Café La Rue is located in La Jolla’s iconic La Valencia Hotel, otherwise known as the Pink Lady. The café comes as close to visiting Europe, without actually visiting, as anyplace you’ll find in SoCal. Situated next to the hotel entrance along the Prospect Street side of the hotel, the spacious café has an outdoor patio that’s perfect for people-watching. The gastropub-style menu, signature cocktails, live entertainment, and indoor/outdoor space make this one of the most desirable places for lunch or dinner in La Jolla. Between the revamped style of the café and the award-winning chef, Café La Rue is a bright spot in La Jolla’s culinary scene, and a tribute to the continued excellence of La Valencia Hotel.
Café La Rue Ambiance
After a 2013 multi-million dollar renovation, La Valencia Hotel opened the Whaling Bar and Café La Rue into a single space. The new Café La Rue is naturally light, bright, and airy with an entire wall of windows. Design elements like Venetian plaster tray ceilings with mirrored insets, modern chandeliers, and recessed lighting, plus gleaming terrazzo floors create a vibrant and welcoming spaciousness.
The art deco-inspired café retained the French village artwork of Wing Howard, lending a nostalgic familiarity to the space. A horseshoe shaped, marble-top bar sits in the center of the room and is surrounded by comfortable leather cushioned bar stools. Marble-top bistro tables and orange and gold leather cushioned chairs spread across the café and allow guests to relax in comfort.
This contemporary French bistro-style café has a casual chic vibe that is best suited to adults. The intimate space caters to savvy travelers and locals alike who are looking for a place to take it easy and socialize.
Café La Rue Food
The culinary direction of Café La Rue is European bistro. Diners can come in for lunch, happy hour, dinner, or dessert and always find something tantalizing.
Favorite starters like the charred brussels sprouts with kimchi and guanciale are a big favorite, as are the Mediterranean mussels with saffron, roasted garlic, lemon, and toast. Oysters Rockafeller is another delicious choice for a starter with smoked kumiai oysters, bechemel, bacon, and cornbread. And the artisan cheese and charcuterie board gets a lot of attention on review sites.
Café La Rue’s seasonal menu makes use of area vendors’ sustainable ingredients, so you can always expect the freshest in-season offerings. There are specialty toast options like avocado toast or wild mushroom toast, plus flatbreads like the achiote pork with charred tomatillo, crema, Monterey jack cheese, cilantro, and pickled onion.
Sandwiches and wraps are available for both lunch and dinner, including their signature La Rue burger with white cheddar and pickled vegetable aioli. They’re served with a fresh salad, or crispy french fries. A few additional entrées are on the menu for the dinner hour. You can choose from steak, fish, chicken, or pasta dishes.
Café La Rue offers evening food specials and live entertainment Sundays through Thursdays. On Sundays, you can order a three-course prix fixe dinner with their popular “whaler” drinks. Mondays are paella, Tuesdays are Baja taco deals, Wednesdays are all about the oysters, and Thursdays are prime rib dinners. Each weekly food special is accompanied with a drink special that complements the meal.
Café La Rue Details
Happy hour at Café La Rue includes daily specials on wine, beer, and food. It begins late afternoon and ends at the dinner hour.
The small outdoor patio has four tables. If you prefer al fresco dining, getting a table may be challenging during peak hours, especially during summer. The café allows dogs on the patio, and there are patio heaters available for chilly evenings. Café La Rue also has complimentary Wi-Fi, valet and street parking, and bike parking.
Check in with Yelp to get a free appetizer or drink.
Café La Rue Neighborhood
La Jolla is an upscale seaside neighborhood 20 minutes north of San Diego. Prospect Street is one of the highlights of the village, so before or after dining at Café La Rue, it demands exploring. La Valencia is among a few boutique hotels on this popular retail street, along with art galleries, antique stores, unique shops, and a range of restaurants. Don’t forget the side streets like nearby Girard and Herschel avenues for more La Jolla treasures.
Down the hill from Prospect Street, you’ll find popular La Jolla Cove. Scripps Park, the Children’s Pool, and a remarkable walking path that runs from the park to Windansea Beach provide an opportunity to get some California sunshine and fresh air after lunch.
If you’re more into culture than shopping and outdoor activities, you’ll find going right along Prospect Street from Café La Rue and walking a few blocks will land you at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s housed in the former home of American philanthropist, Ellen Browning Scripps (who the aforementioned park is also named after). Besides an incredible collection of contemporary art, the museum offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, a museum outdoor sculpture garden, and a book and gift shop.