Physically, San Diego is one of the most glamorous cities in the country. Landscapes and seascapes abound, and thanks to the absence of traditional seasons, we rarely have to fear that the fickle elements will obscure our spectacular views. One of the most pleasant aspects of dining out, of course, is to eat in a room with a view. In Italy, vista del mare, or view of the sea, immediately adds thousands of lire to the cost of the dingiest room. In like manner, there’s hardly a restaurant here, either, that does not charge extra for its view. The following is a guide to dining rooms where the views are superb, although the quality of the food is often not commensurate to the beauty outside. It’s up to you to determine whether you are willing to compromise on the meal in order to achieve the vista.
- Mister A’s
- 2250 5th Avenue (239-1377)
- Open daily til 10:30 p.m.
A la carte menu, $7-$14. With wine, count on $20 per person. Gorgeous view of city. Food very uneven. This place is chancy for meals, although it’s a San Diego landmark. Very dressy.
- Starlight Roof
- El Cortez Hotel
- 7th and Ash (232-0161)
- Open daily till midnight
Price of entree includes relish tray and roll, all the rest a la carte. $4.95-59.95 for entrees. Best bet is prime ribs at $7.95. Again, a fine elevated view of the city. Meals are good, but not outstanding.
- Tambo de Oro Club
- 530 B Street (294-4520)
This is a private club and you must know a member to be invited. It does v have a nice city view and expensive food.
- Balboa Park Imperial House
- 505 Kalmia Street (234-3525)
- Closed Sundays. Lunch and dinner to 11 p.m.
This has a view of the park which is most delightful at dusk. The menu is huge, but the food may be uneven, excellent one night and average another. Prices from $6.75 to approximately $10.95. Harbor Drive
- Anthony’s Fish Grotto
- Harbor at Ash
- Dinner til 8:30 p.m.
- Closed Tuesday
Although the view is fine, this branch of Anthony’s tends to be crowded, noisy, often full of tourists. The wait for tables is long.
- Anthony’s Star of the Sea
- Harbor Drive at Ash, next to the Fish Grotto
- Open daily 5:30-10:30 p.m.
Gourmet fish and seafood restaurant with romantic view of the harbor. Every table commands a harbor view. Reservations essential, up to 48 hours ahead of time. Meals are expensive (count on $10 average) but the fish and seafood are first rate. The salad and soup are average. A great deal of bustle here.
- Anthony’s Harborside
- 1355 Harbor Drive
- Open daily except for major holidays till 10:30 p.m.
As the dining room is situated one flight up, the view is stunning. Like most Anthony’s, this place is noisy and crowded. However, the seafood salad bar is excellent. The drinking bar at street level also offers a view.
- 5150 North Harbor Drive
- Open daily till 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday til 11 p.m.
Italian dishes and seafood, none expertly prepared. Some view of boats and harbor. Prices for dinner range from $6 to $14.
- Reuben E. Lee (291-1880)
- Reuben’s (291-5030)
- 880 Harbor Island Drive
- Both open Sunday-Thursday till 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday till midnight
The first is a boat with a view, the second a restaurant on firm ground with a view of the harbor. Your best bet in either place is the fish. Unless you get there early, usually a long wait.
- Portola Restaurant
- Sheraton Hotel
- 1380 Harbor Drive (297-4355)
- Open daily till 11 p.m.
While this restaurant serves lunch and dinner, it’s best known for its Sunday brunch with lots and lots of food and free Sangria. The preparation of the food is adequate but not interesting. Low-level view of San Diego Harbor.
- Bali Hai
- 2230 Shelter Island Drive (222-1181)
- Sunday through Thursday open till 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday till 11 p.m.
The view here is breathtaking, but the food is not. It’s Americanized Chinese, badly prepared and expensive. A tourist trap.
- Golden Dolphin
- 2051 Shelter Island Drive (223-2572)
- Dinner daily 5-11 p.m.
The view is wondrous, but the food and service have no redeeming qualities. View or not, avoid this one.
- Town and Country Motel
- 250 Hotel Circle North (291-7131)
- Closed Sunday. Monday—Thursday 6-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6-midnight
This elegant room has a splendid view of the valley. However fine the service, the mediocrity of the food makes this a chancy investment in terms of time and money.
- World Famous
- 701 Thomas Avenue (488-0634)
- Open daily, lunch and dinner til midnight
This room faces the boardwalk and the ocean beyond. The place is nautical and somewhat funky at the same time. The fish and seafood are fresh; vegetables cost extra. About $6.50 for dinner.
- Anthony’s Fish Grotto
- 886 Prospect, La Jolla (454-7135)
- Closed Monday. Lunch and dinner till 8:30 p.m.
Nice, but not spectacular view. Always crowded, always a wait. Still one of the best buys in La Jolla or anywhere.
- 1250 Prospect, la Jolla (454-4244)
- Open daily to 2 a.m.
Room in the rear has a view of the Cove and is most effective during daytime. Good hamburgers and shishkabob. Avoid ribs. Very popular place for young people.
- Chart House
- 1270 Prospect, La Jolla (459-8201)
- Open daily til at least 10 p.m. Dinners only.
Gorgeous view of La Jolla Shores and north; pleasant service; standard American food with average preparation. Expect no culinary surprises here.
- The Summer House Inn
- 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive
- La Jolla (459-0261)
The high-altitude view here is breathtaking. Dinners are expensive and a disappointment. However, Sunday brunches give you your money’s worth and so does the daily buffet.
- La Valencia Hotel Sky room
- 1132 Prospect
- La Jolla (454-0771)
Closed Sunday. Dinner til 9 p.m. Outstanding view of the coastline from the top of the hotel. Excellent service, but food uneven. Fish and seafood fare best here. Very expensive.
- Marine Room
- Beach and Tennis Club
- 2000 Spindrift Drive
- La Jolla (454-7126) Open daily 6-10 p.m.
Too bad the food can’t equal the view. Althought the waves break right under the window, dinners tend to be fair when they are not disastrous. Take your money elsewhere.
- Sala del Mar
- Sea Lodge Hotel
- 8110 Camino Oro
- La Jolla (459-8271)
- Open daily till 10 p.m.
You can watch volleyball players by day and the waves by night, but there’s little to stimulate your fancy in the food. It’s expensive and average in preparation. Lunch is a good bet here.
- Top of the Cove
- 1216 Prospect
- La Jolla (454-7779)
- Closed Sunday and Monday, Tuesday— Thursday til 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday till 11 p.m.
The room and view are delightful; the food is not. Too expensive, too small portions, too dull preparation. Dinners $9.50-518.
- North County Chart House
- 2588 Highway 101, Cardiff-by-the-Sea (436-4044)
- Open daily till 10:30, Friday and Saturday till 11:30 p.m.
Directly on the ocean, with stunning sunsets (except when there’s fog), this wood-and-glass room rates a visit. But if you’ve had dinner in one Chart House, you’ve had them all. Standard American fare. Vegetables extra. Salad bar.
- 2526 Highway 101, Cardiff-by-the-Sea (753-9068)
- Open daily till 11 p.m.
Funky nautical with food to match. Nothing quite clicks here except the view. Noisy and crowded during the summer. Omelettes, fish, steak.
- The Restaurant
- 4509 Adams, Carlsbad (729-2432)
- Dinners 6-9:30 p.m. Closed Monday
This very expensive, very pretentious restaurant overlooks a lagoon. The entrees are a la carte and about $10. If you order wine, the cheapest bottle may be $14. The food is good, but unless you are a teetotaler, the total price is too high.
These view places should provide you sufficient range for your mood, and your purse. Should you wish to include golf course views, the Torrey Pines Inn in La Jolla serves lots and lots of standard fare, as does the Whispering Palms Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe. Hie Inn at Rancho Bernardo, also fronting a golf course, serves a fine Sunday brunch.