Sunny downtown San Diego is a vibrant, lively area of this laid back city that’s nestled along the picturesque waterfront. This dynamic neighborhood is characterized by its beautiful skyline, a blend of modern high-rises and historic architecture, and a diverse cultural scene. From the historic Gaslamp Quarter with its buzzing nightlife and dining options to the pristine Balboa Park and its museums and the stunning waterfront Embarcadero, Downtown San Diego offers a thriving combination of entertainment, art, and outdoor activities.
Here are three places to eat next time you find yourself exploring this area.
Vistal Bar & Lounge
Located at the InterContinental San Diego, Vistal Bar & Lounge is a beautiful restaurant that offers Baja California inspired coastal cuisine. Locally sourced ingredients take center stage in Chef de Cuisine Ricardo Heredia’s inventive renditions of coastal Southern California classics. Vistal’s culinary team sources ingredients mainly from local waters, farms, and ranches located along the Southwest Pacific Coast. The modern take on coastal California cuisine is influenced by both the flavors of Baja and the array of fresh, sustainable seafood in this area.
Highlights on the dinner include starters like the grilled octopus mojo with garlic butter, black garlic mojo, charcoal potatoes, goat cheese and huitlacoche; the California pizza with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, chives and caviar; and the Morro Bay crab dip with Dungeness crab, cream cheese, smoked paprika, seascape cheddar, salt & pepper potato chips.
Entree highlights include the Kurobuta pork chop with sweet potato, crème fraiche, American sturgeon caviar, frisee, duck ham and maple gastrique; the steak au poivre with Mishima wagyu tenderloin, peppercorn, black trumpet mushroom, roasted campari tomato and Casa Amigos Repasado cream sauce; and the seafood fideua with baked angel hair pasta, black cod, Dungeness crab, Baja shrimp, little neck clams and tomato seafood broth.
For excellent Mexican food (in a place where the standards are high for this cuisine!), take a seat at Puesto. Located in Seaport Village nearby shops and the waterfront, Puesto offers a lively ambiance, al fresco dining and a menu of seasonal cuisine. Sharable plates include the juicy birria nachos with cheese sauce and short rib birria; and the shimp gobernador quesadilla with Mexican shrimp, poblano, and jalapeño salsa. Puesto also offers a selection of seafood-centric dishes like the passionfruit and mango shrimp ceviche; the lobster guacamole and the grilled shrimp plate with guajilo shrimp, rice and beans and esquite.
They are perhaps best known for their tacos with standouts like the award-winning chicken al pastor with crispy melted cheese, braised free range Jidori chicken, hibiscus & chipotle tinga, avocado and piña habanero pico; filet mignon with crispy melted cheese, avocado and spicy pistachio serrano salsa; and the pozole with crispy melted cheese, braised Salmon Creek Farms pork, avocado and hominy.
Wash it all down with any one of their refreshing margaritas, beers, or specialty cocktails. They also offer flights of tequila and mezcal.
For brunch (or breakfast) extravagant enough for royalty, start your day at the Westgate Room at the regal Westgate Hotel. With a dining room decorated with chandeliers, forest green banquettes, roman columns and mirrors, this restaurant offers an impressive selection of house specialties, egg dishes and more hearty entrees if you’re really hungry.
Popular items include the lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry marmalade; the house brioche French toast with creme fraiche cinnamon butter and maple; the eggs Benedict with cotto prosciutto and hollandaise; the steak and eggs and the frittata with heirloom tomatoes, Humboldt fog goat cheese and artichoke.
The dinner menu is equally impressive. From appetizers that range from dim sum that includes cha su bao, pork shumai and potstickers to charcuterie and P.E.I mussels and fries, there’s something for everyone. The entrees offer a range of seafood, pasta meat entrees like Angus beef tenderloin with Yukon potato gratin; togarashi crusted Baja prawn with squid linguini and the Icelandic salmon with faro.