Each summer, Del Mar Racing season brings thousands of spectators to the seaside city and betting on horses can sure work up an appetite. Pre or post-race, there are plenty of Del Mar dining options near the surf and turf where you can snag a seat, celebrate your winnings or bemoan your losses. No matter your luck, finish out your race day strong with these eateries curated by our pals over at Yelp.
Café Secret (1140 Camino Del Mar)
Race away from the throngs of fans and ditch the crowds to dine at this hidden gem. The Peruvian menu is unique for the area and you’ll find delicious selections for brunch, lunch or dinner. The baked empanadas are drool-worthy and don’t even get us started on the ceviche list! Traditional Peruvian entrees are also available, like the tasty Chaufa dish, made with shrimp, pork and Peruvian-Cantonese fried rice.
Del Mar Rendezvous (1555 Camino Del Mar)
This modern Chinese restaurant was created by the minds behind the famous Dumpling Inn on Convoy Street and boasts a busy bunch of diners each night, so it’s best to make that reservation in advance. We like to gobble down a dish from the “Dim Sum and Then Some” menu or opt for the Pungent Crispy Chicken in spicy sauce. If you’re really on the ball, call one day ahead and the chefs will prepare you the signature Peking Duck. The delicious dish requires seven hours of prep time and is worth every minute of anticipation.
Sea & Smoke (2690 Via De La Valle)
Pre or post-race, you’ll find menus for every palate and time of day. Brunch is popular, with options like shrimp and grits, house-made cinnamon rolls and cast iron skillet benedicts. Lunch is delightful on the downstairs outdoor patio (live music on Wednesdays) and the bar features an $8 “Martini Monday” special. If you have a group in the winner’s circle, you can also reserve their private dining area to celebrate.
Kitchen 1540 (1540 Camino Del Mar)
Located in the lovely L’Auberge Del Mar resort, Kitchen 1540 offers both an indoor dining room and an outdoor patio with stunning views. After watching the ponies go ‘round, this is a stellar choice to grab a bite and some drinks just around the corner from the track. The kitchen features a “special of the night” at market price, and dinner selections include options like Memphis Style Pork Ribs and Mary’s Chicken with pork belly, seasonal veggies and thyme mashed potatoes.
Sbicca (215 15th Street)
With a peek of the ocean and a perfect Happy Hour, a post-up here is a solid bet after the races. The menu boasts items like sweet potato fries, jumbo crab cakes and a special of the day from the chef, which often involves fresh seafood. Also, don’t miss the burrata cheese on a toasted baguette with basil pesto and arugula, or the local favorite: P.E.I Mussels and bacon in a sauce of white wine, cider, leeks and cream. The wine and cocktail lists are worth a cheers, too.
Prepkitchen (1201 Camino Del Mar)
Make a reservation at this beloved gem, even for lunch hours, as it’s a popular spot any day of the week. The Bacon-Wrapped Dates with blue cheese and arugula are a delicious way to begin, while the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich is a great choice for midday. For dinner, we suggest the Rigatoni Alla Norma with caramelized eggplant. For dessert, you absolutely must order the Warm Chocolate Bundino. Insider Tip: don’t fight for street parking. The parking lot under the restaurant has spots available after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekend.
Trish Sanderson is the community manager and marketing director for Yelp North County San Diego. She leads the local community of Yelp reviewers both online and off.