Looking for elegant yet casual beach town dining? Try the famed Arterra (11966 El Camino Real, Del Mar, 858/369-6032, www.arterrarestaurant.com, Mon.–Fri. 6:30–10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., 4–9:30 p.m., Sat. 7–11:30 a.m., 4–9:30 p.m., Sun. 7–11:30 a.m., $35). Improbably located inside the San Diego Marriott Del Mar, Arterra offers anything but standard chain hotel fare. Start with a drink and perhaps a seafood appetizer in the modern, comfortable outdoor lounge.
Once you’re seated for dinner inside the plush, red-splashed dining room, you’ll find great service and top cuisine created from the freshest local and organic ingredients around. The tasting menus (with or without wine pairing) are a popular option, letting you sample the greatest variety of dishes. Get adventurous and try something new, since there’s plenty of cutting-edge cuisine on the menu.
And don’t forget the wine; the list includes many boutique California charmers that pair wonderfully with the cuisine. If your preference is for uncooked fish, go for something from the surprisingly good sushi bar.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition