Dobson's Bar & Restaurant

4.6
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966 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Californian

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Pre/post Theatre
Dobson's Bar and Restaurant is a hidden treasure in the heart of Downtown San Diego/Gaslamp Quarter. For the last 34 years, this has been the hot spot for business lunches and frequented by many local and nationwide celebrities. Paul Dobson, the namesake for Dobson's bar and restaurant, is one of America's few professional Bullfighters. The food is California cuisine with a touch of Italian, French, Spanish and Asian cuisine. One thing that both local San Diegans and Zagat can agree on is that this is one of the top restaurants in San Diego. Due to the limited seating and popularity, reservations are highly recommended. Owner Paul Dobson "works a room better than Sinatra", which explains why this "local tradition" downtown remains, "after all these years", a "high-powered, hobnob spot"; the Cal kitchen "serves up delicious, innovative food, along with old standbys" ("have the mussel bisque and think of heaven").
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What 966 people are saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.6
service
4.4
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
97% of people would recommend it to a friend
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JH
vipJaimiH
San Diego
79 reviews
Dined on October 17, 2020
Overall3food2service5ambience5

I hate to leave bad reviews....We are so sad that Dobson's of old is completely changed! The wonderful mussel soup that my hubby looked so forward to was watery and the mussels were overcooked. We were a party of 4. My food was "fine" but everyone else said theirs was sub-par. The service was wonderful and they had live music in a truck. I would say they need a new chef-atmosphere and service was great.

KH
vipKHFdez
San Diego
92 reviews
Dined on September 28, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We have always liked Dobson's. The new outdoor seating is very pleasant.

AP
AmyP
Tampa
1 review
Dined on September 26, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Longtime San Diegan’s but had never been. It was wonderful. The food was so good. The service was wonderful.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on September 25, 2020
Overall3food3service3ambience3

26 dollars for four scallops with nothing but the plate is a bit out there.

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Orange County
119 reviews
Dined on August 29, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great smaller French-inspired restaurant close to the Westin hotel and US Grant hotel. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic service was outside. Very friendly service and food selection, including seafood

A
April
San Diego
1 review
Dined on August 27, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Celebrating a friend

M
vipMacaco
San Diego
10 reviews
Dined on August 22, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

After a more than a 10 year absence, I went back to Dobson's and the food is delicious. I tried the beef short ribs and the file mignon and both were fantastic. I highly recommend Dobson's.

OT
OpenTable Diner
1 review
Dined on August 14, 2020
Overall4food4service5ambience3

Anniversary

OT
OpenTable Diner
Denver
1 review
Dined on August 10, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I was traveling from out of town and found Dobson’s on Yelp. I was greeted by a pleasant host and shown to a table outside. I ordered the Caesar salad, which had an incredible tasting dressing. For my entree I chose the braised short ribs. Perfectly prepared and just the right portion size. I really enjoyed by dining experience at Dobson’s.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on July 24, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Went here for my birthday and everything was perfect even during COVID. Had a live performer which made everything really nice and special. Food was outstanding!

f
vipfitfoodie
San Diego
3 reviews
Dined on July 3, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Quaint, friendly service, this tight space pulled off social distancing well.

MS
MikeS
San Diego
1 review
Dined on March 8, 2020
Overall4food4service4ambience4

My wife and I bought tickets to a show @ the Civic Theater, so we thought we'd have dinner before the show somewhere in the same area. Dobson's came up on a Google search and I will say that having their menu online for my wife to be able to look at is what sold her. Dobson's is in the Spreckel's Theater building, so I am sure there is a long history to the restaurant. We were seated upstairs at the railing, so we had a view of downstairs and of foot traffic along the sidewalk on Broadway Circle. My wife, our 2 sons and I all chose a seafood dish. Our sons had the special, which was yellowtail, I had the sea bass, and my wife had the scallops. I think the 4 of us all agreed that the scallops was the best dish. Myself and the guys thought the dishes were a little small, especially for the price, and we ended up getting hungry again later. The sourdough bread that they served each of us before dinner was tasty.

H
vipHoages
Chicago
178 reviews
Dined on February 20, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience3

I had a ono mushroom risotto that was simply outstanding. Flaky,done just right. Mushroom risotto was out of this world. My wives steak was also done nicely. Cooked to the way she ordered. Their crab bisque was and still is one of my favorite dishes anywhere. The flaky crust cover the bisque is light and adds just the right texture that highlights the very tasty crab bisque. Thinking of it,I want to go back. Crime brûlée was also very good. Server was friendly and attentive. Job nicely done. I’m ready to go back. It was a few years that we’ve been to that we fought the crab bisque. Thank to the person that thought out of my box to remind me of Dobson’s. Thanks trip advisor for this forum.

B
vipBellissima
San Diego
23 reviews
Dined on February 16, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always excellent. Great for before or after theatre. Date night, celebration, such great ambiance and food. Must always get the mussel bisque!

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Diego
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Valentines

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DD
vipDifferentDining
San Diego
47 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2020
Overall4food5service5ambience3

My wife and I went for Valentine’s night dinner because we had tickets to the ballet at the Lyceum. We had eaten at Dobson’s before and enjoyed. On previous occasions we had been seated upstairs which we enjoy but this time we were seated downstairs across from the bar. I assume this was because of heavy traffic for this evening. When we asked about upstairs we were told it would be difficult so we stayed downstairs.
We didn’t know that they had a special prix fixe Valentine’s menu but it looked interesting so we decided to take it. It was extremely good. We each had an appetizer, an entree, and a special shared dessert. We checked to see if thee was a choice for dessert since we didn’t want chocolate and were assured that there was. My backed oysters were outstanding one of the best preparations I have had and my salmon came with a silky sauce that was very light but creamy and silky smooth on the palate. My wife’s avocado with crab and lobster was excellent as was her fillet which was done medium rare as she requested. The dessert we received was a cheese cake creme brûlée and was excellent. We had a good glass of champagne before dinner that was included and I had a very good Pinot noir with my salmon. Other than the noisier seating it was an excellent dinner and a perfect Valentine’s evening.

DP
DevP
Las Vegas
1 review
Dined on February 8, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

We like the small restaurant ambiance. It is also close to the Civic Theater, Spreckels, and Balboa Theater. It is a perfect place for a pre-opera meal. If you order from the appetizer menu, you can enjoy great food and not guilty. But if you are in the mood, they also have very tempting entres. Enjoy

l
viplisal
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on February 6, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great downtown establishment. Get the Mussel Soup!

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Las Vegas
4 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great experience all around. Delicious food and top notch service.

JM
vipJohnM
Seattle
2 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2020
Overall4food4service5ambience4

The filet mignon chez Martin was perfectly cooked and tasted great. The duck was cooked a little too medium and didn't seem like the fat/skin was rendered, so the skin was chewy.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Diego
3 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2020
Overall3food2service4ambience5

Usually better. I like this place very much but this time—the food was not as good as usual: duck was tough & the usually great bread was only partly warmed.

ST
vipSTucson
Tucson
12 reviews
Dined on January 22, 2020
Overall4food3service4ambience3

We have stopped by Dobsons a few times in the past couple years and had good experiences so were excited to be there for apps and adult beverages before an early play. Unfortunately, the service was good but the food was not up to par. The mussel bisque lacked the sherry "float" on top until we had almost finished the soup, and our charcuterie platter did not come with the duck rillette described on the menu. We questioned our server and she took the platter back to the kitchen to show the chef the platter who identified the gray sausage on the platter as duck pate. We tried it but are sure it was some type of greasy pork. We've had the delicious duck rillette here before so know this sausage was not what we had ordered. It seemed there may have been a big party upstairs so staff were busy but not being served the correct food as ordered and as typically prepared was a disappointment. We didn't want to make a scene so we left the mostly uneaten platter on the table. We'll try this restaurant again on a quieter evening.

TJ
vipTheJoeWilliams
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful experience as always

HM
vipHarryM
San Diego
29 reviews
Dined on January 12, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Great place for before or after dining theater. Makes nice combination of dinner and play or concert.

SL
vipSuzanneL
San Diego
13 reviews
Dined on January 5, 2020
Overall3food3service3ambience3

Terrible table upstairs by stairwell and bus station. Asked to move, couldn’t accommodate. Table was too small and not enough room for plates. Uncomfortable meal

OT
OpenTable Diner
Orange County
1 review
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and service

RF
vipRonaldF
San Diego
22 reviews
Dined on December 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great Salad Nicoise!

D
vipDjfoodie
San Diego
13 reviews
Dined on December 15, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Quaint, historical restaurant in the heart of the San Diego theatre district. Very cool.

JF
JoyceF
Orange County
2 reviews
Dined on December 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Service was excellent, as was the food. The mussel bisque did not disappoint. Not new and trendy but comfortable and homey.

DC
vipDianaC
San Diego
7 reviews
Dined on December 7, 2019
Overall1food1service3ambience4

We used to love this restaurant but tried it for lunch and dinner and are very disappointed in the quality of the food now.

P
vipPacoboy
Orange County
13 reviews
Dined on December 2, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had a wonderful dinner prior to a theater performance. The food was excellent, the service was terrific and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening!!

KP
KathyP
1 review
Dined on November 26, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Our favorite place in San Diego. The service is great. Beet salad is delicious. Grilled shrimp was a little overcooked & dry. The filet is cooked to perfection. Short ribs are so tender & moist. Potatoes are delicious & veggies cooked to tender crisp. The BEST is the bread. Crisp & flaky on the outside & warm & tender on the inside with a delicious sourdough flavor. We’ll be back the next time we’re in San Diego

KH
vipKHFdez
San Diego
92 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We eat there frequently. It is a a charming place.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on November 13, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Out with my Grandson and work friend. Food was great, service was good.

L
vipLiveslocally
San Diego
30 reviews
Dined on November 12, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience5

It was very busy and the server was slammed. It took a long tome to get main course as our food came at the same time as a table that ordered 20 minutes after us. My salmon appeared to have sat for awhile under a hot lamp. My friends scallops were delicious. The server was nice and apologetic. We had play tickets so we ate and left.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Diego
13 reviews
Dined on November 2, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent atmosphere coupled with great dood and service. Makes your evening special!

BR
vipBigR
New England
32 reviews
Dined on October 26, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great for pre or post-theater. We especially enjoyed the mussel soup in a lobster bisque, with French pastry topping and then a lovely dolly if sherry
The staff is lovely!

P
Papa
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on October 8, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience5

Always an excellent choice when you ar downtown. the steaks and sea \food are always good and the bar menu offers a wide variety of choices if you want something smaller.

S
vipSdcamon
San Diego
16 reviews
Dined on October 2, 2019
Overall4food5service3ambience4

Went to Dobson’s for dinner before a play on a Wednesday evening and we were seated right away upstairs at a nice table. We ordered drinks fairly quickly and received them probably within 15 mins. We never really knew who our waiter was as we felt very ignored after our drinks came. We tried to order and was told to wait for our waitress. Another waiter came and we were able to order. We ordered the appetizer and asked for some bread and our main courses. We waited and waited and the bread never came. We received our appetizer (which was delicious) and waited for the main course. Next to us, the waitress was telling them about specials (we were never told of any) and they received the bread that might have been meant for us. Over an hour after we sat down, our entrees arrived. I have to say the food was delicious, it just seemed like they were very understaffed for this evening.

B
vipBellissima
San Diego
23 reviews
Dined on September 28, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience5

Food was excellent as always. The mussel bisque is simply amazing. Great bread. The special I had - steak - was not quite up to par, good but not great. But still a great restaurant and dependable service.

FAQs

Dobson's Bar & Restaurant offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (619) 231-6771.

Dobson's Bar & Restaurant is rated 4.6 stars by 966 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable. Due to local restrictions, this restaurant may not be accepting reservations at the moment.