Grill your own steaks at this classic restaurant and lounge in the heart of San Diego‰Ûªs historic Golden Hill neighborhood. Opened in 1950, Turf Supper Club is imbued with an old-school Vegas vibe with its vintage dÌ©cor, rich red carpet and lights, and wafts of smoke coming courtesy of steaks sizzling on the grill. The centerpiece of the dining room is a communal grill where guests cook their meat to their liking. Sides are sparse‰ÛÓthink garlic bread and baked potatoes‰ÛÓand vegetarians are even sparser; however, the real star here is the steak. A long bar with plenty of stools serves up classic cocktails like Manhattans, old-fashioneds and gin gimlets. Leave the kids at home, as Turf Supper Club is restricted to ages 21 and up.
Set in a low brick building on the western edge of San Diego’s East Village, Basic Urban Kitchen and Bar is a reconfigured work space that’s been laid out to take advantage of a relaxed, downtown vibe. The 1912 warehouse corner space is arranged with plentiful WiFi for afternoon meetings and casual dining, including thin-crust brick oven pizzas like their signature mashed potato pie. There’s a chain-curtained central VIP lounge for special group events, and the long bar is bordered by huge garage doors rolled up most days, with a pool table near the back wall. The seating invites conversations on low, upholstered platforms that can be wheeled into comfy configurations to fit the size of your party.
If you’re nervous about choosing just one of Neighborhood’s 27 microbrews, don’t worry—you won’t have to. The beer flight allows you to taste a few. Pair them with one of the juicy burgers or an order of butter-poached black mussels for a satisfying pub meal.
Don’t be dismayed by the hoops you’ll need to jump through to get a seat at Noble Experiment. After texting for reservations, locating the false wall that serves as the bar’s door (hint: try the kegs inside The Neighborhood restaurant), and finding your spot, you’ll get your reward: a deliciously customized cocktail.
Maya Angelou knows why the caged bird sings, but at Side Bar the more relevant question is why the caged DJ spins. Suspended above the dance floor in the ultra lounge’s enormous birdcage, DJs flanked by sensual go-go dancers blast an onslaught of dance hits, a spectacle that has earned the club mentions by Us Weekly, 944 Magazine, and NBC San Diego. A series of smaller birdcages also dangle from the lofted ceiling, floating above a sprawl of mismatched leather booths and velvet couches. At the bar, head bartender Isaac Krejci crafts a steady stream of his signature cocktails, while staffers deliver bottle service to patrons in VIP booths. On breaks from the dance floor, night owls can recharge their robotic hip-swiveling leg braces with plates of bar food such as wings, specialty pizzas, and strombolis.
Zen Cafe’s chefs have honed the art of inventive hand rolls, working in the media of seaweed, sushi rice, and fresh fish. Serious dinner diners can loosen up chopstick implants with manila-fried chicken skewers ($7) or a sashimi trifecta of maguro, hamachi, and nama sake pieces ($16). Wrapped-up eight-piece edibles include the assertive Seal the Deal roll ($11), stocked with crab and avocado before being deep-fried and decorated with shrimp, avocado, and eel sauce, and the classic california roll ($7). Brave eaters can conquer the Godzilla roll ($11), loaded with spicy tuna and tempura-fried, then garnished with a seaweed salad, seared tuna, and sriracha—a traditional sauce made from sun-ripened chilis and one-a-day whale vitamins. Swigs of Midori melon sake ($7) soothe hard-tasting tongues, and creamy swallows of white-chocolate-glazed ricotta cheesecake ($5) prep throats for singing to tunes on the dance floor.