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22 Classic San Diego Restaurants and Bars

Cherish these timeless gems

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With so many new restaurants opening in San Diego it’s time to shine a spotlight on some of our most classic local restaurants and bars, including several spots that can claim over 50 years in operation. While some beloved establishments have sadly shuttered, (RIP Albie’s Beef Inn, Adam’s Steak and Eggs, and Anthony’s Fish Grotto) others have admirably withstood the test of time. Some restaurants have been updated and made more contemporary while others have steadfastly held to tradition; all hold a soft spot in many San Diegan hearts.

Though some of the retro food served at these classic joints may not be universally appealing for the modern palate, they all deliver a taste of history.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Tip Top Meats

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6118 Paseo Del Norte
Carlsbad, CA 92011
(760) 438-2620
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Launched by a German sausage master in 1967, this North County institution combines a European market and delicatessen with a restaurant serving hearty platters of meat, potatoes, and sauerkraut.

2. Tony's Jacal

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Tucked away in a residential Solana Beach neighborhood, Tony Jacal's has been supplying traditional Mexican food and margaritas to locals since 1946.

3. Marine Room

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2000 Spindrift Dr
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 459-7222
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Originally built in 1916 as the Spindrift Inn, The Marine Room has been a special occasion spot since the restaurant opened in 1941.

4. Harry's Coffee Shop

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7545 Girard Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-7381
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This La Jolla gem has served breakfast all day since 1960.

5. Pernicano's

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1588 E Main St
El Cajon, CA 92021

Established in El Cajon in 1946, the family owned restaurant serves a menu of hearty Italian-American fare.

6. Old Trieste

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2335 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 276-1841
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Many Eater readers confessed to having a soft spot for this chandelier-lit Italian eatery that's a member of the over-50 club.

7. Saska's Steaks and Seafood

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3768 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 488-7255
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This steak and seafood house, which has been a beachside institution since 1951, underwent a refresh last year.

8. Baci Restaurant

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1955 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 275-2094
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Opened in the late 70s, this gracious Italian restaurant's tuxedoed waiters help to set the elegant mood.

9. San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

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2633 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 295-0156
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Nostalgia is served by the plateful at this no-frills comfort food spot that has moved locations a couple of times but was first established in the late 1930s.

10. Red Fox Room

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2223 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 297-1313
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Key pieces of this steakhouse and piano bar date back to England in the 1560s, though it didn't open in the Lafayette hotel until the late 1950s. Get your fix before its forced to move.

11. El Indio

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3695 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 299-0333
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Though there are many Mexican options that have now eclipsed this India Street staple, which opened in 1940, El Indio claims to have contributed to culinary history by inventing the rolled taco.

12. Imperial House Continental Restaurant

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505 Kalmia St
San Diego, CA
(619) 234-3525
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Old school service and dishes served tableside are the hallmarks of the retro restaurant. And who doesn't love the song stylings of Rick Lyon?

13. Hob Nob Hill

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2271 1st Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-8176
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San Diegans have started their mornings at this Bankers Hill stahlwart since the diner first starting slinging hash in the mid-1940s.

14. The Waterfront Bar & Grill

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2044 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-9656
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Hamburgers and hangover-curing breakfasts are the specialty of this watering hole, which was first established in 1933.

15. Tobey's 19th Hole Restaurant

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2600 Golf Course Dr
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 239-1660

Open in 1934, this clubhouse specializes in boozy brunches served with a prime view of downtown San Diego.

16. Filippi's Pizza Grotto

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1747 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-5094
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It has spawned multiple locations throughout San Diego and beyond, with the original Little Italy outpost drawing crowds that line up for simple, red-sauced Italian fare.

17. Point Loma Seafoods

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2805 Emerson St
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 223-1109
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This always-bustling seafood shop and casual eatery first opened in 1963 and has been steadily expanding it operation ever since.

18. Bali Hai Restaurant

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2230 Shelter Island Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 222-1181
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Still family-owned and operated after more than 50 years, this iconic restaurant underwent a facelift and a menu refresh in recent times but the tiki-inspired drinks remain just as potently memorable.

19. Turf Supper Club

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1116 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 234-6363
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Hollywood movie stars and legendary rat packers once frequented this Golden Hill piano bar and DIY steakhouse that's been open since 1950.

20. Grant Grill

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326 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 744-2077
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Serving up fine, chef-driven food that can go toe-to-toe with any newly-opened hotpost, this historic spot was first established in 1951.

21. Dobson's Bar & Restaurant

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965 Broadway Cir
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-6771
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Countless deals have undoubtedly been made at this decades-old power lunch spot, more than likely over a bowl of the eatery's signature mussel bisque.

22. Las Cuatro Milpas

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1875 Logan Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
(619) 234-4460

Loyal patrons of one of San Diego's oldest eateries (established in the early 1930s) are happy to wait in line to get their fix of homestyle Mexican cooking.

The Breakfast Scene at Las Cuatro Milpas, Tuesday at 9 a.m. Lyumila Zotova

1. Tip Top Meats

6118 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92011

Launched by a German sausage master in 1967, this North County institution combines a European market and delicatessen with a restaurant serving hearty platters of meat, potatoes, and sauerkraut.

6118 Paseo Del Norte
Carlsbad, CA 92011

2. Tony's Jacal

Solana Beach, CA

Tucked away in a residential Solana Beach neighborhood, Tony Jacal's has been supplying traditional Mexican food and margaritas to locals since 1946.

3. Marine Room

2000 Spindrift Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037

Originally built in 1916 as the Spindrift Inn, The Marine Room has been a special occasion spot since the restaurant opened in 1941.

2000 Spindrift Dr
La Jolla, CA 92037

4. Harry's Coffee Shop

7545 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037

This La Jolla gem has served breakfast all day since 1960.

7545 Girard Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037

5. Pernicano's

1588 E Main St, El Cajon, CA 92021

Established in El Cajon in 1946, the family owned restaurant serves a menu of hearty Italian-American fare.

1588 E Main St
El Cajon, CA 92021

6. Old Trieste

2335 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

Many Eater readers confessed to having a soft spot for this chandelier-lit Italian eatery that's a member of the over-50 club.

2335 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110

7. Saska's Steaks and Seafood

3768 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109

This steak and seafood house, which has been a beachside institution since 1951, underwent a refresh last year.

3768 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109

8. Baci Restaurant

1955 Morena Blvd, San Diego, CA 92110

Opened in the late 70s, this gracious Italian restaurant's tuxedoed waiters help to set the elegant mood.

1955 Morena Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110

9. San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

2633 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

Nostalgia is served by the plateful at this no-frills comfort food spot that has moved locations a couple of times but was first established in the late 1930s.

2633 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

10. Red Fox Room

2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104

Key pieces of this steakhouse and piano bar date back to England in the 1560s, though it didn't open in the Lafayette hotel until the late 1950s. Get your fix before its forced to move.

2223 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104

11. El Indio

3695 India St, San Diego, CA 92103

Though there are many Mexican options that have now eclipsed this India Street staple, which opened in 1940, El Indio claims to have contributed to culinary history by inventing the rolled taco.

3695 India St
San Diego, CA 92103

12. Imperial House Continental Restaurant

505 Kalmia St, San Diego, CA

Old school service and dishes served tableside are the hallmarks of the retro restaurant. And who doesn't love the song stylings of Rick Lyon?

505 Kalmia St
San Diego, CA

13. Hob Nob Hill

2271 1st Ave., San Diego, CA 92101

San Diegans have started their mornings at this Bankers Hill stahlwart since the diner first starting slinging hash in the mid-1940s.

2271 1st Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

14. The Waterfront Bar & Grill

2044 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

Hamburgers and hangover-curing breakfasts are the specialty of this watering hole, which was first established in 1933.

2044 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

15. Tobey's 19th Hole Restaurant

2600 Golf Course Dr, San Diego, CA 92102

Open in 1934, this clubhouse specializes in boozy brunches served with a prime view of downtown San Diego.

2600 Golf Course Dr
San Diego, CA 92102

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16. Filippi's Pizza Grotto

1747 India St, San Diego, CA 92101

It has spawned multiple locations throughout San Diego and beyond, with the original Little Italy outpost drawing crowds that line up for simple, red-sauced Italian fare.

1747 India St
San Diego, CA 92101

17. Point Loma Seafoods

2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

This always-bustling seafood shop and casual eatery first opened in 1963 and has been steadily expanding it operation ever since.

2805 Emerson St
San Diego, CA 92106

18. Bali Hai Restaurant

2230 Shelter Island Dr., San Diego, CA 92106

Still family-owned and operated after more than 50 years, this iconic restaurant underwent a facelift and a menu refresh in recent times but the tiki-inspired drinks remain just as potently memorable.

2230 Shelter Island Dr.
San Diego, CA 92106

19. Turf Supper Club

1116 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102

Hollywood movie stars and legendary rat packers once frequented this Golden Hill piano bar and DIY steakhouse that's been open since 1950.

1116 25th St
San Diego, CA 92102

20. Grant Grill

326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

Serving up fine, chef-driven food that can go toe-to-toe with any newly-opened hotpost, this historic spot was first established in 1951.

326 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

21. Dobson's Bar & Restaurant

965 Broadway Cir, San Diego, CA 92101