Wherever you dine in historic Coronado, you can’t fight that loving feeling that you’ve been instantly immersed in the glamorous side of Crown City with stories of Top Gun, Marilyn Monroe, and U.S. presidents. Accessing Coronado Island (though technically not an island) is a picturesque adventure: take the Coronado Ferry, cruise along the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, or mosey along the Silver Strand beach route. Locals and tourists flock to the area for seafood, European-style bistros, Mexican dishes, and a MooTaco on warm, breezy evenings.Read More
15 Restaurants to Try in Scenic Coronado
Venture out to Crown City to dig into these 15 local favorite restaurants.
Helmed by executive chef JoJo Ruiz, the anchor restaurant of the legendary Hotel Del Coronado spotlights local sustainable seafood. Be sure to ask about the day’s catch, which can include Mexican blue shrimp and whole rock cod. Open for dinner nightly, standout specialties at this Michelin-recognized restaurant include wood-grilled whole fish deboned tableside, and the Serea Mezze, a hummus platter with whipped cheese, and house-made pita bread.
This Parisian-style bistro has become a beloved local favorite on Coronado that garnered Michelin Plate recognition in 2021. Popular dishes include escargots, crepes, and cheeseboards featuring imported French cheeses. From Friday through Sunday, you can find pastry specialties, like the poppy seed cheesecake rhubarb cronut and key lime blueberry cruffin.
The locally owned European-style café has been a staple for islanders since 2001. A cozy café by day and evening bistro by night, regulars float in and out all day long. Bakers show up daily at 4 a.m. to begin the pastry making. Their ham and gruyere cheese quiche is soft and billowy, while their champagne-style cheesecakes sell out regularly.
This Chart House outpost has a terrific view of the San Diego city skyline with patio dining. Customer favorites include the Chilean sea bass pinto noir, herb-crusted and slow-roasted prime rib, and halibut mai’a served with macadamia nuts, bananas, and Frangelico coconut ginger rice. Grab a mango mojito or monarch margarita to toast the sunset on the terrace.
Here and at his other sushi bar in North Park, owner Anthony Pascale is committed to concocting creative twists to sashimi with the daily catch he purchases right off the docks. Check out the chalkboard menus for the chef’s sushi and sashimi specials. Try the premium Japanese sake flights while digging into assorted bites like pork gyoza and saiko tempura with sweet Thai chili sauce.
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Coronado Brew Pub
First opened in 1996, Coronado’s first local brewpub offers a wide selection of Coronado Brewing Company’s award-winning beers. Happy hours run Tuesdays through Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m. for $2 off CBC pints. The Coronado Pub Burger and fish tacos are favorite dishes to pair with seasonal releases like the citrus-forward Peach Cruiser and Palm Sway IPA.
Clayton's Coffee Shop
The retro American diner has been an island staple since 1938. Owner Mary Frese has added Southern favorites from her native Tennessee, like chicken and waffles and biscuits and gravy. The spicy sausage patty and good ole’ eggs and toast are other popular dishes, especially among the military personnel stationed in Coronado in search of made-from-scratch, comfort food.
Nestled in the courtyard of El Cordova Hotel, the hidden-gem patio here is an excellent sit-down spot for classic Mexican and house plates like shrimp quesadillas, grilled swordfish tacos, and birria de res. Their chips and white sauce (a kicky jalapeno cheese dip) arrive on the table with every meal. Try the monthly specials like panko fried chicken tacos with their fresh-juice margaritas.
Stake Chophouse & Bar
If you’re in the mood for a delicious steak on Coronado, look no further than this style spot serving the best of the best when it comes to filets, chops and wagyu steaks. The popular Seafood Tower includes the freshest seafood selections, including East and West Coast oysters. The Taste of Wagyu includes Picanha, New York, and Japanese A5 steaks.
Head to this 1950s-inspired parlor on Orange Avenue and cool down with a waffle cone filled with hand-crafted ice cream that’s made with 16 percent butterfat to give the dessert a creamy richness. The MooTacos and ice cream bonbons are other specialties at this locally owned and operated spot. Popular flavors include Banana Nutella and Island Crunch made with chocolate, chipped chocolate pieces, and coconut.
Garage Buona Forchetta
Housed in a former mechanic’s garage built in 1904, Garage Buon Forchetta pays homage to the history of the venue with an Italian twist. An adorable antique Fiat convertible outfitted with a table for two sits in the center of the restaurant, along with vintage Fiats on the lawn. Ask for the seafood cioppino teeming with mussels, octopi, clams, and fish. The garlic focaccia is made to order in their wood-fired oven and end with a creamy panna cotta dessert made from scratch every day.
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The chic, modern restaurant with French-inspired décor opens up to Orange Avenue, perfect for people watching, that doles out generous portions of their housemade pretzels and cheese fondue along with other popular items like seared ahi tuna on sticky rice and seasonal spritzes like Jane’s Aperol.
Il Fornaio Coronado
Looking out on the city skyline, Il Fornaio Coronado sits near the Coronado Ferry Terminal. Grab a seat on the patio in the Tuscan-style restaurant and try the paccheri alla vodka, house-made tubular pasta with a scrumptious vodka tomato sauce, or Pizza Cristina with Italian prosciutto, mushrooms, and white truffle oil.
The namesake family-owned Mexican restaurant has roots in Puerto Vallarta where the first Serranos Restaurant opened. The chips come with four house-made salsas, including roasted tomato, cilantro mayo, Japanese chili, and a spicy serrano pepper. The sweet and sour mix for the margaritas are made from scratch. A must-try is the cochinita taco, a slow-roasted pork taco that takes over 36 hours to make using a secret family recipe.
Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill
This quaint harbor restaurant sits on stilts on the Glorietta Bay, a miniature replica of the Hotel Del Coronado across the street. In fact, it was built a year before the construction of The Del as a trial run. Ask to visit the crow’s nest at the top of the restaurant for sweeping 360-degree views of Coronado. Most of the fish is caught with the restaurant’s two dedicated vessels; don’t miss the smoky New England clam chowder and the chipotle-blackened swordfish.