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Destination Guide


Dining and Drinking

San Diego is striving to become the culinary capitol of California, with its wide assortment of restaurants and bars offering an array of cuisine to suit any taste. Known for fresh Mexican dishes and exceptional seafood, San Diego has some of the best dining in all of Southern California. With an average temperature of 70 degrees, San Diego is where you can enjoy outdoor patio dining and breathtaking ocean views year round.

The following distinct areas represent our favorite locations for meal time pleasure from southern San Diego to northern San Diego. Hungry? Lets begin!

Coronado Island
Across San Diego Bay and just minutes from downtown is Coronado Island, a quaint and conservative community with some fine dining choices. Take the ferry from Harbor Drive and disembark right in front of Peohes, a tropical paradise famous for its Crunchy Coconut Shrimp platter. Next to Peohes is The Bay Beach Café, the perfect place to enjoy a traditional dinner. Travel further to the interior of the island and dine in royal elegance at the Crown Room, located in the historic Hotel Del Coronado. The Chart House is home to great seafood and salads while offering a nautical décor and ambience. Along Orange Avenue, shops, bars and boutiques are splashed throughout. After dining, enjoy browsing or window shopping along this popular stretch.

Featuring an expansive over 16 square blocks of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, the historical Gaslamp Quarter is affectionately known as the entertainment hub of San Diego. Frequently compared to the French Quarter of New Orleans, visitors can catch a glimpse of local street entertainers, watch the crowds or just hang out with friends well into the night.

Gas lamps illuminate and line the streets, adding an intimate, Victorian flair. A variety of food choices exist within the Gaslamp Quarter. For delicious seafood try Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, an elegantly appointed restaurant. The Lobster Company also offers traditional seafood in a vibrant atmosphere of walls washed in assorted colors and twinkling lights.

For some delicious southern style cooking, dine at the Juke Joint Café, a jazz supper club where soul food, live entertainment and Cajun delicacies await.

An intimate, yet interactive dining experience can be had at Vignola. Customers customize any entrée with a selection of herbs and spices imported from France, while sampling one of the areas largest selections of wines. Mortons of Chicago is a traditional American steak house with prime rib thats out of this world. A new addition to the area is Greystone, an upscale steak house that accentuates fine dining.

Romance is in the air at La Provence where delicious French cuisine and fine wines add to the intimate mood. For Italian cuisine, Trattoria Mamma Anna fits the bill. Irish delicacies are offered at The Fieldand desserts such as chocolates, ice cream floats and shakes are found at the Ghiradelli Chocolate and Ice Cream Parlor.

Strolling down the avenue, you are sure to find plenty of bars. Stop in The Bitter End, home of the Black Martini, and enjoy the upscale ambience of this tri-level club. If its Sangria you crave, Olé Madrid is the place for you. This Spanish style restaurant/nightclub is very popular with the locals. For some casual, good clean fun, Gaslamp Billiards Palace offers pool tables, darts and some pretty good jukebox selections. New on the scene is the Onyx Room, a cozy and comfortable underground bar. Hop onto the interstate at Dakotas Club 66, a restaurant/bar/nightclub themed after the infamous highway. Dicks Last Resort is not just a bar, but an adventure. Crushed beer bottles and trash cover the floor so be sure to watch your step but don't worry about spilling your drink!

Travel to the top of the Hyatt for an exclusive and elegant bar and indulge in the magnificent panoramic view. Cigars are permitted here.

Other popular hot spots include the Hang Ten Brewing Company, Café Sevilla, Rock Bottom Brewery and Jimmy Loves. These casual bars offer a variety of good brews, spirits, wines and liqueurs in unique settings.

For those who desire a dining experience without all the hustle and bustle of the Gaslamp Quarter, visit the outlying sections of downtown.

Harbor Drive is home to Anthonys, a traditional seafood restaurant appealing to a mature clientele and Ruths Chris is a steakhouse that boasts the best cuts of beef in town.

Seaport Village
Head to Seaport Village where another selection of restaurants awaits. Dine on the harbor at the Fish Market, enjoy the contemporary elegance of Sallys, get down and dirty at the Kansas City Barbecue (Tom Cruises hangout from the movie Top Gun) or rub elbows with beach dudes and babes at Busters Beach House and Longboard Bar.

Old Town
Old Town is where San Diego began. Romance and charm fill the air and dozens of shops and restaurants housed in historical buildings line the streets. Enter the Bazaar Del Mundo and dine at Rancho El Nopal, a quaint, festive eatery. Stroll down San Diego Avenue and experience the wonder of a real fiesta at the Old Town Mexican Café, where servers are dressed in traditional garb and tortillas are made fresh, right before your eyes. The Coyote Café Bar and Grill boasts some great quesadillas, burritos and tacos but its their selection of tequila that is most impressive to the connoisseur.

For something other than conventional Mexican fare, visit Rockin' Baja Lobster, a brightly decorated establishment frequented by locals for its fabulous happy hour specials and famous "Baja Buckets."

Mission and Fashion Valley
Truly imaginative eateries are splashed through what is known by the locals as "The Valley." Seaus Restaurant is a sports bar and grill owned by San Diego Charger, Junior Seau, and frequented by celebrities and athletes. Pregos is perfect for upscale gatherings with good friends, and Oscars is a casual restaurant famous for its ribs, assorted pizzas and salads.

If you like the buzz of a crowd and don't mind a wait, stop in at the Cheesecake Factory. With over one hundred menu items, its always bustling with business. Gordon Biersch is a brewery, bar and grill that serves American cuisine.

Pacific Beach
This beach town has an abundance of bars and restaurants catering to a young crowd in almost every establishment. For dining, World Famous is a favorite among the local residents. With selections such as steak, seafood and pasta, there is something for everyone.

Lining Garnet Avenue is the Pacific Beach Bar and Grill, an American restaurant known for great burgers and sandwiches, World Curry featuring curry dishes from all over the world, and Freds Mexican Café with heaping burritos and an amazing variety of tequilas. Rounding off the selections here include Moondoggies and Moose McGillycuddys, two good old fashioned American sport bars.

La Jolla
North of San Diego is the city of La Jolla, affectionately known as the "Jewel of the Pacific Shoreline." In this city you will find world-class restaurants and upscale facilities for both drinking and dining!

Magnificent, yet traditional, California style culinary creations await at Georges At The Cove. This renowned seaside restaurant has a great view of the Pacific Ocean. For fine dining in a romantic atmosphere, try Maitre D' and relish the superb flavors of its continental cuisine. French restaurants including The Sky Room at La Valencia, the Marine Room and Top Of The Cove are common in this city of love and fantasy.

Another favorite is Roppongi, where foods from countries such as Thailand, China and Korea combine to create an innovative fare known as "Asian Fusion."

Other popular restaurants is Azul La Jolla with breathtaking views and Trattoria Acqua, where you'll find excellent Italian fare.

Have a drink and a laugh at The Comedy Store as comedians take charge of the entertainment or enjoy Sports City Café, a sports-themed eatery where armchair athletes rule.

Del Mar
In the quaint community of Del Mar lies the heart of the dining and drinking experience known as Del Mar Plaza. Each of the featured restaurants affords a fabulous view of the ocean from just about any table.

Epazote features Southwestern style food that is deliciously unique. Il Fornaio (meaning "The Baker" in Italian) is an Italian chain restaurant serving delectable feasts. Pacifica Del Mar accents the "foods of the sea" with innovative seasonings and spices.

North County
The outlying area of Northern San Diego also has a bit to offer to the culinary connoisseur. In the city of Encinitas, you'll be pleased with When in Rome, a stylish family-owned eatery that excels in the creation of traditional Italian cuisine. The city of Carlsbad offers Neimans where you will enjoy casual fine dining. Vivace, at the Fours Seasons Resort Aviara, serves food that explores the flavor and textures only found in Italy.

So relax and enjoy. Regardless of the restaurant you choose, there are many palate pleasing treasures to be found in the city of San Diego.

Nicole Jones