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Jan 15, 2008 05:35 AM

Downtown San Diego Recs

Hi everyone! I'm a Boston 'Hound heading out to San Diego for a few days, and I'd love to get some recommendations. Here's my situation....

I'm coming in for a conference which is downtown at the Westin on Broadway. I'll probably be tied up at the conference during the days, but I'm expecting that I'll have some time in the evenings to explore the city a bit. Also, I may have one or two nights where I will be taking clients to dinner.

So, I'm basically looking for two different sorts of recommendations....

1) Places I can go on my own that are interesting, not too expensive. I'm pretty adventurous and enjoy anything that's good and local. I'd specifically like to solicit recommendations for good Mexican food (not sure how volatile a request this is on the San Diego board, but I can imagine this could cause some controversy) since the Northeast isn't exactly overflowing with good Mexican food options. Also, any interesting bars would be welcome - beer, wine, and interesting cocktails are all welcome. As far as location, I'd be willing to take recommendations for anything that I can get to either by foot or by mass transit.

2) For taking clients out, I'd be looking for places that are nice with very good wine lists within easy access to the convention hotel downtown (a short cab ride is fine). Not very particular on cuisine...just great food!

Any and all help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!

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  1. If you want to sample Mexican food in a place that is nice enough to take clients downtown, then take them to Candelas. The owner, Alberto, is from Mexico City I think and I haven't been there in awhile but they used to have a nice menu. I would also recommend Oceanaire, renowned for their innovative preparation of seafood (Chef is Brian Malarkey of Top Chef fame...). Finally, go to and see if there are any reservations available to book online for Island Prime. It is a restaurant located across from the airport that has a spectacular view of the San Diego skyline at night and a wonderful, highly touted menu. You will find many recommendations for it on these boards (pricey though!).

    1. For taking out clients try Cafe Chloe's. Stay away from most of the Italian places in the Gaslamp.

      1. Do a search for "Gaslamp restaurants in San Diego" (or something similar to that), and you'll finds numerous discussions on the dining scene as that's where most visitors stay when they visit San Diego..

        As for clients, take a cab uptown for drinks at Mr. A's (jackets are required for men but the view is San Diego's best), then walk across the street for dinner at Laurel's. It's something a little bit more civilized than the crowded Gaslamp scene.

        2 Replies
          1. re: ibstatguy

            You're right. Since Bertrand's purchased the place jackets are no longer required.

        1. If you want someplace with lots of "attitude" and authentic Mexican food with some (vegan options as well) try Pokez at the corner of 10th and E streets. Not very expensive and very funky. Lots of edgy art and and full of the local college students. For clients I would say Rama on 4th Ave. It's very near the Convention Center and Petco Park. Rama has great Thai food and lots of beautiful atmosphere including a huge waterfall across the entire back wall and a large bar. The restaurant also features large booths. Something for everybody there.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lincat

            The food at Pokez is pretty mediocre and not worth the slow service/snotty wait staff.

            They used to be good.

            1. re: jessicah

              For adventure, I really liked the bar a Cafe Sevilla. They serve yummy authentic Spanish tapas like tortilla de patata, fried calamari, and on Monday nights they have 1/2 price paella. For Mexican in San Diego, I personally like typical "San Diego Style Mexican" at any of the Sombrero's, Roberto's, etc. If it's fried, has cheddar cheese and lettuce, it's gotta be San Diego style. However if you are looking for upscale Mexican, I can't help you there. All my recs would south of the border.

          2. Try the Duck Taco's at Sammy's. 4th Ave and a little sout of Broadway.