Best Outdoor Dining Restaurants in San Diego

After checking out San Diego’s finest attractions, like Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, you deserve to treat yourself to the best flavors in America’s Finest City. There are plenty of places offering outdoor seating to enjoy San Diego’s warm climate.

friends eating at san diego outdoor dining restaurant

So, whether you’re in the mood for seafood or any international specialties, you’re bound to find immersive dining destinations that exceed your expectations.

A.R. Valentien

11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-777-6635
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The first restaurant on my list that I recommend for outdoor dining is A.R. Valentien, an upscale eatery nestled within The Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Its cozy, elegant vibe makes it the perfect setting for enjoying Executive Chef Kelli Crosson’s seasonal menu.

Their wood-adorned patio space also has a lovely view of the nearby golf course and live music every Wednesday through Friday.

During my last visit, I had their Caramelized Onion and Potato Knish as my first course and Brandt Beef Prime Ribeye Steak with Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes as my second course. Then, I enjoyed their Tropical Sundae for dessert.

Buona Forchetta – South Park

3001 Beech St, San Diego, CA 92102
Phone: 619-381-4844
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Next up on my list of the best restaurants offering outdoor dining in San Diego is Buona Forchetta – South Park, located within walking distance from Crystal Blue Vibrations.

This lively pizzeria offers a wide selection of wood-fired pizza, fresh pasta, and other Italian specialties for anyone passing through the South Park neighborhood. In addition, their spacious patio is an excellent place to unwind at the end of the day.

I recommend starting with their Shrimp Ceviche or Warm Italian Olives and trying their Roast Beef, Caprese, Porchetta, or Rustico Panuozzi, their signature pizza crust sandwiches. Be sure to quench your thirst with an espresso or organic Italian soda.

Mister A’s

2550 Fifth Ave 12th floor, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: 619-239-1377
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Another one of the best restaurants offering outdoor dining in San Diego is Mister A’s, found inside the Manchester Financial Center, overlooking Balboa Park’s west side.

This upscale restaurant’s panoramic patio has a beautiful view of the city’s skyline, enhanced by the tasty, French-inspired delights prepared by Chef Stephane Voitzwinkler.

I’m a fan of their Braised Prime Beef Shortribs, Sweet Potato Agnolotti, Georges Bank Scallops, and White Sea Bass with a side of roasted cauliflower.

Don’t forget to pair your dinner with a Jalisco Stallion cocktail or Italian Limeade. Finally, treat yourself to their tempting Vanilla Bean Cheesecake or Apple Napoleon for dessert.

The Crack Shack – Little Italy

2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-795-3299
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After spending the day at Waterfront Park or the Maritime Museum of San Diego, consider stopping by to eat at The Crack Shack – Little Italy.

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This hip, coop-shaped eatery serves tasty chicken and egg dishes for anyone craving Southern California flavors. They also have outdoor seating and a bocce court to help you pass the time on a warm, sunny day.

Consider trying their five-Piece Half Bird Fried Chicken meal, Double Clucker Sandwich, Cali Drip, or Coop Deville with a side of Schmaltz Fries, Fire Nugs, or Mexican Poutine. If you have room for something sweet, ask about their rotating, seasonal shakes.

Kettner Exchange

2001 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-255-2001
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Suppose you’re trying to find an excellent place to eat in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. In that case, I recommend booking a reservation at Kettner Exchange, a stylish restaurant offering quality American cuisine. Their rooftop patio offers a lovely view of the North San Diego Bay.

Kettner Exchange’s menu rotates frequently, so be sure to stop by often to sample as many shared plates as possible.

I recommend trying their Whipped Buttermilk Ricotta, Australian Lamb Chops, Farro Fried Rice, or Szechuan Frog Legs. Don’t forget to check out their wine and cocktail list in their main dining area or lounge.

Vintana Wine + Dine

1205 Auto Park Way, Escondido, CA 92029
Phone: 760-745-7777
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Nestled on The Lexus Centre’s third floor, Vintana Wine + Dine is your best option for outdoor dining if you prefer a scenic view in a modern setting.

The trip, about 30 miles north of the heart of San Diego, is worth it because of the restaurant’s stylish New American fare and breathtaking city view from its patio.

After starting with their Spicy Garlic Butter Shrimp, be sure to order their Vegetable Risotto, Black Pepper Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon, Citrus Pistachio-Crusted Salmon, or Slow-Braised Short Rib topped with Lobster Tail or Shrimp. If you stop by for happy hour, try their Pear Harvest or Winter Solstice cocktail.

Fort Oak

1011 Fort Stockton Dr, San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: 619-722-3398
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If you’re looking for an airy, modern atmosphere when narrowing down where to eat with outdoor dining in San Diego, Fort Oak is your best option near the Hillcrest neighborhood.

Their two private patio areas are excellent for enjoying dinner under a starlit sky. Their culinary team prepares quality wood-fired seafood and smoked meat for any occasion.

Start your night out with their Grande Tower and sample the finest clams, oysters, prawns, and Maine lobster in the neighborhood.

Then, consider ordering their Barbecued Half Duck, Embered Black Cod, Duroc Pork Chop, or New York Strip with a Javelin, Silver Hawk, or Bel-Air Nomad cocktail.

George’s at the Cove

1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-454-4244
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If you prefer dining near La Jolla’s waterfront, consider booking your next reservation at George’s at the Cove. I love this restaurant’s elegant atmosphere and panoramic view of La Jolla Cove.

You can also enjoy Chef Trey Foshee’s cuisine on their rooftop ocean terrace and feel the cool waterside breeze.

If you’re dining with friends, consider starting with their Chicken Wings or Parmesan Herbed Fries. In my opinion, their best dishes are Swordfish, Duck Leg Confit, Spaghetti & Clams, and Seafood Stew.

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Don’t forget to finish your night in style with their Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée or Citrus Fruit Tart with Pink Mule or dessert wine.

Il Fornaio

Multiple Locations
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With locations in Coronado and Del Mar, Il Fornaio is your best option for authentic Italian cuisine in San Diego.

This upscale dining establishment has a lovely waterside view from its windows and patio, making it the perfect setting for enjoying dinner after taking a ferry tour of the city.

If you’re stopping by for lunch, consider ordering their Salmone Alla Griglia or Calabrese Pizza. However, I recommend trying their Brasato Al Vino Rosso, Casonzei Alla Zucca, or Pomodoro Gnocchi if you’re treating your friends to dinner.

You can also ask your server for gluten-free menu options. Then, end your meal with tiramisu or a scoop of gelato.

Rustic Root

535 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-232-1747
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Rustic Root is a stylish restaurant near the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Their lively rooftop bar is an excellent backdrop for outdoor dining in San Diego if you want to experience the city’s thriving late-night wonders.

So, if you’re interested in their happy hour cocktails or watching the sunset with your family, this destination has it all.

During my last visit to San Diego, I started with their Mole Carrots and Scotch Egg. Then, I usually have their Texas Table Smoked Tomahawk, Wild Boar Bolognese, Lobster Pappardelle, or Maine Seared Scallops with creamed kale or pomme puree. They also offer brunch on the weekends.

Oceana Coastal Kitchen

3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: 858-539-8635
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You can find Oceana Coastal Kitchen inside Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa. Their heated, covered patio has an amazing view of Mission Bay.

Its upscale, maritime ambiance gives it a classy touch for anyone looking for substance while dining outdoors. Their modern seafood dishes offer some of the best flavors in the city.

I usually order their Mushroom & Parmesan Omelet for breakfast, Chicken & Mango Salad Sandwich for lunch, and Short Rib Lasagna for dinner.

They also have live entertainment on Wednesday and Thursday nights and half-priced wine bottles for Thursday dinner. Don’t forget to pair your meal with any of their refreshing red or white wines.

Pali Wine Co.

2130 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-569-1300
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Are you craving the finest charcuterie near the Little Italy neighborhood? Then, consider visiting Pali Wine Co. for your dining needs.

Their upstairs outdoor patio offers quality meats and quality wines sourced from the fruit from their vineyards.

It has a refined, minimalist vibe and encourages guests to unwind after touring San Diego’s most famous landmarks.

They offer a seasonal menu, so be sure to stop by often to try everything. I like their Braised Spanish Meatballs, House-Made Hummus, Patatas Bravas, and Warm Di Stefano Burrata.

They also have a wide selection of wines on tap and wine-tasting flights. So, don’t miss out on their Wild or Premium Tasting Flight.

Davanti Enoteca

1655 India Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-237-9606
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Within walking distance from La Pensione Hotel stands Davanti Enoteca, a rustic-chic Italian restaurant in the heart of Little Italy.

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Enjoy their best Italian cuisine on their outdoor patio and take in San Diego’s fresh, salty air. I consider it a great place to enjoy something to eat after spending the afternoon at Waterfront Park.

My favorite dishes are Della Terra Pizza, Davanti Burger, Gnocchi Bolognese, and Risotto Riccio Di Mare.

If you’re in the mood for brunch on the weekends, try their Frittata Bianca. After dinner, consider sampling their Cannoli or Goat Cheesecake if you’re in the mood for dessert.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

Multiple Locations
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You can find Eddie V’s Prime Seafood near La Jolla Cove and Ruocco Park. Their elegant patio space offers quality seafood dishes and live jazz to enhance the atmosphere, while their lounge makes the perfect spot for enjoying their wine and cocktails.

Eddie V’s offers a wide selection of surf & turf dishes for any fine dining experience. If this is your first time visiting this restaurant, try their Parmesan Sole, South African Lobster, USDA Prime Bone-In Ribeye, or Chilean Sea Bass.

These dishes taste best with a Mango Mule, Maverick, or 24 Karat cocktail. Finally, finish with their Bananas Foster Butter Cake.

NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar

910 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-964-5400
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If you’re looking for inventive dishes when narrowing down the best places for outdoor dining in San Diego, NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar in La Jolla’s Grande Colonial Hotel is one of the best options to consider booking your next reservation.

Its contemporary, chic atmosphere is enhanced with its waterfront views on the outdoor private Grande Terrace.

During my last visit to the city, I had their Jamaican Jerk Pork Belly, Maine Sea Scallops, Point Reyes Blue Cheese, and Stuffed Brioche Donuts.

They also have half-priced wine bottles every Wednesday and offer a six-course Mercy of the Chef Tasting Menu every Wednesday through Sunday.

Cody’s La Jolla

1025 Prospect St #210, La Jolla, CA 92037
Phone: 858-459-0040
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Located four minutes away from Shell Beach, Cody’s La Jolla is another restaurant offering outdoor dining for anybody looking for the best brunch experience in the city.

Its lively outdoor patio is the perfect place to start your day or afternoon with the tastiest cuisine in the area.

Consider sampling their Crab Cake Benedict, Chilaquiles, Crispy Chicken Sandy, or Bacon and Cheddar Omelet with a fresh fruit cup or biscuits & gravy on the side.

Don’t miss out on their signature Blackberry-Sage Spritzer, Sparkling White Wine Sangria, or OJ Mimosa cocktails when you’re in the mood for brunch by the waterfront.

JRDN Restaurant

723 Felspar St, San Diego, CA 92109
Phone: 858-270-5736
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Last but not least on my list of restaurants offering the best outdoor dining in San Diego is JRDN Restaurant, located in the TOWER23 Hotel.

Their outdoor seating offers a lovely beachfront view of Pacific Beach and Crystal Pier. Executive Chef Stephen Gage serves quality surf & turf dishes to make any trip to San Diego’s shoreline memorable.

In my opinion, they serve the best Lobster Sushi Roll, Grilled Hamachi Collar, Fried Calamari, and Grilled Lamb Lollipops on this side of the city. Be sure to order a side of roasted baby yams or charred broccoli with any of these dishes.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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