This post was most recently updated on June 18th, 2021
I am always on the lookout for a great place to eat and something interesting to do. Sometimes, I just want a fun date with my husband. Or perhaps I’ll be entertaining family visitors. After living in San Diego 27 years, I find great satisfaction discovering something new! I decided it was time to start sharing my finds with you, too. This review features Solana Beach and Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
Dine in Cardiff-by-the-Sea
Note: Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Solana Beach are next-door neighbors, so it’s easy to visit both in the same outing!
Los Olas or Ki’s Restaurant?
This outing was a date night for my husband and me. The beach was calling out to me (must have been those 90-degree days we were having inland!) and I remembered a restaurant a friend had introduced me to, called Los Olas. It’s a fun, casual Mexican restaurant where you can walk in right off the beach in shorts and flip-flops. It’s also super popular. When we arrived on a Saturday in July, there were no parking spots, and there was a line of cars backing up on Highway 101, all hoping for a chance at a parking spot, too! You can’t park on the road here, so we pulled into the next parking lot to consider our options. Two restaurants on the beach looked nice, but were sure to be expensive.
A two-story restaurant called Ki’s (rhymes with eyes), just two doors down from Los Olas, caught our attention. We whipped out our phones and looked up reviews…healthy, organic food…ocean views…4.5 out of 5 stars…a special sunset menu…it all sounded good to us. And as luck would have it, there was still an opening in their parking lot! Ki’s isn’t much to look at from the outside, but the views from the restaurant on the top floor are great! You can eat inside, outside on a balcony, or in a room with views of both the ocean and the lagoon behind Ki’s. All restaurant dining has ocean views.
(click on any photo to enlarge)
The one thing that most made me want to try Ki’s Restaurant was their Sunset Menu. If you order between 4:30 and 6:00 pm, you can choose a starter, an entree, and a dessert from this menu and only pay $19.50 per person. You also get a bread basket with whipped butter (and refills if you like).
My husband and I chose the Hummus Plate and the House Salad as our starters. The Hummus Plate had a variety of tasty items to dip in hummus or tzatziki sauce, and the salad had a lot of nice extras, like garbanzo beans, edamame, and a flavorful herbal dressing.
The entrees we selected were Miso Salmon and Sauteed Chicken with Pasta. I really enjoyed the truffled cauliflower puree and tempura eggplant that accompanied the salmon, but the salmon topped with miso sauce was the star of the entree! My husband’s chicken with pasta reminded me of Chicken Parmesan, except for the fresh pesto sauce and ricotta. Very tasty!
Dessert included the Chocolate Decadence cake and the Carrot Cake. I really feel like I got the better deal here. I ordered the carrot cake and it came with fresh whipped cream and a strawberry. It was excellent! My husband’s chocolate decadence cake, on the other hand, was good but not spectacular, in my opinion.
If we had arrived any later than 5:00 pm, we might have needed reservations to eat at Ki’s on a summer weekend evening. Watching the sun set from Ki’s would be a fitting way to end the day! However, we were ready to go and do some exploring…
Do: Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach
Solana Beach has a wonderful vibe. Perched on the coast and along the railroad tracks with coastal trails and a trendy design district, it’s a fun place to explore. The Cedros Avenue Design District is 3 blocks of boutiques, architects, interior designers, furniture stores, eateries, and modern art installations.
Even the crosswalks are creative!
There’s a bridge crossing the railroad tracks with colorful glass chips embedded in the cement, and landscaped stairs and sidewalks.
While we very much enjoyed strolling Cedros Avenue after our dinner at Ki’s (especially since we had it nearly to ourselves!), we could only window-shop because most of the businesses close at 6:00 pm. If I were visiting again, I would visit Cedros in the late afternoon and browse through all the interesting shops before going out to dinner. I especially enjoyed the urban decor and vintage resale shops with outside displays. (Pretty sure I would have bought something at one of them if they’d been open…)
The other fun thing about Cedros Avenue is its proximity to the cute Solana Beach train station and visitors center (103 N. Cedros Ave.)
If you wanted to add to the adventure of the day, you could take the train to Solana Beach from another location (only $12.00 for a 38-minute ride from downtown San Diego, one way). You could also walk or cycle the 1.7-mile stretch of the Coastal Rail Trail in Solana Beach, between Via de la Valle and Ocean Street along the railroad tracks.
It is only a small part of what will someday be a 44-mile trail from Oceanside to San Diego. The Solana Beach section is a great way to stretch your legs and enjoy beautiful scenery as well as public art.
I hope you enjoy discovering your own places to ‘Dine and Do’. Feel free to share your favorites, and maybe I’ll feature your idea on Postcards and Passports, too!
Want to see more in the ‘Dine & Do’ series?