Oh, hello! Welcome to SoCal.
Long lists of recommendations are never useful. This is a collection of my trusted favorites and wish list eateries in San Diego and Los Angeles. All places have to-go options. And the LA picks all have nice outdoor dining options and seem to have strong hygiene and safety measures in place.
If there's one place you eat at from this list, it's this Mexican restaurant. There's no wrong order here, but there's definitely a right one: The Surfin' California Burrito (pictured) and the Champion Fries with Steak.
A Point Loma staple, this will be the best BBQ you'll find in the greater San Diego area. Enjoy the ribs, tri-tip, and all the sides. And have fun getting messy!
Consider getting a good buzz here while you wait for your table at Gjelina, which is just down the street.
But if you don't have the patience for Gjelina, consider Gjelina Take Away (GTA), and swoop up a pizza, sandwich, or try the blackened fish.
Mar Vista / West Side: Coffee & Quick Lunch
Potentially your nearest specialty coffee shop. Large courtyard, WiFi, and nice espresso-based drinks. The Mayan seems to be a popular order.
I'm a black coffee drinker, but I'm a sucker for their Mint Mojito Iced Coffee. Already a known chain, but at this point it's a California essential. Just don't get their coffee black.
San Fernando Valley
The locally famous low-key celebrity jaunt. It might be the dim lighting indoors that attracts celebs, or it's just the killer margaritas. But amid Covid, they outfitted their parking lot for nice outdoor dining.
The Studio City location has ample parking in the lot and on the street, with patio dining. No judgment if you want to drink the chimichurri.