When you are in San Diego, dining in coastal cuisine is a must. In this oceanside city, there are seafood restaurants seemingly on every corner, but some are, of course, much better than others. While just about every place that serves fish calls itself a seafood restaurant, there is something a bit more special about a restaurant that serves true coastal cuisine. These places are more than just restaurants. They are amazing destinations where you can immerse yourself in the local fare and enjoy fresh fish, shellfish, produce, and even meat.
If you are looking for seafood in San Diego, here are the top three restaurants for coastal cuisine.
What Is Coastal Cuisine?
Before we dive into our top three pics for coastal cuisine in San Diego, we want to take a moment to clarify what coastal cuisine is. It may sound like a fancy way of saying “seafood,” but it goes deeper than that. It is as much of an experience as it is a meal, and it’s something that everyone should try when visiting San Diego.
A menu featuring coastal cuisine focuses on foods that come from the sea and the coast. It also features dishes that are influenced by California-style cooking. Coastal cuisine features bright, fresh flavors to shine through in dishes that are simple but far from boring. The dishes are typically prepared using basic techniques like grilling or pan searing, and some are even served raw. Chefs focus on using high-quality, fresh, locally sourced ingredients including fresh seafood, seasonal produce, prime meats, etc.
Coastal cuisine isn’t so much about specific recipes and dishes but rather a general philosophy and approach to preparing food. Ingredients are sourced locally and sustainably whenever possible and used to create dishes that are simple yet innovative. Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite places to check out this unique style of cooking in San Diego.
1. The Marine Room
When you want to experience coastal cuisine right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, you have to check out The Marine Room. Located on the picturesque La Jolla Beach just north of downtown San Diego, The Marine Room is a unique dining destination that you will not soon forget. It has been a popular fine dining establishment among local residents, vacationers, celebrities, and politicians for more than 75 years and has earned a number of awards and accolades.
The menu features everything from fresh seafood to innovative seasonal dishes prepared by the award-winning executive chef, Bernard Guillas, and his team. Guests can dine on inspired seafood dishes like Sake Poached Maine Diver Scallops and Faroe Island Crispy Skin Salmon or main courses featuring prime meats, such as the Center Cut Black Angus Filet Mignon or Cervena Farm Elk Medallions.
The mouthwatering menu isn’t the only thing that’s amazing about The Marine Room, though. When you enjoy a meal here, you will feel like you are close enough to the water to reach out and touch it. Whether you sit by the window or you are seated in an elevated booth, you will have stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. If you visit during a period of particularly high tide, you could even experience the thrill of seeing and hearing the surf pound against the windows while you eat. High Tide dinners are as exciting as they are delicious!
2, Serẽa Coastal Cuisine
Across the San Diego Bay in the city of Coronado is the Hotel Del Coronado. Inside this luxurious hotel is Serẽa Coastal Cuisine, a must-visit San Diego seafood restaurant for anyone who wants to experience the ultimate in coastal cuisine. Formerly known as 1500 Ocean, the newly remodeled Serẽa is a restaurant that will make your mouth water.
Serẽa Coastal Cuisine is an oceanfront sea-to-table restaurant with a menu that is largely focused around sustainable seafood. Run by executive chef JoJo Ruiz, this fine dining establishment sources its ingredients from local fishermen and farmers. The menu features a vast selection of raw and cooked options ranging from seafood towards and whole fresh fish to artfully composed dishes. There are also heritage meats sourced from ranches in Southern California and along the Baja Peninsula.
Chef Ruiz works closely with local suppliers to source the freshest possible ingredients for the menu, which changes seasonally and along with market changes. Many of his dishes have a slight Mediterranean flair but showcase the amazing flavors colors of Southern California.
Diners at Serẽa enjoy incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, and a truly amazing upscale dining experience. Chef Ruiz’ modern take on coastal cuisine and the staff’s commitment to providing impeccable service make this spot a must-visit when you are in San Diego.
3. Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine
If you want to dine on coastal cuisine in San Diego’s trendy Gaslamp Quarter, visit Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine. Located inside the Pendry San Diego, this cutting-edge restaurant is also led by chef JoJo Ruiz. It serves up fresh, sustainable seafood and seasonal ingredients with unique twists that are sure to make your mouth water.
Lionfish spans two stories and has a menu that is hip, healthy, and eccentric, yet not excessive. The offerings are somehow both simple and complex and have a way of toying with guests’ tastebuds in unique and exciting ways. Whether you are in the mood for the freshest seafood imaginable, a tender cut of prime meat, or even vegetarian fare, there are options for everyone. The atmosphere is elegant but lively and perfectly captures the energy of the bustling neighborhood outside its doors. Visit during happy hour (daily from 5 to 7 p.m.) for the best prices on hot and cold plates, oysters, hand rolls, and beverages.
When you are looking for seafood in San Diego, there are a lot of places to choose from. The ones listed above, however, are three of the best to try when you want to experience true coastal cuisine. Check them out today. Trust us, your tastebuds will thank you!