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Coming to San Diego from Montreal - and need ideas!

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Hi all,

I've been to SD before, and am basing some (Bandar, Candela's, TOTM) of my choices on my last trip there 3 years ago. However, I'm sure things have changed! So, I've made a list of places we'd like to go to - but we are kind of limited to the Gaslamp and Downtown areas - for both restaurants and bars afterwards. Please let me know what you think, and if you can suggest other spots that are better. We're a large group (around 10), all under 30, adventurous eaters, and would like to spend around $30-40 for dinners, including a glass of wine. We aren't limited by the cuisines here, and would like to add in an Italian place if we could, but would like to have at least 1 Indian, Persian, and Spanish resto on the list. Thanks!

Restaurants:
Seafood: Top of the Market
Mexican: Candela’s
Spanish: Café Sevilla
Californian/Fun night out: Mr. Tiki Mai Tai Lounge
Persian: Bandar
Indian: Royal India Exquisite Restaurant

Bars for after dinner:
The Bitter End
Altitude Sky Bar at the Marriott hotel or Eden at the Ivy Hotel
The Local Eatery & Drinking Hole
Side Bar
Dublin Square
Bondi Bar

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  1. I personally am not in favor of Mr. Tiki.. too much of a chain...hmm I dont go down there that much.//ooh I ate dnner the other night at Confidentail in the bar.. With their Tapas menu.. I think you would like that..

    1. for seafood, Oceanaire is very good. Will fit right in your price range. Their servings are large and you can easily split an entree. Their side dishes feed 3-4 people each.

      bars--Confidential and Stingaree are two of the new places in downtown. I haven't been to either but they might be worth a look.

      1. What would you all recommend instead of Mr. Tiki's? I wanted some place with a fun vibe and good, Californian-inspired cuisine. The best I could think up was Mr. Tiki. Any other ideas other than this place? I really hate chain-style restos!!

        1 Reply
        1. re: nader

          I'd suggest Red Pearl Kitchen - it's a mini chain - there are only three though, one in LA, OC and here. The food is better than Mr. Tiki and the atmosphere is fun. Great cocktails and appetizers, affordable, lively, etc. They have a chef's table that might accommodate you. Chive is also good for cocktails and often hosts large parties. Stingaree, J Six and Confidential are also good suggestions. The Ivy bar is sort of the latest scene, so might be fun.

          Gaslamp Strip Club is also fun for a girls night out - it's grill your own steaks and share sides - good drinks, affordable - guys like this place and you can socialize at the grill. They have a large table running down the middle of the restaurant that they could set up for you with advance notice. Cafe Sevilla is fun and affordable with a large group - pitchers of Sangria, tapas, etc. They have a lot of room.

          I'd also add Cafe Chloe to your list but they have small tables - might be hard to get ten of you in there. They are open breakfast lunch and dinner. Also Currant - new place on Broadway in the new Sofia hotel is good for cocktails and snacks like truffled popcorn, fried chickpeas, etc. and Gourmet India (on 4th near Sammy's Woodfired Pizza) - is an excellent family-owned Indian place. Enjoy!!

        2. I'm with Daantaat on Oceanaire. I think you'd be better off there for seafood than Top of the Market. Not only are the portions large enough to adequately share, Oceanaire also has a happy hour that attracts young, urban professionals. Just down the street from Oceanaire is Red Pearl Kitchen which also might work for your group.

          Altitude Sky Bar tracks very young on the clientel and when I was there the bar offerings weren't all that exciting. The view is great and if you guys just want to stop in for a visit, it'll probably fit your bill nicely. JBar in the Solimar Hotel at 6th and J is another possibility for you, as are Dussini's or BUB, or Basic Urban Bar. If you're not always planning to travel as a herd, the wine drinkers in your group might consider hopping on the Blue Line trolley (with the Old Town signage) for a couple stops to Little Italy and going to Songo di Vino. It's a pleasant wine bar with indoor/outdoor seating, a fairly interesting wine list and nibbles.

          If you go early for dinner at Stingaree, the food is good. You can decide later if you want to stay for the scene. Cafe Chloe and Chive are small, but they might be able to accommodate the size of your group with a little advanced notice.

          2 Replies
          1. re: DiningDiva

            Thanks everyone for the suggestions!

            I've changed TOTM to Oceanaire, as most or all have advised, and have replaced Altitude with Basic Urban Bar.

            As for Stingaree, I think its a little too swanky for our crowd! We've got a couple of older professors coming out with us, and don't want to leave them out because of the locations we've chosen!

            Is everyone OK with the other restos on the list? And what about the bars? We don't want someplace too young (ie: low 20s) and are really looking for a relaxed vibe without dress code.

            1. re: nader

              Bitter End might be a bit young, but it's definitely relaxed. You might try Dobson's (by Horton Plaza). It's more of an old school restaurant but the bartenders have always been quite good - and they make a mean martini!