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Where to take the graduate?

Our daughter will be graduating late May from SDSU. The family (there will be about 8 of us) would like to take her somewhere special for a late lunch, early dinner (we know she will want to be out with friends later). She currently lives in Pacific Beach. We know nothing of the area, and she doens't know where she would like to go. She doesn't eat much meat, but we all do! Would like to get a reservation in early. Any suggestions? Thanks for the help

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  1. That depends - are you looking to dine close to the college or close to PB? Upscale or more casual?

    6 Replies
    1. re: phee

      I told her the choice was her's to make. Since there are 8 of us, I suggested price range to be around $25 to $30 each. Being young, I would think she would like some sort of "fun" atomosphe? Something with a view? I don't know San Diego well enough to know what is out there. But since it is granuation, I would think she would like to go someplace more fancy than what is around PB.

      1. re: RenoRed

        "Fancy" and "25-30 each", while not mutually exclusive, makes it a pretty tall order. You obviously want to avoid her thinking (or worse, verbalizing) that your choices are "lame", so you're right to be thinking something with a younger vibe. I'm thinking 1500 at the Hotel Del, or Kitchen 1540 up in Del Mar at the auberge. Or, George's California Modern in La Jolla. If those are too pricey, then Fish Market or C Level, which has an unmatched view of SD Bay. Food rather ordinary by Chow standards at the latter two, but you'll be in at budget.

        1. re: mcgrath

          JRDN at the swanky Tower 23 hotel in PB is right on the boardwalk with a great view, has a very hip dining room and bar, and has pretty good food to boot. Here you will give up a bit of chow-worthiness for a setting the 20 something grads will dig.

          1. re: Captain Jack

            Considered JRDN, but haven't been there since the orig. chef left for Cowboy Star (forget his name), but you're right, it's very high on the hip-ness meter and if the food's still decent, it's definitely on the mark for the OP.

            1. re: mcgrath

              Victor Jiminez, who was head Chef at Gringo's before opening JRDN. He was brought up by Brett Miller who owns both Gringo's and JRDN (and Moondoggie's for that matter). The Chef is now Dave Warner, who was Sous under Victor. In my opinion, things have not changed much since he took over.

          2. re: mcgrath

            An alternative to George's California Modern would be the upstairs George's Ocean Terrace. Weather permitting it could be a better late lunch experience since it's a bit more relaxed and outdoors. Slightly cheaper too (although you can order off the California Modern menu up there as well).

            Agreed on the other recs but they might be a bit too formal and not possible at the price point when factoring in drinks (except for C-Level). Are the others open for lunch anyway?

      2. I will probably get beaten to a bloody pulp for this suggestion, but Indigo Grill in Little Italy would be a good choice. You will be in budget, it's a funky, creative place, and they have some solid vegetarian options. (Indigo is a Cohn Restaurant, which is kind of an 800 pound gorilla restaurant company).

        1. If you're up for an early dinner, Wine Vault and Bistro has a killer $30 5 course prix fixe dinner on the weekends. I can't remember if they have it on the weekdays in addition to the regular menu, but it's worth looking into. Atmosphere is casually lively and "nice," but not stuffy. It's west of SDSU near the intersection of the 5 freeway and Washington. Only negative is that parking can be a pain.

          2 Replies
          1. re: daantaat

            I really like WV&B for Chow-ishness and good value, but I don't see it as a good rec for fun loving 20 somethings celebrating graduation. Yawn on the exciting vibe and hip factor.

            1. re: Captain Jack

              We were at WV&B on Saturday and there were actually quite a few tables with 20 somethings celebrating different things and I would think a graduation celebration would fit in nicely.

          2. Hotel Del.

            Best place in my opinion for a san diego graduate.

            3 Replies
            1. re: stevewag23

              Good call sw23,
              The resort offers a fun environment and 1500 Ocean is a very good restaurant.

              1. re: Captain Jack

                My first call above, also, except OP won't get in at budget there. Such a nice place, though, to get a drink on the oceanview patio, then ease into 1500 for a nice dinner. What the heck, OP, she only graduates once!

                1. re: mcgrath

                  Oops mcgrath, you are right, you recommended it first. It is really is a great call. And yah OP, just think of what you spent on your little darling the last four years, now is not the time to scrimp :) Time to go out with a bang!

            2. Bali Hai in Shelter Island
              Island Prime Harbor Island
              George's at the Cove on the Ocean Terrace..La Jolla
              Piatti's LJ Shores
              Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar resort
              Jake's Del Mar

              5 Replies
              1. re: Beach Chick

                Bali Hai is closed for a big remodel. The mai tais will have to wait.

                1. re: sdnativa

                  I heard that they would open back early April..have you heard different?
                  OP is looking at late May..
                  love love love those mai tai's!

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    As of last week the place is a construction zone. It doesnt look close to being done but perhaps by May....

                    The mai tais are good, too good.

                    1. re: sdnativa

                      Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. She did mention the C Level, thought it would be less expensive than Island Prime, problem there is that
                      C Level doesn't take reservations.....anyone know if the wait would be terribly long on a late sunday afternoon/early evening? Funny, one of her first jobs in SD was at the Bali Hai as the hostess!

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                      Bali Hai Restaurant
                      2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

                      Island Prime
                      880 Harbor Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92101

                      C Level Restaurant
                      880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

                      1. re: RenoRed

                        I'd call C Level and tell them you have a party of 8+..maybe hold with a CC#.
                        Graduation week..I would have a reservation..remind the hostess desk of this as well.