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San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition - General Atmosphere And Cosplay

23 Gaslamp Restaurants and Bars That Are Actually Worth Trying

The heart of San Diego houses a number of places to eat and drink — here are some standouts

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San Diego’s Gaslamp District is a mix of historic buildings and high-tech skyscrapers, packed with restaurants and bars that range from flashy nightclubs to low-key dives and everything in-between. Whether you’re downtown for Comic-Con, a work convention, or simply exploring the city, a visit to this lively neighborhood wouldn’t be complete without making a stop for a few cocktails, some bar bites, or a full-fledged meal. Here’s a list of restaurants and bars worth dining and drinking at in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Note: Map points are not ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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STK San Diego

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A steakhouse known across the world, STK’s locations include Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Milan, Miami, New York and more. Aside from its high quality chops and seafood, happy hour specials are also offered during which cocktails, bites and wine are priced at $3, $6 and $9. Themed specials like date night, which comes with a $69 meal for two, and the weekend brunch with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys are definitely worth checking out.

Steak seasoned with garlic butter with glass of scotch on the side STK Steakhouse/Instagram

Cafe 21 Gaslamp

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This Gaslamp gem draws its inspiration from the culture of Azerbaijan while still having a Californian flare that combines flavors from the west and east. Brunch is the biggest attraction, with small plates so diners can try more than one item; think Mediterranean options like lamb kofta omelets, walnut dill yogurt, feta and sumac and crudite mezze boards.

Short rib omelet in a small skillet with an espresso cocktail topped with a circular orange wedge Cafe 21/Facebook

Karina's Cantina Gaslamp

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A newer addition to the Gaslamp, Karina’s opened a splashy downtown location in July 2021. Nonetheless, this experienced local group is still specializing in traditional Mexican seafood plates like Karina’s ceviche and its mango jalapeno tuna sashimi.

Michelada, shrimp and Mexican ceviche. Karina’s Cantina Gaslamp/Facebook

Pushkin Russian Restaurant

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Named after the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin and one of the only Russian restaurants in the city, Pushkin impresses with its borscht, pelmeni, caviar (red or black) and Armenian dishes like grilled salad. All of this is best paired with its wide selection of specialty vodkas.

Assortment of colorful bites of Russian foods Pushkin Russian Restaurant/Instagram

Metl Bar Restaurant -Gaslamp

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This industry favorite offers a menu of Southern comfort food as well as some of the most skillfully crafted cocktails downtown. The bar is also known for its boozy ice cream concoctions, with creative flavors based on classic drinks.

Osteria Panevino

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Osteria Panevino has been serving homestyle Italian dishes in the Gaslamp for 30 years now, with mouthwatering standouts like fresh pasta and ossobuco Milanese are mouthwatering. Gluten free options are available too.

A variety of meals like gnocchi, salmon on a bed of puree, a steak and wine. Osteria Panevino/Instagram

Le Parfait Paris

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This locally-owned patisserie and cafe just developed a new menu called, “Les Nuits Parfaites,” that features French bistro eats like steak frites, smoked salmon tartare, baked brie and a wine selection with pours from France and California. For those with a sweet tooth, a rainbow of French macarons and other pastries are always on display.

French eats, a macaroon and wine Jesus Martinez/Le Parfait Paris San Diego

The Butcher's Cut

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This steakhouse is known for its prime cuts and a meat locker that is visible to visitors. From tomahawk steaks to t-bone steaks, all of the USDA Prime-Certified meats here are cut by hand in-house by the butcher then dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days in the meat locker.

Steak cut in slices on a wooden cutting board The Butcher’s Cut/Instagram

Werewolf

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A downtown hangout spot popular for its champagne and mimosa specials during brunch on the weekends, Werewolf also has a special night menu. It’s available from 3 p.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and includes elevated cocktails, appetizers, burritos, and burgers.

Barleymash

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The always-popular “Bloody Mary Bar” takes place every Saturday and Sunday at Barleymash, a perfect pairing for the menu’s creative bar. Don’t miss its speakeasy on the lower level called Ginger’s Gaslamp, which offers karaoke on Thursdays starting at 9 p.m.

Bloody mary bar. Barleymash San Diego

Bang Bang

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Sushi boats, sake, and specialty rolls headline the menu at Bang Bang, a restaurant that turns into a lively venue where producers, and new and underground artists perform after hours. Aside from its Asian fusion cuisine, visitors have fun taking a peek at the themed bathroom stalls — especially women, who have the Ryan Gosling bathroom to smirk at in between courses.

Red sushi sashimi laid out with toppings and a Hawaiian purple flower. Bang Bang San Diego/Instagram

Saltwater

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This dinner-only, yacht-themed seafood restaurant is a product of the San Diego Dining Group that brought Greystone, Panevino, and Osetra to the Gaslamp. Caviar, oysters, cuts of filet and happy hour options like lobster mac and cheese, and fish tacos are all must-haves.

Plate of oysters Saltwater/Facebook

The Smoking Gun SD

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The Smoking Gun has a variety of food options, including crowd-pleasing sandwiches, burgers and ribs. The laid-back venue recently expanded its space to include an arcade, where air hockey, retro games, and competitions like a 4th of July hotdog eating contest are featured.

The Smoking Gun San Diego

Rustic Root

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Find Southern-style comfort food like rustic fried chicken, corn fritters, and mac and cheese that also features weekend brunch on the rooftop. If you do dine at Rustic Root on the weekend, consider the Sunday Supper deal, where you get a free meal to take home when you buy a whole chicken and sides.

Brunch with mimosas. Rustic Root/Facebook

Tacos el Cabron

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A taco shop serving authentic Tijuana-inspired tacos, this place offers a variety of tacos: surf and turf with carne asada, shrimp, vegetarian portobello, and more.

Selection of tacos Tacos el Cabron/Facebook

Cafe 222

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A self-proclaimed “best breakfast” place in downtown, Cafe 222 is particularly known for its pancakes and waffles. Its gourmet waffles range from flavors like pumpkin and pecan to blueberry cornbread and strawberry shortcake.

Waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. Cafe 222/Facebook

The Nolen

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Perched on the 14th floor of the building, the Nolen has breathtaking views of the downtown skyline. The open-air rooftop bar lures crowds in with its cocktails made with locally-sourced small batch spirits starting at 5 p.m. and ending at midnight.

Two cocktails with a view of the skyscrapers. The Nolen/Instagram

Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine

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One of the anchor restaurants drawing diners into the Pendry Hotel, this elegant, two-level seafood restaurant centers on fresh catch and sustainable fish under the direction of executive chef and James Beard Smart Catch leader, JoJo Ruiz.

Sushi sashimi on a blue plate. Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine

Provisional Kitchen

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Provisional Kitchen has a more casual approach to its dining options. A marketplace hybrid, if you will, this eatery has breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner options available for takeout or dine-in. Fan favorites include Dungeness crab cakes, a 24 ounce bone-in ribeye, linguine with clams — all to be enjoyed on chic bistro tables. Also not to be missed: a Moet & Chandon champagne vending machine suitable for all meals.

Margherita pizza. Provisional Kitchen

Huntress

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This soaring and style space pairs up a prime steakhouse serving cuts like dry-aged porterhouse, tomahawk steaks, and ribeyes, as well as top-notch seafood with a bar featuring a bountiful collection of Japanese whisky.

Steak. Huntress/San Diego

Lumi by Akira Back

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This rooftop restaurant from world-renowned celebrity chef Akira Back brings Japanese and Peruvian-inspired Nikkei cuisine to San Diego. The food, set in an eye-catching atmosphere with views of downtown and outdoor fire pits, make it a worthwhile stop for brunch or dinner.

Sushi, nigiri, sashimi and other Japanese food options. Lumi by Akira Back

Water Grill San Diego

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Water Grill comes from one of the King’s Seafood family of restaurants, a family-owned and operated restaurant company that was established over 70 years ago. With an constantly-evolving specials menu, this restaurant also has a raw bar and currently, Maryland soft shell crabs from Crisfield, Maryland.

Meze Greek Fusion

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Meze stands out among the Greek and Mediterranean restaurants in the city that are worth mentioning. With vast spaces for large events, it’s a great option for traditional Greek foods done with a California twist.

Greek food. Meze Greek Fusion/Facebook

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STK San Diego

Steak seasoned with garlic butter with glass of scotch on the side STK Steakhouse/Instagram

A steakhouse known across the world, STK’s locations include Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Milan, Miami, New York and more. Aside from its high quality chops and seafood, happy hour specials are also offered during which cocktails, bites and wine are priced at $3, $6 and $9. Themed specials like date night, which comes with a $69 meal for two, and the weekend brunch with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys are definitely worth checking out.

Steak seasoned with garlic butter with glass of scotch on the side STK Steakhouse/Instagram

Cafe 21 Gaslamp

Short rib omelet in a small skillet with an espresso cocktail topped with a circular orange wedge Cafe 21/Facebook

This Gaslamp gem draws its inspiration from the culture of Azerbaijan while still having a Californian flare that combines flavors from the west and east. Brunch is the biggest attraction, with small plates so diners can try more than one item; think Mediterranean options like lamb kofta omelets, walnut dill yogurt, feta and sumac and crudite mezze boards.

Short rib omelet in a small skillet with an espresso cocktail topped with a circular orange wedge Cafe 21/Facebook

Karina's Cantina Gaslamp

Michelada, shrimp and Mexican ceviche. Karina’s Cantina Gaslamp/Facebook

A newer addition to the Gaslamp, Karina’s opened a splashy downtown location in July 2021. Nonetheless, this experienced local group is still specializing in traditional Mexican seafood plates like Karina’s ceviche and its mango jalapeno tuna sashimi.

Michelada, shrimp and Mexican ceviche. Karina’s Cantina Gaslamp/Facebook

Pushkin Russian Restaurant

Assortment of colorful bites of Russian foods Pushkin Russian Restaurant/Instagram

Named after the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin and one of the only Russian restaurants in the city, Pushkin impresses with its borscht, pelmeni, caviar (red or black) and Armenian dishes like grilled salad. All of this is best paired with its wide selection of specialty vodkas.

Assortment of colorful bites of Russian foods Pushkin Russian Restaurant/Instagram

Metl Bar Restaurant -Gaslamp

This industry favorite offers a menu of Southern comfort food as well as some of the most skillfully crafted cocktails downtown. The bar is also known for its boozy ice cream concoctions, with creative flavors based on classic drinks.

Osteria Panevino

A variety of meals like gnocchi, salmon on a bed of puree, a steak and wine. Osteria Panevino/Instagram

Osteria Panevino has been serving homestyle Italian dishes in the Gaslamp for 30 years now, with mouthwatering standouts like fresh pasta and ossobuco Milanese are mouthwatering. Gluten free options are available too.

A variety of meals like gnocchi, salmon on a bed of puree, a steak and wine. Osteria Panevino/Instagram

Le Parfait Paris

French eats, a macaroon and wine Jesus Martinez/Le Parfait Paris San Diego

This locally-owned patisserie and cafe just developed a new menu called, “Les Nuits Parfaites,” that features French bistro eats like steak frites, smoked salmon tartare, baked brie and a wine selection with pours from France and California. For those with a sweet tooth, a rainbow of French macarons and other pastries are always on display.

French eats, a macaroon and wine Jesus Martinez/Le Parfait Paris San Diego

The Butcher's Cut

Steak cut in slices on a wooden cutting board The Butcher’s Cut/Instagram

This steakhouse is known for its prime cuts and a meat locker that is visible to visitors. From tomahawk steaks to t-bone steaks, all of the USDA Prime-Certified meats here are cut by hand in-house by the butcher then dry-aged for a minimum of 21 days in the meat locker.

Steak cut in slices on a wooden cutting board The Butcher’s Cut/Instagram

Werewolf

A downtown hangout spot popular for its champagne and mimosa specials during brunch on the weekends, Werewolf also has a special night menu. It’s available from 3 p.m. until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and includes elevated cocktails, appetizers, burritos, and burgers.

Barleymash

Bloody mary bar. Barleymash San Diego

The always-popular “Bloody Mary Bar” takes place every Saturday and Sunday at Barleymash, a perfect pairing for the menu’s creative bar. Don’t miss its speakeasy on the lower level called Ginger’s Gaslamp, which offers karaoke on Thursdays starting at 9 p.m.