looking for dining options in San Diego
I am headed to San Diego for a conference this weekend and next week. We are looking for lunch and dinner options around the convention center area. I am also looking for a place to bring work associates (5 people) for a nice dinner, not overly extravagant. We are adventurous eaters and would love to discover local gems.
Sure there's adventurous food in San Diego. Just eat anywhere on El Cajon Blvd. or University Ave. where the cross streets are in the 30s, 40s, 50s or is named after a state. You'll find absolutely everything. Granted it's probably resembles nothing like fine dining, but your meal is probably more than likely guaranteed to be an adventure in more ways than one ;-)
You should try Bon Appetito in Little Italy for a easy evening out. I second the Turf Club as it out of the way and fun (kick back to a different era). There really isn't adventurous food in SD, you may want to try Modus in Bankers Hill, avoid the Cohn group of restaurants as they are not incredible, good if you are just eating around, but nothing special. If you want really want great food get to La Jolla try Tapenade or Nine Ten.
You can have a great deal of fun at Parallel 33.
They are very accomocating. They make sharing plates that fit the table. They will not bring 3 of something if there is 4 of you. The food is diverse and comes from the various countries along the 33rd Parallel.
We have never been sorry by going there.
They have a great drink called the TEARS OF THE PROPHET.
Personally, I don't understand the appeal of steakhouses where you grill your own steak. If I wanted to grill my own steak, I'd do it at home for 1/4 of the price. When I go out to eat, I don't want to do any cooking myself. Plus, the last thing I want is for oil to splatter all over my clothes and to leave smelling like food. And I'd rather spend my time conversing with my company rather than worrying about if my steak is done.
There's not a whole lot of "adventurous" dining right around the Convention Center (pretty much: Steak, Italian, Seafood). Some places that I enjoy: Flemming's for steaks (this would be my first choice for a work-related "reasonable" dinner ~$50 per person without alcohol), Lou and Mickey's oyster bar (less impressed with their regular food), Taka for sushi (though it's expensive, pre-order the lobster sashimi if its available, it's getting near the end of local lobster season though...), Blue Point Coastal for seafood (expensive). Nearly all the Italian restaurants in the Gaslamp are "pick'em" (i.e. good, relatively expensive, but not stellar). Royal Thai is OK, but not special. Cerise (if it's still open). Cafe 222 for breakfasts. Cafe Chloe for casual bistro faire.
Avoid KC BBQ and The Strip Club (unless the drinking scene is more important than the quality of meat, Flemming's is 10x better). Morton's and Ruths Chris are no better than Flemming's and 2x the price. I personally wouldn't go back to Bucca de Beppo unless someone put a gun to my head, and even then it'd be tough choice: Death or Bucca?
If you want to get adventurous, you'd probably need a car.