45+ Black-Owned Restaurants in San Diego to Patron For the Culture

by Gabby Beckford
Reading Time: 14 minutes

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Welcome to sunny San Diego! Arguably one of the best cities in the United States,  SD is famous for its historic Gaslamp District, beautiful beaches, and proximity to Mexico.

Born in Oceanside and often in the city for work and to visit family, I know the one quality that it's not known for is its diversity. Especially for African Americans, who only make up 6.4% of the entire city's population. Here are more than 30 Black-owned eateries for you to hit during your trip to support the warm, Southern comfort, cornbread-fed pockets of familiarity we do have in the area.

Originally published 11/17/19. Last updated 6/29/20. With the stay-at-home orders devastating small businesses, I implore you to share and send this post to your friends and family and support your Black-owned businesses more than ever. I've also shared and tagged them on my travel Instagram account.

Tip: Go to the very bottom for an interactive map to sort them by neighborhood, and a free downloadable checklist when you sign up for the newsletter.

1. Rhythm's Chicken and Waffles

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Located only 4 blocks from Pacific Beach, this black-owned beachside restaurant is the hot spot to get your chicken and waffles for brunch, lunch, dinner, or an almost-midnight-snack as they are open from 11AM – 11PM.

Grab your tray and some syrup to-go, and hit the boardwalk!


1138 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109

2. Bowlegged Barbeque

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Bowlegged BBQ is a Black family-owned food spot, which makes it extra special. Three siblings co-run it—a sister is one of the head cooks, a brother is the business-savvy behind the scenes, and the last brother… well, he’s Bowlegged. Seriously, that's his name!

And astonishingly, many of their children work there as well. This extended family is almost as sweet as their BBQ sauce, and any review you find will comment on the warm energy in this joint.


4255 Market St. San Diego, CA 92102

3. Street Car Merchants

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Can you say African American family-owned and operated? Situated in North Park, come by to find classic southern dishes and Louisiana favorites on their all-day menu of brunch, lunch, and dinner. 


4002 30th St. San Diego, CA 92104

Black people only make up 6.4% of the population of San Diego, and even less of the primarily Italian and American food scene. so Supporting the black-owned businesses that do exist is vital—start by visiting these food spots! Click To Tweet

4. Da South In Ya Mouth

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Situated in Chula Vista and the closest in the list to Mexico this Black, woman-owned spot truly puts ‘da south in ya mouth'! Owner Andra Riles was born in rural Georgia where she learned to cook not with quality utilities and measurements, but with her 5 senses and intuition.

Southern soul food is truly her passion, and she says Da South In Ya Mouth is not just a business—it's the culmination of a culture, and her goal is for you to come here and sense the Southern hospitality that values its customers above all.


902 3rd Ave Chula Vista, CA 91911

5. Coops West Texas BBQ

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For authentic slow-smoked barbecue in San Diego, you have to stop by Coop's. They take their time smoking their meats, crafting their sauces, and serving their sides, and all with some Southern customer service on the side.


2625 Lemon Grove Ave. Lemon Grove, CA 91945

6. Breakfast Bitch

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Established by Owner Derrell Hustona in Hillcrest, and operated by San Diego's baddest bitches. Breakfast Bitch's menu is full of light, yummy bites, and the restaurant's energy is positive, fun, and modern vibes.


3825 Fifth Avenue San Diego, Ca 92103

We're supporting black-owned businesses all 2020. If you're in San Diego, make sure you give your dollars to these black, family-owned, women-owned, and multi-generational restaurants. Click To Tweet

7. Sucker Free South Plate and Bar

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“Unapologetically southern in their food, drinks, and attitude”

This establishment is owned by the same Black entrepreneur of StreetCar Merchant. If you're in the historic Gaslamp District come by for some of your Southern favorites: shrimp and grits, chicken gizzards, frog legs, fried okra, oxtail, and cream sodas.


751 Fourth Ave San Diego, CA 92101

8. Felix BBQ with Soul

Felix BBQ With Soul

Sampler Platter: Beef Rib, Spare Ribs, Brisket, Catfish, Fried Okra, Collard Greens, Baked Beans & Sweet Potato Fries w/ Sweet Tea (Photo Credit: Shawn Hong.)

Up I-5 in Oceanside, you'll find Felix's BBQ with Soul. A barbeque breakfast menu might be rare but Felix's delivers that and so much more. Owner Felix Berry, originally from Alabama, serves up sweet potato Belgian waffles, chicken fried steak, and apple-cinnamon pancakes for breakfast, along with a whole host of classic barbeque favorites on the lunch/dinner menu.

“Barbeque is what we do. Soul food is who we are, is the motto that Felix claims, and you will see him in the restaurant more often than not chatting with his customers and making sure the southern hospitality is as sweet as their sweet tea!


3616 Ocean Ranch Blvd, Oceanside, CA 92056

9. Bankhead Mississippi Style Cooking

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In Spring Valley—only 20 minutes away from the Gaslamp District—this southern spot brings together three generations of Mississippi chefs.

They claim to keep the traditional down-south flavors and comfort feelings, with slight adjustments to make these recipes a lot more healthy.


8300 Paradise Valley Rd Spring Valley, CA 91977

10. Rock Steady

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Listen… I'm half-Jamaican. And Jamaican's know that any good Jamaica house doesn't market traditionally with Instagram or Twitter—they are word of mouth.

Well, I had so many local Black San Diegans tell me I had to include Rock Steady in this list, I knew they must be good! At Rock Steady Jamaican Restaurant they serve all of our island favorites like Curried Chicken, Jamaican Patties, Jerk Wings, Soup, and even a fusion Jamaican Southern Fried Chicken, and you can even order online for carryout.


2820 Market Street San Diego, California 92102

11. Cane Patch Kitchen

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Hop off your flight and head straight to the Cane Patch Kitchen! Minutes from SAN inside Liberty Station Market, get your cajun and creole fix by ordering a po boy, jambalaya, beignet, fried oysters, or chicken basket, and float away into their soft buns and cajun fries.

The experience is only made better by walking outside, sitting by the water, and watching planes take off!


2820 Historic Decatur Rd San Diego, California 92106

12. The Morning After

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The Morning After is a breakfast, brunch, and bar in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. From their stacked Bloody Mary's to the waffles and Oreos, this restaurant's menu is bold, creative, and delicious.

I have to personally recommend their Late Night Happy Hour: Friday and Saturday from 9PM to 1AM they have a late-night menu that's to die for. Kobe beef sliders… $5 shots… What more could you want? 


531 F Street San Diego, California 92101

13. SMACK’N Guamanian Grill

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The SMACK in “SMACK’N Guamanian Grill” is an acronym for Sudo-Mesa Authentic Chamorro Kitchen.

The owner's family name is Sudo Mesa and they hail village of Yona, Guam. The matriarch of the family, Rosa Baza Sudo Mesa, was a small business owner back on the island who raised cows, sold milk and beef to the Artero Store in Agana Heights, selling baked goods at her home bakery, and ultimately helping others during funerals, weddings, christenings, and other events.

Her half-Guamanian, half-Black grandson, Christian Graham, is the now-owner of SMACK'N's location in Miramar. Stop in for some traditional, yummy island eats and a cultural explosion.


506 Miramar Rd.​​​​​​​ San Diego, CA 92126

14. Island Spice

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Jamaican, on-demand! Order delivery or pick up your Caribbean favorites like Jamaican BBQ, jerk chicken, curry goat, and oxtail.


6109 University Ave San Diego, California 92115

15. Surf & Soul Spot

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This “Seafood Soulfood Takeout” spot is all the rage in San Diego right now. Recently reopened within the last 2 month the establishment sports fried catfish, popcorn shrimp n' grits, lobster rolls, with the mac n' cheese, cornbread, and sweet candied yams. Also… $16 plates (1 meat, 2 sides) and $20 combo plates (2 meats, 2 sides).

Yes. Much yes.


7229 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92115 

16. Spoiled Vegan Cafe

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Imma just say it, Black people have near-impossible standards for vegan food. We need flavors, spices, and a certain umph that's hard to find commonly in plant-based food. But Spoiled Vegans has done the near-impossible.

With fresh ingredients sourced from the top produce places in San Diego, their menu which hosts vegan maple pepper bacon, Spanish omelets, veggie quiche, chili & cornbread waffles is sure to impress even the most ardent carnivores.

Photo credit to local Black photography company Trill Consciousness.


440 16th St. San Diego, CA 92101

17. Protein Plate

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“Eat Better, Be Better” is The Moss family's motto and the mission for their Protein Plate customers.

This family of talented athletes serves up they themselves eat themselves, from protein-packed chocolate chip pancakes to an assortment of delicious wraps. It's extremely refreshing to see Black eateries embrace and encourage a healthier lifestyle for our community, and with their affordable pricing and vegan options, every person can find 

And as The Moss' say, “Don't settle. Be amazing!”


2322 Proctor Valley Rd, Chula Vista, CA 91914

Black people only make up 6.4% of the population of San Diego, and even less of the primarily Italian and American food scene. so Supporting the black-owned businesses that do exist is vital—start by visiting these food spots! Click To Tweet

18. Flavors of East Africa

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Sambusa, massala fries, mbavu, pilau, mbuzi goat, nyoyo… Get your Kenyan favorites here! This establishment's public request on their Yelp page is a poignant reminder that when we patron our Black community, be kind and understanding:

“We need your Support to [help] familiarize East African food. Rest assured, we are exotic [read: foreign] ergo, we may not have a perfect well-oiled system and may result in giving mixed signals to valued customers. We will nonetheless work on these areas. We aspire to serve honest food at a reasonable price. We aspire to offer a comfortable ambiance to our esteemed customers.  Welcome all, and enjoy our humble hospitality.”


2322 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92104

19. Pete Mayo's Original Waffle Burgers

A hole in the wall. Literally. There are 4 tables here and a paper menu on the wall, that's it! But then ya know it's gonna be about the food, right?! That's what Pete, the owner, and cook, relies upon.

This is where someone goes for home-cooked flavor and some pretty badass food combinations. I bet you've never had a  waffle hamburger before… How about one with blueberry waffles? Well, come try it, for Pete's sake!


5044 Imperial Ave, San Diego, CA 92113

20. ACKEE Tree Jamaican Cuisine

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Owners Lee & Tiffany combine their hometown flavors from Jamaica and Chicago to create a menu of fresh, authentic Jamaican food that will have you feeling a Caribbean breeze with every bite, sip, and slurp.


5712 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92115

21. Tropical Savor Bar & Grill

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This Latín-Caribbean Restaurant features Puertorican, Dominican, Cuban & Jamaican cuisine, with its authentic flavors & great cocktails. Be warned: Dancing might occur at all times of day, and you might get a little merengue with your Rabo De Vaca Guisado or sancocho! 


729 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

22. Louisiana Purchase

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Lousiana in North Park, San Diego—a dream! They are self-described as ‘a modern interpretation of a classic French Quarter restaurant'.

This mid-priced restaurant will put a Mardi Gras in your mouth with its flavor-packed, eclectic, but delicious menu containing items like Alligator Andouille Cheesecake, Sriracha lime buttered Crab Fingers, and crispy Parmesan Chicken Skins. When enjoyed on their patio seating, you'll feel inclined to sip lemonade and imagine the peaceful sounds of the bayou, on the West Coast!


2305 University AveSan Diego, CA 92104

23. Gihon Ethiopian Restaurant

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Owner and chef Mesk G has been a restauranteur since 1998. Now he is serving authentic Ethiopian food in GIHON Ethiopian Restaurant strives to “act as the Gihon river did”, sweeping through the country of Ethiopia and taking up the essence of every region… into it's food!


2432 El Cajon Blvd. San Diego, CA 92104

24. ThunderHawk Alements

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Thunderhawk Alements is an independent microbrewery founded by natives of San Diego; Bill Lindsay and Jonathan Barbarin.Inspired by adventure and diversity in culture, Thunderhawk hopes to reflect experiences and tastes found throughout our travels in a worldly offering of beer styles and flavor profiles. 


8675 Miralani Dr Ste. 100, San Diego, CA 92126

25. Extraordinary Banana Pudding

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 In La Mesa and owned by Toran Grays. This dessert spot opened just weeks before COVID-19 hit the United States. Hop in here for your banana pudding fix!


8257 El Paso Street, La Mesa, California 91942, United States

26. World Beat Cafe

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 An Everything-Black cafe! You'll find Jamaican food, African, Louisiana, and more types of food on their menu. And of course you can just pop in for some Bob Marley Mellow Mood coffee.


2100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92101

27. Muzita Bistro

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This food spot is Winner of San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019! Amazing Eritrean/Ethiopian food, where Chef Able uses locally grown produce to make dishes that are reminiscent of the old country.


2100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92101

28. Shotcaller Street Soul Food

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A Black, family-owned and operated street & soul food restaurant in Southeast, San Diego. Their menu is the bomb, and there are many dishes you'll only find here. Like this spaghetti sandwich!


220 Euclid Ave Suite 180, San Diego, CA 92114, USA

29. Nomad Donuts

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Nomad are a gourmet shop in the heart of North Park, serving artisanal donuts, bagels coffee, and more. The bagel meal in the image above is called “The Fadi”! They have unique combinations like Charred Blueberry Cream Cheese and Ube Taro Coconut.

Nomad Donuts’ menu changes monthly, seasonally and by popular demand and all of their donuts are and bagels made from scratch, every day!


3102 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92104

30. Irie Cream

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Homemade regular and Cannabis-Infused ice cream! Yum!


Lemon Grove, San Diego, CA

31. Cardellino

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I love Italian food, so when I hear Black-owned Italian, my heart sings! Capturing the lively spirit of Italy in a space centered around endless days of good food, wine, and friends, Cardellino embodies the essence of the good life, la dolce vita.
The newest addition to the Black-owned Trust Restaurant Group (TRG). And everything is freshly made!


4033 Goldfinch Street, San Diego, CA 92103

32. Fort Oak


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A black-owned restaurant with impeccable ambiance and service?

Count me in! They not only serve phenomenal upscale entrees, but their highly experienced chefs make them right in front of you! It was also named as one of the best new restaurants of 2019 in San Diego by San Diego Magazine.


1011 Fort Stockton Drive, San Diego, CA 92103

33. Rare Society


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It's Vegas, baby . . . in San Diego? Rare Society is a Vegas-inspired steakhouse with an intimate, elegant atmosphere.

The service is described as impeccable and the bacon comes highly recommended! Chef Brad Wise was the San Diego Union Tribune chef of the year in 2019, and also owns Fort Oak and TRUST restaurants.


4130 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92103

34. Blendees

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Blends with benefits! Blendees creates healthy smoothies custom-made with fresh ingredients from local farmers' markets. Swing by and try the best smoothies in East County!


1297 East Main Street, El Cajon, California 92021, United States

35. TRUST Restaurant

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TRUST Restaurant describes its cuisine as “urban rustic food with the addition of wood fire cookery”. They offer a variety of high quality entrees made from locally sourced ingredients. The original restaurant of the Trust Restaurant Group (TRG) founded by Brad Wise, Steve Schwob, and Jeremy Harville.


3752 Park Blvd. Suite 105C, San Diego, CA 92103

36. One Love Island Cuisine

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Owned by Sean and Cammal Walker, One Love Island Cuisine is a fusion of traditional Jamaican food with Southern California Hispanic influence. Let them transport you to Jamaica as you eat their delicious but inexpensive Jamaican food and listen to authentic Reggae and Calypso music.


4225 Oceanside Blvd Ste K Oceanside, CA 92056

37. The Dojo Cafe

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The Dojo Café is both a cafe and a social enterprise dedicated to creating sustainable localized change in marginalized communities. It was created when co-founder Carlos noticed a lack of safe spaces for millennial minorities to come together as a community and have access to resources.

The café partners with local schools and organizations to provide job opportunities, internships, and entrepreneurship opportunities for the community.

The café's menu aims to be as diverse as the communities they serve and uses authentic ingredients from various parts of the world.


4350 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92105

38. Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant

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Set in a buzzing multicultural neighborhood of San Diego is a hideaway with the best (Ethiopian) food in town, the Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant. The food is like a festival in your mouth and this restaurant is always filled with locals, so it's the perfect place if you're looking for somewhere off the tourist circuit.
As if delicious authentic Ethiopian food weren't enough, the staff is friendly and their walls are filled with historic artifacts and culinary arts giving you a real feel of Ethiopia without traveling thousands of miles away! 


4717 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105

39. Yohed Coffee

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This is an amazing coffee shop and a must-try in San Diego. Yohed Coffee is a family-owned business and the owners are very welcoming and genuine. The brew here is rich and strong, and with sugar and milk, tastes marvelous.

The coffee shop is clean and comfortable, with slow jazz playing in the background. The lentil filled samosas are made in-house and make for a delicious treat with your coffee.


4160 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92105

40. Hunters Home Kitchen

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Upon moving back to San Diego after college, Chef Hunter began working with Chef Brian Malarkey, Waters Fine Catering and opened Hunters Home Kitchen (HHK), a mobile caterer/private chef service, in 2015. HHK specializes in global cuisines including Filipino, Hawaiian, Latin, American, and much more. 
HHK has hosted award-winning Lola's LUMPIA menu at local special events and festivals. Currently, HHK is hosting Lia’s LUMPIA Food Truck (as seen on Food Networks “Great Food Truck Race: Holiday Hustle)! Their LUMPIA and Filipino delights menu has been featured at music, cultural, and culinary festivals in the San Diego area.


2319 Reo Drive, San Diego, CA 92139

41.Tastee Temptations 

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A family-owned business specializing in snowballs, milkshakes and juices that started in a small apartment kitchen in the San Diego area (currently pop-up shops) to provide yummy treats across 2 states now. A variety of flavors and toppings ranging from sour patch kids to hot Cheetos are available for pickup or catering events. 


306 W. Douglas El Cajon, CA 92020

42. Sabor Piri-Piri Kitchen

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Get a taste of the Southeast African experience here in San Diego! Sabor Piri Piri Kitchen serves vegan and chicken dishes from Mozambique and its neighboring countries. Catch them at a local farmer's market to discover their unique and authentic taste!


3000 North Park Way, San Diego, CA 92104

43. Maya's Cookies

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Maya was a cookie-lover frustrated with the lack of options for vegans. So what did she do? She created her own! She now runs a small business making freshly baked gourmet vegan cookies that were voted San Diego's best vegan baked goods two years in a row! Not in San Diego? Have no fear, as she ships nationwide!


San Diego, California

44. Laylah's Jamaican Food

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Laylah's Jamaican Food was founded thanks to Laylah's husband's craving for authentic Jamaican food. Originally a grocery store, the restaurant is also known as “Laylah's Patties and Jerk”, or simply “Laylah's”. It offers traditional Jamaican dishes made with authentic ingredients only. 


3160 Main Street, San Diego


45. Bonnie Jean's Soul Food Cafe 

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Take a step into the soul cafe with southern cooking and enjoy savory flavors that will have you coming back for more. The soul food cafe is named after the owner’s mother Bonnie Jean that continues to inspire the heart of the restaurant with her home recipes for southern dishes like chitlins since 1995.

Bonnie Jean’s helps local communities by donating to local nonprofits such as Food for the Poor and Victory Out. 


1964 54th St. San Diego, California 92105

46. Brilliant Treats 

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Have you ever had a graduation lei with treats like Gumballs or Jolly Ranchers? The owner and founder specialize in custom treats for any occasion or events and can incorporate your business branding too.

There are delightful treats ranging from cupcakes, cake pops, and lollipops for your occasion to enjoy. Take your event to the next level with creative designs tailored to your vision!


San Diego, California 

47. Royal Food Mart

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Royal Food Mart serves not only what many consider to be the best sandwiches in town, but also a variety of soups, salads, wine and beer. All of their dishes feature Boar's Head meat and cheeses.

Romi, the owner, is extremely personable and provides amazing customer service!


3403 1st Ave, San Diego, California 92103

48. Fruit of Africa Arrangements and Catering 


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The owner, Sun Gahd has a variety of edible fruit arrangements, mason jar treats, fruit and vegetable trays. Options for vegan catering or a vegan pie are available too. Just in time for summer, chill out with fresh fruit popsicles or take a bite of some frozen fruit. 


San Diego, California 

Map of Black-Owned San Diego Restaurants:

If you subscribe below, you’ll get a link to download your own free, downloadable checklist of Black-owned food spots in San Diego.

Ever visited one of these spots? Which one are you going to first?
Let me know in the comments!

20+ black-owned restaurants, food spots, and cafes in San Diego! Help out multigenerational minority in this seaside city and and feel good, AND eat good. #SanDeigo #California #CaliforniaTips #SanDiegoFood #Food #Travel #Foodies #VisitCalifornia #Barbeque #Recipes #BlackOwned #BBQ

Gabby Beckford

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Danielle June 4, 2020 - 7:42 PM

Yum! My tastebuds can’t decide where I should look first.

C'ella October 30, 2022 - 1:29 PM

I’m visiting San Diego soon and this seems to be an amazing resource to fun times. Thank you!

Ellie March 3, 2020 - 1:49 PM

This is perfect, I’m headed to San Diego in may, i’ll make sure to check out some of these places.
Thanks Gabby!

Erin February 14, 2020 - 11:40 AM

Love this list and can’t wait to try these places!!


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