Pacifica Del Mar reflects the soothing calm of its ocean location. Perched high atop the Del Mar Plaza, the sophisticated restaurant offers a stunning visual Pacific feast to accompany Chef Christopher Idso’s delightful gastronomic feats. The menu features elegant California-inspired creations that manage to be both light and clean, while still imparting a deep satisfaction. Mouthwatering options like the Barbecued Sugar-Spiced Salmon with Chinese beans and mustard sauce, Moroccan Spiced Prawns, and Filet Mignon with potato-white cheddar gratin, make for delightful dining dilemmas. Sample from Pacifica Del Mar’s Wine Spectator-distinguished wine list to help make the decision-making process that much more enjoyable.Read More ...
Pacifica Del Mar’s expansive enclosed patio allows diners to savor spectacular unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean. At sunset, sea and sky converge to offer a seemingly endless expanse of color and enchantment. The restaurant is inconspicuously perched on the upper level of the Del Mar Plaza, and takes full advantage of its prime location by serving its coastal cuisine in three distinct dining spaces that compliment the breathtaking scenery.
The seductive color variations of the deep sea are captured in the elaborate lighting that bathes the bar area in rich tones of blues, reds, and purples. Pacifica also has two distinct dining spaces: the indoor dining room and outdoor patio. Passing the large aquarium and two steps that lead up to the dining room from the bar, visitors are greeted by a vibrant and sophisticated dining space. Four large abstract light sculptures line the back wall of the room and may remind diners of the course the sun takes over a drifting tide. The patio space is minimally decorated, yet equally stunning. The railings and overhangs separate and frame the Del Mar coastline like a great painting hung on a gallery wall. Clear plastic coverings also hang down to shield diners from the wind as they feast. We were lucky enough on the night of our visit to procure a table on the bustling patio, and quickly realized views from the center of the room are suitably spectacular.
The first menu diners may reach for is Pacifica’s impressive wine list. It has been honored with The Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” every year since 1992, and offers patrons a truly staggering selection to choose from. The thickly bound book separates varieties by “White” and “Red,” “By the Glass,” “Featured Winery,” and “Half Bottles.” New World charm permeates the menu with California based wineries mingling among Australian and New Zealand brands. The result is a truly thoughtful collection of wine that compliments the food menu with a well-defined perspective and scope of interest.
Our meal this evening opened with a sampling of Pacifica’s famous soup. On the menu for years, the Japanese Clam Chowder is a dish that draws many visitors to return. This rich chowder is not to be confused with the New England icon; for while the savory broth is home to delicate bites of fresh clam, the broth itself is a blend of shitake mushrooms, and has no cream. Crunchy slices of water chestnuts contrasted against the smooth chewiness of the large pieces of mushroom, and offered a delightful play on texture. Tastes of sweet and peppery scallions grabbed attention from the intense savory richness of the broth, and complimented the hint of soy sauce in the background. This chowder is both a fine introduction and a satisfying meal in its own right.
The next course of our meal consisted of three appetizers our server recommended: Dungeness Crab Cakes, a Roasted Chino Farms Beets salad, and Spicy Calamari. The Dungeness Crab Cakes arrived on a long rectangular plate dashed with artful brushstrokes of a green remoulade butter sauce. Between the two cakes sat a refreshing arugula micro salad that juxtaposed the bitter notes of the herb against slightly sweet hints of onion and apple. The cakes themselves were a fine illustration of textural balance – the crunchy outer layer broke away to expose a moist center of lump crab meat held together by a subtle mix of breading and herbs. The taste was light, mild, and showcased the sweeter notes of the crab meat.
Moving on from the happily consumed crab cakes, we approached the Roasted Chino Farms Beet Salad. The high-piled salad was a delightful sight of freshness. Tucked beneath the intertwined herbs were thin slices of white and creamy Cyprus Grove goat cheese and long juicy slices of vibrant beets. Pine nuts graced the top of the seemingly blooming mound, and one bite into it exposed yet another layer of vivacity. The uniquely bitter arugula consumed the senses, then provided an exquisite backdrop to introduce the cold and moist crunch of the sweet beets. The aromatic complexity and creamy texture of the goat cheese provided a brilliant anchor, while barely-there blood orange vinaigrette peaked out now and then to introduce invigorating hints of acidity
The sea-dwelling counterpart to the salad was the large bowl of Crispy Calamari we were next served. Staring into the slanted white bowl that was reminiscent of an oyster shell, we were struck by the immense portion size of the lightly breaded rings. Accompanying the dish were two dipping sauces: a spicy Vietnamese fish sauce, and a red pepper aioli made with hot mustard. Each sauce coaxed out subtle elements of the calamari. For example, the Vietnamese sauce was mildly sweet and complimented the squid’s natural flavor of the sea. The aioli sauce played more to the character of the calamari breading, and gave a kick to the crunch.
Pacifica’s menu is a true homage to the sea, so we decided to try two of its famous seafood dishes and one carnivorous delight. The Pacifica’s Barbecued Sugar-Spiced Salmon is presented, like the star it is, on a pedestal of garlic mashed potatoes and Chinese long beans, supported by a ring of fried wonton. The spicy sweet rub is similar in taste to a Jamaican jerk spice, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the sweet intensity of the spices actually enhance the underlying meaty flavor of the fish. The long beans were roasted in a fermented black bean paste iconic of Chinese cuisine – such discreet details are found throughout the menu, and are a thoughtful nod to Asian fare.
While Pacifica takes deep pride in its seafood selections, it is equally capable of preparing a magnificent steak. The Filet Mignon is served with a white cheddar potato gratin and broccoli, in a savory Zinfandel sauce. The steak was surprisingly moist, smooth in texture, and deliciously satisfying. In an effort to steal the spotlight from its mate on the plate, the potato gratin steps up to seduce patrons with layers of thinly sliced potato, subtle slivers of garlic, and a palate-pleasing crust of cheddar.
The last entrée we tried transported us to Southern Asia, and we savored every moment of the excursion. The Pan Roasted South African Seabass, which was first soy-glazed, was accentuated by a green curry-coconut sauce. The silky and invigorating spices also glazed a sticky sushi rice cake, and complimented the side of Chinese bok choy leaves. The delicate flakes of sea bass were intoxicatingly silky, and stood up surprisingly well against the vibrant sauce.
Anyone could have stepped away at this point from the meal perfectly satisfied and content, but not us. No, our commitment to the cause inspired us to take one final look at the menu, dessert menu that is, and order the Dessert Tasting Trio: a sampling of the Bon Bon, Burnt Cream, and Meyer Lemon Cheesecake. The Meyer Lemon Cheesecake had a light and creamy texture, and the hint of lemon peaked out to tickle the tongue. The Burnt Cream is Pacifica’s take on classic Crème Brulee, and it proved to be a fine tribute. The crust was thin, crisp, and tasted of caramel; the concealed custard was thick, rich, and silky smooth. The two contrasting elements married for truly seductive bites. Lastly, the Homemade Bon Bon was a mad genius concoction of a small amaretto cookie encircled by vanilla bean ice cream, which was then dipped in Belgian chocolate, walnuts, and a berry coulis. A bite into the layers revealed the real magic – the amaretto warmed the mouth as the ice cream gently melted. The firm chocolate shell offered a slightly bitter base to the sweetness, and the berry coulis was just another fine point to appreciate.
Thinking back, it is difficult to separate the satisfying meal I savored at Pacifica Del Mar from the spectacular views I enjoyed. Every dish had a unique perspective of flavor, and each glance out the window revealed an original color palette. That complete melding of the senses is what makes a dining experience at Pacifica stand out from the competition.
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Heading to a concert in San Diego the Pacifica Del Mar restaurant proved to be the perfect early dinner stop along the way from Costa Mesa, CA. All we could hope for and more. We will be back.
Pacifica Del Mar never fails to give us a superb evening with great food, beautiful view, and wonderful service. It is truly a Del Mar icon--one we send friends and visitors to. Dining on the patio is a Southern California treat. An evening spent sitting at the bar discussing wine with the bartender is also enjoyable. Always a pleasure to be at Pacifica!
For my first time in this resturant, it is one of the best dining experiences I have had in San Diego.
Great food, great ambiance and our waiter Coop was the best. Coop made the experience for my young family of 5 the best! We'll be back soon.
Can't be beat
My wife and I, along with another couple, enjoyed a very special evening at Pacifica Del Mar on May 28th. The dinner was to celebrate my wife's birthday and the restaurant staff went above and beyond to make it memorable. Although the restuarant was quite busy, the evening started for us with the waiter holding an excellent table for us...providing us with a spectacular view of the sunset on the Pacific. Our entrees consisted of Ahi Tuna(2), Mussels, and Shrimp Tagliafelle (sp?). All were wonderful with our friends raving it was the best seafood they had ever eaten (and they have eaten a lot!). We had a variety of appetizers and truely loved them all. We did not sample the desserts as we had ice cream and cake planned at home. I would consider ourselves fairly experienced and disdcriminating diners and we all agreed the dinner at Pacifica Del Mar was one of our best dining experiences.
We reserved a table overlooking the ocean to celebrate a birthday. They seated us right away at one of the best tables in the restaurant. The excellent food and service added to the beautiful sunset setting, even though the restaurant was packed with diners. We were allowed to relax and enjoy our fabulous meal with no sense of being rushed in order to seat the next customers. Our server was attentive without being overbearing-- just the right balance. All in all, it was a perfect evening and absolutely everything we hoped it would be. Thanks Pacifica! After all these years, you've only managed to get better at everything you do!
We celebrated our 25th anniversary at Pacifica Del Mar and dinner was great with great service.
This was our first visit and we throughly enjoyed the dinner. The service was excellent. The food was prepared well - nice appearance, quality and flavor.
Great dining experience!
If you are looking for a romantic night out, not sure this is the place. Decent view from the patio, but super noisy. If you go there for dinner, bring your ear plugs.