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Any ideas for Birthday Dinner in San Diego, CA??

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I am having about 12 people get together for my birthday this saturday night. I wanted a fun, moderately-priced restaurant in downtown San Diego or surrounding areas (La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Bird Rock, Hilcrest,etc.) We planned on Melting Pot but they required that we all choose from the four course menu which was $50/person and I didn't want my friends to feel obligated to spend that much. I want a fun, relaxing, maybe even trendy place to try. Any ideas?

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  1. what about the kitchen table at Red Pearl downtown? they'll set up a prix-fixe menu for you for about $40 pp. super fun, right in the middle of the action, with a large window facing 4th street.

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    1. re: beachbunnySD

      This was my first thought as well - but it's probably already booked at this late date. Gaslamp Strip Club is another possibility. JRDN would also be good, but might be over your price point.

    2. Red Marlin in Mission Bay has a really cool Chef's Table, sort of like a teppan at a Japanese restaurant. Seats around 12 or 14 people. Great views, great food.

      1. Roppongi's in La Jolla for their 50% off tapas from 4-6 pm. Would be an early dinner, but you'd eat well for a good price. Get there early since you have a large party b/c you have to sit in the bar/outdoor patio area to get the discount. Orders have to be in by 6 pm.

        If you want to go cheap, fun, non-trendy Asian, Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot is cheap and fun (cook your own food at the table) or Buga Korean BBQ (cook your own meat at the table and everybody comes out smelling like smoke and garlic). For a little more $$, Izakaya Sakura is designed for lingering around.

        1. I haven't been there yet, but Jay (from The Linkery) has been touting The Pearl in Point Loma and it looks like a pretty fun and hip place. Other "fun" options I would consider are JRDN in PB and Stingaree downtown. I wouldn't consider the last 2 to be fantastic "foodie" options but they are a good mix of foodie and hip.

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          1. re: DougOLis

            Went to JRDN for my wife's birthday with a big group. It was a blast, but not cheap.

          2. Not gourmet but if you want to hang out, have fun, and spend as little or as much as you like, Ortega's in Hillcrest might fill the bill. They won't hurry you out. Parking, however, might be dismal unless you use a pay lot.
            We also liked the Bite down a bit further on University. Park across the street behind McDonald's.

            1. A couple other suggestions:

              1) Costa Brava in PB. Good food and tapas is always fun for a big group,

              2) 3rd Corner in OB. One of my favorite restaurants. Great food, good prices and a fun environment.