Del Mar, which means “by the sea,” perfectly represents the character and beauty of a San Diego County historic seaside town dating back to the 1880s. The lovely seaside city, which was formerly a peaceful coastal village, is one of several tiny villages along Southern California’s scenic Pacific Coast Highway. What distinguishes Del Mar from other Southern California beach towns is its half-timbered Tudor style European architecture. Of course, Del Mar eateries are as one-of-a-kind as the town itself!
It’s just 20 minutes north of San Diego and 90 minutes south of Los Angeles, making it ideal for a weekend escape even for residents. The surf-loving neighborhood is undeniably stylish and sophisticated, yet it nevertheless has a small-town informal and charming character.
Del Mar has been a magnet for movie stars as well as people interested in horse racing, calm Pacific beaches, spectacular scenery, and award-winning food since the renowned golden years of Hollywood. What’s more, many of its eateries have breathtaking views of the ocean. And you can’t top that.
These are 7 of our favorite Del Mar eateries that never fail to wow us every time we visit.
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- 1 Del Mar’s 7 Must-Try Restaurants
Del Mar’s 7 Must-Try Restaurants
Del Mar Jakes
Del Mar (858) 755-20021660 Coast Highway
Not only does the grass meet the surf at Del Mar’s famed Racecourse, but also at adjacent Jakes Del Mar. This legendary restaurant, only a few steps away from the wave action, boasts great views and breathtaking sunsets.
Jakes, which is open for lunch, supper, and Sunday Brunch, is one of Del Mars’ most popular culinary hangouts, thus reservations are strongly advised and should be made well in advance. We like how the meals have a Hawaiian flair to them. Set Sail, By Sea, and By Land are the menu options.
Our favorite here is the Crispy Calamari, which is a calamari steak rather than the customary rings and tentacles. It’s macadamia nut panko-crusted, gently fried, and served with an Asian sweet and sour sauce.
A shared Roasted Beet Salad is always enjoyable. We’ve eaten it with blue cheese and goat cheese, and it’s an extremely delicious combination of whipped avocado, lemon, baby kale, spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds, and an apple cider vinaigrette.
The Mixed Seafood Pot is a terrific treat for seafood enthusiasts, with an abundance of fresh local fish, shrimp, and scallops in a saffron tomato broth served over a risotto cake.
Nevertheless, save room for dessert because Jake’s famed Hula Pie is an incredible gem. With a chocolate cookie crust, macadamia nut ice cream, hot fudge, toasted mac nuts, and whipped cream, there’s enough to share (if you want to)!
The Pacifica Del Mar
(858) 792-04761555 Del Mar Camino, Del Mar
Pacifica Del Mar’s slogan is “seafood is our passion,” and the restaurant has been serving the Del Mar neighborhood for over 30 years. Every item we’ve had here, whether for lunch or supper, has been a complete delight.
The ocean view restaurant, perched atop the Del Mar Plaza in the middle of the town, serves hot and cold seafood, small dishes, salads, and land alternatives. Begin with the Warm Olive Sourdough with Sea Salt Butter. It’s so delicious that it requires a fair amount of self-control not to consume it too quickly.
Branzino, also known as European sea bass, is a mild white fish beloved in Italian cuisine that is not available at every seafood restaurant. Pacifica Del Mar does, and it’s herb-roasted to perfection and served with farro, cucumber, avocado, roast tomato mint, parsley, and charred lemon, much to my pleasure.
When Alaskan halibut is in season, I come here for a deliciously innovative dish that is seared on the exterior and soft and delicate on the inside.
Pacifica is an excellent option for a memorable lunch, dinner, or brunch experience.
Del Mar (858) 755-93451670 Coast Blvd.
Poseidon, another Del Mar favorite situated on the beach, serves a variety of delectable meals, including seafood and other great American cuisine cooked with a Mediterranean flair. The views from its outside terrace are spectacular, but owing to the restaurant’s open-air architecture, there isn’t a terrible seat in the house.
Poseidon has been impressing residents and guests alike with its high-quality meals since 1961. It’s a terrific spot for a romantic night, but because of its casual beach ambiance, it’s also ideal for diners of all ages.
My spouse raves about the Macadamia-Coconut French Toast during Sunday brunch here. Another excellent option is happy hour.
Yet, for a romantic meal, I recommend the double lobster tails, which are a real worth-it spend. It doesn’t get much better than a wonderful California Chardonnay followed by a magnificent sunset.
Some popular items include the daily fresh-catch specialties, Wasabi Sesame Crusted Yellowfin Tuna, and Maine Diver Scallops. To be honest, we’ve never had anything less than a magnificent culinary experience accompanied by the most kind and helpful service.
Wine by the bottle is half-price on Wednesdays and Thursdays for diners.
The Sbicca Del Mar
Del Mar (858) 481-1001215 15th Street
Sbicca, named for its owner, is one of Del Mars’ most beloved neighborhood cafes, having served the local community and its visitors for over 20 years.
For the best coastline views, dine on the restaurant’s second level for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch. And we can confirm that happy hour here has a lot more options than other restaurants in the vicinity, as well as affordable drink pricing.
Since the menu is extensive, we find it difficult to get beyond the appetizers and shared platters. These really are that delicious!
Crispy Calamari Strips with sweet chili sauce and arugula, as well as Crab Cakes with avocado-mango slaw, Cajun aioli, and Meyer lemon, are delicious. Another hit is their Crispy Shrimp Dumplings with scallions, sweet soy, and jalapeño. Chefs Creations and Casual Classics are also fantastic menu options if you’re extremely hungry.
We were especially pleased by Sbiccas’ long-standing policy of no corkage price for BYOB wine. If you forget to bring your own bottle, bottled wine is half price on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On other days, Mimosas range in price from $3 to $5.
Balcony on the Beeside
Del Mar (858) 481-98891201 Camino Del Mar #300
A buddy recommended that our group of gal buddies meet at Beeside Balcony, a little hidden treasure in Del Mar. We all agreed it was a fantastic discovery.
With its Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, the laid-back cafe with an unique seaside ambiance, magnificent views, and great service uses locally produced vegetables, organic free-range meats, and the freshest fish and other ingredients.
Cocktails like the Prickly Lady, Mint to Bee, and Lavenders Bee Knees are both inventive and delicious. Our party agreed it would be great to order salads and appetizers to split, allowing us to experience a variety of foods.
The grilled Spanish octopus and the Beesides Crabcake were also major hits. The Lamb Gyro, with its delicious, juicy free-range leg of lamb, arugula, red onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki, was my favorite meal. This one was difficult for me to share!
Beeside Balcony has surely earned its outstanding reputation as one of Del Mars’s newest kids on the block.
Peruvian Hidden Coya
Camino Del Mar (858) 792-08211140 Camino Del Mar
With so many fantastic seafood restaurants in Del Mar, Coya Peruvian Secret is a refreshing change of pace. Coya is a game changer with its menu of fusion and modern Peruvian cuisine. It’s tucked away in a lovely cottage setting in the center of Del Mar, just steps from the beach. The service is good, and the outside dining, which is encircled by a flower garden, creates a nice atmosphere.
Quantities are huge, so consider sharing unless you’re starving or don’t mind a take-home box. But you’ll want to since the cuisine here is so delicious. I like sangria, and Coyas is delicious, fruity, and full of flavor. Purchase a carafe since one drink will not enough.
We began with the Mexican Ceviche with Avocado since it came highly recommended, and we were pleasantly surprised. Lomo Saltado (Peruvian Steak Stir-Fry) is cooked with precisely seasoned filet mignon, onions, tomatoes, French fries, and garlic rice. That was so delicious that we ate every last grain of rice! It went well with a San Simeon California Cabernet Sauvignon.
We can’t wait to go back and try some of the other items that looked similarly delicious.
Del Mar Seasalt
Del Mar (858) 755-71002282 Carmel Valley Rd.
We drove by this neighborhood treasure many times on our way to the beach. So, on the recommendation of friends, we tried this seafood eatery for lunch one day. It turned out to be an excellent decision! The restaurant offers a beautiful view of the Del Mar estuary and the cuisine is really great.
Seasalt, which is open for lunch, brunch, dinner, and happy hour, has a cuisine inspired by carefully sourced fish. Nonetheless, the restaurant also serves chicken, beef, and vegetarian dishes.
Fish tacos are a local favorite. Since they’re usually made with beer-battered fish, I asked the waitress if I could have mine grilled, and the chef was pleased to comply. These were delicious when topped with cabbage, cotija cheese, and a chipotle aioli. My spouse, a major fish and chips lover liked his entrée made with beer battered cod, lemon, tartar sauce, with matching fries, malt vinegar, and a cool brew.
With the view, the quality of the cuisine, and the service, we will undoubtedly return. Dinner will be served again soon.