Though at least 130 miles and 80 years of history separate golden-age Hollywood from modern-day National City, Cafe La Maze bridges the gap. During the 1940s, this steakhouse served as a playground for movie stars headed to Tijuana, Mexico. Here, they could tuck in to prime rib and lobster on the lower level, or gamble the night away with card sharks such as the Marx Brothers and eponymous restaurateur Marcel Lamaze in a hidden room upstairs.
Today, diners soak up auras of these legends in the same tufted booths where Bing Crosby and Clark Gable most likely lingered at the eatery's grand opening. Candles, chandeliers, and a golden ceiling cast a warm glow across tables as groups savor shrimp cocktails and slice into juicy cuts of top sirloin, new york strip, and filet mignon. Some evenings live music scores meals, and on karaoke nights guests can harmonize with friends as the portraits that line the damask-print walls try to remember the words. Those seeking a more low-key gathering can book the banquet room, which teems with enough red-vinyl seats for up to 70 close friends or cardboard cutouts of their likenesses.
Shared Dreams' boat docks at Sunroad Resort Marina's pier, which is just a short jaunt away from nearly all of San Diego's seaside sights and attractions. Because of that, it's not difficult for the boat's licensed captain to customize trips. Depending on what customers want to see—whether it's whales, seals, battleships, the Coronado Bridge, or Olly, the city's beloved thicket of seaweed—he'll steer the boat in the appropriate direction. The cruises depart Friday–Sunday from sunrise to sunset.
Beginning as a plucky, family-run eatery in 1993, Los Reyes Mexican Food has blossomed into a multilocation Mexican-fare fiefdom, enticing appetites with an impressive spread of pillowy burritos, fresh seafood, and savory marinated meats. Within the casual family-style eatery, chefs forge authentic Latin-inspired meals, such as mole-soused lengua and crispy carnitas and buche. Guests pair feasts of flaky fish, seasoned carne asada, and hearty sopes with freshly squeezed juice, rich smoothies, or cold glasses of creamy horchata.
Though Green Truck’s food trucks roll down the street with an entire kitchen in tow, they remain eco-friendly by using the same vegetable oil to fry veggies and fuel their trucks. The trucks’ kitchens are solar-powered, and staff also compost forks and plates, then deliver that compost back to the farmers and still-life painters who supply their ingredients. This devotion to sustainable dining has earned Green Truck a slew of media attention, including a spot on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Though their chief aim is sustainability, Green Truck’s chefs don’t shirk taste: they pile succulent beef burgers and veggie-loaded wraps with creative, from-scratch flourishes such as beet barbecue sauce and spicy mustard. They strive for equally eco-friendly practices, using certified organic veggies and grass-fed beef, as well as local ingredients.
Batches of freshly baked foccacia bread, forged in an open-air baking station every 15 minutes, swathe tempting combinations of the gourmet ingredients that populate Stone Oven's menu. Sandwich savants can bedeck the bread in six selections of seasoned low-fat mayonnaise, such as the spicy-chipotle mayo, which escorts onion crisps, avocado, and cheddar cheese safely to the barbecue beef-brisket sandwich ($7.45). The warm foccacia also keeps company with an array of innovative salads, such as the goat-cheese chicken salad ($7.45), or the walnut and green-apple salad, which hosts a raucous gathering of grilled chicken, candied walnuts, and champagne vinaigrette. A bevy of beverages and sides include freshly brewed iced tea ($1.59) and gourmet kettle chips with which to scoop up stray ingredients or use as a carry-on suitcase ($1.50).
In 1959, Domenic Donato ventured from his hometown of Cosenza, Italy, to California, where he opened his first Italian restaurant with recipes from his mother, Rosa, whom he considers the best cook in Italy. Donato soon opened a succession of Italian restaurants now owned and operated by his sister, brother, and sons. In 2006, Donato passed down Mangia Italiano on Third to close family friends Adam and Kathy. The pair faithfully continues to follow the recipes passed down through generations of the Donato family, as well as adding modern twists to Italian classics.
Inside the kitchens, chefs bake eggplant parmigana with ricotta and romano cheese, lightly flour and sauté veal with fresh mushrooms and marsala wine sauce, and toss spicy shrimp with angel-hair pasta, olive oil, and sun-dried tomatoes. In the dining area, murals of Italian seascapes are dotted with white sails puffing in the wind and depict ancient ruins full of crumbling columns and Betamax players. When not inspecting the restaurant's art, patrons can dig into plates of housemade cannolis and tiramisu.