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Selection of small bites Cafe 21 Gaslamp/Facebook

21 Gaslamp Restaurants and Bars That Are Actually Worth Trying

There are a lot of places to eat in San Diego’s busiest downtown neighborhood—here are the best

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State restrictions are slowly being lifted and one of San Diego’s busiest neighborhoods is coming to life again. Restaurants and bars with limited hours or that were temporarily closed are again slinging out beers, cocktails, bar bites, and more. Choices abound with so many places in one concentrated area but don’t mistake quantity for quality. Here are the places worth dining and drinking in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Note: Map points are organized geographically—they are not ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. STK San Diego

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600 F St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 354-5988
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One of the newest arrivals to the Gaslamp is STK, which arrives to San Diego by way of Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Ibiza, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Orlando, Miami, Toronto and its flagship of New York. High quality chops and seafood are on the menu and a party vibe is a given.

Steak surrounded by condiments STK San Diego/Facebook

2. Cafe 21 Gaslamp

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802 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 795-0721
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Like its Adam Avenue sibling of the same name, this Gaslamp location draws from the culture of Azerbaijam culture as inspiration for its menu. Think Mediterrean fried rice with pulled lamb, walnut dill yogurt, feta and sumac or crudite mezze board. 

3. Pushkin Russian Restaurant

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750 Sixth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 496-1908
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One of San Diego’s only destinations for Russian food, Pushkin serves up quality borscht, pelmeni, Armenian dishes like grilled salad and a hearty selection of specialty vodkas.

Herring over garlic infused beets, potatoes, topped with quail egg Pushkin Russian Restaurant/Facebook

4. Metl Bar & Restaurant

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748 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 546-6424
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Southern food like chicken fried steak as well as other classic bar fare headlines the menu at this spot but save room for the restaurant’s small-batch boozy ice cream. Enjoy on site or take a few mini pints, ice cream sandwiches, cocktail lickers and cocktail in a cone to go such as the Mezcal PB cup.

Pint of boozy ice cream Metl Bar & Restaurant/Facebook

5. Osteria Panevino

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722 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 595-7959
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Osteria Panevino is one of the best quality Italian restaurants in downtown San Diego—their fresh pasta and osso buco are not to be missed. A bonus: they provide gluten free options, too.

6. Le Parfait Paris

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555 G St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 245-4457
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The bright lights of Paris is far from San Diego but this patisserie brings a taste of France to the area. Breakfast combos, gelatos and the full spectrum of French macarons are on full display ready for dine in or to go.

French pastries on display Le Parfait Paris/San Diego

7. The Butcher's Cut

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644 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 235-8144
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The Butcher’s Cut features prime cuts and a meat locker that is able to be viewed by the public. The dinner menu includes a one pound angus burger featuring patties topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms, avocado, bacon, and chipotle aioli.

8. Werewolf

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627 Fourth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-0094
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This 4th Avenue hangout gets props for its bar fare and on the weekend, a popular spot for its champagne and mimosa specials during brunch. The special night menu available 3 pm until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, features specially priced cocktails, apps, burritos and burgers.

9. Saltwater

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565 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 525-9990
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From the San Diego Dining Group that brought Greystone, Panevino, and Osetra to the Gaslamp comes this seafood-driven restaurant with a yacht theme. The dinner-only restaurant features caviar, oysters plus cuts of filet alongside its seafood options.

Plate of oysters Saltwater/Facebook

10. The Smoking Gun SD

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555 Market St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 233-3836
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The Smoking Gun has a stacked bar menu but is particularly worth a visit for its craft cocktails, which are easily some of the best in the area. The stacked menu has a selection of boilermakers (cocktails with beer) and to-share options, which come served in disco balls.

11. Taka Restaurant

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555 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 338-0555
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There are no bells and whistles at Taka—just good, fresh fish and a classic sushi menu. The rolls are solid but the quality sashimi and nigiri options are the main draw.

Front of Taka restaurant Taka Restaurant

12. Tacos el Cabron

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532 Fourth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 501-7752
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Tacos El Cabron was opened by an Argentine man who had spent five years living in Tijuana eating and loving tacos before opening up shop in San Diego. Favorites include anything with shrimp—be it a shrimp taco or a surf and turf with carne asada, and for vegetarians, the portobello taco is a hit.

Selection of tacos Tacos el Cabron/Facebook

13. Cafe 222

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222 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 236-9902
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A city-wide destination for breakfast, Cafe 222 is particularly known for its ever-changing specials—particularly its pancakes and waffles. Reservations are not taken so plan accordingly.

Waffle on a plate Cafe 222

14. The Nolen

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453 Sixth Ave #7007
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 796-6536
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Come for the stunning views of Downtown, stay for the cocktails incorporating locally made small batch spirits at this open air rooftop bar. Hours are 5 pm until midnight meaning you can enjoy the sunset with a drink in your hand.

Cocktail and appetizers The Nolen/Facebook

15. Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine

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435 Fifth Ave #2
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 738-7200
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Nestled in the Pendry Hotel is Lionfish, an upscale seafood-centric restaurant with a focus on fresh-catch and sustainable fish.

16. Provisional Kitchen

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425 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 738-7300
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Also at the Pendry, which prides itself on being a food-centric hotel, is Provisional Kitchen, its more casual, all-day eatery that’s high on fresh produce and chic design.

17. Huntress

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376 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 329-4868
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Steakhouses are plentiful in the area and the newest of the bunch caters to those looking for a prime cut with a wide selection of Japanese whiskey. Along with dry-aged porterhouse, tomahawk steaks and ribeyes, the restaurant also boasts an impressive seafood selection.

Steak tartare Huntress/Facebook

18. Water Grill San Diego

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615 J St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 717-6992
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Part of the King’s Seafood family of restaurants, a family-owned and operated restaurant company that’s been around for over 70 years, Water Grill specializes in plates of the freshest catch. A stacked raw bar and creative mains complement an ever-changing specials menu.

Selection of seafood Courtesy photo

19. Meze Greek Fusion

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345 Sixth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 550-1600
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While most of the world’s cuisines are well-represented in San Diego, Greek and other Mediterranean food are not often found among them. Meze is a quality Greek option with plenty of space for large events, to boot.

Glass of white wine and lamb chops Meze Greek Fusion/Facebook

20. barleymash

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600 Fifth Ave #6916
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 255-7373
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Loaded fries, flatbreads, burgers and spins on tried-and-true mac ’n’ cheese are the the cornerstones of this menu but there’s enough variety and creativity, it’s worth a stop. Don’t miss out on shareable app like the duck empanadas or signature cocktails.

Plate of duck empanadas barleymash/Facebook

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1. STK San Diego

600 F St, San Diego, CA 92101
Steak surrounded by condiments STK San Diego/Facebook

One of the newest arrivals to the Gaslamp is STK, which arrives to San Diego by way of Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Ibiza, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Milan, Orlando, Miami, Toronto and its flagship of New York. High quality chops and seafood are on the menu and a party vibe is a given.

600 F St
San Diego, CA 92101

2. Cafe 21 Gaslamp

802 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Like its Adam Avenue sibling of the same name, this Gaslamp location draws from the culture of Azerbaijam culture as inspiration for its menu. Think Mediterrean fried rice with pulled lamb, walnut dill yogurt, feta and sumac or crudite mezze board. 

802 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

3. Pushkin Russian Restaurant

750 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Herring over garlic infused beets, potatoes, topped with quail egg Pushkin Russian Restaurant/Facebook

One of San Diego’s only destinations for Russian food, Pushkin serves up quality borscht, pelmeni, Armenian dishes like grilled salad and a hearty selection of specialty vodkas.

750 Sixth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

4. Metl Bar & Restaurant

748 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Pint of boozy ice cream Metl Bar & Restaurant/Facebook

Southern food like chicken fried steak as well as other classic bar fare headlines the menu at this spot but save room for the restaurant’s small-batch boozy ice cream. Enjoy on site or take a few mini pints, ice cream sandwiches, cocktail lickers and cocktail in a cone to go such as the Mezcal PB cup.

748 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

5. Osteria Panevino

722 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Osteria Panevino is one of the best quality Italian restaurants in downtown San Diego—their fresh pasta and osso buco are not to be missed. A bonus: they provide gluten free options, too.

722 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

6. Le Parfait Paris

555 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
French pastries on display Le Parfait Paris/San Diego

The bright lights of Paris is far from San Diego but this patisserie brings a taste of France to the area. Breakfast combos, gelatos and the full spectrum of French macarons are on full display ready for dine in or to go.

555 G St
San Diego, CA 92101

7. The Butcher's Cut

644 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

The Butcher’s Cut features prime cuts and a meat locker that is able to be viewed by the public. The dinner menu includes a one pound angus burger featuring patties topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms, avocado, bacon, and chipotle aioli.

644 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

8. Werewolf

627 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

This 4th Avenue hangout gets props for its bar fare and on the weekend, a popular spot for its champagne and mimosa specials during brunch. The special night menu available 3 pm until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, features specially priced cocktails, apps, burritos and burgers.

627 Fourth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

9. Saltwater

565 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Plate of oysters Saltwater/Facebook

From the San Diego Dining Group that brought Greystone, Panevino, and Osetra to the Gaslamp comes this seafood-driven restaurant with a yacht theme. The dinner-only restaurant features caviar, oysters plus cuts of filet alongside its seafood options.

565 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

10. The Smoking Gun SD

555 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101

The Smoking Gun has a stacked bar menu but is particularly worth a visit for its craft cocktails, which are easily some of the best in the area. The stacked menu has a selection of boilermakers (cocktails with beer) and to-share options, which come served in disco balls.

555 Market St
San Diego, CA 92101

11. Taka Restaurant

555 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Front of Taka restaurant Taka Restaurant

There are no bells and whistles at Taka—just good, fresh fish and a classic sushi menu. The rolls are solid but the quality sashimi and nigiri options are the main draw.

555 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

12. Tacos el Cabron

532 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Selection of tacos Tacos el Cabron/Facebook

Tacos El Cabron was opened by an Argentine man who had spent five years living in Tijuana eating and loving tacos before opening up shop in San Diego. Favorites include anything with shrimp—be it a shrimp taco or a surf and turf with carne asada, and for vegetarians, the portobello taco is a hit.

532 Fourth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

13. Cafe 222

222 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Waffle on a plate Cafe 222

A city-wide destination for breakfast, Cafe 222 is particularly known for its ever-changing specials—particularly its pancakes and waffles. Reservations are not taken so plan accordingly.

222 Island Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

14. The Nolen

453 Sixth Ave #7007, San Diego, CA 92101
Cocktail and appetizers The Nolen/Facebook

Come for the stunning views of Downtown, stay for the cocktails incorporating locally made small batch spirits at this open air rooftop bar. Hours are 5 pm until midnight meaning you can enjoy the sunset with a drink in your hand.

453 Sixth Ave #7007
San Diego, CA 92101

15. Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine

435 Fifth Ave #2, San Diego, CA 92101

Nestled in the Pendry Hotel is Lionfish, an upscale seafood-centric restaurant with a focus on fresh-catch and sustainable fish.

435 Fifth Ave #2
San Diego, CA 92101

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16. Provisional Kitchen

425 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

Also at the Pendry, which prides itself on being a food-centric hotel, is Provisional Kitchen, its more casual, all-day eatery that’s high on fresh produce and chic design.

425 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

17. Huntress

376 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Steak tartare Huntress/Facebook

Steakhouses are plentiful in the area and the newest of the bunch caters to those looking for a prime cut with a wide selection of Japanese whiskey. Along with dry-aged porterhouse, tomahawk steaks and ribeyes, the restaurant also boasts an impressive seafood selection.

376 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

18. Water Grill San Diego

615 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
Selection of seafood Courtesy photo

Part of the King’s Seafood family of restaurants, a family-owned and operated restaurant company that’s been around for over 70 years, Water Grill specializes in plates of the freshest catch. A stacked raw bar and creative mains complement an ever-changing specials menu.

615 J St
San Diego, CA 92101

19. Meze Greek Fusion

345 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Glass of white wine and lamb chops Meze Greek Fusion/Facebook

While most of the world’s cuisines are well-represented in San Diego, Greek and other Mediterranean food are not often found among them. Meze is a quality Greek option with plenty of space for large events, to boot.

345 Sixth Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

20. barleymash

600 Fifth Ave #6916, San Diego, CA 92101
Plate of duck empanadas barleymash/Facebook

Loaded fries, flatbreads, burgers and spins on tried-and-true mac ’n’ cheese are the the cornerstones of this menu but there’s enough variety and creativity, it’s worth a stop. Don’t miss out on shareable app like the duck empanadas or signature cocktails.

600 Fifth Ave #6916
San Diego, CA 92101

Related Maps