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Best Restaurants in La Jolla: Where to Eat Now

Where we actually eat out from takeout to fine dining

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While it’s known for its gorgeous coastline, high-end shopping, and general glamour, La Jolla restaurants are among the best in all of San Diego. Whether you’re looking for seafood, elevated Japanese fusion, trendy cafes, unbeatable ocean views, Mexican, or an all-out fine dining experience, there’s something in my seaside community for you.

This list of best restaurants in La Jolla is narrowed from a very long list of excellent options to places that we personally go to on our own and with friends.

George’s at the Cove

La Jolla Village • California • $$ – $$$

Lunch with friends on the George's Ocean Terrace rooftop La Jolla restaurant with ocean views.
Lunch on a sunny day at George’s Ocean Terrace (not pictured is the outstanding ocean view).

George’s at the Cove is where many La Jollans take their out-of-town guests to showcase our seaside jewel. It’s located across from La Jolla Cove and each of its three levels has a different theme and menu. Ocean Terrace, on the rooftop, has pretty ocean views and more casual dining (we love it for lunch with a view); Level2 is more of an upscale bar with outstanding craft cocktails and a happy hour; and on the bottom floor, California Modern offers a fine-dining menu with an emphasis on tasting menus including the exclusive 12-14 course experience called TBL3 (reservations required as this privilege is for one table per night). Make a reservation, especially during peak season in the summer.

What to order: The menus are seasonal but top recommendations include the Fish Tacos (they are fancier at California Modern whereas Ocean Terrace fish tacos are more traditional), Black Bean Soup, and Grilled Octopus. For drinks, the La Jolla cocktail with chili-infused tequila is one of their more popular choices.

Address: 1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-454-4244

Reserve at California Modern Reserve at Ocean TerraceReserve at Level2

The Marine Room

La Jolla Shores • French/Seafood • $$$

Seared ahi and a glass of white wine against the window with the ocean behind.
Seared ahi with a view (Photo courtesy of The Marine Room)

The Marine Room has been a local institution and one of the best restaurants in La Jolla since opening in 1941 with a seasonal menu a recipient of multiple awards and accolades. The view is one of the best in La Jolla, since it’s at sea level, adjacent to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and built on the sand at La Jolla Shores beach. Waves literally crash against the windows at high tide, which they celebrate during their seasonal High Tide dinners and breakfasts. It’s elegant yet approachable (business casual dress is recommended) with a fantastic happy hour in the bar. The seasonal menu by Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Ron Oliver is a carefully crafted mix of French and California-style seafood influences.

What to order: Everything is undeniably delicious, but you won’t want to miss the Cashew Coriander Coated Blue Crab Cakes, the Icelandic Fjord Natural Salmon, and of course, the Maine Lobster Tail (especially during Monday lobster night). And it’s one of the places in town where you can get an outstanding rack of lamb.

Address: 2000 Spindrift Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone number: 858-459-7222

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NINE-TEN

La Jolla Village • California • $$$

Dining room at NINE-TEN La Jolla restaurant.
Photo courtesy of NINE-TEN

Located in the Grande Colonial Hotel on (910) Prospect Street, NINE-TEN is definitely one of the best restaurants in La Jolla for a menu determined by what is in season while still keeping some guest favorites on the menu. It’s perfect for a night out, whether it’s a celebration or just date night. The veteran Executive Chef, Jason Knibb, has been at the helm for the past decade and trained under highly-respected names like Wolfgang Puck.

Try his “Mercy of The Chef” dinner, a six-course tasting meal prepared just for your table. It’s also a perfect place for wine enthusiasts with an incredible cellar of eclectic, hard-to-find, and value wines especially because Wednesday means that bottles of wine are half-priced. The hotel offers valet to all guests and visitors to NINE-TEN restaurant.

What to order: The Hamachi (Yellowtail) Sashimi makes for a great starter, and along with the Grilled Octopus. For heartier fare, try the Port Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs or Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly, a nod to Chef Knibb’s Caribbean roots. Save room for dessert, because the Half Baked Chocolate Cake is one of the best desserts in La Jolla.

Address: 910 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-964-5400

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Catania

La Jolla Village • Coastal Italian • $$$

The bar area at Catania in La Jolla.
The ba

Located in the La Plaza shopping center at the corner of Girard Ave and Wall Street, Catania offers higher-end Italian in a relaxed atmosphere with a nice outdoor terrace that overlooks the Village. Their menu offers everything from decadent dishes to crowd-pleasers like their wood-fired pizzas. Fun fact: They are known for their specialty meatballs.

What to order: If you’re looking for pizza: the Margherita is simple but always delicious, and the Sicilian Pistachio is good when you want something a little more off the beaten path. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, the Duck Sugo Orecchiette pasta dishes is for you.

Address: 7863 Girard Ave #301, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-551-5105

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Himitsu

La Jolla Village • Japanese • $$$

Delicate sashimi on a large white plate on a table at Himitsu.

Himitsu offers highly authentic Japanese cuisine in the form of traditional nigiri sushi and tapas-like plates. Executive chef Mitsu Aihara has been crafting sushi for a long time, including at the award-winning Sushi Ota, and only opened this restaurant after receiving a blessing from his mentor, so he’s serious about the quality of his food. The dishes rotate on a weekly basis depending on what seafood is the best and freshest on the market at the time. It’s one of the intimate La Jolla restaurants with an 8-person bar and a 20-person patio.

What to order: The Himitsu Roll (Spicy Salmon and Crab, Scallop, Jalapeno, Cilantro Aioli, Lemon Zest) and the Sashimi Salad (Tuna, Albacore, Yellowtail are go-to’s. For the lighter palate, go for the Seared Maine Scallop. Lunch offers a selection of Donburis.

Address: 1030 Torrey Pines Rd G, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-263-4463

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A.R. Valentien

Torrey Pines • California • $$$

A.R. Valentien interior, the signature restaurant of The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Photo courtesy of A.R. Valentien

Located in the lovely California Craftsman-style boutique hotel, The Lodge at Torrey Pines, A.R. Valentien is named for the 20th-century California artist whose works are exhibited throughout the restaurant (and elsewhere in museums around San Diego). Seasonal menu items are mostly locally-sourced and diners can choose to sit inside or outside on the intimate patio overlooking the pool and golf course. It’s a great spot for date night though popular with families, too.

What to order: Definitely order the three-course local lunch, a seasonal prix fixe menu created with local ingredients. The rotating selection of farmhouse and artisanal cheeses and 28 Day Dry Aged Prime Rib Eye Steak. Executive Chef Jeff Jackson also offers a four-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.

Address: 11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-777-6635

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Eddie V’s La Jolla

La Jolla Village • Seafood • $$$

A plate of oysters at Happy Hour on the patio at Eddie V's La Jolla
We like happy hour on the patio.

One of the most popular fine dining La Jolla restaurants is definitely Eddie V’s. It’s popular for date nights but we also like the happy hour on the Pacific Ocean view patio. You’ll dine on some of the finest seafood and hand-cut steaks with panoramic ocean views in the cozy dining room, intimate bar (with live jazz music) or on the outdoor terrace.

What to order: Definitely order the Oysters and Jumbo Lump Crab Cake appetizers. I also love the Georges Banks Scallops entree and an Iceberg Wedge BLT salad.

Address: 1270 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-459-5500

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Duke’s La Jolla

La Jolla Village • Hawaiian • $$

Festive surfer-themed interior of Duke's La Jolla.
Photo courtesy of Duke’s La Jolla

Inspired by the foods and spirit of Hawaii, Duke’s is a fun place to take the family. The Aloha vibes are only made better by the incredible ocean view from the patio. It’s a mix of traditional Hawaiian and contemporary Californian fare, so you’ll find quality no matter what you’re craving. And, they have the famous Hula Pie.

What to order:  Besides the mouthwatering Poke Tacos and Kalua Pork Sandwich, you can always get a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch (ribs and chicken or the daily catch with steamed jasmine rice, macaroni salad, bok choy macadamia nut slaw). If you decide to visit the Barefoot Bar, make sure to grab one of their infamous Mai Tais served in a classic tiki-shaped glass.

Address: 1216 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-454-5888

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Herringbone

La Jolla Village • Seafood • $$$

Interior of Herringbone restaurant in La Jolla.
Photo courtesy of Herringbone

With its soft strung lights and 100-year-old olive trees, the dining experience at the 1930s-warehouse-turned-coastal-lounge is pretty magical. The ambiance will draw you in, but the flavors are what will keep you coming back for more. The Herringbone La Jolla menu is where “farm fresh cuisine meets an emphasis on line-caught seafood and meats.” If you have time, make sure to stop by during happy hour in the bar as they have great cocktails, $1 oysters, and live music every night.

What to order: The Lobster Roll is always excellent, along with the Line Caught Local Snapper. At happy hour, gin lovers should try the Snake in the Grass while tequila aficionados may enjoy the refreshing Jaleberry with strawberry jalapeno-infused tequila.

Address: 7837 Herschel Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
Phone: 858-459-0221

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Puesto

La Jolla Village • Mexican Street Food • $$

Top-down photo of eight different Puesto tacos.
Photo courtesy of Puesto

This is a great choice for a casual lunch, family dinner or group outing. Puesto is an artisanal Mexican La Jolla restaurant that offers a little more of a full-service feeling. The colorful atmosphere keeps things fun and cosmopolitan, and the menu is a great combo of light starters and classic tacos. All the while, you can watch your food being made fresh through the open kitchen. Ask for blue corn tortillas, which are gluten-free, and they have a robust plant-based menu. Pair a variety of craft margaritas with your great food.

What to order: Start off with one of their unique guacamoles—the Nogada is a good one as long as there are no nut allergies. For tacos, there are basics like Al Pastor and Carnitas, and then more unique options like Maine Lobster and Mushroom. They also have the traditional battered and fried Baja Fish Tacos that San Diego is famous for. Kids can get a combo of two mix-and-match tacos and an agua fresca (flavored water).

Address: 1026 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-454-1260

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Galaxy Taco

La Jolla Shores • Mexican • $$

Galaxy Taco is one of the best La Jolla restaurants
Photo courtesy of Galaxy Taco

For unique takes on traditional Baja-style dishes, try Galaxy Taco in La Jolla Shores. Founded by George’s at the Cove Executive Chef, Trey Foshee, Galaxy Taco takes your usual Mexican food up a notch. The environment is colorful, fun, and good for group outings. There is a kids’ menu for any younger ones who might be joining, too. The alcohol menu is packed full of both basic and unique creative cocktails, making it perfect for a laid-back happy hour. It’s only a short walk to the beach, so maybe a drink before catching the sunset?

What to order: There are plenty of yummy options like homemade Blue Corn Shrimp Quesadillas, Steamed Birria Clams, and for the adventurous, Lengua in Salsa Verde Tacos (beef tongue).

Address: 2259 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-228-5655

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El Pescador Fish Market

La Jolla Village • Seafood • $$

Seafood salad at El Pescador market.
One of my favorite salads — I will take a better photo next time.

El Pescador started as a small fish market in the 1970s and now has a full menu of prepared seafood. It’s known for having some of the freshest fish around, and beloved by natives and visitors alike. Whether you want ceviche, a sandwich, a salad, a burrito, some tacos, or a full-on plate of food with sides, if it’s got fish in it, you can get it here. It’s a casual spot, but no hole-in-the-wall; this counter-order spot is clean, spacious, and polished. In addition to prepared food, they still have a functioning fish market if you want to cook something yourself later, which is what we do.

What to order: The Local Sea Bass Burro, Calamari Steak, and El Pescador Sandwich (Dungeness Crab, Medium Shrimp, Bay Shrimp, and Smoked Salmon) are some of the more noteworthy choices here. I always order the El Pescador Salad which is basically the ingredients on the El Pescador Sandwich on lettuce.

Address: 634 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-456-2526


Piatti

La Jolla Shores • Italian • $$

A wood-fired pizza on the table at Piatti, a popular La Jolla Italian restaurant.
Wood-fired pizza is a specialty.

Piatti is a charming Italian eatery in the heart of La Jolla Shores by the beach. In addition to lunch and dinner, you can join them for a full Italian-style breakfast. Everything on the mouthwatering menu is amazing, but the dipping sauce for the fresh bread is what you’ll be dreaming about for the next few nights. Top off the meal with one of their many artisan wines. If you want to sit inside, you can see your food being made in the exhibition-style kitchen with includes a woodfired pizza oven, but otherwise, there’s plenty of outdoor seating on the cute covered patio. They do have gluten-free pasta available.

What to order: We like the Herbed Cauliflower Cakes (waiter-recommended). Choosing between pizza and pasta is a tough call, but I’m a fan of the basic Angel Hair and Pappardelle with shrimp. And, you have to finish with Tiramisu.

Address: 2182 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone number: 858-454-1589

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Caroline’s Seaside Cafe

La Jolla Shores • California • $$

Caroline’s Seaside Cafe is the essence of California cuisine. The view is spectacular as the restaurant sits on a cliff above La Jolla Shores Beach, near Scripps Pier. Both the breakfast and lunch menu are packed with healthy choices, and everything comes from sustainable and organic sources. On the weekdays, breakfast is available from 8 – 11:30 a.m. and brunch goes all day on the weekends (these are two different menus, so make sure that what you want is available that day). If you’re coming on a Saturday or Sunday, give yourself time to park and expect a line since it’s first-come, first-serve (no reservations are accepted). Gluten-free bread is available for sandwiches.

What to order: The Seasonal Chopped Salad and Roasted Vegetable Wrap are perfect for when you need something light for lunch (though salads come with delicious herb rolls and butter). For breakfast, dig into their Mediterranean Egg Scramble or plate of Giuseppe’s French Toast. They also bake their own bagels every morning, which you can top with your choice of cream cheese or jam.

Address: 8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-202-0569


The Cottage La Jolla

La Jolla Village • American • $$

This sweet little La Jolla restaurant is highly popular with locals, especially for breakfast and lunch (it is open seasonally for dinner). Formerly a residential home, The Cottage even has a white picket fence around the dining patio, which used to be the front yard. The menu is decadent, and the servings are generous, so you might want to share (or not). Because it’s so well-loved around La Jolla, don’t be surprised by longer lines on the weekends but they usually set out coffee and snacks for those waiting on weekend mornings.

What to order: The top two orders are definitely the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Stuffed Brioche French Toast. For lovers of savory, the Benedicts will be your go-to, or I also like Soy Chorizo Hash. You can also bring home a bag of their famous granola.

Address: 7702 Fay Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-454-8409

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Brockton Villa

La Jolla Village • California • $$

The Crab Ipanema Benedict and mimosa at Brockton Villa, a popular La Jolla breakfast restaurant.
A recent Crab Ipanema Benedict

First built in 1894 as a seaside vacation bungalow, Brockton Villa has one of the best ocean views of La Jolla Cove you’ll find in the Village. The historical architecture makes it a cute and cozy brunch spot, and the menu is super indulgent (or healthy if you like).

Grab a seat on the patio to get the full experience. It’s right next to the Cove, so it’s easy to take a stroll and get a closer look at the famous La Jolla seals and sea lions that like to lounge on the rocks. It’s a fabulous spot for weekend mimosas (served after 11:00 a.m.) and one of the best La Jolla breakfast places.

What to order: The House-Made Beer Brined Corned Beef Hash is a top order, and the Coast Toast, their take on french toast, is so popular it’s available at every meal. For dinner, the Ginger-Chili Glazed Atlantic Salmon is a favorite.

Address: 1235 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-454-7393

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Harumama and Blue Ocean Sushi

La Jolla Village • Asian • $$

Character buns and Asian fare at Harumama La Jolla restaurant.
Photo courtesy of Harumama

The dual-concept restaurant overlooks La Jolla Cove with Harumama in the front and Blue Ocean Sushi in the back. Harumama serves Asian fare that draws inspiration from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines. They are famous for adorable animal-shaped buns that are popular on Instagram.

As you might expect, Blue Ocean Sushi focuses on fresh flavors of the ocean where you can order excellent sushi and sashimi.

What to order: The animal-shaped dim sum is popular like Pig (pork and caramelized onions) or Koala (strawberries and cream). The ramen is also excellent. At Blue Ocean Sushi aside from the raw items, try Scallops with black rice risotto.

Address: 1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-999-0323


CUSP Dining & Drinks

La Jolla Shores • California • $$ 

Contemporary interior of CUSP Dining and Drinks inside Hotel La Jolla.
Photo courtesy of CUSP Dining & Drinks

CUSP Dining & Drinks boasts a top floor location inside Hotel La Jolla and one of the best panoramic views of San Diego. Go for colorful coastal cuisine with locally-sourced ingredients inspired by Executive Chef Ingrid Funes’ family recipes. They’re open for breakfast and offer happy hour at the bar (go early as happy hour is popular — especially Wednesdays when pours of Veuve Clicquot are discounted).

What to order: The menu is seasonal but favorites include Crispy Octopus, Seared Salmon, and Duck with cherries. They’re also known for excellent craft cocktails.

Address: 7955 La Jolla Shores Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-551-3620

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Parakeet Cafe

La Jolla Village • American • $

Tucked away on Silverado Street in Downtown La Jolla, this casual, small cafe is known for its Instagrammable atmosphere, food, and drinks. The drink menu is full of fun choices like the bright pink Beet Goji Latte and Flat Black—a mini, jet-black latte made with activated charcoal, lavender, and honey. You can enjoy your treats in the colorful cafe itself or out on the front patio. Dogs are welcome outside, so bring along your four-legged friends. It’s owned by the folks at Juice Crafters, the juice bar right next door.

What to order: The pastries here are one-of-a-kind, particularly the Matcha Cinnamon Bun and Lavender Loaf. They also have plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, like their artisan toasts and bowls (top recommendations are the Parakeet Bowl and the Avocado toast with optional add-ons).

Address: 927 Silverado St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-412-5627


Taco Stand

La Jolla Village • Mexican • $

A plate of tacos and a Coke at Taco Stand restaurant in La Jolla.
Excellent tacos (Photo courtesy of Taco Stand)

If you’re looking for a solid taco or burrito, head to Taco Stand. It’s inspired by the taco stands of Tijuana and Baja Mexico and busy for a reason. It’s best to go on the early side to avoid peak lunch and dinner crowds (or opt for takeout). Tortillas are handmade while sauces and guacamole are prepared daily in-house. You can also order tacos protein style which means in lettuce instead of a tortilla. It’s on our list of kid-friendly San Diego restaurants because both local kids and their parents love the food here equally.

What to order: They do have deliciously battered and grilled versions of San Diego’s famous dish, the fish taco. However, Camaron (spicy shrimp) tacos and carne asada fries are a favorite in addition to and vegetarian Nopal tacos. Those with sweet tooths should save room for fresh churros or refreshing paletas.

Address: 621 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-551-6666


Burger Lounge

La Jolla Village • American • $

The exterior of the Burger Lounge in La Jolla.
The La Jolla location (Photo courtesy of Burger Lounge)

Although they claim to be “just a neighborhood burger joint,” Burger Lounge serves up more than your average fast food stop. Focusing on simplicity, their ingredients are locally-sourced, fair trade, organic, and small batch. Even though the food is simple, the menu is highly customizable and you can eat there or takeout. There are also plenty of options for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diners. Can’t choose between classic french fries and their tempting onion rings? You’re in luck as you can go half-and-half (I do). They also have a gluten-free menu and a Paleo burger.

What to order: The classic Lounge Burger is definitely the most popular option–but the Turkey Burger and Alaskan Cod Sandwich are always options for those who want a healthier choice. The quinoa burger is both vegan and vegetarian, and they have salads to choose from as well. If you’re gluten-free, ask for your burger as a lettuce wrap instead.

Address: 1101 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone:  858-456-0196


What is your favorite La Jolla restaurant?

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