San Diego

Where to Eat and Drink in San Diego's Convoy District

Toast to the Lunar New Year.

Hidden Fish Sushi
Hidden Fish Sushi
Hidden Fish Sushi

The roughly eight square blocks that make up San Diego’s historic Chinatown bear little resemblance to the Chinatowns of Los Angeles and San Francisco. The district hosts two Chinese Historical Museums, as well as a huge, two-day celebration for Lunar New Year (that’s obviously gone virtual this year), but is otherwise not a destination for Chinese or other Asian fare.

If you’re looking for the city’s best Asian cuisine, most locals will direct you to the Convoy District-home to over 100 restaurants serving Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, Taiwanese cuisines and more, plus a variety of Asian-owned businesses. If you’re looking for tidy walkways and cute tourist shops, you’ll be disappointed. Running along Convoy Street from Aero Drive to Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, the Convoy District is a sprawling business area consisting largely of strip malls, auto dealerships, and office parks that just happens to be where the best Asian restaurants are. It’s not at all walkable, or even easy to drive around, and parking is impossible. And yet, it works.

Over the years the Convoy District has made significant advances towards becoming a vibrant, cohesive Pan-Asian destination neighborhood. On October 20, 2020, the San Diego City Council designated the Convoy District as the Convoy Pan Asian Cultural and Business Innovation District. This, along with the newly approved Kearny Mesa Community Plan, will bring additional housing and improvements to the area, with the goal of eventually creating a neighborhood like Little Italy, with better walkability, parks, recreational areas, bike lanes, and hopefully, one of those cool neon neighborhood archways over Convoy Street.

This Friday, February 12, marks the Lunar New Year, which falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice, with celebrations that manifest as the Spring Festival (China), Tết (Vietnam), Tsagaan Sar (Mongolia), Tsagaan Sar (Tibet), Seollal (Korea), and more. While Lunar New Year celebrations vary greatly depending on the culture, the encompassing themes are health, happiness, and good fortune. Houses are cleaned, ancestral altars are refreshed, traditional foods are prepared, and customs are observed to attract good luck in the coming year. And like most joyous holidays, food, and lots of it, dominate the festivities.

With most Lunar New Year festivities happening online this year, there’s no better time to head down to the Convoy District and devour big bowls of long noodles, plump dumplings cooked in little bamboo steamers, and crispy broken rice from blazing hot stone pots. With so many places to choose from, it’s a good thing that Lunar New Year celebrations can last up to 23 days. And don’t worry, we’ve done the (delicious) work for you. Here’s our list of the best places to eat and drink in San Diego’s Convoy District:

Phuong Trang Restaurant
Phuong Trang Restaurant
Phuong Trang Restaurant

Phuong Trang

Phuong Trang has been a destination for Vietnamese comfort food since 1992. The extensive menu contains over 200 items, with all the staples you know and love, including pho, rice porridge, hot pots and vermicelli soups, and a variety of stir-fried plates. Signature dishes like Dungeness crab or Maine lobster in their special house sauce, catfish steaks simmered in caramelized fish sauce and Manila clams sauteed in garlic, Thai basil, and onion round out the menu.
How to order: In-person or call 858-565-6750 for takeout.

Mekong Cuisine Lao and Thai

There are plenty of Thai restaurants in San Diego, and Mekong Cuisine Lao and Thai does a fine job with the cuisine, but it’s their Laotian food that especially shines. House made Sai Ou (sausage) is stuffed with porky goodness, lemongrass, makrut, and ginger, well-browned and crispy-skinned. There’s plenty of thick rice noodles and chicken in a rib-sticking bowl of Khao Piak Sen, and Mok Pa wraps fish and aromatic herbs in banana leaves before they are steamed. There’s a Lao sampler platter if you’re undecided, and dessert lovers will adore their charming heart-shaped version of classic mango and sticky rice.
How to order: In person or call 858-279-1879 for takeout, or delivery via Grubhub.

Dumpling Inn
Dumpling Inn
Dumpling Inn

Dumpling Inn and Shanghai Saloon

You’ll want to try all nine varieties of steamed, boiled, pan-sauteed and deep-fried dumplings, but whatever you do, make sure you get the Xiao Long Bao-there’s nothing quite like popping one whole into your mouth and biting gently to release a pool of warm, savory soup. The rest of the menu, overseen by legendary chef Phat Vuong, includes handmade noodles, a number of cold plates, and a host of Cantonese comfort foods. Don’t overlook the bar menu either-whiskey aficionados will especially enjoy the Founder’s Old Fashioned made with their own hand-selected Maker’s Mark cask bourbon or a Japanese, Scottish or Founder’s flight.
How to order: Stop in or call 858-268-9638 for patio dining and takeout.

Tofu House

Boiled tofu, you say? While it may not sound exciting, your tastebuds will pop when you spoon up Tofu House’s soondubu jjigae: silky, unpressed tofu in a spicy broth studded with pork, seafood, beef, and vegetables, served bubbling in a hot stone bowl. Crack open one or two of the raw eggs that come on the side and drop it in to cook gently in the hot soup. Not a soup fan? Check out the hot stone crispy rice, a big portion of steamed rice is plopped into a scalding hot stone bowl and smothered in your choice of bulgogi, seafood, galbi, chicken, or pork. The heat of the bowl crisps the rice golden brown, ready to receive one of those fresh eggs before you stir it into a crunchy, glorious mess.
How to order: In person or call 858-576-6433 for takeout, or delivery via Grubhub.

Wa Dining Okan

Seasonal, often organic foods are a mainstay at Wa Dining Okan, and both the menu and the atmosphere are homey and comforting. Chicken karaage is a must-have-bite-sized, boneless pieces of chicken are marinated in ginger, garlic, and soy, then coated in potato flour and fried until they’re golden brown and shatteringly crisp. Dishes like braised pork belly with a boiled egg or stewed mild peppers in ground beef sauce have that long-simmered, savory, umami goodness that makes you sit back and smile.
How to order: In person or call (858) 279-0941 for takeout, or delivery via Grubhub.

Liuyishou Hotpot 刘一手火锅
Liuyishou Hotpot 刘一手火锅
Liuyishou Hotpot 刘一手火锅

Liuyishou Hotpot

San Diego is the only Southern California location for this wildly popular Chinese hot pot chain that has more than 1,000 franchises worldwide. Sichuan peppercorns, chiles, and premium beef oil or tallow season the house spicy soup base, which comes in multiple heat levels, but several other broths are available, including wild mixed mushrooms with Chinese herbs, a house special with pork bone, and fish filet with pickled vegetables. Use the seasoned broth to dip and cook a nearly endless array of meat, seafood, and vegetables, offal of various types, seven varieties of mushrooms, and handmade balls made from beef, pork, and cuttlefish.
How to order:  Walk-ins accepted for patio dining and takeout, call 858-598-5300 for takeout, or delivery via Grubhub or Doordash.

Spicy City Chinese Restaurant 

The name says it all at this spot, where mala, the addictive tingling, numbing sensation achieved by the combination of chilis and Sichuan peppercorns, permeates the menu. You’ll find a dizzying array of dishes-ma po tofu, a traditional Sichuan dish, is wonderful, and preserved chili dishes will more than satisfy the most blasé chiliheads, and even simple vegetables like stir-fried long beans will have your palate popping. There’s usually a handwritten list of specials near the door that you’ll want to check out as well.
How to order:  Order online, in person or call 858-278-1818 for takeout, or delivery via Chowbus.

DJK Korean BBQ

All you can eat Korean BBQ shops can be a great bargain and it’s a lot of fun to pile all sorts of delicious meats and veggies on your plate, but when you want top-notch ingredients, DJK (formerly Dai Jang Kuem) is where you want to be. It’s definitely pricier, but the high-quality ingredients are well worth the splurge. It’s also one of the only places in San Diego that uses real charcoal grills. Don’t overlook the rest of the menu, they have a fine selection of dolsot, soondubu, and jeongol.
How to order: Reserve a patio table online (you can also order your food to be ready when you arrive), order in person, online or call 858-573-2585 for takeout, or delivery via Doordash or Grubhub.

Hidden Fish Sushi
Hidden Fish Sushi
Hidden Fish Sushi

Hidden Fish

This tiny omakase sushi spot has just a dozen or so seats and a menu of impeccable sushi and sashimi, sourced from both local fisheries and the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan and expertly served under the guidance of Chef John Hong. This is the place to slow down and notice every detail-like a fine wine tasting, the items are presented in a specific order designed to complement and enhance each flavor. In non-COVID times, the menu is divided into 50-minute ($50) and 90-minute ($100) experiences, but due to current seating limitations, they’re only serving the 90-minute bill of fare. If you’re not lucky enough to score a reservation, they have a great takeout menu that includes a 12-piece nigiri sushi box and an 8-piece chirashi box.
How to order:  In person or call 858-210-5056 for takeout.

Menya Ultra
Menya Ultra
Menya Ultra

Menya Ultra

Chewy, springy noodles are the star of master ramen chef and owner Takashi Endo’s luscious tonkotsu, miso, and tantanmen bowls. While a central factory in Japan provides over 100,000 servings of noodles each month to his Japanese locations, here in San Diego the noodles are handmade in-house daily by head noodle maker Ryosuske Goto, using flour imported from Hokkaido, Japan, alkaline water, and salt with no artificial colors or preservatives. Their wheaty aroma and flavor perfectly pair with your choice of broths and toppings from the short menu.
How to order: Stop by for patio dining, order online via Clover (you can order online up to three days in advance), in person or call 858-571-2010 for takeout, or delivery via UberEats, DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates and Yelp.

Shan Xi Magic Kitchen

Just north of the better known Sichuan Province sits Shaanxi Province (not to be confused with the neighboring Shanxi Province), known for the Terracotta Army, the Hukou Waterfall and biang biang noodles, which is famously the most complex Chinese character, having 57 strokes. Long, broad, and chewy, the hand-ripped noodles are smothered in a ground chili and soy-based sauce. Other menu standouts include the Yang Rou Pao Mo, a savory lamb soup studded with cubes of dense bread that take on a dumpling-like consistency after they’ve soaked up the broth, and tofu pidan, a simple, inexpensive dish of silken tofu, a thousand-year-old egg, minced garlic, spring onion drizzled with soy sauce, and Chinese vinegar.
How to order:  Order online via BeyondMenu, in person or call (858) 565-2688 for takeout, or delivery via Grubhub, UberEats or Yelp.

Emerald Chinese Cuisine

They dispensed with the dim sum carts in favor of a regular menu, and while we’re nostalgic for the anticipation we’d feel as the server plucked the covers off various small steamers and bowls, the result is fresh, made-to-order lotus leaf sticky rice, shumai, pot stickers, and steamed chicken feet. But don’t ignore the rest of the menu: there’s juicy BBQ, hearty soups, succulent seafood, hot pot, stone pot, and enough rice and noodle dishes to please everyone.
How to order:  Stop in for patio dining, order in person or call 858-565-6888 for takeout, or delivery via Grubhub, Postmates or Yelp.



Let’s hope you saved room for dessert, because the Convoy District has some of the best ice cream shops in the city. All the inventive flavors and adorable cones or waffles to hold your scoops might even tempt you to skip dinner and go on an ice cream crawl instead. Why not? SomiSomi’s Instagram-popular ah-boong is a cute fish-shaped waffle cone you can order filled with nutella, custard, red bean, or taro, topped with soft-serve in flavors like ube, black sesame, matcha, or milk tea, and showered in crumbles or sprinkles. Bing Haus specializes in Thai-style rolled ice cream and a spectacular seasonal bingsu-shaved ice and red beans under a mountain of watermelon or honeydew balls, all doused in condensed milk. For the lightest, fluffiest Taiwanese shaved snow ever, stop by Iceskimo, where owner Robert Yang still hand makes each ice block for the freshest quality. Their Hong Kong bubble waffles, filled with creamy soft serve, are also popular.
How to order: Check individual websites for details.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.

San Diego

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego

Check out female-led dance programs, pop up markets, beer dinners, and more events this March.

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Women have played a huge part shaping San Diego into the city it is today. In celebration of Women’s History Month, there are a variety of events across the city that commemorate women’s contributions to our community and culture. Home to the Women’s Museum of California, which hosts events throughout the year, be sure to check out all the ways to support and honor women this month. From art exhibits to dance performances, pop-up markets and yoga, check out the best events to celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego:

Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art

Discover works from overlooked women artists

Ongoing through November 7, 2023
Balboa Park
The San Diego Museum of Art currently has 20 modern and contemporary works of art on display from women who unjustly didn’t receive the same amount of fame as their male contemporaries. The museum’s Modern Women exhibit is your chance to see work from artists like Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner, who were overshadowed by artist husbands Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock but whose work has long deserved its own moment in the spotlight. The collection showcases pieces that range from acrylic paintings to photography, inviting us into an untapped artistic sphere.
Cost: $20

Practice Sun Salutations while supporting a good cause

Saturday, March 4, 10 am to 11 am
Pacific Beach
Make a difference in the lives of teen girls of colour while taking a yoga class at Kate Sessions Park. Organized by local nonprofit One Love Movement, all donations for the event go towards college scholarships for girls of the DETOUR F.A.N.C.Y. Expo & Leadership Academy, a mentorship program that promotes equity and inclusion in higher education for girls of colour. All while enjoying stunning views of Mission Bay.
Cost: Donation-based

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Shop local women-owned businesses

Sunday, March 5, 1 pm to 5 pm
What better way to celebrate the women in your community than by supporting their local businesses? The Women’s History Month Market, located in the FEMX Quarters venue, is a pop up market you don’t want to miss. The market will feature over 35 vendors from women artisans and you’ll find uniquely crafted sunglasses, jewellery, clothing, and more. The family-friendly (and pet-friendly) event will also include food and music.
Cost: Free

Drink beer crafted by female brewers on International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Women were the original brewers of ale, after all, so it only makes sense to honour our past and present beer connoisseurs with dinner and brews. Located at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone International Women’s Day Beer Dinner features three courses, each paired with a tasty beer specially brewed by a team of women at Stone Brewery. The event is part of a larger global celebration for International Women’s Day, where brewers all over the world brew a speciality beer that supports The Pink Boots Society, a non profit that empowers women and non-binary people in the beer industry through scholarships and education. Grab your tickets while you can! 21+
Cost: $50-$70

Attend an exhibition celebrating female and non-binary artists

Saturday, March 11, 5:00 pm
Barrio Logan
Head over to the entertainment and community venue Corazon del Barrio and show your support to female and non-binary artists, whose art and music will be featured in the Diosa Art Show. Around 40 artists are on the bill at this all-ages event.
Cost: Free

Drink some pints for the pups

Saturday, March 11, 12 pm to 4 pm
Carmel Mountain
If you need another excuse to down some brews, Second Chance Beer Company is hosting its first ever Ladies & Pups Market for Women’s History Month. The brewery, which holds various events throughout the year, donates a percentage of its sales to animal rescue organizations in California and Arizona. The dog-friendly market will include pop ups from women-owned businesses such as Bold Bouquet, Wet Nose Pottery, and No, You Sit! Treats. For the occasion, Second Chance will serve Fistful of Gummies – Berry Edition, a rendition of their fruited sour beer created in collaboration with Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women and non-binary individuals in the beer industry.
Cost: Free

Photo courtesy of Women's Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California

Attend a ceremony at the Women’s Museum of California

Saturday, March 18, 11 am to 1 pm
Perhaps San Diego’s largest Women’s History Month event, the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes local women for their achievements in the community. The annual event, which takes place at Joan B. Kroc Theatre, is a project of the Women’s Museum of California, a museum dedicated to educating the public about women’s contributions through history with exhibits, programs, and events. Over 100 women have been inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame since the program was founded in 2001, and this year’s class includes notable women like activist Norma Chávez-Peterson and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. The event includes a VIP brunch followed by the Induction Ceremony. Be sure to purchase tickets early to secure your spot.
Cost: $20-$150

Join a community of local women and get inspired

Monday, March 20, 5 pm to 7:30 pm
The Women’s Speaker Series at Alesmith Brewing Company is a monthly community gathering where local women come together to support one another in achieving professional and personal goals. The event includes a social hour followed by a selected speaker. For this month, the Women’s Speaker Series features career coach and small business owner Laura Bashore, who will share her insight on how you can advance your career or business. Make sure to reserve your spot before attending!
Cost: Free

Come hear about the roles San Diego women played during World War II

Tuesday, March 21, 1 pm to 3 pm
Mission Valley
In the early 20th century, many women were not allowed or expected to be the breadwinners for their households, but things suddenly changed with the United States’ entry into World War II. Here’s your chance to learn about the real experiences of women who lived through WWll and how they navigated through it all. Presented by Oasis San Diego, head over to Mission Valley Library to attend this in-person event.
Cost: Free

Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project

Attend a ballet program choreographed entirely by women

Thursday, March 23 – Saturday, March 25 & Monday, March 27, 7:30 pm
Liberty Station
Experience not one but three world premiere ballet performances at The Rosin Box Project, a contemporary ballet company that works to redefine the concept of dance and how it’s experienced for both artists and audiences. To coincide with Women’s History Month, TRBP is kicking off its 2023 season with Empower, a female-led ballet program choreographed by TRBO Residents Lauren Flower, Bethany Green, and Carly Topazio. The program, which takes place at Light Box Theater, offers a fresh take on dance by pushing the boundaries of traditional ballet. Your ticket includes a post-show reception.
Cost: $45

Hear music by a little-known female early 20th-century composer

Friday, March 24, 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm
Balboa Park
While you may not be familiar with composer Alice Barnett Stevenson, she played an integral part in San Diego’s music scene during the early 1900s. Stevenson was an active member of various music organizations at the time, and she composed art songs for voice and piano and performed at schools all over the country. Her home became a hub for local recitals from visiting musicians, and was also where the San Diego Symphony was founded. This month, you can hear her compositions performed live for the first time in nearly 100 years at the San Diego History Center. Selected works by Stevenson will be performed by musical scholar Katina Mitchell and pianist Yewon Lee. Be sure to reserve tickets ahead of time.
Cost: $25-$40

Listen to Black San Diego women discuss important community issues

Saturday, March 25, 12 pm to 4 pm
Valencia Park
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Friends of Malcolm X Library are hosting Ain’t I a Woman, an event featuring Black women who will be speaking about their professions and discussing the challenges faced within the workplace and the community while offering suggestions on how to further enhance and embrace equality. The event includes a Q&A panel discussion, door prizes, free raffles, as well as music, poetry, and dance. Seating is limited so be sure to reserve your spot early.
Cost: Free event. Lunch purchase is $15.

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Michelle Harris is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Over the years her writing has also appeared in Atlas ObscuraMental Floss, and Audubon Magazine. When she’s not busy typing, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and cooking vegan food.


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