10 Drool-worthy Places to Eat Near Cabrillo National Monument


Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument. He's saying in a speech bubble,  "We can claim this for Spain later...I'm hungry now. Let's go and discover some great places to eat nearby in Point Loma."

Looking for good restaurants around Cabrillo National Monument? They’re there. But they’re hidden from you on the Point Loma road to the park. Let me show you where they are.

This list includes fine dining restaurants, Italian eateries, breakfasts, fast food and takeout spots in Point Loma. Unfortunately, there aren’t any eateries within easy walking distance of the park and public transportation is not convenient. Read my page on Cabrillo National Monument on everything (but food) that a first-time visitor needs to know.

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Top 10 Eateries Around Cabrillo National Monument 

Best Restaurants near Cabrillo National Monument

Here are the top 3 fine dining places near Cabrillo Monument. Tom Ham’s Lighthouse has delicious seafood plus San Diego skyline and bay views. Bali Hai restaurant is famous for Polynesian dishes, potent mai tais and bay vistas.  Ketch Grill and Taps has tasty pub style food and sailboat views.

TOM HAM’S LIGHTHOUSE 

2150 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 291-9110 Website

Tom Ham's Lighthouse is one of the best restaurants around Cabrillo National Monument. Favorite dishes are their Lobster Roll Sandwich and Market Fish plate.
Lobster Roll Sandwich and Market Fish Plate at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Tom Ham’s Lighthouse: 

  • 7.7 miles
  • 20 minutes

Tom Ham’s Lighthouse on Shelter Island is known for its great seafood, steaks and a large menu of other foods. You will also enjoy what are arguably the best views in San Diego. It’s got a unique ambiance. It’s the only restaurant in the United States that is built around a real, functioning navigation buoy. All these factors make it one of the best places to eat close to Cabrillo National Monument.

What Food is Popular at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse?

For Lunch:  Order the Lobster Roll Sandwich. It’s stuffed with lobster, tomatoes and chives that have been tossed in a tarragon dressing. This entree could easily serve two because it comes in a couple of separate sliced rolls. It comes with a heap of crispy fries. 

For Dinner: Try the Market Fish for your entree. It’s fresh caught by San Diego fishermen and the type depends upon what’s been hitting their lines. The tomato and lemon sauce provides a nice contrast to the potatoes on the side and doesn’t overpower the fish. 

If you don’t like fish for dinner, try their pan-seared New York steak. It’s perfectly seasoned and comes with sauteed mushrooms, creamy hash browns and a mustard based sauce. 

Is There a Good View at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse? 

The views of the bay, San Diego skyline, passing boats and airplanes at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse are legendary. Because of this, you need to reserve the most popular dining tables at least 2 months in advance. Get there a bit early or stay after dinner and walk around the grounds. 

Is There Outdoor Seating at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse?

There’s plenty of outdoor tables with great views on the second-floor deck as well as the downstairs patio.

Where Can You Park At Tom Ham’s Lighthouse?

There’s plenty of parking at Tom Ham’s private lot right next to the restaurant. Choose either valet or self-parking. 

BALI HAI

2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106 (619) 222-1181Website.

Bali Hai is located on Shelter Island and is nearby Cabrillo National Monument. Popular dishes include Coconut Shrimp and Ahi Poki Tuna Appetizer.
Coconut Shrimp and Ahi Poki Tuna Appetizer are on the menu at Bali Hai.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Bali Hai

  • 4.9 miles
  • 13 minutes

Bali Hai restaurant has been around since 1955. It’s one of San Diego’s landmark eateries. The Polynesian decor and stunning views will make you feel like you’ve been magically transported to a balmy Pacific Island. People come here for the seafood. But there’s also tasty beef, chicken, pork & vegetarian choices. All of these things make Bali Hai one of your best choices for places to eat near Cabrillo National Monument.

Reservations are always a good idea. If you want a great view table for a special occasion, make them about a week or two in advance. 

What Food Is Good at Bali Hai?

People rave about the Coconut Shrimp. It has a rich coconutty flavor instead of sweet sugary bread coating. Make sure that you eat it with the ginger lime dipping sauce which is good enough to slurp up all by itself.

Try their Ahi Tuna, whether it’s seared or poke style. It’s always fresh and not overly seasoned. 

They also cook a good Ribeye Steak. It comes with rice and a fried over-easy egg. Somehow the combination’s not greasy, just rich.

Bali Hai has a full bar that features their infamous Mai Tai cocktails. They’re potent. Choose a designated driver and buy them a souvenir tiki mug instead. 

Is the View Good at Bali Hai?

At Bali Hai there are many beautiful sights to look at. You’ll enjoy looking at San Diego Bay, sailboats, cargo ships, airplanes, helicopters, and seals resting on their walk-out dock. Sit by their fire pit after dark and watch the city and boat lights. 

Is There Outdoor Seating?

Bali Hai has plenty of outdoor seating. Most of what used to be their downstairs outdoor area has been converted to outdoor dining. 

Is Parking Easy to Find?

Bali Hai has many free places to park your car inside the Shelter Island loop parking lot. This factor is one reason why it’s one of the top fine dining spots for those planning a visit to Cabrillo National Monument. 

KETCH GRILL AND TAPS

2614 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106 (619) 814-8080Website

Ketch Grill and Taps is located in the Shelter Island area of Point Loma close to Cabrillo National Monument.
Spicy Tuna Wonton Tacos and Short Rib Melt Sandwich are favorites at Ketch Point Loma.

Ketch Point Loma  is a casual attire seafood and pub fare eatery with a full bar and serene bay and sailboat views. Make reservations if you have 6 or more people in your group. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until a table becomes available.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Ketch Grill and Taps 

  • 4.3 miles
  • 11 minutes

What Food Is Popular at Ketch Grill and Taps?

Ketch Grill and Taps is known for their fresh seafood and is one of the best eateries close to Cabrillo National Monument. They have everything from oysters to finned fish of all kinds. For those who don’t like fish there’s tasty pub grub. 

Spicy Tuna Wonton Tacos. You’ll love the crispy, crunchy wonton taco shells. The spicy hot tuna’s cooled off by the cucumber & jicama slaw. The heat’s bumped up again by the chipotle aioli. Eel sauce adds a sweet note. And it’s finished off by little jolts of green wasabi tobiko (flying fish roe). The small, crunchy eggs add more crunch and a pop of color. 

Ketch of the Day depends upon what the local fishermen have brought into shore (check out Tuna Harbor Dockside Market on Saturdays). Have this very fresh catch in a salad, sandwich or made into a taco plate. Super fresh fish tacos…you can’t get much more San Diego than that!

You have to try their Buffalo Cauliflower with a cup of house-made sriracha ranch dressing. It’s actually crispy, not greasy. The dressing cools it down while still complimenting the buffalo seasonings.

Their Short Rib Melt sandwich is almost too rich. Your carnivore soul will be satisfied by the melt in your mouth rib meat. 

Outdoor Seating?

Ketch Grill and Taps has plenty of outdoor tables where you can enjoy their food. There’s also a fireplace for chilly nights.

Is the View Good at Ketch Grill and Taps?

The back patio of Ketch Grill and Taps overlooks the calm of America’s Cup harbor. While you’re dining you can enjoy looking at the water and moored sailboats. 

Is it Easy to Park There? 

Ketch Grill and Taps has ample parking nearby. You can park your car at the metered street parking on Shelter Island Drive and in the metered parking lot across the street at 1150 Anchorage Lane. If you walk about half a block there’s free parking in the same lot.

Best Italian Restaurants Near Cabrillo Monument

Officine Buona Forchetta is your best choice if you’re looking for an excellent Italian restaurant to include in your visit to Cabrillo National Monument. Two others are well rated: Pomodoro Ristorante Italiano and Cesarina. However, parking and outdoor dining space are very limited in both of them. 

OFFICINE BUONA FORCHETTA

2865 Sims Rd San Diego, CA 92106 (619) 548-5770Website

Officine Buono Forchetta in Liberty Station is a good Italian restaurant close to Cabrillo National Monument.
Pizza, beer and Panna Cotta dessert are all delicious at Officine Buona Forchetta.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Officine Buona Forchetta 

  • 6 miles
  • 15 minutes

What Food is Good at Officine Buona Forchetta?

My husband and I love their Neapolitan-style pizza pies. The crust is a bit wetter than you may be used to, but that’s the style. The dough is perfect. I’m partial to the no-sauce Michelle with caramelized onions, buffalo mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses plus thyme.  Bob likes the Margherita Pizza which is smothered with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil to which he adds their sausage. 

They also have a full menu of entrees including filet mignon, chicken, pork and fresh fish of the day. All of these come with your choice of 8 different types of pasta and 11 different sauces. Definitely try their ravioli of the day or lasagna. The quality of all of their dishes makes this one of the best Italian restaurants in Point Loma. 

Are There Outdoor Dining Tables at Officine Buona Forchetta?

Officine Buona Forchetta has two outdoor patios with tables. There’s one in front and another in back. The back patio also has a grassy enclosed playground area for the kids to play in. 

What’s the View like?

The sights around Officine Buona Forchetta aren’t spectacular. But there are plenty of art galleries to wander through. There’s also Liberty Station Park with the 52 Boats Memorial a couple of short blocks away. It’s located just beyond the parking lots mentioned below.

Is There Enough Parking at Officine Buona Forchetta?

There’s street parking, but getting in and out can be a challenge because of all the traffic. But if you walk two short blocks towards the bay you’ll find two huge parking lots with spaces with easy access. 

Best Breakfasts Near Cabrillo National Monument

Here are 3 good Point Loma restaurants with breakfast close to Cabrillo Monument. 1) Fig Tree Cafe in Liberty Station serves upscale American fusion breakfasts. 2) Historic Jennings House Cafe has all-day brunch fare. 3) Sunnie’s Ocean Beach Local Mexican Cuisine & Coffee with cheap, tasty AM chow. 

FIG TREE CAFE 

2400 Historic Decatur Rd., Ste 103, San Diego, CA 92106 (619) 821-2044Website

Fig Tree Cafe located close to Cabrillo National Monument in old Point Loma features Bananas Foster French Toast and Breakfast Sushi
Bananas Foster French Toast and Breakfast Sushi at Fig Tree Cafe.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Fig Tree Cafe 

  • 5.5 miles
  • 13 minutes

What Dishes are Popular at Fig Tree Cafe?

For a decadent breakfast treat, order their Bananas Foster french toast. It’s just sweet enough and has enough egg so that it’s not too “bready. I like all the sliced bananas that they put on it. If you cap off your meal with their Man Candy bacon you’ll know why this is one of the best places to eat close to Cabrillo National Monument. 

They’ve got an extensive breakfast and brunch menu with many more ways to leave you stuffed and happy. 

Is There Outdoor Dining at Fig Tree?

You can find outdoor tables just outside of Fig Tree Cafe. The space is covered and is within one of Liberty Station’s courtyards. 

Are There Good Views?

The view from the outdoor tables at Fig Tree Cafe is nothing much. It’s an enclosed courtyard with a few plants. Eat a leisurely breakfast and then go get your fill of beautiful scenery at Cabrillo National Monument.

Is There Enough Parking? 

There’s a HUGE parking lot just across Decatur Rd. You won’t have any trouble finding a spot for your car whether you decide to visit Cabrillo Monument before or after eating at Fig Tree Cafe. 

JENNINGS HOUSE CAFE

1018 Rosecrans St. San Diego, CA 92106 (619) 222-6857 Website

Jennings House Cafe a breakfast and brunch restaurant close to Cabrillo National Monument. Serving Berry Covered French Toast and Salmon Plate with Fruit
Berry Covered French Toast and Salmon Plate with Fruit at Jennings House Cafe.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Jennings House Cafe 

  • 4 miles
  • 9 minutes

What Food Is Popular at Jennings House Cafe?

Jennings House Cafe eatery serves breakfast until it closes in the early afternoon. They’re known for their breakfast scrambles and berry covered baked french toast. But their breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches are nothing to scoff at either. They are one of the reasons why Jennings House is considered one of the best places to eat close to Cabrillo National Monument.

You may have to wait a while to get into their weekend brunch. But it’s worth the wait because they’ve got plenty of brunch dishes plus cocktails, beer, and refillable mimosas. 

Is There Outdoor Dining Space?

You’ll enjoy the outdoor eating spaces at Jennings House Cafe. The old house has wrap-around decks, patios, and a pretty garden and fire pit area that are also open for dining. 

Where Can You Park Your Car?

There’s an on-site parking lot next to Jennings House Cafe that holds about 10 cars. On weekends you may be able to get away with parking next door at the SDCCU parking lot. Or park on nearby Upshur Street while you eat before going to Cabrillo National Monument.

SUNNIE’S OCEAN BEACH LOCAL MEXICAN CUISINE & COFFEE 

4723 Point Loma Ave, San Diego, CA 92107 (619) 693-5298 Website

Collage of images from Sunnie's Ocean Beach Local Mexican Cuisine and Coffee. Their storefront, mural and waffles with fresh fruit.
Waffles with Fresh Fruit and patio mural details at Sunnies.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Point Loma Seafoods 

  • 4.9 miles
  • 16 minutes

Sunnie’s is the best of the cheap places to eat breakfast near Cabrillo National Monument. The food’s tasty, the portions are generous and the atmosphere is friendly.

What Food is Good at Sunnie’s Ocean Beach?

If you’re on a budget you can’t go wrong with the $5.00 Surfers Special Breakfast Burrito. It’s an egg, bean & cheese burrito wrapped in your choice of flour or whole wheat tortilla. 

If you’ve got more of an appetite, or want to share, get the Build Your Own Breakfast Burrito. It’s HUGE and will be exactly the way you want it. You start with eggs and then choose protein(s) from 9 different selections ranging from adobada and bacon to tofu. Each protein choice costs $1 extra. Then add on up to four different choices of toppings from a list of 18. 

The French toast is also wonderful. It’s covered with fresh fruit. 

Are There Outdoor Tables at Sunnie’s Mexican Cuisine and Coffee?

Sunnie’s has umbrella topped tables in front of their restaurant. There’s also a cute covered patio with three to four tables to the left of the pizza shop next door. The patio’s fabric shade and a colorful mural makes it a cheery spot to have breakfast.

Does Sunnie’s Have a View?

You can just barely see the Pacific Ocean from the tables in front of Sunnie’s. If you want to enjoy a spectacular view, order to go. Then get into your car and head northwest on Point Loma Ave. toward Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Turn left at Sunset Cliffs and drive less than a quarter of a mile. You’ll see the first of 4 parking lots on that road that overlook the ocean. Enjoy the view!

Is There Parking?

Sunnie’s has free parking both on the street and off the alley that runs in back of the restaurant. 

Best Fast Food & Takeout Around Cabrillo Monument

Here are 3 well rated Point Loma fast food and take-out places close to Cabrillo National Monument. Hodad’s has monster-sized burgers. Point Loma Seafoods specializes in fresh ocean fare. Jensen’s Foods is a grocery store with an extraordinary selection of take-out items in its deli. 

HODAD’S

5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107 (619) 224-4623Website

Hodad's has the best hamburgers close to Cabrillo National Monument.
Hodad’s Bacon Double Bacon Cheeseburger is almost too big to eat!

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Hodad’s 

  • 5.5 miles
  • 16 minutes

Hodad’s was first featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” in 2007 and again in 2013.  It’s still the quintessential San Diego beach burger joint. The Ocean Beach location close to Cabrillo Monument  is a must visit for any hungry out of town visitor. 

What Food is Popular at Hodad’s?

Hodad’s is famous for big messy burgers, thick, rich ice cream shakes and Frings

My favorite burger is the one that was created for Guy Fieri, the Guido Burger. It’s a juicy burger smothered with pastrami, swiss cheese, grilled onions, ketchup, pickles, and spicy brown mustard. You’ll need two hands and 5 napkins to manage this meal.

Frings are onion rings and fried potato wedges mixed together. They go perfectly with one of Hodad’s rich hand-scooped chocolate malts (lots of real malt in there) and a burger. 

Is There Outdoor Dining at Hodad’s?

Hodad’s in Ocean Beach does not have outdoor dining. Unfortunately, for the duration of the COVID 19 restrictions, their food is only available for take-out orders. That’s a shame because the walls and ceilings are fun to look at because they are covered with license plates and memorabilia from happy food fans.

There’s No View at Hodad’s

Take your Hodad’s  chow and head towards the ocean on Newport Avenue. Sit on the boardwalk wall and enjoy the view of sand, ocean, pier and surfers.

Is There Parking Nearby?

First try to find a spot in Ocean Beach Pier Parking lot at the ocean end of Newport avenue. If that doesn’t work, there’s a small paid public parking lot next door to Hodad’s, but it’s usually full. The lot at 4949 Santa Monica Ave usually has open spaces. Public lot parking costs $5 for an hour or $10 for 6 hours. 

Street parking is scarce. If you spot an open parking spot on the street grab it immediately. 

POINT LOMA SEAFOODS

2805 Emerson St., San Diego, CA 92106 (619) 223-1109 — Website

Point Loma Seafoods with their Oyster Sandwich and Salmon Plate. is close to Cabrillo National Monument.
Oyster sandwich and Salmon Plate at Point Loma Seafoods.

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Point Loma Seafoods 

  • 4.4 miles
  • 12 minutes

San Diegans have been happily chowing down at this family run eatery since 1963. This is a fully stocked seafood market that also serves hot meals like sandwiches, sushi and fish & chips. The food’s always made fresh, so you are going to have to wait a bit. Don’t worry, it’s worth it.

What Do People Like to Eat at Point Loma Seafoods?

Try an “extra sloppy” Crab Sandwich on fresh sourdough bread. The ‘sloppy’ is the house-made tartar sauce. The crab’s fresh, so you will pay market price. Add coleslaw and a beer for lunch happiness.

Their Seafood Plates are very filling. Choose your fish or shellfish and you get it on a big platter that comes with coleslaw, a heap of french fries and their tartar sauce. 

Grab some of their amazing fish jerky to enjoy later while you’re walking around Cabrillo National Monument. 

Is There Outdoor Dining?

There’s a spacious outdoor patio in the front. And also on the second floor at Point Loma Seafoods. The tables either have umbrella shades or you’re sheltered from the sun by the building’s shadow. 

Is There a Good View?

Point Loma Seafoods overlooks one of the marinas in San Diego Bay. You’ll enjoy the peaceful sight of floating sailboats almost as much as the food.  

Is Parking Easy to Find?

There’s a free for 60 minutes parking adjacent to Point Loma Seafoods. There’s also another paid parking lot for sport fishing landing customers. The parking there is free for 30 minutes. For 31 to 60 minutes the charge is $2.

JENSEN’S FOODS

955 Catalina Blvd, San Diego, CA 92106 (619) 550-2097 — Website

Distance from Cabrillo National Monument to Jensen’s Market 

  • 3.3 miles
  • 8 minutes

What Take Out Food Is Good at Jensen’s Foods?

Jensen’s has something to please everyone. In addition to being a fully stocked grocery store they’ve got a great deli. Order a cold or hot sandwich made just the way you like it. Have a fresh made poke bowl or sushi. And there’s an enormous glassed-in counter display full of premade sides, salads, entrees and desserts that must be at least 30 feet long. 

Jensen’s large selection of prepared dishes in their deli case.

Is Parking Easy to Find?

There’s ample parking at Jensen’s Foods. Most visitors to Cabrillo National Monument don’t even realize that there’s a grocery store there. Much less someplace where they could pick up a complete picnic feast so close to their destination. 

Why Did These Eateries Make the List?

My criteria for selecting the best eateries have changed because of COVID-19. Here are my primary considerations now:

  • The Food Must Be Great! Ok, no change there.
  • They Must Have Plenty Of Outdoor Seating. San Diego city government’s only allowing outdoor dining now. I anticipate (and hope) that this will change soon. But in the meantime, recommending only those restaurants with exterior tablespace seems prudent. Besides, it’s San Diego! It makes sense to choose a place where you can enjoy eating outside year-round. 
  • There Are Gorgeous Views. I awarded bonus points for this.
  • They’ve Been Around for Years and Have a Great Reputation. Government lock-downs and social distancing requirements are cutting through the restaurant ecosystem like a plague. Neighborhood institutions and San Diego landmark eateries are likely to survive this crisis. I want this article to be of use to you, not disappoint you because a restaurant that I’ve recommended has closed.
  • There’s Parking Nearby. Most likely you’ll be driving to or from Cabrillo Monument by automobile. Public transportation there is very limited. Being able to park close to a restaurant eliminates a common source of irritation so you can relax and enjoy your meal. 

Choose Point Loma Restaurants Over Coronado Ones

Searching for “Best Places to Eat near Cabrillo National Monument” on some mega-travel and rating websites produces some ridiculous results. They use simple distance measurements (a 3-mile radius) to locate good restaurants near Cabrillo National Monument. As a result, they recommend many eateries in Coronado. 

Map of Coronado restaurants close to Cabrillo National Monument vs those on Coronado Island which is a further drive.

There’s nothing wrong with these restaurants (some are wonderful), except that they are only 3 miles away as the crow flies.  There’s no bridge to Coronado over the water here. You’ll either end up as chum in San Diego Bay or being served slop in the Navy brig for trespassing on a secure base. 

Driving a car is safer, but it’s a much longer trip. Coronado restaurants are 17 automotive miles away from Cabrillo National Monument Visitors’ Center. It takes over 30 minutes to make the trip in ideal traffic conditions.

Closing Thoughts

Now you’ve found out why you’re not likely to stumble across a great place to eat on the road to or from the park at the tip of Point Loma. And where to go to find Point Loma’s hidden food gems. Let me know if you’ve found this article useful, time-saving, and tummy pleasing.

Check out more best eateries at San Diego attractions at places like the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. In the meantime, eat happy around Cabrillo National Monument!

Nancy Ulrich

I'm nuts...about animals, polymer clay, mixed media art & husband Bob. Happily planted in San Diego among good friends, family that I would have chosen if given the choice and optimism for a bountiful future for us all.

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