It’s time to dine! The beloved and highly-touted San Diego Restaurant Week is here. The semi-annual event typically takes place each January and sometime in the fall, but was delayed due to 2021’s health restrictions. But the good news is that it’s happening! Spring has sprung, and a blossom of California restaurants here are welcoming San Diegans to the first-ever April foodie adventure. It is time to dine and explore our trending food scene.
San Diego Restaurant Week Kicks Off April 11-18, 2021
Mark your calendars for April 11-18th and get ready for some incredible dining experiences. Organized by the California Restaurant Association’s San Diego Chapter, the event has our restaurant community poised and ready with their best of the best local cuisine. Celebrating Restaurant Week has been a yearly tradition for my husband and me. And after not being able to dine out much in the last months, we can’t wait to support our favorites and discover new ones!
This is the perfect time for us to try out some new local restaurants we’ve been wanting to experience or return to, with the added bonus of more affordable dining. It’s one of my favorite times of year to discover new foodie finds. And it’s also a wonderful way to support our San Diego restaurant industry that’s taken such a hit in the past year.
San Diego Restaurant Week arrives just in time to breathe new life into our impacted businesses. It’s the perfect time to show our love and dedication to these amazing restaurants!
About Restaurant Week
Restaurant Week is a culinary celebration that occurs in cities and towns all over the U.S. throughout the year. The first restaurant week concept originated in New York City in the early nineties and has since gained popularity expanding throughout the nation.
Restaurants sign up to participate in this event which lures diners to their establishments to try new and popular food items. An important piece of insight here is that despite the places we have dined during various restaurant weeks, the restaurants take no shortcuts. Featured menu items tend to be some of their most popular, and serving sizes are exactly the same portion as those from the regular menu.
I’ve experienced Restaurant Week in places like Washington, D.C., Charleston, S.C., Houston, New York City, San Francisco, and San Diego. Each of these locations had restaurants offering top-notch cuisine and the opportunity to try out new venues and new foods.
San Diego Restaurant Week
For eight glorious days this month, our local restaurants representing a thriving local culinary scene will showcase their diverse and upcoming foodie offerings all throughout San Diego County. Celebrating its 17th year, over 180 venues in the San Diego restaurant industry are participating. All feature a variation of creative prix fix menus. This year, participants span from South Bay to East County and to the borders of Fallbrook and Oceanside in North County.
There are no passes, tickets, or coupons required. Walk-ins may be accommodated, though reservations are highly recommended, especially on the weekend when demand is higher. To make a reservation, diners can contact the restaurant directly, book directly on the restaurant’s website or through Open Table. Many restaurants offer expanded outdoor spaces as well as traditional in-house dining. Curbside pickup or delivery options are also available. And some restaurants will still be offering their regular menu by request.
This year’s Restaurant Week encourages “Restaurant Week Your Way” by creating dynamic meal options and flexibility of ways for diners to enjoy their entrees.
How It Works
Participating restaurants showcase their favorite dishes with selections of prix fix lunch and dinner items. Three-course menus range from $20 to $60 per person (with a few restaurants running a tad more for add-ons) and two-courses run $10 to $25 per person. Prices vary depending on whether the venue is a casual eatery or fine-dining and of course, the food items they are offering. But with 180 restaurants, it’s not hard to find something to love.
Two-course meals typically offer a starter and entrée, while three-courses include a starter, main entrée, and dessert. Diners have the option of selecting from a menu with multiple choices in each category.
Here’s an example of how Restaurant Week in San Diego works:
Duke’s La Jolla features American California, Hawaiian/Pacific Rim cuisine, and steaks. Their two-course lunch menu runs $25 per person and includes a choice of a first course from Caesar Salad, Poke Tacos, Panko Crusted Calamari, or Korean Sticky Ribs. In lieu of a starter, diners may select a dessert from the traditional famous Hula Pie or Key Lime Pie.
The second course features an entrée choice from the following: Fish Tacos, Ribs and Chicken Plate Lunch, Duke’s Classic Burger, Mango BBQ Chicken Salad, or their extremely popular Sautéed Macnut & Herb Crusted Fresh Fish.
Dinner menus offer additional selections and include a choice of a first and second courses AND a dessert. This is typical for most participating restaurants, though some can vary and choose to offer cocktail items as well.
Types of Cuisine Offerings
San Diego is a foodie town with a rich and diverse cultural heritage. Because of that, we have many cuisine types and restaurants to choose from. I won’t list all 180 restaurants here as they along with their website, cuisine descriptions, dining options, and menus are all accessible with the click of a mouse.
During Restaurant Week, diners can choose from a variety of their favorite food types and restaurants. Here’s a sampling that food aficionados of San Diego will recognize and enjoy. Click here for a full list of San Diego Restaurant Week restaurants.
American Comfort: Hash House a Go Go (Downtown) | 94th Aero Squadron (Kearney Mesa)
Argentinian: Puerto La Boca (Little Italy)
Asian/Pacific Rim: Bali Hai Restaurant (Shelter Island)
California Contemporary: Nine-Ten (La Jolla) | One Door North (North Park) | 7 Mile Kitchen (Carlsbad)
Coastal Cuisine: Lionfish (Gaslamp Quarter) | Peohe’s (Coronado) | Poseidon (Del Mar) | The Fish Market (Embarcadero)
Farm to Fork: Farm to Table: Farmer’s Bottega (Mission Hills) | Farmer’s Table (Bay Park, La Mesa, Little Italy).
French: The Smoking Goat (North Park)
Italian: Antica Trattoria (East County) | Flora (Del Mar) | Soleluna (Balboa Park)
Irish Pub: The Field (Gaslamp Quarter)
Mexican: Casa de Bandini (Carlsbad) | Casa Guadalajara (Old Town) | Coasterra (Harbor Island)
Steak: Del Frisco Steakhouse (Downtown) | Greystone Steakhouse (Gaslamp Quarter)
Is San Diego Restaurant Week Worth It?
I had a doubting Thomas once ask if I honestly thought that San Diego Restaurant Week was really a good deal. And my response was a rousing “You bet it is.” Here’s why.
Let’s take a popular and much-loved San Diego restaurant in Pacific Beach- Oceana Coastal Kitchen. The prix fix three-course dinner here runs $40 per person. If I selected the Crab Soup as my first course, Braised Short Rib as my second, and Warm Skillet Brownie as my dessert, separately, the total for the meal would run $57. But during Restaurant Week, I’m only paying $40.
Here’s another example:
Coasterra on Shelter Island has one of San Diego’s most picturesque views. The prix fix dinner here is $40. If I selected the Macho Salad as my first course, Rainbow Trout a la Plancha as my main course, and a Banana Buttercake as my dessert, the total for each item ordered separately would be $56. And by the way, there’s no charge for the view!
Bottom line is that Restaurant Week provides significant savings.
Win Gift Cards to Your Favorite Restaurants (What a Deal)
San Diego Restaurant Week is also sponsoring a social media contest giving participants a chance to win a year of dining out!
I am totally into this, not only because I’m a foodie (and would love nothing more than winning 12 free meals), but I get to share my favorite restaurant experiences on social media.
Contest rules are as follows:
- Dine out at a San Diego Restaurant Week participating restaurant.
- Post a photo on Instagram or Facebook of your dining experience.
- Tag @sdrestaurantwk and tag the restaurant in your caption.
- Use hashtag #12MonthsOfSDRestaurantWeek on your social media post.
- Note: You must have a public profile to win!
8 Helpful Tips for Enjoying San Diego Restaurant Week
- Take some time to peruse each California restaurant on the list to narrow down your favorite choices.
- Make reservations as soon as possible. San Diego Restaurant Week is a highly anticipated foodie event, especially this year. Popular restaurants along with dining on weekends tend to book up fast. And remember, our restaurants are still practicing social distancing which limits the number of available tables.
- Consider dining on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday when demand for tables will be much less.
- If your budget can manage it, consider booking a few restaurants during Restaurant Week. This is the chance to try out new ones, support our local restaurants, and splurge while saving money at the same time.
- If the Restaurant Week menu hasn’t yet posted to the website, call the restaurant directly to inquire about their offerings.
- Beverages, taxes, corkage fees, and tips are not included in the prix fix.
- Remember to check other areas in your state or regions you may be visiting. Their dates usually vary and it’s a great way to build a trip around their Restaurant Week as well.
- And don’t forget to post on social media for your chance to win your year of dining out!
San Diego Restaurant Week Is Almost Here! Let’s EAT! was written by Noreen Kompanik for SanDiegoExplorer.
San Diego Restaurant Week – Pin for Later:
Last Updated on April 3, 2021 by Maria Haase