Just as there’s no shortage of damn fine-looking people San Diego, there’s no shortage of damn fine places to date them. Whether you’re looking to cozy up by candlelight or crush your opponent in a Frogger battle, you almost have too many choices. To help zone in on some of the best options, we’ve identified a can’t-miss spot in 10 important neighborhoods.
Bleu Bohéme (address and info)
Exposed stone walls, wood accents, and candles create a sense of occasion that’s romantic without being overly fancy or fussy at this neighborhood bistro. At brunch time, share a plate of perfectly executed crêpes with vanilla mascarpone cheese & blueberry sauce and a savory waffle, or dig into a bowl of black Mediterranean mussels and frites. Bargain-hunters will appreciate the "Bohemian" menu, a three-course, $30-per-person, prix-fixe menu offered from 5-6pm, and all night on Tuesdays.
Pomegranate (address and info)
The warm, cozy, and eclectic atmosphere is the perfect conversation starter for a memorable evening spent stuffing yourself silly with delicious Russian-Georgian home cooking. Popular items include the salad sampler, cheese pie, and shashlik (skewers of chicken, lamb, or pork loin roasted over charcoal). Oh, and this might sound like weird advice, but don’t forget to check out the bathroom. It’s even more bizarre than the dining room.
Coin-Op Game Room (address and info)
Dates with booze, food, and a built-in activity, like playing vintage arcade games, are always an excellent idea. Take advantage of all three here, and make things more fun with a wager, like loser buys the deep-fried Oreos.
Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro (address and info)
The sweet, savory, spicy, and complex flavor profile of Moroccan cuisine is unlike anything else, so if you’re looking to energize your dating routine, here’s where you should get started. The “Moroccan feasts” are a great way to get a little taste of several different dishes. The three different options range from $24 to $44 per person.
The Red Door (address and info)
Brunch is an excellent time to visit this recently redesigned spot for stuffed squash blossom Benedicts and brunch burgers (topped with a fried egg, applewood-smoked bacon, aged white cheddar, hollandaise, and greens), but the dinner menu is no slouch, either. Ask to sit at one of the corner booths (so you can sit close together and have double the pillows).
Juniper & Ivy (address and info)
Destination restaurants always make for a fun night out, so it’s no surprise that Juniper & Ivy made its way onto this list, but you don’t want to sit just anywhere -- you want to make reservations to sit at the chef’s counter. Why, you might ask? Well, only because it’s about 10x as fun as the dining room. If you really want to up the ante, make reservations for the multi-course “Left Coast” tasting, held on Thursday nights. It’s limited to patrons sitting at the chef’s counter (eight seats, total).
Solterra Winery & Kitchen (address and info)
Head here on Thursday and Sunday evenings for live music, or any day of the week for a tasty glass of vino and tapas. If you’re stumped on which wine to order, try the just-released Ainsley, a Bordeaux-style blend of five award-winning wines.
THE MED (address and info)
The ocean views from the elevated terrace at this restaurant within the La Valencia Hotel are so sublime, you’ll start having a good time as soon as you sit down. The seasonally driven menu is worth the splurge, but another fun option is to share the dessert platter (featuring an assortment of the chef’s favorite desserts) and a spiked coffee beverage.
Soda & Swine (address and info)
The central location, free parking, and parks to stroll in make Liberty Station an excellent venue for a date. There are a good variety of restaurants within the complex, but we’re keen on the second outpost of Soda & Swine. The indoor/outdoor space is stunning, with a huge bar and a menu comprised of delicious snacks and small plates, like meatballs in many forms, fried pizza knots, and pie. Most items fall below $5, and there’s nothing North of $10, so you can go crazy without shelling out the big bucks.
The Lion’s Share (address and info)
Exotic meats and inventive drinks are served at this snug bar/restaurant decorated with gothic animal paintings, curios, and taxidermy. Start with cocktails and a few shareable appetizers, like a sausage board and antelope sliders, and see where the night takes you.
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1. Bleu Bohéme4090 Adams Ave, San Diego
2. Pomegranate2312 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego
3. Coin-Op3926 30th St, San Diego
4. Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro3940 4th Ave #110, San Diego
5. The Red Door741 W Washington St, San Diego
6. Juniper & Ivy Restaurant2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego
7. Solterra Winery & Kitchen934 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
8. THE MED1132 Prospect St, La Jolla
9. Soda & Swine2750 Dewey Rd #104, San Diego
10. The Lion's Share629 Kettner Blvd, San Diego
This charming French restaurant has a killer atmosphere: imagine candles, exposed stone, and wood details. They do a delicious brunch menu that includes a couple crepe plates that steal the show. You can also try the "Bohemian Menu," which is a pre-fixed, three course menu offered on Tuesdays that will only set you back thirty dollars.
An eclectic, quirky vibe and some Russian-Georgian cuisine make this place a unique spot. Try the salad sampler, cheese pie, and Shashlik
Take everything awesome about being a kid in the '80s, add a killer craft cocktail list and 20 craft beers on draft and you’ve got Coin-Op, the arcade/bar combo that just opened up in North Park with pinball and more than a dozen vintage games on rotation like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, and Frogger. Score!
This moroccan bistro serves up plenty of flavorful dishes that include vegetarian and vegan options. Get the “Moroccan Feasts” to taste a little bit of everything.
The Red Door is a spot with a bistro-esque feel where you can enjoy warm biscuits and homemade jam... or chicken-fried steak & eggs.
Top Chef: All Stars winner Richard Blais is behind Juniper & Ivy, a Little Italy restaurant that's making moves to put the San Diego dining scene on the same level as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The refined menu is nothing if not creative, and dishes like lobster congee with beef sausage, wagyu short rib with Gruyere-rye bread pudding, and vindaloo-rubbed filet carpaccio prove that Blais' cooking inspiration isn't limited to one cuisine. That said, one of the best things on the menu is also the simplest: the buttermilk drop biscuit with smoked butter.
This trendy spot has live music on Tuesdays and Saturdays. But it's got tapas and plenty of wine any night. On the wine menu, try the Ainsley.
THE MED offers a seasonally inspired menu and an al fresco dining experience. Sit out on the ocean view terrace for the full experience.
Soda & Swine offers indoor and outdoor dining in a stylish industrial chic space. For eating and drinking, they have an extensive bar (where you can get a beer float) and a menu full of small plates, such as meatballs, fried pizza knots, soft-serve ice cream, and pies. The outdoor patio is equipped with heat lamps and overhead lighting.
Don't let the taxidermy, mismatched chandeliers, and surrealist paintings distract you from the food and drink at The Lion's Share (easier said than done, we know). This quirky, hunter's den of a restaurant satisfies your carnivorous side with a game-heavy menu of wild boar bolognese, chicken fried quail, elk loin steak, and bison tartare. You don't have to be a totally adventurous eater though to take part in the fun: the menu includes tamer plates like an aged white Cheddar-topped burger, hand-cut truffle fries, and roast chicken. Both the expected and unexpected offerings pair well with whiskey cocktails and if you can handle it, absinthe.