Where to Go on a First Date in San Diego

Are you thinking about ways to impress that lucky guy or gal you’ve been talking to with a romantic first date in San Diego? If so, you’ve likely been racking your brain for good ideas of places to go see in this city: something new and interesting—a spot that avoids the typical first date clichés. You want to make your evening stand out and be memorable, especially if you’re hoping for more than one date. 

Fortunately for you, the city is jam-packed with fantastic spots that are sure to make fireworks fly. So, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered in this guide! Below, you’ll find some of the best spots in town with our San Diego tour of fun first dates in San Diego. 

Café Sevilla

Photo Courtesy: Café Sevilla

Want a taste of Barcelona nights? Luckily for you, you don’t need to buy plane tickets. Just head into the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter with Café Sevilla. This Spanish inspired restaurant has been a mainstay of the area since 1987, providing authentic Spanish cuisine, tapas, and live Flamenco music nightly. 

Be sure to bring an appetite. From incredible Halibut ceviche to a killer brunch happy hour with $13 bottomless mimosas in San Diego, you’re sure to end up food-comatose. Don’t worry though, their Flamenco shows will awaken you and enliven something deep inside your soul.

Dinner at Rustic Root and Drinks at Prohibition

Ditch the played-out dinner and a movie date, in favor of dinner, drinks, and live music. Picture this: the night starts at Rustic Root, a San Diego rooftop bar and restaurant. As you take in the incredible views of downtown San Diego and wonderful company, enjoy rustic American cuisine with a modern flair and a signature drink menu that’s chock-full of fantastic cocktails. Although you could feasibly stay here the whole night and have a ball, you’ve got something special up your sleeve… 

From there, you walk over to 5th avenue to one of the coolest speakeasy bars in San Diego, Prohibition. After knocking on a door that has “Law Offices of Eddie O’Hare, Esq.” emblazoned across the front, the doorman slides it open and tells you the rules: 

  1. No cell phones at the bar.
  2. No parties larger than six.
  3. Drink with an open mind. 
  4. No unsolicited advances on female patrons.
  5. Dress code strictly enforced: Collared shirts for men, no sandals or athletic shoes, no shorts, and no ball caps. 

Once you’ve been permitted entrance, you head down the stairs to find live music, a cool old-timey atmosphere, and a killer cocktail menu- the perfect recipe for an impressive date. Upon reaching this point, you’re on your own; we’ve teed you up, now it’s your job to knock it out of the park. 

The Smoking Goat

Photo Courtesy: The Smoking Goat

If you want one of the most fun and casual first date restaurants in San Diego, The Smoking Goat in North Park is the spot for you. This locale was built on the classic idea of a French Bistro with a modern spin. Since it opened, this rustic setting with finger-licking good French cuisine has been a hit and is regularly jam-packed with patrons. 

Plus, now you and your date are in North Park! Go bar hopping right after your meal to change up the atmosphere and keep the conversation lively. There’s plenty of bars in North Park to choose from:

  • Campfire – Gather around the fire right next door to The Smoking Goat and enjoy cocktails inspired by the great outdoors.
  • Modern Times Brewery – A San Diego brewery that’s become a staple for succulent beers—it’s no wonder they call it the “Flavordome.”
  • Mike Hess Brewing – Down the street, you’ll find a whole host of other bars to enjoy, including Mike Hess Brewing.

Extraordinary Desserts

Photo Courtesy: Extraordinary Desserts

Does your future bae have a sweet tooth? If so, you need to head down to Little Italy (or Hillcrest) once dinner and drinks are done. Extraordinary Desserts is the premier patisserie in San Diego and hosts an assorted array of sweets and treats on their menu. Try the cookies, the cupcakes, pies, cakes, chocolates, or authentic French pastries. Don’t worry, they have fantastic vegan and gluten-free options, so there are no excuses not to give it a taste. 

Pastry chef Karen Krasne is a wizard in the kitchen, which is probably why this lovely little spot is full of chocoholics from open until close. Any of these mouthwatering confections are sure to delight your taste buds, but if you’re looking for a recommendation, we suggest the Shangri-la cake; however, be warned, try it once and you’ll be coming back forever! 

Charles + Dinorah

Photo Courtesy: Charles and Dinorah

If you want to take your date game up a notch, this hidden gem is tucked away within the walls of the boutique Pearl Hotel. The seasonal, market-driven menu is divine, the atmosphere lovely, and the company… well, that’s on you. Regardless, your dinner will be fabulous, slightly familiar, but with a global twist to it. 

As for drinks, Charles + Dinorah hosts some of the best mixologists in all of SD. Each drink is served with love, care, and modern flair that makes it stand out from your corner bar’s boring old drink. 

You can dine inside or outside by the pool, and on Wednesdays, they offer dive-in movie nights, which is a total blast and gives a whole new meaning to dinner and a movie. 

Catania in La Jolla

Photo Courtesy: Catania

Catania offers a taste of “la bella vita”—a casual dining atmosphere with incredible open-air ocean views that are paired with top-notch authentic Italian cuisine. Located in La Jolla, this trattoria transports you to the coast of Italy and offers dishes inspired by le nonne of the Amalfi Coast. Named by Zagat as one of the “15 hottest new restaurants around the U.S.,” Catania boasts handmade pasta, wood fire pizzas, fresh seafood, gelato, and a whole lot more. And, if you want to save a few bucks, the Italian Aperitivo Happy Hour runs daily from 3-6 pm and includes a selection of fantastic small plates and lovely drink specials. And depending on the time of year, you might get lucky and catch a romantic sunset view during happy hour.

Pair Catania with gelato at Bobboi and live music at La Valencia for an unforgettable experience.

Dating in San Diego

San Diego is a treasure trove of fabulous date spots, but before you go out mining for your own culinary gems, be sure to first check out these tried and true locations. They’re guaranteed to delight and will work on your behalf to get you that second date. 

From there, it’s up to you.

You got this.

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