San Diego visitors this fall can enjoy dining experiences at some of the city's most-acclaimed restaurants, including upscale wood-fired restaurant Catania, named as one of Zagat's 15 Hottest New Restaurants Around the United States, and hip cocktail bar The Nolen, voted as one of San Diego's best restaurants with a view by San Diego Magazine. Hip breweries offer unique beer selections, including new breweries focused on gluten-free and gluten-reduced selections. Visitors can also catch first-run movies at the Theater Box, home to an outpost of acclaimed celebrity sweets retailer Sugar Factory.
© Sparks Gallery
Sparks Gallery is the vision of curator and owner Sonya Sparks, who has helmed the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter gallery since 2013. The gallery is housed within the neighborhood's restored Sterling Hardware Building, which was originally constructed in 1924 and designated as an historic landmark in the 1980s along with the rest of its surrounding neighborhood. Exhibitions hosted at the gallery throughout the year highlight the works of contemporary artists throughout the San Diego and Southern California regions. Past group and solo exhibitions have showcased artists like Alexander Arshansky, Carla Naden, Lee Selman, and James Hubbell. Special events presented by the gallery throughout the year include artist talks, receptions, and guided photography and art excursions.
530 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, Phone: 619-696-1416
2.Duck Foot Brewing Company
© Duck Foot Brewing Company
Duck Foot Brewing Company is a delicious gluten-free brewery in San Diego, opened in 2015 by Brett Golfstock and Matt DelVecchio. The brewery specializes in gluten-free and gluten-reduced craft brews, which are safe for diners with Celiac's disease and gluten intolerances to enjoy. An excellent lineup of original craft beers are served up on tap throughout the year by the brewery, including flagship favorites like its The Looker Blonde Ale, Hop 'Em Sock 'Em West Coast-style IPA, Drink This Or The Bees Die Honey Ale, and Duckzilla Double White IPA. Gluten-free snacks and bar fare options are served up throughout the week at the brewery's dog-friendly tap room and patio, including selections like buffalo chicken sliders, Brazilian-style cheese bread, and traditional Mexican elote corn salad.
8920 Kenamar Dr #210, San Diego, CA 92121, Phone: 858-433-7916
3.Backyard Kitchen and Tap
© Backyard Kitchen and Tap
Backyard Kitchen and Tap was opened in 2015 in Pacific Beach's Mission Boulevard district, turning the hip coastal energy of the region into a vibrant setting for an American-style eatery. The restaurant, which has been voted as one of San Diego's top 10 sports brunch spots and best sports bar, serves up a from-scratch menu of all-American fare in a laid-back indoor/outdoor setting with cabana seating, glass-enclosed fire pits, and a patio stage for live music performances. Diners can choose from an extensive list of creative burger offerings, ranging from free-range bison burgers to barbecue pulled pork sandwiches and prime rib dips. Gourmet Backyard Mac and Cheese offerings are topped with hearty toppings like Hamburger Helper, buffalo chicken, or blackened shrimp. Clever shareables are also served up, along with an award-winning selection of craft brews and cocktails.
832 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109, Phone: 858-859-2593
Theatre Box is a unique concept dining and entertainment venue from the forces behind Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theatre and gourmet sweets retailer Sugar Factory. The venue, which opened in 1997, was fully renovated and reopened as a new experience in December of 2018, housed within a full city block complex in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Visitors can explore attractions inspired by the experience of going to the movies, including a luxurious dine-in cinema showing first-run hit movies. A signature Sugar Factory confectioners store sells the brand's famed sweets, including its iconic Couture Pops, which are favorites of celebrities like Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Rihanna. Decadent American-style fare is served up at the Sugar Factory American Brasserie, including gourmet burgers, pizza, and crepes. On the rooftop, the 5th and Sky Rooftop Gardens and Lounge hosts live DJ sets throughout the week.
701 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, Phone: 619-814-2225
© Fort Oak
Fort Oak is a delightful Mission Hills restaurant that opened in 2019 within the mixed-use Fort building, overseen by restaurateur Steven Schwob and executive chef Brad Wise. The restaurant, which is named for the beautiful majestic oak trees of nearby Presidio Park, serves up delicious rustic wood-fired menu offerings, ranging from seasonal small plates to family-style tasting experiences. Diners can enjoy high-quality fare like Pacific halibut with French curry rice, Duroc pork chops with coal-roasted shishitos and black garlic sauce, and heart-grilled branzino with peperonata and salsa verde. Bar bites are available each day starting at 3:00pm, ranging from turnip kimchi pork spare ribs and shrimp and pork dumplings to salt cod fritters and oysters on the half shell. A high-quality craft cocktail list features favorites like the Chevelle, crafted with housemade olive brine.
1011 Fort Stockton Dr, San Diego, CA 92103, Phone: 619-722-3398
© The Nolen
The Nolen has been voted as one of San Diego's best restaurants with a view by San Diego Magazine, renowned for its delicious cocktail list and elevated bar bites. The bar, which opened in 2015, is located atop the scenic 14th-floor rooftop of the Courtyard Gaslamp in San Diego's East Village neighborhood, offering unparalleled views of nearby landmarks like Coronado Island, San Diego Bay, and Petco Park. High-quality barrel-aged and signature cocktails highlight delicious ingredients like housemade chai syrup, coffee liqueur, and orange bitters. An extensive list of bar bites highlights everything from charcuterie boards to international tapas like coconut curry chicken skewers, carnitas tacos, and three-cheese arancini. Brunch classics like bloody marys and mimosas pair with creative Benedicts and Mexican-style favorites like chilaquiles.
453 Sixth Ave #7007, San Diego, CA 92101, Phone: 619-796-6536
7.Ortega's A Mexican Bistro
© Ortega's A Mexican Bistro
Ortega's A Mexican Bistro is the second outpost of favorite Puerto Nuevo dining destination, opened in 2005 in the city's Hillcrest district. The traditional Mexican-style restaurant is known for its excellent guacamole prepared tableside and high-quality regional specialties, including delicious Baja-style lobster entrees. Beautiful rustic decor evokes a south-of-the-border spirit, showcasing handwoven baskets, Mexican pottery, and intricately-designed wood-carved doors and stained-glass windows. Diners can enjoy unique Puerto Nuevo specialties like plantain-crusted huachinango, chicken pumpkin seed pippian, and grilled Dorado Veracruz with white wine sauce and poblano chiles. At lunch, lighter fare includes epazote-cilantro chicken tacos, crab enchiladas, and hearty carnitas burritos. Happy hour drink specials include signature pomegranate or mango mint margaritas.
141 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103, Phone: 619-692-4200
© Garden Kitchen
Garden Kitchen is a delicious New American restaurant known for its elevated farm-to-table fare, opened in 2015 by executive chef Coral Fodor. The unique concept restaurant sources ingredients for its daily-rotating menus from five local San Diego farms, which work in direct partnership with the restaurant. Scratch-made fare focuses on the use of organic, local, and seasonal menu items, many of which are crafted with antibiotic and hormone-free meats. Diners can relax on the restaurant's delightful covered outdoor patio, which is temperature-controlled with fans and heaters throughout the year. Menu favorites frequently highlighted include offerings like slow-cooked duck confit with cheddar buttermilk biscuits, pork tenderloins with tangerine and serrano soy marinade, and curried bell peppers stuffed with zucchini, tarragon, and quinoa. Inside, a lounge offers cozy bar bites and fine wines by the glass.
4204 Rolando Blvd, San Diego, CA 92115, Phone: 619-431-5755
Jsix is a lovely casual restaurant and bar in San Diego's East Village neighborhood, helmed by Filipino-American executive chef Anthony Sinsay. The restaurant is known for its unique American-influenced takes on classic Filipino comfort fare, which highlight delicious Coastal Mediterranean and Spanish influences. Unique fusion fare is served up at breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner throughout the week, showcasing selections like Filipino-style spring rolls, yellowtail coconut and chili ceviche, Japanese-marinated mussels, and carrot pappardelle prepared with pistachio pesto. Cocktails lists highlight international ingredients and influence, paired against extensive international and budget wine lists and a tap list highlighting local draft brew selections.
616 J St, San Diego, CA 92101, Phone: 619-531-8744
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10.Union Kitchen and Tap
© Union Kitchen and Tap
Union Kitchen and Tap was opened in 2012 in San Diego's lively Encinitas neighborhood, helmed by executive chef Michael Welch. Today, the restaurant offers several outposts throughout the San Diego region, known for its neighborhood vibe and excellent craft brew selection. Inventive American gastropub fare is served up throughout the week at its three dining spaces, which are furnished with reclaimed wood accents and comfortable seating. Fresh, local ingredients take center stage in signature fare like the restaurant's Union Gumbo, prepared with Andouille sausage, butter-poached crawfish, and roasted chicken, or its Union Burger, topped with cherrywood-smoked bacon and aged white cheddar. Extensive vegan selections are also offered, ranging from jackfruit and mushroom enchiladas to chipotle sweet potato bowls with cashew cotija-style cheese. Drink menus emphasize local San Diego beers, artisanal wines, and distinguished housemade cocktails.
1108 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024, Phone: 760-230-2337
11.Serea Coastal Cuisine
© Serea Coastal Cuisine
Serea Coastal Cuisine is one of San Diego's newest sea-to-table dining experiences, opened in summer of 2019 adjacent to the city's legendary Hotel del Coronado. The laid-back restaurant is helmed by executive chef Jojo Ruiz, serving up elegant gourmet dishes with Mediterranean and global influences. Sustainable seafood entrees highlight the best bounty of the California Coast and Baja Peninsula, with a focus on environmentally-friendly selections. Diners can enjoy a plethora of high-quality seafood selections served up throughout the week, including wood-grilled Pacifico striped bass, huachinango-style red snapper, local-caught swordfish en papallilote, and lobster and spot prawn bakes. A daily selection of East and West Coast oysters is also served, along with exceptional wine, beer, and cocktail menus.
1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118, Phone: 619-435-6611
© The Florence
The Florence is a new San Diego restaurant named in honor of regional swimming legend Florence Chadwick, the first woman to swim the English and Catalina Channels. The restaurant, which opened in 2019, turns a former cafeteria space into a beautiful 10,000-square-foot upscale restaurant with dining, bar, and outdoor spaces. Memorabilia related to Chadwick's life and career is showcased throughout the restaurant, which is furnished in a beautiful sea-inspired decor theme. Excellent main dish selections range from half roasted brick chickens with blue lake beans and grilled pork chops with maple roasted apples to classic favorites like steak frites and patty melts. Outside, the restaurant's patio boasts fire pits and a regulation-sized bocce ball court.
13480 Evening Creek Dr N Suite 150, San Diego, CA 92128
13.Voltaire Beach House
© Voltaire Beach House
Voltaire Beach House is a delightful New American offering from restaurateur David Schiffman, opened in 2016 in San Diego's former O'Bistro restaurant space. The pet-friendly restaurant is located adjacent to Ocean Beach Dog Beach, making it a great choice for diners looking to plan a day out with their four-legged friends. High-quality burgers, bowls, and gastropub fare are served up throughout the week, including unique vegetarian sandwich selections like vegetarian hibiscus mock chicken salad sandwiches, pulled barbecue jackfruit sandwiches, and grilled portobello and fire-roasted red pepper sandwiches. Burger selections range from standard patties to health-conscious black bean and portobello patties. Breakfast is served up all day, highlighting unique selections like dragon fruit sorbet bowls, steak and egg boals, and egg-bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches. 24 local San Diego craft brews on tap are paired with a selection of refreshing cocktails prepared with farmer's market ingredients.
4934 Voltaire St, San Diego, CA 92107, Phone: 619-955-8840
14.The Whiskey House
© The Whiskey House
The Whiskey House holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for most whiskeys served in the world, highlighting an extensive list of more than 3,000 fine and international whiskeys. The hip Gaslamp Quarter dining destination, which was opened in 2015 by Alex and Lais Minaev, highlights whiskey selections from 26 countries around the world, including outlandishly rare and elite selections priced as high as $1,100 a glass. Delicious menu selections focus on fresh-ground burgers, exotic cheeses, and housemade sausages, including unique selections like tzatziki-topped lamb sausage and signature Thousand Island-topped Whiskey House burgers. High-quality mix-and-match charcuterie and cheese platters are paired with quince, rig jam, cornichons, and mustard.
420 Third Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, Phone: 619-546-6289
15.Osetra Seafood and Steaks
© Osetra Seafood and Steaks
Osetra Seafood and Steaks is an upscale contemporary fish house in San Diego's Gaslamp District, opened in 2006 within a renovated 9,500-square-foot space. The restaurant is known as downtown San Diego's premiere seafood restaurant, showcasing entrees and pasta dishes highlighting the culinary traditions of Europe, the Americas, and the Pacific Rim. Diners can select from extensive caviar and raw bar menus, highlighting Siberian caviar selections, daily East and West Coast oysters, Osetra ceviche, and yellowtail hamachi shots. Prime steak and lamb chop cuts are paired with entree selections like Chilean sea bass with fennel risotto and pomegranate reduction, stuffed sole with spinach and crab meat, and steamed Maine lobsters or crab legs. An award-winning wine selection is available by the glass or by the bottle to complement all menu selections.
904 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101, Phone: 619-239-1800
© Amici's Ristobar
Amici's Ristobar is named for the Italian word for "friends," named to honor former restaurant owner Anthony Smith, who passed away in 2017 shortly after the restaurant's initial opening as Dolce at the Highlands. Today, the restaurant is helmed by executive chef Rhoelle Gabriel, known for its affordable Italian-style favorites and family-friendly neighborhood charm. Diners can enjoy high-quality selections like asiago-stuffed gnocchi ripieni, beef tortellini with aged parmesan sauce, veal Milanese served parmigiana-style, and linguine frutti di mare baked in parchment paper. Build-your-own pasta selections highlight classic pasta styles like pappardelle, linguine, radiatore, and bucatini, topped with hearty sauces ranging from classic alfredo to spicy sausage ragu. Weekend brunch offerings range from house specialty Benedicts to maple bacon Belgian waffles and avocado toasts.
5980 Village Way #B106, San Diego, CA 92130, Phone: 858-847-2740
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Catania was named as one of Zagat's 15 Hottest New Restaurants Around the United States in 2015, located atop the top of La Jolla's beautiful newly-redesigned La Plaza Center. The restaurant is the vision of restaurateurs Ryan Johnston and Arturo Kassel of Whisknladle Hospitality, serving up delicious authentic Italian coastal cuisine in a dining space offering sweeping panoramic ocean views. Diners can enjoy a wide range of housemade pastas and pizzas crafted by executive chef Dustin Karagheusian, which are prepared on the restaurant's 5,000-pound wood-burning oven, Beatrice. Delicious entree selections including dishes like orecchiette with slow-braised duck ragu, served with porcini mushrooms, tomato coulis, and fresh-grated parmesan. Housemade desserts are crafted by pastry chef Jojo Rossi.
7863 Girard Avenue #301 F3, La Jolla, CA 92037, Phone: 858-551-5105
17 Unique Things to Do in San Diego This Fall
- Sparks Gallery, Photo: Sparks Gallery
- Duck Foot Brewing Company, Photo: Duck Foot Brewing Company
- Backyard Kitchen and Tap, Photo: Backyard Kitchen and Tap
- Theatre Box, Photo: Rattanachai/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Oak, Photo: Fort Oak
- The Nolen, Photo: The Nolen
- Ortega's A Mexican Bistro, Photo: Ortega's A Mexican Bistro
- Garden Kitchen, Photo: Garden Kitchen
- Jsix, Photo: Jsix
- Union Kitchen and Tap, Photo: Union Kitchen and Tap
- Serea Coastal Cuisine, Photo: Serea Coastal Cuisine
- The Florence, Photo: The Florence
- Voltaire Beach House, Photo: Voltaire Beach House
- The Whiskey House, Photo: The Whiskey House
- Osetra Seafood and Steaks, Photo: Osetra Seafood and Steaks
- Amici's Ristobar, Photo: Amici's Ristobar
- Catania, Photo: Catania
- Cover Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com