Starbucks might have gained notoriety this summer for the unicorn frap and the pink drink, but I have never seen a more broad option of sweet flavors than at a boba/bubble tea shop.
When I’m in the mood for something sweet, I instinctively head up to the Convoy Street area in Clairemont Mesa/Kearny Mesa, San Diego. Located in the “wine glass” between the 805 and 163 freeways, there is a very heavy Asian influence in this neighborhood and it’s where you will find the city’s best dim sum, ramen, bahn mi, and quirkiest sweets. It’s also a good place to go if you’re thinking about buying a new car. Just saying.
4646 Convoy St #106B
Tapioca Express, part of a chain, was the first boba/bubble tea shop I experienced back in college. A boba pearl is an edible chewy ball, approximately 1cm in diameter, that can be added to sweet hot and cold drinks. It is derived from tapioca but doesn’t have a strong flavor. Writing it out like this, it sounds strange, but I will admit it is addicting and makes a drink more interesting. My favorite flavors are chai tea and Thai iced tea, but the flavors range from chocolate, to fruit, and more. I like to see how many boba pearls I can get in my straw at once! The line can get long at this extremely popular establishment, but it moves quickly.
7770 Vickers St #101
At Up2you, you must order the brick toast. A weird name for a light and fluffy piece of bread that they load heavily with ice cream, sauce, fruit, and as many toppings as you can imagine. I like to split this dessert with a friend as we each have a boba milk tea of our own. They encourage customers to linger by providing a comfortable atmosphere and board games. Other available sweets include ice cream cones and waffles.
4609 Convoy St, B
I love shaved ice (very different than a sno-cone, if you’ve never had it) because it looks like a lot of volume, but is very soft, light, and airy. Makes it a little bit more guilt-free as far as treats go. I particularly like delicate flavors like vanilla, green tea, and black sesame, which is what I think I got in the video below. My Iceskimo punch card is almost full! Time to go back ASAP.
4647 Convoy St #101C
I go to Facing East for their bao (steamed buns) but I recently discovered their over-the-top freakshakes. WOW! Just once in my life I’d love to order one of these! I would definitely split the one with cotton candy and rainbow sour strips with someone. Any takers? Check out some more of their incredible offerings on their Instagram:
4425 Convoy St #216
Bing Haus was first on my radar because of their adorable fish shaped Ice Cream By the Sea cone. It was only after going down an Instagram rabbit hole that I realized that I could get the coveted rolled ice cream in my own home town! So I headed back up after work one day to watch the ice cream artists work their magic. I got cereal flavor, which was pretty and yummy but left a “waxy” feeling in my mouth afterward. Next time I will get Oreo or something!
Honorable mention: At Angels & Hearts Harajuku Creperie (4646 Convoy St) you can get shaved ice or a cone-shaped crepe. Attached to my favorite ramen shop RakiRaki, it is a convenient spot to get something sweet.
I had a lot of fun making these mini-videos. If you’re a San Diego local, please point me in the direction of more eye candy so I can make some more of them!
Visiting San Diego for the first time?
Check out deals on more tourist activities (affiliate link).
Videos by Staci Jackson for The Voyageer.