Dobson's Bar & Restaurant

4.6
1006 Reviews
$30 and under
Californian
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 1006 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
4.6
food
4.6
service
4.6
ambience
4.4
value
Noise · Moderate
90% of people would recommend it to a friend
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I
blockoffIndia
San Diego
11 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love the mussels

RM
vipRandyM
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on May 4, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food was excellent and we really enjoyed ourselves. Our server was very polite, efficient, and took really good care of us. It is nice to have Dobson’s back open for lunch. We’ll definitely be back!

CB
ConnorB
1 review
Dined on May 1, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food. Great service. Would recommend to a friend

F
vipFrodo
San Diego
16 reviews
Dined on April 28, 2021
Overall3food5service3ambience3

Though the food remains great, the place is looking tired. There was one very busy bartender/waiter in the whole place. We commented that this was a 75th birthday, which was not acknowledged.

It was disappointing after many, many past visits. Not sure I'd recommend.

e
ecgourmand
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on April 22, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

From start to finish the food and experience we're fabulous! Highly recommend the shrimp and mushroom ajillo. Filet mignon was cooked to perfection!

JO
JOHNATHANN
Orange County
1 review
Dined on April 21, 2021
Overall4food3service3ambience3

Small little establishment, with an up stairs dining area. Very tight area when walking though. Prices are a bit on the high side for the quantity of food. The menu only really had about 20 items on it at most.(App, entree, salads) seems like it would be an okay place if you're not trying to travel too far and staying really close to the area. If you're looking for something with more choices, I would suggest other places around the area.

F
Foodie
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2021
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Excellent restaurant with great food and fabulously friendly service. The tables were a little crowded together for our liking but we were moved to our own private room which was perfect for us.

TT
TanyaT
San Diego
1 review
Dined on April 17, 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Spent a wonderful evening at Dobson's restaurant and bar for our 17 yesr anniversary. Lino the bartender gave us special attention along with FANTASTIC libations and Jose our server was friendly and attentive. It is a popular place with yummy steak dinners.

WA
WilA
San Diego
7 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Food was great as well as service and ambiance. I recommend this restaurant.

MS
MarkS
San Diego
3 reviews
Dined on April 17, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Our dinner at Dobson's was everything we wanted, the food was excellent and the service attentive. We will be back

c
commander
San Diego
16 reviews
Dined on April 15, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience4

This was Restaurant Week. The lobster bisque was outstanding. My filet mignon was exceptional but not the best I"ve ever had. The desserts were average.

L
Lolo
San Diego
13 reviews
Dined on April 15, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Mussel Bisque of the Century...
Dobson's has been and is my go-to for bisque since the 1980s. Always a wonderful getaway for lunch or dinner.

AG
AlfonsoG
San Diego
4 reviews
Dined on April 10, 2021
Overall4food5service4ambience5

Great place, staff was wonderfull, ambiance was great, will be coming back many time

K
vipKasper
San Diego
12 reviews
Dined on April 9, 2021
Overall2food2service2ambience2

I have gone to Dobsons for years and loved every experience. Last night, however, the meal was terrible. Worst salmon dish but the bartender saved the night after we paid $200.00 for a horrible meal.

I
blockoffIndia
San Diego
12 reviews
Dined on March 27, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great mussels in wine and yellow curry sauce.

B
Bobbya
1 review
Dined on March 27, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Muscle Bisque is fabulous! Service was terrific! Great cozy place for a great dinner! We loved it!

JL
vipJrryLouise
Los Angeles
127 reviews
Dined on March 27, 2021
Overall4food4service4ambience4

We came from Los Angeles specifically for the mussel bisque, which we’ve been fans of for over 30 years.
A little disappointed in the quality, but still very good. We missed the hospitality of owner Paul.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Orange County
2 reviews
Dined on March 26, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food was AMAZING! The sourdough toast was incredible! Fun atmosphere with a guy singing and playing the saxophone. I would highly recommend coming here!

CN
ClaraN
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on March 25, 2021
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Nice place, too noise. The life music was playing right next to the tables, not enough space for social distancing.

KT
KimT
4 reviews
Dined on March 25, 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

We were pleasantly surprised to be entertained with live music. It made for a lively and fun celebration.

OT
OpenTable Diner
1 review
Dined on March 19, 2021
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Anniversary

OT
OpenTable Diner
New York Area
1 review
Dined on March 13, 2021
Overall4food5service3ambience5

Food was so good! The fresh bread was delicious, the beet salad was good, and the wild mushroom ravioli was sooo good. It was loud in there in a good way, live music and lively. My server was very kind but service was slow. Live music was very cool and the ambiance was fun!! Bar area looked nice too.

S
vipScotty40
San Antonio
40 reviews
Dined on March 5, 2021
Overall3food3service4ambience3

Limited menu currently. Burger was good and fries were nice and hot. We sat outside on the sidewalk which was not ideal but understandable. Service was good. Probably not the same quality as pre covid.

EE
EduardoE
Denver
1 review
Dined on February 26, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food, ambiance and music.

CR
CarlosR
San Diego
9 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2021
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Valentines Day

A
Alex
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2021
Overall4food5service2ambience5

We were on Valentine's Day. Everything is great, the food is delicious, but the service was poor. Not organized.

JJ
JJBR
New Orleans
1 review
Dined on February 14, 2021
Overall1food3service1ambience1

Horrible and slow service despite few occupied tables. We were told upstairs was at capacity (our reservation was at 5pm on 2/14) yet witnessed many people being taken upstairs during our meal. The menu presented was vastly different than that online which was very misleading and disappointing. We were brought the wrong food and had to request water refills and the check multiple times. The dining tables in the main area were not 6-feet apart and several employees were incorrectly wearing masks leaving their noses exposed. While our mussels and salmon appetizers were tasty (we initially went for dinner but after seeing the menu changed our plans) neither dish was worth the price.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on February 14, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Anniversary

EB
EricB
1 review
Dined on February 13, 2021
Overall3food5service2ambience3

Not a fair review, but the staff were quite inexperienced and uncoordinated. Probably will get better.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on January 30, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

So good, such a great live musician as well!

KA
vipKristineA
San Diego
1 review
Dined on January 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

They had live music and it was wonderful. Felt like pre-covid times.

OT
OpenTable Diner
San Diego
2 reviews
Dined on January 29, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We had a great time we weren’t expecting to go there but we found a reservation on open table and decided to try it out. Everything from the appetizer to our main entrées and drinks were delicious we will definitely be going back.

OT
OpenTable Diner
Las Vegas
1 review
Dined on January 18, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The server worked his butt off, and the soup was out of this world. My favorite place in SD

AC
AmyC
San Diego
1 review
Dined on January 16, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience5

My food was delicious and hot! Our server was also so awesome. I'll definitely be back!

OT
vipOpenTable Diner
Las Vegas
7 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2021
Overall5food5service5ambience3

The food is as good or better than it’s ever been. Remembering the “glory days” of this bastion of the San Diego culinary scene made me a bit nostalgic and bitter-sweet about the “tired” look of the interior. The beautiful stained glass bar had merely 2 bulbs lit behind the glass and the 2nd floor mezzanine (where we dined) had visible stains in the ceiling from the HVAC. A little TLC would go a long way to restoring this historic destination for movers & shakers, business elite and celebrities who long graced it with pre-theatre dinners or post-deal business drinks. Feeling wistful for what this still could be, I wish the new owners well and pray that they support and promote the amazing chef who will keep us coming back for more!

TJ
vipTheJoeWilliams
Los Angeles
8 reviews
Dined on November 7, 2020
Overall3food3service2ambience2

Dobson's has been a favorite of our for years. Now with COVID, we recognize that we cannot expect the same quality of ambience and service as in the past. However, we made a reservation a week in advance and were greeted outside by a waiter looking at his phone and barely acknowledging us until we started to walk in. We were told we would have to sit outside even though this was not communicated at the time of reservation and even though there were empty available tables. We ended up sitting at the bar where we received good service from the bartender but it was not the Dobson's experience we remember. Generally disappointing.

JM
vipJenM
Orange County
3 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2020
Overall3food2service5ambience2

We were sitting outside when it started to rain. They were ill-equipped to handle the rain. Our food was over done and dry.

JH
vipJaimiH
San Diego
84 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
96 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.

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 1006 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.