San Diego

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 Duke's La Jolla

It’s finally here, San Diego! From April 11 through 18, more than 180 restaurants all over the county participate in the culinary fiesta that is San Diego Restaurant Week. Of course, things are a little different these days, and everyone’s juggling inside dining, patio dining, takeout, and/or delivery to accommodate restrictions due to COVID-19, so planning your week is key. Since indoor dining is limited, reservations are highly recommended. And let’s all remember that everyone’s still getting up to speed with new menus, safety protocols, and guidelines, so be patient. Masks, social distancing, and limited group sizes are still in effect as well, and since restaurant employees aren’t making the rules, don’t give them a hard time if they remind you about them.

In addition to all the great deals, San Diego Restaurant Week and its participating restaurants are sponsoring a social media contest for restaurant gift cards, so check out the rules here and get your hashtags ready!

This year, 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, that narrowing down your choices can be intimidating. That's why we're here, though, and we’ve chosen 20 of our favorites to help you take the guesswork out. Oh, and keep in mind that tax, tips, and drinks are not included.

7 Mile Kitchen

Carlsbad
Located in the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa, 7 Mile Kitchen is named for the seven miles of beautiful coastline that the expansive patio overlooks. Chef Julian Quiñones invites you to lunch or dinner during SDRW with a two-course salad and pasta menu for just $20. While you gaze at the million dollar view, splurge on a 7 Mile signature mule or a glass of wine—more than two dozen are available at $9-12 per glass.
Order: Harvest salad and shrimp linguine.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch or dinner.

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 vegetarian and gluten-free options upon request. Suggested optional wine pairings and add-ons like a six-ounce cold water lobster tail are available at an additional cost. 
Order: Famous beer-cheese soup, sea bass, and house-made fudge brownie sundae.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, add-ons are $5-25.

Antica Trattoria

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, brasato or cioppino Livornese, and cannoli. 
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner.

bali hai
Photo courtesy of Bali Hai

Bali Hai

Shelter Island
Bali Hai wears its tiki cred proudly—it’s been in operation since 1952 and has been serving up stunning city and bay views, along with killer Mai Tais ever since. For SDRW, they’ve selected the most crowd-pleasing items from their menu of Polynesian-inspired dishes with Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian influences. 
Order: Hawaiian tuna poke and Bali Hai cubano at lunch. Coconut shrimp, braised short rib, and taste of the island trio at dinner.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch, $40 for a three-course dinner.

Bunz A Burger Joint

Mission Valley
Chef Jeff Rossman applies the same philosophy of using simply prepared, farm-fresh local ingredients, that’s been so successful at his other restaurant, Terra American Bistro, to his burgers and hot dogs spot in Mission Valley. Made using only hormone- and antibiotic-free, 100% premium Meyer Angus beef and premium toppings, the burgers come with fries, a tangy citrus slaw, and a big chocolate chip cookie for dessert. Sub a drink (including a draft or glass of wine) for your first course for free. 
Order: Good ol’ Caesar and smashed medianoche or South a ‘d Border Burger.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch or dinner.

The Butcher Shop Steakhouse

Kearny Mesa
Sink into a soft leather booth near the cozy fireplace, surrounded by warm dark wood paneling, elegant etched glass and burnished brass in The Butcher Shop’s old school dining room. The $40 prix fixe menu includes garlic sourdough bread and a choice of garlic mashed potatoes, rice, or fresh vegetables with your entree, with a number of luxurious add-ons for $5-7 each. Vegetarian entrees are available upon request.
Order: Jumbo shrimp cocktail, Angus prime rib, and passionfruit sorbet.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, premium entrees and add-ons are +$5-7.

Coasterra
Photo courtesy of Coasterra

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 $28.
Order: Ceviche clásico, char-grilled carne asada and banana buttercake with Skrewball peanut butter caramel and banana ice cream.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, +$28 for lobster option.

Crest Café

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 veggie-bean soup, a chicken leg and thigh slow-cooked in homemade molé, Spanish rice, macaroni salad, and flan. 
Order: Country-fried burger Benedict and fruit at breakfast. Chicken mole and veggie-bean soup at dinner.
Cost: $20 for a two-course breakfast, $30 for a three-course dinner.

Photo courtesy of Del Frisco's

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse

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 lunch and dinner menus are each three-course affairs 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: Lobster bisque, Wagyu beef French dip, and cheesecake at lunch. Lobster bisque, filet mignon, or Del’s jumbo lump crab cakes, and Belgian chocolate mousse at dinner.
Cost: $25 for a three-course lunch +$5-25 for upgrades. $60 for a three-course dinner and an extra $5-25 for upgrades.

Duke’s La Jolla

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) water, sauteed macadamia nut and herb-crusted fish, 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

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 tomato, fennel sausage cavatelli, and chocolate cake.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner.

Flora Bar and Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Flora Bar and Kitchen

Flora Bar & 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), penne Flora, and choco coco.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner.

The Grill at Torrey Pines

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 spring vegetables in a creamy velouté sauce.
Order: Sea bass ceviche, chimney chicken pot pie, and coconut tres leches.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner.

Lionfish

Downtown
Step inside the stylish Pendry Hotel downtown and discover Lionfish, Chef Jo Jo Ruiz’s chic, modern restaurant that features seasonal ingredients and sustainably-caught seafood. The three-course SDRW menu will have you planning more than one visit—it’s almost impossible to decide between kampachi crudo and a goddess roll, or alfajor semifreddo with house-made dulce de leche and luxurious 18-layer crepe cake, cheesecake filling, passionfruit sorbet and roasted strawberries.
Order: Kampachi crudo, miso salmon, and alfajor semifreddo.
Cost: $60 for a three-course dinner.

The Prado Restaurant
Photo courtesy of The Prado

The Prado

Balboa Park
Stroll through the newly reopened 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: Blood orange margarita and black bean soup or a mahi mahi sandwich (+$10) at lunch. Sangria, crab dip and red wine-braised short ribs or Prado paella (+$10) at dinner. Note: The Prado will be closed for dinner on Sunday, April 11, and all day on Monday, April 12.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch. $40 for a three-course dinner, two premium options are an additional $10 each.

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, a 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.

Rei Do Gado Brazilian Steakhouse

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 lamb chops, filet mignon, skirt steak, shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, and more.
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.

Smokey and the Brisket
Photo courtesy of Smokey and the Brisket

Smokey and the Brisket

La Mesa
Feed your barbecue addiction at Smokey and the Brisket in La Mesa, the newest venture from Alberto Morreale, whose other ventures include Farmer’s Bottega and multiple outposts of Farmer’s Table. They’re offering a three-course SDRW menu filled with fan favorites like burnt ends mac and cheese and your choice of smoked prime brisket, ribs, salmon or bone-in chicken, served up in their Insta-worthy dining room that showcases Morreale’s passion for vintage autos and motorcycles. 
Order: Burnt ends mac ‘n’ cheese, prime brisket, and caramel churros.
Cost: $35 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 gives you two dining options: one appetizer, one entrée, and one dessert, or one glass of wine or beer, one entrée, and one dessert. In addition, you can substitute a sweet, boozy cocktail for any dessert.
Order: Baked brie, Grandma’s brisket braised in chili sauce with mashed Yukon gold potatoes and vegetables, with either the cast iron-baked banana bread pudding or an espresso martini for dessert.
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner.

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

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. Lunch gives you a choice between an entree and a starter or dessert, and dinner is a full three-course menu. Note: The SDRW menu will not be available during Sunday brunch service.
Order: Oysters on the half or cinnamon apple crumb cake and lobster roll at lunch. Chopped Caesar, paella, and chocolate mousse cake for dessert.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch. $50 for a three-course dinner.

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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.
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