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!!


58 thoughts on “Southern California Foodie Diary // San Diego to Orange County

  • Unknown September 17, 2016 at 10:41 am

    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!

  • Anonymous September 17, 2016 at 10:58 am

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

  • September 17, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Everything looks and sounds amazing! Also that Morning Lavender skirt is just beautiful!


  • Neeltje | Thoughts in Style September 17, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Such lovely photos! X

  • Dressed With Soul September 17, 2016 at 12:42 pm

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

  • FlareAForte September 17, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Those Gianvito Rossi are gorgeous! x

  • Jubetanya LeSar September 17, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Bought the yellow skirt and blue pleated dress!! Love them!!

  • The Life You Love September 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm

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

  • ColorMeHome September 17, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Awesome food and photos!

  • Melissa September 17, 2016 at 6:45 pm

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

  • Sasa Zoe September 17, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    stunning, babe!

    Shall We Sasa

  • Serfy September 17, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    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!!

  • Signe Savant September 17, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    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 :

  • jencarlam September 17, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    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!

  • Unknown September 18, 2016 at 1:47 am

    I have the same passport holder! I love it

  • Trini September 18, 2016 at 2:13 am

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

  • Samantha Yuen September 18, 2016 at 2:20 am

    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!

  • Anonymous September 18, 2016 at 2:59 am

    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!

  • Life's a shoe September 18, 2016 at 6:19 am

    oh my the food looks amazing! Getting hungry now!


  • Pat September 18, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Must check these out next time in area. Thanks.

  • mybeautrip September 18, 2016 at 10:18 am

    All this food looks so tasty!

  • Menty Yu September 18, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Lovely icecream! inspiring 😀

  • Jabeen Waheed September 18, 2016 at 11:51 am

    omg the icecream looks heaven!
    Jabeen x

  • xsshirley September 18, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    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.

  • Vermillion Redd September 18, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Amazing! 😀

  • Tess Felber _ Sequins are the New Black September 18, 2016 at 7:16 pm

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

  • Mao Lee September 18, 2016 at 7:20 pm

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

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:30 pm

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

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:31 pm

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

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Wow, Kantaro sounds amazing. Thanks for these suggestions!

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    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.

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    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.

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:38 pm

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

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Haha but you guys have Joanna Gaines!!

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:39 pm

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

  • xsshirley September 18, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    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!

  • Jean September 18, 2016 at 11:40 pm

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

  • Nano @ #TravelWithNanoB September 19, 2016 at 12:48 am

    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 |

  • Unknown September 19, 2016 at 12:59 am

    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!

  • Diana September 19, 2016 at 1:53 am

    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 |

  • jencarlam September 19, 2016 at 9:35 am

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

  • Sharan Kaur September 19, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Looks like a fun vacay!


  • Allison September 19, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    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…

  • Ev September 19, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Such a beautiful photos!

  • Amanda @ Anchored to Sunshine September 19, 2016 at 6:17 pm

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

  • affecionada September 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    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

  • Anonymous September 19, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    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.

  • Kristie Glenn September 21, 2016 at 9:23 am
  • Anonymous September 21, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    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.

  • Muriel September 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    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.

Comments are closed.