Housing three restaurants under one roof, The Flame invites guests to enjoy traditionally prepared Brazilian and Japanese dishes along with American bar-and-grill fare. With this Groupon, valid for either Brazilian barbecue or Japanese hibachi, guests can summon meat carvers toting rotisserie-roasted goods, such as slow-roasted pork loin or picanha-style top sirloin, to tables to shave fresh slivers onto naked plates for Brazilian churrascaria ($29.95). This all-you-can-eat feast comes with access to a hot, cold, and antipasto bar, so you can stock up on sides to complement meaty selections in a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves. Diners can also step into the hibachi grill to enjoy a multicourse Japanese meal with appetizers, soup, salad, vegetables, and the meats of your choice, such as baby lobster and filet mignon ($44) or salmon and teriyaki chicken ($26), prepared before your eyes.
Puerto La Boca captivates its guests with a menu of complex Argentinian wines, fresh seafood, and tender Argentine steaks. Nestled in the heart of San Diego's Little Italy, the restaurant takes its name from Buenos Aires' own Little Italy. Inside, they serve fare such as Entrana, the signature skirt steak, Picana, and Churrasco, a classic sirloin steak-cut. Diners can begin their meal with freshly-prepared empanadas filled with their choice of a variety of fillings, including beef, spinach & cheese, and chicken. The sounds of live classical guitar music reverberate off the linen-clad tables, as glasses of Argentine malbec enhance bites of tender lomo filet mignon and housemade chimichurri.
Once the home of Wyatt Earp's gambling hall and saloon, Georges on Fifth also holds the distinction of being the most photographed building in the Gaslamp Quarter. Today, the venue casts off the sounds of tinny pianos for the aromas of Zagat-rated dishes, each painstakingly crafted by executive chef Jose Kelley. The flavors of certified Angus beef, Snake River Farms Kobe beef, and USDA Prime cuts heighten beneath port-wine and Jack Daniel's demi-glaces, and fresh, flaky seafood in the form of scallops, halibut, and salmon don equally delicate notes from herb-infused oils. With Chef Kelley's wine list made up of more than 50 West Coast and international varietals, diners can find a pleasing accompaniment to any dish.
Inside the celebrated eatery, romantic lighting emanates from ornate chandeliers and dances on exposed brick walls, wood accents, and the piano player's solar-powered hands. Portraits of San Diegans dot the interior walls to showcase the work of artist John Wismont, who held the Guinness Book of World Record’s title of “Most Prolific Portrait Painter” for nine years.
Nico's Steak & Chop House is an upscale steakhouse owned by retired NFL pro Robert “Griff” Griffith and his wife Amethyst. Huddle inside cozy booths to sneak a peak at the new Griffs Smokehouse menu and kick off consumption with small plates of Korean short-ribs ($9) and hand-breaded calamari ($9). Sandwich earls can majestically munch on a turkey club ($10), while more adventurous carnivores can try the 12 oz. New York strip steak ($27) and herb-crusted lamb loin ($28). Feed fish-or-feather urges with the pan-roasted salmon ($26) or the Cajun chicken breast ($19), or try the roasted eggplant burger ($12) to send a message to potential vegetable uprisings. "Griff" Griffith is often around the restaurant to sign autographs and call audibles on orders—bring a pen and a Refrigerator Perry-esque appetite and tackle the satisfyingly smoky fare of Nico's Steak & Chop House.
From inside The Vintage Steakhouse, it would be easy to pretend that a passenger on the trains passing just outside the window is engrossed in a pristine early edition of The Sun Also Rises, smoke swirling off the Chesterfield perched absentmindedly between his fingers. Without much effort, you might conjure a woman in the bar car, gratefully sipping a Southside and sending up a wordless celebration of the reversal of Prohibition.
That’s because restaurant resides inside the historic Capistrano Depot, which, despite its 1894 build date, bears an unmistakably art-deco vibe evocative of the 1920s or ‘30s. A trio of arched windows is the focal point of the main dining room; when trains aren’t sliding past their decoratively gridded glass, diners can peek through bougainvillea and willow trees to the 200-year-old adobes planted behind them. Inside, knotted wood planks run across the 18-foot ceilings, a near match to the hardwood floors glistening beneath.
A smaller dining room sits in the adjoining Dining Car, a fully restored 1927 Pullman train car upholstered in warm reds and golds. Candlelit tables for two line each side of the car, under which couples’ intertwined feet rest softly upon the regally patterned carpet. The ambience is a bit more social in the Chef’s Alley room, an 1887 freight house with its own cocktail bar and more contemporary décor.
No matter where parties choose to dine, they’re presented with a thoughtful menu of hand-cut steaks and seafood accented with local, organic produce. The chef prepares all dishes over an open-flame mesquite grill, giving everything a juicy, so-that’s-what-fire-tastes-like flavor. A chef’s selection of veggies and the patron’s choice of potato accompany the entrees, which range from filet mignon in a cabernet demi-glace to prawns sautéed in a sauvignon-blanc sauce.
These rich sauces pair perfectly with the more than 150 varietals that populate the restaurant’s wine list. Though heavy on French and Californian selections, the temperature-controlled wine cellar also has a few Spanish, Australian, and Italian bottles tucked away. The cellar also stores a few cases of bubbly for the prix-fixe Sunday brunch’s bottomless champagne special, ensuring a festive follow-up to the smooth live jazz that plays every Friday and Saturday night.
Although Gulliver’s Restaurant’s name comes from the writing of Jonathan Swift, its menu draws inspiration from inns and pubs throughout the England countryside. Gayot praised the eatery’s commitment to hearty comfort food, claiming that “the steaks are thick and juicy, and the Yorkshire pudding adds just the right authentic Olde English touch.” This British influence appears throughout the menu, from the fish ‘n’ chips to the sweet english trifle. Prime rib slow roasts inside a specially designed oven, and cuts of prime steak age in-house, leaving ample time for the chefs to forge a variety of new American cuisine, which demonstrates a similar commitment to satisfying, homestyle flavors. In addition to baby-back ribs and crab cakes with honey mustard, the menu also includes decadent options such as Maine lobster tails in molten gold.
Even the Zagat-rated eatery’s ambiance manages to evoke the feel of a roadside cottage. Lit by a row of electric chandeliers, the main dining room’s wood-paneled walls feature an astonishingly vast collection of framed pictures, mounted tankards, decorative plates, long-stemmed pipes, and prints by illustrators of Gulliver’s Travels. The lobby area’s fireplace contributes to this cozy ambiance, although patio seating is also available for alfresco dining.