Solo Dining... staying in Gaslamp but have a car
Been in town for a few weeks on business and have had some really solid meals with colleagues - Sushi Ota (fantastic), Blue Water Seafood (long wait but very fresh), Prep Kitchen (call me crazy, but it was just "ok"), and a surprisingly good meal at Grant Grill. I'll be on my own for a few nights coming up and was wondering where my fellow Hounds thought I should dine solo (somewhere I can eat at the bar, maybe with some good bartenders and a not-too-stuffy atmosphere).
I'm staying at US Grant in the Gaslamp but have my rental car, so I'm pretty free to go places. I ate solo at the bar at George's in La Jolla and thought the experience was nice. Anywhere a bit closer I should definitely go? Maybe something walking distance from the hotel? Dobson's was on my short list... how's the atmosphere there? I've also been told to try Hodad's and Phil's BBQ.
I welcome any suggestions, and will of course report back with my thoughts!
Hodad's and Phils are nothing special at all and you will get people on this board who will tell you they are actively bad. I would definitely avoid Phils due to the long lines.
Downtown/Gaslamp area I would suggest the usual recommended places all of which are a short/medium walk from the hotel- Cafe Chloe, Cowboy Star, Basic (more of a club/lounge atmosphere) or Neighborhood - great craft beer selection there. I also liked my meals at Quality Social but have heard that it can be quite loud and crowded at times.
If you go to Dobsons and don't get the mussel bisque then Beach Chick will die a little on the inside.
Just FYI, if you really want to try Phil's (just ok in my opinion) you can bypass the line and walk straight into the bar with a party of any size. I have gone during lunch after the swap meet with 6 people and we walked past probably 150 people in line to sit in the bar. Bonus, you have a server in the bar and they bring your food to you instead of the cafeteria pick-up system! Not having to wait in line makes it a lot better and actually worth trying.
Cafe Chloe has a nice wine bar and some of the best food in SD (and is in the Gaslamp). Other options outside of Gaslamp for dining solo with a bar could be Cucina Urbana (they have a walk-in places every night at the bar or communal tables), Avenue5, Alchemy and Starlite
if you're looking for some social interaction as a solo diner, I think one of your best bets is a seat at the bar with a friendly itamae. My recent visit to Akinori was a great time, and Hillcrest isn't too far off from Gaslamp.
Love the US Grant and their bar is lovely..
Dobson's across the street is one of my faves...mussel bisque en croute is sublime..very SF vibe.
Fish Market Downtown next to the USS Midway at the Oyster Bar (steamers, chowder, Kumamota oysters, cheesy bread) or sushi bar is excellent call...do not go to the downstairs resto...very pedestrian...upstairs Top of the Market is pricey and excellent.
Bali Hai in Shelter Island...best mai tai and great views..get tixs across at Humphreys concert on the bay.
Point Loma Seafoods in Shelter Island/Point Loma..lunch for scallop or calamari sandwich
Tender Greens in Liberty Station behind the airport..awesome salads
Eddie V's in LJ
Marine Room LJ for drinks and apps in the bar
Cafe Chloe sit at the bar
Basic at the bar for great pizza
Kaito in Encinitas
Flavor Del Mar happy hour..drive up the coast from LJ
Top of the Hyatt in Gaslamp for after dinner drinks on the 40th floor
Water taxi over from Gaslamp to Candelas for happy hour..(Dobsons and water taxi)
Have fun and report back!