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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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Tip Top Meats

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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.

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.

Marine Room

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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.

Harry's Coffee Shop

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

Pernicano's

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

Old Trieste

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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.

Saska's Steaks and Seafood

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

Baci Restaurant

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

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

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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.

Red Fox Room

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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.

El Indio

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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.

Imperial House Continental Restaurant

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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?

Hob Nob Hill

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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.

The Waterfront Bar & Grill

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

Tobey's 19th Hole Restaurant

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

Filippi's Pizza Grotto

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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.

Point Loma Seafoods

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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.

Bali Hai Restaurant

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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.

Turf Supper Club

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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.

Grant Grill

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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.

Dobson's Bar & Restaurant

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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.

Las Cuatro Milpas

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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

Tip Top Meats

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.

Tony's Jacal

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

Marine Room

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

Harry's Coffee Shop

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

Pernicano's

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

Old Trieste

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

Saska's Steaks and Seafood

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

Baci Restaurant

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

San Diego Chicken Pie Shop

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.

Red Fox Room

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.

El Indio

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.

Imperial House Continental Restaurant

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?

Hob Nob Hill

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

The Waterfront Bar & Grill

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

Tobey's 19th Hole Restaurant

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

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Filippi's Pizza Grotto

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.

Point Loma Seafoods