To understand Barrio Logan, San Diego’s oldest Mexican-American neighborhood, you must first understand Chicano Park. 

Chicano Park is the heart of Barrio Logan. On April 22, 1970, the neighborhood rallied to stop the construction of a California Highway Patrol station and demanded the area be given to the people. A year later, Chicano Park was formed. Ever since, it's been equal parts protest, history lesson and community space less than four miles from downtown San Diego. 

With vibrant murals etched on nearly every concrete surface that makes up the Coronado Bridge above, Chicano Park is home to the largest collection of Chicano murals (over 80) in the world. To this day, the park serves as a haven for local artists.    

That artist’s spirit runs through every inch of the mile-and-a-half stretch of Barrio Logan. The history of the neighborhood, its iconic residents and the fight for social and political justice is archived in bursts of colorful graffiti and paintings imprinted on the sides (and interiors) of buildings, fence paneling, delivery trucks and even concrete garbage receptacles. 

 Simply put, Barrio Logan is one large living canvas. 

Image of a woman wearing traditional Mexican clothing and headdress is etched on a concrete underpass in Chicano Park in San Diego's Barrio Logan.
The art in Chicano Park often tell a story of the Barrio Logan neighborhood and its history © Alicia Johnson / Lonely Planet

“I think art comes from pain and struggle. It’s a way to express yourself,” says Alexandra Perez Demma, owner of Simón Limón – a curated retail and creative space in Barrio Logan. “It’s a way for us to tell our stories and our experiences and for the next generations and other people to see that and take from that. It’s like a history book.” 

But there’s more to do than just gawk at the art. There are clothing shops, art galleries, restaurants, bars and jewelry stores to visit. 

If you happen to be in town for Dia de la Muertas (Day of the Dead) you’ll spot ​​flor de caléndula (marigolds) wrapped around trees or in vases on altars erected by business owners and residents throughout the neighborhood. 

Here are the best places to eat, drink and shop in San Diego’s Barrio Logan.   

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Best places to eat in Barrio Logan  

Want tacos? Mexican hot dogs? Burgers? Gelato? Barrio Logan is filled with spots to add a little heft to your gut.

El Carrito 

Let’s begin with a classic. El Carrito is homestyle Mexican fare. Resembling a traditional cable car from the 1930s, El Carrito can feed you in the mornings (try the Los Rancheros – a fried tortilla with ranchero sauce, cotija cheese and topped with eggs), or in the afternoon (try the Frida – creamy chipotle sauce, sour cream and Monterrey jack cheese). 

When you want to feel fancy (try Santana’s – shrimp and carne asada in chipotle sauce, cotija cheese, pico, rice and beans) or when the kids tag along (try Los Gabachitos – “one pancake, sausage, strawberries and eggs).

Closing time is 3pm, so plan accordingly. 

Exterior shot of a white-brick building with the words "Hayes" etched in orange and black across the top of the building.
Hayes Burgers is a no-frills, tasty spot for bugers © Alicia Johnson / Lonely Planet

Hayes Burger 

Sometimes you just want a burger and fries, and at Hayes Burger, that’s just what you get. Hamburger, cheeseburger or a double cheeseburger with a pile of fries, there’s really nothing better. This is a no-frills kind of place with outdoor seating to relax on a pleasant San Diego day.  

Barrio Dogg

More than a few have made the trip to Barrio Logan just to come face-to-face with one of Barrio Dogg’s ultra-popular hot dogs.

There are no wrong choices here, but a few standouts include the El Smokey, a take on Texas BBQ made with “hickory and mesquite smoked slow-roasted pulled pork, Tamarindo BBQ, Housemade coleslaw, pickles, crunchy fried red onion and paprika” or El Gallo a “breakfast dog” split down the middle and filled with “grilled onions and melted cheese and topped with a fluffy omelette, sour cream, salsa verde, salsa roja and cotija cheese”. 

Oh and save room for a side. You can’t go wrong with a serving of elotitos (Mexican street corn).

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Exterior shot of Neveria with a photo of Frieda's face in a cone.
Try the guava gelato when you visit Neveria © Alicia Johnson/Lonely Planet

Nevería Los Mochis 

And because life isn’t truly complete without a few scoops of ice cream, head over to Nevería Los Mochis. The small spot, which also doubles as a gallery, offers a delicious array of ice cream and sorbet flavors like mazapan (tastes like peanut butter), pumpkin (tastes like pumpkin pie), chocolate and almonds and a big fan favorite – guava. 


For tacos, there’s really only one place to go. Known as an OG of the neighborhood, ¡SALUD! is the spot for classic Mexican tacos with a Chicano twist. The interior sort of resembles a tattoo shop and is filled with striking murals, posters and other really cool knick-knacks on the walls.

But we’re here for the tacos, and ¡SALUD!’s menu is filled with mouth-watering options like the Azteca Tlacho (seared asada steak, topped with a jalapeno spear, sliced onion,  seared notal, sliced avocado and tomato) or the Barrio taco (braised beef with onion, potato and bell pepper and topped with nopal, frijol and crema and wrapped in a flour tortilla). Oh, and always add ceviche to your order.   

Mural of a beautiful woman with red hair, large silver hoop earrings. Her jaw is painted white and her lips are red.
Very few coffee shops in San Diego is as cool as Por Vida in Barrio Logan © Alicia Johnson / Lonely Planet

Best place for coffee 

Por Vida

Por Vida is, a really cool spot to get coffee. The artwork from top to bottom is stunning and takes up the whole part of the wall when you first arrive. Currently, there’s a mural of a beautiful redhead with big silver hoops and white paint on her jaw and around her lips to greet you as you enter. What’s not colorful is black (again, very cool). 

Now, for the drinks, Por Vida serves up the classics like a cappuccino or an americano, but it’s the specialty drinks that set this place apart. Try De la olla latte made with an orange peel, cinnamon and clove or a Horchata latte made with condensed milk, rice and cinnamon. 

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Best place to grab a drink 

Border X Brewing 

When it’s time for something with a little kick, Border X Brewing is where you head. Located right across the street from ¡SALUD!, Border X Brewery is known for its fantastic beer selection that highlights traditional Mexican libations but with a unique spin.     

Among the most popular beer selections is the Blood Saison – a traditional Mexican drink made with hibiscus agave.

Other crowd-pleasers include Abuelita’s chocolate stout, made with Mexican chocolate and the Horchata Golden Stout, itself a concoction infused with vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks, is like dessert in a glass.

Oh, and they serve tacos too, straight off the grill.  

Border X has been in Barrio Logan for eight years and has seen the neighborhood ebb and flow, but one thing has remained constant – the community. 

Border X hosts various events like local artist showcases, Dia de la Muertas and Loteria (think bingo) nights in its large outdoor / indoor space. 

Though not technically in Barrio Logan, Mujeres Brew House – the sister bar to Border X –  is just two minutes away and is a Latina-led operation not only serving up brews but educating residents about the craft brewery industry.  

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Interior shot of the Simon Limon shop and its collection jewelry, coffee shops and other items.
Simón Limón is a curated shop that highlights Latinx artists © Alicia Johnson / Lonely Planet

Best places to shop

The first thing you’ll notice about many of the shops in Barrio Logan are how small the spaces are. That was intentional. In order to promote smaller, local businesses, larger lots were divided into smaller sections to provide the opportunity for a small business to rent a brick-and-mortar spot. 

But trust us, these businesses make excellent use of every bit of space to showcase some truly unique yet distinctly Chicano designs. 

Simón Limón

This brightly-colored 180-sq-ft shop, located right next to Border X, sells jewelry, candles, bags and totes and even some items for the kiddies. Each of the pieces showcased in the shop are from independent (and largely local) Latinx womxn. 

Exterior shot of the Sew Loka shop. There a sign in the shape of a pair of lips with fangs hanging from the store front. On the side you can see clothes rack with clothing and you can see inside the store.
Sew Loka is a unique, quirky shop that sews handmade, upcycled goods © Alicia Johnson / Lonely Planet

Sew Loka

If you’re lucky enough to visit in October, there are pair of bloody fangs dangling from the Sew Loka sign. That kind of edgy, quirky vibe flows throughout the small store (no matter the time of year) thanks to owner and fashion designer Claudia Rodríguez-Biezunski. 

Using reclaimed fabrics and upcycled materials, Rodríguez-Biezunski creates unique, handmade clothing. Her sewing studio is located in the rear of the shop. 

A few favorites are a flannel button-up shirt (or jean jacket) with a large Virgin Mary Patch and the words “La Renia” across the back and a small tote with the words “Brown AF” stitched on the front. 

Beat Box Records 

Beat Box Records, located right next door to Por Vida, is the kind of record store music heads love. On any given day, you can grab classics from Gil Scott-Heron to Motley Crue to Martha Y Los Ventura. Concert posters tacked on the walls and the stacks and stacks of vinyl to browse.  

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Alicia Johnson traveled to San Diego with support from Visit California. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

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