San Diego

12 Essential Women-Owned Restaurants You Should Know in San Diego

Support the women shaking up San Diego's restaurant scene.

Photo courtesy of hanna's gourmet
Photo courtesy of hanna’s gourmet
Photo courtesy of hanna’s gourmet

March is Women’s History Month, when we acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions women have made to our collective history. In the United States, the beginnings of this month of recognition began with the first International Women’s Day in 1911, but the movement really gained traction when the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance) lobbied to establish a National Women’s History Week in 1980. Their success, and the subsequent popularity of the annual celebration, led to Congress passing a law designating March as Women’s History Month in 1987.

Women have made progress towards equality, even holding the second-highest elected office in the land, but it’s still shocking to learn that less than a quarter of chefs in restaurants across the US are women and women chefs/owners number in the single digits, despite making up nearly half of culinary school students at the Culinary Institute of America. While women chefs and restaurant owners face the same general challenges as their men counterparts in the industry (COVID-19, anyone?), they bear the additional burdens of traditional gender norms, which can affect everything from being able to secure financing to raising children in an industry that’s notorious for not providing vacation or sick time off, health insurance, child care, and other typical employment benefits.

Fortunately for us, San Diego’s culinary scene has a long history of influential women in charge of the kitchen, from Urban Kitchen Group‘s powerhouse Tracy Borkum and dessert guru Karen Krasne to young guns like Priscilla Curiel, whose years honing her craft in her family’s restaurants have culminated in stellar debut venues. Mentorship programs and educational groups, such as the Mujeres Brew Club, the Pink Boots Society and San Diego Women in Food provide support, education, and resources for novices and experienced entrepreneurs alike, but they need your help too. It’s easy to do-support our local women chefs and restaurateurs by eating at their shops and dining rooms, tipping their staff generously, and by encouraging your family and friends to do the same. To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite woman-owned restaurants, breweries, and bars in San Diego, for you to enjoy not only during March, but all year long.

Photo courtesy of Tuetano Taqueria
Photo courtesy of Tuetano Taqueria
Photo courtesy of Tuetano Taqueria

Tuétano Taqueria

San Ysidro
Owner/chef Priscilla Curiel’s tiny yellow taqueria just this side of the border, had barely opened its doors when she started getting rave reviews both locally and nationally. One bite of her slow-braised, succulent birria with tuĂ©tano, a thick hunk of roasted marrow bone, and you’ll know why. Besides tacos, tortas, and quesadillas, the shop offers frequent specialty items like flautas or chile en nogada, as well as collaborations and pop-up events with other local restaurants. And yes, you’ll want to pick up a jar or two of that addictive salsa macha to take home and put on everything you eat.
How to order: Order by texting 619-856-7030 with your name and payment via Cash App or Venmo.

Mujer Divina Burrito and Coffee House

National City
Okay, we’re cheating a little here, because Mujer Divina Coffeehouse is also owned by Priscilla Curiel, who revamped her popular Naturale Deli in National City into a coffee and burrito shop late last year. Using the same excellent birria that goes into Tuetano’s tacos, these are Tijuana-style burritos de hielera, available in flavors like machaca ranchera, chorizo with potatoes, and chicharron in salsa verde, plus weekly specialty burritos. Coffee drinks, using organic beans from Chiapas, Mexico, include cafĂ© de olla, drip brews, and an array of flavored lattes, plus a nice selection of pastries, toasts, and scones.
How to order: In person or online via Toast.

Photo courtesy of Mujeres Brew House
Photo courtesy of Mujeres Brew House
Photo courtesy of Mujeres Brew House

Mujeres Brew House

Barrio Logan
Mujeres Brew Club co-founders Estela Davila and Carmen Favela opened San Diego’s first Latina-owned brewery last November with a handful of collaborative brews and guest taps. Since then they’ve been pouring every weekend, having added Mujeres y Musica Fridays with live music, a Saturday farmers market, and monthly pop ups like Sunday Low and Slow Day Market featuring local vendors, food items, and lowriders. Check their Facebook and Instagram pages for info on what’s pouring.
How to order: In person for patio dining or takeout.

You and Yours Distillery

East Village
San Diego native Laura Johnson, founder and distiller at You and Yours Distillery, knew she wanted to be in the industry when she toured her first distillery at age 18, and realized her dream when she opened San Diego’s only urban distillery in 2017. Just four years later she’s bottling gin and vodka, has launched a popular line of canned cocktails, gives tours and cocktail making classes and recently implemented a new bar program at Liberty Station’s Loma Club, in addition to hosting one of the most beautiful, Instagram-friendly tasting rooms in the city.
How to order: In person for patio dining or order online for takeout.

Photo courtesy of Azucar
Photo courtesy of Azucar
Photo courtesy of Azucar

Azucar

Point Loma
Vivian Hernandez-Jackson combined her Le Cordon Bleu credentials and Cuban heritage to create Azucar, a pretty, cozy little place to satisfy your sweet, savory, or caffeinated cravings. If it’s lunchtime, go for pastelitos de carne-all-butter puff pastries stuffed with picadillo, a soft, fragrant stew of ground beef, tomatoes, and olives. But really, the desserts and pastries are the stars here, and none satisfies a sweet tooth like Divina, a spectacular combination of white chocolate cake, passion fruit curd, and raspberries under a blanket of toasted marshmallow.
How to order: In person or order online for pickup.

Hanna’s Gourmet

University Heights
Chef Hanna Tesfamichael has been a mainstay of the Adams Avenue culinary scene for more than a decade, cooking dishes from Tunisia one week, Ghana the next, and later in the month perhaps Polish cuisine. These days, you can still get her beloved prosciutto and caramelized apple tortellini, Moroccan chicken and meat lasagne, along with a large selection of soups (the creamy tomato bisque is highly recommended), stews, and salads. Do splurge on dessert: carrot cake enthusiasts won’t want to pass up Hanna’s special version.
How to order: Order online by Thursday for pickup on Sunday between 2–6 pm.

Industrial Grind Coffee

Tierrasanta
Navy veterans Kathy Hansen and Barbara Jeanine opened the first Industrial Grind in Hillcrest back in 2011, learning the industry by trial and error and eventually becoming a mini-chain of four shops before circumstances scaled them back to just their popular Tierrasanta location. Along the way, they’ve brought in niece Crystal Jones as manager and developed their own line of gluten-free baked goods and mixes, which they sell at the shop as well as at local Whole Foods stores. Check their website’s How To for Crystal’s gluten-free baking videos.
How to order: In person or online for patio dining or pickup.

Photo courtesy of Poor House Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Poor House Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Poor House Brewing Company

Poor House Brewing Company

North Park
The first nanobrewery to open in North Park, Poor House Brewing has been serving up suds and good times under co-founder Alanna Scheer and her crew since 2012. Specializing in ales, the beer menu runs the gamut from pale blondes to robust Imperial stouts that push the ABV into double digits.
How to order: In person for outdoor dining and takeout.

Cafe 222

Marina District
Cafe 222 serves Terryl Gavre’s famous peanut butter and banana stuffed French toast, big, fluffy pancakes, and other breakfast mainstays at her award-winning cafe in the heart of downtown. A perennial on “Best Breakfast” lists for more than 20 years, they also serve classic diner lunches like melts, burgers, and chili.
How to order: Outdoor dining is on a first-come, first-served basis, or order online for pickup.

CUCINA urbana
CUCINA urbana
CUCINA urbana

Cucina Urbana

Bankers Hill
From the Kensington Grill, Chive, and Laurel to the Cucina family of restaurants including Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill, Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar and Cucina Sorella in Kensington, Tracy Borkum has been a powerhouse in the San Diego culinary scene and was one of the first to introduce the restaurant-within-a-wine-shop concept to Southern California. Putting fresh SoCal spins on traditional Italian recipes, menu standouts include house-made pastas, pizza, and shareable large plates. Family-style meals, provision boxes, and pantry items are available to order online.
How to order: Make reservations for outdoor dining or pickup via Toast.

Wayfarer Bread & Pastry

Bird Rock
After co-founding the LA bakery Proof in 2010 and a stint at the famed Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, Crystal White opened Wayfarer Bread & Pastry in 2018. Naturally fermented breads form the core of the menu, but there’s plenty of flaky croissants, buttery scones, cinnamon buns, and cookies to satisfy the most hardcore sweet tooth. Sandwiches, organic flours, yeast, and a few grocery items are also available for purchase. Thursday through Saturday is Pizza Night, featuring thin crust pies that rotate weekly.
How to order: In person or pre-order for bakery items, pizza by pre-order only.

Photo courtesy of Extraordinary Desserts
Photo courtesy of Extraordinary Desserts
Photo courtesy of Extraordinary Desserts

Extraordinary Desserts

Little Italy, Bankers Hill
From the mile-high layer cakes to creamy brulees, Karen Krasne knows that the little flourishes: a touch of gold leaf, a few perfect raspberries, or a scattering of fresh flowers, take her desserts from delicious to over-the-top stunning. In addition to perfectly crafted sweets, you’ll find a full menu of shareable boards, paninis, salads, and soup/grilled cheese combos.
How to order: Order online for pickup or delivery via Postmates or UberEats.

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
Middletown
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
Escondido
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
Rolando
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
Miramar
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 Obscura, Mental Floss, and Audubon Magazine. When she’s not busy typing, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and cooking vegan food.

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