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Rock 'n Roll 'n Dining

Five Music Venues with Good Food & Great Concerts

If you're hungry for more than just some great live music, here are five great options for music fans in search of dinner and a show in San Diego.

By: Jeff Terich; Music Editor, San Diego CityBeat

Eating Dinner at the Show

It's a common dilemma for those who often go out to see live music: Where and when to get dinner when you have to work around the schedule of the show. If doors open early, you might choose to catch a light dinner beforehand. Alternately, since this is San Diego, you might be more inclined to stay out a little later and get a plate of carne asada fries or a few fish tacos after the club empties out.

There is a third option, however: Eating dinner at the show. A significant portion of live music venues throughout San Diego County actually serve up some tasty dishes while you catch the headlining act. That doesn't mean you still can't get those carne asada fries and tacos later if you still want them, but if you're hungry for more than just some great live music, here are five great options for music fans in search of dinner and a show in San Diego.

Belly Up Tavern

The Belly Up Tavern in North Coastal's Solana Beach is one of the busier clubs in the county, featuring headlining live acts six to seven days a week (many of which sell out well in advance, so keep your eyes peeled for those on-sale dates). As such, it's a desirable live music destination, but also a pretty solid choice for a date night, considering adjoining bistro Wild Note Café is open nightly, serving some excellent culinary concoctions. Make the drive up Interstate 5 a little early in order to sample its kobe beef sliders, lobster enchiladas or cornmeal calamari. But if you're short on time, Wild Note munchies are available to order during live performances as well. So if you happen to snag one of the prime tables inside, you can pair your night of rock 'n' roll with a side of fries. It's also open for lunch, if you happen to feel like making a day of it up in North County.

House of Blues

Downtown's Gaslamp Quarter has no shortage of dining options—there's about a half-dozen restaurants on any given block. But on a busy night, you probably don't want to run the risk of showing up late to a show, which is very likely to happen if you didn't take the extra step of making reservations. If you're headed to House of Blues, however, its Crossroads restaurant offers a hearty helping of Cajun and southern cuisine. Indulge in some voodoo shrimp, pulled pork sliders, St. Louis ribs or jambalaya before the lights go down and the volume goes up. The dining room is open until 11:00 PM, so on the rare night the show ends a little early, you can even catch a late-night snack before heading home.

Panama 66

Panama 66 is a restaurant, first and foremost, so it's not necessarily a surprise that it would offer great food. But it's not a typical restaurant by any means. Situated adjacent to the San Diego Museum of Art sculpture garden in Balboa Park, Panama 66 integrates culture and cuisine in a more innovative way than most restaurants do. Its surroundings comprise works of visual art, but during the week it also hosts a variety of live bands, ranging from the cinematic soul of the Sure Fire Soul Ensemble to the funk of Taurus Authority, and every Wednesday local jazz great Gilbert Castellanos hosts his long-running jazz jam. The food, of course, is excellent, whether you opt for the tuna melt, the burger or the burrata and beet salad. Every sense is satiated here.

Music Box

Located in Little Italy, just north of downtown, Music Box (formerly Anthology) combines the best of several worlds: Nightclub, restaurant and rock music venue. Its layout is such that no intimacy is lost despite being considerably larger than clubs like The Casbah, but the option of making reservations for VIP tables (with bottle service) allows a more customizable experience than other live venues in town. Best yet, however, is its diverse menu of small bites, which includes carnitas street tacos, truffle fries and a charcuterie plate. So whether you’re coming for a night of ‘80s dance music or a headlining set by indie darlings Japandroids, there’s something to appease your appetite.

The Loft @ UCSD

The Loft, nestled in a cozy corner of Price Center at UC San Diego in La Jolla, is a music venue, but even more than that, it's an all-purpose social gathering place for students and visitors alike. Several nights a week, it hosts live music from pop, electronic and jazz artists, as well as comedy, poetry and the occasional lecture series. But it's also home to Zanzibar, a café that's open from breakfast through happy hour on most days. The exception, of course, is on nights with live performances, during which you can grab a flatbread, a basket of fries, sliders or wings while you sit back and soak in the music in some of the most comfortable seats in any venue in San Diego. Not a bad way to close out the day.

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