Rally Before the Races: Where to Eat and Drink Before Making Your Way to the Racetrack

One of the great things about the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s summer season is that it’s so accessible. You can easily spend a weekend day gambling (and perhaps enjoying a concert) at the track, or stop by after work to spice up a weekday evening. Races happen Wednesday through Sunday until early September, and gates typically open around noon (with the First Post beginning a couple hours after that). So there’s plenty of time to grab brunch, lunch, and a couple drinks before you visit the races.

Make your reservation at one of these 5 Del Mar Plaza restaurants, and you’ll be ready to enjoy the rest of your day betting on the ponies.

Del Mar Rendezvous

Del Mar Rendezvous offers award-winning, modern Chinese cuisine. The restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. every day except Sunday (when it’s open for dinner only). Grab one of their popular dishes before heading out. Choose from noodle and rice dishes, entrees like their signature Pungent Crispy Chicken, Shrimp and Scallop Sauté, or Buddha’s Treasure. They offer gluten-free, vegetarians, and vegan options as well.

Il Fornaio & Enoteca del Fornaio

Il Fornaio and Enoteca del Fornaio both have ocean views and outdoor space to soak up some sunshine. You can drop in at 11:30 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends, and order from their lunch and brunch menus. Their Italian take on classic brunch dishes include Frittelle Allo Sciroppo D’Acero (pancakes), Uova Alla Benedettina, Frittata Con Gamberi E Spinaci, and Pizza Papalina (a breakfast version of pizza topped with cheese, onions, crispy potatoes, ham, and scrambled eggs). For lunch, try Focaccetta con Pollo, Insalata di Tonno, Linguine Mare Chiaro, or one of their six savory pizzas.

Don’t forget to order a glass of wine, mimosa, Leonardo (prosecco and strawberry juice), Bellini (prosecco and peach juice), or one of your favorite cocktails.

Pacifica Del Mar

With ocean views and a name that honors the Pacific Ocean, it’s not surprising you can get some of the best seafood in Del Mar at this restaurant. Their lunch menu—served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and 11:00 am to 4 p.m. on weekends—has dishes like baked pacific oysters, mussels, blackened fish tacos, and bucatini pasta with shrimp. You can also get lighter dishes like salads or sandwiches.

And on weekends, if you visit between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., you have even more options because you can then order off the restaurant’s brunch menu as well. Pacifica also has an extensive wine list, more than 100 of the world’s finest vodkas, and an incredible cocktail list – not a bad place to start your day before the races.

Pacifica Breeze Café

Lunch is served at Pacifica Breeze Café from 11:30 a.m.to 4:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday through Sunday, so there’s ample time to grab a bite before heading to the track. The popular café serves sandwiches, soup, and salads, and if you show up early, you can choose a dish from their hearty breakfast menu as well.

Shimbashi Izakaya

Open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 3:00 p.m. on the weekends, Shimbashi Izakaya has a menu of fresh seafood, shashimi, sushi, udon noodles, and other modern Japanese dishes. If you can’t choose just one thing, you can order the Shimbashi 2-Layer Bento Box and select two entrées and a side item to go along with a bowl of miso soup. They also have an extensive drink menu—cocktails, beer, sake, and, Champagne—so you can pair some festive spirits along with your meal.

Whenever you decide to visit the Del Mar Races, the restaurants at Del Mar Plaza should be your first stop. Visit us online to find out more about our restaurants, happy hour specials, shops, and services.