Best Beach Restaurants in San Diego

10 Best Beachfront Restaurants in San Diego

San Diego's beaches are both a draw for visitors and huge reason why most of us live here. There's something uber relaxing about watching the sunset over the ocean especially with a cocktail in hand. Restaurants on this list have close proximity to actual sand. A number of fantastic restaurants in San Diego have bay or waterfront views but they are absent from this list. Like we said, there has to be a beach involved!

Also topping the list of 10 best waterfront restaurants, you just can't beat The Marine Room for fabulous beach ambiance. The historic restaurant literally sits on the sand and the modern global cuisine is some of the best in town. Expect a high-end experience that's worth every penny though happy hour is excellent value.

Pacific Coast Grill is a top pick in North County. This restaurant also borders the sand and serves up local, fresh, and free range California cuisine. It's hard to beat a lobster taco and margarita on a this patio while inhaling crisp ocean breezes.

Keep in mind that just because these restaurants are beachfront, doesn't mean that beachwear always flies. Check the dress code before you go and also be sure to make reservations.


SEA180 is a Cohn Group restaurant located inside the new Pier South Resort which sits right on the beach in Imperial Beach. Due to its southern location, it's a lesser known gem but that's probably to the benefit of current fans. The menu is largely seafood-based with items like roasted black mussels with chorizo, shrimp ceviche and macadamia nut crusted local catch of the day. But diners can also nosh on salads, steak au poivre, and a cheeseburger with bacon jam. The vibe is upscale-casual and the social hour menu has discounts for those who can arrive on the earlier side.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: It's a fabulous beachfront option south of downtown in Imperial Beach.

Katie's expert tip: Check online for promotions. Prime rib dinners happen on Wednesdays while Mondays raise money for charity, to name a few.

Read more about SEA180 Coastal Tavern →

Located steps from the beach at Mission Bay, Oceana Coastal Kitchen serves a selection of dishes from land and sea using sustainable, fresh ingredients. Highlights include a 25-foot-long cold bar that serves a selection of oysters, fresh sushi, seafood platters and specialty items, such as yellowtail crudo, sesame sea bass ceviche, king crab legs, tuna carpaccio and more. The focal point of the entire restaurant, however, is an 800-gallon aquarium that is home to fluorescent tropical jellyfish. Sip on a cocktail from a menu of tropical-inspired drinks or enjoy an extensive selection of California wines including nearly 30 by the glass. Restaurant guests also receive complimentary valet parking and dogs are welcome on the patio.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: Bay and beach view dining combined with sustainable seafood and free parking makes this hotel restaurant a big win.

Katie's expert tip: Kids are sure to be mesmerized by the jellyfish tank so ask for seating near it, if possible.

Read more about Oceana Coastal Kitchen →

Located steps away from the ocean, The Shores Restaurant has one of the best views in all of San Diego. It is almost as if you can reach out the window and touch the sand. Sunday brunch is a la carte and features favorites such as huevos rancheros, brioche french toast, chilaquiles and more. Renowned chef and award-winning cookbook authour, Bernard Guillas, changes the menu based on what is in season. The Shores Restaurant is a part of the La Jolla Shores Hotel and provides room service to the lucky guests. Happy hour at the bar is great value but the dining room is perfect for date night.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: It's a fabulous beachfront restaurant in one of the best beachfront hotels in town. Pricing isn't too bad either for the area.

Katie's expert tip: Walk off your meal along the La Jolla Shores boardwalk or better yet, bring your beach gear in the car if the sun is out.

Read more about The Shores Restaurant - La Jolla Shores Hotel →


Jake's Del Mar has been popular with residents and visitors for many years. The restaurant is located right on the sand and open daily for lunch, happy hour, and dinner as well as Sunday brunch. Jake's also has a very large selection of gluten-free menu options available at all times. Choose from seafood dishes such as sesame wasabi ahi, seafood Casear salad, or local Carlsbad mussels. Try mustard and spice California lamb, Jake's Bistro burger, or vegetarian options. The gigantic macadamia nut ice cream, chocolate cookie crust Hula pie is worth saving some extra room for. Jake's has also been recognized for their recycling and other green efforts.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: If you love Duke's of Hawaii fame, Jake's is a member of the family. And, it's on the beach.

Katie's expert tip: Order the Hula Pie and thank me later.

Read more about Jake's Del Mar →

Pacific Beach

Though casual in nature, you may be faced with a wait on the weekends if you don't plan accordingly. World Famous is popular with locals for good reason. Patio seating is adjacent to the beach boardwalk where not only are the ocean views relaxing, the people-watching is entertaining. All-day dining is on offer with the kitchen closing at 11:00pm. There's a light bar menu and the restaurant menu both featuring California cuisine such as a variety of salads and seafood entrees. Happy hour runs Monday - Thursday with the special varying by the day. Tuesdays are the most popular for $1.25 fish tacos that are some of the best in town. As beach parking can be tough, World Famous offers valet on the weekends.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: Located right on the Pacific Beach boardwalk, World Famous offers casual all-day dining with excellent people watching.

Katie's expert tip: The fish taco is the way to go. It's beer-battered but totally worth the calories. Pair it with a Bloody Mary.

Read more about World Famous →

Pacific Beach

JRDN is chic Tower 23 Hotel's 10,000 square foot contemporary beachfront steak and seafood restaurant, featuring casually sophisticated cuisine. If you need a hip and trendy place that's less hectic than Gaslamp options, here's your place. Lounge with your companions, listen to live music and enjoy a specialty cocktail along with ocean breezes. JRDN has indoor/outdoor seating right on the Pacific Beach boardwalk which makes for excellent ocean views and people watching. The clean, simple but modern decor includes color-changing lights and a giant water wall. The atmosphere changes also from California casual to West Coast hip as the sun sets.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: This is by far the hippest place to have a cocktail in Pacific Beach.

Katie's expert tip: The steaks here are awesome.

Read more about Jordan (JRDN) →

Poseidon prides itself on being fun for every age with a casual beach vibe. This is definitely true, but it's also a fantastic place for a romantic seafood dinner by the sand on their sizable patio. The entire restaurant has been recently remodeled to a chic, upscale-casual look. The menu has a Mediterranean flair. And, they're open for weekend brunch with fun favorites like macadamia-coconut french toast or huevos rancheros. At dinner, splurge on a lobster tail or something like the wasabi halibut with mushroom risotto and lotus root chips. They can prepare gluten, nut, shellfish and dairy-free options upon request as well.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: It's probably the most popular place in Del Mar for al fresco beachfront dining.

Katie's expert tip: Every Tuesday and Wednesday certain bottles of wine are half-price with purchase of an entree.

Read more about Poseidon →

Pacific Coast Grill's new beachfront location makes it one of the most scenic spots in North County to eat or grab a drink. The festive, al fresco patio wall borders the sand and the ocean breezes are as relaxing as you might imagine. The California cuisine menu is made with fresh, local and free-range ingredients. Popular items include mussels, lobster tacos, and burgers with fresh-cut Kennebec fries. Gluten-free and plenty of vegetarian options are available. PCG is can also host your next private party between the indoor Reef Room and a patio buyout. Reservations are accepted and highly encouraged, especially during peak times.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: PCG is the best beachfront dining option north of Del Mar though some believe it's the best in North County.

Katie's expert tip: Pair a lobster taco with a margarita. You won't be sorry.

Read more about Pacific Coast Grill →

The Marine Room
Photo courtesy of The Marine Room

Perhaps best known for its setting right on the beach, so close to the water that waves crash on the windows during high tides, The Marine Room serves fine, globally-influenced cuisine. Start with the signature lobster bisque, accented with enoki mushrooms, pancetta and yuzu cream. Main course highlights have included a trio of game (elk, ostrich and venison), fleur de sel-rubbed veal, and abalone-mushroom crusted barramundi. Impeccable service, attention to detail, and an award-winning wine list round out the experience. It's a perfect place for a special date or even just because. Look out for grunion run happy hours and high tide dinners among other special events.

Recommended for Beach Restaurants because: It's literally on the sand. Waves crash against the windows during high tides!

Katie's expert tip: Check their event calendar as high tide dinner, grunion run happy hours and more could be happening during your visit.

Read more about The Marine Room →


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie