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Architectural Style

San Diego’s Best Hotel Restaurants to Eat

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Courtesy of Mustangs & Burros

Home to 70 miles of coastline, more than 30 beaches, and nearly 270 sunny days a year, San Diego remains one of the country’s top travel destinations and has the hotel scene to prove it. Whether it’s a beachfront boutique bungalow or expansive inland resort, these properties boast impressive on-site amenities and great design, but are excellent dining options that are destinations in their own right, beckoning discerning tastes from both county and country. . Whether you’re looking for a lavish getaway, lodging or a night on the town, these hotel restaurants have everything from a rooftop Roman trattoria to oceanfront dining.

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JRDN at Tower 23
Courtesy of JRDN

Pacific Coast
This stylish beachfront hotel offers stunning ocean views, neo-modernist interiors, coastal coolness and a prime Pacific Coast location amongst San Diego’s best neighborhoods. And then there’s chef Stephen Gage’s award-winning restaurant, JRDN, where he serves seasonal California cuisine with a focus on all things local. Try familiar orders like the ahi tuna nachos (with avocado, mango, and sriracha) or the Lobster BLT (topped with tarragon aioli on a brioche bun) with seafood and pair them with any recommendations from wine director Chris Delaney (whose list won it) Wine Spectator Excellence Award). Save room for dessert and watch the sunset here; this is one of the most coveted sights in the region.

Mustangs and Burros at the Estancia
Courtesy of Mustangs & Burros

La Jolla
Located between La Jolla and Del Mar, this hacienda-style resort is spread over 10 acres of pristine gardens and packs many memorable details along the way (think adobe fireplaces, spa bungalows, and a saltwater pool). When you’re hungry, head to Mustangs & Burros for California-inspired Baja-inspired fare that takes the form of elevated plates like vegetable tostadas, pork belly tacos, and chicken almond mole. Agave spirits dominate the cocktail menu, and those looking for something clean will appreciate the restaurant’s array of flights and sips of tequila. The wine list also shines a light on Mexico, with a selection from Valle de Guadalupe. Enjoy them all on the open-air patio after dinner or swing early; Here the happy hour is at 16:00, Monday through Thursday.

Lionfish at Pendry San Diego
Courtesy of Lionfish

Gaslamp Quarter
Although there are now Pendry Hotels nationwide, this location was the first and instantly made waves with an effortlessly cool aesthetic that seamlessly blends premium luxury with SoCal sensibilities. The same can be said for its lobby-level restaurant, Lionfish: an inviting, award-winning space with circular banquettes, bespoke chandeliers and nautical details. Chef and James Beard Smart Catch leader JoJo Ruiz serves modern coastal cuisine with an emphasis on extremely fresh and seasonal ingredients; A classic example is togarashi spiced shrimp and scallops, grilled Big Glory Bay Salmon (with corn oil sabayon and popcorn), or for a true entertainer, Bad Bunny: an edible, hollowed-out rabbit and blinis made of Beluga caviar and cream cheese. Pair with some of the team’s recommended sparkling drinks, then move on to darker dramas like Dante’s Peak: a smoky mix of activated charcoal, tequila, mezcal, and peach bitters.

Mediterranean Room in La Valencia
Robert Benson’s photo

La Jolla
Since opening in 1926, this historic La Jolla hotel has been recognized as a coastal retreat for those seeking peace, tranquility and epic ocean views. Stars like Ginger Rogers and David Niven were regulars in their time. Inside these flamingo-pink walls, guests encounter an 11-story Spanish-tiled tower encompassing rooms, villas, suites, and the restaurant that unites it all at lobby level: the Mediterranean Room. Reopening in 2022 as part of the resort’s landmark 95th anniversary celebrations, chef Fabian Aceves offers a menu of California-Mediterranean cuisine enriched with locally grown ingredients. Try the Shawarma Spicy Octopus (with chickpea beans and black garlic) or the 18-ounce Bone-In Ribeye (with radish oil, shitake, and colima salt). Any table here is good and there are options even outdoors. For example, on Patio Sol to enjoy the buzz of Prospect Street, or on Oceanview Terrace to catch La Jolla’s iconic waterfront.

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Adelaide at L'Auberge Del Mar
Courtesy of Adelaide

from the sea
Located in the heart of Del Mar, this award-winning resort is known for its ocean views, full amenities (from a pool and tennis courts to a full-service spa), and food worthy of a destination. In Adelaide, executive chef Nick Green draws inspiration from both local produce and the restaurant’s seaside location, and showcases some of California’s most prized vegetables, meats and seafood on menus. Experience it in orders like Hamachi crudo (with fennel, raisins, and local olive oil) or 1855 Steak Tartare (with green garlic Caesar salad, smoked egg yolk, and seed lavash) – any of these will find a happy pairing in the restaurant’s kitchen. wine list with a focused selection of regional and international bottles. After dinner, relax a little on the poolside patio to admire views of the Pacific and enjoy any of the cocktails – namely the Bill Daly Sour: a sparkling concoction of gin, lemon and egg whites aged in a barrel.

Westgate Hotel
Courtesy of Westgate Hotel

Gaslamp Quarter
Specially built in 1970 as a timely recreation of France’s famous Palace of Versailles, this Gaslamp Quarter hotel oozes European luxury (and is filled with luxury finds, including a table from Versailles). Find ornate details throughout, from Baccarat crystal chandeliers to marble bathrooms; a richness that adorns the Westgate Room, the restaurant on the first floor. Here, chef Fabrice Hardel serves French-inspired cuisine using local ingredients, with orders like Baja shrimp with togarashi shells or daily boat scallops. Don’t skip dessert, however, as the pastry crew excels at their daily orders of French favorites like macarons and chocolate mousse. For something understated, head to the recently opened Veranda, the hotel’s outdoor venue that offers modern American fare and live music four nights a week.

Serẽa Hotel at Coronado Hotel
Courtesy of Serẽa

Coronado Island
Since its opening in 1888, this beachfront resort has become a destination synonymous with Southern California escape, thanks to its iconic Victorian design, waterfront activities, and massive excavations, complete with 902 rooms in five different property areas. The on-site culinary scene is just as expansive – more than half a dozen dining options await guests, with specialties ranging from tacos to pizza to ice cream. But the main event here is Serẽa, a sea-to-table restaurant serving sustainably oriented cuisine with Mediterranean influences. Executive chef JoJo Ruiz runs the menu, which is a seasonally altered celebration of regional specialties such as king salmon sashimi and grilled local swordfish, showcased in most restaurants’ impressive fish display, where guests can choose their preferred catch of the day. Enjoy that hyper-fresh meal on the expansive patio with wine, the sound of crashing waves, and plenty of SoCal charm.

Pony Room at Rancho Valencia Resort
Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Santa Fe Farm
This Rancho Santa Fe resort has 49 cottages along with 45 acres of gardens, trails, and olive groves for guests to enjoy. In 2011, the property underwent a $30 million renovation to many exciting additions, including that of The Pony Room, an equestrian-themed bar and restaurant that serves as the hotel’s prime meeting point. The space draws inspiration from the country’s deep American culture and reflects it in details such as exposed wooden beams, natural leathers and rolling chandeliers. Sit down, try a glass of cask froth and try orders of lobster tacos, bacon dates and filet mignon steak fries. Come for the equally impressive meals at breakfast or brunch, but at dinnertime, which includes a show most evenings, the patio provides a front-row seat for an array of hot air balloons soaring overhead.

Kimpton Alma Desmond in San Diego
Kimpton Alma San Diego

Gaslamp Quarter
Opened just last year in the city’s Gaslamp Quarter, this small new hotel showcases colorful artwork, pristine amenities and urban refinement throughout. The resort’s relaxed yet cosmopolitan spirit extends to The Desmond, a mezzanine restaurant where chef Jason Neroni offers a menu of earth-inspired plates with a serious focus on seasonality. Experience it on plates like butternut squash hummus and smoked beets with black garlic molasses, and homemade pastas including delicious rigatoni with Dungeness crab and nduja butter. If you’re leaning towards lighter fare, check out the Café at Hotel Alma, an all-day restaurant with small plates and a sophisticated drinks list (try the Thai Tonic with gin, lemongrass and basil). Be sure to visit in the spring when the resort plans to bring its newest dining spot, its poolside hanger, along with crowd-pleasing cocktails and snacks called the Trail of Departure.

Vistal and Garibaldi at InterContinental San Diego
Garibaldi | Kimberly Motos’s photo

Town center
This beachfront hotel has 400 rooms on 19 floors and a variety of dining options to choose from. At Vistal, guests can enjoy Baja-inspired menus throughout the day amid elegant, relaxed settings and some stunning local artwork, including that of surf photographer Aaron Chang. Spend time on the patio with orders of grilled octopus and Bar Harbor mussels, or sit at the bar for pancake or poke bites. Those seeking European flavors will find them at Garibaldi, the hotel’s chatty-style restaurant serving Sardinian-inspired cuisine and cocktails. Start with an Aperol Spritz and round oysters before diving into any of the signature, hand-shaped pastas. And if two restaurants aren’t enough, there are more. The hotel is also home to CH Projects’ vibrant rooftop restaurant Seneca, which has become popular overnight with its breathtaking skyline views, stunning art deco-nautical-rendezvous design and enduring weekend vibe. Designed as a modern Roman trattoria, the venue serves wood-fired pizzas, seafood and steaks, as well as unforgettable communal platters. (Boost your social channels for hand-picked mozzarella, a table-order treat that’s as fabulous as it is a starter.)

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Nicole Schnitzler contributes to Thrillist.