Whether you’ve lived in San Diego your whole life or are new to America’s Finest City, the ability to be comfortable outdoors year-round just never gets old—particularly if you hail from colder climates. Add to that an abundance of sweeping landscapes and vibrant, world-class cuisine, and we’d say we’ve got quite the trifecta here.
If this all sounds too good to be true, well, it’s not. But if we’re being fastidious, we suppose there is one small drawback to living in California’s coastal paradise. You see, with the number of picturesque settings and outstanding food options, the challenge isn’t finding a table with a view—it’s narrowing down the list of choices.
From uptown to downtown; oceanside to bayside, we’re running through the top spots to take in San Diego’s views during Restaurant Week and beyond.
The Best Spots to Dine by the Beach
For the best in San Diego’s seaside fare, a drive along scenic Highway 101 is sure to yield great results. And while we usually encourage planning ahead when it comes to picking the best meal, in this case, we kind of think the less planning—and more wandering—the better. Here’s a route to get you started:
Kick-off the day in Oceanside with breakfast on or near the pier before heading south through Carlsbad to Encinitas where, if you’ve struck the right balance of driving and meandering, you’ll be ready for a fabulous oceanfront lunch in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The stretch of South Coast Highway 101 in the charming and historic surf town of Encinitas serves as its own little restaurant row, with a variety of great dining options to take in the view before you hit the road due south.
If you’re planning on spending time at the beach, Del Mar, just south on the 101, is the perfect place to sunbathe for the afternoon, do a little shopping at the plaza and grab a happy hour bite at one of the city’s several beachside haunts. Fair warning, however—these places fill up quickly, so you may want to try for a reservation if possible, especially if you anticipate finding yourself there around sunset. But for that, we’ve got an even better idea…
Up next on our epicurean tour of the San Diego coastline is La Jolla, home to adorable sunbathing sea lions, out-of-this-world ocean views and what we’re convinced are the most incredible sunsets on this side of heaven. It also happens to be home to one of San Diego’s most vibrant dining scenes. For the best views, we recommended scouting out a spot near the cove—and be sure to bring your camera.
Once dinner’s done, we couldn’t think of a place better to end a San Diego beach day than in the quintessentially-California town of Ocean Beach. While the bohemian beach community is bustling during the day with surfers, skaters and sunbathers alike, the food and beverage scene really comes to life at night. Grab a local beer at one of several breweries along Newport Avenue, or make your way toward the ocean for a (responsible) nightcap at one of several beachside bars before calling it a day—or ditching the car and calling a ride.
Best Areas to Dine Around San Diego Bay
For the ‘best of the bay’ in terms of culinary experience, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend starting in the Crown City of Coronado, where world-class, waterfront restaurants abound. If you’re coming by ferry, you won’t have to wander far—there are several great options right at the Coronado Ferry Landing, where you’ll get a stellar view of the downtown skyline across the bay. As you make your way into town, follow Orange Avenue (a dining mecca in itself) as it curves left to visit the historic Hotel del Coronado or pop into a dockside restaurant along one of the island’s marinas.
If you’d rather stay cityside, Downtown San Diego offers several bars and restaurants right along the water—and, of course, the historic Gaslamp Quarter, a vibrant hub for food, art and culture. If you find yourself downtown after dark, hit up one of the area’s 20-plus rooftop lounges for a spectacular 360-degree city view.
Looking for a more off-the-beaten-path setting? Harbor Island, Shelter Island and Point Loma all have varied, world-class dining options set among serene bay views.
Best Views Period.
As much as we love to tout the fact that we have 70—yes, 70—miles of coastline along which to enjoy some of the world’s freshest, most vibrant fare, we also happen to have a plethora of natural wonders that also serve as an ideal backdrop to a delicious meal. From the rolling hills of Escondido to the sprawling gardens of Balboa Park, it’s actually pretty difficult to get a bad view in this town.
San Diego Restaurant Week 2019 is hitting all corners of the city with eight days of deals from new establishments and time-honored culinary institutions alike. Check out www.sandiegorestaurantweek.com to narrow down your picks by neighborhood, cuisine or price range, and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all the mouthwatering updates. See you September 22–29th!