Food & Drink

The Top Menu Picks at the Best San Diego Restaurant Week Spots

Updated On 01/17/2019 at 04:14PM EST

Fireside

Liberty Station

Almost every dish at Fireside by the Patio is kissed by fire -- the cooking is done in the huge Santa Maria-style grills, smokers, pizza ovens, and yakatori grills. Taking advantage of San Diego’s perfect weather, most of the seating is outdoors -- two large patios cleverly combine intimate banquettes with long, gorgeous wood tables suitable for large groups or communal dining. An optional wine pairing, at $18, includes two full pours specially chosen for each food course.
Order: Fried chicken thighs, espresso-rubbed brisket and Twisted Elvis.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, +$18 for optional wine pairing

Courtesy of Puesto

Puesto

The Headquarters / La Jolla

Award-winning tacos, dynamic cocktails, and to-die-for desserts makes a trip to Puesto a must during SDRW -- in fact, Chef Katy Smith and Pastry Chef Jessica Scott’s menus might just have you considering more than one visit. Lunch includes a starter, two tacos, and a dessert, while dinner includes everything from lunch along with a side dish. There’s a slight upcharge ($2-$3.50) for specialty tacos, though.
Order: Esquite, grilled fish and chicken tomatillo tacos and frozen horchata at lunch. Nogada guacamole, verduras, and tamarindo shrimp (+$2) tacos, black beans and tres leches de café at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner

Coasterra

Harbor Island

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better view at any San Diego restaurant -- the cityscape is dazzling day or night at Coasterra, perfect for a special occasion dinner or romantic date night. It’s especially spectacular from the expansive patio areas, but floor to ceiling windows ensure panoramic vistas from nearly every table. The SDRW menu includes Chef Deborah Scott’s favorite dishes featuring modern Mexican flavors, including a reasonably priced half Maine lobster option for an additional $22.
Order: Mussels and clams al Spanish chorizo, mole negro chicken and ancho chile flourless chocolate cake.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, +$22 for half lobster option

The Blind Burro

The Blind Burro

East Village

For authentic south of the border street food with a modern twist, this is the go-to spot downtown. The SDRW menu showcases coastal cuisine and spirits, with tacos inspired by Baja’s signature flavors. At a paltry $15 for lunch and $20 for dinner, you’ll want to make a return visit before the week is out. Since the price is right, check out their extensive collection of tequilas, mezcals, bacanoras and raicillas.
Order: Queso especial, lengua tacos, and street corn at lunch. Baja ceviche, mahi mahi or al Pastor tacos, pinto beans, and cinnamon sugar churros with crème anglaise at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, $20 for a three-course dinner

Bleu Boheme

Kensington

Rustic beams, exposed stone walls and comfy sofas, and classic French fare have made this cozy bistro a beloved neighborhood favorite for more than a decade. Bleu Boheme serves up traditional, affordable plates with influences from all regions of France. The restaurant week menu includes more choices for each course than the typical three or four, as well as several luxurious starters and entrees at additional cost. If you enjoy wine -- and who doesn’t? -- the wine list has over one hundred to choose from, including 30 served au pichet.
Order: Moules à la crème d'ail or foie gras au torchon (+$6), Entrecôte de Porc or Confit de Canard (+$8) and Gâteau aux trois fromages
Cost: $45 for a three-course dinner, premium starters are +$6, premium entrees are +$8

Provisional Kitchen, Cafe, & Mercantile

Provisional Kitchen, Café and Mercantile

Gaslamp Quarter

Situated in the ultra-modern Pendry Hotel, Provisional Kitchen, Café and Mercantile is celebrating the new year with a brand new, entirely Italian-inspired menu -- reflecting Chef Brandon Sloan’s Italian influences and favorite flavors. In addition to your dining experience, you can peruse a curated collection of apothecary items, pantry staples, homeware and jewelry. The SDRW dinner menu includes premium selections such as veal Milanese and 100-day dry aged, bone-in ribeye at an additional cost.
Order: Baby kale salad and pork cubano at lunch. Veal meatballs al forno, bucatini and torta di cioccolato at dinner. Dry aged tomahawk ribeye as the premium option (+$30).
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch, $40 for a three-course dinner, add $20-$30 for premium dinner options

Pacific Beach AleHouse

Pacific Beach

Locals, tourists, and beach-goers alike flock to Pacific Beach Alehouse for comfort food made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Head upstairs for unobstructed ocean views, refreshing ocean breezes, and spectacular sunsets to go along with seasonal craft beer, cocktails, and locally sourced fare. The SDRW menu includes favorites from the regular menu, along with suggested optional beer pairings for $5.
Order: Shrimp taquitos, beer cheese burger, and raspberry mousse (+$5) at lunch. Lobster bisque, coffee-rubbed NY strip, and maple bacon mud pie at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, $20 for a three-course dinner

Wine Vault and Bistro

Middletown

The Wine Vault and Bistro’s wine pairing dinners are one of San Diego’s best, most reasonably priced nights out for wine and food lovers. Fun fact: They’ve hosted hundreds of different wine pairing dinners over the past decade, yet have never repeated a menu. Although this seems impossible, they manage to do it with a labor-intensive process they’ve dubbed “carnage.” Their pain, our gain.
Order: Shrimp and chorizo paella, grilled Argentinian skirt steak, and Black Forest cake
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner, $15 for optional wine pairing with each course

The Prado Restaurant

The Prado

Balboa Park

Stroll through the gardens, galleries, and museums of Balboa Park, San Diego’s crown jewel, before heading to The Prado for lunch or dinner at nearly half the price you’d regularly pay. Located in the historic House of Hospitality, The Prado offers four main dining areas -- each with its own distinctive décor and ambiance -- including the outdoor terrace, a courtyard overlooking gardens and a fountain, a solarium, and a lounge.
Order: Black bean soup and prime steak panini at lunch. Spicy calamari fries, red wine braised short ribs or pan roasted sea bass (+$10) and guava flan at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner, two premium options are +$10.

Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant

Bankers Hill

A chic warehouse interior, ubiquitous succulent wall, and warm wood accents complement this lively restaurant where the after-work crowd rubs shoulders with the denizens of this peaceful section of Bankers Hill. Dinner standbys are sophisticated comfort food with a Southwest flair, and the optional beverage pairing (at +$21) includes your choice of a specially selected wine, cocktail, or beer with each course. Desserts are paired with a ruby port, madeira, or sauternes.
Order: White bean soup, crispy chicken schnitzel, and butterscotch pudding.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, +$21 for optional beverage pairing

Café Gratitude

Cafe Gratitude

Little Italy

San Diego is the first outpost of this Los Angeles-based restaurant group that vegans and raw-food enthusiasts rave about, but you don’t have to follow a vegan diet to enjoy the plant-based, all organic cuisine. Dishes are named with positive affirmations like Connected (guacamole) and Intuitive (french fries), so be prepared to get your "woo-woo" on when you order.
Order: Jubilant (Japanese yams tamari with maple glaze, leek confit, purple kale) and Devoted, an Indonesian grain bowl at lunch. Exquisite, coconut calamari with smoked salt, gremolata, lime, cocktail sauce, Terrific, raw pad Thai kelp noodles and Irresistible, chocolate coconut cream pie at dinner.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner

Farmer’s Table

La Mesa/Bay Park

Farmer’s Table continues to expand, with new locations now in Bay Park and, most recently, Little Italy’s bustling Piazza della Famiglia. Focusing their Sicilian roots, they specialize in contemporary takes on time-tested recipes -- for SDRW, they'll be touting what they do best with a four-course farm-fresh dinner and optional wine pairing. Outstanding daily pasta choices are an additional $5, and fish of the day is an additional $10. Note: The Little Italy location just opened a few days ago, and isn't participating in SDRW this year.
Order: Burnt carrot salad, grilled artichoke, short ribs over polenta, and limoncello cake.

Red O Restaurant

Red O Taste of Mexico

University City

Inspired by flavors from several regions within Mexico, Red O offers a traditional selection of Mexican dishes while maintaining a sophisticated atmosphere. The expansive covered patio has lovely views of the manicured greenspace and pond and cushy seating around long fire pits, while the interior features cozy booths and vibrant colors, perfect for after-work gatherings or a date night. Unlike most SDRW menus, lunch is a three-course affair.
Order: Fresh corn and goat cheese tamales, short rib barbacoa torta, and tres leches cake at lunch. Pork belly sope, slow braised carnitas, and tres leche cake at dinner.
Cost: $20 for a three-course lunch, $40 for a three-course dinner.

Rancho Bernardo Inn

AVANT

Rancho Bernardo

Using fresh, seasonal flavors from the sea, garden, and farm, paired with the best of California wine country lifestyle, AVANT's relaxed-yet-sophisticated SDRW menu is well worth the $50 ($75 with wine pairings) price tag, and the stunning indoor/outdoor dining space more than justifies the special occasion cost.
Order: Warm winter squash salad, seared striped sea bass and pâte à choux.
Cost: $50 for a three-course dinner, $75 for optional wine pairings with each course

Great Maple

Hillcrest / Westfield UTC

Blending American diner chic with a soupçon of European refinement, Great Maple uses seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients in its over-the-top comfort foods, baked goods, and excellent craft cocktails.  
Order: Petite beet salad and venison chili and grilled cheese at lunch. Crispy smoked pork belly, Moroccan spiced lamb ragu over polenta, and warm potted brownie at dinner.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner.

Nason’s Beer Hall

Gaslamp Quarter

Nason’s Beer Hall will feature three local breweries -- Ballast Point, Coronado Brewing and Saint Archer -- each with their own special SDRW food menu of all-American pub food. At a measly $20 for three courses and just $10 more for three beers, it’s one of the week’s best values.
Order: Ballast Point, because it has ball park pudding for dessert.
Cost: $20 for a three-course dinner, add $10 for optional beer pairings with each course

Union Kitchen & Tap Encinitas

Union Kitchen & Tap

Encinitas/Gaslamp Quarter

Hungry San Diegans can either make their way north to Encinitas or downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter (or both!) to indulge in Union Kitchen & Tap’s restaurant week selections. While each location will have a different prix fixe menu, both venues are stylish, rustic neighborhood haunts, with their own distinctive personality. Optional adult beverage suggestions range from $7-25.
Order: At Encinitas, Union dry-rubbed wings, shrimp po’ boy and peach and berry cobbler (+$5) for lunch; Country poutine, pork tomahawk and chocolate orange crème brûlée for dinner.
At Gaslamp, gumbo poutine, shrimp and grits and coffee hazelnut crème brûlée (+$5) for lunch; Southern crab cake, potato crusted sea bass and milk and cookies for dinner.
Cost: At Encinitas, $20 for a two-course lunch (+$5 for dessert), $40 for a three-course dinner dinner, +$20 optional drink pairing
At Gaslamp, $20 for a two-course lunch (+$6 for dessert), $40 for a three-course dinner

Terra American Bistro

College Grove

Terra American Bistro’s farm-to-table, organic fare has been a local favorite since 1998. Their SDRW menu includes up to three sides with your entree, and the option of a traditional dessert or a sweet, boozy after dinner drink to finish your meal.
Order: Baked brie, Jeff’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes, jalapeno cornbread, and garlic green beans, with either the cast iron baked banana bread pudding or an espresso martini for dessert.
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner

Backyard Kitchen & Tap

Backyard Kitchen & Tap

Pacific Beach

Head down to the celebrated intersection of Garnet Avenue and Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach, where Backyard Kitchen & Tap delivers a from-scratch menu, along with an award-winning beer list and craft cocktails made with house-made infusions. Comfy fire pits, outdoor cabanas, an indoor/outdoor bar and, of course, the mandatory-in-PB dog friendly patio offer delightful dining and spirited late-night entertainment.
Order: Hummus Caprese and prime rib dip sandwich at lunch with strawberry shortbread (+$5). Lobster crabcakes, ribeye steak frites and backyard sundae at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, +$5 for dessert, $30 for a three-course dinner

Courtesy of Water Grill

Water Grill

East Village/Gaslamp Quarter

The posh Water Grill offers an elegant-yet-approachable fine dining seafood experience in the heart of downtown, and SDRW is the perfect time to sample their plush digs and upscale cuisine at bargain-ish prices.
Order: Roasted pumpkin soup, wild Pacific swordfish and caramel bread pudding.
Cost: $50 for a three-course dinner

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