Enjoy a Sea Breeze at These Scenic San Diego Hotspots
While summer might be over, there’s still always a reason to pretend like you’re on a vacation in SoCal, and lucky for you, San Diego has some of the best places to do so. Whether you’re a beach bum who’s always on the sand or you prefer a clifftop view of the coast, San Diego is the mecca of waterfront dining experiences. With sweeping ocean views and deftly curated seafood menus, here is our lineup of waterfront restaurants with views that just won’t quit.
Earlier this year, the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina completed a multi-million dollar renovation, upgrading everything from its guest rooms and suites to its dining concepts. Part of this project included a refresh of the waterfront hotel’s award-winning signature restaurant Marina Kitchen. This bayside venue features panoramic views of San Diego Bay along with a menu of reinvented American comfort food. Grab a seat at the bar, on the breezy patio or in a cozy booth and indulge in shareable plates like the short rib mushroom tots, honey walnut shrimp or Brussels and burrata. If seafood is your jam, keep things fresh with the seared scallop salad or market fish, and pair it with a glass of wine or a craft cocktail like the orange paloma. Executive Chef of Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Rafael Corniel, puts an innovative twist on comfort food classics, making Marina Kitchen a must-visit the next time you find yourself in Downtown San Diego.
Local Insight: While the views from Marina Kitchen are unbeatable at sunset, the restaurant also features a stellar daily breakfast buffet with made-to-order omelets, fresh pastries, seasonal fruit, hot-off-the-griddle pancakes and more!
Nestled within the scenic grounds of the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Roy’s is the perfect place for patio dining with panoramic vistas of San Diego Bay. Dining here is a culinary adventure—think bold Asian flavors paired with timeless European techniques. Roy’s is known for its Hawaiian-inspired fusion cuisine, featuring an enticing array of inventive sushi alongside signature dishes by founder Roy Yamaguchi, complemented by the culinary artistry of Chef Partner Blaine Villasin. The brunch menu will set your watch to island time with island mimosas and dishes like the crab cake Benedict and Haupia brûlée brioche French toast stack. The lunch and dinner menus lean heavily on local farmers and family-owned fishing boats to provide a medley of fresh and flavorful creations like the Szechuan spiced pork ribs, Hawaiian-style lobster roll and a selection of innovative sushi rolls.10/21
In case you missed it, Oceanside is having a moment. What was once a sleepy surf town is now a burgeoning destination with trendy cafes, groovy shops and chic resorts—one of them being The Seabird Resort, which opened in 2021. With its oceanfront location, it’s no surprise The Seabird’s signature restaurant, Piper, has become a North County hotspot for waterfront dining. This chef-driven concept has swiftly become a staple in Oceanside’s downtown corridor and has gained notoriety for its garden-to-table delicacies and true California cuisine. Piper’s open-kitchen design allows diners to witness some of their culinary creations come to life, including their squid ink pasta and clams, Duroc pork belly and more. Stop in for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (7 a.m. to 1 p.m.) to experience Executive Chef Kurtis Habecker’s ingredient-driven menu with dishes like the Organic Farmer’s Omelet, Everything but the Bagel Flatbread and caramelized French toast. Pair your pick with Piper’s bloody mary flight or garden-to-glass mimosa flight!
Local Insight: Golden hour just got a whole lot better! Piper recently launched its happy hour menu (served Monday-Thursday from 4-5:30 p.m.), which features a curated selection of small bites, cocktails, wine and beer.
For all our seafood and sushi connoisseurs out there, we’d like to introduce you to Cannonball— the largest oceanfront rooftop in San Diego! Perched high above the Mission Beach boardwalk, Cannonball at Belmont Park is the quintessential sushi and sunset dinner-date spot, featuring local San Diego musicians every Tuesday and Thursday from 5-8 p.m. Snag a spot around one of the fire pits during golden hour at this all-outdoor restaurant and enjoy fresh sushi selections like the lobster roll with spicy lobster, yamagobo, tempura, avocado, jalapeños, spicy aioli and eel sauce.
Location: Mission Beach
One of the best things about being in San Diego is that no matter what time of year it is, you can always dine outside and bask in SoCal’s unbeatable weather. That’s why at Oceana Coastal Kitchen, outdoor seating is an unequivocal no-brainer! With a salty breeze and the shore being only a few steps away, this dining experience is one to enjoy no matter the occasion. Oceana Coastal Kitchen doesn’t just serve lunch and dinner though. If you come on Sunday, indulge in their brunch offerings with highlights like herb-roasted prime rib, cocktail crab claws and tangy mimosas that will make you feel like you’re back on holiday! Oceana Coastal Kitchen also has weekly specials, including $15 sushi, craft cocktails and flatbreads on Monday and Tuesday, half-priced bottles of wine on Thursday and live entertainment on Wednesdays and Thursdays! It’s the ideal spot for a first date, girls’ night out and everything in between.
Location: Mission Bay
For a front row seat, reserve a table at The Marine Room in La Jolla. This coastal experience is one for books and is known for its fine dining, exquisite seafood creations and breathtaking sunset views through their expansive panoramic window. With their seafood, produce and meat all sourced locally, The Marine Room is truly a restaurant worth every penny. Feast on crab cakes and hamachi crudo as the waves crash against the windows.
Location: La Jolla10/21
If panoramic views of La Jolla Cove and hand-crafted cocktails are up your alley, you need to check out George’s at the Cove. Perched high on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, this restaurant is the epitome of dinner with a view. With a mind-blowing craft cocktail menu (we love the Coastal Cooler) and a variety of fresh seafood dishes, George’s at the Cove is a visit well worth your time!
Location: La Jolla
Looking for brunch bites and an unobstructed view of Mission Bay? Dockside 1953 at Bahia Resort has you covered! This resort restaurant will be a crowd-pleaser for everyone in your party with mouthwatering and affordable dishes and a huge assortment of imported beer and cocktails. With live music, an unbeatable happy hour and seating only a few feet away from the sand, take your seat, relax and enjoy your mini-vacay!
Location: Mission Bay
For a more quiet brunch or dinner reservation, we’d recommend San Diego gem—Adelaide. Located at L’Auberge Del Mar, Adelaide is a small restaurant with stunning views and a quaint setting that’s perfect for a much-needed date night or family day out with the kids. From famous housemade doughnuts to their tasty Adelaide burger, everything on the menu is sure to please.
Location: Del Mar
Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, perched on San Diego’s harbor, is a picturesque dining spot that upholds family heritage, history and high-quality dishes. Established in 1971 by founder Tom Ham, this eatery is a well-known favorite when it comes to waterfront dining. Ham’s family still runs the restaurant and has consistently served high-quality food—especially for brunch. Every Sunday, brunch is offered—try the cured ham buttermilk biscuits or get your fill at the made-to-order pasta station or a raw seafood bar.
Location: Harbor Island
For a true ocean-to-table dining experience, Serea Coastal Cuisine is your best bet. This Coronado classic’s focus is to serve sustainable seafood and elegant Mediterranean dishes to its San Diego community. Located only a few steps away from the beach, it’s no surprise that Serea Coastal Cuisine was rated OpenTable’s “Diners’ Choice” this year, so make a reservation and revel in what this seafood-lover’s paradise has to offer.
Location: Coronado Island
Everyone knows Harbor Island Drive has some of the best dining in SoCal, but Island Prime’s C Level Lounge truly is next level. Overlooking both the ocean and the city skyline, this upscale lounge has some of the freshest seafood on the market. From oysters on the half shell to delectable surf and turf, C Level Lounge needs to be on your dining bucket list for 2022.
Location: Harbor Island
From dramatic ocean views and Spanish-style cooking, Encinitas’ VAGA Restaurant & Bar is the escape you’ve been craving. With San Diego native Chef Claudette Zepeda’s masterful and meticulously curated menu, VAGA has already made a name for itself. With both seafood and meat delicacies like citrus duck breast and al pastor pork belly, VAGA is an upscale and unmatched dining experience.
Bali Hai is a top-tier choice for authentic Polynesian food and mai tais with an unparalleled view of San Diego Bay and its vibrant skyline. With small bites like their OG Bali Hali tuna poke, ginger lime coconut shrimp and spicy seasoned Bali fries, Bali Hai will be your new go-to SD eatery.
Location: Shelter Island
At Tower 23’s restaurant, JRDN, you’ll be spoiled with an aesthetic coastline, chili mango margaritas and a menu that will make your mouth water. So if you can’t decide on the dozens of impeccable menu items, try their three-course tequila dinner, where you’ll savor a meal with standouts like grilled Spanish octopus, Harris Ranch chuck flap barbacoa and cinnamon sugar churros drizzled with melted chocolate!
Location: Pacific Beach
Fall down the rabbit hole into Wonderland Ocean Pub! With a laid-back bar setting paired with California classic specialty cocktails, this tavern is a genuine wonderland. At Wonderland Ocean Pub, you’ll find traditional bar bites accompanied by seafood specials and a wide variety of craft and imported beer. With one of the best SD happy hour menus featuring half-priced appetizers and $5 drafts, this is definitely worth adding to your foodie bucket list.
Location: Ocean Beach