While recently looking for a birthday gift idea, I happened upon a company called Bite San Diego. They feature walking tours of different neighborhoods in San Diego combined with a foodie experience. I thought, “You can’t really go wrong with food and exploration, right?” And so I purchased a walking tour for two — for my husband and I. And since it was such a fun way to rediscover La Jolla, I thought I’d let you in on my newest discovery.
Bite San Diego actually offers several different tours in the San Diego area: Coronado, North Park, Downtown San Diego, Liberty Station, La Jolla, and Encinitas. Each walking tour runs about three hours, covers 1.5 to 2 miles, and makes stops at 5 or more restaurants. Prices are very reasonable, too.
At every restaurant stop, you will sample food, learn about the owners, and interesting information about the restaurant itself. In between restaurant stops, you will learn about the history of the neighborhood you are touring, important residents who live or lived there, and all kinds of tips — like beautiful hotels to see, art galleries to visit, relationships between restaurants and local businesses, and so much more.
Tour of La Jolla Village
It was actually difficult for me to choose which neighborhood to buy a Bite San Diego tour for. I’ve lived in San Diego 30 years. I wasn’t sure if any of the tours would replicate experiences I’ve already had. As it turned out, there were only a few of the tours that included any eateries I’d already visited. And they change out their tours every once in a while, so it will be worth taking a look again in the future.
Ultimately I chose the La Jolla Village tour. I like the La Jolla area — lots of nice restaurants, great views, art galleries and museums, and a fun beachy vibe mixed with luxury. I also chose it for it’s 16-year+ rating, which I understood to mean there wouldn’t be alcohol served (I’m not an alcohol drinker). Some of the tours are rated 21+.
My husband and I were looking forward to the opportunity to rediscover La Jolla. After receiving an email confirmation of our tour with our rendezvous location and parking instructions, we were all set to meet our guide and get started.
Private Tour with David
We hadn’t purchased a private tour, so we certainly weren’t expecting one. A tour can have up to twelve people, but after another couple had to cancel at the last minute, my husband and I ended up with a private tour. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know David, too. He introduced us to a lot of background information about La Jolla and residents who have influenced its development. He told us the behind-the-scenes stories of the restaurants we visited, plus interesting information about their owners. And he always seemed to know just what to order for us to sample — everything was delicious!
It wasn’t just a little history and food. David also told us about unique businesses, up-and-coming chefs, new construction, which art galleries to visit (and how much a photographer’s top photo sold for), plus a quick tour of a stunning church with beautiful mosaic art. As soon as David figured out that I liked to take photos of everything, he started pointing out more places of interest, and even offered to take a photo for me while we were sampling olive oils!
First Stop: Mr. Moto’s Pizza
Our first restaurant stop on the tour was Mr. Moto’s Pizza at 617 Pearl Street. I like pizza (who doesn’t?), but I wouldn’t call it a favorite. Normally I would opt for something else. But when David showed up at our table with Mr. Moto’s signature pizza (the Mr. Moto), it truly looked amazing. Toppings included Italian sausage, meatballs, fresh mozzarella, and marinara sauce.
Looks don’t satisfy the taste buds, however, so the real test was eating it. And let me tell, you, Mr. Moto’s Pizza definitely surpasses the taste test! I felt it was the perfect balance of ingredients without too much sauce. Plus, the ingredients were so flavorful and fresh. Honestly, it was the best pizza I’ve eaten in a long time! Mr. Moto’s Pizza can also be found in four other San Diego locations: Oceanside, Pacific Beach, North Park, and Point Loma. They’re open from 11 am to 10 pm, and they make deliveries too.
After downing two large pieces of pizza, I was worried I might not have room for any more sampling, but at least I could walk off a few calories as we made our way to the next eatery. As we did we learned a lot about Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932), a philanthropist who did a lot to benefit La Jolla.
Next up: Richard Walker’s Pancake House
Does it sound strange to visit a pancake house in the middle of the afternoon? Perhaps. But after David told us about Richard Walker’s special Barvarian oven-baked apple pancake, it didn’t matter any more. Talk about scrumptious!
Richard Walker’s Pancake House was originally established in Illinois, but when Richard Walker, Sr. decided to retire in San Diego, he and his son started new pancake houses here, one in La Jolla at 909 Prospect St, one downtown at 520 Front Street, and another in Carlsbad at 2656 Gateway Road. It’s a good thing because I’d hate to think that San Diego might miss out on this unique restaurant. It’s much better, in my opinion, than the national IHOP chain. With stain-glass windows and wood accents, it’s more charming, too.
Richard Walker’s Pancake House is open for breakfast and lunch only, closing at 2:30 pm. If you’re looking for a fun place to eat before exploring La Jolla, I think you’ll love this pancake house! And if you come on the tour, you’ll learn why you’ll see many glimpses of rabbits in Richard Walker’s decor.
3rd Stop: Beaming
This is not your typical restaurant. Probably the best part of sampling anything here is knowing there will be absolutely no guilt. Everything is healthy, but also tasty. They specialize in organic, gluten-free, vegetarian, and unprocessed foods. It’s not just a juice and smoothie bar. Beaming also makes open-faced sandwiches, soup, bowls, cookies, granola, and grab & go food. In fact, they call themselves a “gourmet superfood company.”
We were able to sample a creamy tomato soup, open-faced avocado toast, and chocolate chip cookie dough-flavored Bliss Ball (my personal favorite). The location we visited was at 7863 Girard Avenue, Suite 201. They also have a location in Del Mar, plus several others in Southern California.
Next: Public House
A lot of buildings in La Jolla Village are historic, many dating back to the early 1900’s. For that reason, there’s a concerted effort in La Jolla to preserve their history and heritage. The next restaurant we visited was a perfect example of old and modern combined. The Public House is a trendy gathering place for food and drink — and it’s housed in a Craftsman-style cottage built in 1904. It has a very comfortable feel to it, with a “livingroom” area, a sunporch, and a “front yard” patio area. It really feels like you’re visiting your neighbor’s home instead of a restaurant.
Since Public House specializes in high quality meats and specialty ingredients, it was a real treat to sample Kobe beef sliders. They were mouth-watering good! The Public House can be found at 830 Kline Street, and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Final Stop: We Olive
Our last stop wasn’t really a restaurant, so to speak. It was an experience. Walk in to We Olive (1158 Prospect Street) and you’ll experience scents, tastings, and magnificent views of the ocean, too. They specialize in olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and olive oil inspired tapas. My husband and I were introduced to the four “S’s” of sampling olive oils:
- swirling the cup of olive oil on the back of your hand to warm it up a bit,
- sniffing the oil to catch the scent,
- slurping the oil to allow oxygen to mix with it, and then
- swallowing it to get the full flavor.
We tried olive oils infused with other flavors, like jalapeno, lemon, basil, and more. We also tried a true aged balsamic vinegar from Modena, Italy, and it was so rich and flavorful! I wasn’t able to leave We Olive without purchasing a souvenir — a bottle of jalapeno infused olive oil.
Rediscover La Jolla with a Bite San Diego Tour
As wonderful as it was to sample many great-tasting foods, it was equally fun to learn more about La Jolla Village on a walking tour. David was so good at pointing out other places we might be interested in exploring later. For example, there’s…
- Warwick’s, the oldest continuously family-owned and operated bookstore in the United States, established in 1896 (7812 Girard Avenue)
- LIK Fine Art Gallery with photographs taken by Peter Lik, seller of the world’s most expensive photo (1205 Prospect Street)
- National Geographic Fine Art Gallery (1205 Prospect Street)
- Brick & Bell , home of the best scones (976 Felspar Street)
- Girard Gourmet, European bakery and farm-to-table cafe from gardens in Julian, with the best cookies ever (7837 Girard Avenue)
- La Valencia Hotel, opened Christmas Eve 1926 and known for their old-school luxury, charm, and views (1132 Prospect Street)
- The Grande Colonial Hotel, with stunning views and reports of paranormal activity, built in 1913 (910 Prospect)
- The Taco Stand, right next door to Mr. Moto Pizza, with the longest line I’ve ever seen at a taco place. We passed it three times, and the line was always there! (621 Pearl Street)
- Plus, plenty of street art
Rediscover La Jolla Again!
So now, I’m armed with another day’s worth of places to check out in La Jolla. All because of Bite San Diego’s La Jolla Village tour. My first walking food tour in Toronto a few years ago is what introduced me to the concept, and I ‘m not sure why I waited so long to try it again. I won’t make that mistake again! Have you ever taken a walking food tour? Share your experiences in the comments below!