HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Are you making a specialty food? Share your adventure

Upscale Dining in San Diego?

Robey Jul 21, 2009 12:34 AM

I'm in my early 20's and I've been going out with this wonderful girl for a while.
Now I want to take her to a nice place for dinner, something upscale, and ask out officially.

She's from Los Angeles so I would like to show her a nice San Diego view while we dine.

I've been going back and forth between Mr. A's and the Marine Room...
How's the view at Mr. A's?

Any other sugestions for upscale dinning in San Diego that might fit the occassion?

Thank you in adance!

  1. m
    mcgrath Jul 21, 2009 07:27 AM

    In answer to your question, the view at Mr. A's is spectacular.

    Given your stated age, and that this is your first post on Chowhound, I'm going to guess you're more interested in the view and the ambience than the cuisine. My opinion: the Marine Room and Mr. A's are going to be a little stuffy and staid for young folks.

    While not exactly cutting edge in the cuisine or "scene" departments, but with excellent water views near downtown, I'd take a look at Island Prime and Top Of The Market, both just off Harbor Drive.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mcgrath
      honkman Jul 21, 2009 09:01 AM

      Island Prime and Top of the Market have nothing to do with upscale dining. (especially if you invite somebody from LA). If you want view and good food go to Georges in La Jolla (California Modern) and ask for a table at the windows. Otherwise you have to choose between a restaurant with good food or good view in San Diego.

      1. re: honkman
        mcgrath Jul 21, 2009 12:01 PM

        I have a number of friends and relatives who've never heard of places like Chowhound and could care less about the intricacies of fine cuisine. I suspect most posters here know folks like this.

        To the otherwise wonderful people I know who fall into this category, the concept of 'upscale dining' means an expensive, fancy looking place with carpeting, white linen tablecloths and perhaps a view. Most would prefer a steak at Island Prime over George's Loch Duart salmon with fava beans and aioli, mainly because they haven't a clue what the latter is, and certainly wouldn't appreciate the difference from a culinary standpoint.

        Anyway, I had a feeling the poster was more interested in view than cuisine and advised accordingly. If I was wrong, George's would be an excellent choice. And I agree that Island Prime and Top of the Market certainly DO NOT fit the definition of upscale dining most posters here go by.

        1. re: mcgrath
          honkman Jul 21, 2009 01:12 PM

          "To the otherwise wonderful people I know who fall into this category, the concept of 'upscale dining' means an expensive, fancy looking place with carpeting, white linen tablecloths and perhaps a view"

          I completely agree and so it might be good idea to try to help those people to be more openminded and guide them to places where upscale dining is not only about the carpeting, tablecloth and the view. (At least that's what my wife and i are doing with friends, collegues and most of them are often very interested to learn more.

    2. s
      stevewag23 Jul 21, 2009 09:07 AM

      "Otherwise you have to choose between a restaurant with good food or good view in San Diego"

      Unfortunately this is true.

      Another option could be go for drinks at Mr. A's, check the view, then go eat somewhere less stuffy.

      A "one-two" punch, if you will.

      4 Replies
      1. re: stevewag23
        SDgirl Jul 21, 2009 09:36 AM

        How about a compromise: a restaurant with great food and, while not having a view from in-house, is in a great view location? I'm thinking Nine-Ten, one of our most upscale dining experiences, located in the gorgeous La Jolla Cove area. As I've recommended on other threads, go to the La Valencia hotel around sunset for pre-dinner drinks and either sit outside on the balcony towards the back of the lobby or in the indoor "livingroom," both of which afford great views of the ocean, then stroll over to Nine-Ten for one of the best meals to be found in San Diego.

        1. re: SDgirl
          stevewag23 Jul 21, 2009 12:54 PM

          I agree.

          Nine-Ten, La Valencia and Marine Room are all good choices.

        2. re: stevewag23
          Josh Jul 21, 2009 12:43 PM

          Marine Room's food is good. The only time I had anything there that was not so great was during restaurant week when they were churning out high-volume cheaper plates.

          I think people need to upgrade their conventional wisdom.

          No, Marine Room isn't a super-adventurous cutting edge destination - it's a classy, quiet, upscale restaurant with a great view and really well-prepared and presented food.

          1. re: stevewag23
            Alice Q Jul 21, 2009 11:37 PM

            If George's doesn't work out, I'd suggest drinks at Mr. A's at sunset (outside on the patio) then cruise down the hill and have dinner at Starlite on India Street. It's a hip, intimate spot with great food and fantastic inventive cocktails. The food isn't fancy - but it's very good - modern,seasonal etc.

          2. r
            Robey Jul 21, 2009 02:23 PM

            I am looking for good quality food, "the wrapping" or as a poster stated "the carpeting, tablecloth and the view" are also important but mainly I am interested in the fine cuisine the place has to offer.

            That is why I am going to go with George's as my first choice.

            Thank you all for your advice and suggestions.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Robey
              mcgrath Jul 21, 2009 02:37 PM

              Please don't take this wrongly, but if you're in your early twenties and have never been there before, getting a table near the windows at George's may be a little challenging.

              1. re: Robey
                DougOLis Jul 21, 2009 04:35 PM

                George's is a smart choice.

                Another option would be to try and get a cabana at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar.

                1. re: DougOLis
                  daantaat Jul 21, 2009 08:45 PM

                  DougOLis--what entrees have you had at Kitchen 1540? I've been once and intend to return again. My apps and dessert were good, although I have a hard time crediting the apps to the chef b/c it was a charcuterie plate (ie: get a good source and you're good to go). Entree was decent (branzino w/ shishito peppers, mushrooms and veggies) and had a creativity behind it but somehow lacked the extra "something" to make it really sing. Even a dusting of kosher salt didn't quite do the trick.

                  1. re: daantaat
                    souschef Jul 21, 2009 09:26 PM

                    I had the branzino a few months ago, and really enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting/good that the waiter went out of his way to explain that it was served on the bone when I ordered it; he mentioned that some customers are taken aback when presented with a whole fish if not forewarned.

                    I can't remember what my wife had (it may have been the veggie dish), but she enjoyed it too. Apps were oysters.

                    A few nights later (we were staying at the Auberge), we decided to just have appetizers as they all sounded so good, so we split 4 of them - the prawns, scallops, agnolotti, and risotto. We were really impressed by them all. I can't for the life of me remember what the dessert was, but it was superb.

                    They used to have a decent restaurant before (we have stayed there many times), but it is much better since the recent renovations. Unfortunately Champagne Cafe (which was on the hotel grounds) closed sometime before our visit; they used to make amazing brioche, which was perfect with coffee.

                    1. re: souschef
                      mcgrath Jul 22, 2009 07:37 AM

                      I'm glad your experiences there are consistent with my own. I've been there three times since the reincarnation as Kitchen 1540 and for my money, Chef McCabe is one of San Diego's stars.

                    2. re: daantaat
                      DougOLis Jul 22, 2009 11:34 AM

                      We went more app heavy on my visit there and I couldn't have been more pleased. Had the foie gras and pop rocks which was a very fun and whimsical take and tasty to boot. I've had better preparations but it was still very good and worth trying. The nettle risotto was probably my favorite dish on the night. Amazing flavors and everything was cooked perfectly. I'm not a huge scallop fan but I thought it was good albeit maybe cooked a bit long. The popcorn puree that came with it was quite tasty and reminded me of Alinea's liquefied popcorn. The bison tartare was damned good and the flavors were perfectly balanced. The pork short ribs were very tender and flavorful. I typically don't order dessert but we finished with the root beer trio and it was a nice way to finish off the meal. I'm not sure it amazed me but it was a nice finish and it may have been the best root beer float I've ever had.

                      I'm curious to try the burger just to finish out the never ending quest for San Diego's best burger but I don't have high hopes for a few reasons. .Naomi Wise's review. I don't care for Palomar beef, Aldersprings Ranch and Tallgrass taste better. Aged cheddar is a bad idea on a burger, you should use a young cheese that can melt and not overpower it.

                  2. re: Robey
                    daantaat Jul 21, 2009 08:43 PM

                    If George's doesn't work out for some reason, I'd suggest Market (no view but excellent food), Addison (no view but it's on a beautiful resort property and again, w/ excellent food) or El Bizcocho (some views of the resort/golf course and w/ excellent food).

                    Make sure you ask for the downstairs dining at George's. That's where the best food is. The upper 2 levels have different and less "refined" menus. George's has the best combo of good food and view in SD.

                    SDgirl has a great suggestion of doing drinks w/ a view and then dinner at a good place w/ a lesser view.

                  3. Josh Jul 21, 2009 04:43 PM

                    FYI, Marine Room write-up from last week: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

                    1. s
                      spotprawn Jul 22, 2009 12:01 AM

                      I really enjoy the food that they make in-house at Whiskn'ladle at the cove (apparently they even churn their own butter). The menu there is from all local farms so the menu changes pretty often. I can't suggest any dishes, but I can tell you that the menu from their pastry chef is often an ingenious work of art. Oh, and you will like the atmosphere.

                      If both you and your date enjoy steak, I would dine at the the Cowboy Star in east village. this place also has a reputable bar that specializes in whiskey. With over 50 varieties of whiskey guests should prepare themselves for interesting cocktails. Plus, the bartender, Garth passionately stirs up a delicious Manhattan! if you are late eaters or want a more romantic quiet setting this is the place for you. How many places will serve both food and drink till 2 in the morning.

                      I will suggest that if you are willing to drive up to Escondido; the Stone brewery is a great spot for beer lovers. Especially if your date is into beer; think about bringing her for the six o'clock tour for beer education and samples. Then make your way to the dinning room for a delicious and inventive menu. By the way, when they say it is spicy, it kinda actually is! (this is coming from a guy who puts 2-3 habaneros in guacamole. Did i mention that the gardens are beautiful and would make a nice walk if you arrived before the tour right before sunset?

                      Those are my best suggestions; there are others that are great but these should be reserved for the most special evenings.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: spotprawn
                        stevuchan Jul 22, 2009 07:59 AM

                        Addison gets a lot of love. If you enjoy wine, the Wine Spectator just awarded "best" in the nation, not bad for our sleepy little beach town, might also have been because the list was alphabetical. I need to read the article. Here is a nice write up from a while ago with a picture of the dining room.


                        1. re: stevuchan
                          SDGourmand Jul 23, 2009 10:56 AM

                          I think Addison is the perfect spot. Great food and wine and the resort is beautiful. Your date would surely be impressed.

                      2. a
                        aafflyer Jul 22, 2009 07:45 PM

                        Jake's Del Mar. Since its race season reservations might be tough to get. But a moonlight stroll on the beach after dinner = bonus points...

                        Jake's Del Mar
                        1660 Coast Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: aafflyer
                          stevewag23 Jul 22, 2009 08:33 PM

                          "Since its race season reservations might be tough to get"

                          Shouldn't be that hard.

                          Del Mar was the slowest I have seen in recent years last summer.

                          Should be even slower this summer.

                          1. re: stevewag23
                            souschef Jul 23, 2009 05:52 AM

                            "Del Mar was the slowest I have seen in recent years last summer.

                            Should be even slower this summer."

                            When we were at the Auberge Del Mar in April we paid a weekday rate of $160 through Expedia; the weekday rate for August, depending upon which week you go is $395 or $450. Even more on the weekend!

                            Has anyone eaten at the restaurant across 15th Street from the Auberge? The name escapes me, but they specialize in spicy hot food. They are supposed to be very good, but I can't eat spicy hot.

                            1. re: souschef
                              stevewag23 Jul 23, 2009 08:35 AM

                              "the weekday rate for August, depending upon which week you go is $395 or $450. Even more on the weekend!"

                              Not a good gauge.

                              Del Mar has very few hotel rooms, so they are always able to gouge in the summer during track season.

                              And you are talking about the top hotel with a huge multimillion dollar renovation (making it look like a ripoff of miami beach circa 1999).

                              In an up economy they would charge 500-600 for those rooms.

                        2. Sampaguita Jul 22, 2009 09:23 PM

                          Early 20's.....from L.A....great view as a setting for a proposal....?
                          Clay's in the Hotel La Jolla on the 11th floor.
                          Happy Hour IS the golden hour. Make a "fun" dinner out of it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Sampaguita
                            stevewag23 Jul 22, 2009 09:29 PM

                            "Early 20's.....from L.A....great view as a setting for a proposal....?"

                            Way too young to get married.

                            These days 60 year old men are dating 21 year old girls.

                            Hold out my friend.

                            1. re: stevewag23
                              Sampaguita Jul 22, 2009 09:46 PM

                              "Way too young to get married"
                              ...so true in this century and - you're making a lot of sense - that I concur.

                              BTW, who are you and what did you do with Stevewag23?

                              1. re: Sampaguita
                                stevewag23 Jul 23, 2009 09:52 AM

                                I always make sense.

                                Sometimes people just don't agree with it.

                          Show Hidden Posts