San Diego offers dozens of exceptional restaurants to celebrate milestone events, entertain clients or savor an evening of romance. And while it might seem like you can dine in casual attire almost anywhere in San Diego, these fine dining restaurants know that you can best savor their first-rate cuisine and service when you too look and feel first-class. For him, this could mean a dark suit or dress shirt with trousers and a sport coat. For her, a fancy pants outfit, skirt-blouse combination or a snazzy black dress. Likewise, with a superior dining experience, you should expect prices that reflect the higher quality of the ingredients, waitstaff and table settings.
The following restaurants were chosen for their magical blend of first-rate cuisine, excellent service and extraordinary atmosphere. Reservations are highly recommended.
A.R. Valentien - The Lodge at Torrey Pines (at The Lodge at Torrey Pines), La Jolla
Dazzling cuisine, much of it in the California/contemporary vein, is the main draw at this gorgeous dining room overlooking Torrey Pines' famous golf course. Seafood, duck, veal; even the vegetables shine at this destination for gold-card business travelers and couples seeking a special night out.
Addison (at The Fairmont Grand Del Mar), Del Mar
Southern California's only AAA Diamond and Forbes Five Star restaurant, Addison features Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef William Bradley’s artisanal approach to cooking. Highlighting local and seasonal ingredients, Chef Bradley prepares contemporary French cuisine with creativity, superb preparation and beautiful presentation. The fine dining menu is complemented by an award-winning wine list of nearly 3,600 selections.
Donovan's Steak & Chop House, Gaslamp Quarter and La Jolla
A classic steakhouse where USDA Prime steaks reign supreme and excellent market seafood is available for those non-steak moments. The wine selection has earned the prestigious Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator.
Le Fontainebleau (at the Westgate Hotel), Downtown San Diego
Only open for its dressy Sunday Champagne brunch, Le Fontainebleau is utterly refined and very French, with stunning floral displays, opulent décor and food fit for royalty. Expect formal service and classic dishes.
The Marine Room, La Jolla
Right on the beach at La Jolla Shores, the Marine Room pairs an incredible location with expertly prepared French, Mediterranean and California cuisine. Most tables offer views of surf and sky; during the winter, the restaurant hosts special High Tide Breakfasts, with the waves pounding right against the windows.
Ruth's Chris Steak House, Downtown San Diego
Home of serious steaks that are the finest corn-fed Midwestern beef and cooked to perfection, as well as fresh seafood. Enjoy spectacular views of the San Diego bay while dining.
The Sky Room (at the La Valencia Hotel), La Jolla
Romance and elegance go hand in hand on the top floor of La Jolla's posh La Valencia hotel. The ocean-view room boasts exquisite flowers and décor, polished service, and top quality classic and contemporary dishes. Extensive wine list. Reservations required.
Tapenade Restaurant, La Jolla
Chef Jean-Michel Diot's classical and vibrant Mediterranean cuisine shines in the setting of this impressive restaurant in the heart of La Jolla. The chic décor, refined service and eclectic wine list have helped to earn a loyal following. Try the tasting menu with pairing wines, an indulgent sampling of seafood and other flavorful creations.
Bertrand at Mr. A's, Downtown San Diego
Go for the view - a sweeping, 12-floor vista of downtown, San Diego Harbor, Point Loma and beyond - and stay for the contemporary American cuisine. Superb wine list, sleek surroundings (including patio dining at eye level with planes heading for the nearby airport) and exceptional service make Bertrand's perfect for any fine dining occasion.
Mille Fleurs, Rancho Santa Fe
Long celebrated as the area's top restaurant, Mille Fleurs boasts haute cuisine, elegant décor, top-notch service and an intimate hacienda setting. Tucked off a tree-lined lane in San Diego's priciest neighborhood, the place is exclusive, expensive and worth every cent. A courtyard offers divine outdoor dining.