Southern California Foodie Diary // San Diego to Orange County

fall classic travel essentials whats in my suitcase

Taking a break from fashion week posts for a moment, I wanted to share some snaps and good eats from our brief stay in southern California last week. Each time Nick and I visit, we have a long list of spots to try (mostly drool-worthy screenshots from Instagram saved on our phones!).

I got a few questions on this scarf from my packing photo…it’s actually a poncho wrap from LOFT. I really wanted it to work as it has a beautiful color scheme, but had to return as it’s several inches too long on me and tough to alter (perfect for someone a few inches taller). Stores really need to start offering their ponchos / capes in shorter lengths too!

square bar cafe san diego asos blue maxi dress petite

ASOS pleated maxi dress sz 0 (hem cut shorter); back in stock – see my review!

My favorite area to eat at in San Diego has to be Convoy Street ~ it’s an Asian food-lover’s dream plus has all the novelty desserts one could desire! We popped into Square Bar Cafe for one of their signature cereal-studded ice cream cones and crepe cakes. The crepe cake doesn’t compare to Lady M, but the red velvet ice cream was rather good. This spot seemed to be most known for their milk teas and other beverages which you can get to-go in these nice copper-top glass jars. We were all sugared out this time, but will have to go back for those.

square bar cafe cookie crisp ice cream cone san diego

Nick wanted to try a different taco spot from our usual TJ Oyster Bar or Tacos El Gordo (both soo good) so we ventured to the more modern Tacos Perla. They were out of almost everything so we didn’t get to try many items. As a condiment-phile, one thing I did love though was their array of 6 house-made salsas & sauces ranging from mild to super hot, with some creative flavors like a creamy carrot habanero.

tacos perla where to eat in san diego

China Max dim sum is a tradition whenever we visit Nick’s parents. The ambiance is nothing to write home about, but the little dishes are good, and I love the full picture menu for minimal confusion! One of my favorites there might be the wide rice noodles filled with roast pork (pictured below). This is also located on Convoy St, so dessert afterwards is just a hop & skip away!

china max dim sum san diego chinese food

I keep seeing the rolled ice cream trend all over Instagram but hadn’t tried it myself. Bing Haus was right down the street from dim sum and was in their soft opening stages, so of course we had to try. Each individual order of ice cream starts out in liquidy form and is poured thinly onto a frozen pan, then gets scraped into rolled-up ribbons. Both the cookies & cream and matcha green tea bowls were delicious, although I didn’t taste much of a difference between rolled vs. regular ice cream.

bing haus san diego rolled ice cream desserts

Alongside Pacific Beach in a strip mall of sorts, we came across this little acai bowl spot called Rum Jungle Cafe. The acai blend was a little icy and not the best I’ve had, but it did fill me up and I loved the presentation inside a fresh pineapple (all the fruit gets scooped out and served off to the side).

rum jungle cafe san diego acai bowl breakfast

Each time we drive from San Diego up to the LA area, an absolute must is to try a different poke bowl spot along the way. This time we picked Calipoke for their array of free toppings and it did not disappoint. I am still waiting ever so patiently for a good poke bowl spot to come to Boston – it’s astounding to me we don’t have one, because any good sushi place should basically be able to offer it! I hear one might be opening up in Davis Square this fall…it’s a ways outside the city, but I’ll take it over nothing!

calipoke poke bowl costa mesa CA eats

I also tried to take Nick to Brodard’s but of course we went on the one day they’re closed, and he was so bummed. I feel like every one of my Vietnamese friends from around the country know of their famous spring rolls with crunchies inside!

casa del mar santa monica hotel beach boardwalk

New Look top sz US 4, Morning Lavender skirt c/o altered (similar in petites, on sale)

This is one of my last outfits from our CA trip which I wore out in Santa Monica. I re-mixed these two separates (see the top also styled here, and the skirt also styled here) for a look that resembled a dress.

For fellow food-lovers planning a visit to SoCal, see my past posts on our favorite places to eat here and here. For those who live in the area, I’d love to hear any recommendations for us to put on our list for next visit!!

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  1. Muriel wrote:

    Hi Jean,

    I live in San Diego and I have lots of suggestions for places for you to eat here. Try Raki Raki around Convoy or Little Italy area. The owner opened a restaurant next door that centers around poke called Pokorito. Carnitas Snack Shack is a local favorite. City Taco and Puesto have good Mexican (that's not in a hole in the wall). For other foods try Barbusa, Sea180 Coastal, Wine Vault and Bistro, Polite Provisions, Bueno Appetito, and Tribute Pizza.

    Posted 9.21.16 Reply
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    I have been searching high and low for a petite wrap/poncho/cape. Every fall I think "this will be the season I find one" and it never happens because they are all huge on me. I appreciated your comment about the one from The Loft. If you ever find one, please post about it! Thanks you.

    Posted 9.21.16 Reply
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi, I love the look of both the pink shoes and the white ones. Both have a beautiful shoe shape and appear well made with some padding inside. However to have a truly comfortable high heel, especially one with a pointed toe it should fit with at least a half inch of space or even more so that the toes have wiggle room at all times. To ensure that the toes don't get crushed and the foot remains stable in the shoe, you should put in inserts designed to hold back the foot from sliding forward. One design, very new on the market, that does this very well is called Killer Heels Comfort.

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  4. Dim sum and poke bowls, gah! Also love the color scheme of that poncho — it's a shame the sizing didn't work out!

    Jen | affecionada

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  5. That ice cream cone with the little chocolate chip cookies around it looks almost too good to eat! ALMOST 🙂

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  6. Ev wrote:

    Such a beautiful photos!

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  7. Allison wrote:

    Thanks for that advice, jean. I too have been wondering this. Also, has your jacket been smelling odd over time? Mine has gained this very….metallic scent that comes from the zippers…

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  8. Looks like a fun vacay!


    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  9. jencarlam wrote:

    You are welcome! Actually it doesn't come with rice so it is technically not a poke bowl 😉

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  10. Diana wrote:

    I went to school in San Diego but haven't been back in a while and really miss it! Definitely want to hit up all the dessert spots you listed here my next time back 🙂

    Diana |

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  11. Unknown wrote:

    Hi Jean, I've been reading your blog for a while and never commented before, but seeing that you were in San Diego I had to post! I had to scroll to your prior entries to make sure you had tried Oscar's! I love their taco especial, and usually go over to Uncle Biff's next door (the Hillcrest location), for some delicious cookies afterwards. Other great spots you could check out is Carnitas Snack Shack (their pork belly app is well known, tacos are excellent too) or Lucha Libre (I usually can't pass up their chicken enchiladas). Both have several locations in SD. For poke, Pokiritto is a pretty new restaurant on Convoy that has poke-burritos and also more traditional poke bowls. I'm usually impressed with how fresh their fish are! And one more rec- if you like seafood, we like to go to El Pescador fish market and restaurant in la jolla. Their sea bass and ceviche are awesome and they have some great beers on tap. I could go on and on, but chances are you've already been to a lot of different places, some I have yet to try! Hope that you come out to SD again soon!

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  12. I can never have enough of your beautiful outfits! So elegant. Particularly loved the last combination that resembles a dress. All the food looks amazing, I think you should do these types of guides more often. I'm planning a trip to HK and your tips were super useful! 🙂 xoxo, nano |

    Posted 9.19.16 Reply
  13. Jean wrote:

    Is summer rolls the name of a restaurant or the dish (like the Vietnamese summer rolls)? Looking forward to trying : )

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  14. xsshirley wrote:

    Thanks soo much!! I just ordered them in a lower heel so hopefully they fit right off. But now that you mentioned it maybe I should order another pair just to see haha. Enjoy your time in San Diego, so jealous of all the in-n-out burgers you get to eat!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  15. Jean wrote:

    I seriously wear the blue dress all the time b/c it's so comfy and forgiving (everywhere)…hope you love it too!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  16. Jean wrote:

    Haha but you guys have Joanna Gaines!!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  17. Jean wrote:

    Ooo, thanks for the suggestion Trini! I do love my BBH and spicy food ; )

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  18. Jean wrote:

    Hi Shirley! I LOVE my plexi pumps, however I had a very inconsistent experience with them. I had ordered two pairs to try on in the same exact size, just different colors. One pair was so snug and narrow in the front and pinched my toes, whereas this pair was comfortable. The plastic didn't feel any different to me than my other shoes, and I walked quite a bit in them during NYFW. So to make a long story short, I think they might run a little inconsistently unfortunately in terms of fit and comfort. For that reason, if one pair is uncomfortable, maybe try another pair before writing them off completely.

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  19. Jean wrote:

    I take it to my dry cleaners about once a year to get the inside cleaned. However I try my best to typically wear it with a tee, long-sleeved, or turtleneck layer underneath so that any makeup or sweat will get on that more easily washable layer than on the jacket lining.

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  20. Jean wrote:

    Wow, Kantaro sounds amazing. Thanks for these suggestions!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  21. Jean wrote:

    Isn't it fun? I've been using it as a wallet : )

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  22. Jean wrote:

    Interesting! Thanks for the tip. I'll definitely have to look out for it next time I'm at BPM : )

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  23. Mao Lee wrote:

    OMG, love, love, love the yellow skirt. You look great as always!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  24. Everything looks amazing and beautiful! Glad to hear you enjoyed your time in California <3
    xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  25. Amazing! 😀

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  26. xsshirley wrote:

    Hi Jean, could you write a review on the GIANVITO ROSSI plexi pumps? I've seen them everywhere, but hesitant to buy because of the plastic material. Could you address whether if they are comfortable or not? How long can you walk on them? Do the plastic create blisters? I just never buy shoes that are uncomfortable no matter the design. Looking forward to your review, even if it's a mini one. Thanks so much again and please come to Chicago!!. By the way, I'm Chinese and a CPA, so I always feel so relatable to you! I always really enjoy your reviews. I'm xsshirley on IG.

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  27. omg the icecream looks heaven!
    Jabeen x

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  28. Menty Yu wrote:

    Lovely icecream! inspiring 😀

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  29. mybeautrip wrote:

    All this food looks so tasty!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  30. Pat wrote:

    Must check these out next time in area. Thanks.

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  31. oh my the food looks amazing! Getting hungry now!


    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  32. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi Jean! This is completely off topic but a friend of mine and I both recently bought the blanknyc faux leather jacket you mention frequently. I was wondering how you wash it, because the tag literally says you aren't allowed to do anything other than wipe it down, yet I'm sure sometimes the lining needs to be cleaned too!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  33. I recently visited SoCal. I had the best pho I've ever had at Pho Cuong in Anaheim (the broth was fantastic) right after going to Disneyland. If you like Japanese omakase, I recommend Kantaro in Torrance. It's a mom and pop shop but is an incredible steal at $50 per person for the quality and quantity. It was better and more authentic than some pricier places in New York City!

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  34. Trini wrote:

    Since you like bun bo hue, you must try Ngu Binh in OC next time (hope you can handle its spicy-ness!) 😉

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  35. Unknown wrote:

    I have the same passport holder! I love it

    Posted 9.18.16 Reply
  36. jencarlam wrote:

    They serve a "mini" poke bowl at the seafood vendor towards the back of Boston public market. Just seasoned sashimi (tuna or salmon) with minimal toppings. Small but tasty!

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  37. I wish I could take food photos like yours! I always try, but mine never turn out! Maybe you just know where to find the most photogenic food! I love visiting southern California! Looks like you had a fantastic time!
    : signe :
    : the daily savant :

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  38. Serfy wrote:

    This really makes me want to visit SoCal…the food looks soooo good! And if you think it's a food desert in Boston (well, for poke bowls anyway) just trying living in Waco TX…no Asian grocery stores nearby and all "Asian" food is highly Westernized! Thanks for sharing your photos!!

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  39. Sasa Zoe wrote:

    stunning, babe!

    Shall We Sasa

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  40. Melissa wrote:

    I miss living in SoCal coz of all the yummy yummy food! Brodard is one of my favorite places! Yum! Great post!

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  41. Awesome food and photos!

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  42. Everything looks so tasty! I've never heard of rolled ice cream or poke bowls, but now I need to try them!

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  43. Bought the yellow skirt and blue pleated dress!! Love them!!

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  44. Those Gianvito Rossi are gorgeous! x

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  45. Everything is so sweet (you!) and yummy in this post!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  46. Such lovely photos! X

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  47. Everything looks and sounds amazing! Also that Morning Lavender skirt is just beautiful!


    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  48. Anonymous wrote:

    oh wow that ice cream looks so delicious!
    Fash 'n' fudge
    Fash 'n' fudge

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply
  49. Unknown wrote:

    Summer rolls! Ita similar to brodards with true crunchies inside but they specialize in the lemongrass flavored meats. It's in Rosemead area. Tons of other great Chinese food in that area as well!

    Posted 9.17.16 Reply

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