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No-budget dinner reco please (San Diego)

Howdy 'Hounds,

I'm in the enviable position of choosing a restaurant for a vendor to take a few of us to. Past venues have included Lou & Mickey's and A.R. Valentien.

I see this as an opportunity to try a place that would otherwise stretch my budget, but of course I still want to make sure it's reliably worthwhile.

I'm currently considering Bertrand at Mister A's and El Bizcocho. Any other suggestions? Any cuisine is fine, although we'd like to move away from steakhouses, and there should a reasonable range of flavors.


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  1. It's hard to go wrong with El Biscocho, but imho, if money were not an object, I would definitely recommend Addison at the new Del Mar Plaza Hotel. We recently celebrated a special occasion there, and this was clearly one of the finest dining experiences we've had anywhere is Southern CA. Check out their website: www,addisondelmar.com for more info. The menu is prix-fixed with about 4-5 choices for each course, however the chef is very talented and will happily work around any dietary requirements! Highly recommended for an outstanding treat!

    Check out my previous posting at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5579...

    1. I 2nd Addison.
      Market in Del Mar is also very good.

      2 Replies
      1. re: daantaat

        Agree that Market in Del Mar, as well as Blanco in Solano Beach are very good....but for a "no-budget blowout dinner" neither compare with Addison.

        1. re: josephnl

          Thanks for bringing up Addison! I hadn't even thought of that.

          Blanco is also a place I've been meaning to try. A good foodie friend raved about it soon after it opened.

          I was underwhelmed by Market the time I went. I think I need to go back and focus more on produce, since that seems to be where they shine.

      2. My inlaws recently dined at Addison just weeks after having a blowout dinner at Guy Savoy in Paris... and they thought Addison compared favorable - particularly considering the price differences (apparently Addison's prices are like ordering from the $1 Menu at McD's in comparison).

        Restaurant Guy Savoy
        Rue Troyon, Paris, Île-de-France 75017, FR

        1 Reply
        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Spent a long weekend at the Grand Del Mar last month and I gotta say that Addison's was outstanding..

          I LOVE dining at Guy Savoy in Paris..and yes Eat Nopal, Addison's is like ordering off the McD's $1 menu!

        2. Bertrands combines excellent food, service and views. I have been to the others, but I believe none compares to the whole experience at Bertrands.

          1. Thanks everybody! I just wrote up the recommendations for the group to decide, and I'll let you know where we end up!

            4 Replies
            1. re: debren27

              I'll definitely chime in for Addison's...so long as you're not paying. Quality is outstanding, the experience is superb. I ate there two weeks ago on someone else's dime...We didn't think ourselves too extravagent, brought in two bottles of wine (corkage was very reasonable $35 for the attention they paid. 3 bottle limit, so long as it's not on the wine list), and we still managed to be around $400/person. Yikes! I hate to think what Guy Savoy is if this is the dollar menu!

              1. re: philhh

                Wow. I can't imagine how you rang up a bill of $400 pp while bringing your own wine. We ate there last month and with cocktails and a modest bottle of wine it came to just a bit over $200 pp with a very generous tip. The prix fixe dinner is, if I recall properly, about $90-95 pp. In any event, for a truly outstanding dinner, this is definitely the place to go!

                1. re: josephnl

                  So glad to hear the reinforcement!

                  We were trying for the Chef's Table, but with only 5 people the $2500 minimum killed that idea. For more people, it would be perfect -- 7 courses for $145, plus $100-$125 for a good wine pairing. I was told the chef presents each course, and the sommelier follows him with the pairing. There's even a TV in the room so you can watch the chef prepare the next course!

                  But we'll be in the main dining room, which is $98 for 4 courses IIRC. I'm sure we'll order appys and wine and cocktails.

                  It's tonight, so I'll report back in.

                  BTW I agree that $400 pp with no real wine bill is very impressive!

                  1. re: debren27

                    Waiting with baited breath to hear about your dinner. Please report back when you have the time!

            2. Sorry for how long it took me to reply with a report!

              Suffice to say that our dinner was beyond amazing! We actually did end up at the Chef's Table (my coworker tricked me!) and it exceeded expectations. Food was excellent, service was impeccable, and the setting is truly gorgeous. I kept saying to myself "I had no idea this existed in San Diego."

              We had a blast, and felt like we were in our own personal restaurant. The private room is totally separate, even with its own deck. It was fun watching the kitchen on the TVs, and then the food showing up.

              One thing that really impressed me was their selection of Riedels, which I love. They hauled out the Sommeliers Burgundy Grand Cru for a pinot, and it was awesome. We had some gruner veltliner, and they had the new green-stemmed glass. The wine was wonderful in the right glass.

              We left everything up to the chef and sommelier, and they delivered with grace. One exception was that I asked for a second foie gras course, and our main waiter Will didn't even blink. I expected it to be added later, but the very next course was more foie.

              I think we had 6:30pm reservations and met in the bar at 6pm, and then left around 1am. That's my kind of meal!


              10 Replies
              1. re: debren27

                What did you eat besides foie gras?

                Sounds like you weren't paying, but any idea as to the damage? (for how many people?)

                1. re: stevewag23

                  I've attached the menu and a couple highlights. The egg was a wonderful mix of creaminess and saltiness, smooth yet light and fluffy. The salmon had a bit of chew to it, somewhere between typical smoked salmon and jerky, but with sweetness. Everything was really excellent, and very well paired with the wines.

                  As I mentioned above, with a $2500 minimum plus tax and mandatory 22% tip, I don't think you can get out of that room for less than $3300 total. At one point our host drunkenly muttered something about "oops we went over" and "28," which must have meant $2800 before tax and 22% tip, unless he worked out a deal to lower the minimum. If that was before tax and tip, the damage would have been about $3600, but I'm not certain. The table seats up to 12; we were 5.

                  All in all, a very, very good experience that put a smile on my face for quite some time.

                  Edit: the menu scan isn't legible, so I'll type it up later tonight.

                  1. re: debren27

                    Here's some pics of my meal from Addison back in Aug 2008

                    1. re: debren27

                      Amuse Bouche

                      Cottled Farm Egg
                      Caviar and Creme Fraiche

                      1st Course
                      Baby Sea Scallops
                      Calamari, Sorrel and Olive Oil
                      Weingut Hirsch, Gruner Veltliner, "Lamm," Langenlois
                      Kamptal, Austria 2004

                      2nd Course
                      Ginger Cured Salmon
                      Cranberry Confiture and Garden Chives
                      Alban, Viognier, California, 2007

                      3rd Course
                      Foie Gras Grille
                      Toasted Pistachio Puree and Lemon Glazed Date
                      Cobb, Pinot Noir, "Coastlands & Rice - Spivak Vinyards"
                      Sonoma Coast 2005

                      [Seared Foie Gras by request]

                      4th Course
                      Spring Lamb Persille
                      with Potato Gnocchi, Parmesan and Caramelized Garlic
                      Ciacci Piccolomini D'Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino
                      Piedmont, Italy 2003

                      5th Course
                      Artisan Cheese Course
                      Weingut Langwerth von Simmern, Riesling, Kabinett
                      "Erbacher Marcobrunn" Rheingau, Germany 2006

                      6th Course
                      Mango Sorbet
                      Grated Lime

                      7th Course
                      Mousse au Chocolate Amer
                      Almond Nougatine and Raspberry Meringue
                      Bodegas Olivares, Dulce Monastrell, Jumillla 2004


                  2. re: debren27

                    You ate at the Chef's Table where?????

                      1. re: debren27

                        Glad it was so wonderful. I think that I was the first to recommend Addison to you, and I was sure it would not disappoint. So happy it worked out so well. It is clearly the standard in the San Diego area! Please do type up the menu so that we can all drool. I would love to have that kind of dinner, but at more than $650pp, I can't imagine it happening anytime soon.

                        1. re: josephnl

                          At 650pp I do not think Addison is worth it. It is extremely good definitely the best in the area, but you could eat at Joel Robuchon at the Mansions of MGM 16 course tasting for 500pp.

                          1. re: SDGourmand

                            You needn't spend $650pp to have an excellent meal at Addison's. We had a wonderful meal there for about $200pp. It obviously wasn't the kind of over-the-top meal that debra27 had, but it was still exceptionally good, and at one third the cost.

                            1. re: josephnl

                              Yeah, a big reason it was as expensive as it was, was because of the minimum. I'm not sure where we actually spent the money; they may have pumped up the wine selections for us.

                              According to what I was told, typical cost at the Chef's Table would be $145 in food, $100-$125 in wine, plus tax and tip. That's about $325-$355 pp total.