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Dinner near San Diego Convention Center???

After a long day at a medical conference, I want to keep it simple and have a nice dinner somewhere near the convention center ( prefer walking distance ). Have never been to SD before. A few restaurant names have been given to me by colleagues & I have no way to judge them. I'm not looking for the ulimate in fine dining; but interesting food, that's well prepared & a pleasant eating environment. Hopefully, a few 'hounds in the SD area will be able to help out. Please feel free to offer your opinion on these, and others in the area that you like/love.


Blue Point
Harbor House
Greek Island Cafe
Fish Market

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  1. I don't recommend Harbor House or Rainwater. Sally's is very good, as is Candela's (upscale Mexican). The Top of the Market is pretty good, and I'd suggest that over The Fish Market (Top of the Market is their upscale restaurant). Baci's is a little far from downtown. Three others to throw in your pool: Chive, Red Pearl Kitchen, and Oceanaire.

    1 Reply
    1. re: phee

      I agree, with the exception of the Top of the Market thing. I prefer like the oyster bar and sushi bar at the Fish Market over the upstairs.

    2. Phee has given you excellent advice..
      My choice would be Oceanaire..

      1 Reply
      1. re: Beach Chick

        Rama is one of the best thai restaurants in San Diego, I would go there. Also Baci has great italian food.

      2. If you want to walk from the Convention Center, my suggestion, not on your list, is Cafe Chloe. They have very good French bistro fare, in a lively bistro atmosphere. Great beer and wine list, too. They make a real effort to offer unusual and interesting wine-by-the-glass options. It's a great, unpretentious spot with a fun vibe.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Josh

          I second Cafe Chloe. You won't be dissapointed!

          1. re: Josh

            How could I forget Cafe Chloe?!?

          2. I like Fish Market - although I've never gone to "top of the market" - I'm a budgeted foodie.

            1. I'll be at the same conference. Getting in pretty late on Saturday, so hoping to snag a bar spot at Cafe Chloe. Sunday I'm planning on dinner at the Linkery.

              Monday might not be making it out of the convention center til' late, so will also stick around Gaslamp. Would really like some decent, fairly authentic Mexican. Is Candela's a good choice? Is there a bar area?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Whigsboy

                I really like Candela's (although some here have opined that it's just okay). It's what I'd call high-end Mexican, think moles and pumpkin soup rather than burritos and tacos. And like most restaurants in the Gaslamp it has a bar area to hang out before dinner, (even if it's just beer and wine).

              2. I'm also attending the same conference, but I'm a poor grad student so does anyone have recs for a lower price point? I'm not looking for dirt cheap, but I'm certainly not planning on high end. We love mexican, asian, seafood/steak or just about anything. Thanks.

                7 Replies
                1. re: pollymerase

                  Alambres on Fifth has pretty decent tacos, and is relatively cheap (roughly $10 for an order of tacos). Truly cheap is Ciro's Pizzeria on Market St., two slices and a soda are $6 and the pizza is quite good. Oh, there's also Pokez, which isn't that great, but is very inexpensive.


                  1. re: pollymerase

                    Specifically in the Gaslamp? If so:
                    Irish food at The Field
                    Middle Eastern at The Kebab Shop
                    Pizza at Basic
                    Australian at Bondi

                    For the more ethnic stuff you're better off venturing away from the Gaslamp, and seafood/steak probably wouldn't be in the low-mid pricepoint. There are a few options though in Oceanaire for seafood and Donovan's or The Palm for steak.

                    1. re: DougOLis

                      Thanks for the tips. I think we are planning on 1 nice dinner at a steakhouse, other meals will likely be at less expensive places. We will probably venture away from the area the convention center is in once or twice, but for most of the time I imagine we'll be in the Gaslamp area.

                      I can't say I've had Australian food before, so I definitely might have to look into Bondi. Kebabs sound great as well. Thanks.

                      1. re: pollymerase

                        Caveat emptor on the downtown steakhouses. I've had many mediocre steaks, and paid super premium prices for them. They're all chain places (with exception of Greystone), and the food tends to be pretty generic. My suggestion would be, if you really want steak, to try the Gaslamp Strip Club. Which is a casual atmosphere, but the meat is very good (though you cook it yourself) and they have some nice sides like truffled mac and cheese.

                        Cafe Chloe does a really good steak frites as well.

                        1. re: Josh

                          I personally don't care for the Gaslamp Strip Club. Was not greatly impressed with anything I had when I've been there. For one nice meal in the Gaslamp, I would choose either Oceanaire or Cafe Chloe.

                          1. re: DougOLis

                            I, too, would avoid the Gaslamp steak chains and Greystone (pre-cook the meats, then place them in a pan, before reheating).

                            SD does flatiron steaks well--best bets are at Jordan (Tower 23) or Modus....pass on the NY Strips, ribeyes, porterhouses, etc--this is not a great steak town.

                            1. re: DougOLis

                              I'm not saying it's great - just if they're gonna insist on steak, it seems the best of a poor range of choices.

                    2. Cafe Chloe is an outstanding choice!!
                      Here is a website if you need more help in the Gaslamp area..


                      1. After gathering info from SD chowhounds ( thanks to all who took the time to reply ) and a few friends, the three places I picked for dinner this weekend are:


                        When I return home after the conference, I'll post my impressions of these 3 restaurants.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: TheTrout

                          Did any of the restaurants you chose impress you?

                          1. re: ADC

                            I really enjoyed Candelas. The tuna app ( Carpaccio Franco ) was wonderful, and the lobster entre ( Langosta Baeza ) was also a hit. Here in Boston, Mexican cuisine is really "dumbed down", so it doesn't offend gringo taste buds. As a result, with the exception of one or two places, there is no Mexican here that has ANY taste!

                            1. re: TheTrout

                              I'm organizing a "meet and greet" and need to pick a restaurant near the Convention Center (walking distance). I think Sally's is close? Did you ever eat there? Is Candelas within walking distance from the Hyatt/Convention Center? Thanks!!!

                              1. re: ADC

                                For how many people?

                                This was asked of you on your other post and you have not answered. I have been to "Meet and Greet's" with 100 people and with 9 people. Your answer affects our answers. We can tell you if food is good, but if you have a large group, it doesn't matter.

                                Sallys and Candelas are in walking distance.

                                    1. re: ADC

                                      You can walk there. It is large enough. I don't know about the food though (haven't been there in about a year). It has been there a long time and always has a line to get in on Fri/Sat.

                                      1. re: Cathy

                                        Where would you recommend? Our gathering will have about 45 people and we would like good food and drinks. Our event will be on a Tues evening from 6-8. Thanks for the advice, we're from MI and we've never been to San Diego.

                                        1. re: ADC

                                          I can't believe nobody else is chiming in.

                                          Sevilla is good and I doubt has deteriorated - tapas and drinks seems right for the size of your group. The website shows they accomodate large groups, so there is probably a separate area I don't recall...and a Tuesday would probably be available.

                                          I am sorry I am not much help. If nobody else responds, I'll go downtown and try some food and report back tonight or tomorrow.

                                          Oh- McCormick and Schmidt's is inside the Omni Hotel, next to the Baseball field and an even closer a walk (the walk to Sevilla will be uphill, in the evening...maybe after a long day) and could accomodate you. It is a chain, but good.

                                          ( I was born and raised on the West side of Detroit; you'll like it here).

                                          1. re: Cathy

                                            Here's what I've looked into:

                                            Cafe Sevilla
                                            rooftop bar (JSix) at the Hotel Solamar
                                            Crescent Heights Kitchen & Lounge
                                            Hotel Ivy
                                            Hard Rock Hotel

                                            Are all of these restaurants within walking distance from the Hyatt and Convention Center?

                                            Which of these restaurants would you recommend?

                                            Thank you so much for all your time and assistance!!!

                                            1. re: ADC

                                              They are in walking distance, but it is cold (and dark by 6) at night and a good number of them are uphill. Not Sally's or Hard Rock.

                                              JSix is close and good. I think that is the best choice if they are available.

                                              1. re: Cathy

                                                Rama has a private room, within walking distance -- might be too small for 40-45.

                                                When is this -- if it is before daylight savings 6-8 is prime sunset watching time -- why not apps and cocktails on the Fish Market deck. Very pretty. Might be a bit cold however...

                                                1. re: Ewilensky

                                                  The group will have spent all day in the meeting and are on East Coast time zone (3 hour difference) so that is why I was thinking not too much of a walk since they would have to return to their hotels when it is dark. (I beleive the OP said end of October, so no DST change yet)

                                                  I suppose since they all are from Michigan, they will laugh at us calling it cold, as I did when I first moved out here...