San Diego’s Oldest Restaurants

Pekin Cafe - a list of San Diego's oldest restaurants

A checklist of San Diego’s oldest restaurants

Restaurants come and go, but some are more popular and stick around for decades. Here’s a quick checklist of some local San Diego restaurants that have been in business for at least fifty years. How many have you patronized? Enjoy!

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Pekin Cafe San Diego, ad, 1938 (1931) Pekin Cafe, oldest surviving Chinese-American restaurant in San Diego. Great for takeout. Old-school egg foo yung.
North Park
2877 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92104

(1933) Las Cuatro Milpas, old homestyle Mexican cooking from the Estudillo family. Cash only. Pork (no beef) tacos for breakfast!
Barrio Logan
1875 Logan Avenue
San Diego, CA 92113

(1933) The Waterfront Bar & Grill, San Diego fishermen’s hangout and longest continually held liquor licence in town. Breakfast dishes and wide beer selection.
Harborview
2044 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Chet Tobeys 19th Hole Cafe ad, 1936 (1934) Tobey’s 19th Hole Cafe, municipal golf course clubhouse restaurant. Run by the Tobeys for three generations! A hidden gem, with tasty diner food and bubbly brunches.
Golden Hill
2600 Golf Course Dr
San Diego, CA 92102

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Red Sails Inn menu cover c1935 (1935-2016) Red Sails Inn [Closed 31 Aug 2015], established by Joseph Y Viery at Fisherman’s Wharf and G Streets, this seafood eatery was originally adorned with a red sail. Okay. Not continually running since 1935 (it was closed for a few years), but reopened by Jack Allen Davis in the Shelter Island location in 1957. A favorite with local boaters.

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Fisherman’s Wharf
654 Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

Shelter Island
2614 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

(1938) San Diego Chicken Pie Shop, serving inexpensive chicken dinners since the Great Depression. Chicken pot pie dinner (includes dessert).
North Park
2633 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

(1940) Café La Maze, old gambling hangout and key-club for Hollywood types, now a nostalgic steakhouse. Get a booth and order prime rib au jus.
National City
1441 Highland Avenue
National City, CA 91950

(1940) El Indio, traditional Mexican food, allegedly the originator of rolled tacos. Go for the taquitos, stay for the chips.
Mission Hills
3695 India Street
San Diego, CA 92103

(1941) Clayton’s Coffee Shop, popular Coronado counter service coffee shop where you’ll have to wait in line for a spot. Malted milkshakes rule.
Coronado
979 Orange Avenue
Coronado Island, CA

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - The Marine Room, La Jolla, in 1949 (1941) The Marine Room, originally built in 1916 as the Spindrift Inn. High-tide brunch gets exciting when ocean waves hit the windows.

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La Jolla
2000 Spindrift Drive
La Jolla, CA 92037

(1944) Hob Nob Hill, Harold and Dorothy Hoersch moved their original Juniper Café to the present location in 1946. Bakery. Breakfast. Almost bottomless mimosa.
Bankers Hill
2271 1st Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Anthony's Fish Grotto, San Diego Embarcadero, 2016 (1946-2107) Anthony’s Fish Grotto, a San Diego family-run institution on the waterfront since 1946. Crab Louie or Mama Ghio’s Cioppino.
Embarcadero (1946-1951)
965 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

Middletown (1951-1965)
2535 Pacific Highway
San Diego, CA 92101

La Mesa (1961-Now)
9530 Murray Drive
La Mesa, CA 91942

Embarcadero (1965-2017)
1360 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

(1946) Barrett Junction Cafe & Mercantile, home of the world famous all-you-can-eat fish fry, and some mighty good barbecue too. Originally homesteaded in 1888, the mercantile was established in 1915. Now run by Chris and Leon Herzog. Hush puppies with honey.
Hwy 94 at Barrett Junction
1020 Barrett Lake Road
Dulzura, CA 91917

(1946) Pernicano’s Family Ristorante, founded by Vennero and Maria Pernicano and made famous by handlebar-mustachioed son George, this Italian-American chain is still operated by the family. Chicken Francesca or a la Baffi.
El Cajon
1588 East Main Street
El Cajon, CA 92021

Scripps Ranch
9932 Mercy Road #109
San Diego, CA 92129

La Jolla
711 Turquoise Street
San Diego, CA 92109

(1946) Tony’s Jacal, the Gonzales family’s traditional Mexican food restaurant, a Solana Beach historical landmark. Get it with turkey…
Eden Gardens
621 Valley Avenue
Solana Beach, CA 92075

(1948) Red Tracton’s, old school steakhouse and piano bar across from Del Mar racetrack. Originally from LA. Alaskan king crab legs, filet mignon.
Solana Beach
550 Via de la Valle
Solana Beach, CA

(1949) Harbor House, the bayside seafood house originally located on what was known in the 1940s as Fisherman’s Wharf. It was reopened in 1980 in Seaport Village which is slated for redevelopment.
Seaport Village
831 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101

(1949) Rudford’s, was the quintessential San Diego 24-hour diner on Old Highway 80, now “The Boulevard.” Get a spot at the counter and a cup o’ joe.
North Park
2900 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

(1950) Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, family-owned pizzaria in Little Italy and several other locations. Pizza’s are great, Lasagna’s a fave.
Little Italy
1747 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Turf Supper Club (1950) Turf Supper Club, Golden Hill grill-your-own steakhouse and piano bar. Steaks are great (if you cook ’em right), pint-sized cocktails.
Golden Hill
1116 25th Street
San Diego, CA 92102

(1951) Grant Grill, iconic restaurant in the U.S. Grant Hotel.
Downtown
326 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

(1951) Saska’s Steak and Seafood, the steak, seafood and sushi joint, once considered a Mission Beach institution, has new owners. Crab chowder.
Mission Beach
3768 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

(1953) Bali Hai Restaurant, Tom F Ham Jr’s classic Shelter Island tiki destination, originally called Christian’s Hut. Mai tais are very strong, ‘Goof Punch’ is just right. Buy a mug.
Shelter Island
2230 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106

(1954) Venice Pizza House, the LoMedico family’s pizza house, on more top-ten lists than we can count!
3333 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92104

(1955) La Bella Pizza Garden, Tony and Kitty Raso opened their pizzeria in 1955, and it’s still run by the family.
373 Third Ave
Chula Vista, CA 91910

(1956) Mona Lisa Italian Foods, Brunetto family restaurant and deli in Little Italy since 1973, originally located downtown San Diego. Explore their extensive deli, the sandwiches are great!
Little Italy
2061 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101

(1958) Napoleone’s Pizza House, Crivello family restaurant on National City’s old Mile of Bars. Singer Tom Waits worked there as a youth.
National City
619 National City Blvd
San Diego, CA 91950

(1959) Red Fox Steakhouse, steakhouse and piano bar attached to the Lafayette Hotel. One of the last to serve a garnish tray. Try a shrimp cocktail and steak.
North Park
2223 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

(1960) Harry’s Coffee Shop, Harry Rudolph’s classic coffee shop in the heart of La Jolla. Breakfast all day. (Surfers order the breakfast burrito.)
La Jolla
7545 Girard Avenue
La Jolla, CA 92037

(1961) Fidel’s Little Mexico, originally his barbershop, Fidel Montanez started selling tacos there, and the rest is history. Crab Burrito, Fidel’s Famous Margarita.
Eden Gardens
749 Genevieve Street / 607 Valley Avenue
(corner of Genevieve & Valley Ave)
Solana Beach, CA 92075

(1961) Imperial House Continental Restaurant & Lounge, old-school Continental cuisine, Caesar salad, Steak Diane presented tableside a la minúte. Classic piano bar attached.
Park West
505 Kalmia Street
San Diego, CA

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Albie's Beef Inn (1962-2015) Albie’s Beef Inn [Closed Dec 2015], home of 1960s boudoir paintings and traditional piano bar. Prime rib and sweet carrot.
Mission Valley
1201 Hotel Circle South
San Diego, CA 92108

(1963) Old Trieste, a time-capsule of a restaurant, serving the same menu of Italian food for years. Jacket required. Lobster Fra Diavalo, Calamari Fritti, Scampi Trieste, all great!
Bay Park
2335 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110

(1963) Point Loma Seafoods, fresh seafood counter and takeout at the sportfishing docks. They’ll clean, filet and smoke your catch. Mrs Kelly’s Ceviche.
Point Loma
2805 Emerson Street
San Diego, CA 92106

(1964) Roberto’s Taco Shop, starting out with a tortillaria in San Ysidro, Roberto Robledo and sons have grown their family tree of ubiquitous taco shops to over 70 in the Southwest (not including all the *berto’s variations). Go for the carne asada burrito.
Roberto’s No. 1
National City
1406 Highland Avenue
National City, CA 91950

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Aunt Emma's Pancakes (1965) Aunt Emma’s Pancakes, Don Roland’s iconic pancake house in Chula Vista, originally located on El Cajon Blvd, was opened in 1959. Second location (old Keith’s Drive-In) in National City opened in 2009. Now both owned by Nick Gelastopoulos. Home of “Pancakes Around the World.”
Chula Vista
700 E Street
Chula Vista, CA 91910

National City
214 National City Blvd
National City, CA

 

San Diego's Oldest Restaurants - Mister A's logo (1965) Mister A’s, posh restaurant high atop Park West’s Fifth Avenue Financial Centre, was opened by San Diego businessman John Alessio. Remodeled by restaurateur Bertrand Hug in 2000. Dress code. A favorite outdoor rooftop happy hour for locals in-the-know.
Park West
2550 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92103

(1966) Wong’s Golden Palace, classic family-run Chinese eatery, celebrated its 50th anniversary February 28, 2016. Island of Flowers has been on the menu since day one. The Dragon Room bar serves tiki drinks, including their signature Wong Cup.
La Mesa/Rolando
7126 University Avenue
La Mesa, CA 91942

(1967) Bully’s was founded in La Jolla in 1967 by George Bullington, JD Dahlen and Lester Holt. Today the Mission Valley location (est 1971) is known for strong cocktails, hearty steaks and great prime rib. Bullington is said to have invented the Keoki Coffee.
Bully’s East
Mission Valley
2401 Camino del Rio South
San Diego, CA 92108

(1967) Chiquitas Mexican Restaurant. Opened by the Chelas and now run by the Rodriguez family. Carne asada diners, wild shrimp cocktails and margaritas. Yes please!
Fairmont Park
4110 Home Avenue
San Diego, CA 92105

(1967) Paesano Fine Italian Food. A classic, old-school Italian-American pizza joint on the 30th Street ‘craft beer corridor.’ Try the baked ravioli or lasagna. Kid-friendly!
North Park
3647 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92104

(1968) Su Casa, Marshall Pellar’s long-lasting Sonoran-style Mexican food and seafood grotto. In the same spot as The Luau, Mister Lucky’s Smorgette, and The Connoisseur restaurants. Pellar claimed to have invented the Strawberry Margarita and Nachos in 1968.
La Jolla
6738 La Jolla Blvd
San Diego, CA 92037

 

Updated 10 Mar 2017.

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