San Diego.. a local’s guide to top five coffee stops, the cultish brunch life, & shopping havens..

Before moving to Seoul, South Korea, I lived in San Diego, California.  I just hit the one year mark of living in this metropolitan city and while I’m loving the experience of living abroad, nothing like home sweet Trader Joe’s home is quite the same.  Be prepared, this post is going to be jammed packed with a ton of info, but use it as a guide if you’ve never been to San Diego, from a locals point of view that when I “visit” home, what I do with my short time.  This isn’t a complete list, but I’ll periodically update it with new posts.  I usually only get about 2-3 days to cram everything in every few months, so I switch it up as much as possible and add any new hot spot that has opened since my last visit.

{caffeine addiction}

I NEED my brew when I’m back in town.. chances are, I came off a flight from Korea and didn’t sleep because I was too busy catching up on all the new movies.. plus sleeping on planes isn’t ideal and I also don’t want to miss meal time..  When I’m in California, I basically run off adrenaline and coffee.  Sleep doesn’t exist and I’m not mad about it.  I really miss it there, can you tell?!  My top 5 coffee shops in San Diego (at the moment) in no particular order:

  1. Philz Coffee (Encinitas) – if you are familiar with the brand, they opened up a spot in Encinitas. DEAD.  Get the mint mojito iced coffee and think of me when you do.  The absolute best and made to perfection.
  2. Holsem Coffee (North Park) – Dreams of marble and gold fill the interior with coffee. on. tap. WHAT?!  My personal favs are the Nutella and Banana Bread (legit pieces of banana bread in the drink) cold brews.
  3. Square Bar Cafe (Claremont Mesa) – New to the scene and this is more than a coffee shop.  Tip: they have unicorn bagels and a cookie monster ice cream sandwich you have to try.  This place knows how indecisive people are and lets you choose TWO drinks for the price of ONE!  I got the taro and artisan coffee.. at 9PM at night.. and it was worth it.
  4. Copa Vida (Downtown Gaslamp) – Got the latte because it was just one of those days.  I wanted the cute white marble flatlay but also some good brew, so win-win.
  5. Holy Matcha (North Park) – Ok, saving my new obsession for last because this is a blogger’s gangster’s matcha paradise.  If unicorns created a coffee shop, this would literally be what it looks like.  Pink, green, white, and gold rule the decor with millennial pink couches with the cutest latte art ever!  I couldn’t stop taking pictures in here and have more reserved in my arsenal.  GO!





{basic brunches}

San Diego knows how to do a lot of things, and one of those is brunches.  It’s seriously a cult to go to brunch on the weekend and sip mimosas and bloody mary’s to try to cure the hangover.  So many places to serve every palate.  Doesn’t matter if you are on a vegan, paleo, gluten free, or on an all protein diet, the hardest part is deciding which spot to go to without hitting lines that form.  My top 5 brunch spots in San Diego:

  1. Great Maple (Hillcrest) – the name gives away the clue that they are famous for their maple bacon donuts.  Do you even need more of a description?  Order this as your appetizer before your main meal, just trust me.  You get 3 donuts, don’t try to ask for fewer, just accept your 3 maple bacon donuts and take them home if necessary, but doubt they will make it that far.
  2. Cafe on Park (University Heights)- We are regulars at this gem.  We probably went a few times a month when we lived in SD and for good reason.  They have blueberry frosted flake pancakes.  Yeah, it’s a thing and you should order it.  Make sure you are splitting it because one pancake can serve 4 people.  I suggest you also grab a scramble while you’re there and come hungry.  Their meals feed your soul exponentially. (not pictured)
  3. The Mission (North Park)- I get one thing every single time because they get it right every single time.  The soyrizo & eggs.  If it’s soy, it has to be healthy amiright??  The chipotle creama and flour tortillas are enough reason to keep coming back. (not pictured)
  4. Liberty Public Market (Point Loma)- This spot has everything.  It reminds me of the Pike Place Market in Seattle with vendors lining the aisles.  My senses go nuts every time I walk in there..  From carefully curated salads with kombucha on tap to poke bowls that taste like they came straight from Hawaii and handmade craft sausages that is natural and hormone free.
  5. In-N-Out – (All over) Ok, so I get this isn’t technically a brunch spot, but it deserves a place on my first San Diego post.  We make it to the famous burger joint every time we’re in town.  Ironic because we used to live on the same street as one of their locations and would usually only go when friends were in town.. Depending on how hungry I am, I usually opt for the double protein style burger with NO cheese (read: secret menu).  I love cheese.. don’t like them on my burgers.  Not sure what went wrong when my brain formed that conclusion.  Fries, get them, and also grab a Lemon-Up (read: secret menu); a mixture of Lemonade and 7-Up.


Bag: Rebecca Minkoff
{for the fashion enthusiasts}

San Diego really is a mecca for shoppers.  So many one of a kind boutiques and major chain stores fill the SoCal city.  Reason number 3932400 to love SD is that ANYTHING I ever needed, I could find.  That instant gratification that if I needed the most obscure cooking ingredient, I could go to an organic grocery store and they would have at least 5 different variations of what I was looking for, to up and coming designers breaking through the blogger market showing up in my favorite go-to shopping stops.  Since I seem to be doing everything in 5’s, here’s my top 5 shopping boutiques in San Diego:

  1. Van De Vort (Del Mar) – They carry For Love and Lemons, Stone Cold Fox, Jeffrey Campbell, Amuse Society, JNB Jewelry, all the usual suspects that would make any babe swoon over.  The decor inside is instagram worthy too, so that doesn’t suck.  Plus the owner, Andrea, styles all the Bachelorette babes, who also model for the brand.
  2.  Pigment (North Park) – I haven’t met anyone that hates succulents or really pretty home decor, so if you’re into that, you could spend probably hours in this little piece of heaven.  I found some gold flamingo glass cups and marble cutting boards that I cherish so much and don’t even care that it makes my bags overweight when I have to fly back to Korea.
  3. Stroll (Little Italy) – If you have an upcoming festival and don’t want to cry after seeing your credit card statement, make a stop here.  They carry Killem with Chic and essentials for every season.
  4. Gioia’s Room Boutique (Hillcrest) – The customer service here is what seals the deal.  Gioia is incredibly helpful and her Mom will alter any item you purchase, FOR FREE.  Sometimes there’s champagne, or cupcakes, or candy, and all I know, is going there always puts a smile on my face.  I always find something here that I end up wearing while I’m on vacation.
  5. Mimi & Red (North Park/Bird Rock) – I always end up in either North Park or Bird Rock, so this makes it easy to stop at this affordable boutique.  They have a ton of brands and homeware items that make you question how many ring holders you need in life.  I got the cutest palm leaf romper on my last trip (outfit post coming soon) and black sunglasses at a fraction of the cost of similar designer specs.


Van De Vort

{outfit details} top: Vici Collection (similar), shorts: One Teaspoon, shoes: Novesta



Hope this helps you plan accordingly when you visit my beloved sunny San Diego.  I’ll have more of these top San Diego spots in the future, just didn’t want to burn your eyeballs out!

To follow any/all my San Diego adventures, go to my Instagram, and use the hashtag #BrigittexSanDiego..