Best Outdoor Dining in 9 San Diego Neighborhoods

By Darlene Horn  |  June 9, 2014
Credit: Cucina Enoteca

No matter where you are in San Diego, there’s a fantastic alfresco table to be found. Here’s where to go and what to order when you’re looking to sit outside in nine local neighborhoods. And the best part of living in Southern California? All of these spots are open year-round. 

  • Credit: Caroline Seaside Cafe

    La Jolla: Caroline Seaside Café 

    Located at Scripps Seaside Forum, this 40-seat patio delivers amazing Pacific Ocean views while serving creative California-style cuisine focused on organic ingredients from sustainable sources. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch daily to beachgoers and employees from UCSD Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

    Must-Order: Poached pear and baby spinach salad ($9.50), farm-fresh spinach mixed with goat cheese, candied pecans, sundried tomatoes and a citrus vinaigrette.

    Insider Tip: Visit on weekends for an extended brunch menu served from 8 AM until 3 PM.

    8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla; 858-202-0569

  • Credit: Polite Provisions and Soda & Swine

    North Park: Polite Provisions and Soda & Swine 

    Polite Provisions and Soda & Swine - two of the hippest drinking and eating destinations in North Park - have become even hotter with the addition of two new patios and sidewalk seating with views of 30th Street and Adams Avenue. Designed by Paul Basile of Basile Studio, the outdoor upgrade includes an ornate steel-railing system that encloses the space.

    Must-Order: Champagne slushies ($6), a premium adult sipper incorporating fresh juices like raspberry and pomegranate.

    Insider Tip: Polite Provisions encourages guests to bring along man’s best friend and to use the hashtag #pupsofpolite when tweeting photos.

    4696 30th St., 619-677-3784; 2943 Adams Ave., 619-269-7632

  • Credit: Jrdn

    Pacific Beach: Jrdn

    Situated along the über-popular boardwalk and looking over the busy beach, Tower23 Hotel's modernly appointed Jrdn restaurant is an oasis of daytime fun and casual dining. When the sun sets, the eatery slowly transforms into a chic dining destination with fire pits, a dramatic 70-foot-long "wave wall" and color-changing lights.

    Must-Order: Hamachi sashimi salad ($18) served with organic greens and sliced avocado, green onions, marinated enoki mushrooms and ponzu vinaigrette.

    Insider Tip: Valet parking is free when eating in the restaurant.

    723 Felspar St.; 858-270-5736

  • Credit: Cucina Enoteca

    Del Mar: Cucina Enoteca

    Even without its gorgeous second-story patio, this restaurant is a stunner in its own right with several honors for its elegant design and delicious, innovative fresh dishes. Upstairs, citrus trees, plants and eye-catching geometric light fixtures enhance the open-air design.

    Must-Order: Stuffed fried farm-fresh squash blossoms ($10.50) are filled with herb ricotta and opal basil pesto with a side of cured lemon aïoli.

    Insider Tip: Enjoy happy hour seven days a week from 3-6 PM.

    2730 Via de La Valle, Del Mar; 858-704-4500

  • Credit: Darlene Horn

    Banker's Hill: Bertrand at Mister A’s

    This long-standing, stylish spot wraps Downtown, Balboa Park and Hillcrest in one sweeping vista. Once thought of as a place for elderly grand dames and gents, Mister A’s consistent mix of tradition and innovation in the kitchen continues to attract multiple generations.

    Must-Order: A local octopus salad with Yukon chips ($11) pairs tender slices of octopus with picholine olives, oregano and saffron aïoli.

    Insider Tip: Take full advantage of the patio and happy hour by visiting Sunday through Thursday from 2:30 PM until 6 PM. No beach attire or baseball caps allowed.

    2550 Fifth Ave., #406; 619-239-1377

  • Credit: Davanti Enoteca

    Little Italy: Davanti Enoteca

    This restaurant’s rustic, richly colored decor extends to the self-enclosed patio, filled with twinkling lights, scattered cabanas and an olive tree reaching toward the sky from the center of the dining area. The Italian menu includes wild mushroom risotto, marscarpone polenta and a ragout of the day.

    Must-Order: We’re obsessed with the Focaccia di recco ($16), a Ligurian-style baked focaccia with cow cheese and honeycomb.

    Insider Tip: Don’t miss the burger and beer specials every Wednesday night.

    1655 India St.; 619-237-9606

  • Credit: Darlene Horn

    Cardiff by the Sea: Bull Taco

    Where else can you find jaw-dropping views and beach access paired with delicious tacos and burritos stuffed with everything from carne asada to shrimp curry and fries? This super-casual place caters to local beachgoers, surfers and the occasional tourist.

    Must-Order: Shrimp, bacon and chorizo taco ($4-$5.50).

    Insider Tip: Parking is tight along South Coast Highway but you can score a free 30-minute parking permit right next to the shop.

    2050 S. Coast Highway 101, Cardiff by the Sea; 760-635-3595

  • Credit: Sea180 Coastal Tavern

    Imperial Beach: Sea180 Coastal Tavern

    As the restaurant's name implies, this spot has a 180-degree view of the beach and ocean that many locals still don't know about. Pristine, uncrowded beaches sit adjacent to the restaurant’s outdoor patio equipped with several cozy fire pits that are useful when the sun dips past the horizon. 

    Must-Order: Duck canarditas quesadilla ($15.95) are corn tortillas filled with caramelized onion, pineapple salsa, goat cheese and duck confit.

    Insider Tip: Bring your flip flops or sandals for a walk on the beach after your meal.

    800 Seacoast Dr., Imperial Beach; 619-631-4949

  • Credit: Darlene Horn

    Oceanside: Hello Betty Fishhouse

    Roll-up garage doors on two sides of the restaurant welcome fresh ocean air into this casual restaurant, complete with seafaring decor and a dune buggy for photo ops. The best spot for soaking up some sun and people-watching is the outside patio and bar. After dinner, head upstairs to the open lounge area and enjoy the view.

    Must-Order: Fried oyster tacos ($6).

    Insider Tip: No reservations are required for the outside bar. Step on in, order a drink and food.

    211 Mission Ave., Oceanside; 760-722-1008