Cali BBQ
istock / Courtesy of Cali BBQ (2)

America’s Finest City is known for sandy beaches and world-class attractions, but restaurateur Shawn Walchef of Cali BBQ says the dining scene is not to be missed.

Restaurateur Shawn Walchef's San Diego

The veteran founded casual concept Cali BBQ more than a dozen years ago.

Courtesy of Cali BBQ

Shawn Walchef's Top Picks:



Stone Brewing

Point Loma Seafoods

Las Cuatro Milpas

Known as America’s Finest City, San Diego lives up to the hype with miles of sandy beaches, amazing attractions, and heavenly weather. Amid such splendor, it can be easy to overlook the city’s robust dining landscape, but Shawn Walchef is here to set the record straight.

Walchef founded the casual concept Cali BBQ more than a dozen years ago, and in 2017 he added a media component with the Digital Hospitality podcast. Now, the pandemic has led Cali BBQ to expand into the digital realm with ghost kitchens.

Walchef says the city is now attracting foodservice professionals from all over. And as a San Diego native, he understands the appeal.

Good vibes ahead

I think people are looking forward to just being social and going out again. They will want to enjoy the expansion of outdoor patio seating in so many places that didn’t have patio seating before. Eating outside is going to be huge.

Now that more restaurants are offering takeout food, you’ll be able to pick up great meals to eat on the beach, at Balboa Park, or any other beautiful spot you want around town.

Beyond BBQ

We are finalizing plans for our master smokehouse and media center in addition to securing our next “friendly ghost kitchen” location. We’re also launching our second podcast project, Restaurant Influencers, in addition to continuing our weekly Digital Hospitality audio and video podcast.

San Diego must-have

Everyone thinks it’s the fish taco (which is also a must-have), but I believe it’s actually the carne asada burrito. To me, that says San Diego.

Why San Diego rocks

One of the most interesting things about San Diego is the diversity in the community and the optimism you can feel. The sunshine helps make it that way. We also have an abundance of things to do, much of it outdoors. We have incredible shorelines, sandy beaches, surfing, snorkeling, boating.

The scene

There are so many different categories that are exploding in popularity, from barbecue to health-conscious options to fine-dining experiences. We now have chefs coming to San Diego and doing very exciting things. And of course,  you can’t talk about San Diego without talking about world-class Mexican food.

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