We're showcasing two types of restaurants near San Diego County's most popular beaches, figuring you'll often need great nearby to-go fare to eat at the beach and a casual spot for a sit-down meal to end the day (with a shirt, shoes and a good dusting-off prior, of course). From the south point of the county to the north, here are our top picks.
Imperial BeachTo-go: Par Amour. Located at Pier Plaza, family-run Par Amour is best known for its homemade vegan pretzels in multiple flavors (and a choice of dips) baked throughout the day. Reasonably priced crepes, sandwiches, pizzas, jumbo hot dogs and desserts are also perfect to take to the beach. 10 Evergreen Ave., Imperial Beach. Casual: Coronado Brewing Co. Grab post-beach suds and coastal fare at Coronado Brewing Co.'s IB outlet. We like the Mermaid burger (bacon, barbecue sauce, grilled onions, white cheddar) but you can't go wrong with the ahi tuna sandwich or fish tacos. 875 Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach. coronadobrewing.com
Coronado Municipal BeachTo-go: Clayton's Mexican Take-Out. Clayton's menu features what are hailed as some of the best burritos on the island, namely a variety of California burritos. Try the Coronado burrito with carne asada, shrimp and bacon with guacamole, or the street tacos. 10th Street at Orange Avenue, Coronado. Casual: Leroy's Kitchen + Lounge. The terms farm-to-table, sustainable and upscale are just some of the buzzwords used to describe Leroy's, but we have it on good authority that the postbeach crowd flocks to its eclectic menu. Try the Leroy's burger with holey cow cheese, bacon jam, house pickles served with a side of truffled fries. 1015 Orange Ave, Coronado. leroyskitchenandlounge.com
Ocean BeachTo-go: Hodad's. How lucky that we can eat burgers on the beach from one of the best burger joints in America? Whether you are a true "hodad" (wannabe surfer) or not, it's hard to beat a Blue Jay burger (bleu cheese and grilled onions) with a hefty side of onion rings and a milkshake. 5010 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach. hodadies.com Casual: South Beach Bar & Grille. A panoramic ocean view, a good beer selection and some of San Diego's best fish tacos (on flour tortillas with a secret white sauce) are a perfect way to end a beach day. The most popular is the mahi taco though give the grilled shrimp and lobster tacos a try, too. 5059 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach. southbeachob.com Mission Beach To-go: Rubicon Deli. Rubicon Deli prides itself on big sandwiches using high quality local ingredients and meats roasted in-house. But the delicious bread in flavors like Dutch crunch, jalapeño jack and bleu cheese that makes the sandwich deserves a nod. Go for the Dapper Dipper (similar to a French dip) or a breakfast sandwich (served until noon). 3819 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach. rubicondeli.com Casual: Draft. Located on the Mission Beach boardwalk at Belmont Park, Draft boasts 69 beers on tap and a reputation for elevating beach food to a new level. To give you an idea, try the pistachio crusted salmon sandwich with Meyer lemon aioli, arugula, fennel and dijon glaze. 3105 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach. draftsandiego.com
Pacific BeachTo-go: Kono's Surf Club. The line usually moves quickly at Kono's, which is a good thing because their all-day breakfast includes epic burritos like the #1 (egg, sausage, avocado, cheese, pica sauce in a flour tortilla) and massive pancakes at great value near Crystal Pier. Burgers, sandwiches and a truly delish grilled cheese round out lunch offerings. 704 Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach. konoscafe.com Casual: World Famous. Its location alongside the beach boardwalk means it's busy but the list of house Benedicts is worth the wait. You also can't go wrong with a late afternoon snack of lobster, shrimp and/or fish tacos from the bar menu either. 711 Pacific Beach Drive, Pacific Beach. worldfamouspb.com
La Jolla Shores BeachTo-go: Cheese Shop. This neighborhood sandwich shop wows patrons not only with the in-house roasted pork loin sandwich, hefty portions and house-baked cookies (oatmeal is divine), but also the selection of imported and classic candies. 2165 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla. cheeseshoplajolla.com Casual: Shore Rider. Shore Rider adds a new, much-needed laid-back dining option to La Jolla Shores. Go for the food and stay for a house-made sangria and some of the coldest beer in town. Favorites include the ahi poke appetizer, chicken tinga nachos, one pound burrito and a seared ahi sandwich. 2168 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla. shoreridersd.com Ahi Poke from Shore Rider in La Jolla. (Courtesy photo)
Del MarTo-go: Board & Brew. Keeping it tasty since '79, specialty sandwiches like the Turkey Deluxe with the shop's famous secret sauce are still mega popular. Also try the Baja chicken with grilled chicken breast, jalapeños and melted jack on a baguette. 1212 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar. boardandbrew.com Casual: Stratford Court Cafe. Stratford Court Cafe is situated in a 1900s Cape Cod-style home steps from the beach where people can unwind in the afternoon with favorites such as acai bowls, California burrito, lox Benedict and Belgian waffles with strawberries and bananas in addition to coffee drinks on a cozy patio. 1307 Stratford Court. stratfordcourtcafe.com
Solana BeachTo-go: Waters Fine Foods. Known for catering beautiful, fresh food, Waters has a to-go cafe in Solana Beach where beachgoers can stop in for salads, sandwiches and gourmet combinations like their octagon lunches (candied pecan salad, gemelli pesto pasta, pan-seared Scottish salmon or the entree chicken and a dessert bar of your choice). 125 S. Highway 101, Solana Beach. waterscatering.com Casual: Pizza Port. The original Pizza Port location boasts delicious pizza and craft beer on casual bench seating. Nosh on beer buddies dipped in ranch or marinara until your Pizza Monterey (pepperoni, mushrooms, onions and artichoke hearts) arrives ... beer in hand, of course. 135 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach. pizzaport.com
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