By Deanna Murphy and Mia Park
Summertime in Del Mar:
Days are long, the beach beckons, shopping destinations buzz, and Jimmy Durante Boulevard is all thrills from the midway to the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. And all of it is better enjoyed with friends, full glasses, and fabulous food. Good thing there’s no shortage of new destinations and beloved standbys to fortify, indulge, celebrate, and even recover from living it up in this quintessential seaside town that entices anyone and everyone to make the most out of summer.
Aren’t sure where to begin? How about at the beginning — of the alphabet. Even the lead letter presents choices spanning flip-flop casual to Forbes Five-Star. On two corners of the most recognized intersection of 92014, where Camino Del Mar crosses 15th Street, Adelaide at L’Auberge Del Mar and Americana Del Mar offer two distinctly different experiences: a casual breakfast, lunch, or dinner with a side of people-watching (Americana) or a more upscale turn at L’Auberge’s newest concept, Adelaide. At the top of the accolade chain, Addison serves inventive, elegant cuisine that has garnered two Michelin stars as well as its distinction as a AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five-Star dining destination. Though just outside Del Mar’s northern boundary, Alce 101 is where those in the know flock for double dates and craft cocktails.
Back in Olde Del Mar, Beeside Balcony, helmed by Executive Chef and Owner Christophe Cevasco, offers coastal-inspired Mediterranean fare with a view. Of course, no summer restaurant list would be complete without the iconic track-facing Brigantine, where there are two views — surf and turf — for the price of, well, as many margaritas as you please (and Happy Hour Brig Fish Tacos, thank you very much)!
Chef Christophe’s name sounded familiar at Beeside Balcony, didn’t it? That’s because he’s pulling double duty with Beeside’s downstairs sibling, Cevasco’s. And if it’s sustenance in a pint you seek, Cedros’ Culture Brewing boasts ten taps to tantalize from stout to hard seltzer.
Don’t be mistaken — there’s far more to be found beyond a block’s distance from the sand. At Del Mar Highlands, the main attraction is the many attractions in the Sky Deck food hall. It’s got a global vibe with options to match (Pizza! Ramen! Thai! Greek! Mexican!) that’ll satisfy every palate, but surely all can agree that any meal is best finished off with the picture-perfect macarons at Parfait Paris. Outside the Sky Deck, mainstays Davanti Enoteca and Sammy’s serve up tried-and-true, crowd-pleasing fare to fill up after a long day. If it’s the morning after a big night, Snooze AM is the ticket (and the Bloody Mary menu elevates things far above just the average hair of the dog). Bonus! Early birds rallying for what’s to come can get the party started at 6:30am every day but Thursday.
On that all-star intersection at 15th and Camino Del Mar, Del Mar Plaza presents so many options — bright starts and grab-and-go at Pacifica Breeze Café, dumplings at Del Mar Rendezvous, Il Fornaio’s classic Italian fare, Monarch Ocean Pub’s casual American menu, Japanese at Shimbashi Izakaya, the legit Latin American cuisine of Tamarindo (give us all the Queso Fundido), and Pacifica Del Mar (see page 59 for all the reasons why you have to go) — that one could eat at a different spot daily for a week without duplication. And, if there’s a bad spot on the rooftop deck and bar to catch a Del Mar sunset, we have yet to find it.
Everyone loves good intel on locals’ secrets, and we’re no exception. San Diegans know we can count on good, fast, authentic Mexican food and we all have our loyalties among a variety of local mainstays. But a world-class bar with top-shelf selections to accompany your California burrito is undoubtedly a bit, well, unexpected. Enter El Pueblo, located unassumingly within the Del Mar Shopping Center on Via de la Valle. Clase Azul Tequila Ultra to go with your 2-for-$3 tacos? Yeah, they’ve got that. Meanwhile, those craving Mexican food who want their salsa fresca enjoyed al fresco love the laid-back outdoor vibe at mainstay En Fuego on Camino Del Mar.
Fresh seafood is a given when you’re this close to the source, and The Fish Market, just a crosswalk away from the Del Mar Race Track, has been the local go-to for decades. On the flip side of The 5, Flower Hill Promenade has built a delicious lineup of breakfast, lunch, and dinner spots. Go big in the a.m. with the famous Apple Pancake at Richard Walker’s Pancake House, enjoy a family meal at Milton’s (and if you’re questioning whether to take a treat from the bakery at its conclusion, the answer is yes), lunch with friends at Flower Child, and toast a good day at the track at Cucina Enoteca Del Mar, where the plastic ponies hanging from the ceiling are distinctly Del Mar.
Jake’s Del Mar is a rarity — one of only two on our list on Del Mar sand. But it’s not just beach. proximity that keeps people coming back for more than four decades; its staying power is a testament to a crowd-pleasing menu of approachable, delicious coastal cuisine.
Off the sand, One Paseo has brought a handful of new choices to Carmel Valley, many of which have a solid fan base in other beachy (and some landlocked) locations. Parakeet Café’s mochas are a little bit of art in a cup, Nick’s Del Mar and sister restaurant South of Nick’s Mexican Kitchen & Bar (opening this summer on the site of former resident International Smoke) are sure to draw the crowds of their OC cousins, and Tocaya, the Venice-born modern Mex concept, has already gained a loyal following in Westfield UTC.
Perennial standout Pamplemousse Grille, primely situated on Via de la Valle adjacent to the race track, is helmed by renowned chef and owner Jeffrey Strauss, who has a flair for presentation and a talent for taste that has delighted the palates of the world’s most influential epicures. Located on the sand in Del Mar, Poseidon Restaurant (also featured on this month’s cover), has dazzled diners with the freshest seafood amid breathtaking ocean views since 1968 — no small feat! Nestled on S. Hwy 101 just north of Via de la Valle, Parioli Italian Bistro is a hidden gem serving up authentic Italian cuisine worth discovering.
Red Tracton’s opened in 1988 during the racing season no less, and has been a go-to spot ever since for sports enthusiasts who gather for the prime rib, giant baked potato, lobster bisque, and a coveted seat around the piano. Just 660 feet west sits Ranch 45, a newer addition to the race track adjacent stretch, which works with top-tier suppliers, enabling the rancher, fisherman, and farmer to shine. Though technically not in Del Mar but too hot not to mention, Rare Society (voted Best New Restaurant by our readers) on Cedros Avenue brings a Rat Pack-era vibe with tufted leather booths and a gold paneled ceiling.
Synonymous with Del Mar after 20-plus years at its coveted site on 15th Street, Sbicca keeps regulars coming back for the restaurant’s fresh California cuisine, outstanding wines, and friendly atmosphere. Whether it’s dinner after the races, a casual brunch date, or a special celebration on the ocean view deck you crave, Sbicca offers something for every occasion.
Timeless and trendy at the same time, T’s Café just a tad north in Solana Beach expertly delivers on the quintessential breakfast (and Bloody Mary) experience, while evolving with the times with the addition of a primely situated outdoor corner bar that entices passersby to stop in for quick sip — or linger until last call. Tavern, a new concept that replaced the Belly Up Tavern’s Wild Note Café on Cedros Avenue, dishes out its own rock-and-roll experience with wall-to-wall Scrojo concert poster wallpaper and a menu as diverse as the music celebrated next door.
Vast in size and offerings is Viewpoint Brewing Company, a 7,000 square-foot brewery and restaurant off Jimmy Durante Boulevard that features a full-service dining experience helmed by Executive Chef Mike Patula, while Head Brewer Moe Katomski provides Viewpoint’s 20 taps with a mix of eclectic house-brewed styles. The expansive indoor/outdoor space offers views of the San Dieguito Lagoon and the Del Mar Race Track beyond.
What could be better than people watching from the prime southeast corner of 15th Street and Camino Del Mar? Doing so with a frosty beverage in hand, of course. WestBrew Del Mar is a satellite tasting room and restaurant that showcases WestBrew beer paired with a coastal inspired menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner, along with wine, mimosas, hard seltzer, and yes, the perfect summer refresher: beer slushees.
Zel’s Del Mar, which rounds out our alphabet tour, sits on the corner of 13th Street and Camino Del Mar, and serves fresh California cuisine with a welcoming and casual ambiance. And if you want to keep the party going, you can bet on Zel’s, which features live music Thursday to Sunday evenings. Cheers!