Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Dec 21, 2011 01:41 PM

First birthday dinner with boyfriend- Ruth Chris alternative?

I would like to have a special evening with him, but I'm not sure if I can afford Ruth Chris (he's mentioned it before as a favorite). I consulted their website, hoping for some email newsletter that could possibly result in a coupon, but no dice. We're both students, I'm unemployed, but if I can't think of anything else, I could try getting some dough from my mom. Anyway, we live in north county, and if anyone knows of a wonderful steak place that's slightly cheaper than Ruth Chris, it would be greatly appreciated. I know I could just check yelp, but I don't appreciate those reviews as much as the feedback I could get from this forum. Thanks for reading!

Ruth's Chris Steak House - Del Mar
11582 El Camino Real, San Diego, CA 92130

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I feel like a dodo head replying to my empty thread- but I just got an idea from another thread in this forum. I might take him to the Burger Lounge in La Jolla. He does love burgers, and we usually go to the Counter. According to some, the Burger Lounge is better than the Counter. I'll keep the Burger Lounge in mind.

    3 Replies
    1. re: crindy

      If you want a steakhouse option, Donovan's in LJ offers at 3 course menu for $50. pp. It's a pretty good deal. Given your employment situation etc, I'd opt for something a bit more low key and fun. In North Park, Ritual Tavern has great homemade food, an excellent burger, and a good craft beer selection. If your flexible, Bully's in Mission Valley has a burger and beer special on Monday's for $7.95.

      1. re: cstr

        The Donovan's downtown has been running a buy one entree get another free thru

        That location is more seafood than steak , but they have ribeye and filet on the menu. However you'll still pay about $45 for that one steak, and about $20 minimum for the required 2 glasses of wine so it's still pricey especially if you want to add a salad, sides or dessert.

        I like Josh's idea and save your $ to make a great steak at home.

        1. re: Island

          Thanks Island, I'm going to take advantage of that offer!

    2. I'd suggest a trip to Buga Korean BBQ in Clairemont. It's not terribly far from North County, and they have very tasty beef items that you grill at the table. They have steak, but also short rib and a marinated beef dish called bulgogi.

      It'll probably set you back about $40 for the meal, slightly more if you buy beer.

      For me that'd be a better option than trying to find an actual steakhouse meal on a bargain budget. Those are usually not very good, whereas Buga's food is quite tasty.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Josh

        Plus the whole cooking at the table together thing is kind of fun on a date as well. Good call, Josh.

        Burger Lounge makes excellent burgers, for what it is worth however...

      2. Honestly, any steakhouse after drinks and the side dishes will be over $100 for a dinner for two.

        Thus, my suggestion is to pick up some prime steaks and cook them at home, or try the bar/lounge menu as an alternative. Donavan's has a great happy hour with complimentary steak sandwiches. Thus, you could get the steakhouse experience for half the cost.

        1. You would save some dough by going to one of the 'cook it yourself' steakhouses such as La Jolla Strip Club, provided you're up for that and that fits within the area you are willing to drive to. Personally, I'd rather pay the extra to go to a place and let them cook it for me but this concept and social environment does have its appeal to some.

          1. Thank you so much for the feedback! I love these ideas, so I have a lot to think about. My budget is about $60-$80 bucks. One thing I forgot to mention is that for my bday, he took me to Rei Do Gado. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't give it 5 stars. Am I insane? I would just take him there since he likes it, but I figured for his bday I should be more original.

            6 Replies
            1. re: crindy

              Not a fan of Rei Do Gado. Overpriced, IMO.

              I think he'll like Buga. The meat is high-quality, and the marinades for the Kalbi and Bulgogi are delicious. They also have Berkshire pork belly which is delicious cooked on the grill.

              1. re: Josh

                +1 on Buga. The other option is Tsuruhashi, which is the Japanese version of Korean BBQ.
                I agree that any good steak dinner is going to be well above your price range.

                1. re: daantaat

                  Went to Buga tonight, inspired by my own post. Beef tongue is money.

                  1. re: Josh

                    will have to try beef tongue next time!

              2. re: crindy

                Rei do Gado is fair; more importantly the cost for both your meals--not including drinks--will already put you at the top of your budget, if not exceed it.

                Here's one more downtown meat suggestion if you can pull this off....The Grant Grill at the US Grant has an amazing happy hour that includes excellent Kobe sliders at half price up until 7PM daily. You get 3 high quality sliders made from Kobe beef for only $8. Throw in an order of steak fries that you can share with drink specials and a nice ambience and you can get a good meal within your budget--if your boyfriend will go for that venue as opposed to ordering off of a menu.

                1. re: crindy

                  and, just like magic, the daily deal gods throw you a bone in the form of a $50 for $100 daily deal at Donovan's Prime Seafood downtown. (I know these are supposed to be posted in the Coupons and Deals section, but it seemed very relevant and timely to crindy's post - flame me if you must). Good luck and hope your BF has a great birthday!