Best Holiday Dinner San Diego
Credit: Albert Law (@porkbellystudio)

‘Tis the Season to Eat! Here Are 11 Places for a Festive Holiday Dinner in San Diego

From Cozy Bistros to Elegant Waterfront Restaurants, These Are the Best Places for a Festive Feast

The holidays are upon us—and this time of year begs the question, “Where has the time gone?” San Diegans are swapping their swimsuits for sweaters and marking their calendars with all kinds of holiday festivities. Not everyone’s preferred holiday style is as cheesy as your pasta dish after finally saying “when” to the parmesan; and yet, neither does everyone’s style align with, “I have class and you don’t” (“Parent Trap,” anyone?). So, we’ve rounded up a good balance between the two. Whether you’re sipping on the “Winterita” at Barbarella or hosting a holiday soiree at Pacific Catch, you’re sure to find a favorite amongst this list of best places to cheers the holidays in San Diego. 


Pacific Catch 

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Best Holiday Dinner San Diego
Credit: Albert Law (@porkbellystudio)

Winter is almost upon us—and yet, even as seasons change, sustainability never goes out of style. The team members behind Pacific Catch, a beachy restaurant at La Jolla’s Westfield UTC center, consider themselves ocean lovers and stewards of the environment. Solely serving seafood that meets ethical sourcing criteria as determined by the Seafood Watch Program, Pacific Catch is careful  only to offer the highest quality fish and to respect life in the sea. They truly go the extra mile, working with Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Restaurant program to ensure all packaging is compostable and single-use plastics are avoided. In addition to their commitment to sustainability, this restaurant sets the scene for a festive holiday meal out with friends. Holiday parties are welcome, and hosts are invited to rent a portion of the restaurant’s space for a merry gathering. Groups can opt for standard ordering, or they can choose between a prix fixe menu and family-style dishes. We “fish” you a merry Christmas!

Location: La Jolla



A Winter wonderland in sunny San Diego? Say less. Hillcrest’s insideOUT urban oasis provides immersive experiences for their guests all year long, and this year will close out with their upcoming Holiday Oasis Experience pop-up, replete with life-size art installations that make you feel like you’re in a winter wonderland. During the holiday season, this means meandering through an outdoor courtyard filled with 13-foot Christmas trees, nutcrackers and fake snow. A flurry of seasonal cocktails is available to choose from, topping off your already-merry holiday season with even more cheer.

Location: Hillcrest


The Marine Room 

The Marine Room - weekend la jolla
Credit: La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Marked by coastal elegance and class, La Jolla’s Marine Room makes us feel like we’re reliving Jack and Rose’s romance on the Titanic. Waves crash against the windows while tasteful holiday decor reminds us that we’re entering the winter season, making this an unrivaled holiday dining destination. Offering a seasonal menu as well as classic dishes and drinks, this seafood-forward restaurant is the spark to light your holiday spirit. Whether you’re sipping on a prosecco sparkler or staying traditional with an old fashioned, we hope you’ll clink your glasses to a new year.

Location: La Jolla




Credit: Elodie Bost

Crackling with cozy ambience and unique cocktails, Campfire is sure to light the flame for your holiday season. Nestled in the heart of Carlsbad on State Street, this restaurant serves up appetizers like roasted broccoli with aioli and mouthwatering entrees like smoked brisket, as well as heartwarming spirits (of both the alcoholic and holiday variety, of course). A classic drink order is the Roasted Beet, which is a longstanding secret-menu item. Its bright red color, topped with a sprig of fresh thyme, makes for an extra festive night out with your elves.

Location: Carlsbad



Nolita Hall

A trip to Nolita Hall in Little Italy will leave you feeling fresh for a new year—thanks to a jungle of fiddles, ferns and more. Also remaining fresh is the holiday theme, which leaves guests in suspense as it changes each year. One year, it was “tacky Christmas”—what’ll it be this time? The decor may or may not be cheesy this season, but the food surely will be—in the Italian sense. Offering pizzas, salads, pastas and a seasonal cocktail menu, this spot pleases not only the eye but the taste buds too.

Location: Little Italy



Polite Provisions

Credit: Zack Benson

Marked by marble design elements, gold accents and funky floral patterns, North Park’s Polite Provisions is where Prohibition meets modern times. This exquisite cocktail bar offers a wide array of daily options—and their holiday menu is no exception. Something fun can be found for everyone, whether that be spirit-forward potions or sweeter libations. Classic Christmas cocktails include an eggnog rendition and a festive old fashioned. Sip on whatever suits your style—and all the while, take in the holidays with a Santa or two by your side.

Location: North Park


Queenstown Public House

Run, run as fast as you can—you can catch Queenstown becoming a gingerbread home! Queenstown Public House is a quaint, New Zealand-inspired restaurant that transforms into a giant gingerbread house every holiday season. We’re talking candy canes, bows, wreaths and twinkle lights galore. Featuring hot ciders, chai butter rum and other Christmas cocktails, this is one stop you do not want to skip. So, bring your friends and your family—the more, the merrier, because there’s no place like Queenstown.

Location: Little Italy




Every holiday season, Barbarella brings the North Pole to sunny Southern California. Snowflakes hang in the windows, and Santa replies to kids’ letters. Winteritas (made with blue curaçao) replace margaritas, and creative Christmas cocktails include the Been an Awful Good Girl, To All a Good Eggnog and more. You can even host your holiday parties at this family-friendly spot. But to top it all off, on Friday and Saturday nights in December, either The Grinch or Santa come to town and roam the restaurant for all to enjoy. Happy Santa sightings!

Location: La Jolla



Best Holiday Dinner San Diego
Credit: Haley Hill Photography

Hustling and bustling beneath the iconic University Heights sign, Madison is a sweet spot for holiday brunches, dimly lit dinners and more. Tastefully decorated with garland and lanterns that cozy up the space, this cocktail bar is the perfect recipe for those days you want to feel festive without going overboard. You can find fun seasonal drinks, but you can also enjoy classics that Madison is known for, such as the Motor Bike, which is made with El Jimador Blanco Tequila, watermelon, aperol, ginger and lime. ‘Tis the season…for spirits!

Location: University Heights


Mister A’s

Credit: Lucianna McIntosh

Reminiscent of festive styles from the ‘50s, Mister A’s holiday decor includes classy Christmas trees, gold balls and garland galore. Specializing in American, French and Mediterranean cuisine, this classy rooftop restaurant sports panoramic views of sunny San Diego and a seasonal menu on the side. What better way to see the city than while sipping on a festive cocktail and enjoying some fine dining? Say “so long” to 2023 and “see you soon” to 2024 as you scan the horizon from 12-floors high in the sky.

Location: Banker’s Hill



Best Holiday Dinner San Diego
Credit: Kimberly Motos

Quixote is like that cool new kid in school who stands out with total confidence. Fresh to the San Diego scene, this restaurant is marked by authentic Oaxacan cuisine and a wide array of mezcal cocktails. Setting the tone with a dimly lit ambience and traditional gothic design, this spot is the perfect place to gather for a calm and unexpected holiday experience—replete with mole, lamb and more. The Heaven Room, a separate gathering space for groups, is a wonderful spot to host larger family gatherings or company holiday parties. ¡Salud!

Location: North Park



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