Candelas on the Bay

1201 1st Street, #115, Coronado CA 92118
$$$ Mexican New Special Offer

Not only does Candelas on the Bay have a prime location with a beautiful view of Downtown San Diego, it has inventive Mexican cuisine that promises guests an interesting and special dining experience. One of the best parts of Candelas on the Bay is the exciting scene of Coronado beachgoers and the San Diego Bay that can be seen from every seat in the house. This restaurant is the sister restaurant of Candelas Downtown and carries over the same creative “Mexico City” style dishes created by Executive Chef Eduardo Baeza. This restaurant is brilliantly suited for those eager to test their palates and try new flavor combinations, and for those looking to enjoy the San Diego skyline.

Tantalizing Cuisine in a Stunning Setting

Review by

When Candelas on the Bay opened in June 2008, it became one of the few area restaurants able to simultaneously offer two of life’s greatest pleasures: exquisite cuisine coupled with a picturesque view. While a new addition to Coronado, the restaurant boasts a successful heritage: Owner Alberto Mestre and Executive Chef Eduardo Baeza have spent ten years at the original Candelas restaurant, serving a unique fusion of Mexican and French cuisine to a loyal downtown clientele. Their decision to bring the tantalizing flavors of Baeza’s “alta cocina” (haute cuisine) to an exquisite waterfront setting results in a dining experience that is nothing short of stunning.

Candelas on the Bay is just steps from the Coronado ferry dock on the eastern edge of Coronado, and sits separated from the water by only a boardwalk and a short sandy beach. It is easily accessible by ferry or from the Coronado Bridge, and is backed by a parking lot with ample parking—although convenience is hardly the restaurant’s most attractive feature.

The prime location is taken full advantage of with a stunning wall of windows that overlooks the water and lets in natural light. The space consists of an interior dining room and bar/lounge, plus two outdoor terraces. The interior design, a collaboration between architect Gregory de Peña and owner Alberto Mestre, ensures that every seat in the house has a view.

And what a view it is. We’re seated in one of many tables lining the wall of glass, and find ourselves faced with a prime view of the boardwalk in front of us, the beach beyond, the pier where the harbor ferry docks, and finally, the San Diego skyline. In between, sailboats dance across the glistening surface, their white sails billowing gently. It may be one of the most picturesque vantage points in all of San Diego.

When I manage to peel my eyes away from the wall of windows, I find that the space is bright and airy—a departure from the cozy, intimate setting of its sister restaurant. Low lounge music fills the air, while natural light infuses the room. Red-cushioned chairs, simple white linens, and gold, rag-painted walls lend an earthy, laid-back elegance. One wall is entirely covered with candle sconces, paying homage to the restaurant’s name and illuminating the space as the sun goes down.

As if to fade into the background, servers wear white chefs’ coats emblazoned with the Candelas logo. Our server, Kara, is gracious and professional, with a touch of friendly humor that seems perfect for the setting. While upscale, this is no stuffy restaurant, and Kara's friendliness proves enjoyable throughout the meal. She graciously hands us a thick, leather bound wine list and two thin folders of artisan paper that hold the menus. The wine list is enticing and intriguing, with several Mexican and Spanish wines standing out among well-chosen California offerings.

While the lunch menu contains elegant renditions of familiar Mexican staples—tacos, ceviche, tosdadas, the dinner menu seems to depart from traditional Mexican cuisine. While the country’s influence is certainly present, there is no street food here. Instead, we find a refined cuisine that draws on the flavors and traditions of Mexico but simultaneously breaks away from tradition. Baeza's background in Mexico City's French restaurants has resulted in a unique culinary perspective that combines a respect for ingredients with a flair for the uncharted.

After we order, a staff member comes around with a basket of fresh baked rolls, offering us our choice of plain, jalapeño, or cheese-filled. He carefully places the round rolls on our plates, along with a small bowl of compound butter made with anchovies, tequila, garlic salt, pepper, and toasted hazelnuts. It’s impossible to restrain from the warm rolls and savory spread.

The Callos Jean arrives, dark and deviant. A playful structure towers on the plate, five plump scallops intertwined with a thick weave of julienned portobello mushrooms, slivers of onions, wilted cilantro, and diced jalapeño. It is unlike any preparation of scallops I've had—rather than playing up the scallops' light, fresh taste and texture, the dish marries the pure flesh with deep, resonant colors and flavors. One bite reveals an explosion of tastes, a hint of tangy lime and an underlying sweetness that gives way to an unmistakable spice and a smoky undertone. The textures, too, are surprising and engaging, the supple plumpness of the scallop joined by soft, sweated mushrooms and slightly crisp, crunchy onions. I can’t get over the sheer uniqueness of the dish, and the boldness of the chef in creating it, and the stunning result of such an insightful decision. It is bewitching, and enticing, and will forever open up the potential of scallops for me.

The Estructura de Aguacate is light and refreshing, an ideal counterpart to the Callos Jean. A cylindrical form arrives surrounded by ribbons of green avocado and peppered with variations on pale pink—tiny shrimp, pulled crab meat, pale bay scallops. The structure is less in layers than it is packed in a medley, suggesting that a bite should contain a little bit of everything. Dueling sauces mirror the colors of the form: a pale green basil oil and a cream-colored mango vinaigrette dance around the plate. A forkful is an explosion of summer, the pure flavors of the chilled seafood sweet with citrus notes and complemented by the nutty creaminess of avocado. The fresh tang of citrus-marinated seafood reminds me of ceviche, and there seems no more appropriate appetizer to sample so close to the sea.

La Crema de Frijole a la Cerveza proves a stunning pause between courses. A wide, sweeping bowl arrives, the pale porcelain of the rim contrasting the jet black liquid inside. A medley of julienned corn tortilla strips peppers the liquid, which is otherwise unadorned. This is black bean soup elevated to elegance. In this version, the beans are pureed with dark beer, chicken stock, and bacon, resulting in a thick, creamy, and intoxicating liquid. The texture is silky and supple, bisque-like in its thickness. A spoonful is fluffy and airy, yet deep and dark. It is a tantalizing study in contrast.

The Manjar Vallarta is a commanding yet graceful dish from the selection of seafood entrees, featuring a thick filet of Chilean sea bass crowned by a golden sear and balanced atop a medley of slivered portobello mushrooms. A lavender-colored sauce surrounds the pale fish, a delightfully unique creation from grapes and cream. The fish needs no knife to slice through its gentle flesh, which practically pulls apart upon the touch. A bite is filled with pale, muted flavors, the gentle texture of the fish flavored only by the light salt coating of the seared edge and a subtle sweetness from the light, airy grape cream. Yet despite thes elegant flavors, it is texture that wows me in this dish—the sea bass boasts the lusciousness of a day boat scallop and the tenderness of a peach, and as my mouth envelops the supple flesh I am in hedonistic heaven.

Filete las Flores pleases the eyes as much as the palate. Its explosive presentation features a thick piece of tenderloin resting atop a bulbous form of mashed potatoes, balancing carefully atop a spear of grilled endive. Crowning the meat is a thick, bubbly layer of melted blue cheese and two devious dried red chiles. Two stunning sauces surrounding the filet—beneath it is a “corn cream” sauce and blanketing the rest of the plate is a tangy raspberry sauce that, I soon discover, is the exact color of the center of the medium rare steak. Every detail on this plate enhances the enjoyment of the dish. The corn cream sauce is astounding, the flavor playful mirroring that of creamed corn yet the form remaining elegant and haute. Then there is the blue cheese crust—a showstopper addition that boasts an unmistakable creamy tang. The steak itself is plump and tender, with a salty sear and a savoriness that stands out even among such bold accompaniments. I take each bite in wonderment, experimenting with the myriad combinations of flavors on the plate. I am completely won over by this dish.

Dessert at Candelas on the Bay seems more traditional than the dinner, with selections that draw on sweet classics: churros, tres leches cake, and capirotada—a traditional sweet candy. We opt for a simple finale, the Crepes Cajeta. A perfectly round crepe is saturated by a thick, light brown cajeta sauce, a reduction of milk and sugar that is cooked until it caramelizes. The thick, cloying sweetness is deliciously addictive, tasting similar to caramel but more rustic. Each bite is peppered by crumbled hazelnuts and consists of a spongy, silky, and decadent mouthfeel.

By the time we leave, the room is abuzz with conversation and illuminated by flickering candlelight. The sun has just set and a cool fog creeps over the coast. The drive over the Coronado Bridge is a contemplative one, as I turn over in my mind one of the most engaging meals I've had in some time.

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Business Info

  • Address: 1201 1st Street, #115, Coronado CA 92118
  • Cross Street: C Avenue
  • Location: Coronado
  • Cuisine: Mexican |
  • Cost: | Moderate
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Casual
  • Meals Served: Breakfast | Brunch | Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Public Lot |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover |
  • Corkage Fee: 20.00 | 750 ml
  • Staff: Eduardo Baeza | Executive Chef
  • Phone: (619) 435-4900
  • Features: Ocean View, Sunday Brunch, Catering Services, Live Entertainment, Outdoor Seating, Wheelchair Access, Happy Hours, Personal Wines Allowed, Lounge / Bar,
  • Occasion: Romantic Dining, Dining Alone, Business Dining, Meet for a Drink, People Watching, Special Occasion,


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Business Hours

Reservations Available
Lunch - Main Dining Room 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 10 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Lunch - Main Dining Room 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 10 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Lunch - Main Dining Room 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 10 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Lunch - Main Dining Room 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 10 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Lunch - Main Dining Room 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 10 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Breakfast - Main Dining Room 8 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Lunch - Main Dining Room 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 10 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Breakfast - Main Dining Room 8 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Brunch - Main Dining Room 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Happy Hours - Main Dining Room 10 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.


Frequently Asked Questions
Specific seating, such as a window table, is first come, first served and cannot be guaranteed. The wonderful thing about Candelas on the Bay is that there is an entire wall made of glass so every table in the main dining room has a beautiful view of the water and downtown San Diego.
The restaurant is located on the eastern edge of Coronado, right by the water and just steps from the Coronado ferry dock.
Yes, between 4-6pm nightly
Candelas gladly welcomes children and is considered a family restaurant.
Reservations can be made for any party size.
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Customer Reviews & Ratings

4.5 out of 5 stars based on 1 votes