There is something very cool about sitting on the heated patio and hearing the ocean waves at 1500 Ocean in the historic Hotel Del Coronado. The restaurant’s food and the entire experience make this classic beach resort hotel a great destination. Free valet parking for the restaurant is a plus. From the valet, walk along the outside path facing the ocean where you are at once gazing at the sand and sea, swaying palm trees and people having a good time.

From the pathway to the entrance you’ll find an outdoor fireplace and tables for drinks, then the heated patio where I like to sit to watch the sunset and hear the surf. Inside, the restaurant occupies the redone space of the former very formal Prince of Wales Room. And redone it is, in contemporary, simple beige and brown with wood accents, seating with a good mix of tables, booths and banquettes and a bar area at the back of the room with a lit sunset on the wall. Gone are the days of coat and tie for men, as anything goes. On my visits most men were casually dressed in sport shirts.

I confess that I came to know the cooking of Chef de Cuisine Jason Shaeffer when he was at the original Laurel Restaurant & Bar. After a few years cooking in New York, he returned to San Diego and I was delighted to see him at 1500 Ocean. Local purveyors and farmers from Santa Barbara to Mexico supply the seasonal ingredients for Shaeffer’s classic–with a twist–menu. A couple of my favorites: Gnudi (fresh ricotta dumplings) with fresh peas and morels, barely sauced with the mushroom juices, together make an outstanding appetizer. Yellowtail, cured with lime and honey, comes with avocado mousse, shaved jicama and radish and a sweet jalapeno jelly all melding into mouthfuls of subtle flavors and textures; the fish not overpowered by the other flavors. A childhood favorite, toad in the hole, comes to life with an organic egg cooked with its yolk still runny, in the hole of a slice of rich, buttery brioche (bread), surrounded by mushrooms and asparagus tips and some unfortunately soggy hash browns under the bread. It’s a fabulous dish (without the potatoes).

Picky kids (adults, too) will appreciate the classic side dish of mac-n-cheese with spiral pasta and aged cheddar, nothing frou frou here. Finish the evening with a stroll nearby on the ocean boardwalk—it’s spectacular. Appetizers from $12 to $20, Entrees from TK to TK. Dinner only from 5:30 p.m., 1500 Ocean Avenue, Coronado, 619-522-8490, noted, June 2006.

Ocean Beach is fast becoming a hip spot for food and wine. One of my favorites for both is The 3rd Corner Wine Shop and Bistro. Owner Ed Moore’s concept is unique: retail wine store, full bar and short bistro menu.

Cruise the store for a bottle, pay a $5 corkage fee and order a bite to eat with your wine. Unfinished bottles are corked and bagged for you to take home (in the trunk of your car, of course). Best of all, you can sip and nibble long after most places close as the kitchen is open until 1 a.m.

The small bistro menu is what it is. Nothing fancy, nothing costing more than $13—just basics like an artisan cheese plate, olive and paté samplers, a smoked salmon plate and a very good classic whole-leaf Caesar that includes white anchovies and homemade garlic croutons with bread from Point Loma’s Con Pane bakery. Substantial dishes include well-flavored and tender short ribs with mashed potatoes, a fresh fish of the day and spicy pasta with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and pesto all balanced with a squeeze of lemon. It hit my spot on a chilly afternoon.

The prime-time weekend wait for a table can stretch to an hour or more because of limited patio, sofa and banquette seating, and no reservations are accepted. But the service is knowledgeable and attentive. I particularly love that wine is served in proper glasses similar to the Spiegelaus that you can buy there for $35 (six in a box). 2265 Bacon St., Ocean Beach, 619-223-2700. Open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m., closed Monday.