Eat & Drink Your Way Through the Gaslamp Quarter: 10 Best Spots

The historic Gaslamp Quarter is known for its nightlife and colorful past as one of the most prominent red-light districts in the West. But, it is also a mecca for amazing food and drink! When planning a weekend in San Diego, eating and drinking your way through the best restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter is not to be missed. Discover what the city has to offer in terms of food and fun with our top 10 spots we’ve rounded up for you (in no particular order … they’re all amazing)! 

 

SPOT #1: THE NOLEN

The Nolen

Photo courtesy of The Nolen

The Nolen is one of the Gaslamp quarter bars or lounges with an A-1 rooftop view from Petco Park all the way to Coronado Bridge from the 14th floor at the Courtyard Gaslamp. Sip on a modern, yet timeless craft cocktail and bar bites such as chips and guac, flatbread pizza, and a smoked salmon dip served with pita. Keep it classic with their signature sangria or their signature cocktail, the Nolen Old Fashioned, or keep it casual with the “Casual Hello” — a refreshing combo of gin, Sauvignon Blanc Absinthe and pineapple hibiscus.

  • Restaurant Hours:  Food is served until 9:00pm Sunday-Thursday, and until 11:00pm Friday-Saturday. 
  • Food style: bar food and apps to share!
  • Happy Hour:  $7 select cocktails & bites during Happy Hour every Monday-Wednesday from 5-7pm and Sunday from 3-7pm! 
  • Price: $$ (average drinks cost $15-20)

FAQ: IS GASLAMP WORTH VISITING?

Absolutely yes! Gaslamp is 16.5 walkable blocks boasting 100 historical Victorian-era landmarks. There’s no better way to celebrate a night in the town than in a place where the old meets the new! The restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter and the Gaslamp Quarter bars are “bar none,” some of the best places in all of San Diego! 

Want help planning your Gaslamp visit? Explore the Gaslamp Quarter’s history and satisfy your inner foodie with a walking history tour of San Diego’s thriving “New Town” on our Brothels, Bites and Booze tour! 

SPOT #2: ALTITUDE

Altitude Sky Lounge

Photo courtesy of Altitude Sky Lounge

Altitude is a must-see Gaslamp Quarter restaurant and bar with views for days! If you are looking for the best rooftop bars in San Diego, this not to be missed. Up 22 floors, Altitude serves everything from pretzel sticks to pork belly & brussels along with their signature martinis and cocktails complete with panoramic views of the city and Petco Park! Join them for their sunset happy hour, dubbed the best happy hour in San Diego!

A martini rec: Pink Sky (ketel one vodka | passion fruit liqueur | fresh strawberries | white cranberry | champagne float). A craft cocktail rec: Spiced Pear Mule (fugu horchata vodka | st. george spiced pear liqueur | fresh lime juice | ginger beer)

  • Food style: high quality bar eats and shared apps
  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday: (5 PM – 12 AM) | Open Friday – Saturday: (5 PM – 1 AM) | Padres Games (3:30 PM – 12 AM) | Saturday Games (3:30 PM – 12 AM)
  • Happy Hour: Monday thru Friday, 5 pm -7 pm; Sunset Hour Specials:  $7 Premium Well Cocktails & $5 Domestic Draft Beers
  • Food style: bar food and shared apps
  • Price: $$

SPOT #3: CAFE SEVILLA

Cafe Sevilla

Photo courtesy of Cafe Sevilla

Food, drinks and live music collide at Cafe Sevilla, one of the top restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter. Cafe Sevilla prides itself on giving people the authentic Spanish ambiance in their tapas bar, restaurant and nightclub. Share paella family style with your group as well for anywhere from $56-106, and join them for live Latin music seven nights a week, flamenco dinner shows on the weekends, salsa dance classes, happy hour and so much more! 

  • Food style: Spanish cuisine and tapas
  • Meal rec: Journey Through Spain – 5 Course Dinner for Two – $99.50 
  • Hours: Monday-Friday: 4:30 PM – 1:30 AM | Saturday-Sunday: 11 AM – 1:30 AM
  • Price: $$

SPOT #4: MEZE GREEK FUSION

Meze Greek Fusion

Photo courtesy of Meze Greek Fusion

Meze Greek Fusion is one of the restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter that gives you a taste of Greece! Enjoy Greek fusion food and tasty Greek wines! Although its namesake may mean “small plates,” Mezé Greek Fusion delivers by giving you a variety of menu items incorporating all of the Greek islands.

  • Food style: small plates with pita and hummus, individual Greek meals, and family meals (VG and GF options available)
  • Food rec: Family Pack for 2 ($34.99) or 4 ($58.99) complete with chicken, filet or gyros with rice pilaf, Greek salad, tzatziki and pita.
  • Drink recs: Septem Microbrewery Greek IPA, a glass of Rosé of Agiorgitiko (from Nemea, Greece)
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11:30 AM – 9:30 PM | Friday: 11:30 AM – 12 AM | Saturday: 10:30 AM – 12 AM | Sunday: 10:30 AM – 9:30 PM
  • Price: $$

FAQ: DOES GASLAMP HAVE A DRESS CODE?

Since there’s such a wide variety of restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter, the dress code varies. For swankier clubs and speakeasies, they have more stringent rules. Other places are laxer: after all, San Diego is a beach town! As a general rule of thumb, we would say to land somewhere in the middle, so you aren’t denied entry anywhere!

  • Gentlemen: closed-toed shoes and collared shirts; no tennis shoes, Jordans, etc., a nice pair of jeans without holes or dress pants / khakis.
  • Ladies: Dress to impress in comfy cocktail attire — something you can strut your stuff in but also walk around the Gaslamp Quarter bars comfortably (and bring a pair of dress flats in your purse in case your feet start barking at you!)

SPOT #5: LUMI

Lumi

Photo courtesy of Lumi

Lumi is the creation of Michelin Star Chef Akira Back. Enjoy elevated and creative Japanese dishes that he draws inspiration from his culture and travels across the world. Sip on Chef Back’s signature sake or share the iconic Akira Back Pizza, made with tuna, serrano, red onion, beets, and tomato. 

  • Food style: elevated Japanese fusion
  • Food rec: Nigiri and sashimi sushi dishes — everything from spot prawn to freshwater eel. 
  • Drink recs: Akira Back’s signature sake, Tears of Dawn Daigingo (anise, banana and a hint of sweet rice). 
  • Hours: Wednesday: Closed Monday | Tuesday + Wednesday: 5 PM – 11 PM | Thursday: 5 PM – 12 AM |  Friday + Saturday: 5 PM – 1 AM | Sunday: 11 AM – 11 PM
  • Sunday, 5pm-Close | Weekend Brunch, Saturday & Sunday, 11am-3pm
  • Price: $$$

FAQ: WHAT TIME DOES GASLAMP DISTRICT CLOSE?

Most Gaslamp Quarter bars and clubs close at 1:30 AM. A few, such as Trailer Park After Dark and Room 56 mentioned in our article are open until 2 AM some nights!

SPOT #6: ROOM 56

Room 56

Photo courtesy of Eater San Diego

If you’re loooking for a speakeasy bar in San Diego, and like a little mystery, this spot hidden in the Moxy Hotel is for you. This place is shrouded in secrecy;  you even need to make a reservation via a mysterious webpage (text the code word to the number displayed). Upon arrival, guests are led to a 24-seat cocktail den by the “librarian.”  

  • Drinks: Top-secret menu, but word on the street is that the Cherry Brandy and St. Germaine Sour are to-die-for!
  • Hours: Wednesday: 7 PM – 1 AM | Thursday – Saturday: 6 PM – 2 AM | Sunday: 7 PM – 1AM | Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
  • Price: $$$

SPOT #7: WHISKEY GIRL

Whiskey Girl

Photo courtesy of Whiskey Girl |  Facebook

Whiskey Girl is one of the restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter with something going on every night of the week! Whether you want to catch a game, get a happy hour with friends, or go dancing, this is one of the Gaslamp Quarter bars that has it all! It’s one of the best places for tacos and tequila San Diego. 

  • Food Style: All-American fare — Apps, burgers, sandwiches, tacos and fries are some of the top menu items here. (Vegetarian Black Bean Burgers available for $2 extra!)
  • Drinks: Enjoy craft beers, whiskey, tequila, wine and their signature cocktails, including ‘Crazy Sex on the Beach’ ($14.50). 
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11 AM – 1:30 AM | Saturday – Sunday: 10 AM – 1:30 AM.
  • Price: $$

SPOT #8: GREYSTONE

Greystone

Photo courtesy of Greystone

Greystone has been touted to be the best steakhouse and has the best wine list in San Diego. Also, Greystone has been recognized by various specialized magazines as the Best Steakhouse in San Diego and California (SD Entertainer & Best Things California), Best Fine Dining Award (Gaslamp Quarter), and Best Wine List (Wine Spectator). The Greystone has one of the best  wine bars in San Diego. It’s also the only steakhouse in San Diego to serve an international variety of Waygu Beef. 

  • Food Style: Steakhouse and Seafood
  • Eats and Drinks: Take your tastebuds on a journey with True Japanese 100% Wagyu Steak paired with the Domaine Comtesse Cherisey from France..
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 4 PM – 10 PM | Friday & Saturday: 4 PM – 11 PM | Sunday: 3:30 PM – 9:45 PM
  • Price: $$$$

FAQ: IS THE GASLAMP DISTRICT CONSIDERED DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO?

The Gaslamp District is technically in Downtown San Diego, which consists of eight different neighborhoods: Gaslamp, East Village, Columbia, Marina, Cortez, Little Italy, Horton Plaza, and Core. When you say you’re going to Gaslamp, people know you are going to the heart and soul of Downtown’s nightlife scene! 

SPOT #9: WATER GRILL

Water Grill

Photo courtesy of Water Grill

Located steps away from Petco Park, Water Grill is one of the premiere seafood restaurants in Gaslamp Quarter. Water Grill focuses on first-of-the-season seafood and creates their menus from the daily catch of local fishermen. From Spiny Lobster in the fall to Wild Salmon in the spring season, Water Grill is all about local and sustainable seafood … which makes for some delicious meals! 

  • Food Style: Seafood
  • Menu: changes daily based on local fishermen supply, although some of their well-known dishes are Chilean Sea Bass and their Clam Chowder!
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:30 AM – 10 PM 
  • Price: $$$

SPOT #10: CAFE 21

Cafe 21

Photo courtesy of Cafe 21 | Facebook

At Cafe 21, everything is made from scratch and with love! They work with the freshest ingredients to bring you everything from signature handmade breads, fruit-infused sangrias, and unique seasonal dishes made from hormone-free grass-fed meat, wild seafood, and antibiotic-free and free-range chicken. 

  • Food style: brunch and lunch; organic; vegan and vegetarian. 
  • Food Recs: Small-plate classics such as the Short Rib Omelet for brunch or a Mushroom Crumpet. 
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 8 AM – 3 PM
  • Price: $$

We hope you have a fabulous time eating and drinking your way through the best restaurants and bars in the Gaslamp Quarter! If you want a tour of Gaslamp, leave it to us! Contact us for deets on our Gaslamp tour!