Whether your taste buds are craving Chinese or Japanese, Vietnamese or Thai, Korean or Laotian, you’re sure to find it near Convoy Street. If you’re scratching your head about where Convoy Street is, or if you know exactly where that is—hey, that’s where I bought my car—know that both responses are normal.
Convoy Street is a tucked-away gem of San Diego. One that doesn’t often make its way on a typical San Diego tour. It doesn’t have oceanfront views; it’s not near the infamous Gaslamp Quarter. In fact, what makes Convoy Street stand out are the incredible restaurants on and around the main drive. Oh, and the various dealerships… But that’s for another article.
What is Convoy Street?
Before diving into the restaurants themselves, this strip of delicious eateries and their auto dealership neighbors could use some backstory.
- Kearny Mesa – Convoy Street is in Kearny Mesa, triangled between The 805, The 163, and The 52. The majority of restaurants sit between Othello Avenue and Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
- Types of Shops – There are big-box retailers, industrial companies, auto repair shops, dealerships, and pan-Asian grocery stores and restaurants.
- Atmosphere and Vibe – During the day, Kearny Mesa seems like a regular busy street with strip malls on almost every corner. It’s at night when the air becomes charged with smells of sweet and sour, that Convoy Street comes alive. Here you’ll find everything from some of the best Asian restaurants to fun nightclubs to the coolest speakeasy bars in San Diego.
Tired of the lesson? Okay, class dismissed. Onto the reason that you even clicked on this article: the best Asian restaurants on Convoy Street San Diego.
Photo Courtesy: Yelp San Diego
To kick off this pan-Asian food lovefest, we’re starting off with a restaurant that’s been comforting its patrons since 1994. Dumpling Inn is known for serving China’s most popular comfort food—the dumpling. Feel free to pair the meat-filled buns with modern Westernized dishes. They serve these alongside the traditional to bring out the best of both worlds.
“Though times have changed, our tradition remains the same.” A fitting motto for a restaurant that handmakes their steamed buns every single day.
- Type of Cuisine: Chinese
- Hot Ticket Item: Their delicious soup dumplings; Xiao long bao
- Location: 4625 Convoy Street
Photo Courtesy: Tajima Restaurants
San Diego has an increasing appetite for authentic cuisine of all cultures and backgrounds. Tajima stands as a pillar, a cherry blossom of Japanese cuisine, serving many different styles of flavorful ramen—a staple in Japanese culture—and feeding locals exactly what they crave.
It’s fair to assume their success is an extension of their food, as they are opening up branches across the city of San Diego and even venturing a little bit north into Long Beach and a little bit south into Tijuana. It’s a place with tasteful décor and many different ramen choices to enjoy—all of which are worthy of praise. Safe to say, this is definitely up there with the best ramen spots in San Diego.
- Type of Cuisine: Japanese
- Hot Ticket Item: Tajima Ramen
- Location: 4681 Convoy Street
Photo Courtesy: Yelp San Diego
Get the pho out of here! You know exactly what this delicious Vietnamese restaurant serves. Or do you? While the main staple within Phuong Trang is their homemade pho from scratch, the menu goes above and beyond this single category. How far above and beyond?
With over 248 appetizers, soups, noodle dishes, and main entrees, you will find yourself in the Netflix-Conundrum, but for Vietnamese food. Which one to choose? Our best advice is to stop once you find something that looks good—otherwise, the kitchen might close by the time you finally decide on the perfect entrée.
Don’t be misguided by their relatively bland décor and storefront. Though it may not be up there on our list for classy, fine dining in San Diego, there’s nothing more to love than a delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurant. What they may lack in ambiance, they pay dividends in flavor.
- Type of Cuisine: Vietnamese
- Hot Ticket Item: Pho Tai
- Location: 4170 Convoy Street
Photo Courtesy: Yelp San Diego
Fusing two worlds together, Mekong Cuisine offers both Laotian and Thai food. This restaurant is known for its “family-style” soups that come in donut-shaped dishes to be scooped and served to all. Thus, our recommendation, Mekong is best enjoyed with a large group at your side. It’s tasty alone, don’t mistake us here; it just has the kind of appetizing menu that makes you want to try twelve different items. And that can only be achieved through a stuffed wallet or a stuffed friend group.
As with most of the restaurants on Convoy Street in San Diego, Mekong Cuisine is located in a strip mall. Tucked between a realty shop and a salon is this quiet, tempered eatery. The inside is decorated tastefully if not reserved, allowing their food to take the spotlight.
- Type of Cuisine: Laotian and Thai
- Hot Ticket Item: Tom Yum Soup
- Location: 3904 Convoy Street
For those who know Convoy Street, you know that there are more Korean BBQ joints than fingers on your hands. Thus, it stands to reckon that to be the Korean barbecue restaurant that makes it through the noise (the sizzling, appetizing noise), it must be pretty darn good. And where Taegukgi is concerned, there is no doubt.
Taegukgi has much to offer its patrons. To start off, there’s both an outside patio café and an outside waiting area. Both are drink-friendly, which means even if it’s busy, you won’t feel like you’re waiting. Once inside, you’ll notice there are two dining areas, a bar area, and a VIP room to host private reservations up to 34 people. Plenty of space to create a lively, exciting atmosphere.
Finally, the meats. Korean BBQ is judged based on the quality of the meats and the care for which they’re cooked in front of you—unless you happen to be the one cooking it. And on both fronts, Taegukgi passes with flying colors, so you can be sure that this spot is amongst some of the best Korean bbq in San Diego. The quality and taste is hard to beat.
- Type of Cuisine: Korean
- Hot Ticket Item: All You Can Eat Special (is there anything better than AYCE?)
- Location: 7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd (just a step off Convoy Street)
Pan-Asian Cuisine at its Finest
You may have noticed that each type of cuisine was represented only once on this list (and not ALL Asian cuisines made it onto the list, we know). This was done with purpose. The beauty of this street is in its diversity. It’s not the same as Koreatown in LA or Chinatown in San Francisco. Convoy Street restaurants offer buuz next to sushi, pho next to baozi. It’s in the richness of flavor and deliciousness do all these restaurants come together as one.
So, try one style. Then try another. Walk the streets guided solely by your nose and your gut. Allow the world of pan-Asian cuisine to overwhelm and delight. Whether you come for lunch or dinner, your experience with these Asian restaurants is sure to impress your taste buds.
Kanpai, Ganbei, and Cheers to Convoy Street restaurants!