Food & Drink

The Best Meals and Deals for San Diego Restaurant Week 2020

the marine room
Signature Center Cut Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail | Courtesy of The Marine Room
Signature Center Cut Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail | Courtesy of The Marine Room

It's that time again: From January 19 through 26, more than 180 restaurants all over San Diego County will participate in the culinary fiesta that is 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, that narrowing down your choices can be intimidating. That's why we're here, though, and we’ve chosen 22 of our favorites to help you take the guesswork out. Pro tip: Tables at popular venues fill up quickly, so be sure to make reservations at your favorite participating restaurants. Oh, and keep in mind that tax, tips, and drinks are not included.

AVANT

Rancho Bernardo
Throughout San Diego Restaurant Week, diners can enjoy 3-courses from AVANT’s full dinner menu for $60. Chef de Cuisine Christopher Gentile incorporates fruits, vegetables and greens from the expansive on-property orchard and garden into his sophisticated yet unpretentious menu, while Sommelier Joe Baumgardner has chosen the perfect wine pairings from their award-winning wine list for an additional $30. 
Order: Roasted foraged mushrooms, Snake River Farms American Wagyu strip sirloin, pavlova.
Cost: $60 for a three-course dinner, +$30 for optional wine pairing

bali hai
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 the menu of Polynesian-inspired dishes with Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian influences. 
Order: Papaya salad and lobster tacos at lunch. Hawaiian tuna poke, pan-seared market fish and taste of the island trio at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner.

Beaumont’s Eatery

Bird Rock
Casual and laid back, Beaumont’s Eatery is a go-to spot for locals in this seaside community for its family and dog-friendly atmosphere, generous plates and free live music Thursdays through Saturdays. The SDRW dinner menu at Beaumont's includes its most popular starters and entrees, a couple of specialty items for a slight upcharge, and an optional wine pairing for +$15. 
Order: Mediterranean seared cauliflower, Viking burger or filet with chimichurri (+$10) and bon bons. 
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner, +$15 for optional wine pairing.

bencotto
Courtesy of Bencotto

Bencotto

Little Italy
Bencotto’s chic, two-story dining room in the heart of Little Italy has been a standout for a decade now, but they aren’t just another pretty face -- they also make and serve up more than 800 pounds of fresh, organic pasta every week. The menu explores a wide range of Italy’s culinary landscape, using the best quality ingredients in uncluttered takes on traditional recipes. 
Order: Tortino al tartufo, tagliatelle al nero di seppia, tiramisu.
Cost: $40 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 over 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: Gnocchi a la Parisienne or Cassoulet d'Escargots (+7), Salade de Farro or moules frites à la Moutarde and Entrecôte de Porc or Coquilles St. Jacques (+9).
Cost: $50 for a three-course dinner, premium starters are +$7, premium entrees are +$9

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 gracious old school dining room. The $40 prix fixe menu includes garlic sourdough bread and a choice of Yukon gold garlic mashed potatoes, wild rice blend or fresh vegetables with your entree, with a number of luxurious add-ons for +$5-15 and optional wines by the glass for $7.50-12.50. Gluten-free and vegetarian entrees are available upon request.
Order: Crab-stuffed, bacon-wrapped scallops, top sirloin bleus or angus prime rib and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, premium entrees and add-ons are +$5-15.

Cafe Gratitude

Little Italy
San Diego has 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 Mindful (turmeric roasted carrots) and Liberated (pesto-kelp noodles), so be prepared to get your "woo-woo" on when you order. 
Order: Thankful (green romanesco with tahini, kalamata olives and tomato confit), and Awesome (eggplant parmesan focaccia) at lunch. Ecstatic (roasted Brussels sprouts), Adventurous (smoked tofu lettuce wraps), and Optimistic (banana cream pie) at dinner.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner, with upgraded courses at +$3-$4

Coasterra
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: Tortilla soup, chargrilled carne asada and churros caliente de la casa.
Cost: $40 for a three-course dinner, +$28 for lobster option

Cucina Urbana

Bankers Hill
Contemporary Italian cuisine made with California’s freshest seasonal ingredients are the hallmark of Cucina Urbana’s frequently updated menu. For SDRW, in addition to discounted 2- and 3-course lunches and dinners, they’ve created four shareable specials for two ranging from $25-40.  
Order: Roasted red pepper hummus and strozzapreti at lunch. Stuffed fried squash blossoms, short rib pappardelle and poached pear olive oil spiced cake at dinner. 
Cost: $25 for a two-course lunch, $40 for a 3-course dinner, $25-$40 for shareable specials.

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: $25 for a three-course lunch +$ for upgrades; $60 for a three-course dinner +$ for upgrades

draft republic burger
Courtesy of Draft Republic

Draft Republic

University City, Carlsbad
Featuring slightly different SDRW menus at the La Jolla/UTC hotspot or the Carlsbad venue, you'll get a lunch for nearly half-price, or a dinner that'd normally cost $33-40. The La Jolla venue offers a beer or a glass of wine in lieu of an appetizer at lunch if you’re into day drinking (and who isn’t?), while Carlsbad features a melt made with house-poached tuna, or two of their tempting house-made sausage for a slight upcharge. 
Order: Bavarian pretzel balls and the Draft Republic burger at lunch. Jalapeno deviled eggs, pesto-grilled chicken sandwich and s’mores cheesecake at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, $20 for a three-course dinner, +$2-7 for premium ingredients.

et voila
Courtesy of Et Voila

Et Voilà French Bistro

University Heights
Partner/executive chef Vincent Viale reaches deep into his Provencal roots at Et Voila French Bistro, creating modern, stylish interpretations of French classics. If you’re a wine lover, don’t pass up the optional wine pairings at +$18; the curated list deftly explores the diversity of French vineyard districts. 
Order: Salade d’hiver au chèvre, culotte de boeuf angus and tarte aux myrtilles.
Cost: $40 for a 3-course dinner, +$18 for optional wine pairing.

Farmer’s Table

La Mesa, Mission Bay and Little Italy
Focusing 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 four-course farm-fresh dinner. Outstanding daily fish or game choices are an additional $5.
Order: Burnt carrot salad, grilled artichoke, wild white seabass and limoncello cream cake.
Cost: $40 for a four-course dinner, +$5 for premium choices

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. Their SDRW menu includes the option of a glass of house wine, bubbly, beer or Moroccan tea.
Order: Maple bacon doughnut and steakhouse burger at lunch. 20-ounce draft beer, truffled deviled eggs and salted caramel pork ribs at dinner. (Hillcrest)
Cost: $20 for a three-course lunch, $30 for a three-course dinner.

the marine room
Courtesy of The Marine Room

The Marine Room

La Jolla
The Marine Room, with its front-and-center views of pounding high-tide surf and dramatic sunsets, is a fairly expensive proposition, even at SDRW prices, but there’s no better time to treat yourself to award-winning Executive Chef Bernard Guillas’ impeccable French cuisine. There are three pricing options -- $60, $75 and $98, with correspondingly leveled-up food choices. Be prepared though, you may find yourself sharing a booth with an unexpected guest. 
Order: Baja wild prawns, roasted Maine diver scallops ($60), agrumes dill pollen basted lobster tail ($75) or center cut Black Angus filet mignon and lobster tail ($98) and violet liqueur panna cotta.
Cost: $60, $78 or $98 for a 3-course dinner.

pacifica del mar
Courtesy of Pacifica Del Mar

Pacifica Del Mar

Del Mar
Locals, tourists, and beach-goers alike flock to Pacifica Del Mar, winner of the California Restaurant Association’s Best Seafood Award and Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for 10 years running. Savor comfort food made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients while you enjoy the breathtaking sunset views from the deck. 
Order: New England clam chowder and short rib grilled sandwich at lunch. Hamachi carpaccio, sugar-spiced salmon or seared Atlantic sea scallops (+$5) and mocha semifreddo at dinner.
Cost: $20 for a two-course lunch, $40 for a three-course dinner, +$4-25 for premium selections.

parc bistro-brasserie
Courtesy of Parc Bistro-Brasserie

Parc Bistro-Brasserie

Bankers Hill
From the fresh baguettes to the scrumptious desserts, this stunning bistro will satisfy your cravings for the clean, bright flavors of modern French cuisine. Using seasonal ingredients from the sea, garden, and farm, the from-scratch menu and attentive service make Parc Bistro and Brasserie perfect for romantic date nights or special occasion celebrations. 
Order: Beet salad and steak frites at lunch. Escargot bourgogne, oven-roasted rack of lamb and lemon tart for dinner.
Cost: $25 for a two-course lunch, $50 for a three-course dinner.

The Prado Restaurant
Courtesy of The Prado

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: Pradorita and black bean soup or prime steak panini (+10) at lunch. Sangria, roasted corn soup and red wine braised short ribs or grilled angus petit filet and marinated shrimp (+10) at dinner.
Cost: $15 for a two-course lunch, $40 for a three-course dinner, two premium options are +$10.

primavera ristorante
Courtesy of Primavera Ristorante

Primavera Ristorante

Coronado
SDRW is the perfect time to sample Primavera’s elegant digs and upscale cuisine at bargain-ish prices. Featuring Northern Italian specialties made using crisp, bright local ingredients, dinner standbys are sophisticated comfort food with a San Diego flair. 
Order: Vongole, vitello and amaretto panna cotta.
Cost: $50 for a three-course dinner, +$3-9 for premium options

Provisional Kitchen, Café and Mercantile

Gaslamp Quarter
Situated in the ultra-modern Pendry Hotel, Provisional Kitchen, Café and Mercantile’s Chef Brandon Sloan’s menu reflects his 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 California lamb loin and 100-day dry aged, bone-in ribeye at an additional cost.
Order: Baby kale salad and pork cubano at lunch. Burrata and tomato, bucatini and torta di cioccolato at dinner. Dry aged ribeye as the premium option (+$30).
Cost: $50 for a three-course dinner, +$10-$30 for premium dinner options +$15 for optional wine pairings

Rei Do Gado Brazilian Steakhouse

Gaslamp Quarter
Come hungry, because the parade of food doesn’t stop until you do at Rei Do Gado. Both lunch and dinner menus feature a salad bar and hot dish bar with feijoada, moqueca, pao de queijo and more, plus an endless array of grilled meats including sirloin, short rib, boneless lamb leg, pork tenderloin, ribeye, and filet mignon brought to your table on gigantic skewers. At dinner, a $10 upgrade gets you lamb chops, skirt steak and unlimited split Alaskan king crab legs, smoked salmon, mussels, jumbo shrimp cocktail, baked salmon, and more.
Order: All of it - they will bring out whatever meat or seafood you want.
Cost: $30 for unlimited food at lunch. $40 for unlimited food at dinner, +$10 for premium meats and seafood.

The Shores

La Jolla
Whether you sit on the oceanfront patio or in the chic dining room, you’ll love the beachy, airy atmosphere at The Shores, located in the hacienda-style La Jolla Shores Hotel. The California coastal inspired fare takes advantage of the abundance of local purveyors, including Coastal Organics, Jimenez Family Farms, Catalina Offshore, and Black Sheep Produce, among others, as well as the talents of The Marine Room’s Executive Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef de Cuisine Percy Oani.
Order: Pork potstickers, Angus short ribs or herb seared sea bass (+$15) and apple blueberry cobbler
Cost: $30 for a three-course dinner, +$15 for premium options.

Terra American Bistro

College Grove
Terra American Bistro’s farm-to-table, organic fare has been a local favorite since 1998. The SDRW menu gives you two dining options: two glasses of wine and one appetizer, or one appetizer, one entrée and one dessert, or one glass of wine, one entrée, and one dessert. In addition, you can substitute a sweet, boozy dessert cocktail for any dessert.
Order: Baked brie, Grandma’s brisket with mashed potatoes and fried Brussels sprouts, with either the cast iron baked banana bread pudding or an espresso martini for dessert.
Cost: $30 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.