I know we’re all very excited that stay-at-home restrictions have been eased allowing us to once again to experience outdoor dining in San Diego.
San Diego has some fabulous restaurants covering a wide variety of cultural foods throughout the entire county. Thanks to our mild weather, dining outdoor restaurants in San Diego have always been a popular year-round option. Add in some picturesque views, tantalizing dishes, top-notch service, and complete adherence to safety precautions, and we have some great foodie options.
Based on the above-mentioned criteria along with our personal experiences with these eateries, here are some of our favorite San Diego restaurants we love for fresh air outdoor dining.
We highly recommend making reservations due to limited seating, and of course, keeping in mind that restaurant hours and days of operation may vary accordingly.
13 Best San Diego Outdoor Restaurants San Diego
BORN AND RAISED
Location: 1909 India St. San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 202-4577
This modern elegant steakhouse located in Historic Little Italy specializes in table-side cart service. The restaurant sports two distinctly different dining rooms with a second-floor open-air rooftop bar overlooking Little Italy and downtown San Diego.
Classic and dry-aged steaks feature options to add on delights like Dungeness crab and bearnaise sauce (Oscar style), butter-poached lobster, truffles and even blue cheese crust. We loved our Dinner for Two Beef Wellington, a throwback to a timeless classic entrée.
Ciccia Osteria in Barrio Logan is a real gem. The owners, Mario and Francesca, have a true passion for food and hospitality, and every time we visit we feel like we are visiting friends or family.
The food at Ciccia Osteria is delectable. The main focus is on fresh and seasonal ingredients and authentic flavors. They also have a wide selection of vegetarian and vegan options available, which makes it perfect for families and groups with mixed preferences.
DUKE’S LA JOLLA
Location: 1216 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: (858) 454-5888
Named in honor of native Hawaiian and famous surfer Duke Kahanamoku, this two-storied restaurant has expansive outdoor dining overlooking picturesque La Jolla Cove. The sunsets from there are spectacular!
The casual eatery celebrates the blend of Hawaiian and Southern California beach lifestyles. Entrees feature traditional island plates as Crispy Coconut Shrimp, Kalua Pork Sandwich, and my favorite, the Sautéed MacNut & Herb Crusted Fresh Fish. But save room for dessert as their Hula Pie is to die for. Chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge, toasted macadamia nuts, and whipped cream makes this a not-to-be-missed item. It’s big enough to share, though you may not want to!
QUEENSTOWN PUBLIC HOUSE
Queenstown Pub in Little Italy has one of the most charming outdoor patios in downtown. The shabby chic farmhouse decor makes you want to choose their patio year round. For extra cuteness, they placed huge stuffed animals as “guests” on every other table to keep customers socially distanced. What a sweet idea. A special treat is the half-round fire-place table in the corner – it takes candlelight dining to a whole different level.
The food is also really good at Queenstown Pub – a New Zealand inspired upscale pub fare with a twist brings new excitement to a traditional menu. The only downside is that your date might think you are a glutton when you polish off the family sized chicken pot pie all by yourself – until they try a bite.
Location: 7837 Hershel Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: (858) 459-0221
The first time we dined at Herringbone in La Jolla, we wondered why we hadn’t come sooner. The restaurant is beautifully decorated with lighted trees, candles, and soft indoor illumination. This La Jolla gem also features a lovely outdoor dining area.
Herringbone’s foodie theme is “Fish Meats Field” California coastal cuisine emphasizing line-caught seafood and high-quality meats. From salads and flatbreads to main plates, the menu is creative and well-designed. As a seafood lover, I’m crazy about the Chilean Seabass and Atlantic Salmon entrees here. But to be truthful, we’ve never had anything here we didn’t love.
OCEANA COASTAL KITCHEN
Location: 3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: (858) 539-8635
It just doesn’t get any prettier than this. Located at the Polynesian-themed Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in Pacific Beach, this magnificent restaurant overlooking Mission Bay serves up delectable ocean-inspired modern California cuisine.
The spacious tropical-themed outdoor patio provides the perfect setting for both scenic lunches or candlelight dinners. Committed to sustainable ingredients using local produce, food here is mouthwateringly fresh. We love their sushi rolls and Dungeness crab fritters, but flatbreads here are some of the best we’ve had.
Location: 880 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619)- 298-6802
Resting on stilts atop San Diego Bay on Harbor Island, overlooking Coronado and the city skyline, Island Prime has one of the best views in all of San Diego. It’s totally relaxing, chilled-out experience.
The spacious outdoor dining area is always popular, and it’s one of our favorite places for Happy Hour (but get here early).
The menu features seafood entrees though non-seafood lovers will find plenty of other options as well. Some of our personal favorites include Chef Deborah Scott’s Pepita & Sesame Crusted Brie, Kumiai Oysters, Crab Cakes, and Seared Sea Scallops.
PACIFIC COAST GRILL
Location: 2526 S. Coast Highway, 101, Cardiff, CA 92007
Phone: (760) 479-0721
One of our favorite North County San Diego restaurants is Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s Pacific Coast Grill. The beachfront venue is one of the most scenic spots along this stretch of coastline. But it’s not just the location or view that makes this a standout place to dine.
Service here is top-notch, and there are so many amazing menu options, it’s honestly hard to choose. This is when the sharing-is-caring concept comes into play. Of no surprise, entrees are Pacific-Rim inspired and heavy on the fish and seafood, though on-shore selections are also available. Their lick-your-plate-clean offerings include the Sesame-Crusted Seared Ahi served with coconut forbidden rice, and Char-Grilled Wild Salmon over sticky rice with a Hawaiian BBQ glaze and pineapple salsa.
PACIFICA DEL MAR
Location: 1555 Camino del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014
Phone: (858) 792-0476
Perched atop the Del Mar Plaza in the heart of the village, Pacifica has been serving up tempting seafood, steak, and pasta entrees for over 30 years. Awarded the prestigious Gold Medallion for “Best Seafood Dining in San Diego,” and Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence,” one dinner here and you’ll understand why these honors are well deserved.
Though the menu isn’t extensive, it’s creatively appealing. We highly recommend a grouping of small-plates to get an overall feel for the quality of its cuisine. Our favorites include Grilled Spanish Octopus, Blue Fin Tuna Poke Bowl, and definitely the Apple Endive Salad.
Location: 1201 1ST St, Coronado, CA 92118
Phone: (619) 437-4474
This elegantly casual restaurant at the Coronado Ferry Landing has one of the best happy hours in San Diego. With breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and San Diego Bay, Peohe’s features fresh Pacific-Rim inspired tropical seafood dishes.
Kim Chee Calamari and Coconut Crunchy Shrimp are two top favorite starters. Main entrée show-stoppers include Halibut Mai’a, prepared with macadamia nuts, bananas, and Frangelico coconut ginger rice. Their land lubber treasure, Herb Crusted, Slow Roasted Prime Rib is fantastic. Be sure to save room for dessert as the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake is diabolically divine.
THE BARREL ROOM
Location: 16765 Bernardo Center Dr, San Diego, CA 92128
Phone: (858) 673-7512
A vintage wine bar and bistro in Rancho Bernardo, this popular casual eatery is well-loved, and one of our very favorite hangouts. Wines here are superb, and patrons can order by the bottle, glass, or flight.
I’ve never been to any other wine bistro in the U.S. that offers the quality of food The Barrel Room serves up—a fusion of European and American-style selections. Entrees are creative and perfect for sharing. Our go-to gems here include diner-selected charcuterie boards, the Apple Pecan Salad (large enough for two), and the Brothers Pastrami. But be assured, each and every menu item including dinner and lunch entrees are incredible. And you’ll love the outdoor courtyard lighted patio.
Location: 1031 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
Phone: (619) 762-1022
The newest kid on the block in the heart of Coronado, The Henry impressed us so much, we included it in our favorite outdoor restaurants.
There’s plenty of outdoor dining ideal for people-watching. Though the menu isn’t extensive, it’s amazing, unique, and stylishly presented. The Sprouts and Squash Salad is ideal for sharing. Main entrée favorites include Lemon Honey Rotisserie Chicken and the Vegetarian Harvest Bowl. Word of warning is that portions are large and you’ll definitely need a take-home box!
Hope you enjoy these dining recommendations, and please feel free to recommend any we haven’t yet experienced. Bon Appétit!
Best Outdoor Restaurants in San Diego With Stunning Patios was written by Noreen Kompanik for San Diego Explorer.
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Last Updated on February 23, 2021 by Maria Haase