Not only does Candelas on the Bay have a prime location with a beautiful view of Downtown San Diego, it has inventive Mexican cuisine that promises guests an interesting and special dining experience. One of the best parts of Candelas on the Bay is the exciting scene of Coronado beachgoers and the San Diego Bay that can be seen from every seat in the house. This restaurant is the sister restaurant of Candelas Downtown and carries over the same creative “Mexico City” style dishes created by Executive Chef Eduardo Baeza. This restaurant is brilliantly suited for those eager to test their palates and try new flavor combinations, and for those looking to enjoy the San Diego skyline.Read More ...
When Candelas on the Bay opened in June 2008, it became one of the few area restaurants able to simultaneously offer two of life’s greatest pleasures: exquisite cuisine coupled with a picturesque view. While a new addition to Coronado, the restaurant boasts a successful heritage: Owner Alberto Mestre and Executive Chef Eduardo Baeza have spent ten years at the original Candelas restaurant, serving a unique fusion of Mexican and French cuisine to a loyal downtown clientele. Their decision to bring the tantalizing flavors of Baeza’s “alta cocina” (haute cuisine) to an exquisite waterfront setting results in a dining experience that is nothing short of stunning.
Candelas on the Bay is just steps from the Coronado ferry dock on the eastern edge of Coronado, and sits separated from the water by only a boardwalk and a short sandy beach. It is easily accessible by ferry or from the Coronado Bridge, and is backed by a parking lot with ample parking—although convenience is hardly the restaurant’s most attractive feature.
The prime location is taken full advantage of with a stunning wall of windows that overlooks the water and lets in natural light. The space consists of an interior dining room and bar/lounge, plus two outdoor terraces. The interior design, a collaboration between architect Gregory de Peña and owner Alberto Mestre, ensures that every seat in the house has a view.
And what a view it is. We’re seated in one of many tables lining the wall of glass, and find ourselves faced with a prime view of the boardwalk in front of us, the beach beyond, the pier where the harbor ferry docks, and finally, the San Diego skyline. In between, sailboats dance across the glistening surface, their white sails billowing gently. It may be one of the most picturesque vantage points in all of San Diego.
When I manage to peel my eyes away from the wall of windows, I find that the space is bright and airy—a departure from the cozy, intimate setting of its sister restaurant. Low lounge music fills the air, while natural light infuses the room. Red-cushioned chairs, simple white linens, and gold, rag-painted walls lend an earthy, laid-back elegance. One wall is entirely covered with candle sconces, paying homage to the restaurant’s name and illuminating the space as the sun goes down.
As if to fade into the background, servers wear white chefs’ coats emblazoned with the Candelas logo. Our server, Kara, is gracious and professional, with a touch of friendly humor that seems perfect for the setting. While upscale, this is no stuffy restaurant, and Kara's friendliness proves enjoyable throughout the meal. She graciously hands us a thick, leather bound wine list and two thin folders of artisan paper that hold the menus. The wine list is enticing and intriguing, with several Mexican and Spanish wines standing out among well-chosen California offerings.
While the lunch menu contains elegant renditions of familiar Mexican staples—tacos, ceviche, tosdadas, the dinner menu seems to depart from traditional Mexican cuisine. While the country’s influence is certainly present, there is no street food here. Instead, we find a refined cuisine that draws on the flavors and traditions of Mexico but simultaneously breaks away from tradition. Baeza's background in Mexico City's French restaurants has resulted in a unique culinary perspective that combines a respect for ingredients with a flair for the uncharted.
After we order, a staff member comes around with a basket of fresh baked rolls, offering us our choice of plain, jalapeño, or cheese-filled. He carefully places the round rolls on our plates, along with a small bowl of compound butter made with anchovies, tequila, garlic salt, pepper, and toasted hazelnuts. It’s impossible to restrain from the warm rolls and savory spread.
The Callos Jean arrives, dark and deviant. A playful structure towers on the plate, five plump scallops intertwined with a thick weave of julienned portobello mushrooms, slivers of onions, wilted cilantro, and diced jalapeño. It is unlike any preparation of scallops I've had—rather than playing up the scallops' light, fresh taste and texture, the dish marries the pure flesh with deep, resonant colors and flavors. One bite reveals an explosion of tastes, a hint of tangy lime and an underlying sweetness that gives way to an unmistakable spice and a smoky undertone. The textures, too, are surprising and engaging, the supple plumpness of the scallop joined by soft, sweated mushrooms and slightly crisp, crunchy onions. I can’t get over the sheer uniqueness of the dish, and the boldness of the chef in creating it, and the stunning result of such an insightful decision. It is bewitching, and enticing, and will forever open up the potential of scallops for me.
The Estructura de Aguacate is light and refreshing, an ideal counterpart to the Callos Jean. A cylindrical form arrives surrounded by ribbons of green avocado and peppered with variations on pale pink—tiny shrimp, pulled crab meat, pale bay scallops. The structure is less in layers than it is packed in a medley, suggesting that a bite should contain a little bit of everything. Dueling sauces mirror the colors of the form: a pale green basil oil and a cream-colored mango vinaigrette dance around the plate. A forkful is an explosion of summer, the pure flavors of the chilled seafood sweet with citrus notes and complemented by the nutty creaminess of avocado. The fresh tang of citrus-marinated seafood reminds me of ceviche, and there seems no more appropriate appetizer to sample so close to the sea.
La Crema de Frijole a la Cerveza proves a stunning pause between courses. A wide, sweeping bowl arrives, the pale porcelain of the rim contrasting the jet black liquid inside. A medley of julienned corn tortilla strips peppers the liquid, which is otherwise unadorned. This is black bean soup elevated to elegance. In this version, the beans are pureed with dark beer, chicken stock, and bacon, resulting in a thick, creamy, and intoxicating liquid. The texture is silky and supple, bisque-like in its thickness. A spoonful is fluffy and airy, yet deep and dark. It is a tantalizing study in contrast.
The Manjar Vallarta is a commanding yet graceful dish from the selection of seafood entrees, featuring a thick filet of Chilean sea bass crowned by a golden sear and balanced atop a medley of slivered portobello mushrooms. A lavender-colored sauce surrounds the pale fish, a delightfully unique creation from grapes and cream. The fish needs no knife to slice through its gentle flesh, which practically pulls apart upon the touch. A bite is filled with pale, muted flavors, the gentle texture of the fish flavored only by the light salt coating of the seared edge and a subtle sweetness from the light, airy grape cream. Yet despite thes elegant flavors, it is texture that wows me in this dish—the sea bass boasts the lusciousness of a day boat scallop and the tenderness of a peach, and as my mouth envelops the supple flesh I am in hedonistic heaven.
Filete las Flores pleases the eyes as much as the palate. Its explosive presentation features a thick piece of tenderloin resting atop a bulbous form of mashed potatoes, balancing carefully atop a spear of grilled endive. Crowning the meat is a thick, bubbly layer of melted blue cheese and two devious dried red chiles. Two stunning sauces surrounding the filet—beneath it is a “corn cream” sauce and blanketing the rest of the plate is a tangy raspberry sauce that, I soon discover, is the exact color of the center of the medium rare steak. Every detail on this plate enhances the enjoyment of the dish. The corn cream sauce is astounding, the flavor playful mirroring that of creamed corn yet the form remaining elegant and haute. Then there is the blue cheese crust—a showstopper addition that boasts an unmistakable creamy tang. The steak itself is plump and tender, with a salty sear and a savoriness that stands out even among such bold accompaniments. I take each bite in wonderment, experimenting with the myriad combinations of flavors on the plate. I am completely won over by this dish.
Dessert at Candelas on the Bay seems more traditional than the dinner, with selections that draw on sweet classics: churros, tres leches cake, and capirotada—a traditional sweet candy. We opt for a simple finale, the Crepes Cajeta. A perfectly round crepe is saturated by a thick, light brown cajeta sauce, a reduction of milk and sugar that is cooked until it caramelizes. The thick, cloying sweetness is deliciously addictive, tasting similar to caramel but more rustic. Each bite is peppered by crumbled hazelnuts and consists of a spongy, silky, and decadent mouthfeel.
By the time we leave, the room is abuzz with conversation and illuminated by flickering candlelight. The sun has just set and a cool fog creeps over the coast. The drive over the Coronado Bridge is a contemplative one, as I turn over in my mind one of the most engaging meals I've had in some time.
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We've lived in Chula Vista for about ten years and have enjoyed many of the fine resturaunts in and around the San Diego area. For our twentieth wedding anniversary I was looking for a special restaurant for the occassion. While doing some research online I came across this site, and, impressed but a bit overwhelmed by all the choices available, I asked for some suggestions through the site's free Group and Events Services.
Many thanks to Jessica, who offered several excellent choices perfectly tailored to my requirements. I decided on Candelas on the Bay. I'd never been to Candelas before and while I was passingly familiar with the Ferry Landing area on Corondado, I could not recall ever seeing this restaurant. I called the restaurant and talked with a very pleasant young lady who helped me with directions and parking, and who agreed to care for a vase of roses I later brought by on the day of our reservation. The restaurant does not gaurantee special seating, but as the reservation was on a Wednesday, I was hopeful of getting a table with a nice location.
That evening we arrived at the restaurant about ten minutes prior to our reservation. There was a pretty good crowd for a Wednesday and the restaurant was busy. The young lady at the front recognized me and immediately showed us to our table. The vase of roses was already in place and our table even had a Reserved sign on it. The table was exactly where I wanted, next to the celing high glass that looked out on the water and the San Diego skyline.
Our waiter, Daniel M., also welcomed us to the restaurant and congratulated us on our anniversary. He was gregarious and knowledgeable, talking over the menu with us and making some suggestions. He gave us some time to study the extensive wine list. The ambience was perfect, with the view and setting. Despite the arrival of a large group not long after we arrived the noise level remained muted. I do have to report that there was a mixup in service which led to a considerable wait. Daniel explained later that he had been asked to help with the large group that had arrived and had been told our orders would be taken by another server.
Once that was cleared up Daniel remained as our waiter and we had excellent service the rest of the evening. A server came by and offered us a choice of breads. We selected the cheese bread, which was very good. We both had a glass of Fallbrook Chardonnay with a Candelas label, one of their more inexpensive wines. The flavor was a little light, but quite good for the price. In between the bread and the main course, Daniel brought us a bowl of soup, courtesy of the restarurant, for us to try. It was suberb, with just the right spice to it. Our dinner choices arrived quickly, and was well presented.
My wife had selected Manjar Vallarta (Chillean Sea Bass), while I had been enticed by Daniel's description of the special catch of the day. We both love Mexican cuisine, but we don't often try the seafood selections. This time we were glad we did. We were very pleased that both the sea bass and my dish (I can't recall the name of the fish, but which was described in much more eloquent words than I by Daniel as similar to halibut, but better) were fresh, tasty, and nicely complimented by the sauces used. I also greatly enjoyed the crab stuffed tomato that came with my dish.
We watched people enjoying a walk on the beach or the pier, marvelled at the sailboats taking advantage of a breezy day, and lingered to view dusk come to the San Diego skyline. A tangy lemon sorbet and a flavorful after dinner liquer topped off our dinner. Overall it was a perfect evening for our anniversary. Excellent and courteous service from both the young lady at the front and Daniel, a fine atmosphere, and outstanding food.
Excellent to eat at 11am - 1pm. Terrace on the border of water. Sun and no cars. Peaceful place. Enjoy!!
The atmosphere was beautiful. The service was outstanding. There is dining inside and out. I enjoyed sitting outside and gazing out at downtown San Diego. It is a very classy restaraunt. I ordered a penne pasta dish with seafood and sundried tomatoes as well as other delicious ingredients; it was the best I've ever tasted!
Been here a couple of times but this last time my table was not facing the bay which was kinda of a bummer but food was excellent as always.
Me and my wife enjoy nice dinners. This restaurant belongs in the same breath as Mr. A's etc. Very, very good overall...I had the Sea Bass and my wife had the Duck Tacos...awesome service, awesome food and what a view!
I proposed to my girlfriend at Candelas. Over all, the food was wonderful, the service was excellent, and the ambience was memorable. Great experience. Thanks!
Este restaurante es romantico tiene muy buen ambiente y puedes tener una buena conversacion ya que no es un ambiente de ruido si no es un ambiente tranquilo .
This restaurant experience was fantastic from start to finish. Karen H provided incredible service and the food was totally amazing! We had the duck tacos and the cream cuatro soup (which was so good it made our mouths hurt!) as well as the sea bass - also amazing. The food is fresh and inventive and we can't wait to go back when we return to Coronado on our next vacation!
The atmosphere and view are absolutely amazing! The service needs some work.
Not your usual tex-mex/cali mexican fare. Loved the food and the service was spot on!