15 Best Restaurants in La Jolla, CA

La Jolla, California, is not just a stunning town by the sea, it’s also home to some top-notch restaurants, including a few that have been internationally recognized.

In fact, it’s difficult to pick just a few of the best restaurants in La Jolla, but the ones listed here are consistently ranked among the top on sites such as Eater, TripAdvisor and the Michelin Guide.

Visitors can find options to match any taste and budget, from grab-and-go tacos to sushi to fine dining, often with an ocean view.

Most of these restaurants cater to vegetarians, vegans and those with gluten sensitivities, too. But it’s not just about the food. Most of these spots also provide impeccable service and attention to detail—it’s not just a meal, it’s a memory.

1. The Marine Room

$$$$ | (858) 459-7222 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by The Marine Room (@themarineroom)

As its name implies, The Marine Room offers a menu that emphasizes seafood, along with panoramic views of the ocean. This award-winning restaurant is an iconic destination, attracting public figures, travelers and locals for 80 years.

Choose from the lounge menu (small plates), chef’s specials, or the dinner and wine menu, or reserve seats for a high tide dinner for what the Michelin Guide calls “a truly enchanting experience.” This is a great choice for special occasions, and the dress code is smart California casual. Reservations are recommended.

 

 

2. George’s at the Cove

$$$$ | (858) 454-4244 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by George’s at the Cove (@georgesatthecove)

This award-winning establishment offers some of the best rooftop dining in the area, with spectacular ocean views and a relaxed atmosphere.

The casual menu features fresh seafood, sandwiches and salads with options for vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diners. There’s a kid-friendly menu, too. Patrons also enjoy the inventive, locally inspired cocktails and an impressive wine list. Open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended.

 

 

3. A.R. Valentien

$$$ | (858) 777-6635 | WEBSITE

Best Restaurants in La Jolla, CA

Located at the Lodge at Torrey Pines, A.R. Valentien overlooks the swimming pool and the 18th hole of the golf course. Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner in the Craftsman-style dining room described by the Michelin Guide as “California-casual meets country club,” or dine outside on the patio.

The food is locally sourced, and the menu changes according to what’s available seasonally. Reservations are recommended.

 

 

4. NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar

$$$ | (858) 964-5400 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by La Jolla’s NINE-TEN Restaurant (@ninetenlajolla)

NINE-TEN’s recognition by the Michelin Guide means it’s well worth checking out. The restaurant’s location in the 100-year-old Grande Colonial Hotel gives it a casual elegance. Al fresco dining options include tables out front and in the rear overlooking the pool.

The chef serves up globally inspired, farm-to-table cuisine from breakfast through dinner—there’s also a weekend brunch. Adventurous patrons can opt to let the chef choose their meal. Reservations are recommended for dinner.

 

 

5. Barbarella Restaurant and Bar

$$-$$$ | (858) 454-7373 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by ʙᴀʀʙᴀʀᴇʟʟᴀ ʀᴇsᴛᴀᴜʀᴀɴᴛ (@barbarellarestaurant)

Located in La Jolla Shores, Barbarella boasts a beautiful location with wonderful al fresco dining in an artsy setting. The menu offers American and Italian fare for brunch, lunch and dinner with some vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

Barbarella is both kid- and dog-friendly and offers menus for both. Diners love the quality of the food, service, ambience and drinks. Reservations are recommended.

 

 

6. The Cottage La Jolla

$$-$$$ | (858) 454-8409 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by The Cottage La Jolla (@thecottagelajolla)

Breakfast is considered by many to be the most important meal of the day, which is why The Cottage is a popular breakfast spot, though lunch and dinner are served, too.

The menu combines traditional American with unique Southern California dishes, including options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-sensitive diners. Patrons love the variety and generous portions. Eat in the cozy Victorian-style dining room or outside on the patio.

 

 

7. Harry’s Coffee Shop

$$-$$$ | (858) 454-7381 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Harry’s Coffee Shop (@harryscoffeeshop)

Fans of the classic American diner should head to Harry’s Coffee Shop, where breakfast is served all day.

Harry’s has been recognized by the Food Network, Travel & Leisure, Food & Wine Magazine, Buzzfeed and USAToday as one of the top diners in the U.S. Enjoy classics like Eggs Benedict, a grilled tuna melt or a Cobb salad.

The patio is pet friendly, and free parking is available in the back.

 

 

8. Smallgoods Cheese Shop & Cafe

$$-$$$ | (858) 886-7217 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Smallgoods Cheese Shop & Cafe (@smallgoods_)

Smallgoods sells specialty cheeses and cured meats, and the owners pride themselves on providing exceptional service. Locals and tourists alike stop in to order sandwiches at the cafe. Numerous reviews note the quality of the ingredients and creativity of the sandwich combinations.

Visitors in a hurry can grab ready-made sandwiches, soups and salads. The custom charcuterie boards also get rave reviews.

 

 

9. Catania

$$-$$$ | (858) 551-5105 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Catania Coastal Italian (@cataniasd)

Located on the top floor of the Plaza Center, Catania’s coastal Italian menu offers wood-fired pizzas and scratch-made pasta dishes in addition to entrees such as swordfish, chicken and steak.

Dine on the terrace for coastline views, or enjoy the Mediterranean vibe in the dining room. The Michelin Guide recommends arriving early to enjoy cocktails and snacks before dinner. Make sure to leave room for dessert. Reservations are recommended.

 

 

10. Himitsu

$$-$$$ | (858) 263-4463 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Himitsu (@himitsusd)

Sushi and sashimi are the stars at Himitsu, and lucky patrons who get a seat at the counter can watch the sushi chefs show off their knife skills and techniques.

The Michelin Guide recommends “omakase,” or leaving it up to the chef to choose the sushi, but less adventurous types will find plenty of options on the menu. The sake, wine and craft beer are carefully selected to complement the sushi. Reservations are recommended.

 

 

11. Candor

$$-$$$ | (858) 246-7818 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by CANDOR by Giuseppe (@dinecandor)

Since it opened in 2019, Candor has become a local favorite for its consistently good food, large portions and excellent service. Diners enjoy a seasonal menu based on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and there are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The lamb pappardelle is a popular choice. The drinks menu offers a good variety of handcrafted cocktails and carefully curated wines. The dining room is bright and cheerful, and the patio is dog-friendly. Reservations are recommended.

 

 

12. Richard Walker’s Pancake House

$$ | (858) 459-8800 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Richard Walker’s Pancake House (@richardwalkerspancakehouse)

This breakfast spot is known for its fluffy baked pancakes, but Richard Walker’s Pancake House can satisfy any morning craving. Over 100 menu items are made from scratch each day, including 25 varieties of pancakes, 20 different egg dishes, crepes and waffles.

The meats and produce are sourced locally. Vegans, vegetarians and those with gluten-free needs can find menu options, and the staff will work to accommodate other dietary restrictions.

 

 

13. Caroline’s Seaside Cafe

$$ | (858) 202-0569 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Vane SD| Travel + Lifestyle (@vanessacampos)

With a name like Caroline’s Seaside Cafe, it’s safe to assume that patrons can enjoy ocean views with the food. Order at the counter before grabbing a seat. The breakfast menu features egg dishes, pancakes and bagels.

Prefer lunch? Caroline’s offers a variety of sandwiches, soups and salads. The menu has vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. The crowd picks up on weekends, so get there early.

 

 

14. Cafe Vahik

$ | (858) 459-1895 | WEBSITE

Best Restaurant in La Jolla, CA

Looking for a budget bite? Head to the no-frills Cafe Vahik for breakfast or lunch. Locals and tourists alike rave about the food, which includes bagels, omelets, breakfast burritos, salads and panini, along with a variety of coffee drinks, shakes and smoothies.

The menu accommodates vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free patrons. The dining room is small, and there is limited outdoor seating.

 

 

15. The Taco Stand

$ | (858) 551-6666 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by The Taco Stand (@letstaco_)

This family-operated taqueria gets its inspiration from the taco stands in Tijuana only an hour away. The lines here are long, so be prepared to wait. The corn tortillas are handmade, and the salsa and guacamole are made fresh daily.

The quality and authenticity of the food is obvious from the numerous rave reviews. The Michelin Guide recommends the al pastor taco, grilled mahi mahi, nopal (cactus) taco and the California burrito. The Taco Stand serves breakfast, too.

 

 

Summary

The best restaurants in La Jolla offer memorable meals due to the food and the service, which are sometimes enhanced by unbelievable views of the Pacific coastline. Dining in La Jolla is an adventure, since many restaurants serve inventive dishes with a local twist. Arrive hungry and savor the experience.

Leave a Comment