America’s Finest City means weather and views, but not always food – here’s a quick list to steer you in the right direction!
Donovan’s (Downtown) – Steakhouse fare, old school top notch service. In my opinion, this is the best steak AND service in San Diego. They also have a La Jolla location.
Valentine’s (Downtown) – Mexican dive, best carne asada fries ever! SO GOOD.
Searsucker (Downtown) – I’m going to be honest, the food here is no longer amazing. Their menu is written a little new age style (think ONE word descriptions that despite their lack of detail are confusing) – However, this is a great place for out of towners, especially if they are a Top Chef fan. With that being said, if you’re going to go… look into rezzies NOW (they are on Open Table) Top Chef finalist Malarkey opened this place in like… 2010. I have been here nine million times because every time people come into town or I’m trying to close a deal, I just bring them here and they are pleased as pie. Good service, also has a great bar/lounge area – so it’s the best to go there for dinner, grab a drink at the bar before, and then you can socialize and drink at the bar afterwards if you want to stick with just your date or have people come meet for drinks there after. Works GREAT! Plus they rope off the front around 9 and a line forms, so you’re already in, no lines (which we all know I don’t believe in anyways!) Win! Note: This is in the heart of the Gaslamp, so if you are going out in the area afterwards, this is a great pick.
La Playa Taco Shop (Mission Beach) – Mexican dive, great tacos!
Isola Pizza Bar (Little Italy) – For gourmet pizzas & salads – chic, upbeat atmosphere. Good service.
Bencotto (Little Italy) – One of my favorite restaurants in Little Italy (check out their website to get the vibe- modern Italian chic if you will) – no view, but good Italian that is streamlined. Well known place.
Davanti Enoteca (Little Italy) – Good. Not your typical Italian pasta restaurant, has more regional specialties that have been cleaned up for your enjoyment. Has an open air setup if the weather permits. All around good service and food (just had the mushroom truffle pizza the other day… very good), plus I JUST discovered that they carry one of my favorite wine labels (Sean Minor, Cab Sauv)
Cucina Urbana (Banker’s Hill) – Fun and inviting atmosphere, with quality food, great service and their wine list is market price + $7 (I think) always. So only a $7 markup with the best wines in San Diego. That’s not a joke – they have Nickel & Nickel, Silver Oak, Heitz Cellars just to name a few!
Banker’s Hill Bar & Grill (Banker’s Hill) – American/farm to table-ish. Started out great, but I haven’t been wild about their seasonal menu changes (i.e. lack of).
Whisknladle (La Jolla) For lunch or dinner – new American cuisine, open-air dining when the weather is nice. Food & service are both great, and so is the atmosphere.
George’s at the Cove (La Jolla) – great view of the water, and goodish food (I’d stick with the burger). Sit on the rooftop for lunch on the weekend. Even if it’s a little chilly they have heaters and blankets for the ladies.
Jake’s (Del Mar) – For brunch with an ocean view – suggest the eggs benedict with the breakfast potatoes that you will love forever. I have never felt so strongly about breakfast potatoes. They are like potatoes au gratin or something from the gods, but for breakfast! YES PLEASE!
Chocolat Cremerie (Downtown) – Go here for dessert, straight up best gelato in the area. Nutella gelato (like you have ever had bad nutella anything?!) and more (lots more).
Lucha Libre (Mission Hills) – good for lunch. Take someone here if you want a fun place. Tacos & burritos and a really funny interior. Look at their website to see what I’m talking about.
Top of the Hyatt – Right on the water. Great for drinks and sometimes dessert at night. Really fantastic views. You can see the Coronado bridge, and even Mexico! Who knew! Take a cab to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, take the elevator straight up, good way to end a night.
Altitude (Downtown) – this is one of your best bets day or night – REALLY great view from Petco to/over the water. Located on the rooftop of the Marriott Downtown (Gaslamp one)
Basic (Downtown) –fun for pizza & drinks – I usually suggest going here for Saturday/Sunday funday or before a Padres game!
(Downtown) – Irish pub with the best Irish Coffees south of San Francisco. Maybe they are better, I don’t know, but I know that I love them. I usually drag the group here whenever I’m out DT because it’s random and the Irish coffees are really great.
or also called LoungeSix apparently (Downtown) – Located atop Hotel Solamar (rooftop bar). Just an all around good spot. Easy to get drinks, you get to enjoy the chic open-air rooftop, no cover, no lines usually.
Quality Social or Analog: Both lively bars (both also have food) with dancing – good switch up if not looking for a full on club.
The Ivy: Located at the Andaz. Specifically the rooftop bar is where it’s at. That is actually where it’s at in most of San Diego if the weather is decent. Open and not too cramped and good views of the city. If you hit up sushi at the new restaurant downstairs, this is a solid next step.
Bare Back: I love this place. They have a wheel you can spin which determines the beverage you are going to consume, life sized JENGA, shuffleboard (which is a perfect table for flip cup) – super friendly bartenders and fairly reasonable drink prices. Also they have randomly REALLY good burgers. Like grass fed stuff. It’s random, and great!
Craft & Commerce – This place is a little hipstery, but it is an okay concept. Boho chic industrial is I guess what you could call it. Really good burger. Super artisan concocted drinks. Bartenders wearing flannel (eh).
The Waterfront – apparently the oldest bar in San Diego, honestly one of my favorites in the Little Italy area. It’s small & on the divey side – REALLY good burgers and an all around friendly crowd.
Seaport Village (Downtown) – for eating, shopping, walking along the water (there are some mildly entertaining performers scattered along the embarcadero)
Hop on the trolley at one of the stops downtown and head to Old Town for Mexican food & margs!
Hotel Del (Coronado) – S’mores on the beach in the evening or go for Sunday brunch!
Seaworld (Dine with Shamu, heyoooo!)
San Diego Zoo Or Safari Park (if you go to the Safari Park – do a Caravan Safari!)
Balboa Park – tons of museums, live music: Spreckels Organ Pavilion, 3D/IMAX theater, etc.
USS Midway or Star of India (ships)
Hike Torrey Pines
Kayak in La Jolla cove