Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Mar 29, 2007 06:09 PM

Destination Proposal- San Diego

Hi Cali Chowhound

Mid 20something traveling out of my element (east coast) to San Diego in the near future with my girlfriend. Although I believe she has some idea of what is up, I'm trying my best to plan an awesome few days around my marriage proposal to her.

Banking on success, I'm hoping to go out for a few drinks and dinner to celebrate later that night.

Any suggestions for some American/Local fare with great atmosphere? I'm not overly concerned with price, however my girlfriend is not one who fancies overly gourmet meals.

Atmosphere is key (along with good grub)- looking for someplace fun and casual to a little dressy, for drinks and good food. Fun, but please NOT out of control drunkness and will most likely be a weekday I'm guessing that won't be too much of a problem. We're staying near the Gaslamp area.

Thanks!...and wish me (us) luck!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You didn't say if you'd have a car, so I'm listing some places you might check into that are in the Gaslamp. Dobson's or Chive would work (Chive gets loud on the weekends, but weekdays are much more tame), as would Molly's over by Seaport Village (it's in the Marriott hotel, but the food is very good). There's also Top of the Market down by the waterfront. Another thought: if you don't have a car, take a cab up to either Modus or Bertrand's at Mr. A's. Both are a couple of miles from the Gaslamp. Bertrand's has a beautiful view (it's on the top floor of a highrise) of the bay, and is very romantic.

    I wish you both much luck and happiness!

    3 Replies
    1. re: phee

      J Six is located in the Gaslamp. The atmosphere is sophisticated and the food is divine. I had an excellent experience at J Six, though they are still considered a new place.

      Bertrand's at Mr A's is an excellent choice, as it is a well known San Diego dining institution. The view is absolutely tops, and they are located a short cab ride from downtown. The service will most likely be fabulous, and the waiters will know how to create the appropriate atmosphere for your proposal. And this is IMPORTANT.

      If you inclined to do the La Jolla bit, I would suggest The Marine Room. This is another place that would have the distinction of being an institution. They are located ON the beach, and the service is excellent.

      Good Luck and let us know how it goes!

      1. re: Dagney

        I would second the Marine Room or Mr. A's for the actual proposal. Both are romantic and have excellent service. I would not say that either are casual, although both have excellent atmosphere. I

        have not been to Chive since the re-worked the menu, but the room is much more lively than either Mr. A's or Marine Room, and the food has gotten several good comments here recently. While I have not been,

        Galleo 101 in the Gaslamp has gotten a good review in the local paper, although I have not been.

        1. re: JRSD

          for pre-dinner drinks, the 'w' hotel is a very cool place. in the lobby, there are cool swanky daybed type chairs that can be very cozy and romantic. the whole vibe there is very chic.


    2. Congratulations (I hope!) :-) As far as downtown I'd suggest Red Pearl Kitchen, Cafe Chloe, Chive, J Six, Oceanaire Seafood Room or Blue Point Coastal Cuisine. All of these have good food and a lively atmosphere. A short cab ride away are California Cuisine in Hillcrest, Jayne's Gastropub in North Park, Vagabond in South Park, or Modus in Bankers Hill. Near Balboa Park you have the Prado (in the park), Laurel and Bertrand at Mr. A's. Another place that has a great romantic atmosphere - though the food is debatable - is Old Venice in Point Loma.

      I have links to some of these places on my website - the rest you should be able to google.

      Good luck and have fun - let us know how it goes!!

      1. Hmmmm, though you'll be in the Gaslamp area, I wonder if it'll make sense to make the drive up to North San Diego County, where I've got the hunch that the izakaya Yumeya would fit the bill perfectly. I'll set it up for you here, but here's a more detailed post from an early post of mine ( ).

        Izakaya's are Japanese pubs featuring small bites of food designed to complement drinks. In Japan they are the de facto place for colleagues to gather after work to share in a relaxed atmoshphere to enjoy both well-prepared bites of food and drink. Due to a focus on small bites, a visit to an izakaya is all about creating a composed meal, building up a complete meal upon a series of small bites and cooking techniques. Given that these are always places to relax and unwind, there is no stigma to sharing plates; in fact it's expected. And the format allows one to experience first-hand the wisdom of Thomas Keller's philosophy on small portions - one can taste each dish at the very peak of one's heightened senses, taking advantage of the tension between wanting to taste more of a dish but not to indulge so much as to dull the senses.

        Now that being said Yumeya does not have a classic izakaya menu - there are a few nouveau dishes, but it's mostly traditional. The menu is smaller but very focused when compared to the extensive menus at typical izakayas. But the execution of this all family-run restaurant (it's 100% run by a family of four and son-in-law), from the personal warmth of the hosts, it's cozy atmosphere, the best of S.D. sake selection covering some 4-5 pages of a special drinks menu (most of which are available by the glass! Hurrah!), many unique and seasonal food items not found easily outside of Japan (oden, takoyaki, teuchi [handmade] udon, tezukuri [handmade] mochi [rice cake], shabu shabu, etc.), would make this a unique venture in just about any city in the U.S.

        Yumeya is world's apart from anything in the Gaslamp - no urban pretensions or flashiness, but more a focus on a genuine and honest conviviality brought about by a shared enthusiasm of good food and drink. There is no "scene" to speak of other than an appreciative and (lucky) loyal following of regulars from around North County; add to this those who have discovered this hidden gem and find it worth the drive from greater San Diego. It's never loud, nor is it the type of place where you will see even a hint of "out of control drunkeness or partying"...

        BTW you will find discussed elsewhere on the boards another izakaya called Sakura. It is an excellent izakaya with a menu more akin to izakayas in Japan (wide selection organized by cooking technique) and very well executed; however it lacks the izakaya feel, being situated in a squarish room with barren walls with none of the warm touches of a Japanese izakaya. However if it's not atmosphere but food you're after, their food is tops in the category.

        Otherwise I would favor considering taking the drive to check-out Yumeya. Guaranteed it'll be worth the drive!

        (BTW, though it's more for celebratory effect as it has no culinary value, but you can call ahead and see if they can put kinpaku [gold leaf] into your sake. It's used in Japan to celebrate auspicious occaisions, most notably weddings. Might that be appropriate given the occaision for a unique, post-proposal celebration?

        I wonder if they might also have the lacquered footed "saucers" used for drinking sake for these special occaisions. They're used due to the inherent elegance of line and technique that's required to drink out of them. It wouldn't surprise me given the enthusiasm of the owners to bring genuine touches of Japanese cuisine and service.

        All throughout their opening days Yumeya served free sake with kinpaku. Just call ahead to make sure that they can do the same for you!)

        1. Good luck. I too traveled to propose. I would recommend Bertrands as many of the others have as well. If you call ahead and speak with Penny, and give the 411 on your plans they will be descreat and make sure everything is perfect for your night. You can not beat the view, food or service. They can even make a special menu for you or dessert. They are all about service. Bertrand is usually on sight and everything will be perfect.

          I would avoid Modus as it is trendy, loud and over priced.