UCSD, or University of California-San Diego, is one of the nation’s top research institutions. But despite being well-known for our strong academics, our beach-y atmosphere, and our Sun God Festival, the conversation about our diverse food scene is way underrepresented. 

So, in order to support the flourishing minds of the student body at UCSD, we have conducted our own investigation into some of the best places around San Diego for Tritons to eat and drink, because when aren't we thinking about food?

When you’re craving Mexican: Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

The menu at Oscar’s may be short but that definitely does not stop the queue from going out the door. You can’t go wrong with their daily specials (the tuna adobada is a must-try if it’s there) or their grilled shrimp tacos. But whatever you get, don’t forget to sauce it up with their red sauce and their green sauce.  

When you’re sick of Starbucks: Better Buzz Coffee

coffee, milk, milkshake, ice, straw, cappuccino, espresso
Sini Choi

We’re all about supporting local businesses and it's a no brainer when it comes to Better Buzz Coffee. Their drinks and the service are so great that most of the locals rave about this place being better than Starbucks. And of course, life is better buzzed.

#SpoonTip: Try their “Best Drink Ever” which is an Americano with a vanilla mix—you won’t be disappointed.

When you're tryna impress that special someone: Herringbone

Whether it’s an anniversary or a first date, the vintage ambience and the fresh cuisine at Herringbone will never fail to impress. There are six olive trees growing inside the dining room and at night, they come alive with some twinkling lights. 

#SpoonTip: If you RSVP for an early dinner, you just might be able to score a great seat and some $1 oysters during their happy hour. Talk about #BougieOnABudget

When you need to satisfy your sweet tooth: Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream

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Let Hammond’s take you on an epic dessert journey with their ice cream flights. From the dragon fruit sorbet to the ginger cream, you really can’t go wrong with any of their classic or extraordinary flavors.

#SpoonTip: Ordering a flight of ice cream is the way to go. Not only can you try more than one flavor but it's also an Insta-worthy ice cream photo op.

When you want in on Sunday brunch: The Cottage

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In La Jolla, the Cottage and Cody’s go in a head-to-head battle for the best brunch. While both are equally delicious and worthy competitors, the menu at the Cottage is slightly more expansive. 

Don’t be alarmed if your wait is over an hour, this is one of San Diego's, and all of California’s, top brunch spots.

When you’re at the UCSD Farmer’s Market: Açaí Bowl from Samba Brazilian Cuisine

strawberry, banana, berry
Natalie Wong

Although you can never go wrong with any of UCSD's Farmer’s Market vendors, Samba Brazilian Cuisine is serving up a variety of dishes that can be a snack or a meal. Our recommendation is their açaí bowl because their texture is on point and açaí is kinda our thing.

When your munchies kick in at 2 am: Vallarta’s

Nothing says treat yo self better than Vallarta’s Christian fries after an eventful night out, or even after a late night exam cram. Not only do you get a heap of their famous carne asada fries but they're topped off with some sizzling bacon and a sunny-side up egg.

You’ll thank us in the morning.

When your parents are footing the bill: George’s at the Cove

Not only do you get to enjoy the scenic California coastline from your table but you’ll also be treated to some of San Diego’s best gastronomical delights courtesy of Executive Chef Trey Foshee. 

So while mom or dad is in town, trade in your chicken strips and lukewarm vegetables for a four-course dinner that will leave you in foodie heaven

When you’re craving a slice: Regents Pizzeria

Regents is probably one of the very few pizzerias around that appeases to both New York and Chicago taste buds. Whether you want a deep dish or thin crust, why not try both with their two slice combo.

When you finally turn 21: Crushed

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While a trip to Vegas or a romp around Gaslamp may be considered any San Diego student’s rite of passage, there is so much more to your twenty-first birthday than a night of endless drinking

Kickstart your special day at this Pacific Beach eatery with their gorgeous mimosa flights. As Ron Burgundy would say, “You stay classy San Diego.”

When you get to campus and forgot to pack a lunch: Lemongrass

vegetable, rice, meat, pepper, sauce, chicken, pork
Photo courtesy of lemongrassplates.com

Lemongrass is undeniably a student favorite and the proof is in its transition from being a farmer's market vendor to a permanent fixture at Price Center. We're super psyched that their tasty and healthy, grilled options can be a daily fix rather than a once every Tuesday treat.

When you’re craving seafood on a budget: Poke Go

salad, vegetable, lettuce
Miley Leung

Raw fish lovers, meet the new Chipotle. Poke Go offers a great meal at an affordable price. Although a poke bowl is not a traditional sushi roll, it offers you so many opportunities to make it your own with the wide selection of seafood and toppings.

When you or your friends don’t eat meat: Veggie Grill

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It can already be difficult enough to decide where to eat but when you throw in some dietary restrictions, life gets even more rough. So why not try Veggie Grill? 

There’s definitely something for everyone, whether or not you’re a vegetarian, and who knows, maybe you’ll even end up liking veggies.  

When you’re down to get dirty with a rack of ribs: Phil’s BBQ

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Loyal customers can tell you that the “Phil’s Experience” includes a great atmosphere and lip-smacking, finger-licking food. Since their opening in 1998, Phil's BBQ has been serving over a million gallons of their signature BBQ sauce so be sure to savor those ribs and especially, that sauce.

When you have too many dining dollars: The Bistro

Every year, students save their dining dollars in fear that they never have enough. Trust us, you have plenty. In fact, sometimes there is so much that you may not know what to do with the rest. 

Treat yourself to an evening (or a few evenings) with a fancy meal right on the UCSD campus (and don’t forget the dessert).