Treat yourself to lunch or dinner at the best Southern California restaurants. There are so many great restaurants in Southern California. There are also quite a number of “not so good” restaurants. We hope to help you select places to dine that you will enjoy.
We think you will delighted you with the food, service, and ambiance at these establishments. We’ve eaten at these restaurants and return whenever we can. There are lots of dining choices, but these are establishments that you do not want to miss.
San Diego Restaurants
George’s at the Cove is a great restaurant in La Jolla, California, which is located in the San Diego area. The Outdoor Terrace Bistro offers casual dining overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Visit for lunch or dinner. Enjoy fresh ocean breezes, fine food, and the most spectacular views you can image. This romantic restaurant is the perfect setting for a magical evening. Call ahead for reservations and ask for a table next to the window. Time your reservation so that you will be dining as the sun sets. You can’t beat the view of the sun sinking into the ocean.
Bertrand at Mister A’s
This San Diego restaurant has amazing views. It’s located in the downtown area. Every time I ride the elevator to the top floor, I’m amazed by the panoramic views of the city. The outdoor balcony wraps around 3 sides of the building. The casual elegance, gourmet food, and great service all make for a great evening. Mister A’s is the place to go for a romantic dinner or to celebrate a special event. They serve both lunch and dinner.
The unique thing about the Marine Room is that the ocean is right outside the window. During high tide the water is just inches from the glass. It’s a fantastic ocean view. The atmosphere is casually elegant and perfect for romantic conversation. They also serve lunch and Sunday brunch at this romantic restaurant located in La Jolla. The Marine Room is the winner of multiple awards for best restaurant. The dress code is business casual. Shirt and tie is not required though it would be appropriate. This is an upscale restaurant. It’s the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.
The Prado at Balboa Park
There’s a magical atmosphere at Prado Restaurant. Take a stroll around the area where the restaurant is located to enjoy the beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture, water fountains, and lovely landscaping. Inside the restaurant you find a classic Spanish feel mixed with colorful accents such as the blown glass sculptures and unique chandeliers. If you dine indoors, request the more intimate Courtyard room where candlelight dining is at its best. The lights and gardens around the patio create a romantic setting for outdoor dining making this one of the best San Diego restaurants.
Peohes Coronado Island
Nestled on the water’s edge in the Coronado Ferry Landing, this restaurant enjoys a lovely setting with a view of the San Diego skyline and the bay. You can arrive by private boat, water taxi, the ferry, or take the short drive over the Coronado bridge. A casually elegant establishment in a super location. Dine indoors or outside overlooking the water. Specializing in fresh tropical seafood dishes. One of the best southern California restaurants located on an island.
Dine indoors on the patio overlooking Pacific Beach and the ocean beyond. This beach restaurant has an extensive menu. They focus on coastal California cuisine. This is a casual, beach restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This popular restaurant is also known for their great happy hour available in the bar Mondays through Thursday. Reservations are suggested.
Café Coyote is located in San Diego’s Old Town. This Mexican restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The authentic Mexican cuisine is fabulous. They serve delicious home made tortillas and more than 100 tequilas. Listen to Strolling Mariachi’s as you dine inside or outdoors in the courtyard. It’s a festive atmosphere. A great place for banquets with a choice of 3 different rooms. Happy hours on weekdays from 3:30 to 6 PM.
Gaslamp Strip Club
The Gaslamp Strip Club is a cook your own steak establishment. It’s located in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp District. It’s a fun and popular place for the under 30 crowd with a variety of cleverly named specialty drinks and reasonably priced food. A unique combination of food and socializing.
Romano’s Restaurant as a place to dine for lunch or dinner. It’s located in the charming town of Julian in eastern San Diego County. This historic house was converted into a romantic restaurant in the early 1980s. You can enjoy a drink in the cocktail lounge (which is said to be haunted), and dine indoors or under the stars on the outdoor patio. The restaurant serves traditional Italian pastas and pizza, but also features more creative hearty Italian dishes. Pork Juliana is their signature dish and can easily be shared by two people. This dish, consisting of loin chops simmered in a whiskey apple cider cream sauce, is delicious.
This is the place to for “Out-Of-This-World” desserts. Everything looks and tastes amazing. They have two locations. I prefer their Fifth Street location near Balboa Park. It’s an intimate setting, more romantic. Their second location on Union Street also serves foods such as paninis and salads. Don’t go to San Diego without visiting Extraordinary Desserts. This is one of the best southern California restaurants that specialize in scrumptious desserts.
This Italian restaurant is located in a strip mall in Temecula. We accidentally stumbled into a fabulous restaurant. The first time we ate at Gourmet Italia, we were surprised by the quality of the food. The food is authentic Italian food. The owner, Alex, is from Italy. Many of the servers are relatives. Everyone is friendly and service outstanding. It’s a cozy little restaurant with a romantic ambiance. Whenever we are in Temecula, we head here for excellent Italian food.
Cafe Champagne is a romantic restaurant located at the popular Thornton Winery. It’s a terrific choice for either lunch or dinner while visiting the Temecula Valley. The food is supurb, service great, and ambiance is romantic and relaxing. They often have live music. We can enthusiastically recommend this great restaurant as a terrific place to dine for lunch or dinner.
The Restaurant at Ponte
What a wonderful Wine Country Restaurant! This restaurant is part of Ponte Winey. It’s the perfect place to dine outdoors with a view of the beautifully landscaped gardens. You’re surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards. It’s hard to beat the exceptional food and outstanding service at Ponte. They have live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5:30.
Cafe Zack Restaurant
Enjoy gourmet cuisine is this restaurant located in downtown Ventura. The restaurant is housed in a former 1930s cottage. The ambiance is romantic and intimate. Service is friendly and attentive. This is the place to go to enjoy a leisurely meal. Best of all, the food is fantastic. If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss the Zack’s Pie, which is chocolate ganache with caramel sauce. We highly recommend Cafe Zack, one of the Southern California Restaurants you must visit!
K’ya Bistro has a terrific location in the heart of Laguna Beach by the beach. It’s located inside the Casa Camino Hotel. They serve Mediterrean inspired small plate dishes. The food is exceptional and prepared using quality fresh ingredients. The food is reasonably priced. Go during their Happy Hour from 4:30-5:30 for special dining and drink deals. Sit on their rooftop bar to enjoy the ocean view or a spectacular sunset. This is one of the unique Southern California restaurants that is fun to visit again and again.
Nick’s Laguna Beach
Nick Laguna’s Beach is located in downtown area Laguna Beach. The food is excellent and the staff is friendly and attentive. They serve lunch and dinner daily and breakfast on the weekends. This is a casual restaurant that serves American food. The menu is quite varied and everything is excellent.
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If you have dined at any of these Southern California Restaurants, we’d love to hear about it. Please take a moment to leave a comment below.