Del Mar Diner: Local eatery offers Northeast comfort food


By Claire Harlin

A New England-style diner in Del Mar?

That’s the surprised reaction many express after stumbling upon Del Mar Diner, located at 2638 Del Mar Heights Rd., which has been open about six months.

Owner Unal Samanci, who you can usually find on site flipping eggs and burgers with the line cooks, worked in diners in Boston for decades before relocating to San Diego. He said the diner concept is a part of the life on the East Coast, but it takes some getting used to for Californians.

“In New England they know what to expect from a diner,” he said. “In California people expect upscale a lot, but this is less expensive and it’s comfort food.”

The community is still discovering Del Mar Diner, which is tucked away in the Del Mar Heights Village shopping center, but most people who discover the eatery come back time after time, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Samanci said the locals have especially appreciated having a casual, family atmosphere nearby.

“We have a lot of parents with kids that come in because we have a good kids menu and the kids feel comfortable here,” he said, adding that the kids menu favorites include chocolate chip pancakes and macaroni and cheese.

Others have enjoyed getting full service on the sunny front patio, and ordering breakfast any time of day has also been a selling point.

“People come here, and they feel like they are eating at home,” he said. “You can get whatever you want, and half of our dinner is breakfast.”

He said some of the most commonly ordered dishes are hamburgers and breakfast items like eggs Benedict. He also recently started offering catering to local businesses.

“Our regulars were asking us to do special events or cater their meetings, so it’s something we started doing,” he said.

To make his restaurant more like a real New England diner, Samanci said he may consider keeping the eatery open 24 hours eventually, depending on if the community wants that. He also plans on adding more breakfast items because breakfast has been so popular with the community.

“As of now, we are still improving and people have told us we’ve improved since we first opened,” Samanci said. “People are telling us we’re Del Mar’s best-kept secret, and that’s what we want to be.”

For more information, visit or call 858-259-4880.