10 Best Places to Eat in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter, a 16.5-block neighborhood, is the heartbeat of the city's nightlife and home to a number of festivals. Urban renewal over the last few decades resulted in an energetic vibe and reinforced the Gaslamp's place as a trendy hub in the middle of a seaside city.

Holding the top spot is Searsucker, one of celebrity chef Brian Malarkey's restaurants. He's famous for his charisma and ability to put new twists on old classics. Guests rave about the Dr. Seuss-inspired green eggs and ham on the weekend brunch menu and pork chops with duck fat potatoes during dinner. It's not just about gourmet cuisine. The decor is visually-stunning with high ceilings, distressed wood tables and modern flourishes.

Which cuisine is San Diego most famous for? Probably Mexican food--tacos, to be exact. La Puerta offers up some of the Gaslamp's best street tacos in a festive atmosphere. Hang out here until late night as the kitchen is open until 1:00am! A fresh-squeezed margarita never hurt anyone, either.

You'll see that these restaurants offer a variety of cuisines from Persian to seafood. The ambiance on offer varies, too. The one thing that is consistent is that they're all steps away from each other and worthy of a stop.


STK San Diego, a modern steakhouse and lounge, is located inside the Andaz San Diego hotel on lobby level and recently opened under the direction of Executive Chef Dave Burke. It's intended to be a spot for social gatherings across multiple spaces including the main dining room, bistro seating area, bar, patio and versatile private dining spaces. The menu features elevated American cuisine with signature dishes including House-made Pappardelle Pasta with Short Rib Ragout and Grilled Summer Squash. As the name implies, this San Diego restaurant only uses the best quality steak and there are 10 cuts to choose from. Pair them with suds from their local beer selection or mixology menu.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: STK has 20 locations worldwide. This upscale steakhouse and lounge atmospheres is what San Diego needed.

Katie's expert tip: Happy hour happens on weekdays between 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Read more about STK San Diego →

Rei do Gado

Meat lovers rejoice! Partake in the traditional Churrasco without boarding a plane to Brazil. Skewers of meat are slow-roasted over a mesquite flame after being marinated in simple seasonings. The meat waiter will slice it freshly off the skewer until you throw in the towel. Gourmet, prepared salads are also all-you-can-eat and so extensive that you can opt for salads only. The ambiance is a little tired, but the tender meats make up for that. Call to verify these prices as they are subject to change but this will give you a rough idea. Lunch (11:00am-4:00pm): Mon - Fri. $27.50/person; Sat, Sun and holidays $28.50/person. Dinner (After 4:00pm): Sun - Thurs. $42/person; Fri, Sat and holidays $48/person.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: It's unique, one of San Diego's only churrascarias, and a rare all-you-can-eat opportunity in a non-chain restaurant.

Katie's expert tip: Bring your appetite for all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ. At least you can go low-carb.

Read more about Rei do Gado →

Grab a taste of Italy in the Gaslamp at Chocolat Cremerie. Famous for gelato, exquisite chocolate and tasty crepes, this bistro is a local favorite. It's even open late-night for those who need to satisfy a sweet tooth. Try cream-stuffed croissants and eggs for breakfast. Order salads, bruschette, cured meats and paninis for lunch. Gelato flavors include multiple chocolates, mango, basil lemon, honey and poppy seed cream and more. Know that the ingredients are top-of-the-line and recipes formulated after years of research. The reviews don't lie with even people who have spent loads of time in Italy singing this bistro's praises. And, there's a full bar.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: Though it looks like an ice cream shop, Chocolat brings authentic Italy to San Diego via desserts, snacks and Italian crepes.

Katie's expert tip: You're going to order the gelato here, right? It's worth ever calorie.

Read more about Chocolat Cremerie →


It may surprise you that one of the most popular restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter serves Persian food. Expect filet mignon, lamb chicken, fish garlic, onion, vegetables, nuts, pomegranate, herbs, saffron, lime and other flavors that compliment a healthy eating lifestyle. The portions are quite large with a variety of options suitable for vegetarians. Favorites include the chicken kebab, lamb shank and organic salmon. Pair it with hummus and other tasty appetizers or the Bandar salad with mixed greens, feta and a house lime dressing. It's been family-owned since 1996. Perfect for business lunches, family dinners, parties and even a to-go order, locals and tourists love Bandar.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: Bandar's Persian cuisine fits perfectly into a Southern California healthy living lifestyle.

Katie's expert tip: It's all about grilled meats and clean eats here. Try the World Famous chicken kebab.

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Werewolf is a New American pub in the Gaslamp Quarter that has really upped its food game at prices that are hard to beat for what you get in the area, especially if you go for all-you-can-eat tacos for $9.95 on Tuesdays. The space is dominated by a par that has 33 beer taps and great cocktails. Most of the food is made from scratch and ranges from salads to gourmet sandwiches to hearty breakfasts. The short ribs and brussels sprouts are a popular order as are the burgers. The crowd here can skew a bit young but all ages seem to enjoy it.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: Werewolf is known for excellent customer service as well as amazing food that won't break the bank.

Katie's expert tip: The kitchen is open until 1:00 a.m. daily if you get a late night hankering for comfort food.

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Spike Africa's is named after legendary schooner captain once known as the "President of the Pacific Ocean". Serving fresh seafood amid nostalgic detail, the focus is really about the food though premium drinks are offered at modest price points. Craft beers and signature drinks pair well with fresh fish (choose a side and a sauce). The BBQ chips and lobster roll as well as the mustard glazed salmon are hits. Happy hour is from 3:30pm-6:30pm daily and includes $5 house wines and 1/2 price appetizers. Guests can dine outside (though it can be noisy during rush hour) and dress is casual.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: It features fresh, quality seafood at excellent prices for the Gaslamp.

Katie's expert tip: Don't skip dessert. The butterscotch pudding (with sea salt, of course) is a local favorite.

Read more about Gaslamp Fish House →

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine

Modeled after a San Francisco supper club, this award-winning upscale dining room offers steaks and seafood. Fresh ingredients, quality recipes, talented chefs and delightful presentation combine for the ideal dining experience. Try signature items like their griddle jumbo lump crab cakes and dill-crusted salmon. Superb service and a well-stocked bar also make this a Gaslamp Quarter must-try. Blue Point Coastal Cuisine is one of the first seafood restaurants to open in the area and remains a favorite of locals and tourists alike. The restaurant is open for dinner only though happy hour is from 5:00pm to 6:30pm. It's a member of the popular Cohn Group of restaurants.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: This seafood restaurant is a member of San Diego's popular Cohn Restaurant Group, known for reliability and quality eats.

Katie's expert tip: Dollar oysters and $5 wines by the glass are on offer at happy hour. Also, try the Chef's Seafood Tower for two.

Read more about Blue Point Coastal Cuisine →

If you're looking for Mexican food in the Gaslamp, La Puerta is your place. La Puerta is famous for street tacos that can only be made better by pairing them with a freshly-squeezed margarita (no mixes here). Over 100, 100% blue agave tequilas are on offer complete with tasting notes to help diners select which is right for them. Happy hour runs daily from 3:00pm-7:00pm, usually with 1/2 drinks and appetizers like the carne asada fries. After 3:00pm (and when musicians are playing) you must be 21 years and older to enter. The kitchen is open until 1:00am so stop by for late-night eats.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: La Puerta is a festive hangout that serves up Sinaloan-inspired family recipes and is great for late-night eats.

Katie's expert tip: Order the guacamole and then thank me later.

Read more about La Puerta →

Versatility and freshness set this seafood specialist apart. Combining a bountiful oyster bar with a fresh fish menu that changes daily, Oceanaire offers a changing selection that may include snapper, swordfish, grouper, mahi-mahi and blue marlin steak. Jumbo lump crab cakes and fish and chips are favorites as well. Savory sides range from sour cream and onion mashed potatoes to fried green tomatoes. 1930's decor and an adjoining cocktail bar add to the appeal of the restaurant's large and lively dining room. Oceanaire has received numerous awards for being one of the best seafood restaurants in all of San Diego.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: It's refined yet relaxed with impeccable seafood and is a perfect spot for a special occasion.

Katie's expert tip: This restaurant isn't for the budget-conscious but you will get what you pay for. Order the crab cakes.

Read more about Oceanaire Seafood Room →

Celebrity Chef Brian Malarkey of TLC's Mega Bites and Bravo's Top Chef, opened Searsucker in the heart of San Diego's trendy Gaslamp Quarter. His New American cuisine puts new twists on classic favorites. Specialties include buttermilk fried chicken, bone-in tomahawk ribeye, and locally sourced seafood specialties like Maine scallops. The menu changes daily to keep offerings fresh and fun. Guests pair these unpretentious dishes with local craft beer, handcrafted cocktails and a selection of one-of-a-kind wines from all over the world. If the food isn't enough to send your senses into overdrive, the decor just might. Searsucker has a mix of distressed furniture, big comfy sofas, and modern pieces.

Recommended for Gaslamp Quarter's Best Restaurants because: It's a local favorite with unbeatable festive ambiance and awesome, hearty food.

Katie's expert tip: Champagne Sunday brunch is an excellent time to try Searsucker. The Peter Rabbit cocktail with Pimm's just might right the ship.

Read more about Searsucker →


Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie