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San Diego is the perfect place to dine outdoors, with nearly perfect temperatures and 270 days of clear skies throughout the year. One of the nation’s top foodie cities, San Diego offers a myriad of dining venues with charming and spacious open-air settings to satisfy every mood and craving.
From hip neighborhood bistros in Little Italy, Hillcrest and North Park to relaxed waterfront restaurants along the Embarcadero and beaches, food lovers can find a variety of places to dine al fresco in San Diego.
A wide variety of outdoor restaurant settings can be found throughout the historic Gaslamp Quarter and trendy East Village. Spanish tapas and traditional paellas can be savored on the outdoor patio of Café Sevilla. Small plates of inventive American cuisine are paired with local craft beers at UNION Kitchen & Tap. In the posh Pendry San Diego hotel, modern coastal cuisine with fresh sustainable seafood is the catch of the day at Lionfish. In East Village, steaming bowls of ramen at Tajima and heaping portions of gyros and souvlaki at Meze Greek Fusion are highly recommended and can be enjoyed under sunny or starry skies.
Al fresco dining along downtown’s Embarcadero comes with spectacular views of San Diego Bay. At Edgewater Grill in scenic Seaport Village, diners can choose from a variety of fresh seafood dishes while gazing at the majestic San Diego-Coronado Bridge, scenic Coronado and sailboats floating along the water. There are plenty of gorgeous views and meal options at Portside Pier, from delicious surf and turf entrees at the Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar to tasty pub fare at Ketch Grill & Taps. Spacious outdoor patios with incredible panoramas are found at Coasterra serving innovative Mexican cuisine, C-Level Lounge, serving California Modern cuisine, and Island Prime, known for excellent steak and seafood dishes.
One of San Diego’s top foodie neighborhoods, colorful Little Italy serves heaping platefuls of al fresco dining options along India Street, its main thoroughfare. Hungry eaters can find down-home Italian comfort food and baked goods at family owned Nonna and Zucchero and generous portions of Italian family recipes at Buon Appetito. For diners not craving Italian, Cloak & Petal serves up Japanese specialty rolls complemented by creative cocktails. On the spacious rooftop patio of Born and Raised, high-end steaks and great Little Italy views are choice menu items. Located along Little Italy’s Kettner Boulevard, “Top Chef” Brian Malarkey’s rustic, wood-fired menu at Herb & Wood is a culinary standout.
A delicious way to start the day is sitting on the garden-like terrace of Fig Tree in historic Liberty Station with an order of Breakfast Sushi. The food hall of Liberty Public Market offers plenty of meal options that can be enjoyed on spacious outdoor patios and neighboring grassy lawns, set amid historic buildings and beautiful landscaping. Gourmet burgers and milkshakes at Slaters 50/50 and the tasty Pepperoni Flatbread at The Presley come highly recommended. Neapolitan-style pies and Northern Italian entrees are baked in two gilded ovens, the true culinary stars at Officine Buona Forchetta, which also boasts two cozy patios.
With a backdrop of the ocean, diners can eat outdoors and enjoy tasty dishes at JRDN Restaurant in the Tower 23 Hotel in Pacific Beach (PB), and great burgers and local IPAs at Draft in Mission Beach (MB). A beautiful sunset and spacious outdoor patio are on the menu at PB Ale House along with dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. After a day of sun and fun, beachgoers head to Backyard Kitchen & Tap in PB and Duck Dive in MB for casual All-American foods, craft beers and cool beach vibes.
There are plenty of options for al fresco dining with great views and delicious food in elegant La Jolla. Spectacular views of La Jolla Cove and award-winning California Modern cuisine can be enjoyed on two open-air terraces at the iconic George’s at the Cove. Incredible La Jolla Cove views are the backdrop at The Med in the historic La Valencia Hotel, featuring California Coastal cuisine; and Brockton Villa Restaurant, serving a delectable seasonal menu. Caroline’s Seaside Café along La Jolla Shores serves up panoramic ocean views and healthy California-style dishes. Diners can experience award-winning farm-to-table cuisine while looking out over the scenic Torrey Pines golf course on the patio of the celebrated A.R. Valentien restaurant in The Lodge at Torrey Pines.
MISSION VALLEY AND OLD TOWN
Hungry eaters start their day with tasty takes on American classics like the Breakfast Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese on the outdoor patio at Breakfast Republic in Mission Valley. ARLO in the Town and Country Resort celebrates San Diego’s Cali-Baja culinary culture with fresh local ingredients and regional flavors from both sides of the border. Award-winning Mexico City-style tacos along with flavorful Mexican Lagers are a must when dining outdoors at Puesto in Mission Valley. And the colorful outdoor patios, tasty margaritas and hearty portions of authentic Mexican food at Café Coyote, Casa Guadalajara and Casa de Reyes should be on everyone’s list when visiting Old Town San Diego.
BALBOA PARK AND HILLCREST
When visiting Balboa Park’s 18 museums or attending a performance at the Old Globe Theatre, diners can enjoy an eclectic menu of Modern American classics with Spanish and California influences on the lush courtyard of The Prado. Another favorite place to eat amid the park’s beautiful gardens and architecture is the Japanese Friendship Garden Tea Pavilion, which serves casual Asian fusion dishes. Located a short walk from the park, the iconic Mister A’s is known for its sophisticated cuisine and panoramic city views from its 18th-floor patio. In neighboring Hillcrest, outdoor dining hotspots include Gossip Grill, a fun destination for American comfort food, and Great Maple, a modern American eatery serving comfort food with a twist.
Cuisine from around the globe and cozy outdoor settings are the norm in trendy North Park and South Park. A great way to start any day is ordering the delicious Sweet Portuguese Linguica at The Mission in North Park or Quiche Lorraine at Café Madeleine, with locations in both neighborhoods. Diners relax on spacious outdoor patios while enjoying authentic ramen dishes at Underbelly and Kiwi favorites at Dunedin New Zealand Eats, both in North Park. The wood-fired pies and fresh pasta dishes are the menu recommendations at local favorite Buona Forchetta in South Park.
Featuring spectacular outdoor patio views of downtown San Diego and San Diego Bay, Peohe’s is the place for tropical seafood dishes influenced by Pacific Rim flavors. Nearby on the bayfront, Il Fornaio – Coronado serves an authentic Italian experience with fresh ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. In Coronado’s historic village, Tavern’s menu includes comfort food dishes such as classic British fish and chips and roasted chicken pot pie that can be enjoyed al fresco. And in the iconic Hotel del Coronado, Serea features a sustainable, sea-to-table dining experience with spectacular coastal cuisine and ocean views from its spacious outdoor patio.
A drive along historic Highway 101 and the scenic North County coastline takes food lovers to Valentina in Encinitas. The European-inspired bistro serves global cuisine and has outdoor seating. Farther north in Carlsbad, diners can savor fabulous nouvelle French cuisine at the critically acclaimed Jeune et Jolie, or gather outdoors around a fire and share a “camp-out feast” at Campfire. There are nearly 20 eateries along with spacious courtyards at One Paseo in Carmel Valley, whose popular options include modern Mexican cuisine at Tocaya Organica. And the nearby Sky Deck's multiple restaurants plus its elevated Brewers Deck likewise offer outdoor options.
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