San Diego’s most fabulous peninsula is more than just a pretty face, er, place. Coronado is a foodie town on the rise. Here are 11 essential Coronado restaurants in which to imbibe and dine across the sun-kissed “island” paradise.
An import from Arizona, where The Henry’s first outpost was opened in the trendy Arcadia area in 2013, this light, bright 6,600-sq.-ft. hotspot boasts a timeless vibe with a blend of Gatsby-era elegance and modern industrial décor throughout. It features a full-service coffee bar for those on the go, an open kitchen, a full-service bar, and ample seating throughout its indoor and outdoor spaces. The main dining room bursts with energy and charm, while the outdoor space provides a unique setting with firepits and lush greenery. The food at this Coronado restaurant is a combination of comfort and a posh take on gastro-pub items. There are also great seafood and light options. The exceptional beverage program is designed for any time of day—whether it’s a morning pick-me-up or late-night drink.
Located at the iconic Hotel del Coronado, the Michelin-rated Serẽa, which is recognized by James Beard Foundation as a Smart Catch Leader for his efforts in sustainable seafood, offers the ultimate in upscale sea-to-table dining. Every seat in the chic, open-air restaurant features views of the beach and ocean, right along with its menu that is ever-changing based on the freshest catches and seasonality of produce. During the summer months, the menu offers a bounty of whole catch fish, seafood towers, ceviche, oysters, lamb chops, filet mignon, pork chops and more. There are ample wine and beer selections, including pairing recommendations, and a modern cocktail menu with exquisite spirits and fresh, whimsical garnishes. Oh, and in the mornings, the brunch options are insane.
Also located at Hotel del Coronado, but with a wholly different vibe and feel, Sun Deck is a bar and grill with sophisticated fire pit seating that is elevated just above the buzzy beach boardwalk. Its fiberglass walls allow for unobstructed views of the crashing waves and awe-inspiring sunset. There are a bevvy of vegetable-forward offerings and gluten-free dishes at this Coronado restaurant as well as elevated takes on pub favorites including a short rib burger topped with truffles and charbroiled mahi-mahi sandwich with charred greens and slaw. Not hungry? Indulge in the seductive cocktail menu featuring a wide selection of mixology marvels.
The cool factor is massive here. Given its location at Coronado Ferry Landing, Peohe’s is accessible by land or water (including by water taxi). On top of that, the menu has a sexy tropical vibe with Pacific Rim influences, and there is an ample sushi bar with ultra-fresh offerings daily. There are also theme dinners often, including cocktail pairing dinners that are that of legend.
Distinguished by its selection of fine USDA Prime, dry-aged, both Miyazaki and Kagawa Prefecture Japanese A5, and Black Grade American Wagyu beef cuts, Stake is a boutique, intimate steakhouse but on par with any of the big boys over in San Diego. In fact, it is one of only three steakhouses in the greater San Diego area to earn a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for the past seven consecutive years. Those in the know opt for The Stake Experience, which features a five-course adventure across the menu, including bites of luscious shellfish and wood-fired sides in addition to perfectly marbled meat, with optional wine pairings.
Many know this newcomer to Coronado – it opened earlier this year – as a restaurant, butcher and specialty shop. However, do not sleep on happy hour here. Available 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, Jolie’s “Oyster Hour” features $8 prosecco, rosé and Bordeaux wines by the glass as well as menu of fresh oysters with traditional accoutrements for just $2 each and significant discounts on a crudo of the day, Ahi tostadas, Peruvian scallops, bay scallops with aguachile, and cheese and charcuterie boards.
An Island staple, Coronado Brewing has been focused on crafting abundantly hoppy West Coast-style ales since 1996. A titan in the local craft beer scene, the island brewery is a past World Beer Cup Champion Brewery and its Weekend Vibes IPA, Salty Crew Blonde Ale and Palm Sway IPA have all take home copious national medals as well. In 2023, the brand launched Japanese Lager and a seasonal series of hazy IPAs, each of which is available when visiting, as are a slew of pub favorites with a California twist including coconut calamari, grilled wahoo tacos and barbecue chicken pizza.
I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream each summer. Or, in this case, gelato. Using techniques from gelaterias dotted across the founders’ native Italy, primarily whipping less air into the ingredients during the crafting process thereby creating a concentration of flavors, and pairing these techniques with fresh California ingredients, Nado is churning out crowd-pleasing gelatos by the gallon. There are more than 20 flavors available at any time, including pear, salted caramel, pistachio, pineapple, panna cotta, tiramisu, raspberry, vanilla bean and strawberry-basil.
The brainchild of a pair of female friends, walking into this Coronado restaurant is in many ways a nod to the past. Homage to the style of bakery one might find in 1900’s Europe, Clayton’s offers both a bakery case with pastries ranging from fresh savory and sweet croissants and homemade pastries to seasonal Danish, doughnut holes and cookies, including gluten-free options, as well as brunch all day long. Brunch offerings feature French standards including Croque Madame but also more beachy and American fare such as egg and sausage wraps, avocado toast and breakfast burgers. There is also an extensive espresso bar with French roast and more than a dozen coffee and tea-infused drinks.
The only other Michelin-rated eatery in Coronado Island next to Serẽa, Little Frenchie makes the most of its 1,600-sq.-ft. digs along Coronado’s gorgeous promenade. As the name suggests, the intimate and low-key eatery is a love letter to Europe from its bistro-style seating to its imported cheese selections to its authentic French technique in its dishes. Think crispy potatoes paired with Kaluga caviar, onion soup gratinée, Burgundy-style escargots, classic moules frites and perfectly layered tartines. There is also a Champagne happy hour Monday through Thursday offering $20 off any bubbly bottle in their extensive collection.
Offering authentic Neapolitan-style pizza and boasting a staff that includes many Italian natives, Garage Buona Forchetta opened just weeks before the pandemic hit yet managed not only the survive, but thrive, thanks to its crave-worthy ingredients and sexy outdoor patio. There are more than two dozen pizzas from which to choose on the menu, including those with the more traditional San Marzano tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and meats as well as capers, speck, grape tomatoes, pesto and nduja, which is a spicy, spreadable meat paste that tastes better than it sounds. The Coronado restaurant also offer fried pizzas, calzones, and gluten-free options.