SAN DIEGO — Dining alfresco is a way of life in San Diego.
Even before restaurants expanded their outdoor offerings in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the mild weather and beautiful views just begged for a patio or courtyard set-up.
With summer in full swing, the reservation and review website OpenTable just released its list of the top 100 restaurants across the U.S. for outdoor dining.
America’s Finest City and the broader San Diego region had a whopping nine entries on the list.
One of these could take your next date night, family dinner or special occasion to the next level. Just keep in mind — you’re going to want a reservation most days.
The group includes (in no particular order):
C Level Lounge
880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego
This is the breezy lounge connected to Island Prime on Harbor Island. The dining area sits on stilts over the water with a stunning view of Coronado and the downtown skyline. It has a bit of a swanky feel without sacrificing its beachy vibes.
The outdoor dining section is lined with heaters, so it’s suited to a later-evening meal after dark, according to reviewers. Glittering lights on the water can really dazzle.
4161 Voltaire St, San Diego
This Italian trattoria near Ocean Beach is known for its unique décor and family feel. From the complimentary bread (mentioned more than once in reviews) to freshly made pasta and plentiful vegan options, diners leave happy and full from the authentic cuisine.
“Cesarina is a grandmother, a mother, a daughter—our personification of a nurturer who feeds and cares for her community,” the owner writes on OpenTable.
Jeune et Jolie
2659 State St Suite 102, Carlsbad
This elegant spot in North County is a culinary experience, with four-course menus offered up at a set price. For those seeking something more casual, there’s also à la carte offerings.
Diners rave about the creative, flavorful and unique French dishes. You can enjoy them outdoors if you choose to sit at the tables lining an equal-parts cute and classy front patio.
Pacific Coast Grill
2526 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
Just look at the photo above this text — this waterfront eatery in Cardiff by the Sea speaks for itself.
Seafood takes center stage, from sushi to mussels and an oyster bar. Diners can take in the view from one of two levels outdoors, “with every dining seat in the house carefully planned to have an ocean view,” the restaurant writes on OpenTable.
The heated outdoor patios and deck have a stunning view, where “you can watch surfers, kite surfers, dolphins, whales and spectacular sunsets.”
Tom Ham’s Lighthouse
2150 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego
This eatery is housed in a landmark building with a functioning lighthouse, and it boasts excellent bayside views. You’ll dine on seafood at one of the many tables lining two levels of deck seating, if you want to eat outdoors.
It’s a unique experience, and an extra bit of fun for those interested in seafaring.
“Tom Ham’s Lighthouse is the only restaurant in the US to have a USCG operated & maintained Lighthouse attached to it,” the restaurant writes on OpenTable. “You can locate us on any modern nautical map as Beacon #9.”
2550 Fifth Ave 12th floor, San Diego
Mister A’s is an institution in San Diego’s fine dining scene, with stunning views from the 12th floor “penthouse” in Bankers Hill. Patrons take an elevator to the dining area and drink in the views of San Diego’s skyline, bay and beaches.
880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego
Another entry on Harbor Island, Coasterra has a stunning view of San Diego’s skyline. You’ll enjoy the panoramic views while dining on modern Mexican dishes and sipping creative cocktails from the bar.
The property is striking, and there’s a Monday through Friday happy hour from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., if you’d like to sip on tequila drinks and eat something light to start an evening out.
2725 State St, Carlsbad
This State Street property in the charming Carlsbad Village serves up modern, wood-fired American fare and cocktails. The space has a unique, camping-themed character that makes it a hit with both kids and adults.
“Campfire is a return to the origins of cooking and hospitality, and celebrates the spirit of the name by creating an environment in which we gather around a fire, create honest food, and share it with friends,” the restaurant writes on OpenTable.
1670 Coast Blvd, Del Mar
This entry from Del Mar is no stranger to seafood fans, and it’s hard to beat a sunset meal on the eatery’s expansive deck. You can also gather round the large circular firepit at the bar, which is a nice way to stay cozy even in the offseason.
“The minute you walk into Poseidon, you’ll be swept by the fabulous view,” the restaurant writes on OpenTable. “You couldn’t be closer to the sand and the beach than sitting at Poseidon on their beautiful outdoor patio.”