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Some advice for next Thurs in the Gaslamp for a BOS Chowhounder?

In town next week on business. 8 folks for a business dinner, but it is a fairly young crowd of ambitious eaters and drinkers. We are staying at the Hard Rock, apparently for better or worse.

Did some research on here and it looks like there are less options close by than I anticipated.

1. Nabu, service sounds meh.
2. Acqua Al 2, only one review which makes me nervous, although the menu looks good.
3. Blue Point, meh.,

The high points within close vicinity of the hotel appear to be:

1. Donovan's
2. Oceanaire

I'd really rather not do a steak house because its not really "San Diego" in my mind, so I am thinking cab it to Fish Market for drinks/apps, followed by Oceanaire for dinner. That idea was recomended on this board.

Couple questions:

1. Assuming we go with my plan, the reason for Fish Market is to get the "San Diego" experience, which I would hope would basically guarantee us a seat by the water or at least with a view. On a Thursday night, is that going to be a problem for just drinks and apps for 8?

2. Any other recomendations which don't involve much more than a 10 minute cab ride? Price is not irrelevant (i.e. no $250pp omakase) but $50-$100 a person is not a huge deal.

Thanks all!

San DIego, CA, San DIego, CA

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  1. Even though it is a steak house Cowboy Star might be a good option. It is relatively close by, has an unique ambience and very good food which is much better than your average steak house. It is also not too loud for a business dinner (they also have a separate room if it is necessary for you.

    1 Reply
    1. re: honkman

      +1 for Cowboy Star. San Diegan's like steakhouses too!
      For a San Diego experience I'd want drinks with a view and for that would choose Island Prime C Level or Candela's because that vantage point, view across the water to the downtown skyline, is much better than looking out at the bay and Navy grey nothingness from downtown at the Fish Market.

    2. I would do Jsix at the Hotel Solamar in the Gaslamp..excellent menu and venue.
      You could take the water taxi over to Coronado and you could eat at the gorgeous Hotel Del Coronado at the fab 1500 Ocean restaurant and then have drinks at the bar and wander the stunning grounds...have a couple of taxis meet you at the dock..

      Candelas is another thought from the water taxi and great views of Downtown SD.
      Grant Grill at the US Grant Hotel is quite good.
      Dobson's for some of the best mussel bisque en croute with some wine and sourdough bread with great fresh fish entrees.

      Fish Market Downtown, I would go to the Top of the Market which is upstairs..great fresh seafood...sushi bar downstairs is quite good and drinks and app's on the outside patio deck bayfront.
      Island Prime at Harbor Island for drinks and app's only...waterfront.
      Bali Hai in Shelter Island for some of the best mai tais and Polynesian food with great bayfront SD views.
      Roy's Hawaiian SD would be another option.

      Go and have a scallop sandwich at Point Loma Seafoods for lunch and a carnitas/carne asada burrito at one of many of our fab taco shops throughout town.
      If you get to La Jolla, I would go to the Marine Room or George's Modern for fine dining or the ocean terrace for casual..get their before sunset.
      Have fun and report back!


      1. cucina urbana is a great spot and personal favorite of mine.. Short cab ride and you can then go over to mister A's across the street for after dinner drinks..

        2 Replies
        1. re: SDGourmand

          I would actually consider Mr. A's for sundown cocktails (a little early though this time of year-maybe 5:10 pm). They have a happy hour on the patio. I am rather new to town but if there is better view in the downtown area of the mountains, city, bay and out toward the sea, then I am all ears. Georges has an AMAZING ocean view, but in la Jolla.

          1. re: lyn

            Top of the Hyatt at the Manchester Grand is a great spot for cocktails..


        2. Know that seafood out here is not at all like the seafood in BOS, despite being at oceanfront. (my husband grew up in BOS- Milton).

          Since you said Drinks and apps and a view, Island Prime will fill that bill.

          Mr. A's would also be impressive for out of towners.

          For good food downtown, Cowboy Star. It would be more amenable for a business dinner. You don't have to order beef (pork belly, lamb, duck, chicken, pork, seabass, salmon...)

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

          1. Cowboy Star is great call but..
            'I'd really rather not do a steak house'..

            Comparing BOS seafood to SAN are two different animals..
            OP wants a 'SD experience' with seafood..though I love me a good Neptune's and Locke-Ober, I feel that you can't get any more SD than Georges, 1500 Ocean, Jsix or Top of the Market.

            1. I'm not sure what you mean by the "San Diego" experience. San Diego doesn't really have a distinct culinary profile, IMO, and downtown you're really at a disadvantage as far as finding interesting food.

              I'm not sure how fancy an atmosphere you're looking for, but I'd actually suggest taking a cab up to Starlite. It's more suited to a younger group, they have fantastic cocktails (seriously, very good stuff), a good beer list so you can sample some of the local stuff, and their menu utilizes a lot of ingredients that are sourced locally, and they do some interesting things with those ingredients.

              The inside dining room has a really cool design, and there's a back patio as well if you'd like to sit outside.

              In terms of a place where locals go, Starlite is much more San Diego than Fish Market or a chain like Oceanaire.


              3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

              5 Replies
              1. re: Josh

                Josh, you are right.

                drbangha, ignore whatever I said. Do this.

                1. re: Josh

                  Actually if you go for good food, a lot of ingredients locally sourced, good cocktails, nice ambience I would choose Alchemy over Starlite. I really like Starlite but Alchemy has better food and cocktails.

                  1. re: honkman

                    I almost recommended Alchemy, as a matter of fact, but didn't because of how loud it is. I figured if it's a business dinner, they might need to be able to hear each other, and Alchemy is pretty tough volume-wise.

                    I do agree, though, that the food is better. Not sure I agree about the cocktails - I think they're probably about equal in that regard.

                    So, yes, to the OP - if you don't mind a somewhat louder environment, Alchemy is also a relatively short cab ride from downtown, and is a great option too. Plus you can go to Hamiltons Tavern after dinner and try a great selection of beers.

                    Hamiltons Tavern
                    1521 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102

                    1. re: Josh

                      Interesting, I wouldn't consider Alchemy quiet but we always had the feeling that Starlite was much louder (though we often sit at one of the corners at the back wall at Alchemy which might make it quieter than it really is). The cocktails are of course only personal preferences but similar to food we like unusual, creative flavor combination and the Starlite cocktails tend to be good but too conventional for us. It would also be nice if they would make them a bit stronger.

                      1. re: honkman

                        I think that explains a lot - I find the cocktails at Alchemy a little too strong for my taste. We usually go to Starlite early in the evening, and find it pretty quiet. I don't think I've been there late, or at least not in recent memory.

                        3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

                2. Its a short cab ride, but Avenue 5 would fit the bill. Good cocktails, great food, and the chef is a native San Diegan (important caveat - I grew up with the chef).

                  Avenue 5
                  2760 5th Ave Ste 100, San Diego, CA 92103

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jmtreg

                    Awsome advice everybody. I am circling the wagons now to figure out where to go based on the above, will definitely report back!

                  2. I promised I would never come back to the city, stay in the Gaslamp without a car and then ask you guys what to do.

                    Apologies for the mild thread-jacking, but I'm also a Boston hound, also staying in the Gaslamp, heh, flying in on a Friday night around 9:30pm, and my first instinct was to pay the price, whatever it was, to zip up to Kearney Mesa for some Japanese food (I really enjoyed Sakura on my last visit). Cab estimates are around $30-35 each way (am I wrong?) - $70 just for transport is maybe a bit too much for dinner. Currently considering Neighbourhood as a backup, not so much for the grub as much for the beer.

                    I'm pretty open to ideas - someplace I can have a drink, someplace that's serving food (or even just snacks) at 10pm, someplace that's reasonable for a solo diner (or potentially two folks - ie, sit at the bar), someplace that's not a Friday night party place (aka downtown douchey). Or should I grab a bunch of mini-mason jars and a bottle of vino to-go from Cucina Urbana and sit in the tub of my hotel room ?

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: Nab

                      Alchemy up in South Park is good, and is a closer cab ride than Kearny Mesa. They have good food, and they are next door to one of the best beer places in SD, Hamiltons Tavern. Neighborhood has good beer, but I think Alchemy is better food-wise.

                      Hamiltons Tavern
                      1521 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102

                      1. re: Josh

                        Thanks, Josh. I was initially horrified, almost offended, when I saw the menu of huaraches, falafels and Thai oyster shooters ... but I see that y'all have had positive experiences there, so I should go with an open mind. I would probably never find myself heading to a restaurant like this otherwise. Could be fun and interesting. Thanks.

                        1. re: Nab

                          The menu changes a lot. I had the huarache last time I was there, and it wasn't bad at all. I suggest their burger, it's very good. They source a lot of their ingredients locally, too.

                      2. re: Nab

                        Starlite is another option (it's also not too far away from the airport). They are open until 2am and have a limited (but still good) menu if you come after 10pm. Good cocktails and food.
                        If you like cocktails and some decent bar food the lounge/bar in the Grant Hotel in the Gaslamp is good. Some of the best and creative cocktails in SD. We tend to have late night cocktails recently there on Saturday nights

                        1. re: honkman

                          Wait - I thought I was supposed to suggest Starlite, and you suggest Alchemy. Isn't that the normal procedure here?

                          I would have mentioned Starlite, but the OP wants good beer, it seems. Hamiltons will definitely be a better bet than Starlite for that. Alchemy's beer selection is dull, but solid.

                          3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

                          1. re: Josh

                            I've picked up on this standard procedure myself, going through past threads. ;)

                            I was leaning towards beer because I think you guys excel in that department. I do enjoy craft cocktails, and had considered Starlite, but got scared away from the website for fear it was more a nightclub.

                            3175 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

                            1. re: Nab

                              You can't go wrong with either one.

                              1. re: Nab

                                Another option is the Neighborhood/Noble Experiment route downtown. Noble Experiment probably has the best cocktails in San Diego and it's hidden inside Neighborhood which has a pretty solid beer menu. The food and beer at Alchemy/Hamilton's are probably a little better but the cocktails at Noble Experiment exceed Alchemy.

                                Another option would be Noble Experiment/Neighborhood's sister restaurant Craft & Commerce in Little Italy.

                                1. re: Nab

                                  Starlite is not a nightclub at all. In fact, I am not sure one dance move has ever been pulled off inside the building.

                                  It is more of a hipster bar. Think tight jeans (on guys believe it or not) messy hair, piercings, girls with tattoos.

                                  The food is pretty good, if not great, and so are their cocktails.

                                  The place really separates itself in San Diego because they serve food (other than tacos) after 10pm. That alone makes this place invaluable.

                                  1. re: stevewag23

                                    Appreciate all the nice suggestions and will apologize right now for not heeding any of them. I would also apologize for going about things in entirely the wrong manner, if it wasn't for the fact that they turned out just fine. Having known that Nabe-san left Yakitori Yakyudori in Hillcrest, and having seen the reports of decline since his departure, I knew better, but I just couldn't help myself. Second-rate San Diegan yakitori is world-class yakitori in Boston. And what better way to deal with the edema of a cross-country flight than salty snacks and numerous pints of frosty beer ? They're not working with top quality ingredients, and it's clear the kid hadn't fully appreciated the art of tending smoke, but nevertheless, everything was tasty, heck, delicious even. After consuming the entire portion of chicken nuggets (cartilage) for dessert, I forced myself to walk back to the hotel. With a brief pitstop to Bankers Hill for a coupla pops (once I figured out how to operate the front door) - nice place, pretty sleepy for a Friday night. Thanks.

                                    Yakitori Yakyudori
                                    3739 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

                            2. re: Nab

                              if you're up for heading to Kearny Mesa, Yakyudori Yakitori and Ramen is open late and perfect for a solo diner.

                              8310 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92111