On a recent trip to San Diego my visit lasted about 60 hours. But I sampled a lot of great food during the allotted time. The Gas Lamp District was the first stop. One of the best things about the city is the climate. Even in November, outside seating is pleasant. The Gas Lamp District of San Diego has numerous establishments allowing the chance to dine alfresco. Parking is tough but when driving, opt for a city parking lot at the edge of the district.
Gas Lamp District
My favorite neighborhood bar is appropriately named The Neighborhood Bar. Although a change in chefs had occurred since the last visit, the pub maintains its friendly vibe. In addition to the patio tables, large sections of the exterior walls open up giving the inside tables an airy atmosphere. Further, the bar top extends to a two seat high top table on the sidewalk. Only once have I been able to score this spot. A large selection of tap beers is a draw and wine drinkers should have no trouble finding something to their liking. The menu is now burger based. Opting for appetizers, a dozen muscles were ordered before heading down the street for the main meal.
The center of the district is a short stroll away. Living in the center of the country, fresh seafood is a treat. But I also love Italian. Fortunately, San Diego offers a number of restaurants that combine the two. Chianti is one of these establishments. Halibut and salmon were complemented by grilled vegetables, polenta, risotto and an additional side order of pasta with traditional red sauce. This was my first visit to Chianti and I was happy. The couple at the next table were sharing the lasagna. It looked fantastic. They said it was their favorite and they ordered it whenever they visited San Diego. A highlight was watching the moon rise while having dinner and people watching. If you don’t like cannoli, you have the option of crossing the street to Ghirardelli’s famous for both chocolate and ice cream.
A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines served a great meal the second night. A gorgeous sunset as you can see in the photo provided a backdrop for dining. The large group I was with sampled pretty much the entire menu. Seafood ranged from Alaskan Halibut to Hawaiian Snapper. Roast Chicken and Seared Duck along with Prime Rib were other choices. I enjoyed the Apple Wood Smoked Niman Ranch Pork Chop with grilled vegetables. My favorite wine, Caymus Cabernet provided a nice finish to the meal.
Old Town San Diego
Old Town San Diego was the dinner destination on the third night of the visit. Unlike the previous nights, a lengthy wait for dinner occurred. Casa De Reyes is very popular. The large courtyard restaurant is surrounded by shops with numerous types of items. Olive oils, salsa and chocolate are just a few of the food items. You can watch while they make the fresh tortillas used at the restaurant. Items celebrating The Day of the Dead are also sold around the courtyard. Live musical entertainment in the center of the courtyard helps pass the time as well.
The food is worth the wait. The Reyes Appetizer Platter will spoil your appetite if your group is small, but it is amazing. The fresh corn and flour tortillas highlight the many varieties of burritos, enchiladas and soft shell tacos. If you like your food spicy just ask for their extra spicy hot sauce. I prefer tea to tequila but I saw plenty of margaritas served in the restaurant, some jumbo sized. However, the atmosphere was very family friendly. I had never visited Old Town before and I really enjoyed it. Plans are to go back in the future.
I hope you enjoyed this sampling of San Diego area eateries. While some places I visit one time, San Diego is a repeater. So if you have a favorite restaurant in San Diego, please share in the comments below. I would love to sample a new place on my next trip.