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The Best Bars for Foodies in San Diego

A photo of Red logo
by The OpenTable Team
Updated 11 January 2024

Known as America's Finest City, San Diego nightlife has everything from near-perfect weather and beaches to diverse neighborhoods and cultural institutions. Most associate the California town for its Gaslamp District, but Downtown San Diego is just the beginning. From local craft breweries to upscale cocktail bars, clubs and lounges, the San Diego bar scene has something for every taste and budget. But where are locals and tourists alike going for the best bar scene that San Diego has to offer? Welcome to our Tastemaker List. We've collected data from thousands of restaurants to find the top spots among Open Table's most seasoned diners, foodies and cocktail enthusiasts. From Little Italy over to North San Diego, the ocean-side bar scene mixes trends and sophistication with a Southern California flair. Whether you feel in the mood for a prime steak paired with a robust red or prefer a hoppy IPA and fresh fish tacos, book a table today at one of San Diego's world-class bars.

A photo of Born & Raised restaurant
4.6
4.6 (5831)
$50 and over
Steakhouse
Little Italy
About the restaurant
Located in San Diego's Little Italy neighborhood, Born & Raised takes the elevated steakhouse and cocktail lounge experience to new heights. With 250 seats spread across two levels and a rooftop bar to boot, Born & Raised marries traditional steakhouse fare and the opulence of Rat Pack era fine dining with a decidedly modern edge. This is Rat Pack worthy dining and cocktailing with 21st century flair. Enjoy classic steakhouse heavy weights like the Tournedos Rossini topped with foie gras, or the 22 ounce dry aged bone in New York strip. In the mood for a little made to order beef tartare or shrimp Louis? Diners in the walnut paneled, art deco themed main dining room can also enjoy tableside cart service in leather booths with green marbled table tops. Diners can also order a classic Manhattan or Martini shaken (or stirred) at the table, naturally.
Top review
DavidB
Dined 3 days ago
Mark was great! Loved the food, loved the service
A photo of Cloak + Petal restaurant
4.5
4.5 (858)
$31 to $50
Sushi
Little Italy
About the restaurant
Tapas and craft cocktails may not be the first things to come to mind when doing Japanese, but that's exactly what diners will find at San Diego's Cloak + Petal. Located in Little Italy, the space is both modern and intimate with an aesthetic that manages to balance industrial and edgy with delicate, zen-like accents in true Japanese fashion (bonus: actual cherry blossom trees). The stated goal of Cloak + Petal is to be a "social dining experience," and diners can enjoy a large selection of sushi and sashimi small plates while sipping on cocktails made with everything from gin infused with ingredients like sansho spice, cardamom, and clove to citrus, coconut, and Italian Torino. The extensive menu includes gluten-free and vegan substitution options.
Top review
VictoriaG
Dined 5 days ago
love love love! went for my birthday with my girls !!
A photo of UNION Kitchen & Tap restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1023)
$30 and under
American
Encinitas
About the restaurant
San Diego is known for its craft beer scene, and UNION Kitchen & Tap in Encinitas offers diners a rotating selection of brews for every palette, from pilsners and lagers to IPAs and specialty beers like the Elysian Punkuccino Coffee Pumpkin Ale. The spacious bar and dining area has a rustic yet open and airy beach vibe that offers everything from breakfast and brunch to taco Tuesday specials, happy hour, and late night (kitchen open until midnight). The menu options range from a Pickled Beet Poke to artisan cheeseboards and wild mushroom flatbread. There's also a football menu that caters to the crowds filing in for a big game.
Top review
Kirkyvip
Dined on 11 Apr 2024
Great service! Beers and food were also good! Great local “Gem”.
A photo of Raised by Wolves restaurant
4.7
4.7 (2602)
$30 and under
Bar / Lounge / Bottle Service
La Jolla
About the restaurant
Fans of low key and off the beaten path cocktail experiences will enjoy Raised by Wolves, a "hidden" classic cocktail bar tucked away in the wide open space of the Westfield UTC Mall. Once safely inside, patrons will enjoy a cozy, old world cocktail lounge experience with a tasteful touch of decadence all rolled into one. The restaurant encourages reservations, but also accommodates walk-in customers for that post mall shopping tipple. The vibe and decor may call back to the hey day of dark and swanky cocktail lounges for the suit and pearls clad gentleman and ladies, but the drinks have a decidedly modern and cheeky twist. To wit: the Snoop Noggy Nog, and Vegan Egg Nog made with cashew and almond milk, because this is still Southern California after all.
Top review
DavidB
Dined 4 days ago
Always a must visit whenever we are in San Diego. Great atmosphere and drinks.
A photo of Kairoa Brewing Company restaurant
4.5
4.5 (103)
$30 and under
Brewery
University Heights
About the restaurant
Kairoa Brewing Company brings a little taste and flair of New Zealand to San Diego. The bar keeps it simple with a selection of local and Kiwi craft beers, which includes a rotating guest beer menu, like the Juneshine Blood Orange Mint Kombucha or the Noble Aleworks Naughty Sauce Golden Coffee Stout. There's also a wine and food menu which includes shared plate options like petit lobster skewers and blue pilsner mussels. But this being San Diego, a spiced lamb street taco can also be found on the menu.
Top review
TypSD
Dined on 8 Mar 2020
Great food, great service. We sat at the rooftop on a beautiful, sunny day. It was really nice and thoroughly enjoyed our time. We took our 4 year old daughter. It’s very family and dog friendly.
A photo of Le Papagayo Encinitas restaurant
4.4
4.4 (2164)
$30 and under
American
Encinitas
About the restaurant
Latin and Mediterranean fusion is what's on tap at Le Papagayo in Leucadia in North County. With live music several nights a week and a cozy, rustic vibe with indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant has an extensive breakfast, lunch, dinner, and happy hour menu that includes a wine list, 13 taps, and of course homemade sangria and house margaritas.
Top review
Teresa
Dined 4 days ago
Great eclectic menu, loved the zucchini noodle dish and the pesto dip with bread
A photo of Beaumont's restaurant
4.8
4.8 (874)
$30 and under
Contemporary American
La Jolla
About the restaurant
Beaumont's Eatery in La Jolla has a little something for everyone. A 2019's Diner's Choice winner, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour specials, and includes a kid's and dessert menu. Diners can also enjoy wine and cheeky cocktails like the Up All Night or Don't You Judge Me. Chicken lovers should make it a point to stop by for Fried Chicken Tuesdays. Live local bands play at the bar every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night.
Top review
ShannonM
Dined 4 days ago
The BBQ pop up was awesome! Great food and fantastic service. Kris always goes above and beyond for us. Beaumont’s is our neighborhood favorite.
A photo of Tahona Bar restaurant
4.6
4.6 (562)
$30 and under
Mexican
Old Town
About the restaurant
Mezcal lovers will feel right at home at Tahona, whose stated mission is to enlighten diners and cocktail enthusiasts about Oaxacan cuisine and culture with a focus on its most famous and iconic spirit. Along with basics like Carne Asada and Market Fish Tacos, the food menu includes fresh takes like a Pulpo (octopus) ceviche, a Mole flight, and Churro S'Mores and Mexican bread pudding for dessert. Mezcal is also available by the flight, or through private tastings available by appointment. Forget Spring Break and make a reservation at Tahona for a taste of the real thing instead.
Top review
Sinemetu
Dined on 10 Apr 2024
Kate Owca is the best! Love the aesthetic, and ambience.
A photo of Dobson's Bar & Restaurant restaurant
4.6
4.6 (1381)
$30 and under
Californian
Downtown
About the restaurant
Diners are encouraged to make a reservation at this hidden hot spot in the center of the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego. With a mixture of old world charm and modern sophistication, Dobson's is the perfect spot for a hearty lunch, dinner, or drinks at the bar. Diners can enjoy a raw bar, classics like the Dobson's Bar Room Burger, Croque Monsieur Sandwich, Steamed Mediterranean Black Mussels, or an entree of the Cheese Ravioli and Pomodoro Sauce Gratine. Daily drink specials on select house wines and craft beers are also available.
Top review
Elainevip
Dined on 10 Apr 2024
Very nice, pre-theater dinner, would come again. A bit hard to find parking but that was really the only negative. Made the performance on time thanks to our excellent waiter.
A photo of Manhattan of La Jolla restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1622)
$31 to $50
Italian
La Jolla
About the restaurant
Manhattan of La Jolla serves up fine Italian dining reminiscent of a New York City bistro on the shores of La Jolla. Along with a classic Italian dinner menu complete with homemade pastas and family recipes, diners can enjoy live music and entertainment, as well as imported coffees, dessert, and coffee infused cocktails for a little taste of the old country.
Top review
Edsiesgemsvip
Dined 1 day ago
Our fav restaurant in LJ. Excellent drinks, food and service. Both special occasions and great for special night out.
A photo of Jeune et Jolie restaurant
4.9
4.9 (3662)
$50 and over
Contemporary French
Carlsbad
About the restaurant
French charm and chic meets Southern California chill vibes at this stylish Carlsbad eatery. A hearty drinks menu includes an extensive wine, spirits, and custom cocktails list and after dinner liquers. The menu consists of French classics like oysters from the raw bar, to bouillabasse and steak frites to a carte blanche tasting menu.
Top review
JoanieF
Dined 1 day ago
Friendly, attentive, knowledgeable staff. They listen and and deliver prompt and friendly hospitality. The food was fabulous. Beautiful presentations and delicious flavors. We did a wine pairing meal and can’t rave about the wine choices. The sparkling wine ( champagne but not champagne region) was delicious. I would definitely recommend. Arnold, Caitlyn and Taylor we are grateful you made our evening a wonderful experience.
A photo of King & Queen Cantina - San Diego restaurant
4.4
4.4 (1125)
$30 and under
Mexican
Little Italy
About the restaurant
King & Queen Cantina gives Little Italy diner a little Latin flair in the heart of Downtwon San Diego. With a happy hour special seven days a week and classic crowd pleasers like Huevos Rancheros to a Pork Belly Benedict for breakfast and a Pinches Tacos menu and numerous seafood options for dinner, diners are advised to come hungry and leave room for the Deep Fried Ice Cream or Churros cart for dessert. The drinks menu runs the gamut from San Diego's beloved craft beers to signature cocktails like the Mexican Mule or the Una Lady.
Top review
OpenTable Diner
Dined 2 days ago
Great tacos. Server was nice. It was hard to read the menu and see your food. Overall definitely go back!!
A photo of Gravity Heights restaurant
4.8
4.8 (1122)
$30 and under
American
Sorrento Mesa
About the restaurant
Bites and brews is the name of the game at Gravity Heights. The menu includes a mash up of wood fired pizzas, tacos, burgers, and "munchies" like Crispy Octopus, Duck Liver "Banh Mi" Crostini, and Roasted Bone Marrow for the culinarily adventurous. The beer menu consists of a healthy mix of craft beers, flights, and brewer's specials.
Top review
JeffJ
Dined on 7 Apr 2024
Great first time experience will be back FYI if waiters pet animals make sure to wash hands while handling food keep it sanitary!
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