The food is really fine here, actually it’s World Famous in Pacific Beach


By Kelley Carlson

It’s clear that World Famous is pretty well-known — at least locally — as evidenced by the lines during its happy hours and often lengthy wait times for meals. Those are positive signs that customers are pleased with the food, service and atmosphere at this beachside restaurant, located along the Ocean Front Boardwalk.

Formerly located in what is now The Green Flash, World Famous has been on the south end of Pacific Beach — near the Mission Beach border — since 1993, and was taken over by owner Dieter May in 1994, according to general manager Kendall Blevens. Its casual coastal cuisine and unobstructed views of the Pacific draw everyone from college students to families to San Diego Chargers fans, who watch games on one of four TVs during the football season.

Naturally, the eatery incorporates beach-themed decor, which includes a surfboard hanging in the cocktail bar/lounge, old World Famous menus printed on wooden fish along the walls, and surfing and fishing photos throughout the establishment. In one picture, it appears that several women are holding a very large fish, which is actually a broomstick, Chef Chris Bates said with a chuckle.

As might be expected of an oceanside restaurant, many of World Famous’ entrees consist of seafood, but there are also hand-cut steaks, salads and a number of other options. And guests may be surprised to find that the majority of items are under $20, and everything falls below $30.

Patrons can sit on the patio and watch the waves crashing and people strolling along the walkway while consuming a fresh fish dish such as Potato Wrapped Halibut, served with a sun-dried tomato basil champagne sauce, rock shrimp arborio cake and steamed asparagus.

They may also sample a variety of ocean-based fare through the San Francisco-Style Cioppino, a Sicilian-style fisherman stew with Maine lobster, fresh fish, jumbo shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams in a herb lobster broth.

For a tender meat dish, they gravitate toward the Slow Roasted Prime Rib, which is cooked overnight and served in half- and full-cut portions. It’s served with garlic chive whipped butter potatoes, sweet red peppers, au jus and creamy horseradish sauce.

For the health-conscious crowd, the Kona Coast Shrimp Salad features grilled jumbo prawns over romaine tossed in a miso blood orange vinaigrette with wonton skins, mild peppers, thinly sliced bermuda onions and dried cranberries.

The family-friendly World Famous provides a special children’s menu with choices for the three main meals. Breakfast items are all served with a choice of bacon or sausage; among the lunch and dinner alternatives are the Little Surfer Burger, Crispy Chicken Fingers, Popcorn Shrimp, and X-Treme Mac and Cheese with a creamy housemade cheese sauce over penne pasta. Monday through Thursday nights are very popular at the eatery — especially with the college-age crowd —with different bar promotions each of those days. They include half-price appetizers, and specials on shrimp, lobster and pollo asada tacos and Hawaiian ribs.

“We get a line out the door; it’s the ‘wow’ factor,” Bates said. As World Famous transitions for its dinner rush, it provides a “cafe” menu with items like burgers and appetizers from 3 to 5 p.m. daily.

Around 5 p.m. weekdays tends to be among the quietest times at the establishment, Bates said. “You can have a real nice seat” and can still hang around for the sunset, he said.

“The restaurant almost stops as the sun goes down … it’s kind of like a calming time of day,” Bates added.

Reservations are recommended on weekends and even during summer days, since the wait can sometimes be as long as one to two hours. “It’s packed all day during the summer,” Bates said.

Maybe because it’s “World Famous.”

World Famous

Address: 711 Pacific Beach Drive, Pacific Beach

Phone: (858) 272-3100


The Vibe: Casual, relaxed

Signature Dishes: Lobster Bisque, Nut Crusted Brie, Potato-Wrapped Halibut, San Francisco-Style Cioppino, Skirts of Fire Arrachera, Slow-Roasted Prime Rib

Open Since: 1993 (current location)

Reservations: Yes

Patio Seating: Yes

Take Out: Yes

Happy Hour: 4-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday

Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click Get The Recipe at the bottom of the story.

This week: World Famous’ Nut Crusted Brie