Cusp Dining & Drinks

Ariel Richardson, the founder of San Diego-based ASR Design Studio, knows a beautiful room when she sees one. As a native Californian, Richardson has a deep appreciation for spaces that reflect the California coastal lifestyle—approachable, elegant, modern and airy.

Armed with a Master of Interior Architecture, Richardson has been honing her skills for the past 13 years.

For Valentine’s Day, she’s sharing her top five list of the most beautifully designed restaurants and bars lovers should visit this February 14. 

1. C Level and Island Prime

For a unique dining experience with breathtaking views this Valentine’s Day, I recommend Harbor Island’s C Level and Island Prime, a restaurant on stilts atop San Diego Bay. This unique split-level restaurant offers two dining options. For cool cocktails and a seafood-heavy menu, choose the C Level Lounge. For a more fine-dining experience, choose Island Prime, which features award-winning steak and seafood choices. Both restaurants offer patio seating and stunning views of downtown San Diego’s skyline and nearby Coronado Island.

The ambiance is cool and elegant, and the gorgeous view makes this a perfect choice for a romantic dinner. The decor is simple with white tables and wicker chairs on the patio overlooking the waterfront. Inside, the decor is slightly more formal with dark chairs and booths. Stark white linens, high ceilings, and wall to wall windows allow the coastal vibe to permeate the indoors and keep the mood decidedly warm.

2. Cusp Dining and Drinks

Cusp Dining and Drinks promises “coastal cuisine at its best.” Moon shaped tables and pairs of linen chairs for you and your loved one to sit side-by-side facing beautiful floor to ceiling windows with stunning ocean views. If you don’t nab a cozy spot right in front of the window, don’t worry because every seat in the house has an ocean view. All tables and booths are angled to face the gorgeous view of La Jolla and the ocean.

The decor is modern and minimal creating an elegant, yet casual atmosphere. The tables are simple and sleek, and the bar features dark wooden stools and a view of the open kitchen. Located on the 11th floor of the Hotel La Jolla, this posh spot is perfect for a romantic evening for two or your next corporate event. The menu features locally sourced seasonal ingredients and flavorful dishes perfect for sharing. The nightly complimentary toast in the lounge at sunset is a can’t miss!

3. Herb and Wood

For an indulgent dining experience featuring carefully prepared California coast inspired seasonal dishes, visit Herb and Wood in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. Lavish decorations including ornate chandeliers and pendant globe lights suspended from high ceilings lend a sophisticated ambience for both large parties and intimate gatherings.  

Choose from indoor seating in plush booths and couches or outdoor seating on the lovely garden patio. An iron chef’s table draws the eye to the display kitchen directly behind it. The clean, modern white bar surrounded by chic black stools is the centerpiece of the restaurant. Beautiful paintings in the style of Les Fauves by Artist in Residence John Lane hanging throughout the restaurant create a transcendent experience.

4. The Red Door

The airy cottage-inspired decor makes for a bit more of a casual, warm dining experience for Valentine’s Day at The Red Door. Come for the classic American comfort foods and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Chef and owner Luciano prides himself on his farm to table methods and loves to personally check in on guests.

Choose from picnic style outdoor seating or cozy booths and tables indoors. Hanging terrariums over dark wooden tables add some bohemian flair to the homey atmosphere. The restaurant is full of greenery, and large windows allow natural sunlight to stream into the place, creating a warm, comfortable vibe.

5. Herringbone

I just love this place. The atmosphere at Herringbone must be experienced in person. Interior design by Thomas Schoos features a mix of modern maritime-inspired wall art, industrial walls and tables, and warm coastal charm complete with 100-year-old living trees. 

The renovated 1930s era warehouse space showcases a high-ceiling indoor seating area overflowing with live olive trees, twinkle lights, and greenery, creating a garden-like atmosphere inside. Whimsical nautical touches like netting, life preservers, and coral are sprinkled throughout the restaurant. The cozy lounge area features a mosaic-tiled fireplace and coastal-inspired padded rocking chairs.

Herringbone offers a unique ocean-to-table menu with an alfresco dining experience. It’s the perfect romantic setting to take a special someone in your life.