Best Fine Dining in San Diego

According to Alfred Hitchcock, “A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theater admission, and the babysitter were worth it.” Depending on your choice of fancy restaurants in San Diego, that may be a tall order for any movie to deliver on! And that’s why we’re here. 

We’re about to take you on a San Diego tour and show you some of the best fine dining that will make your film, your babysitter, and your final bill worth every penny. So, with no disrespect to “The Master of Suspense,” let’s look at some San Diego fine dining experiences worth a standing ovation. 

Addison

Photo Credit: Here Magazine

As the only restaurant in San Diego County to earn a Michelin Star, it’s only fitting that we visit Addison first. The Great Gatsby of restaurant experiences, Addison has a lavish French-inspired menu worthy of the novel’s birthplace. 

  •       The atmosphere? Luxury, grandeur, and other-worldly elegance at first glance—a place “where anything is possible.”  
  •       The menu? Mysterious and ever-changing. A la carte dining being way too provincial for such a wondrous place, you will either be delighted by their 5- or 10-course tasting menu. Don’t worry: their offerings are far better than you could ever have chosen for yourself. No offense.
  •       The ambiance? Art-deco décor meets millionaire mansion meets well-orchestrated waitstaff and sommeliers providing you a dining experience straight out of the most elegant of movies. 

Unlike Jay Gatsby, who found the American dream sadly unobtainable, Addison restaurant ensconces you in the ultimate fine dining dream. Yes, you can have it all—and you will—from the first bite of amuse-bouche to the last bite of crème de café.   

George’s at the Cove

Photo Credit: George’s at the Cove

No San Diego fine dining list would be complete without mentioning George’s at the Cove, one of the “World’s Top 10 Restaurants” according to Fodor’s. But like a good movie, we’re going to turn this plot on its head and talk about the fine drinking experience that George’s has to offer.

For a Thin Man cocktail experience, look no further than George’s Level2 bar. Featuring 24 original craft cocktails that pay homage to the local herbs, citrus, and vegetables of San Diego, your next favorite libation will be… the very next one you choose at Level2. 

The Director’s Cut

Feeling adventurous? Try these lauded local faves:

  •     Martinique Sour – San Diego’s twist on a Pisco Sour with nasturtium, white peppercorn, and the requisite egg-white foam (read: elegance in a glass)
  •     Modern Day Hemmingway – a must-try for all you Monkey Shoulder fans (you know who you are)
  •     Celery Brunch – Suntory whiskey fans rejoice! And don’t let the clarified butter scare you away.

Before dinner or after, channel your best (and always-drinking) Nick and Nora and head to the second story of George’s. Because at Level2, you don’t need to be a detective to find a drink worthy of shouting “Cut and paste; that’s a wrap!” 

Mister A’s

Photo credit: Mr A’s Facebook account

What reminds one most of the classics? Is it Kubrick? Hitchcock? Spielberg? You probably see where we’re going here… Mister A’s has been the go-to fine dining restaurant in all of San Diego since its opening in 1965. 

Never one to disappoint, Mister A’s offers the best of American cuisine and has even served some famous and notable guests, such as Jose Lopez Portillo, the 51st president of Mexico. As it’s often fun to learn about the Greats behind the creations, here are some fun facts about this “Mister A”:

  •     Mister A’s is named after John Alessio, a California based restaurant founder and entrepreneur.
  •     The restaurant is located atop the Fifth Avenue Financial Center, a building Mr. Alessio also helped to erect.
  •     Mister A’s kept its name despite changing ownership from the Alessio family to a longtime fan, Bertrand Hug, in 2000.

Come in any time for brunch, lunch, or dinner. They even have happy hour (or, “cocktail hour” as it’s known) Sunday through Thursday from 2:30 to 6 pm.

The Marine Room

Photo Credit: The Marine Room

In the mood for a luxurious adventure on the high seas (without the tragic iceberg collision)? Breathtaking sunsets and water lapping against the restaurant windows ensure your immersion in the La Jolla shoreline, without dipping one single toe in the water.

With 78 years of history, The Marine Room is one of the most iconic restaurants when it comes to fine dining in San Diego. It is a must-do for residents and visitors alike. Want some cliff notes on the experience?

  •     Their “High Tide” dinner series (running from April through September) pairs crashing waves with a delectable dining experience. Perfect for special occasions and romantic evenings!
  •     Cooking classes where guests prepare their own 3-course dinner, including a “welcome cocktail” to limber you up.  A must-do for the would-be chef in your life.
  •     Seasonal sea-to-table choices with highlights including Alaskan halibut, ahi tuna dishes, and Thai buttered lobster tail.
  •     For the land-lovers, The Marine Room offers exquisitely prepared filet mignon and a succulent red walnut rack of lamb.
  •     Looking for a casual happy-hour vibe? The Marine Room welcomes you to their oceanfront lounge to enjoy over a dozen delectable light bites, ten crafted cocktails, and a full wine and beer menu.

When it comes to fine dining that mirrors the beauty of the ocean scenery, we echo Jack’s Titanic sentiment: “I figure life’s a gift, and I don’t intend on wasting it.” 

Pamplemousse Grille

Photo Credit: San Diego A List

We’re off to see the wizard…!  Want a fine dining experience that’ll make you say, “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”? You’re in luck! You needn’t travel to Oz for a meal that feels both familiar and magical. Thanks to the wizardry of renowned Chef Jeffrey Strauss, you can experience comfort food with an other-worldly twist.

If you still believe there’s no place like home, but don’t want to cook dinner, try some of these elegant, yet straightforward dishes that have made Pamplemousse Grille one Solana Beach’s best treasures:

  •     Create your own steak entrée with an amazing selection of sauces, vegetables, and starches (including truffle mashed potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts with bacon lardons)
  •     Lamb stew with green lentils, braised potatoes, and mélange of baby vegetables
  •     Five-sided vegetarian plate including crispy tofu with ginger soy beurre blanc and warm farro salad
  •     Classic-yet-decadent dessert choices such as bananas foster, fruit crisps, and sea-salt chocolate mousse
  •     Specialty cocktails galore! You must try the signature Pamplemousses Martini and the Del Mar Daly (a dark, rich concoction of bourbon, black tea, and fresh lemon)
  •     Uncork their extensive array of wines (over 1,500 bottles) from a 21-year collection

Market

Photo credit: Market Facebook account

The renowned restaurant and bar in beautiful beach town, Del Mar, Market is the place to be for luxurious eats, drinks, and atmosphere. Market can best be described in terms of the nostalgic movie theater experience. How you wanted to arrive early, purchase your theater treats, and enjoy the preview spectacle.

For a great opening sequence that will have you ready for the entire feature, Market offers a bar and lounge area where decadent drinks and fresh sushi is served until your table is available.

Once your time has arrived, the restaurant area offers you a menu that is modified daily to fit seasonal tastes and the availability of hand-picked ingredients. Head Chefs, Carl Schroeder and John Thompson, ensure the highest quality meals, earning Market a spot in the top 100 restaurants in America (according to Open Table) two years running—a clear mark of pride for connoisseurs of fine dining San Diego California.

Closing Credits

Dinner and a movie—two terms that seem to be inextricably linked and synonymous with an enjoyable evening out. However, in the case of fancy restaurants in San Diego California, these fine-dining picks will fill your evening and your soul. You may even find yourself asking, “Movie? What movie?”

But wait! The fun doesn’t have to come to an end once you’ve cleared your plate. Head Downtown and treat yourself to a nightcap at an undercover speakeasy bar. You may need some coffee to get you up the next day, but don’t worry we’ve got you covered on where to grab the best cup of coffee in Hillcrest, San Diego

Sources:

Michelin Guide. About Us. https://guide.michelin.com/en/about-us

Fodors. George’s at the Cove. https://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/california/san-diego/restaurants/reviews/georges-at-the-cove-477742

Open Table. 100 Best Restaurants in America for 2017. https://www.opentable.com/m/best-restaurants-in-america-for-2017/