Considering a couple of the restaurants in the San Diego Zoo are pretty good, I should have expected nothing less while wandering the museums in Balboa Park. In the center of the Hospitality Building which holds the Visitors Center is The Prado Restaurant. There are multiple dining areas a wonderful bar and outside, but covered patio seating.
Reservations are recommended and considering the crowd at the door waiting to be seated we were very glad we took the recommendation.
The very unique metal lamps that look like birds holding them were a gift to the 1935 San Diego International Exposition by non other than Adolf Hitler.
Lunch is served Mon-Fri 11:30-3:00; Sat-Sun 11:00-3:00
Dinner is served Tue-Sun from 5:00PM
Favorite Dish Our appetizer of grilled calamari was exceptional. Chicken salad for me was very good and my wife's grilled shrimp on arugula she said was done to perfection.
Table and chairs are placed here just outside the entrance and though I'm sure they are meant for use by the bar patrons, we were permitted to sit here while drinking a coffee purchased at a kiosk just around the corner, which is pretty generous of them. Of course, hadf the restaurant been busy, our sitting there would, understandably, not have been allowed.
Parking is free, but finding a space near is difficult. Some days there are pedicabs roaming the lots and for a price will wheel you to the restaurant. After 5:00 p.m. valet service is offered.
The 'courtyard' area, is located behind the restaurant and is a lovely place to eat on a bright summer's day.
The dining room closes lunch off at 3:00 p.m. and opens for dinner at 5:00 p.m. However, these hours are extended in the Lounge.
Favorite Dish The cuisine of The Prado is said to be "Latin-Italian fusion." I'd say it's more "Eclectic/International"
The price range is on the high side, but for those of you on a budget, I'd suggest Happy Hour here. The drinks are less expensive than during meal times and the appetizers can be shared and serve as a light meal. Plus, it's generally a quieter time of day for the restaurant so can be a peaceful repose.
If you happen to be here during meal times and would like to at least see this restaurant, but can't afford a meal, I'd suggest stopping in for a drink. The lounge combines a tapas menu with a wide variety of margaritas and other beverages at their full service bar. More expensive than Happy Hour, but not as price-y as a full meal.
We were here for lunch and what a great experience. We sat outdoors overlooking the gardens. The menu was vast enough to serve many tastes but was able to offer unique dishes as well. The service was superb. The servers were able to recommend a number of dishes and compliments to them, and they were attentive enough without being overbearing. For the service, setting and food the price of lunch was very inexpensive.
Favorite Dish The mixed vegetable sushi roll was spectacular. Good blend of herbs and vegetables. Be sure to spread a little sorbet on your sushi roll.
The Prado is located at Balboa Park. It is set in the rich landscape and finely manicured gardens. I must say that this is the best restaurant, good atmoshere and the best spanish food i ever had. Thanks to my VT friend, Jim who gave me this opportunity to try out the greatest food over here.
The Prado is a famous fancy restaurant in Balboa Park. But if you are like me and want to see what all the hype is about, but you are traveling alone and don't want to look like a geek alone in a fancy restaurant and to beat the wait and crowds have dinner on the deck. The atmosphere here is not as stuffy but be ready to feel yourself up at a different place later. Maybe this is how Californians eat, but this Midwestern girl needed a little more substanance. The deck serves appetizers and small soups and salads as well as dessert. The hommous that they serve is awesome. Nice place to have a bite, literally I mean bite.
I had a lovely black bean soup and the vegetarian sushi (eggplant wrapped around goat cheese and other good things). Both were very good. However, the sangria is what really got me. The waiter advised against the pitcher - thank goodness! One glass and we were just dandy to go admire the park on foot. Wow.
We were seated outside with the heaters, and the staff was very pleasant. The one drawback was that several planes seemed to want to drown out our conversation. I don't know if it was because of the storms, or if it's always in the flight path.
Favorite Dish Can I say Sangria as my favorite dish??
The El Prado Restaurant in historic Balboa Park offers hospitality with fantastic architecture.
Favorite Dish The seared ahi with argula has a unique blend of smokiness and spice. I highly recommend this dish if you like seafood. The Spinach salad is heavenly too.