Enable JavaScript to run this app.
Skip to main content
OpenTable logo

The Best Bars for Foodies in San Diego

A photo of Red logo
by The OpenTable Team
Updated January 11, 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 The Grass Skirt restaurant
4.6
4.6 (640)
$31 to $50
Polynesian
Pacific Beach
About the restaurant
A good tiki bar never goes out of style, and The Grass Skirt is the rule to the exception. Located just a few blocks from the ocean in Pacific Beach, this is the perfect place to enjoy San Diego's world famous laid back beach culture while sampling Asian fusion dishes with a distinctly Polynesian flair. The decor is more modern and tiki accented than kitsch, and the bar has become so popular since its arrival on the scene that reservations are strongly recommended, especially for dinner and evening cocktails. Come for the secret menu of rum infused tributes to classics like Sex on the Beach or the Chi Chi, a vodka based pina colada. Stay for the pork buns, which are made from scratch.
Top review
KahunaCPvip
Dined 1 day ago
Another fantastic visit! It had been a while since I made it to town, so I was pleased to see the refreshed entrance. It opened to the Grass Skirt experience I always enjoy, with some nice updates. The bar team made great recommendations and the food and drinks were top-notch, as always.
A photo of Born & Raised restaurant
4.7
4.7 (6054)
$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
OpenTable Diner
Dined 1 day ago
Good food good service. Waiter knew a lot about the menu.
A photo of Cloak + Petal restaurant
4.5
4.5 (899)
$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
OpenTable Diner
Dined 6 days ago
Everything was excellent, service was excellent, food was over the top
A photo of UNION Kitchen & Tap restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1040)
$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
PamS
Dined on Jul 1, 2024
This review is to update my visit to Union in CA…. My earlier review was for Union in Tampa. We had a very nice meal and drinks. Our server was wonderful. Highlights for our groups was the shrimp and grits and the gumbo. If we lived in CA- we would return.
A photo of Raised by Wolves restaurant
4.8
4.8 (2702)
$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
JR44
Dined 1 day ago
We only had drinks. Not sure if there is any food on the menu. The ambiance is excellent as the bar is very well done. It is pricey for drinks. But, so are most places in San Diego these days. Excellent selection of whisky’s and Bourbon.
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 Mar 8, 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
4.3
4.3 (2203)
$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
OpenTable Diner
Dined 5 days ago
Paella might be the most delicious I’ve had (been to Spain 3x) - our waitress was gracious in every way. The two men band played great classic cover songs- guitar & harmonica. It was one of the greatest surprise: unassuming outside, incredible meal & fun time. Visiting from out-of-state - highly recommend
A photo of Beaumont's restaurant
4.8
4.8 (891)
$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
GHfoodievip
Dined 5 days ago
Food and drinks were great- they had great live music it was really fun for a Thursday night out!
A photo of Tahona Bar restaurant
4.6
4.6 (578)
$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
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined today
The food here is amazing! All of the tacos are so creative and delicious. Try them all! On Tuesdays it’s $2 off per taco, which is great cause man are they a bit pricey. The chorizo and fideo seco, and the carnitas, were my favorites. But all were amazing. Chips and salsa cost extra. Ambiance is really nice and the dining room has a great feel to it. Staff were super friendly and helpful with recommending food and drink. Parking isn’t fun. They have a nice looking bar area too.
A photo of Dobson's Bar & Restaurant restaurant
4.4
4.4 (1400)
$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
christys
Dined 4 days ago
Excellent meal! The mussel bisque is amazing. The shrimp and mushroom appetizer was tasty. We had the surf and turf special. The filet was tender and perfectly cooked. The lobster tail was tiny (2 bites) but tasty. Get the bread service! Their sourdough is the best I’ve ever had.
A photo of Manhattan of La Jolla restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1670)
$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
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 4 days ago
Manhattan’s is my favorite place for steak and pasta. Friendly service, great food, so many options.
A photo of Jeune et Jolie restaurant
4.9
4.9 (3814)
$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
AmitRvip
Dined 4 days ago
The food is amazing and the service is extraordinary. It was a wonderful experience.
A photo of King & Queen Cantina - San Diego restaurant
4.5
4.5 (1151)
$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 4 days ago
We always have a great time here! Never anything wrong with our meals and never a bad vibe ☺️ we will continue to come at least once a year!
A photo of Gravity Heights Sorrento Valley restaurant
4.7
4.7 (1153)
$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
OpenTable Dinervip
Dined 3 days ago
We always have a positive experience at Gravity Heights with its personable service, delicious food and beer, and pleasant indoor/outdoor experience in a beautiful comfortable contemporary space. Thank you and great job!
OpenTable
  • About Us
  • Blog
  • Careers
  • Press
More
Businesses
  • Restaurant reservation software
  • Industry insights
  • Hospitality resources
  • Marketing resources
  • Operation resources
  • How to open a restaurant
  • For restaurants
  • For restaurant groups
Join us on
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Cookies and Interest-Based Ads
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information
  • Cookie Preferences
Copyright © 2024 OpenTable, Inc. 1 Montgomery St Ste 500, San Francisco CA 94104 - All rights reserved.
OpenTable is part of Booking Holdings, the world leader in online travel and related services.
Booking Logo
Priceline Logo
KAYAK Logo
Agoda Logo
OpenTable Logo