California Beach Town Oceanside Emerges As Food and Getaway Destination – The Hollywood Reporter


For the past 35 years, the surf town of Oceanside in North County was probably only known in Hollywood circles for being home to the sweet Victorian cottage where Tom Cruise’s Maverick visited his sweetheart, Charlie (Kelly McGillis ), in Top Gun. But, just as the long-awaited film sequel looms on the horizon in 2022, the small town is making waves as an elevated weekend destination, with two new boutique hotels and unmissable culinary thrills.

“Oceanside was once known as a sleepy seaside town, but it’s quickly becoming a not-so-hidden gem,” says Michael Stephens, general manager of the city’s two new designer hotels, The Seabird Resort and Mission Pacific Hotel.

Dining highlights include Southeast Asian restaurant Dija Mara (232 S. Coast Highway, dijamara.com), which received the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand distinction this fall, around the same time that two ambitious chefs opened the doors to gourmet restaurants that they hope will soon win stars. At the end of September, favorite local chef William Eick opened his 48-seat Japanese restaurant Matsu (626 S. Tremont St., Eatatmatsu.com) offering modern and refined omakase dinners that showcase ingredients from the California coast. And in mid-October, Valle (222 North Pacific St., valleoceanside.com), the first American outpost of legendary Baja California chief Roberto Alcocer. In his beautifully brooding restaurant, Alcocer brings Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley to life in wildly creative dishes that serve up vivid flavors.

A guest room at the Seabird Resort.
Courtesy of Seabird

Valle is inside the Mission Pacific, the more bohemian chic of the two new hotels, which are decorated with around 1,000 works by regional artists, curated by the Oceanside Museum of Art. The beachfront hotels, which opened on former side-by-side parking lots this summer, are serious shoreline upgrades, both with rooftop pools. Rooms and suites at Mission Pacific (from $ 349 per night, 201 N. Myers St., missionpacifichotel.com) feature natural woods and gray accents, while an east coast beach house vibe reigns at the Seabird (rooms from $ 349, 101 Mission Ave., theseabirdresort.com). The latter also includes a spa and the delicious Piper restaurant by local chef Kurtis Habecker.

At the center of the action is the Top Gun house, a circa 1887 bungalow that has been fully restored and moved to a location in the courtyard of the Mission Pacific. “[It’s] painted to look like what he did in the movie, ”says Stephens. It overlooks the waves, Oceanside Pier, and the town’s historic shell (seen in the movie Bring it on). In early 2022, the house takes on new life as a dessert concept called Charlie’s, aiming to make the historic gem “open and accessible to as many people as possible,” says Stephens. In addition to baked goods and ice cream, movie memorabilia will be shown throughout the house, including a restored Yamaha motorcycle almost identical to Maverick’s.

This story first appeared in the November 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.


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