Fine Dining in San Diego & Coastal North County


Steak Houses

Island Prime (Harbor Island)

Island Prime is located on Harbor Island and sits atop the San Diego Bay, overlooking the stunning city skyline so that you can enjoy dinner with a view. This fabulous steakhouse is open Wednesdays through Sundays for dinner, as well as weekdays for a happy hour only. Island Prime’s happy hour features $5 local craft brews, $7 Island-inspired libations, and tasty bar snacks, so it’s the perfect place to take a load off after a long workday.
If you’re looking for a delicious dinner featuring fares of both land and sea, start your meal with a dozen oysters on the half shell, or relish the Island Prime’s Seafood Platter with a group of friends. Mains include a ‘red label’ Australian wagyu, pork tomahawk, Nordic Blu salmon, and other tantalizing dishes of the highest quality and ranching methods. Pair any of their delicious entrees with some Madeira braised mushrooms, truffled creamed spinach, grilled asparagus, and more. The dessert menu and wine list are also teeming with options to round out your meal perfectly. For a satisfying dinner with breathtaking scenery, do not overlook Island Prime.

Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop (East Village)

Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop is the first of its kind in San Diego’s East Village, serving unique contemporary American fare with a Western influence. This restaurant exclusively serves top-tier products from the nation’s leading Certified Humane Angus herd, along with seafood available under the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s rigorous Seafood Watch Standards. In addition, this eatery features local farmers, fishers, and producers in the plethora of plate options.
Head here for their happy hour to enjoy 50% off a select list of small bites and signature cocktails. Dinner is best started with some signature steak tartare and the local organic greens salad. Once you’ve prepped your palate, follow your apps with a 40 oz. Porterhouse for two or opt for a truly unmatched experience by relishing a tender 8 oz. Hokkaido wagyu New York, flown in from Japan and aged for 23 days. Choose your sides and sauce to adorn your perfect steak, finish with the Cowboy Star Crème Brulée, and you’ve got yourself a meal that any steak enthusiast can appreciate.

ANIMAE (Marina District)

ANIMAE offers patrons an unrivaled experience through their eclectic, sophisticated, and chic dishes and ambiance. This lavish wagyu steakhouse is the only one in San Diego offering A5 wagyu beef, a tender and flavorful steak beyond your taste buds’ imagination. The cuisine is centered around the coal-fired oven and Japanese robata grill, all while using globally sourced ingredients to complement the unique dining adventure relished here.
Begin your culinary journey with some steamy bao buns filled with char siu pork, beet honey glaze, and watercress, and a light citrus salad of little gems, seasonal citrus, peanuts, and lime. Now, for the piece de resistance: choose between the Japanese A5 Miyazaki strip loin or Miyazaki tenderloin for a special treat, or stick to an American New York or prime filet for a taste of familiarity. If you’re not in the mood for a steak, try the pork ragu or whole fried fish.
The dessert menu features globally-inspired sweets with Eastern influences and includes a matcha mousse torte, coconut cashew Napoleon, pandan malasadas, and chocolate taiyaki. Spirits are also in full swing to complete your luxurious dinner. If you seek a genuine one-of-a-kind steakhouse experience, look no further than ANIMAE.

International Fare

Coasterra (Harbor Island Downtown)

Credit: Coasterra
If you fancy an upscale, flavorful Mexican dinner, check out Coasterra. Open for lunch and dinner daily – with a Monday through Friday patio happy hour – this spot serves up modern Mexican cuisine and breathtaking bay views. The raw bar offers oysters on the half shell and an impressive seafood tower. There are several different ceviches to try for your starting taste, including a Mexican bay scallop aguachile, Acapulco cocktail, and ceviche clasico. Get the ceviche trio if you simply cannot decide which option to choose.
After you’ve gotten your fill of fresh seafood delights, grab a bowl of white corn & poblano soup and some melty queso fundido before enjoying the main course. Whether you decide on ancho chili roasted salmon, tender belly pork carnitas, or share a Mexican paella, you can’t go wrong with any of their savory entrees. Pair your entree with one of the many margaritas or San Diego local cocktails, finish with some coconut panna cotta, and you’ve got yourself a flavorful and memorable dining venture under your belt.

Baci (San Diego)

For over 40 years, Antonio “Tony” D’Amato has brought Italian-inspired fares to San Diego residents and visitors via his restaurant Baci. The decor is romantic and the food divine, providing diners with a world-class ambiance and a friendly neighborhood feel. Start your meal with some seafood-centric plates of steamed mussels and grilled octopus. Pasta lovers cherish the savory pappardelle with lamb ragu and truffles or the creamy gnocchi with four kinds of cheese. You also can’t go wrong with a plate of classic veal parmigiana or a hearty rack of lamb.
Round out your meal with a great glass of vino, as the wine list brims with American and French options, with a few from New Zealand and France. The cuisine is delicate yet straightforward, and the surroundings are perfect for a date night, so head to Baci with your sweetheart for a night to remember.

Herb & Wood (Harborview)

Relish a traditional Mediterranean meal with a modern California flare at Herb & Wood. The focal point of Brian Malarkey’s restaurant is seasonal, rustic, wood-fired dishes, elevating humble ingredients to a luxurious level. Some of the fabulous appetizers enjoyed here include the whipped feta, pork belly, and indulgent roasted oysters & bone marrow. Vegetables are met with just as much detail and care as the proteins on the menu. For example, roasted baby carrots are served with cashew sesame dukkah, aleppo yogurt, and carrot top pesto, while king trumpet mushrooms come with black garlic vinaigrette, chimichurri, and garlic crunch.
For your main course, keep it classic with an entree of roasted branzino, or surprise your taste buds with the Moroccan coffee-rubbed venison. Several pasta and pizza options bring creative twists to these familiar favorites, including bucatini with clams, pork belly, sofrito, fennel pollen, and a chorizo pizza with mozzarella, soubise, manchego, apple, and hot honey. Finish dinner with a refreshing mezcal & flowers cocktail and a blueberry soufflé, and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded Mediterranean culinary journey unique to California.

Trattoria Positano (Cardiff by the Sea)

Cardiff’s restaurant selection is fantastic, including Italian eateries, Fish 101, and the new Waverly in Cardiff Town Center.  My personal favorite is Trattoria Positano, which boasts food of excellent quality, perfectly cooked fresh pasta, homemade sauces, amazing salads, and an on-site chef/owner. The quality is consistent and service is wonderful. You will love the excellent wine selection and cozy ambiance on the new patio, as well as the fantastic location across from Cardiff State Beach!

Piatti (La Jolla Shores)

Piatti is one of La Jolla’s finest Italian restaurants, offering both outstanding quality and wonderful ambiance. Bring your significant other for a delicious dinner and drinks on the romantic patio and browse the menu, which is full of decadent Italian fare. This restaurant is located on the quiet north side of La Jolla in La Jolla Shores, just down the hill from the world-renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the famous Birch Aquarium. After your dinner, stroll along the beach and stop by the water sports store to plan your kayak trip to La Jolla Cove’s famous caves the following day!

California Cuisine

AVANT (San Diego)

A crafty combination of wine country dining and modern California execution, AVANT serves creative dishes and artisan libations to its adventurous diners. Open your appetite with a fresh helping of beef tartare and west coast oysters before enjoying a smooth cauliflower bisque served with carraway, creme fraiche, dill, and smoked trout roe. Other delicious small plates include creamy polenta with Meyer lemon and spring flowers, and seared scallops with brown butter, lemon, and chive. Next, opt for the 21 day-aged duck breast or the indulgent Snake River Farms wagyu strip loin served with Japanese sweet potato, sesame, and morel mushrooms.
Wine enthusiasts are delighted with the 230 vino selections available here, and multiple awards given to AVANT by Wine Spectator prove its quality. Sip on sumptuous wine, relish a wagyu ribeye, and finish with a dark chocolate torte at the highly revered AVANT -- you won’t be disappointed in your choice.

Juniper and Ivy (Little Italy)

At Juniper and Ivy, Chef Wells and his culinary team serve patrons a carefully curated, chef-driven menu focusing on seasonality and high-quality ingredients brought in by local farmers and fishermen. The restaurant is very chic and cozy and features an open kitchen and outdoor patio. Treat your palate with snacks like the miso cookies served with chicken liver mousse and strawberry jam, and cheese puffs featuring Stepladder Creamery and white Colby pimento cheese. Bring your love or a few friends to share some small plates, such as the spot prawns, carne cruda bone marrow, egg yolk ravioli, and more.
For a heartier option, try the bone-in pork chop, served with fava beans, roasted sweet peppers, pork belly, and pichuberry mustard. If you’re in the mood for seafood, opt for the Old Bay beer-battered soft shell crab, served with lemon and ramp aioli. Try something new to end your meal with some refreshing peach bellini sorbet or the hazelnut creme brulee served with vanilla whip and preserved apricots and thyme. Grab a brew, cocktail, or glass of wine to drink along with the exciting dinner that you’ll undoubtedly remember for many moons at Juniper and Ivy.

Valentina (Encinitas)

One of Encinitas’ newest restaurants, Valentina is sure to delight you and your party. This bistro-style restaurant is small and cozy with a sidewalk patio and cozy ambiance. While the menu is small, the food is fantastic, from eggplant milanese to Maine diver scallops. You’ll adore the wine selection, as well as the new chef-created dishes with their own special twist that pop up every week. Excellent quality and local staff make this a good bistro-style option!


Le Papagayo (Encinitas)

One of the coastal North County’s best kept secrets, Le Papagayo is known for their fresh and delicious seafood delicacies like halibut, sea bass, mussels, and shrimp linguini. Not quite in the mood for fish? This fine restaurant also offers excellent spaghetti, salads, and a mouthwatering prime filet quesadilla. With an ambiance that will remind you of a Caribbean vacation, Le Papagayo is the perfect place to enjoy a tasty meal with your friends or family! Enjoy nightly music, comfortable outdoor seating, and of course, a fully-stocked bar. Reservations are highly recommended at this popular seafood hotspot.

Jake’s (Del Mar)

Located right on the beach in Del Mar, this amazing oceanfront restaurant offers seafood and steak with a tropical flair. Each dish is incredibly fresh, and the chef’s custom recipes each week are unique and fantastic. If you’re looking to dine with a backdrop of breathtaking beach views, Jake’s is the perfect option for you. You’ll also love the full bar and delicious treats like ceviche, achiote roasted fish, and seared scallops. Reservations are a must at this location.

Eddie V’s (La Jolla)

You’ll also find some fabulous seafood at Eddie V’s, one of San Diego and La Jolla’s premier restaurants. Overlooking La Jolla Cove, diners at this incredible restaurant can enjoy views extending up the coast all the way to Del Mar! This elegant eatery is known for its stunning seafood dishes, including raw oysters and Pacific Ahi Tuna, but amazing steaks are available as well. With both indoor and outdoor dining options, including a full outdoor bar and gorgeous roof deck with sprawling views, you will love the romantic ambiance at Eddie V’s. This is truly white glove service with a price to match – but the good news is that the food is well worth the price tag!
Have you fallen in love with San Diego and further seek La Jolla, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas or Solana Beach real estate or property in the surrounding areas? If so, please reach out to San Diego’s premier real estate team Polly Rogers + Associates. Born and raised in Coronado, Polly knows the region like the back of her hand, focusing on homes along the coastal corridor between La Jolla and Carlsbad, and estates into the communities of Rancho Santa Fe. With Polly’s help, you will find the Rancho Sante Fe or Encinitas real estate of your wildest dreams.

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