of our favorite culinary experiences.
What is the first thing you think of when you hear SAN DIEGO?
We only ate tacos twice and the experiences could not have been more opposite. However, I would recommend them both!! If you’re looking for a beautiful spread of tacos, unique guacamole, and gorgeous atmosphere head on over to Puesto! The presentation at Puesto was breath-taking. We parked near the marina and walked over to the restaurant and ran into some adorable puppies on the way. This was our first stop the day we got to SD after we got settled. We were so happy to be near the beautiful blue water and skies (so I am not sure the food here is as good as I think it was because we were on cloud nine.) The place was packed, so that should say enough, but I’ll let you be the judge by the photo.
Beautiful tacos aside, lets get to that authentic taco truck taste!
If that’s what you’re looking for then head to Oscars! This is a pretty small joint that probably seats a max of 20, but it’s worth the stop! Their hot sauce selection is on-point! Plus they have unique menu items like octopus tacos (worth trying!). Sadly, I didn’t snap any photos of the food here. This was the last place we stopped on our way out of town. We were so sick at this point and photos were the last thing on my mind. I just knew I had to get some good food in me before we hit the road. I had heard about this place from a few people and we are so happy we stopped!
Okay, so all week while we were determined to not let this sickness get us down, we consumed every kind of juice, smoothie, smoothie bowl, and wellness shot you can think of. Can I just say that I am SO HAPPY that we discovered Nekter?! Nekter is a spectacular little juice shop that kept our energy levels up when our motivation was thin. If you’re lucky enough to live in Arizona, Texas, or California GO try them out! Seriously, their smoothie bowls are everything!
YOU CAN'T VISIT SAN DIEGO WITHOUT EATING SEAFOOD!
Oysters have always been something my husband and I get any time we are in a coastal city. I know, I know, they aren’t for everyone. But they are for us! We had been told to go to Ironside by multiple people. Can I just say the design of this place is aesthetically pleasing in so many ways! From the server’s outfits having an almost “Newsie boys” feel, to the clock that is always set at Four-Twenty, but what really did it for me was the feeling that we were no longer ocean side. It felt as though we went back in time, into an “ironside” train station. The designers with the vision for this place knocked it out of the park! Did I mention their business cards were even made of wood? They know how to get to me, they really do!
NEXT UP: Gluten-free sandwiches… Is that even a thing?
I LOVE sandwiches. I’ve tried so many gluten free breads, and if you’ve done the same, you know it’s almost impossible to find bread that is fluffy and flavorful. FOUND IT! SAN DIEGO HAS IT!! The Mission’s gluten-free rosemary bread is here to save the day! I don’t think you can buy this by the loaf, but you can pick from their TWO-page gluten free menu! Of which almost all includes the rosemary bread. They also have cinnamon too, but that’s honestly one of my least favorite flavors. Hopefully, you can still trust me after admitting that. I have a very specific reason for not liking cinnamon, but that is a story for another day! We went to The Mission for lunch in the middle of the week so it wasn’t busy, but I am warning you if you head there for Sunday brunch, there has been known to be a line around the block. But can you blame them? Just LOOK at this bread!!
WARM COMFORT FOOD!
When you’re coming down with an illness, what is the first thing you crave? For my husband and I, it’s soup and spicy food. We thought about getting Pho, which would be nothing new to us but I had my eye on something else. I did some serious Instagram research before every meal we ate and guess what I found!? GLUTEN-FREE RAMEN! I’ve never had ramen because the traditional noodle is made with gluten. It’s something I had always drooled over from photos to stories my husband had told me about eating it in the streets of Asia. Our friends had never had ramen either, so we had to go! They have a couple of choices for flavors but I went with spicy sesame. When it came out, I didn’t expect anything special from the noodles. We’ve all tried gluten-free noodles, and we all know they either fall apart or are mushy and sticky. They never have a true noodle consistency. That is until I put these noodles in my mouth. I almost spit them out because I thought THERE IS NO WAY THESE ARE GLUTEN FREE, NO FREAKING WAY! Well, they were! I am now a ramen convert. I’ll eat it every chance I get if it has those noodles in it. We even went as far as asking our waitress the brand. Unfortunately, the package didn’t have the info on it, so I will forever be on the hunt for these noodles. Thank you, Tajima Noodle House!
Let’s talk HEALTHY!
We did indulge every chance we got, but I wanted to make sure I got to experience some of the unique healthy choices San Diego had to offer. Let me introduce you to Café Gratitude. This place was magical. If I had to spend every meal there for the rest of my life, you wouldn’t hear me complaining. At Cafe Gratitude, every dish & beverage is named after a positive adjective. You order by saying I Am _____. It feels almost uncomfortable for a moment, when do you get to publicly announce in public “I AM BRAVE. I AM CELEBRATING. I AM GUTSY!”? Probably never. So when you have the chance, you just go for it! And I did it with a giant smile on my face. The best part is after you order, they affirm by saying “Today you are brave, you are celebrating, and you are gutsy!” Do I even need to go on about how wonderful this business model is?! We need more of this! Our children need this! Our bad days need the angels who work here. It is my dream to own an establishment like this. The best part was this place wasn’t filled with just hippies, there were business men in suits, women meeting after yoga, and so many others. They have a couple locations in Southern California, stop what you’re doing right now and GO! You’ll leave vibing higher than ever, with a smile that will stick with you for a couple of days.
In conclusion, we ate our hearts out even while being sick. One thing I will note, gluten-free in southern California is probably easier than any other place I’ve traveled to. I have SO many food intolerances, but it seemed like everyone else in SoCal was on some crazy diet too, which took the stress out of eating out. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!
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