The Prado at Balboa Park

1549 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101

$50 - $75 Top 10 Recommended Editor's Pick Special Offer

The minute you step into The Prado you know you’ve entered into a world like no other. Located in the historic House of Hospitality in Balboa Park, the restaurant offers four main dining areas. Each has its own distinctive décor and ambiance: the Terrace features outdoor seating, the Courtyard room overlooks the courtyard and fountain, the Solarium overlooks the Terrace and features skylights, and the Lounge serves up two happy hours with several signature drinks. The California cuisine is expertly prepared, and includes Pan Roasted Sea Bass with cauliflower and truffle puree and Braised Beef Boneless Shortrib with Point Reyes blue cheese foam.

A Pampering Meal at the Prado

Our scenic walk to the Prado is our first indication that we are in for an extraordinary evening.  We meander through Balboa Park, passing illuminated historic monuments, lush landscapes, and romantic Spanish Colonial colonnades before arriving at our destination.  It is a uniquely picturesque commencement to our dining experience: instead of pushing through throngs of people on streets crowded with competing restaurants, we are immersed in the tranquil indolence of the park after dark, sharing the wide open walkways with only a handful of evening strollers.

The dreamy ambiance is heightened by the Prado’s courtyard, which transports us to a re-imagined hacienda infused with the timeless, magical nostalgia of a Marquez novel.  The trickling water from the fountain mingles with the distant chatter from the restaurant, bouncing off stuccoed walls and echoing through arched walkways.  The restaurant peeks coquettishly from behind a screen of palm fronds, intensifying the sense of drama and intrigue that has been building during our slow approach.  We willingly succumb to the beckoning glow of the restaurant, and enter Prado’s luscious epicurean dreamscape.

The Prado, we learn, is a multiple-roomed labyrinthine shrine dedicated to the fine arts of feasting and revelry.  The restaurant has a unique mixture of private rooms, large-scale banquet facilities, and dining rooms suiting a variety of occasions and dining fantasies.   The elegant banquet hall, seating 350 to 500 guests, captures the debonair style of a bygone era with its twenty-foot high hand-stenciled ceiling.  Upstairs, the Loggia and El Hambra rooms, seating approximately 80 and 60 guests respectively, are slightly more intimate banquet areas, each with their own balconies and distinctive views.  The main restaurant offers a variety of seating areas, including the stylish Lounge, where twice daily happy hours Tuesday through Friday make for a decidedly jubilant atmosphere.  With four kitchens, an extensive underground network of catering facilities, and a highly skilled culinary team, the Prado is a well-oiled gastronomic machine.

We are led past the lively Lounge into the Courtyard Room.  As we approach our table, I catch glimpses of the other seating areas through windows and doorways: the Solarium, which shares a windowed wall with the Courtyard Room, promises sun-soaked meals and lazy weekends through its wide windows with outdoor views, while the Terrace’s multi-tiered seating area near the verdant Café del Rey Moro gardens offers glimpses of the Downtown skyline through eucalyptus trees and views of the canyon below.  In contrast, the Courtyard Room has more of a domestic feel, albeit with luxurious and historic overtones.  Large, round tables offer a family dinner feel, while smaller, more traditional tables and cozy banquettes offer intimate atmospheres.  My eyes dart around the space, attracted by various unique accents: hand-painted beams salvaged from the original 1915 building, whimsical blown glass sculptures, and baroque mirrors impart a distinctive artistry and Old World aesthetic to the space.  Wrought iron lanterns and candles cast a soft glow over the dining crowd, amplifying the warm-hued décor with a faint radiance.  We are seated next to the window overlooking the very courtyard that greeted us on arrival, and for which the Courtyard Room gets its name, providing voyeuristic peeks into the world beyond our cozy yet lavish niche.  Still overcome by the visual smorgasbord surrounding us, we attempt to focus our attention on the culinary feast to come.

True to its name, the Study in Beets, resembles a painter’s study in Abstract Expressionism.  Three large beet discs are aligned in gradations of color across a long rectangular dish, their rich jewel colors standing out against the stark white of the plate.  A smaller section of a marinated beet is placed precisely on top of each larger disc, while generous chunks of soft goat cheese and dark-colored balsamic vinegar zigzags disrupt the careful order of the composition and infuse a rhythmic energy into the presentation.  A smallish bundle of frisee is placed to the far right of the plate, presenting a light and airy component that is both a visual and flavor counterpoint to the rest of the study.  Upon tasting the dish, the title Study in Beets is given new meaning, as the particularities of each beet are juxtaposed and compared on the palate.  The earthy sweetness of the beets is punctuated by the acidic balsamic and the slightly sour goat cheese, while the frisee undercuts the puckering pungency of the dish.  It is a pleasing beginning to our meal: an expression of the simple satisfaction of quality ingredients.

I am astounded by the size of the Prado Oysters Rockefeller when it arrives at the table.  A panko-crusted oyster nearly the size of a salad plate unfurls like a fan from its deep-set dish.  A sautéed medley of watercress, corn, pancetta, and parmesan cheese adds a colorful accent to the plate.  The dish is as much an exploration in texture as it is in the subtleties of flavor: the crispy panko exterior is juxtaposed against the silkiness of the oyster, a textural interplay that is reflected in the sautéed vegetables, as whole corn kernels and crispy pancetta add crunch to the near-pureed texture of the watercress.  It is as well balanced in flavor as it is in texture: the salty, slightly bitter flavor of the oyster is picked up by the salty parmesan and bitter watercress.  The layered nuances of this dish leave my palate intrigued, an excellent starter for the culinary expedition that is to follow.

The Pan Roasted Sea Bass arrives floating on a “raft” of garlic potato mash and rapini within a sea of creamy white cauliflower and truffle puree.  The rather minimalist presentation belies the complexity of its flavors.  Leaning over the dish, my nose immediately detects the slightly musky aromas of the white truffle, which mixes with the faint charred smell of the roasted fish to impart a distinctly wintry sensibility to the dish.  Despite this initial headiness, these potent flavors are treated with an expert hand, carefully maintaining the delicate, quieter flavors of the fish, and gingerly layering the more nuanced and potent tastes to create a dish that balances pungency and subtlety in a pleasing and unexpected marriage. 

As soon as the Braised Boneless Beef Short Rib is placed before us , the air is filled with the rich scents of red wine, blue cheese, and beef.  The vibrant red of the wine reduction blends with the cool white of the blue cheese foam pooling around the dark slab of beef, making for a visually arresting presentation.  Off to one side, a mound of creamy potato mash supports two towering green asparagus spires.  The Prado kitchen, again, has infused nuance into simple flavor combinations: by transforming the Point Reyes blue cheese into a foam, it manages to make a rather heavy, rich cheese very light and ethereal, while still maintaining the integrity of its pungent flavor.   The red wine reduction, like an exquisite wine pairing, complements the short rib’s meatiness with a delightful full-bodied flavor, intensifying the comforting, wintry satisfaction of the dish.

Continuing in the decadent vain that has characterized the rest of our Prado experience, the Apple Tart “Jewel Box” and the Belgian Chocolate Othello arrive together.  True to its name, the Apple Tart resembles a treasure chest, its buttery shortbread walls and caramelized apple interior hinting at its flavorful riches that, upon first bite, transform homey apple pie flavors into a light and subtle dessert.  The Belgian Chocolate Othello, on the other hand, is anything but light.  Its tower of hazelnut and chocolate mousses is a study in rapturous sweet tooth indulgence.  Our spoons sink in to its silky layers and excavate hidden treasures: brandied cherries, whose alcoholic sweetness add new levels of opulence to this sophisticated dessert.  Crowned by a chocolate-dipped cherry that playfully references an ice cream sundae, the Belgian Chocolate Othello is a dramatically gluttonous crescendo to our gastronomic festivities. Satiated beyond capacity, we leave behind the Prado’s delicious pampering and look forward to our slow, restorative walk through the park back to the car.

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  Business Info

  • Address: 1549 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101
  • Cross Street: Plaza De Panama
  • Location: Downtown | Balboa Park
  • Cuisine: California | Fusion | Steak |
  • Cost: | Moderate
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Public Lot | Valet Parking |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover | Diners Club |
  • Corkage Fee: 15.00 | Per 750ml bottle.
  • Staff: Jonathan Hale | Executive Chef
  • Phone: (619) 557-9441
  • Features: Full Bar, Late Dining, Catering Services, Famous Chef, Live Entertainment, Outdoor Seating, Private Room, Prix Fixe Menu, Tasting Menu, Winning Wine List, Wheelchair Access, Valet Parking, Happy Hours, Lounge / Bar,
  • Occasion: Child Friendly, Romantic Dining, Dining Alone, Business Dining, Meet for a Drink, People Watching, Quiet Conversation, Special Occasion,

  Business Hours

Reservations Available

Lunch - Courtyard Room (inside) 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.  
Lunch - Courtyard Room (inside) 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.  
Dinner - Courtyard Room (inside) 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Lunch - Courtyard Room (inside) 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.  
Dinner - Courtyard Room (inside) 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Lunch - Courtyard Room (inside) 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.  
Dinner - Courtyard Room (inside) 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Lunch - Courtyard Room (inside) 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.  
Dinner - Courtyard Room (inside) 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 8 p.m. - 11 p.m.  
Lunch - Courtyard Room (inside) 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.  
Dinner - Courtyard Room (inside) 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.  
Happy Hours - Courtyard Room (inside) 8 p.m. - 11 p.m.  
Lunch - Courtyard Room (inside) 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.  
Dinner - Courtyard Room (inside) 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.  


Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. The Terrace features outdoor dining and the Courtyard room overlooks the outdoor courtyard and fountain. The Solarium features skylights, while the Lounge boasts a happy hour menu.
Yes, the Prado is open for lunch every day, from 11:30am to 3pm on weekdays, and from 11am to 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Yes, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays starting at 8pm in the lounge.
We only take reservations on Saturday and Sunday lunch for groups of 5 or more. Reservations less than 5 are more than welcome to just walk into the restaurant.
Dogs are welcome only on our front patio.
Both Prado and the Zoo are in Balboa Park. It’s about a mile distance and about a 20 minute walk through the park.
Yes, The Prado has 3 lounge areas. The front outdoor patio, the indoor lounge, and the back terrace lounge area.
No. Smoking is prohibited in California.



First Taste

Prado Specialty Salads

Farm Greens

Prado Favorites

Prado Sandwiches

Prado Burgers

Happy Hour

Only offered during Happy Hour. This is a sample menu only. Prices and availability may be subject to change.




This is a sample menu only. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

First Taste

First Taste Favorites

Farm Greens

Seasonal Greens



Sea & Land


Prado Specialty Cocktails

Dinner After 8

3 Course Prix Fixe Menu offered in the main dining room after 8pm, Tuesday-Sunday. This special menu cannot be combined with any other offer, promotion, or discount. *Served with your choice of a glass of Jean-Luc Colombo Cotes du Rhone or Cotes du Rhone Rouge or your choice of cocktail: prado moscow mule or prado margarita.



Third Course

Dessert Menu

This is a sample menu only. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

The Prado Desserts

Lounge Menu

Only offered in the Lounge. This is a sample menu only. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

Soups & Salads

Prado Bites


Customer Reviews & Ratings

Prado Dinning At Its Best  

Dinning at the Prado is ALWAYS a wonderful experience. The service and the food is always OUTSTANDING. The ambiance of the restaurant is classic and yet contemporary. It is nestled among the beautiful edifices and gardens in Balboa Park. We are proud to entertain our guests at the Prado because we know that we will not be disappointed.

Dining After 8PM at The Prado  

The Prado's "After Eight" 3 course dinner was a wonderful way to be introduced to the delicious choices on The Prado's menu! Too calorie conscious to order 3 courses most occasions we dine out, the special pricing for 3 courses was a treat in two ways: we were able to have a very special full dining experience and the price was an exceptional value!


Best food in San Diego and best service

Girl's night out  

I visited the Prado with my sister and daughter. We all had different meals and they were all wonderful. My sister has some dietary restrictions and our server was very mindful of her requests. A very enjoyable evening.

Great food and view  

I took my fiancé to this restaurant while we were visiting San Diego and we had a wonderful experience. The food was great, service was very friendly, and the view was spectacular. I definitely recommend the Prado as a dining choice.

Great Atmosphere & Food!  

One of my fave places, but I don't get to go often enough. The food is really yummy, and the service is terrific! Don't miss the calamari -- it's unlike any you've ever had! Very flavorful! I like their happy hour specials (4-6p; 8-10p), and be sure to sit out on the patio if you can, or come to the bar between 8-10pm to enjoy the live music. You'll be glad you did!

The Prado Experience  

All around class and ambience along with fabulous dishes. My wife and I had a fantastic experience dining at The Prado and would go back anytime!

Great Dining Experience!  

If you're celebrating an occasion or simply want to have an outstanding dining experience go to Prado Restaurant at Balboa Park. Great location, ambiance, and the food is great! Excellent service, and the price is right!

Wonderful experience!  

We took our party of 8 to the Prado to celebrate our daughter's high school graduation and we couldn't have been happier! The service was amazing -- so attentive and thoughtful. It was the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion!

Our Visit to the Prado  

We recently retired to San Diego. One of our favorite restaurants is the Prado. Not only because of its location in Balboa Park but the food is delicious and the staff very caring. The menu changes gives one an opportunity to try something different.


I went to this place on New Years Eve and was happy I made reservations. The place is not too fancy but inviting and nice in its own right. The staff was very friendly and the food was excellent. If you are looking to take someone out, this is the place.

Great Dining  

A great place to celebrate a special event or just to experience fantastic food.


Great value...used the 3 course coupon offer. Delicious meal, very nice setting, great service.

very nice  

They have delicious sauces for the meat dishes including some with balsamic vinagar, wine, and/or with molasses. The short ribs were soft and flavorful, and the sides were also very good. My wife enoyed the duck. The desert was outstanding--super rich chocolate soufle with expresso gelato!

come and experience prado restaurant  

it was great the staff were really nice and the food was great...

A Wonderful evening  

My husband and I enjoyed our dinner at the Prado Restaurant. The atmosphere was relaxing,the service well paced, and the food superb. The entire experience was positive.


I would actually go back again and also recommend to my friends who come to San Diego to visit.

Innovation and Flavor  

Great ambiance, flavorful food and amazing presenations, the menu of Prado keeps you with a great taste and always wanting to come back!

Excellent restaurant  

A great restaurant that has it all. The Kobe burger is delicious, as are the vegetarian options of meals. I usually eat vegetarian meals, but this is the restaurant where I "break with tradition" because I love that burger so much!

Excellent restaurant  

A great restaurant that has it all. The Kobe burger is delicious, as are the vegetarian options of meals. I usually eat vegetarian meals, but this is the restaurant where I "break with tradition" because I love that burger so much!

My birthday at The Prado  

The service was exceptional, yet fun. The food and ambiance would be hard to top. The Prado and the other restaurants owned by the same group are the best in San Diego, in my humble opinion.

Always a favorite!  

Especially nice for out-of-town guests or special reunions; beautiful courtyard seating in a lush setting; never rushed by the staff who are quietly attentive to your every desire. Love the Prado!


I have eaten at so many places lately that advertise chefs and menus, but the quality has been lacking. Not so with Prado--thank you!! Best Meal in San Diego!

The BEST service in San Diego  

The Prado has amazing food, but the main reason I love bringing friends and family there is because the service is above and beyond wonderful. The wait staff is the most courteous and friendly of any restaurant in San Diego. They appear to enjoy the environment they work in, and are always very observant of the patrons' needs (e.g., shade, water, condiments) and act before being asked.



The Prado  

Just amazing...the food was spectacular (I ordered a goat cheese raviolli..yum!) and the service was top of the line. I'll be returning soon!

Lunch at its best  

I met a few business associates for lunch and we were very impressed. Seated quickly with our reservation and served in a timely fashion. Food was excellent and the service was great too! We'll be back for sure.

Amazing Food & Service!  

The food was out of this world amazing!! We can't wait to go back.

Valentine's Day  

We went for their Valentines day special. Had reservations, so the service was spot on all the way through the check; our waitress checked on us, refreshed drinks & was very friendly. We sat outside & they spaced out the parties enough so it was a nice intimate evening. The menu they had was great with both of us having the lobster pot pie, balsamic glazed chicken and a shared desert. All came nicely spaced out and had no complaints.

A Delicious Saturday Lunch!  

I am one of those strange people who live to eat rather than just eating to live, so my Sabbatical year in San Diego is getting filled with wonderful dining experiences. However, I used to be very overweight. I have lost over 70 pounds by having only one complete meal each day and having it at noon. I've found that this practice allows me to eat whatever I want and love, keeps me full and happy the rest of the day, and I don't gain any unwanted weight. Saturday is a problem, however, as many of the best restaurants are not open for lunch. But Prado solved it last Saturday big time by its Jidori Chicken entree, a half chicken with only one small leg bone, roasted to perfection and served on a generous bed of the best garlic mashed potatoes imaginable. These were on top of a flavorful portion of dark leafy greens, so you got everything you needed in one intensely comforting dish. Calories were not wasted here with bread and butter, as none were served. Instead, you started with some thin narrow flat-bread strips served with a flavorful vegetable spread. Fantastic! Iced tea was served in enormous glasses that didn't need to be refilled very often, and the wait staff was very responsive to my need for extra lemon wedges and Tabasco sauce. For dessert (I ALWAYS have dessert) I had the chocolate souffle cake: dark and rich and wonderful!

Best Crab Cakes in SD  

I've tried them all and nobody does crab cakes better than Prado! I like the patio also.

Excellent Choice  

My wife and I went for our anniversary and the whole experience was great. The staff were very attentive and the food was right on. We had several different dishes and all came at a leisurely pace. We sat in the courtyard room and just got to soak up the atmosphere and decor. Can't wait to visit again.



Best kid's meals in SD  

We love the Prado. Everything is spectacular from the drinks (GET A SANGRIA) to the kids meals. Food is always cooked perfectly and you can tell that the ingredients are the freshest available. One of us always gets the special as it is always amazing. Taking a little one with you is also totally worth it (although I recommend lunch as it's more casual) because The Prado has the BEST chicken strips EVER. They come with fabulous marinara, and you really feel like they thought about the kids enjoying their meal instead of them being an afterthought. They also make fabulous Mojitos and the Prado burger with Horsey Cheddar is TDF. Oh, and the Bouliabasse. Mmmm... Always cordial, quick and very informative service is a friendly atmosphere where both touristy gear and evening wear are appropriate.

A Great Experience...  

Checked out this website and decided to try a new restaurant for our 10th anniversary. The food was excellent and the combination of ambience and personable staff made the entire event memorable. We've been back a couple of times since and each time the food and experience has been just as good as the first time. I was considering more expensive/exclusive restaurants to celebrate our personal milestone but this one worked out perfectly.

5 star all the way  

Not sure why, ut the review I posted for may 10 shows only 2 stars!! It is suppose to be 5!!! All the way. Keep up the wonderful and creative cooking!!

Blending of flavors was amazing!  

My design crew and I had the pleasure of doing a wedding at the Prado's large ballroom on Cinco De Mayo. We were asked to drive down from The OC for this specail day. As a treat I took my 3 assistants to dinner at the Prado restaurant. We arrived a bit earlier than our reservations, and the hostess was pleasant and seated us at a nice table overlooking the courtyard, where we were delighted to see our bride and groom taking photos. With Cinco De Mayo on our minds we ordered Pomagranite and classic Margaritas shaken at tableside. Wonderful! BUT the food was AMAZING. A starter of Ahi was fresh tasting with a creative side of Glass noodles. We each ordered a different entree. A wonderful Chicken pasta with pine nuts and nicely flavored sauce. Tempura Ahi with a very cool Licorice rissotto, This was so different, and a nice blend with the ahi. Of course you MUST like Licorice!! The hit at the table was the Shortribs with bittersweet chocolate sauce, OMG!!! It has to be experienced! An artful and truly inspired blend of flavors. My assistant is still talking about how great this meal was, and he has been to some of the best dining establishments in the world! Making the experience even better was the friendly service. I look forward to my next trip down to SD and will have the Prado on the top of my list for at least one meal.

Lunch at Prado  

On a recent trip to San Diego, my friends and I ate lunch at Prado while visiting Balboa Park. We had an excellent experience there. We loved the decor -- very colorful and unique. Our food was excellent, and the service was genuinely friendly and efficient. The presentation of the dishes was impressive as well. We loved the iced tea as well as the chips, which tasted homemade. I see that they will be serving Easter brunch. I wish I could be there for that!

very nice  

It's casual but upscale. The decor looks like a pier 1 catalog. The service is very good. The food is very good. For drinks I recommend the mojito or maybe a glass of wine. The dinners are smaller portions than some restaurants. You can sit inside or outside. We went there for a birthday and no singing luckily

Must try  

I have eaten here many times now, and the food and service has never disappointed. While it can get crowed from people visiting the park, I have yet to need a reservation, or waited long to be seated. They also do not make you feel like you need to leave when the place is crowded, which makes a great restaurant for a date that could run into hours, and you may be the last ones there.


Absolutely wonderful...great service and food... anit pricey but still deliciious and its situated in Balboa Park...

Beautiful and has great food  

Yes, a restaurant can have brains as well as beauty. Aside from being in a stunning location in a beautiful building in Balboa Park, their food is excellent. We had the calimari appetizer, and the accompanying sauce was one of the most delicious sauces I've ever tasted. The service was excellent, and I had a mango martini that was terrific. Boyfriend had the meatloaf and I had the skirt steak tacos, both very tasty. Highly recommended, and I can't wait to return.

Casual, good food, bad parking  

This place is always full of tourists so the dress is really casual compared to the food. The menu rarely changes but it's good. Humus and flatbread are free and really good. They also have several specialty alcoholic drinks that are highly recommended. If you sit outside, and it's a weekend afternoon or evening, you'll probably see someone getting married 20 feet away.

unique experience  

loved it! you must try!


We had a wonderful dinner at Prado. The wine selection pared perfectly with our dinner. The menu was well balanced and we enjoyed our waitress and ambiance of the restaurant in Balboa Park.

The Prado in Balboa Park  

The Prado is beautiful, and the food was good, and our server, Nick, was excellent. It is a little pricey...

predictably great......  

Much to say about this restaurant as having changed hands several times in the past 15 years. However, today it is in good hands. Not only from the cuisine, presentation of the dishes, but from the management perspective. Seems to work like a well tuned machine........but with "smiles" from the staff.

predictably great......  

Much to say about this restaurant as having changed hands several times in the past 15 years..........however,'s in good hands. Not only from the cusine, presentation of the dishes, but from the management perspective. Seems to work like a well tuned machine........but with "smiles" from the staff.

Outstanding Service!  

It's too bad that I cannot remember the name of the waiter, he was absolutely great.  The decor and ambiance was relaxing and beautiful. My porkchop was a bit bland, but the kobe sushi was to die for, flavorful and unique.

Good Date Resaurant!  

Ambiance of Balboa Park is nice.