10 Restaurants in La Jolla That You Must Try

Deciding where to eat in La Jolla depends on multiple factors. Do you want to dine al fresco with an ocean view? Would you prefer locally-sourced California cuisine or Italian? Are flip-flops or heels more your speed? Whatever your mood, La Jolla restaurants fit the bill.

George's at the Cove holds the number one spot for best outdoor dining in San Diego. It also tops our list here for completely embodying the San Diego lifestyle. Views of the Pacific Ocean can be admired from any of the restaurant's three worthy dining options: the Ocean Terrace rooftop patio, George's Bar or California Modern. We're talking a locally-sourced, seasonal menu in a contemporary environment suitable for date night or catching up with long lost friends.

On the flip side, El Pescador is often listed as a local secret. Word has gotten out which prompted the seafood market and restaurant combo to move to a larger space. Grab gorgeous seafood to cook at home or stay for their fish sandwiches, ceviche and smoked fish.  

La Jolla does happy hour extremely well, also. While they do a weekday happy hour, Wednesday is the day to dine at NINE-TEN as any bottle of wine in their Wine Spectator award-winning cellar is half off.

La Jolla offers everything in between, too. You won't run out of good dining options.


Located in sleepy Bird Rock, Beaumont's Eatery is loved by locals as an upscale-casual gathering spot for its seasonal menu, craft cocktails and live music. The contemporary interior of the restaurant features rich colors and bright accents. It's a good place to go with friends for share plates (like Korean street tacos, wild boar sausage flatbreads and more). Kids aren't left out here, either, as their menu spans from simple noodles to mini New York steaks. The bartending staff mix excellent cocktails that are a bargain at happy hour. The burger was once voted best in La Jolla by a local poll.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: You might find yourself in the Bird Rock neighborhood and need a place to eat.

Katie's expert tip: Go for the Korean street tacos and happy hour deals.

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This cozy Tuscanesque cafe is as popular a hangout for surfers as it is with the more senior members of La Jolla society. Terra-cotta tiled floors, bottles of chianti, and a Roman fountain all contribute to the setting for an authentic Italian menu. Highlights include gourmet wood oven-fired pizzas, Saffron Pappardelle and House-Made Ricotta-Spinach Basil Ravioli. Piatti also offers a sizable selection of vegetarian and gluten-free options as well as a nice kid's menu. A word to the wise--this place is extremely popular on the weekends, so come early. Dine on the patio year-round or host a party here. Piatti is located in La Jolla Shores.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: With a charming atmosphere in sleepy La Jolla Shores, Piatti serves up hearty Italian worth a long drive.

Katie's expert tip: You could very easily pair a meal at Piatti with a lovely walk on the La Jolla Shores Beach. Also, order the Bruschetta.

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Herringbone has become a popular spot in La Jolla for lunch, happy hour, dinner and late night fun. The farm-to-sea concept menu is divided up into sections hot, cold, greens, crusts (pizza), plates and 'ands' (side dishes). Oyster Hour is now daily between 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. where a discounted menu of drinks and food is available, including $1 oysters. The spacious indoor/outdoor patio with a high ceiling, Snake Oil cocktails and positive vibe make Herringbone a happening place well into the evening. The plated Sunday brunch has a $12 bottomless mimosa option in addition to bottomless rosé for $25.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: It's a Brian Malarkey restaurant with light, delicious seafood and incredible rustic-meets-modern decor.

Katie's expert tip: The whole fish ceviche is amazing. Reservations are highly encouraged. Service lately can be hit or miss.

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Duke's La Jolla is owned and operated by San Diego and Maui-based TS Restaurants and features a menu much like its sister restaurants in Hawaii. This Duke's also boasts spectacular ocean views from a prime La Jolla location on Prospect Street and is one of the area's most family-friendly sit-down restaurants. The food draws on both Hawaiian and Californian influences using seasonal, all-natural and locally-sourced ingredients. Signature dishes include poke tacos, Lilikoi Ceviche, the Dukes burger and surf and turf option. A not-to-be-missed dessert is the famous Hula Pie, a masterpiece with macadamia nut ice cream, a chocolate cookie crust, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: You can take kids to dine anywhere in La Jolla, but Duke's is a favorite with the younger lot.

Katie's expert tip: The Hula pie with macadamia nut ice cream, whipped cream, fudge and a cookie crust is always a solid order.

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Grab some complimentary coffee and coffee cake and leg out the weekend wait, because the food will be worth it. Recipient of accolades locally and nation-wide, breakfast is what local favorite The Cottage is known for. The light, airy interior and outside patio both provide a family-friendly, pleasant dining space. Stay for the oatmeal pancakes, grilled vegetable omelet and Baja chicken hash. Take home some baked goods and granola with you, which are for sale inside. Kids receive a menu to color and Wikki Stix, usually. The Cottage is open for dinner seasonally and has a cookbook available, too. Don't expect to linger over a meal during peak times as other guests will be waiting.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: It's a local favorite for healthy and hearty breakfast favorites and a nice place to eat outside (though there's no ocean view).

Katie's expert tip: For lunch, the fish tacos and salads are solid. Don't skip a breakfast scone unless you get the raspberry-millet muffin.

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El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla has been a local favorite for over 30 years. Place an order to-go, pick up some fresh fish from the market or dine in. El Pescador is known for it's fish sandwiches, with swordfish and calamari being the most popular. Or, pick a fish, decide if you want it char-grilled or sauteed, and then put it on a salad (all salad dressings are homemade) or order a full plate, which includes a small salad and steamed rice. Prices are reasonable for La Jolla, service is friendly and the quality superb. Leave your fancy clothes at home as the ambiance is beach-casual.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: It's a hidden gem with a casual market atmosphere and outstanding sandwiches, salads and char-grilled seafood.

Katie's expert tip: Take home some honey-smoked salmon. It perks up a homemade salad or morning bagel.

Read more about El Pescador Fish Market →

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 at high tide, The Marine Room serves fine, globally-influenced seasonal cuisine. The signature lobster bisque is always a great order. Main course highlights change regularly but Ume Plum Wine Braised Kurobuta Pork Cheek and Chimichurri Rubbed Mary's Farm Chicken. Impeccable service, attention to detail, and an award-winning wine list round out the experience. Check the special event calendar for high tide breakfasts and dinners as well as other not-to-be-missed experiences. Jackets and ties are not required (though perfectly acceptable) as the attire here is now business casual.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: The restaurant offers elegant dining literally on the sand of gorgeous La Jolla Shores Beach.

Katie's expert tip: The Marine Room holds special events such as high tide dinners, a summer music series, and Monday night lobster.

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With a farm-to-table approach, Whisknladle succeeds in making simple food taste extraordinary. The menu changes with the season and is void of fuss. Everything is made from scratch, including the tonics and purees for the artisanal cocktails. Favorite dished include pan-seared scallops, mussels frites, house made sorbets and gelatos, and more. Happy hour is 7 days per week from 3:00-7:00pm with discounts on tapas, sangria, wine and cocktails. Make a reservation in order to avoid disappointment and leave the fancy dress behind (if you like). They also have a private dining room that seats up to 16 people and a supper club social where people make new friends and eat incredible food.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: Food is simple and consistently delicious. The ambiance is casual and the servers are extremely knowledgeable about the wine selection and menu.

Katie's expert tip: Order the Cutting Board which is a beautifully-presented artisanal cheese and meat platter complete with housemade condiments and dried fruits.

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Nine-Ten is all about California style, from the contemporary detailing of the dining room to the creative menu. Every plate is vibrant with fresh produce from small local farms which means that the menu is seasonal, though favorites like Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly (the chef's mother's recipe), braised short ribs and half-baked chocolate cake remain almost year-round. Chef Jason Knibb, who trained under masters such as Wolfgang Puck, has a deft hand with sous-vide cooking. Everything is done well here from the food to the Wine Spectator award-winning wine list to the impeccable service. Nine-Ten is located inside the historic Grande Colonial Hotel.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: The Wine Spectator recognized wine list is one of the best in town, half-priced on Wednesdays, and pairs exquisitely with the mouth-watering fare.

Katie's expert tip: If short ribs are on the menu, order them. Also, do indulge in the half-baked chocolate cake!

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Dramatically situated on Prospect Street in La Jolla overlooking the blue Pacific, George's at the Cove combines exceptional California cuisine and service with spectacular views from every level of the multi-tiered restaurant. Dine in the contemporary restaurant and bar indoors, dubbed California Modern; choose the Ocean Terrace, a great rooftop dining spot; or settle in at George's Bar, a casual dining destination. The menu, which specializes in seafood, reflects the use of fresh local ingredients and unique combinations of flavors to create a memorable dining experience. The restaurant also offers a creative, delectable dessert menu. Foodies with deep pockets can book the exclusive TBL3, where Executive Chef Trey Foshee serves a special 12-14 course menu.

Recommended for La Jolla's Best Restaurants because: This is where locals take out-of-town guests for dining with an ocean view. You can't go wrong.

Katie's expert tip: Don't forget to order the famous black bean soup which happens to pair well with an order of fish tacos.

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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