Skip to content

Southern California is home to some delicious high profile restaurants that range from fine dining to fast-casual food. But while tourists are enjoying famous favorites like Nick’s Laguna Beach and Juniper & Ivy in San Diego, the locals and adventurous visitors are sneaking off to their coveted neighborhood gems.

These restaurants don’t get as much publicity as some of the others on the coast, but they’re just as incredible and praiseworthy.

Tacos Por Favor, Santa Monica


Located on Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica, this casual eatery serves some of the best authentic Mexican food in the area. Its casual exterior doesn’t look like anything special, but rest assured, the food inside is delightful. You’ll have your share of food options in Santa Monica, but we highly recommend stopping here for lunch.

Buddha’s Favorite, Newport Beach


Buddha’s Favorite in Newport Beach is another spot that can be challenging to find. The address is 634 Lido Park Drive, and you may need help from your GPS to locate it. The owner is from Kamakura, a famous Japanese city, and the food is as authentic as it gets.

La Sirena Grill, Laguna Beach


Speaking of outstanding authentic Mexican food, this Laguna Beach taqueria never disappoints. It’s a little hard to find—it’s on a side street (Mermaid Street) off of Forest in the downtown area, and it’s easy to pass by. If you find it, prepare to leave with a full belly and a happy heart.

Pisces Sushi, Manhattan Beach


Inside this simple building on Highland Avenue you’ll find some of the best sushi in Manhattan Beach. Not only is it tasty, it’s creative—they have traditional rolls, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try the BBQ Chicken Roll.

Appu’s Cafe, Long Beach


This cafe is slightly off the beaten path on Woodruff Avenue, and as a result it doesn’t get as much attention from tourists as some of the other local spots. Also, it’s in a strip mall, so some people who do see it might not think it’s anything special. But the Indian food here is so amazing that those who do try it are instantly hooked.

Krakatoa, San Diego


Krakatoa is a coffee shop, but there’s so much more to it than good lattes. They serve a full breakfast menu, mouthwatering sandwiches, smoothies, and even beer. Their patio, an excellent place to enjoy an Americano and a breakfast sandwich, is mostly shaded. They’re located on 25th Street in San Diego’s Golden Hill neighborhood.