Food & Drink

San Diego’s 15 Best Waterfront Restaurants

Published On 06/29/2015 Published On 06/29/2015
MIKE NEWTON
COHN RESTAURANT GROUP
MINXI RAO
ANDREW JORGENSEN
JRDN
Zack Benson
Draft Mission Beach
Tidal
SARA NORRIS/THRILLIST
The Marine Room
GEORGE’S AT THE COVE
JAKE’S DEL MAR
PACIFIC COAST GRILL
Stratford at the Harbor
HARBOR FISH & CHIPS
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1. Hello Betty Fish House 211 Mission Ave, Oceanside, CA 92054 (Oceanside)

Hello Betty pairs a stunning ocean view with a Baja-inspired menu that includes ceviches, oyster shooters, and delicious tacos filled with everything from pork belly carnitas to fried avocado.

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2. Sea180 Coastal Tavern 800 Seacoast Dr, Imperial Beach, CA 91932 (Imperial Beach)

As the name implies, this beachfront spot has a sweeping 180-degree ocean view. Grab a seat on the patio and dine on coastal fare like Tuna Takoshimi Tacos, East/West Crabcakes, and macadamia-nut crusted fish.

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3. Mitch's Seafood 1403 Scott St, San Diego, CA 92106 (Point Loma)

From its post on the dock, Mitch's Seafood is a Point Loma destination for California-centric fish dinners and Bay views. Mitch's has a laid-back atmosphere with prices to match, a menu chock full of simply prepared dishes, and a craft beer and wine selection based entirely in California. Tacos are top billing, and depending on the day, you can expect fillings like octopus, fried oysters, or scallops. If you don’t want to chance it, the grilled shrimp and battered cod tacos are offered daily. In true seafood shack style, service is casual.

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4. C Level 880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

C Level isn’t shy about sticking to its maritime theme. The San Diego restaurant boasts a dinner menu divided into “Under Way,” “Kelp Beds & Tide Pools,” “High Tide,” and “Market Fresh Seafood,” offering highlights like the ahi tuna stack with fresh crab, avocado and tomato, papaya-mango salsa, taro chips, caviar, and sweet chili sauce, as well as lobster truffle mac & cheese with local organic greens, candied walnuts, and fresh herb vinaigrette. The waterfront views provide a window onto the San Diego skyline, making for a meal that pleases the eye as well as the stomach.

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5. JRDN 723 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

JRDN is a contemporary steak and seafood restaurant at the Tower23 Hotel that serves up California cuisine in menu sections like raw bar, starters, soups and salads, and “supper” and “butcher’s cut,” both of which feature larger plates, like American wagyu skirt steak and baked rigatoni with milk-braised pork shoulder, Swiss chard, lemon, and oregano. The décor is fresh, cool, clean, and upbeat, with polished concrete floors, dark leather booths, and light wood tables and chairs. Head to JRDN before dusk to witness the 70-foot long “wave wall” at the back of the restaurant as it’s filled with an ambient reflection of the Pacific sunset.

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6. Oceana Coastal Kitchen 3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109 (Pacific Beach)

Millions were spent on outfitting this water front restaurant, complete with a 25 ft cold bar, an 800-gallon aquarium where fluorescent jellyfish float, and an airy patio overlooking Mission Bay.

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7. Draft 3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109

This Pacific Beach spot has approximately 70 beers on tap and over 50 bottles of beer, making Draft a great place to kick back on your way home from the beach. While you're sipping, try some snacks from the menu, which is comprised of sharing plates, like mustard dusted pretzel bites; grilled items, like the bison burger with poblano pepper and cumin mayonnaise; greens, like the seared ahi salad; and sweets, like key lime pie. Draft’s boardwalk patio is a picturesque spot to grab a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner bite with an oceanfront view, but if you want to catch the game, you’ll want to head inside to watch on one of the flat-screens.

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8. Tidal 1404 Vacation Rd, San Diego, CA 92109 (Mission Bay)

The bay view from the patio at this upscale yet laid-back restaurant located within Paradise Point Resort in Mission Bay is beautiful any time of day, but you get the best return on your investment during sunset. The cuisine matches the atmosphere with refined seafood dishes like wood-roasted arctic char and Baja prawns with house-made Longanisa sausage, though the land options are just as impressive. With plentiful parking and easy access to the sand (and fire pits), you can easily turn a dinner or happy hour visit into multiple hours of fun and relaxation.

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9. Wonderland Ocean Pub 5083 Santa Monica Ave , San Diego, CA 92107 (Ocean Beach)

Overlooking the OB Pier, this tavern is named after a beachfront amusement park that took up residence in Ocean Beach in the early 20th century. Wonderland the amusement park shut down over 100 years ago, but Wonderland the bar is alive and well with a seafood-tilted pub menu that features coconut calamari and grilled tuna sandwiches next to more basic fish & chips and short-rib burgers. The extensive beer list has something for everyone: local craft beer, cider, Coors Lite, and PBR.

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10. The Marine Room 2000 Spindrift Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

Every seat in this critically acclaimed restaurant has an ocean view, and during high tide the waves actually splash against the windows. This is certainly a special occasion sort of place, so come ready to celebrate.

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11. George's Ocean Terrace 1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

George's is a San Diego staple. The views from the rooftop patio are so great it almost doesn’t matter what you order (that being said, we recommend the fish tacos and warm chocolate cake).

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12. Jake's Del Mar 1660 Coast Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014 (Del Mar)

Typically, a beach front view would mean a price hike on the menu, but there's only one item at Jake's over $20 (it's the Lobster Club and it's totally great). Don't forget to save room for a slice the famous Hula Pie (macadamia nut ice cream pie with chocolate cookie crust, hot fudge, toasted macadamia nuts, and whipped cream).

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13. Pacific Coast Grill 2526 Hwy 101, Cardiff, CA 92007 (Encinitas)

PCG boasts two levels for dining with an oceanfront view. If you're not sold just on that, there's a plethora of seafood choices (do yourself a favor and try the Wild Salmon Wonton Tacos) and also an "On & Off Shore" option, which consists of the most overwhelming and indigestion-inducing filet and lobster plate.

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14. Stratford at the Harbor 280 S Harbor Dr, Oceanside, CA 92054 (Oceanside)

This reasonably priced harbor-side spot is best for brunch, as it is known for it's fresh-baked cinnamon coffee cake, enormous pancakes, and chicken-fried steak doused with homemade country gravy.

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15. Harbor Fish & Chips 276 Harbor Dr S, Oceanside, CA 92054 (Oceanside)

At this classic, family-owned fish and chippery portions are generous and everything is delicious, just be prepared to defend your food from seagulls that patrol the area, especially if you sit outside.