15 Best San Diego Restaurants for Kids (Parents Love!)

For delicious food and entertaining eateries, lick your lips as you read my picks for the best San Diego restaurants for families. As a travel writer, former longtime San Diego resident, and self-proclaimed foodie — I am often asked for restaurant recommendations in America’s Finest City. These 15 San Diego restaurants for kids will please palates of all ages, including picky parents!

Kid-friendly Corvette Diner at Liberty Station in San Diego (Photo credit: Corvette Diner)
Corvette Diner at Liberty Station (Photo credit: Corvette Diner)

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1. Corvette Diner – Retro American Fun

The best kid-friendly restaurants offer not only tasty food but also entertainment. If dancing servers doling out thick milkshakes and tempting diner fare sounds like your family’s jam, then you’ll love Corvette Diner at Liberty Station near downtown San Diego.

This restaurant features themed dining areas representing the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. You’ll often spot birthday parties here with kids dolled up in poodle skirts and other retro garb.

Delicious burgers and other American classics are the specialties here. When you’re feeling adventurous, go for the Rory Burger, topped with peanut butter, bacon, lettuce, and mayo. Wash it down with shake flavors like Butter “Hop” Scotch and Peppermint Twist.

As though that weren’t enough, kids will go gaga for the Gamer’s Garage. That’s where they can play video games and arcade games galore for a chance to win prizes.

Fish Market in Del Mar, San Diego County for families
Fish Market in Del Mar (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. The Fish Market – Seafood for Families

Of course, you’ll want to eat fresh seafood during your San Diego vacation. The Fish Market is the perfect choice for fish-loving families. Dine at The Fish Market along the waterfront near the Maritime Museum or choose the Del Mar/Solana Beach location.

The whole family will enjoy watching chefs cooking entrees on a flaming grill from behind a wall of glass. (Look, don’t touch!)

An interactive kids’ menu will keep the kiddies entertained with mazes, puzzles, and coloring pages. Kids can order charbroiled fish and rice, panko-crusted fish, fried shrimp with fries, or land-based choices. Picky eaters will be pleased with pasta or pizza offerings, too.

Plates, salads, and sandwiches at Urban Plates in San Diego
Plates, salads, and sandwiches at Urban Plates (Photo from the Urban Plates Facebook page)

3. Urban Plates – Healthy Dining with Kids

It can be difficult to find delicious AND healthy food when traveling. Not so at Urban Plates! This chain has expanded beyond San Diego County, but it all started in Del Mar. Choose from two other nearby locations in Carlsbad and La Jolla.

Every member of the family will find something to enjoy at this freshly-made, cafeteria-style cafe. The diverse menu includes salads, sandwiches, pizzas, and plates made from local ingredients. You’ll flip for their sides like roasted Brussels sprouts with turkey bacon or gourmet mac n’ cheese.

Save room for desserts, too. Their pretty mango tart and rich chocolate flourless cake are favorites.

Strawberry pancakes from Richard Walker's Pancake House in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter
Strawberry pancakes from Richard Walker’s Pancake House in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter (Photo credit: Richard Walker’s Pancake House Instagram)

4. Richard Walker’s Pancake House – Best Pancakes in Town

Besides my mom’s pancakes, Richard Walker’s Pancake House in San Diego’s Gaslamp District makes the best flapjacks I’ve ever had. And let me tell you, my mama makes one heckuva pancake! Beware: on weekends, there is always a wait. San Diegans know this is THE place to go for pancakes.

If you’re looking for thick, garbage can lid-sized cakes — go somewhere else. These cakes are thin and light with ever-so-slight golden crispiness.

For a carb-laden delight, get the massive Apple Pancake with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon glaze. The omelets, waffles, and crepes are also quite good.

Pizza Port pepperoni pie on the beach in Del Mar in San Diego County
Pizza Port pepperoni pie on the beach in Solana Beach (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. Pizza Port – Pizza by the Beach

Who doesn’t love pizza? Especially when it’s scrumptious and served with a selection of tempting brews for parents and video games for kids! Stand in line at Pizza Port to order your pie. Then, pull up a stool and make friends with your neighbors.

My family’s favorite location is the original, a block from the beach in North County’s Solana Beach, where you can order your pizza to go for a delicious oceanfront picnic. Look also for pizzerias in Carlsbad, Ocean Beach, Imperial Beach and further afield.

An array of Burger Lounge offerings
An array of Burger Lounge offerings (Photo from Burger Lounge Facebook page)

6. Burger Lounge – Burger Bonanza

Burger lovers rejoice: San Diego is home to eight Burger Lounge locations! Their signature sandwich is made from organic, grass-fed, never-frozen beef. Burgers are topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, homemade Thousand Island dressing, grilled or raw onions, and then served between two buttery buns. Sensitive eaters can opt for a gluten-free bun.

You can also choose a turkey burger, salmon burger, crispy chicken sandwich, Alaskan cod sandwich, or a surprisingly delicious quinoa veggie burger. Wash it all down with something tasty like a house-made lemonade, batch craft soda, local craft beers, premium wine, or creamy milkshake. Kids menus are available at this casual restaurant, too.

Strawberry Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli San Diego Gaslamp
Mmm…Strawberry Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli San Diego Gaslamp (Photo credit: Ghirardelli Facebook page)

7. Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop – Sweet Treats

Ghirardelli’s old-fashioned soda fountain in the Gaslamp offers shakes, malts, cones, and sundaes galore. Peruse the Ghirardelli chocolate shop afterward at this San Francisco native to purchase a sweet souvenir of your California vacation.

My go-to is the salty yet sweet Butterscotch Hot Fudge Sundae. Dark chocolate lovers, however, will revel in three sundaes: Midnight Reverie, Mint Bliss, and Espresso Escape.

For a fun, messy treat for a group, dive into The Earthquake. It boasts eight scoops of ice cream, eight toppings, bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds, chocolate chips, and cherries.

Tijuana Style Eggs Benedict at MaryJane's puts a Mexican flair on an American classic breakfast dish
Tijuana Style Eggs Benedict at MaryJane’s Diner (Photo credit: Hard Rock Hotel San Diego)

8. Maryjane’s Diner – Breakfast Indulgence

Sometimes, Mom and Dad want a bloody Mary or mimosa with breakfast. While on vacation, indulge in a calorie-laden brunch with a cocktail at Maryjane’s Diner in the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. There’s a full bar available to slake parents’ thirsts.

Even their omelets seem imbued with some magic potion. (Cream, I suspect.) Whatever you do, get one of their fluffy buttery biscuits. And the hash browns. Oh…the hash browns!

Gelatos galore at Chocolat Cremerie in the San Diego Gaslamp District
Gelatos galore at Chocolat Cremerie (Photo credit: Chocolat Cremerie)

9. Chocolat Cremerie – Ice Cream Lover’s Dream

Chocolat Cremerie feels like a truly Italian gelateria in the heart of the San Diego Gaslamp Quarter. Choose from flavors like Basil Lemon, Chocolate Pear, and Gianduia Chocolate (with hazelnut and almond paste).Wear your stretchy pants. There are also tarts, crepes, brulées, and gourmet coffees to be had!

Cash & Carry Italian Foods at Filippi's Italian Grotto in Little Italy
Cash & Carry Italian Foods at Filippi’s Italian Grotto in Little Italy (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Filippi’s Pizza Grotto – Little Italy Winner

No list of the best family-friendly restaurants in San Diego would be complete without Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. When the kids are craving Italian food, you can’t go wrong with a meal at this restaurant run by an Italian family from New York.

This is a great spot for simple pasta dishes or Italian sandwiches like meatball or capicola. But their delectable pizzas are the real reason the entire family will love Filippi’s.

There are several locations throughout San Diego County. Be sure to peruse Filippi’s Cash & Carry Italian Foods mini grocer attached to the original restaurant in Little Italy. You’ll find all sorts of Italian goodies like dried pastas, sauces, candies, cookies, and giant hanging cheeses. Buon appetito!

The Prado's outdoor patio in Balboa Park
The Prado’s outdoor patio in Balboa Park (Photo from The Prado’s Facebook page)

11. The Prado – Best Outdoor Dining

Treat your family to upscale outdoor dining in Balboa Park at The Prado. Splurge on dinner options like Pan Roasted Sea Bass or Mustard Crusted Pork Chop.

For a more affordable option, come for a lunch salad or sandwich. My favorite is the Prado Pressed Salad with strawberries, figs, candied walnuts, asiago cheese, and sherry-shallot vinaigrette. A kids menu is available for both lunch and dinner.

Lunch at The Prado including Prado Pressed Salad
Lunch at The Prado, including Prado Pressed Salad (Photo from The Prado’s Facebook page)

Listen to live music in The Prado Lounge Tuesday through Saturday evenings. Parents will appreciate craft cocktails like a Guava Ginger Martini or Balboa Park Sangria. Meanwhile, kids will love a sparkling lemonade flavored with strawberry, passion fruit, pink guava, or raspberry.

Traveling with your pet? Bring Fido along to dine on their dog-friendly patio.

Cafe Coyote is a favorite among all of the Mexican restaurants in Old Town San Diego
Cafe Coyote is a favorite among the many Mexican restaurants in Old Town San Diego (Photo credit: Cafe Coyote)

San Diego borders Mexico. Therefore, this beachside city serves some of the best authentic Mexican food in the U.S. With so many incredible Mexican dining options in San Diego, I couldn’t pick just one. Your tummies will be happy at any of the following San Diego restaurants for families.

12. Cafe Coyote – Old Town Favorite

Mexican restaurants abound in San Diego’s Old Town, but my family’s favorite is Cafe Coyote. On the restaurant’s patio, children enjoy watching señoras in traditional dress make flour tortillas by hand. The outdoor seating is great for people-watching, too. Bonus: diners can park for free in their own underground parking garage, a rarity in Old Town.

Roberto's Mexican Food in Del Mar
Roberto’s Mexican Food in Del Mar (Photo from Roberto’s Facebook page)

13. Roberto’s Very Mexican Food – Greasy but Good

Roberto’s Very Mexican Food serves greasy but delicious Mexican grub. Head to the original taco shop in Encinitas after a day at the nearby Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve in Del Mar. Chow down at picnic tables on their outdoor patio. Today, there are a few other locations in San Diego County and Texas.

Jose's Courtroom in La Jolla
Jose’s Courtroom in La Jolla (Photo from Jose’s Facebook page)

14. Jose’s Courtroom – Fabulous Fajitas

For San Diego County’s best fajitas, go to Jose’s Courtroom in La Jolla Cove. This place has an upscale dive bar feel. You just have to eat there to see what I mean.

Rubio's original fish tacos
Rubio’s original fish tacos (Photo from Rubio’s Facebook page)

15. Rubio’s – San Diego Classic

If you’re looking for a quick and reliable bite to eat, then stop into one of the many Rubio’s locations. Yes, it’s a chain. But Rubio’s originated in San Diego and some locations even offer fish tanks to entertain the kids.

Rubio’s is famous for its yummy beer-battered fish tacos served with cabbage, white sauce, and salsa. The kid’s menu features items sure to please young diners, like a cheese quesadilla, taquitos, or chicken nuggets.

Save Money on Your San Diego Vacation

Want to save money on your San Diego vacation? Of course, you do! Use discount code TravelMamas to get $10 off any two-night or longer Southern California package (hotel and two-ticket minimum) when you book through our trusted partner, Get Away Today. Also, find San Diego deals including attraction ticket discounts!

Those considering a fall visit are in luck! October is Kids Free San Diego Month, with over 100 deals just for kids. Take a look at which attractions, hotels, and restaurants offer families freebies.

It’s well worth investing in a Southern California CityPass. Save a bunch when you bundle your attractions with a CityPass.

It makes good sense to check Groupon for discounts on activities and restaurants in your destination. San Diego is no exception. Take a look at Groupon San Diego deals now.

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club with kids
La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, one of the best hotels for families in San Diego County (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore San Diego with Kids

Find the right place to stay with this list of the top San Diego hotels for families.

Want to visit San Diego’s famous zoo? Read my San Diego Zoo tips and itinerary.

Connect with nature at one of my personal favorite attractions in the County, San Diego Botanic Garden.

Take in ocean views and learn about sea creatures at Birch Aquarium with kids.

Best San Diego Restaurants for Families

Keep These Kid-Friendly San Diego Restaurants

For future reference, keep this list of the best restaurants for families in San Diego. Simply save the image above to Pinterest. I hope you’ll follow Travel Mamas on Pinterest while you’re at it!

Do you want to recommend any additional San Diego restaurants for kids? Do you have questions about where to eat in this SoCal city? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. We’re heading to San Diego next month (hopefully) and there are a few you’ve listed we will have to visit – like the Corvette Diner and Ghiradellis. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. i love the pizza stop and ice cream shop. I’m always on the game when it comes to foods tripping. ❤️

  3. The Fish Market seems like a great option for me. I hope to visit it when I come to San Diego. Sounds like a great place.

  4. The Oceanaire Seafood Room is the best one for me. I love seafood and would love to sample their cuisine. I’d go to Chocolat for dessert. OMG, these San Diego restaurants is paradise for any foodie!