Best San Diego Gaslamp Restaurants According to a Local Foodie

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As a travel writer, former San Diego resident, and self-proclaimed foodie, I am often asked for restaurant recommendations in America’s Finest City. There are delicious restaurants throughout San Diego County, but if you want to stick to downtown, San Diego’s downtown Gaslamp Quarter serves up a bounty of delicious eats. Here are my picks for the eight best San Diego Gaslamp restaurants.

Mmm...strawberry pancakes from Richard Walker's Pancake House in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter

Mmm…strawberry pancakes from Richard Walker’s Pancake House in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter (Photo credit: Richard Walker’s Pancake House Instagram)

Richard Walker’s Pancake House – Tastiest Pancake Breakfast

Besides my mama’s pancakes, Richard Walker’s Pancake House makes the best flapjacks I’ve ever had. And let me tell you, my mama makes one heckuva pancake! If you’re looking for thick, garbage can lid-sized cakes, go somewhere else. These are thin and light with an ever-so-slight golden crispiness. The omelettes, waffles, and crepes are also quite good. For a carbo-licious delight, get the massive Apple Pancake with Granny Smith apples and cinnamon glaze. Beware: on weekends there is always a wait.

Tijuana Style Eggs Benedict at MaryJane's puts a Mexican flair on an American classic breakfast dish

Tijuana Style Eggs Benedict at MaryJane’s puts a Mexican flair on an American classic breakfast dish (Photo credit: Hard Rock Hotel San Diego)

MaryJane’s Diner – Best Breakfast Evah

Yeah, I’ll say it. MaryJane’s Diner is the best breakfast you’ll eat. Evah. If you’re looking for a greasy, fat-loaded meal to soothe a hangover…then this is it, my friend. Leave your calorie-obsessed, uptight self at home and do some righteous munchy-indulging at this eatery in the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. Even their omelets seem imbued with some sort of magic potion (cream, I suspect). Whatever you do, get one of their fluffy buttery biscuits. And the hash browns. Oh…the hash browns!

Chilled Seafood Platter and a wonderful view at Top of the Market, one of the best restaurants in San Diego Gaslamp

Chilled Seafood Platter and a wonderful view at Top of the Market (Photo credit: Top of the Market)

The Fish Market/Top of the Market – Best Restaurant with a View

Take in the view of the San Diego Bay while dining at The Fish Market. My family’s favorites here include the Ginger Lime Prawns appetizer, their homemade Danish blue cheese salad dressing (I get it atop the Caesar), their au gratin potatoes side dish, and any of the fresh fish selections served Cajun-style. Kids are welcomed at The Fish Market and can choose from items like panko fish or shrimp, teriyaki chicken, pizza and more.

For a fine dining date night, climb the stairs to dine at sister property, Top of the Market.

Bite into a grassfed organic burger at the Burger Lounge, one of the best San Diego Gaslamp restaurants

Bite into a grassfed organic burger at the Burger Lounge (Photo credit: Burger Lounge Instagram)

Burger Lounge – Best Burger

Rejoice, for the best burger in all the land can be found in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter! Burger Lounge‘s signature sandwich is made from organic, grass-fed (never-frozen) beef. You can also choose a turkey burger, salmon burger or veggie burger (made from organic quinoa, brown rice, garbanzo beans, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, garlic, panko, parsley, chipotle, Monterey jack cheese). The burgers are topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, homemade Thousand Island dressing, grilled or raw onions and served between two buttery buns.

Meanwhile, my picky children adore their chicken skewers off the kids’ menu. The fries are to die for, but the salad with roasted corn, jicama, and other veggies is also delicious if you’re looking for something lighter.

Wash it all down with something tasty. Choose from house-made lemonades (Lavender-Mint or Hibiscus), batch craft sodas, local craft beer and premium wines.

Datiles Rellenos are a tasty blend of sweet and savory at Cafe Sevilla ~ Best Restaurants in San Diego Gaslamp

Datiles Rellenos are a tasty blend of sweet and savory at Cafe Sevilla (Photo credit: Cafe Sevilla)

Café Sevilla – Best Tapas and Flamenco

Get a taste of Spain in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter at Café Sevilla. Choose from an array of tapas like Datiles Relleno (Medjool dates, Cabrales bleu cheese and applewood bacon) and Champiñones al Ajillo (mushrooms with garlic, chile arbol and white wine). Best of all is their flat iron Castellano Steak, made with crumbled Valdeón blue cheese and Rioja red wine. If you’re a paella fan, you’ll delight in six options of this rice dish, including a vegetarian option. Choose a tasting menu for a delightful sampling of Café Sevillas specialties. For an extra special treat, make reservations for their Art of Flamenco Dinner Show, which takes place every Saturday night.

Oceanaire Seafood Room surf and turf in San Diego Gaslamp

Splurge in surf and turf with filet mignon and one of the Oceanaire Seafood Room’s impressive crab cakes (Photo credit: Oceanaire Seafood Room Facebook page)

The Oceanaire Seafood Room – Swankiest Seafood

Living along the Pacific Ocean, San Diegans are big fans of fresh fish and seafood. My go-to restaurant of choice for a celebratory meal downtown is The Oceanaire Seafood Room. It feels like you’re stepping aboard a luxury ocean liner from years past when you enter this swanky dining room.

When dining with a big group, start with the Chilled Shellfish Platter — an array of fresh crab legs, jumbo shrimp, and other ocean goodies served atop crushed ice in an impressive display. Absolutely not to be missed is the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake appetizer. Words. Cannot. Describe. You’ll have a hard time picking something that’s not incredibly delicious from the daily fresh fish offerings here. For dessert share the old-school Baked Alaska with your dinner mates. A flaming dessert always makes a meal feel so divine, dahling!

If you want to bring the kids, come for happy hour Monday through Friday from 5 to 6 pm. Take advantage of surprisingly good prices on appetizers like Jumbo Cocktail Shrimp, Filet Mignon Sliders, Blackened Fish Tacos and a Fresh Oyster Trio. Of course, Mom and Dad will enjoy drink specials on select beers, wines and cocktails, too.

Gelatos galore at Chocolat Cremerie in the San Diego Gaslamp District

Gelatos galore at Chocolat Cremerie in the San Diego Gaslamp District (Photo credit: Chocolat Cremerie)

Chocolat Cremerie – Most Authentic Gelato

Step into what feels like a true Italian gelateria at Chocolat Cremerie in the heart of the Gaslamp. Choose from flavors like Basil Lemon, Chocolate Pear, and Gianduia Chocolate (with hazelnut and almond paste). Wear your stretchy pants – there are also tarts, crepes, and brulées to be had!

Mmm...Strawberry Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli San Diego Gaslamp

Mmm…Strawberry Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli San Diego Gaslamp (Photo credit: Ghirardelli Facebook page)

Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop – Sweetest Ice Cream Parlor

Ghirardelli’s old fashioned soda fountain offers shakes, malts, cones, and sundaes galore. My favorite is the Butterscotch Hot Fudge Sundae. Dark chocolate lovers, however, will revel in three sundaes: Midnight Reverie, Mint Bliss, and Espresso Escape. For a fun, messy treat for a group, dive into The Earthquake. It boasts eight scoops of ice cream, eight toppings, bananas, whipped cream, chopped almonds, chocolate chips, and cherries. Peruse the Ghirardelli chocolate shop afterwards to purchase a sweet souvenir of your visit to San Diego.

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Best San Diego Gaslamp Restaurants

Remember these San Diego Gaslamp Restaurants

To remember these San Diego Gaslamp restaurants for a future visit, be sure to save the image above to Pinterest!

If you’re planning a Southern California vacation, take a look at the 15 best San Diego attractions and read my tips for visiting the San Diego Zoo.

Do you have any additional San Diego Gaslamp restaurants to recommend or questions about where to eat in this SoCal city? Let us know in the comments below!

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. My vote goes to Anthony’s Fishette. The fresh air and view of the harbor probably have a large influence on my choice.

  2. Sherpa Reviews says

    Great selection of places to visit. The Oceanaire Seafood Room is a favorite of ours with its great decor and fabulously fresh cuisine. Their jumbo lump crab cake is to die for – a mound of crustacean-themed goodness served with a decadent creamy mayonnaise. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Sherpa Reviews – Aww, man! Now you’ve got ME craving those Oceanaire crabcakes. They are ridonculously good, aren’t they?!

  3. Well, NOW I’m starving. I’m bookmarking this for my next trip to San Diego. I think I’ll be out there again fairly soon, and alllll of these places are going to be stops for me.

  4. Catherine Sargent says

    These all look amazing places to eat. If I am ever in the area I will be visiting Chocolat Cremerie and Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Oh you must, Catherine! Then you can compare & decide which has better ice cream! (Uh-oh…now I’m craving ice cream!)

  5. Melissa Chapman says

    I love that array of great restaurants and the food looks so good in all I would have to make a decision which to start with. The dessert offerings and breakfast places were also among the best I have seen.

  6. Danielle Smith says

    These all look like great choices of places to eat. Wonderful decorations and a great view are what I look for.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      For great decor, you’ll love the Oceanaire Seafood Room & for incredible views – Fish Market & Top of the Market are fab. Hope you like seafood! 🙂

  7. Bill Sweeney says

    You wrote a great recommendation on some great places in San Diego! This will be a great resource, should we ever decide to go there.

  8. Makeba Giles says

    Having several recommendations/reviews of food places is a blessing. It gives us, the reader, so options on where to go for a meal, if we’re in the area. Great review!

  9. If I ever get back out to San Diego, I’ll have to add these restaurants to our must-eat places. It’s always good to get a perspective of cuisine from a foodie!

  10. Thanks for this, I am going to bookmark this post. We were here a few years ago and did not know where to eat, and found the area a little touristy. And I love San Diego and hope to be back and check out your recommendations!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      The Gaslamp definitely has its fare share of tourists, but locals love to hang out & eat there, too! I hope you enjoy some of these restaurant picks on your next visit, Mitch!

  11. Carol Cassara says

    Everything sounds and looks delicious! I love it when a foodie shares their own list of places to try and which food to look for! It’s definitely one of the things that I look forward to when visiting a place!

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