Fall is finally here, and as the season changes, so do menus. Pumpkin-centric dishes may headline autumn, but restaurants around San Diego are prepping for the shorter days with foods that warm from the inside out, such as seasonal veggies, soups and cocktails. Jump full into fall with these 14 seasonal eats and drinks in San Diego.
Caramel apple waffles at Hundred Proof
No need to bob for apples for this breakfast treat, which are available every Sunday for brunch at the Hillcrest hub. The waffle’s deep pockets hold crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and come served with spiced green apples and dollops of whipped vanilla cream.
4130 Park Blvd.; 619-501-6404
Scott Thompson at The Nolen
If you prefer your seasonal beverage in cocktail form, head to this Downtown spot for a gorgeous orange drink that replicates the flavors of carrot cake in every sip. The drink mixes carrot juice with vodka, half-and-half, cinnamon syrup and Licor 43.
453 6th Ave.; 619-796-6536
Piña colada carrot cake at Puesto
Pasty chef Jessica Scott wants every guest to end their Mexican meal on a sweet tropical note. The pretty carrot cake, available at all Puesto locations (Downtown, La Jolla and Irvine), comes topped with coconut cream cheese frosting and adorned with raspberry pistachios, sweet pistachio sauce and candied carrots.
Pumpkin lobster bisque at Jsix
Executive chef Anthony Sinsay’s spin on the PSL has nothing to do with the perennial fall beverage, but you’ll want to warm up to this rich soup all season long. This take on lobster bisque melds pumpkin puree into every spoonful with a spiced cognac froth on top. It's available for dinner at this Gaslamp restaurant.
616 J St.; 619-531-8744
Tableside Parmesan cheese wheel at Salvucci’s
Every Thursday, guests at this East Village restaurant have front row seats when they request the Parmesan cheese wheel entree. The show starts when fresh, handmade pasta is placed into a flaming carved cheese wheel and then tossed until smothered in melted cheese. If you need more than cheese, there’s an option to add additional sauces and toppings.
925 J St.; 619-255-1112
Spicy pumpkin spice latte at Cafe Gratitude
This spicy drink promises to wake up your taste buds this fall and you’ll find it in Little Italy all season. Rooibos tea joins a long list of natural ingredients — steamed almond milk, maple syrup, tumeric, goji berry, mesquite, red maca, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, maitake mushroom, licorice, astragalus and rhodiola — for an organic spin on the ubiquitous PSL.
1980 Kettner Blvd.; 619-736-5077
Rustic pasta primavera at Rustic Root
Head Downtown to warm up with this hearty pasta. The vegetarian pappardelle pasta mixes oven-roasted tomatoes with spinach, mushrooms and peas and is tied together with a creamy roasted bell pepper sauce. Request extra shaved Parmesan on top as an indulgence.
535 5th Ave.; 619-232-1747
All of The Above cookie at Extraordinary Desserts
Supporting gender equality and human rights for women and girls never tasted so good with this limited-edition cookie. The collab between chef Karen Krasne and Cupcakes and Cashmere benefits the Global Fund for Women. The treat starts with a dark Valrhona chocolate base mixed with Valrhona white chocolate chunks and caramelized cocoa nibs. Each cookie is finished with French sea salt and the pastry shop’s signature edible gold leaf. Find it at the Little Italy and Hillcrest locations through the end of the year.
The Golden Girls at The Smoking Gun
This Downtown hub specializing in small plates has a host of new seasonal cocktails, and you’ll want to order the one named after the beloved '80s sitcom. Wild Turkey rye is mixed with honey while vanilla, lemon and dash of walnut bitters adds fall notes.
555 Market St.; 619-233-3836
Ribeye katsu sando at Himitsu
The sashimi and sushi are wonderful at this new Japanese spot in La Jolla, but equally exciting is this unexpected, meaty sandwich. Panko-coated rib-eye is fried to medium rare and served with brick toast bookends. The sandwich comes served with jus for dipping and a cabbage salad tossed with ginger dressing.
1030 Torrey Pines Rd. #G, La Jolla; 858-263-4463
Winter squash toast at True Food Kitchen
There's a fall twist on the toast trend in Mission Valley. The wholesome, vegetarian starter is piled high with roasted winter squash, Brussels sprout leaves, and hazelnuts and drizzled with lemon oil and saba, an Italian syrup made with grapes.
7007 Friar Rd.; 619-810-2929
The Basic at Farmer’s Table
The La Mesa restaurant is diving into the season with a host of new cocktails including this one with Hiram Walker pumpkin-spiced liquor. The beverage promises to buzz you awake with Cafe Moto’s nitro cold brew coffee mixed with cream and a shot of Jameson whiskey, topped with whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon.
8141 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa; 619-724-6465
Chorizo scotch egg at Nomad Donuts
We recommend following the Hillcrest shop’s Instagram feed for announcements on when this special item is available. This take on the British comfort food (pictured with the shop’s ube cronut) wraps a jalapeño corn cake around chorizo sausage and a hard-boiled egg. A cilantro glaze finishes it off.
3102 University Ave.; 619-431-5000
Pumpkin and provolone pizza at Officine Buona Forchetta
Pumpkin on a pizza? You betcha. Find the fall-inspired Neapolitan pie at this Liberty Station standout. Pumpkin puree acts as the sauce, with provolone cheese and slices of pancetta to balance things out.
2865 Sims Rd.; 619-548-5770