The 20 Best Meals and Deals for San Diego Restaurant Week

So much food, so little time.

Duke's La Jolla dishes
Photo courtesy of ARLO

Beginning September 23 and continuing for eight glorious days, more than 90 restaurants all over the county will participate in San Diego Restaurant Week. There are so many tempting options, from casual eateries to special occasion destinations, each offering discounted prices compared to what you'd find there normally, which makes narrowing down your choices intimidating. That's why we're here, though, and we’ve chosen 20 of our favorite deals to help you take the guesswork out. Oh, and keep in mind that tax, tips, and drinks are not included.

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 plates inspired by Baja’s signature flavors, like tangy ceviches and fresh catch tacos made grilled or batter-fried. Since the price is right, check out their extensive collection of tequilas, mezcals, bacanoras, and raicillas.
Order: Queso especial or Baja ceviche to start, fresh catch or al pastor tacos with street corn, and cinnamon sugar churros with crème anglaise.
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner.

Photo courtesy of ARLO

Mission Valley
The multi-million dollar renovation of the Town and Country Hotel has given Hotel Circle its own mini Palm Springs, including ARLO, the stunning new restaurant helmed by Executive Chef Josh Mouzakes. Mouzakes, whose 20-year career includes training at The French Laundry and a four-year stint as chef de cuisine for fine dining and executive banquet chef at the Hotel del Coronado, has created a SDRW menu that features regular menu favorites like Pulpo and Passion (Spanish octopus, coconut panna cotta, Espelette glaze, and watercress) or the beautiful Black Lava Crepe (glazed sweet potato, long bean, farro, rainbow chard, caramelized onion, and Thai peanut sauce. Both dessert choices, smoked dulce de leche crème brûlée or s'mores cheesecake, are sensational, so order one of each and share.
Order: Pulpo and Passion or lamb meatball to start, maple snapper or Black Lava Crepe, and dessert’s a tossup between smoked dulce de leche crème brûlée or s'mores cheesecake.
Cost: $59

Lemon Grove
Lemon Grove favorite Giardino specializes in rustic Italian-inspired dishes as warm and comforting as a nonna’s hug, only with garlic bread. Their three-course SDRW menu features ten customer favorites: priced at $30 are penne salsiccia, truffle risotto, and more; crab and shrimp ravioli in vodka cream or osso bucco for $40; and a trio of $50 entrees including Chilean sea bass. Your choice of four different starters and three desserts make it one of SDRW’s best deals.
Order: Lobster bisque or arancini to start, penne salsiccia ($30), osso bucco ($40) or Chilean sea bass ($50) and a cookie butter eclair for dessert.
Cost: $30, $40 or $50 for a three-course dinner.

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. Their two-course lunch menu, available Monday-Friday of SDRW, has their famous key lime pie as a dessert option for just $6. The Westfield UTC location also features a SDRW dinner menu with carnivore’s delights like salted caramel pork ribs and smoked brisket sandwiches, but there’s also a thoughtful vegan pan-fried barley bowl chock full of shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, eggplant, tempura sweet potatoes, and loads of garnishes.
Order: Summer squash and cannellini bean soup and bay shrimp roll or smoked pork belly hash for lunch. Sage brown butter gnocchi, smoked brisket sandwich or pan-fried barley bowl and fall spice pumpkin pie with maple cream for dinner.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner (Westfield UTC only).

Photo courtesy of Farmer's Table

La Mesa, Bay Park, Chula Vista, Little Italy
Focusing on their Sicilian roots, Farmer’s Table specializes in contemporary takes on time-tested recipes. For SDRW, they will be touting what they do best with a three-course farm-fresh dinner that includes choices like their fan-favorite burnt carrots and a 16-ounce NY steak. Add two Baja jumbo shrimp or scallops to any entree course for $10. Hours vary with location, so check the individual website for details.
Order: Burnt carrots or crab cake to start, artichoke ravioli or NY steak, and limoncello cake.
Cost: $40 for a four-course dinner, $10 for premium options.

Old Town
Tahona brings a modern view of Oaxacan culture and cuisine to Old Town with its understated surroundings, traditional mezcal tasting room and short, hand-crafted menu. The SDRW menu follows suit with a spare but sparkling bill of fare that allows them to showcase the best flavors of the region. Start with refreshing watermelon fancied up by spicy/salty santa hoja, tajín, queso fresco, and an herbal salad, followed by your choice of confit chicken with spiced black bean sauce, fried pulpo potatoes, fresh herb pesto sauce or pulpo pipián accompanied by mole verde, sautéed lentils, and pepitas. Churros N’ S’mores, sugar- and cinnamon-dusted churros, chocolate ganache, and Italian meringue fluff is a lovely dessert, made even better with a flight of smoky mezcal to finish, but the vegan mamey creme brûlée is an equally satisfying end to your meal.
Order: Watermelon salad is the default starter, pulpo pipián, and churros n’ s’mores.
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner.

Liberty Station
The Presley makes the most of its nearly 2,100-square feet of dedicated outdoor dining space with cleverly styled swing loungers, cozy couches, and luminous fire pits. Executive Chef Todd Nash’s SDRW menu features classic American fare, including brussels and arugula, a wood-fired flat top burger and The Presley’s signature ice cream sandwich. The playful beverage menu incorporates twists on classic cocktails, including a Dole Whip Mimosa and a Lava Flow slushy.
Order: Brussels and arugula or calamari and shishitos to start, fish and chips or the flat top burger, and an ice cream sandwich to finish.
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner.

La Mesa
Smokey and the Brisket has the same three-course SDRW menu for both lunch and dinner, but that’s not going to make your decisions any easier with starters like brisket burnt ends with jalapeno mac and cheese or loaded fries piled high with pulled pork and house cheese sauce. Entrees include four meat choices and a couple of sides from a list of ten options. Add a beer or glass of wine for just $5 (dine-in only).
Order: Brisket burnt ends and jalapeno mac and cheese, prime brisket or half-rack of spare ribs, and bread pudding with caramel sauce.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner.

Photo courtesy of Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar

La Jolla
Nine-Ten is perfect for both intimate date nights and special occasion celebrations, and during SDRW you can enjoy their sophisticated California cuisine at bargain-ish prices. Start with Japanese sweet potato agnolotti, enlivened by thyme-roasted Bosc pear, Point Reyes bleu cheese, and crispy Brussels leaves; or Jamaican jerk pork belly, combining baby carrots, Swiss chard, plantains, black-eyed peas, spicy jellies, and sweet potato purée. Pan-roasted California lamb loin pairs rosy pink slices atop red kuri squash “risotto”, rapini, braised quince, roasted shallots, and pepitas, while Big Glory Bay king salmon gets an upscale veggie boost of onion mousseline, Yukon gold potato fondant, chanterelle mushroom, and sorrel vin blanc. End your meal with luscious stuffed brioche donuts or peanut butter semifreddo.
Order: Jamaican jerk pork belly orJapanese sweet potato agnolotti to start, California lamb loin, roasted cauliflower steak or king salmon, peanut butter semifreddo or brioche donuts. Additional seasonal items may be available as well.
Cost: $60 for a three-course dinner. $85 includes optional wine pairings.

Photo courtesy of 94th Aero Squadron

Kearny Mesa
Named for one of the first American fighter squadrons to be used in combat, this World War I replica French farmhouse overlooks Montgomery Field Airport. Some tables even have headsets so you can listen in to the FAA control tower. The menu leans towards old school comfort food like prime rib and top sirloin, but has an excellent Marrow Farci (zucchini stuffed with herbed rice, wild mushrooms and tomato coulis) as a vegetarian option as well. Suggested optional wine pairings and add-ons like crab cakes and bacon-wrapped shrimp are available at an additional cost.
Order: Famous beer-cheese soup or French onion soup, whiskey-braised short rib or Marrow Farci, and chocolate lava cake.
Cost: $50 for a three-course dinner, add-ons are $6-12.

La Mesa
Executive Chef and owner Francesco Basile’s popular La Mesa eatery, Antica Trattoria, showcases his Sicilian roots and Italian culinary education in his multi-regional menu chock full of local, in-season ingredients, all served up in a charmingly rustic atmosphere.
Order: Polpetine or cavoletti to start,, risotto al funghi or cavatelli and creme brulee.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner; add $15 for optional wine pairings.

Coasterra
Photo courtesy of 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 a 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 six-ounce lobster tail option for an additional $30.
Order: Ceviche clásico to start, char-grilled carne asada or vegetable posole and banana buttercake with cajeta and banana whipped cream.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, +$30 for lobster option.

Hillcrest
A Hillcrest institution for more than 30 years, the Crest Café serves up big, dinner-style meals 364 days a year. For SDRW, they’ve simplified the menu to a couple of menu favorites. For breakfast, you’ll get a small OJ or fruit cup and a country-fried burger Benedict smothered in sausage-bacon gravy with home fries or hash browns, while dinner is a bowl of potato leek soup, creamy chicken divan, green salad, and chocolate mousse pie.
Order: Country-fried burger Benedict and fruit at breakfast. Potato leek soup, creamy chicken divan, green salad and chocolate mousse pie at dinner. Cost: $20 for a two-course breakfast, $30 for a three-course dinner. Sub a Bloody Mary for the oj for $6 at breakfast or add a glass of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc at dinner for $8.

Photo courtesy of Del Frisco's

Downtown
Take this opportunity to indulge in Del Frisco’s hand-cut steaks and fresh seafood in their gorgeous, two-level dining rooms overlooking San Diego Bay. Their SDRW menu is a three-course affair with numerous entree upgrades and enhancement opportunities at an extra charge. The heavy hitters are, of course, the steaks, but their seafood game is on point as well.
Order: Blue cheese wedge salad to start, filet mignon, or North Atlantic salmon, and Belgian chocolate mousse.
Cost: $60 for a three-course dinner and an extra $5-25 for upgrades and featured beverages.

La Jolla
Duke’s La Jolla pays homage to Duke Kahanamoku, a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming who popularized surfing on both US coasts and in Australia. Laid back, casual, and brimming with gorgeous ocean views, you’ll love their modern interpretations of flavorful island dishes. Lunch is a two-course affair where you can choose between a starter or dessert (hula pie, of course) and an entree, or come for dinner when you can have both. A short wine list offers by-the-glass or carafes as an optional additional beverage.
Order: Korean sticky ribs or hula pie and Duke’s classic burger at lunch. Coconut shrimp in lilikoi (passionfruit) chili water, sauteed macadamia nut and herb-crusted fish or ribs and chicken plate, and hula pie at dinner.
Cost: $25 for a two-course lunch, $40 for a three-course dinner. Wines range $10-13 by the glass or $20-26 for a 13-ounce carafe.

Photo courtesy of Farmer's Bottega

Mission Hills
Executive Chef Alberto Morreale, who’s also EC at the much-loved Fig Tree Cafes, serves up farm-to-fork cuisine and cozy ambiance at Farmer’s Bottega in the heart of Mission Hills. Currently open for outdoor and limited indoor dining, the three-course SDRW dinner menu features a number of their signature dishes like fried green tomatoes, Mary’s Farm free-range chicken with fingerlings and sprouts, and bread pudding.
Order: Fried green tomatoes or burnt carrot salad to start, fennel sausage cavatelli or portobello Napoleon, and chocolate cake or bread pudding of the day.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner.

Flora Bar and Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Flora Bar and Kitchen

Del Mar
Sink into a plush banquette in this elegant eatery that specializes in artisanal Italian food, craft pizzas and flatbreads, and hand-crafted pastas. Their SDRW menu includes customer faves from the regular bill of fare, including Wagyu carpaccio, tropical arugula salad, cabernet-braised short ribs and other specialties, plus their famous chocolate coconut pudding.
Order: Carciofi alla Giudia (pan-roasted artichokes) or carpaccio di manzo to start, penne Flora or cabernet-braised Angus short rib, and choco coco.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner.

La Jolla
Enjoy sweeping views of the stunning Torrey Pines Golf Course while you savor The Grill’s fire-kissed fare from their custom-built, wood-fired rotisserie. The short SDRW menu includes three courses of favorites from the regular menu, including their succulent chimney-roasted chicken with pancetta, cranberry, broccoli rabe, creamy polenta and chicken jus.
.Order: Sea bass ceviche or chimney-smoked pork belly to start, chimney-smoked chicken or hangar steak, and carrot cake trifle.
Cost: $40 50 for a three-course dinner.

Gaslamp Quarter
Come hungry because the parade of food is nearly endless at Rei Do Gado. Two dinner options are available—both include salads, starters, and hot dishes, plus an array of grilled meats including sirloin, short rib, boneless lamb leg, pork loin, ribeye, and tri-tip brought to your table on gigantic skewers. A $10 upgrade gets you filet mignon, shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, baked salmon, and whole lobster (one per person).
Order: All of it—they will bring out whatever meat or seafood you want.
Cost: $50 for dinner, and an additional $10 for premium meats and seafood.

Tom Ham's Lighthouse
Photo courtesy of Tom Ham's Lighthouse

Point Loma
Make your reservation early, because Tom Ham’s Lighthouse is a busy place even when it’s not San Diego Restaurant Week. The spectacular views across North San Diego Bay all the way to the dazzling San Diego skyline make this one of Point Loma’s most popular destination restaurants. Note: The SDRW menu will not be available during Sunday brunch service or dinner.
Order: Oysters on the half or cinnamon apple crumb cake and lobster roll or fish and chips. Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting various vegetables and beverages, reading cookbooks and traveling around Mexico. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.