The 15 best restaurants near San Diego dispensaries
*This article was originally published in 2019. Please check restaurants for updated coronavirus guidelines.
It’s a familiar story: You buy your cannabis at a local dispensary and suddenly you get the munchies.
(This is amazing since consuming pot in public is against the law, but very reliable sources very close to me assure me it happens more often than you think.)
But where to eat?
Why waste a good high on less than good food. Here are some of the restaurants located a short Uber or Lyft ride away that we crave when in a slightly altered sense of mind.
Mission Valley and Normal Heights
Interstate 8 is sort of a hot spot for cannabis with three recreational dispensaries (SDRC, March and Ash, and Apothekare) located between I-15 and SR-163.
There are lots of good restaurants nearby, both in Mission Valley and Normal Heights, however, the area is not the most walkable thanks to city fathers who decided way back when, so take a Lyft or Uber.
King’s Fish House
Stoner gourmets know the barbecue shrimp entree here is the bomb: It’s tangy and citrusy and just pops with flavor. Yeah, it can be spicy but the rice has a cooling effect. Oyster shooters at the raw bar are a nice start to the meal. If you are feeling especially risky, there are two shelves with lots of hot sauces in case you feel obliged to enact the Netflix series, Hot Ones.
The Kebab Shop
There are salads and plates, but stick with the doners, especially with garlic sauce. There are options for meat eaters and vegetarians, though the carved beef and lamb doner is a personal favorite, especially when fries are added.
Puesto should be on a hungry stoner’s short list. The filet mignon taco with fried cheese and the lobster taco are two of the best tacos I’ve ever eaten and there are a couple others there in the top 20. The cocktail menu is first rate as well.
Potheads who want to feel like the Rat Pack should check out this classic bar and grill, where they know how to grill a steak -- medium rare, please -- and make a dirty olive martini that will open up your senses even more than they are under the circumstances.
Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant
Adams Avenue is just up the hill from Mission Valley, but has a lot of restaurants worth checking out while stoned. Ponce’s is a 50-year-old Mexican food place that in recent years has added a great cocktail program, but thankfully hasn’t futzed with what works: Old school ground beef tacos served in hard shells, cheesy cheesy refried beans and free chips and carrots.
This newly opened Peruvian-inspired restaurant in Normal Heights is a good option for people who want fresh, sustainable food at reasonable prices. The tuna ceviche pops thanks to a yellow pepper sauce while the salmon is crispy and juicy.
Midway/ Old Town/ Rosecrans
Golden State Greens (3452 Hancock St.) is the main dispensary in this area, and there are quite a few places nearby that will satisfy whatever jones you may need to satisfy.
This Old Town bar has great tacos, a wonderful selection of tequilas, and perfect ambiance: It’s located next door to a cemetery! The pork belly taco is especially good and the Mezcal Pina Colada is a fruity dream.
Barbecue buffs can argue over whether Phil’s is “real” since the meat isn’t smoked for hours there, but all I know is that those ribs and that sauce and those beans and those fries hit all the flavor points I’m looking for while stoned.
Liberty Public Market
Got a group of people who can’t decide what to eat? Liberty Public Market has pretty much something for everyone: sausages, empanadas, Thai and pizza. Plus, Liberty Station is a pretty chill place to walk around before or after your meal.
Gaslamp (Sort of)
The nearest dispensary to the Gaslamp is the Harbor Collective (2405 E Harbor Drive), which is about a mile or two away depending on your location. There are great places in Barrio Logan near the dispensary, but there’s something magical about being high when you’re surrounded by that big city vibe.
This downtown Cuban restaurant has great Cuban sandwiches -- pork, ham, mustard, pickles and great bread -- authentic daiquiris in a variety of styles and, if you’re lucky, live Latin music. Though they have other menu options, you really will be happy with that Cuban. Very happy.
Mission Bay/Pacific Beach
Mission Bay and Pacific Beach are perfect places to get stoned thanks to its setting along water and the gorgeous sunsets. Though there aren’t as many dispensaries as in Mission Valley, there are plenty of places to eat afterwards.
Many times, getting stoned makes a person’s eyes bigger than their stomach. If this happens to you, the High Dive might be the call thanks to its flagship burger, the Kraken: The $25 burger contains 1 whole pound of beef, bacon, gorgonzola cheese and grilled onions shoved between two toasted Sriracha-infused peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. It’s a lot of food and you may want to share.
Columbia Care (4645 De Soto St.), one of the city’s newest dispensaries, is about a tenth of a mile from In-N-Out Burger. Yes, you are a short Lyft away from lots of good sushi, Mexican food and a lot of bars, but don’t be surprised if you just decide to bag on those places and just go get a double double with cheese. Pro tip: Chocolate shakes taste good when you’re stoned.
There’s no shortage of good food on Convoy and Mad Men (5125 Convoy St.) is there to supply the bud for budding gourmets with all sorts of price points.
For good cheap shawarma and falafel, it’s hard to beat Simsim. The place has lots of Mediterranean dips -- the baba ghanouj is especially nice and smoky -- and Mexican Coke for people who want caffeine and sugar in the way it was meant to be consumed.
Common Theory Public House
Common Theory is a great place to go if you’re feeling sociable and want some craft beers to go along with the cannabis. Bites like the Buffalo Cauliflower, Fried Brussel Sprouts and White Wine Mussels are fun to share..
Sorrento Valley is more known for its business parks than it’s dining destinations, but there are some good places to eat if you’re visiting Torrey Holistics (10671 Roselle St. #100) or Mankind (7128 Miramar Road)
Gravity Heights’ menu probably wasn’t designed specifically for stoners, but pot smokers are sure to enjoy “munchies” like the crab fries and the charred peach crostini as well as entrees like the cajun shrimp and grits and the Korean chicken sandwich. Save room for the beer float made with bourbon ice cream.
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