SAN DIEGO — It’s no surprise that foodies may become enamored in San Diego’s bustling restaurant scene. From gastropubs and cafes to chic and modern eateries, America’s Finest City is serving up vibrant dishes inspired by a variety of cultures.
The Picky Eater, a food influenced blog by nutritionist and health coach Anjali Shah, conducted a study to get more insight into the most popular cuisines in San Diego.
Data from the study shows 26 different countries have cooked their way into local menus with the countryside flavors of some nations being more present than others across San Diego.
Mexican food takes the crown as the most popular cuisine in the city, according to the study, with a whopping 292 restaurants scattered throughout the San Deigo. With the country being California’s southern neighbor, an abundance of taco shops and authentic tortilla makers can easily be found in the metropolitan area.
American food takes second place in most popular cuisine in the city with 281 locations, followed closely by Japanese cuisine with 254 locations, says The Picky Eater.
Shah commented, “The popularity of American cuisine in San Diego may be attributed to the city’s reputation as a tourist destination, with visitors often seeking out familiar dishes. Japanese cuisine’s popularity is likely due to the popularity of sushi and other Japanese dishes, which have gained a following across the United States.”
Data from the study shows Chinese food trailed in fourth most popular cuisine in San Diego with 218 locations. The Picky Eater noted that the city has a large Asian population and the local food scene has responded by offering a wide range of Asian-inspired dishes.
Other countries that made the list include Thailand, Italy, Vietnam, France, India and more. Here’s a list of popular cuisines in San Diego and their restaurant count as of April 2023, according to data from The Picky Eater.
Rank Cuisine Restaurant Count Percentage of Total Restaurants 1 Mexican 292 11.53% 2 American 281 11.09% 3 Japanese 254 10.03% 4 Chinese 218 8.61% 5 Thai 175 6.91% 6 Italian 172 6.79% 7 Vietnamese 145 5.72% 8 French 143 5.65% 9 English 130 5.13% 10 Indian 118 4.66% 11 Korean 109 4.30% 12 Hawaiian 104 4.11% 13 Greek 75 2.96% 14 Spanish 29 1.14% 15 Belgian 25 0.99% 16 Persian 25 0.99% 17 Brazilian 18 0.71% 18 Caribbean 18 0.71% 19 African 14 0.55% 20 Filipino 14 0.55% 21 German 14 0.55% 22 Mongolian 14 0.55% 23 Swiss 14 0.55% 24 Turkish 13 0.51% 25 Russian 10 0.39% 26 Argentinian 9 0.36% (Table created by The Picky Eater: https://pickyeaterblog.com/)
Shah said, “The city’s diverse population and cultural influences have helped to create a unique culinary landscape that offers something for everyone, from traditional Mexican fare to modern fusion cuisine. As the city continues to grow and evolve, it will be interesting to see how the food scene responds and evolves along with it.”
While determining the most popular and availabile cuisines in San Diego, The Picky Eater says it analyzed Instagram hashtags and examined the 50 most visited cities, according to the Govisity list, to compile a list of 65 cuisines worldwide. For each city, including San Diego, The Picky Eater counted the number of restaurants serving these 65 cuisines using data from Foursquare’s API.