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Best Restaurants in La Jolla

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Meaning "the jewel" in the Spanish language, La Jolla is indeed a California's precious gem nestled atop the cliffs and surrounded on three sides by the ocean. It is famous all over the state by its spectacular beauty and numerous gourmet dining choices. Come to discover some of the best dining in La Jolla offering steak, seafood, Italian, Pacific Rim, Mexican, French and other world class dining establishments. From upscale to casual, romantic and child-friendly to beachfront restaurants with stunning ocean views, you are sure to have a fabulous dining experience in La Jolla.

George’s at the Cove

Average price: Main courses $26-$90. Ocean Terrace Bistro main courses $10-$15 lunch, $16-$29 dinner
Recommended For: Romantic, Business
Address: 1250 Prospect St, La Jolla Phone: (858) 454-4244

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Enjoy the San Diego lifestyle to the fullest at Georges California Modern. Featuring stunning ocean views, immaculate style, impeccable service, and above all, a world-class chef, George's California Modern is the signature restaurant of La Jolla. Hardly will you manage to find a more beautiful setting anywhere in San Diego, where you could sit and relax enjoying a great meal with such a spectacular ocean view.

After a $2.5-million renovation, this upscale restaurant re-emerged with a slightly new name and a new design-forward environment. Most importantly, though, Trey Foshee, named one of America's top 10 chefs by Food & Wine, can still be found in the kitchen. The restaurant now offers a larger, more adventurous menu than before, which incorporates more cross-cultural influences and is still driven by the freshest local ingredients available.

Georges California Modern offers three distinctly different ways to enjoy its gourmet food. If you love great food and you want to experience innovative, contemporary food, a memorable evening awaits you at George's California Modern, featuring an ever-changing menu. If you prefer a casual bistro menu and the best rooftop views of the ocean, try the Ocean Terrace upstairs where you will enjoy food and incomparable views at more modest prices. And finally, there is George's Bar on the middle level which offers a relaxed setting as well. Both the Ocean Terrace and George's Bar offer indoor and outdoor seating, as well as food from the same kitchen as the pricey main dining room. Lunch is served here daily too.

The Marine Room

Average price: Main courses $27-$44
Recommended For: Romantic
Address: 2000 Spindrift Dr, La Jolla Phone: (866)644-2351

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Consistently voted "Best of the Best', "Best Dining with a View", "Best Service" and "Most Romantic" in San Diego, the Marine Room offers sophisticated dining on the sands of La Jolla Shores. Since its opening in 1941, the multi-award winning Marine Room Restaurant has been a landmark dining venue for residents, celebrities and all looking for a memorable dining experience. More than just fine dining restaurant, the Marine Room is a La Jolla tradition not to be missed.

With captivating white-water views of the Pacific just inches from the windows, unmatched food, exemplary service and award-winning wine list, no wonder the Marine Room is San Diego's premier dining destination. The Marine Room offers diners fresh global cuisine rooted in the French classics, but accentuated by unusual flavors from other corners of the globe, like pomegranate-macadamia-coated organic salmon with red quinoa, bok choy, Serrano ham, and Kaffir lime-leaf infusion.

For a truly memorable dining experience, schedule your reservation a half-hour or so before sunset in order to enjoy the magic view or experience sundown by the bar where a lounge menu is available. Marine Room is also available for private parties and special events.

Donovan's Steak & Chop House

Average price: Average 3-Course Meal: $75 - $100
Recommended For: Romantic, Business
Address: La Jolla Village Drive, across from UTC, La Jolla, California Phone: (858) 450-6666

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One of the premier restaurant destinations in San Diego, upscale and elegant Donovan's of La Jolla has been drawing locals and tourists alike to celebrate a special occasion, cast a party or simply relax and enjoy a great meal. Voted the best steak house in San Diego by the Zagat Guide and honored by Wine Spectator magazine for the last four years with the Best of Award of Excellence, Donovan's Steak and Chop house offers exquisite cuisine in a refined setting. Featuring polished mahogany paneling with touches of deep green and burgundy, beautiful paintings and bronze sculptures bathed in soft, flattering light, the main dining room is amazingly quiet, with unobtrusive background music. In addition, there are smaller, more intimate spaces, all themed and decorated with appropriate photographs and artifacts. There is a room devoted to historic San Diego, famed San Diego sports figures and a homage to Del Mar racetrack. These charmingly intimate rooms, as well as the wine cellar, are also available for private parties.

The menu features a variety of succulent Prime steak, along with great many other options, from Australian rack of lamb to North Atlantic salmon. Each dish is presented simply and artfully and portions are extremely generous. Appetizers might include the dramatic shrimp cocktail with spunky cocktail sauce, tender scallops wrapped in crisp bacon or moist and Maryland-style crab cakes baked rather than fried. Don't miss baby lamb chops lightly dusted with cayenne and quick-seared which are simply delicious.

An award-winning wine list offers an astounding selection of both well-known and boutique wines. There is special emphasis on California vintages particularly Cabernets but the cellar has a broad selection of Italian super-Tuscans and Bordeaux with a major representation of Domaine Rominee Conti. Service is attentive and cordial, and every table gets total, undivided attention from cocktails through to coffee.

For dessert try a fudge triple chocolate brownie or ethereally light chocolate mousse cake, accompanied by a steaming fragrant cup of coffee or a glass of ten-year-old Tawny port.

Crab Catcher Seaside Grill

Average price: $50
Recommended For: Romance, Outdoor seating, Scenic view
Address: 1298 Prospect Street, La Jolla CA, 92037 Phone: (858) 454-9587

Perched high on a cliff literally over the ocean, overlooking the beautiful La Jolla Cove, Crab Catcher offers an unforgettable dining experience along with the most romantic setting in all La Jolla. A large window encloses interior dining room seating over the water, offering opportunity to enjoy the sparkling blue water and, if you are lucky, even watch sea lions bickering near the rocks. And the outdoor patio looks directly onto the majestic La Jolla Cove.

In addition to romantic sunsets and dramatic views Crab Catcher Seaside Grill features an impressive showcase of the freshest seafood. A real favorite is the pan-seared Pacific king salmon, served with a port wine balsamic glaze, and grilled radicchio salad, celery root and horseradish purée and a Meyer lemon crème fraiche. Another winner is the flame grilled sushi grade ahi served with nori and sesame sticky rice, spicy savory cabbage and oyster mushrooms with a miso ginger sauce. The Alaskan king crab legs are good, as is the filet mignon and the grilled Australian double lamb chops.

The year-round sushi bar open daily after 3 p.m., the detailed oyster menu and the catches of the day, combine for a delectable menu. They even stock live Maine lobster for broiling! Real Maine lobster is served with asparagus, red potatoes and a tarragon butter sauce. If you're a true crab lover, don't miss the whole Bering Sea red crab served steamed or chilled, with a celery mustard mayonnaise and freshly made horseradish cocktail sauce. Meat aficionados will enjoy top sirloin, filet mignon and short ribs, to name just a few! Children's menu is also available.

With the best view in La Jolla, impeccable service, knowledgeable staff and sophisticated atmosphere, the Crab Catcher Seaside Grill offers California dining at its best.

Tapenade

Average price: $10-$80
Recommended For: Romantic, Family, Business
Address: 7612 Fay Ave, La Jolla Phone: (858)551-7500

Considered the best French fare in the upscale coastal community of San Diego, Tapenade is an elegant and distinguished restaurant operated by husband-and-wife team Sylvie and Jean-Michel Diot. Widely acclaimed by restaurant critics and writers for his refreshing and inspired style of cooking, Jean- Michel Diot offers a new interpretation of Gallic cuisine, infusing Provençal flare with the finest organic and natural ingredients, revealing the true essence of the gourmet food. Passionate about fine cuisine and service, Chef Diot is known for his light, creative touch in the kitchen and a masterful sense of balance with aromatic ingredients of Provence. Recognized as one of the finest French restaurants in La Jolla, Tapenade offers lunch and early bird prix-fixe menus, as well as selections for vegetarians and children. Happy Hour is Sunday to Thursday at 5pm. With a combination of award-winning cuisine and excellent service, Tapenade Restaurant is the perfect choice for a romantic dinner, business lunch or a corporate and private event.

The Shores Restaurant

Average price: $35-$50
Recommended For: Romantic
Address: 8110 Camino del Oro, La Jolla CA, 92037 Phone: (866) 644-2630

Combining classic steakhouse favorites and innovative coastal cuisine, the Shores Restaurant is a perfect place to savor exceptional seasonal fare enjoying spectacular oceanfront views. The award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Augie Saucedo have created tempting and inspiring menus which incorporate a bounty of delicious seasonal local ingredients. Their monthly "Savor & Sip" Pairing Dinner menus invite you to taste a highlighted ingredient while sipping delicious paired wines. Happy hour is offered from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weeknights (be sure to check out the "Five for $5" menu). The Shores Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, nightly specials and an ala carte Sunday brunch.

Come to the Shores Restaurant to enjoy exceptional seasonal cuisine, exquisite wines and friendly hospitality. Large floor-to-ceiling windows which run the length of the dining room and adjacent lounge reveal the unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean. Surfside views and inviting atmosphere of this charming restaurant make for the dining experience you won’t soon forget.

The Cottage

Average price: Main courses $8-$11 breakfast, $9-$14 lunch, $9-$30 dinner
Recommended For: Romantic, Family
Address: 7702 Fay Ave, La Jolla Phone: (858)454-8409

If you are having a romantic vacation in La Jolla, having breakfast at this turn-of-the-century bungalow, located on a sunny corner in downtown La Jolla, is a must. Here everything is brimming with romance: a white picket fence, trellis, lots of colorful flowers, and a sea of pastel and floral umbrellas shading the brick-patio seating area. Inside, it is light and airy, with booths and tables under a skylight, and pastel watercolors of the La Jolla shore accentuating the cheerful atmosphere. Hot coffee and fresh waffles smothered with bananas and strawberries complete an enchanting La Jolla dining experience which is just too good to miss.

La Jolla's best breakfast is served here. Start the day with an excellent omelet or any other egg dish featuring Mediterranean, Cal-Latino, and classic American touches. Cinnamon rolls are very good and homemade granola is a favorite as well. The Cottage also bakes its own muffins which are just great, rolls, delicious oatmeal pancakes and coffee cakes. Lunch menu offers freshly made, healthful soups, salads, including fabulous Jamaican shrimp salad, light meals and sandwiches. The dinner menu features California bistro cuisine. The Cottage bakery makes the most wonderful desserts, pastries, and bread. If you like what you taste, The Cottage sells a cookbook that includes many of its most popular recipes.

Service is good and the atmosphere is really intimate. The owner makes diners feel welcome and the staff is attentive and friendly, so it's always a pleasant experience. Dining on the beautiful patio is the best way to enjoy good food, basking in La Jolla's perpetually perfect weather, reading the paper, sipping coffee and generally relishing the good life.