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Gaslamp downtown ethnic restaurant in May?

  • meuri Mar 28, 2012 12:40 PM
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I'm coming to San Diego for a conference in the beginning of May, and staying at Westgate Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. I like to eat, but it seems that Gaslamp isn't exactly the place to do it in. Unfortunately, I'm hemmed in by networking issues, which means a Sunday night dinner with 10 people which includes the vegetarian who is tired of salad and pasta, the lowcarbbutwon'tteatredmeat person, and the several people who would rather walk than take a cab. The tab is likely to be picked up by our former boss which is a nice gesture but doesn't get reimbursed, so I don't want to get too expensive.

The restaurants that have come up on posts here are places like Cowboy Star, Cafe Chloe, Dobson, and Donovan, but when I look at the menus the vegetarian options are boring or non existent, or the price seems high. I've made reservations at JSix, but I'm not entirely sure it's the right choice either (perhaps Searsucker instead?).

So.... help! My limitations for the right restaurant:
1. Has good vegetarian options: I would prefer a place that has creative hot vegetarian options, beyond salad, butternut squash ravioli or mushroom risotto.
2. Doesn't make the vegetarian and the lowcarbbutwon'teatredmeat person feel out of place, so a steakhouse is not a good choice
3. is within walking distance: at most one mile from the hotel of safe walking for the dedicated walkers of the group (can be a little farther if it's safe).
4. Is moderately priced - $30-40 a person, plus alcohol (no big drinkers in the group, so a creative cocktail menu is not important)
5. Can cope with a group of 10 that could go up to 12 people or down to 7, with a noise level that lets us talk comfortably on a Sunday night.
6. Has decent options for the avid eater (me!)

A good ethnic restaurant might bridge all of this - Indian, Japanese, Turkish, and Ethiopian has gone over well with the group, but these haven't popped up on Chowhound posts regarding Gaslamp. Not sure if it means that Gaslamp doesn't have ANY options, there aren't any GOOD options, or they're good but just pale in comparison to Cowboy Star and Cafe Chloe.

I would appreciate suggestions for this challenging group, and thanks in advance!

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  1. 1) The Gaslamp is wall-to-wall restaurants. You will, most likely, be able to find something tha tfits your requirements

    2) JSix is probably a good option for you since it does do a pretty decent farm-to-table.

    3) Menus posted on-line are not always the most current menu offered by the restaurant, just representatitve of what they serve.

    4) The trolley syetem makes getting around downtown fairy easy. The walkers can walk, the rest of you could hop the trolley.

    1. First off, the Westgate Hotel is not in the Gaslamp. It's just north of Broadway and about a 5 minute walk to the heart of the Gaslamp. I'd recommend against walking on Broadway to get to the Gaslamp. Much better to head down to Market, turn left and approach it that way if the Gaslam p is where anyone is headed.

      Jsix is a good choice, but is a bit of a walk from your hotel--maybe 12-15 minutes. I like Jsix but can't recall if they can comfortably accommodate 12 people at one table.

      I'm going to suggest a few places that are rarely if ever mentioned on CH. Saltbox is a very new restaurant close to your hotel. It's also north of Broadway on 5th Ave in the Hotel Palomar. Part of the same hotel group as Jsix and with the same farm-to-table theme. Check out the menu and see if it appeals. www.saltboxrestaurant.com

      Currant at the Hotel Sofia is also very close to your hotel, no more than a block or two. They try hard there, would have something for everyone in your group, and 12 people on a Sunday night could actually converse there. www.currantrestaurant.com

      Finally, Bice for modern Italian cuisine. Wonderful Northern Italian style dishes and a sleek space. 10 minute walk from your hotel. It's the kind of place where the vegetarian in your group could just ask that the Chef create something wonderful for him/her and they'd be happy to oblige. www.bicesandiego.com

      Hope this helps a little.

      1. Bandar is a good persian restaurant that should suit your needs nicely.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chezwhitey

          I second this idea, the food and service are good, and they should be able to accommodate a large party.

          Cohn restaurants are not popular here, but Blue Point could be an option. They have notations on their menu for "gluten free" items, and can handle large parties with ease.

        2. Thanks for the suggestions (and the orientation to the neighborhood)! I will take a look at the places you've suggested.

          1. Thanks again for the suggestions. I went to Cowboy Star for myself (sat at the chef's bar), JSix with two other people (great beet salad, the ravioli not so good, but I sampled the octopus and the scallops, which were stellar), and Bandar for the big group dinner.

            Bandar went over really well. Very chic setup which made me apprehensive about price (since prices were not on the online menus) but it was pretty reasonable. Portions were huge - we thought maybe an entree for every 1.5 persons based on reviews elsewhere, but really should have been 1 entree for every 2 persons. Avocado hummus was really great. Very tender chicken kababs, the lamb was pretty good as well, the black cherries and the fruit in the rice were nice touches. People liked the vegetarian eggplant stew although I found it too tart for me. They managed our 10-top pretty smoothly, appetizer plates came out immediately and the entrees took about 50 minutes from when we sat down.

            Again, thanks so much for the recommendations!