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Nov 5, 2007 12:41 PM

Birthday Dinner in San Diego

I will be visiting San Diego in a couple weeks and want to take my boyfriend to a nice dinner for his birthday. We are staying near Petco Park and would prefer somewhere close (walk or cab ride). No preference on cuisine, just a memorable meal and a view would be great (although not at the expense of the meal). Based on what I've seen on these boards, the food at Oceanaire sounds great and the view at Island Prime sounds great (not sure about the food). Thanks for any advice!

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  1. Oceanaire is really good..
    I like Island Prime and the view is great with the city and bayfront.
    Deborah Scott has done really well and I enjoy her food.
    Top of the Market at the Fish Market would be another choice.

    1. I would probably pick Oceanaire over Island Prime - we had good steaks there and a great dessert, but everything else was mediocre - though the view is nice. If you do go there, definitely go to the nicer side as opposed to the C Level, we had a bad meal there. Oceanaire is good but of course has no view - think of it as a steakhouse but with seafood instead of meat - it's a la carte, and pretty pricey, but really good quality. The crabcakes and baked alaska dessert are excellent. JSix is very nearby (maybe even in your hotel) and is pretty good, certainly as good as Island Prime.

      If you're in the mood for something a little more "hip" you might try Stingaree, Red Pearl Kitchen, Quarter Kitchen, or Chive. I haven't tried Stingaree or Quarter Kitchen, which both have a club-like atmosphere - but they are getting pretty good reviews. Red Pearl has tasty Asian Fusion and great cocktails, and Chive serves fun small plates - but avoid the crab mac and cheese.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Alice Q

        Thanks for the recommendations! I have been to Stingaree for drinks and it was fun for dancing. I also got a recommendation for The Prado. Have you heard anything about it?

        1. re: michelleb

          The Prado is in Balboa Park in the House of Hospitality building. The setting is beautiful, charming old spanish building with outside patio seating overlooking lush gardens. The food is so-so to good. My pesonal experience has been that is is wildly inconsistent; being very good one time and not so great the next. The last time I ate there (this past June) I ended up sending the pork prime rib back because it was so tough I couldn't cut it with the sharp knife they had given me.

          The Prado does, however, serve some pretty good cocktails. You could do a lot worse than to have drinks and perhaps an appetizer (those are almost always pretty daren good) at The Prado, then take a short cab ride (no more than 2 miles) over to 5th and Laurel and take the elevator up to Mr. A's. The food is consistently good and the views spectacular. Here is the link for The Prado - - and here is the link for Mr. A's - . Definitely a little on the pricey side, but I think it would be pretty memorable. At the time my boyfriend du jour took me to Mr. A's when I turned 21, I still remember it and that was a long time ago ;-)

          1. re: DiningDiva

            I have had the exact same experience at the Prado - really good on some visits and not so great on others. We actually had a good meal there last year with my parents on Christmas Eve though - then again, we also went through two pitchers of Sangria...

            I have to say, I have also had wildly inconsistent experiences at Laurel - though I haven't been lately. I do like it though, and it seems like it would fit the bill. I might recommend cocktails at Mr. A's and dinner at Laurel over the Prado/Laurel combo - just because the view is so spectacular up there.

            BTW - I can relate - I went to Mr. A's on my prom night!

        2. re: Alice Q

          haven't had it but I gather the crab mac n cheese is a disappointment?

          1. re: ibstatguy

            It was sort of like velveeta shells and cheese, and didn't have much flavor. The crab was just some little shreds. We ordered two dishes of it for the table at a birthday celebration, and I don't think either one was finished. We loved some of the other dishes though - especially the kurobuta pork belly. I just wish they'd bring back those coffee braised ribs with the chinese long beans - but since they switched to small plates I haven't seen it on the menu.

            1. re: Alice Q

              those ribs were a (rich) knockout!

        3. Oceanaire has great food, especially if you are both seafood lovers, and it's also a great special occasion restaurant. My parents went to Mr. A's mainly for the view and they loved it...the food is a little pricey for what it is but I think you're paying more for the atmosphere.

          I agree with Alice Q's recommendations for more trendy restaurants downtown...I think Red Pearl might be more reasonably priced. Another place you might want to check out is Nobu, I think they just opened this week and it's right next to Petco. Have a great bday!

          2 Replies
          1. re: californialoving

            Thanks everyone for all the suggestions, this has been extremely helpful!

            1. re: californialoving

              I read the "pricey" thing about Bertrand's at Mister A's frequently and I just don't think it is overpriced compared to the quality of the food, service, ambience. There are other places with relative similar pricing but they don't get stuck with the "pricey" label. Just MO...