Casual eating in the gaslamp
May 29, 2006 4:24 PM   Subscribe

I need recommendations for a casual (read: jeans) restaurant in San Diego's Gaslamp district. My only other requirement is that they take reservations, as we will be a party of 8.
posted by rorycberger to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
I'm in the Gaslamp every year for Comicon, so here's some favorites-

Do you eat Thai? Royal Thai Cuisine never disappoints. The drinks are insane if you like that kind of thing, vegetarian options are good.

Sushi Itto was pretty good and I'm not a major sushi fan. Accommodates big groups:

I've never been to Buca de Beppo, but my friends love it. It's a chain, but the food and atmosphere is supposed to be great:


This is not a answer to your main question, but FYI- Half the reason we go back each year is to get breakfast at Cine Café. It's a weird tradition and probably my favorite weird little deli. It's right near Hilton Gaslamp:

The food court in the big pink mall is also surprisingly good, for fast food. It's fun to sit out in the open and just pick n' choose. Lots of west coast-only stuff that is a treat if you're not from around there.
posted by clango at 5:18 PM on May 29, 2006

Oops, my links could be cleaner... but they should work.
posted by clango at 5:19 PM on May 29, 2006

If you don't mind going up to hillcrest (not in walking distance, but not that far out of the way), you'll find the Thai food to be cheaper and superior. I reccomend Lotus Thai on 6th avenue or Celadon on University.
posted by beerbajay at 6:42 PM on May 29, 2006

Response by poster: I guess I do have a few more requirements. I'll eat anything (and love sushi) but some of the other people have more narrow appetites, so Thai and sushi are not options. Buca Di Beppo is ok, but we have several of them in the bay area, so I'd rather go somewhere different.
posted by rorycberger at 7:31 PM on May 29, 2006

Dakota Grill & Spirits at 903 5th Ave is fantastic. I've never tried placing reservations but I'd be surprised if they didn't take them.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:12 PM on May 29, 2006

Dick's Last Resort. Cuisine is strictly burgers and fries, but the service is rude enough (in a campy way) that you'll still be talking about it years later.

If you're going at night, though, go to Croce's and hear some music while you're eating.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:15 PM on May 29, 2006

Dick's Last Resort. Cuisine is strictly burgers and fries, but the service is rude enough (in a campy way) that you'll still be talking about it years later.

I seriously doubt that Dick's takes reservations, seeing as they barely have tables to reserve. Everything is a community table.

The Gaslamp district is pretty casual to begin with. I'm really having a hard time thinking of someplace where you would really feel uncomfortable wearing jeans. Sure, the restaurants may look all fancy and pricey, but it's San Diego, and you're in the biggest tourist trap part of town there is. If you're wearing jeans and a polo shirt, you'll be fine just about anyplace. The nice restaurants are uptown on 5th and 6th aves. Be careful about booking your reservation too late in the evening, as it's entirely likely that your restaurant will turn into a dance club around 9pm.

What kind of food are looking for? The trend in the Gaslamp now is steak places (Gaslamp Strip Club, Hustler, etc.), a couple years ago it was trattorias with silly Italian food, some of which still survive. Most places are either chains (House of Blues, Yardhouse, Buca, Rock Bottom Brewery, Friday's) or owned by restaurant management companies that own more than one joint in town.
posted by LionIndex at 9:07 AM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Italian would be good, or standard American/California cuisine, french bistro type fare, pub food, whatever. It seems like most of the websites for Italian Trattorias (e.g. Asti, De Medici) seem to be selling them as upscale - are they really more casual? Steak places are probably a bit fancier (and more expensive) than we want. I'd like to avoid chains and get a little local flavor. Dakota's looks like it might be a winner, but I'll hold out a little longer and see if anyone has other recommendations before I decide.
posted by rorycberger at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2006

You could try Rice, which is the restaurant in the W hotel...
posted by samsarah at 12:43 PM on May 30, 2006

I'd like to avoid chains and get a little local flavor.

Then you really have no business in the Gaslamp Quarter, period. This is like asking which bar in Times Square is the quintessential NY bar and hoping that ESPNZone is the answer, know what I mean?

Seriously--the steak places are not fancy steak houses. They may be a little expensive, but probably not dressy. The trattorias are probably a little more upscale than other restaurants in the area, but this is still a relative measurement. In the Gaslamp in the summer, I would really not worry about looking underdressed, but it sounds like the Dakota is probably the best bet for what you're looking for.

Or, on the other hand, perhaps chains and mindless transient consumer trash ARE the flavor of San Diego, and you really need to go to Friday's.
posted by LionIndex at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2006

Response by poster: Just made reservations at Dakota's. Thanks for the help everyone.
posted by rorycberger at 3:38 PM on May 30, 2006

Dakota's is fine, I guess.

I would have told you to go to Rei do Gado.

You can eat anything there, especially meat. But, if you don't eat meat, it's got the fanciest, most tropically exotic buffet in San Diego. Plus, caipirinhas are tasty.
posted by billtron at 5:27 PM on May 30, 2006

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