HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >


Your Top 5 restaurants in downtown San Diego?

Which places make your list for the best (however you define it) restaurants in downtown San Diego?

Here's mine (in no particular order):

Cafe Chloe
Knotty Barrell
Cowboy Star


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Cafe Chloe
    Cowboy Star
    Chocolat (for dessert)
    Grant Lounge (for cocktails)

    I wouldn't call Little Italy downtown

    4 Replies
    1. re: honkman

      How about in/around downtown? :-)

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Than you should define how far away from downtown - do Cucina Urbana and Avenue 5 still count ? If you drive on Broadway you need about 8-10 minutes to Alchemy, is it still close enough ?

          1. re: ipsedixit

            According to my memory when I worked on some relevant projects, in the early '90s Little Italy, then still a (fading) fishing district, was called Middletown and/or Harborview and was not considered part of downtown. I believe that the creation of "Little Italy" was a marketing move driven by real estate considerations, as was the official creation on city maps of "South Park" in 1999 (a Golden Hill secessionist movement due to South Park's higher home values/lack of Huffman six-packs).

    2. Bice


      Cowboy Star

      Grant Grill


      1. honkman and mcgrath are spot on with their choices..

        Top of the Market at the Fish Market Downtown..oyster bar and sushi bar
        Dobson's...mussel bisque en croute..sublime
        Starlite for drinks and late night

        I would add in the greater San Diego area..
        Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar
        Addison or Amaya at Grand Del Mar
        Eddie V's
        AR Valentien
        Bali Hai
        Tender Greens and Session Public

        Anyone been lately to Delicias in RSF?

        Ipsy...whatcha doing slumming in SD...taking over for Swift Justice Judge Jackie Glass..
        ; - )

        8 Replies
        1. re: Beach Chick

          and don't forget to take the H2O Taxi to Coronado and hit the Del for a night cap!

          1. re: cstr

            HA...smart ass!

            You've gotta get the sequence right cstr....mussel bisque en croute, water taxi, drinks at Top of the Hyatt, mai tai's at Bali Hai and then swing up to Hacienda de Vega in 10 minutes or less from downtown SD to Esco (gotta keep RB on his toes on Porsche time)

            1. re: Beach Chick

              Why ending the day on a low with HdV ?

              1. re: honkman

                I'm one of the few fans that love HdV...but I only have their apps and margs.
                I can swing by Delicias if it would make you feel better..
                ; )

              2. re: Beach Chick

                Ok, I think I got the sequence, bisque, H2O taxi, drinks etc. Whew, what a mental workout!

                1. re: cstr

                  When you're hanging with the big dogs, you've gotta be 'mentally' strong brother sledge..
                  ; - )

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Yah, next to you, I'm probably just a Pommie!

                    1. re: cstr

                      You're big man on campus...and don't you forget it!

          2. Surprised Extraordinary Desserts isn't making anyone's list

            3 Replies
            1. re: chetatkinsdiet

              I wouldn't call Hillcrest downtown and even though the cakes at ED are OK once a year I actually prefer Chocolat for the more late night dessert trip.

                1. re: chetatkinsdiet

                  Pretty cakes, but usually dry and bland.

                2. Dobsons
                  Cowboy Star
                  Athens Market
                  Tie between Grant Lounge & Prep Kitchen

                  1. Does this still stand? I'll be in downtown SD in a month, staying @ the Omni.

                    I've been to JSix & liked it so much that we're thinking of going again. But after reviewing some of the other threads, our shortlist (in addition to JSix) now includes Cafe Chloe, Saltbox or Dobson's for dinner. We're leaning toward moderately priced (not expensive) dining for this visit.

                    Thoughts? Thank you!

                    EDIT: ps/ will have car, but prefer to walk.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: OCAnn

                      Other than the Mussel Bisqque, which is sublime indeed, there is nothing about Dobson's that would warrant a visit.

                      A new restaurant opened since your original post, featuring chow worthy Baja Coastal cuisine (i.e., really kicked up Mexican food) is The Blind Burro, about a 2 minute walk from your hotel.

                      There's a decent Happy Hour at McCormick and Schmick's in your hotel.

                      And a 12 minute walk down the Promenade will get you to Lion's Share, with interesting dishes, intriquing cocktails and a money saving Happy Hour.

                      1. re: mcgrath

                        Arriving on Wednesday for five days--in the heat protection plan--and your comments on The Blind Burro have me totally sold.

                      2. re: OCAnn

                        Beg to differ with mcgrath about Dobsons. There are a number of moderately-priced dishes on their dinner menu, and you won't leave disappointed. Nice ambience, too. An excellent place to go downtown, away from the maddening crowds.

                        1. re: OCAnn

                          No, it does not still stand, at least not for me.

                          I think my new list would be the following (in no particular order):

                          Currant (esp. the Chef's Table)
                          Cowboy Star
                          Cucina Urbana

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I would tend to agree with that. I need to get back to Cowboy Star:(

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I was at Currant for Jury Duty and I agree it was a nice place. I didn't try enough to garner a big recommendation though. Can you go more into your experience there?

                              1. re: karaethon

                                I usually go for lunch, and the burgers (all of them) are very very good. Been once for dinner (chef's table) and was quite impressed with what the kitchen can do with vegetables, as well as the seafood items (e.g. scallops and monkfish)

                                Oh, and the tater tots are outstanding.

                          2. Cowboy Star
                            Cafe Chloe
                            Prep Kitchen Little Italy
                            Lion's Share